Sanctuary Preservation Areas

reef scene

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:

Map of Sanctuary Marine Zones

Florida Keys National  Marine Sanctuary map

Click on the map to see locations of marine zones within the sanctuary, or view a complete list of all marine zones.

  • 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.


A summary of all sanctuary regulations is available online. For the full text of sanctuary regulations, see 15 CFR 922 Subpart P.


Other Types of Marine Zones