June 29, 2012

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Today is the last day for the public to submit comments that could play a critical role in redefining the boundaries of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

On its Website, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says it’s launched the review process to determine whether the sanctuary and its current boundaries can fulfill its conservation mission or if the park needs to be expanded and have its regulations updated.

The Florida Keys sanctuary is one of 14 marine protected areas that make up the United State’s National Marine Sanctuary System. The 2,900 square-mile sanctuary hosts rich and diverse habitats including, the world’s third largest barrier reef, sea grass meadows, as well as mangrove-fringed islands. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the sanctuary also hosts more than 6,000 marine species.

“Research shows that additional management efforts might be required to address degraded resource condition,” said Sanctuary Superintendent Sean Morton,. “We want to hear recommendations and concerns from boaters, anglers, divers, residents and visitors, and enlist their help in shaping resource management decisions for the future.”

You can submit a comment online at the Federal eRulemaking Portal www.regulations.gov (Docket Number NOAA-NOS-2012-0061). NOAA also invites the public to mail their recommendations by June 29 to the following addresses: Sean Morton, Sanctuary Superintendent, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, 33 East Quay Rd., Key West, FL 33040; or Anne Morkill, Refuge Manager, US Fish and Wildlife Service, 28950 Watson Blvd., Big Pine Key, FL 33043.

For more information on the marine zoning and regulatory review, read the Goals and Objectives of Marine Zoning Review and the Principles for Marine Zoning Review.

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