Legislation Affecting Florida's Reef Systems

This discussion topic submitted by Tara Wells (wellsts@miamioh.edu) on 7/9/98.

In 1957, scientists in Everglades National Park recommended the formation of an underwater state park to protect coral off Key Largo. This was the beginning of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (administered by Florida Dept. of Natural Resources). The three miles closest to shore was transferred to the Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary (operated by U.S. Dept. of Commerce)

Due to various freighter accidents, legislation was introduced to designate reefs from Biscayne National Park to Dry Tortugas as the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

There were very strong opinions voiced both for and against such legislation. Throughout such discussions, the various factors which have contributed to the reefs' current conditions were noted. Ultimately, the leglislation DID pass. There are still those who see the good to come from such legislation and also those who believe differently. The true effectiveness of the Marine Sanctuary is yet to be seen.

I. History of various legislation
A.John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
B.Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary
C.Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

II. Opposing views of possible legislation
A. Federal govt. intervention needed
B. Reef system needs managed as a whole
C. Sanctuaries are not effective means of preservation
D. The sanctuary will close the Mom and Pop businesses
E. The economy will be affected

III. Factors influencing coral reef condition
A. Lack of legislation pertaining to runoff from upstate
B. Tourists
C. Overdevelopment as a response to tourism
D. Sewage runoff from added populations
E. Nutrient loading due to sewage and agriculture

Belleville, Bill, "The Reef Keepers" Sea Frontiers, March/April 1993, 52-59.

Laycock, George, "Good Times Are Killing The Keys", Audobon, v93 n5, Sept. 1991, 38-49.

Swafford, David, "Rx For A Sick Reef", Sea Frontiers December 1991, 38-42, 62.

Ward, Fred, "Coral Reefs Are Imperiled", National Geographic vol. 178, no.1, July 1990, 115-116,123-132.

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