A new general management plan, including a marine reserve zone, was approved for Florida’s Biscayne National Park at the end of August, according to a National Park Service press release. The marine reserve zone, which will prohibit fishing in 6 percent of the park’s waters, is intended to help restore the continental United States’ only tropical coral reef system.
“The plan is a chart and guide for the next 20 years,” Matt Johnson, public affairs specialist for the National Park Service Southeast Region, told Outside in an email. “The marine reserve zone will protect a third of the park’s coral reef tract from fishing pressure, thus giving the reefs the resilience they need to withstand factors outside of agency control, such as global warming, ocean acidification, and coral diseases.”
The marine reserve zone will still allow snorkeling and diving and is expected to have a spillover effect in improving fish habitat and ecosystem health in surrounding areas.
“The plan’s zones will help ensure that the park’s extraordinary coral reefs, mangrove forests, extensive tracts of Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys, and 10,000 years of human history, are protected for future generations,” wrote Johnson.