Ecosystem Protection: Ecological Reserves, Preservation Areas and Wildlife Protection Working Group

Coral reef photo by Dr. Jiangang Luo.

The sanctuary uses a strategy of marine zoning to protect and preserve sensitive parts of the marine ecosystem, while allowing activities compatible with resource protection. The Sanctuary's Condition Report and scoping comments identified a significant need to review current marine zones and decide what changes must be undertaken to meet the goals and objectives identified by the Advisory Council. While certain zones were established to allow areas of high ecological importance to evolve with minimal human influence, and others were set aside to reduce user conflict, additional areas may need to be considered to ensure long term protection of the natural resources.


  • Review and evaluate existing reserves designated for protection of coral reef ecosystems.
  • Review current exceptions to regulations in Sanctuary Preservation Areas and Ecological Reserves.
  • Review and evaluate Sanctuary Preservation Areas reduction of conflicting uses.
  • Recommend new or modified ecological reserves to ensure protection of a diversity of resources:
    • Spawning aggregations
    • Full suite of marine flora  and fauna (i.e., seabird, marine mammal, turtles, seagrass, soft corals, hard corals)
  • Consider temporal zoning to address seasonal impacts associated with intense uses or seasonal ecological activities (i.e., nesting, breeding, spawning).
  • Ensure the FKNMS zoning scheme promotes sustainable use of the sanctuary resources and protects areas that represent diverse habitats as well as areas important for maintaining natural resources and ecosystem functions.


Working Group Co-Chairs (non-voting): Sean Morton, Sanctuary Superintendent

John Hunt, FWC Program Administrator (appointed by advisory council on August 20, 2013)

Advisory Council Lead - Chris Bergh

Advisory Council Representatives: 

  • Chris Bergh, SAC; Working Group Chair; Conservation and Environment
  • Ben Daughtry, SAC; Commercial Fishing - Marine/Tropical
  • Tim Grollimund, SAC; Diving - Upper Keys
  • Rob Harris, SAC; Fishing - Charter Sports Fishing
  • Ted Lund, SAC; Charter Fishing Flats Guide
  • Suzy Roebling, SAC; Citizen at Large - Upper Keys
  • Joe Weatherby, SAC; Tourism

Community Experts:

  • Maria Brandvold, Recreational Fisherman
  • Tad Burke, Florida Keys Fishing Guides Association
  • Mark Chiappone, NOVA Southeastern University
  • Don DeMaria, Sea Sampler
  • Manny Herrera, Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen's Association Member
  • Ernie Piton, Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen's Association Member
  • Dave Vandenbosch, Captain Hooks Dive Center and Marina - Middle Keys
  • Scott Saunders, Fury Water Adventures
  • Mimi Stafford, Reef Relief 

Staff Lead: Steve Werndli

For advisory council meeting archives visit: Current Year or Previous Year Archives.

Draft Recommendations

Materials to be presented at the August 19, 2014 Sanctuary Advisory Council Meeting