Existing Management Areas
Existing Management Areas (EMAs) are areas within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary that were established by NOAA or another federal agency prior to 1997 when sanctuary zoning regulations went into effect.
There are six Existing Management Areas in the sanctuary, including Key Largo and Looe Key, which are managed by the sanctuary, and Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge, National Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge, and Key West National Wildlife Refuge, which are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
EMAs have their own protections and restrictions in addition to regulations that are applicable sanctuary-wide. Check with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for applicable rules and regulations that apply in these areas.
In the Key Largo and Looe Key Existing Management Areas,
the following activities are prohibited:
- Removing, taking, spearing, or otherwise damaging any coral, marine invertebrate, plant, soil, rock, or other material. However, commercial taking of spiny lobster and stone crab by trap and recreational taking of spiny lobster by hand or hand gear consistent with applicable State and Federal fishery regulations are allowed.
- Possession of spearfishing equipment, except while passing through without interruption.
In the Great White Heron and Key West National Wildlife Refuge Management Areas, the following activities are prohibited:
- Operating a personal watercraft, operating an airboat, or water skiing.
Twenty Wildlife Management Areas are co-managed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, marine portions of these Wildlife Management Areas may be designated “idle speed only/no-wake,” “no-motor” or “no-access buffer” zones or “closed”.
- “idle speed only/no wake” zone: prohibited from operating a vessel at a speed greater that idle speed only/no wake.
- “no-motor” zone: prohibited from using internal combustion motors or engines for any purposes. A vessel with an internal combustion motor or engine may access a “no-motor” zone only through the use of a push pole, paddle, sail, electric motor or similar means of propulsion.
- “no-access buffer” zone: prohibited from entering the area by vessel.
- “closed” zone: prohibited from entering or using the area.