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VIDEO: Group’s petition opposes Florida fishing closures

Keep Florida Fishing, an advocacy arm of the American Sportfishing Association, has launched an online petition for those who want to stop fishing closures proposed by Our Florida Reefs.

“They’re basically trying to keep us from fishing between 20 and 30 percent of the reef that goes from Stuart all the way down to Miami, and we don’t think that’s right,” Keep Florida Fishing manager Gary Jennings said in a new video. “They don’t have the scientific background to say that fishermen are the cause of the problems on the coral reef.”

Our Florida Reefs says at its website that it is a community planning process for southeast Florida’s coral reefs. Hosted by the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative, the process brings together the community of local residents, reef users, business owners, visitors and the broader public in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Martin counties to discuss the future of coral reefs in the region.

Our Florida Reefs said the planning process includes the offshore reefs in the four-county region from north of Biscayne National Park in Miami-Dade County to the St. Lucie Inlet in Martin County.

Jennings said Our Florida Reefs “has sought little input from anglers or the sportfishing industry, accepting no public testimony at local meetings.”

The petition is the easiest way for Florida anglers to have a voice in the process. The period for submitting public comment to Our Florida Reefs ends March 1.

The petition can be found at www.KeepFloridaFishing.org, and it specifically opposes the following recommendations:

  1. Implementing a Marine Protected Area zoning framework
  2. Nominating the entire region as a National Marine Sanctuary
  3. Applying for United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization world heritage site status for the entire Florida Reef Tract
  4. Establishing Coral Reef Gardens.

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