Groups criticize editorial stance on Biscayne National Park

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Boating, fishing and conservation advocates are firing back at the Miami Herald for an editorial that ran last week that the groups say attacks "fishing lobbying groups" for their opposition to proposed fishing and boating closures in Biscayne National Park.

Groups opposed to the newspaper’s characterization include: the National Marine Manufacturers Association, Center for Coastal Conservation, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Coastal Conservation Association and the American Sportfishing Association.

“We categorically reject the notion that the park’s visitors are ‘loving the park to death’ or worse, that we simply don’t care about the proper management of this great American resource,” officials with the groups said in a letter.

The Herald editorial references the work of the Biscayne National Park Fisheries Management Plan Working Group, which, after extensive stakeholder meetings that the National Park Service coordinated several years ago, produced options widely supported by the commercial and recreational fishers, divers, scientists and representatives of environmental groups.

When the park service ignored the options developed by the stakeholder working group, it “severed trust with the fishing and boating community and invited a more vigorous debate,” the stakeholders said.

As a result, South Florida legislators are seeking a congressional hearing into the park service’s actions and the newspaper “admonishes these elected officials not to ‘bully the National Park Service into capitulation’.”

“While the Herald laments that ‘surely there is room for compromise’ in this debate, it ignores the fact that it is the National Park Service that has completely shut the public out of this process,” the stakeholders say. “Our community welcomes meaningful debate and discussion from the park service, but we will not stand idly by as they circumvent years of stakeholder management discussion and threaten significant boating and fishing closures in the largest marine park in the nation.”

Click here to read the entire stakeholders’ statement.

Click here for the Miami Herald’s editorial.