Government shutdown delays Sanctuary plan rewrite

kwadlow@keynoter.comOctober 23, 2013 

The federal government shutdown that ended Oct. 17 will play a role in pushing consideration of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary reviews back into February 2014.

Several meeting dates for the Sanctuary Advisory Council were scratched, with the next session to be held Dec. 10 in Islamorada.

"It's actually a great opportunity to ensure a more deliberate process with more community engagement," Deputy Sanctuary Superintendent Beth Dieveney said Tuesday.

No major decisions on marine zoning plans are expected at the Dec. 10 open meeting of the Advisory Council, at the Islander Resort.

Two sessions -- originally planned for the Oct. 15 council meeting but canceled by the shutdown -- will review the state of the management-plan review process, and outline goals for February.

Three public-information meetings on the management review planned for late November will be pushed back to early February, with the exact dates yet to be confirmed.

A two-day Advisory Council meeting in December has been dropped, with the Dec. 10 meeting picking up the agenda from October's canceled meeting.

Before the shutdown, sanctuary Superintendent Sean Morton directed staff to review a long list of suggested marine-zoning changes and identify which would be most practical to enact.

That review likely will extend into the spring. An update is expected at the Feb. 18 meeting of the advisory council.

Changes caused by the review and government shutdown extend the original timeline to craft the first major changes to sanctuary rules since 1996. That timeline aimed to have any changes in effect by mid-2015.

"It should only be a few months difference," Dieveney said. "It's giving us more time to work through the SAC work-plan items."

Information on the process is posted at the sanctuary website, FloridaKeys.NOAA.gov.

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