Advisors to Keys marine sanctuary to get update on management-plan rewrite

kwadlow@keynoter.comApril 12, 2014 

Advisers to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary face three days of meetings in Marathon and Islamorada this week, mostly focusing on a new management plan.

The full Sanctuary Advisory Council holds a daylong session Tuesday at the Islander Resort conference center, mile marker 82.1 in Islamorada.

Volunteer council members likely will be asked to vote on wording of a resolution calling for more federal support of various law-enforcement efforts in the 2,900 square miles of sanctuary waters.

The panel also will get an update on ongoing marine zoning and regulatory reviews and
hear how the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plans to use scientific studies and information in drafting a new management plan.

Members also could vote on a new chairman and vice chairman for a year's term. Incumbent Chairman Ken Nedimyer and Vice Chairman Chris Bergh both have been nominated.

The 9 a.m. meeting is open to the public, with comment sessions for non-agenda items at 11:45 a.m. and 2:15 p.m.

The Ecosystem Protection Working Group, a committee of the sanctuary council, gathers Thursday and Friday at the Marathon Garden Club, mile marker 50, to review marine protected areas in the Middle Keys.

Sanctuary Preservation Areas at Sombrero Reef and Coffins Patch are expected to the primary topic of review. Discussion at the 9 a.m. sessions may include other aspects of "ecosystem protection recommendations for the region, providing a rationale for proposed recommendations [or] opposition to recommendations."

The working group's final recommendations on changes to marine zones are expected to be made at a July meeting. Then the full council and government agencies will weigh in. No new regulations, if any, are expected to take effect until some time in 2016.

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