Sanctuary Preservation Areas
Sanctuary Preservation Areas (SPAs) within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protect shallow reefs along the reef tract. SPAs encompass discrete, biologically important areas that help sustain critical marine species and habitats.
SPAs have mooring buoys for boaters to use in order to prevent anchor damage to corals. There are 18 SPAs within the sanctuary, which together cover a total of about 4.97 square nautical miles.
Regulations for this zone type are designed to limit consumptive activities and to separate users engaged in different kinds of activities. Diving, snorkeling and boating are allowed inside these zones.
With certain exceptions, the following activities are prohibited in Sanctuary Preservation Areas:
- Discharging any matter except cooling water or engine exhaust.
- Fishing by any means; removing, harvesting, or possessing any marine life. Catch and release fishing by trolling is allowed in Conch Reef, Alligator Reef, Sombrero Reef, and Sand Key SPAs only.
- Touching or standing on living or dead coral.
- Anchoring on living or dead coral or any attached organism.
- Anchoring when a mooring buoy is available.
- Bait fishing is allowed in SPAs by Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary permit.