Buoy Working Group

a bouy in the water with a boat in the background

As part of the Restoration Blueprint effort, FKNMS is considering how to strategically use the buoy system to manage impacts to both natural resources and the visitor experience. Mooring buoys are an important management tool in the sanctuary, providing boaters the ability to moor their vessels safely and avoid damaging coral reefs and other important ecosystems. ONMS now maintains about 500 mooring buoys as part of an overall network of almost 800 buoys, which also includes 121 boundary buoys that mark marine zones, 160 WMA boundary buoys, shoreline marker buoys, and information buoys. The current system of maintaining buoys in the sanctuary is proposed to be updated to address aging infrastructure while adapting to increased demand for marking newly protected areas. Additionally, ONMS may creatively explore new technologies and partnerships to augment the current system.

To support this effort, the Sanctuary Advisory Council established a community working group to help identify buoy management recommendations to support the Restoration Blueprint priorities. Following a series of meetings, this working group will provide recommendations to the Advisory Council.


  • Prioritize implementation strategies, locations, and types of buoys recommended within the sanctuary
  • Develop management and financing strategies to support these recommendations


Advisory Council Leads: Will Benson & Lisa Mongelia

Advisory Council Representatives:

Will Benson - Fishing: Charter Flats
Lisa Mongelia - Tourism: Upper Keys
Daniel Padron - Fishing: Commercial Shell/Scale
Karen Angle - Fishing: Recreational
Elena Rodriguez - Diving: Upper Keys
Lucja Rice - Diving: Lower Keys
Erinn Muller - Research & Monitoring
Ken Reda - Boating Industry
Dora DeMaria - Education & Outreach

Community Members:

Jack Davis - Fishing
Greg Eklund - Islamorada Charter Boat Assn
Will Bailey - Snorkeling, Blue Star Operator (Fury Watersports)
Jennifer Kerr - Diving, Blue Star Operator (Sailfish Scuba)

Agency Advisors:

Dr. Nick Parr - Florida DEP
Dr. CJ Sweetman - Florida FWC Division of Marine Fisheries Management
Capt David Dipre - Florida FWC Division of Law Enforcement
LTJG Hailye Wilson - USCG, Waterways Management Division Sector KW

FKNMS Staff Lead: Nina Garfield & Liz Trueblood


Initial Workshop: Monday April 17, 2023 6:00pm-8:00pm

Follow-Up Workshop: Thursday May 4, 2023 6:00pm-8:00pm

In-Person Regional Workshops:

  • Wednesday May 31, 2023 - Key West
  • Tuesday June 13, 2023 - Key Largo

Working Group Update to SAC, Public Input Opportunity FKNMS Advisory Council Meeting: Tuesday June 20, 2023

  • Agenda and notes will be posted on the SAC meetings page

Virtual Working Group Meeting: Week of July 24

  • Please email floridakeys@noaa.gov with Subject: BWG Meeting to receive the meeting link and agenda

Working Group Update to SAC: Tuesday August 15, 2023

Meeting Notes

Initial Workshop: Monday April 17, 2023 6:00pm-8:00pm

Follow-Up Workshop: Thursday May 4, 2023 6:00pm-8:00pm

Draft Recommendations

None at this time