Sanctuary Permits

Through the issuance of permits, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary can approve projects that would otherwise not be allowed because they break sanctuary regulations. Permits may be issued for research, educational, archeological, or other projects which increase the scientific understanding or natural resource value of the sanctuary and its resources.

Special conditions put in sanctuary permits ensure that approved projects are allowed to occur with minimal negative impact to the marine environment. The sanctuary issues more than 200 permits every year to private and public institutions, non-governmental organizations, and individuals.  

Some activities conducted under sanctuary permit may also require additional permits or approval from other agencies. Be sure to check with local, state, and federal agencies and municipalities for their requirements.

The types of activities able to be permitted by the sanctuary typically include research, education, and activities that support sanctuary management, among others.  Please direct questions to Joanne Delaney, FKNMS Resource Protection and Permit Coordinator, at

diver conducting research

Research and Education Permits
Research and education permits may be issued for projects that increase the scientific understanding or public appreciation of the sanctuary. More


Special Use Permits
Special use permits may be issued for certain categories of activities including certain public events and commercial activities. More


Baitfish Permits
Baitfish permits allow the permit holder to catch baitfish within the Sanctuary Preservation Areas where fishing is otherwise not allowed. More




Lionfish Removal Permits
The sanctuary encourages the safe removal of invasive lionfish from its waters and issues lionfish removal permits to trained divers for the collection of lionfish from Sanctuary Preservation Areas. More

the Tortugas

Tortugas North Access Permits
Visitors wishing to stop in the Tortugas North area of the Tortugas Ecological Reserve or tie up to the reserve’s mooring buoys must obtain a free, no-paperwork permit. More

divers researching a shipwreck

Maritime Heritage Resources Permits
While many areas within the sanctuary that contain cultural resources are open to diving and snorkeling, it is illegal to disturb a site or recover artifacts without a permit. More