Serious Business

The proposed Biscayne Park fishing restrictions could have disastrous and long-lasting consequences for our Ocean Reef Community

Just say NO to a “no fishing zone”

I’m not much of a fisherperson, but I know many OR members who have bought homes in Ocean Reef because they like to fish. We have friends from the north, who visit here because of the fishing. And I have grand­children who have their own rods and can’t wait to use them.

So I care. And so should you.

What are the reasons for fishing restrictions

For over a decade Biscayne National Park, the 270-square-mile marine park, that encom­passes most of Miami’s Biscayne Bay, has experimented with various fishing and boating zones in an attempt to preserve the increasingly deteriorating coral reef.

Certainly a worthy goal and one most Ocean Reef residents are sympathetic with.

But will keeping the fisherman off the reef make a difference?

The answer to that is still uncer­tain and simply banning fishing before other measures are tried seems a rather extreme solu­tion. Fishermen argue that coral reefs are dying in many areas for reasons other than sport fishing (e.g. water pollution, coral diseases, changes in ocean chemistry, weather factors). And they are quick to point out that recreational anglers have served as watchdogs of the reefs and waters and are often the first to identify problems and to lead conversation efforts.

How does Biscayne National Park hope to limit fishing?

Not much good news here.

I always thought that catching a fish involved a certain amount of luck. If this proposal goes through, you will have to be lucky just to go fishing.

Each year only 500 licenses will be issued for the 23 square mile Special Recreation Zone (70 licenses for guides and 430 for recreational anglers).

Here’s the rub. The 430 licens­es from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation will be chosen by a blind draw of fishing licenses. And that’s not all. Just a few of the other proposed regulations include: No grouper can be kept; No lobstering; no anchoring; and a logbook of catches to be submitted monthly to Biscayne National Park.

Certainly the committee made up of dedicated ORCA and Ocean Reef Club members and staff care. They are determined to defeat this proposition by rallying our members, lobbying our state and federal officials and by making sure we are informed about the consequences.

Ocean Reef began as a fish­ing camp and fishing has never stopped being an essential part of our unique way of life. Do your part to preserve it.