About the Marine Zoning and Regulatory Review Process

The review of the marine zone boundaries and regulations of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary will be a very involved, open, and public process culminating in the implementation of any regulatory modifications, additions, or eliminations in 2015.

The process will take time – not months, but years. It will involve proactively reaching out to members of the community to gather input, weighing collected information against the best available science, and developing recommendations that will allow the sanctuary to meet the goals and objectives of the review.

From there, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council will develop recommendations for NOAA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife to consider, and staff will assess the environmental impacts of any modifications or additions to sanctuary regulations. Finally, any changes to marine zone regulations or boundaries will be adopted and implemented.


Review Process Principles

The following principles will guide sanctuary staff and the Sanctuary Advisory Council as they move through the review:

  • The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary regulation/zoning review should be conducted with the recognition that there are bordering and overlapping marine management regimes in place, and that these regimes must be considered when contemplating changes to the sanctuary regulation/marine zoning structure.
  • All areas of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary should be classified as part of a specific zone; therefore, the current “unzoned” area should be classified as a recognized zone type such as “general use area” or “multiple use area."
  • Each habitat type should be represented in a non-extractive marine zone in each of the biogeographically distinct sub regions of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to achieve replication. The sub regions identified were the Tortugas; Marquesas; and Lower, Middle, and Upper Keys.
  • Information on resilient reef areas that can serve as refugia should be taken into account in zoning changes.
  • Temporal zoning should be considered as a tool for protecting spawning aggregations and nesting seasons.
  • The size of individual non-extractive zoned areas, the cumulative total area included in non-extractive zones, and their spatial relationship with one another matter greatly in achieving the resource protection purposes of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Printable version of the “Principles for Marine Zoning Review,” as adopted by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council.



Review Process Timeline

September 2011: Sanctuary Condition Report Released

December 2011: Sanctuary Advisory Council Goal and Priority Setting

May/June 2012: Public Scoping Period

August 2012: Public Scoping Summary Report Released

Winter 2013 – Fall 2014: Sanctuary Advisory Council Development of Recommended Alternative with Public Input

Spring 2015: Draft Environmental Impact Statement with Public Comment

Spring 2016: Final Rule/Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision

Summer 2017: Implementation