In the FKNMS Final Management Plan, 23 “no-take areas” were established. Twenty-two (22) of the areas were called Sanctuary Preservation Areas (SPAs) and one was called an Ecological Reserve (Sambos ER). In 2001, the Tortugas ER was established making it the largest marine reserve in the U.S. All of these areas displaced commercial fishing activities to some extent. The SPAs were generally designed to resolve conflicts between user groups, whereas the ERs were designed to protect ecosystems.
SPAs and ERs
In the Environmental Impact Statement/Final Management Plan, it was concluded that short-run losses to commercial fisheries would occur as a result of the SPAs and Sambos ER, but that in the long run, there would be gains due to fish stock enhancement (replenishment effect). These kinds of conclusions are speculative based on experiences elsewhere. There was an attempt to minimize the impacts when designing the areas. The Sambos ER is different from SPAs in that it is significantly large in size (9 nautical square miles), whereas SPAs are generally small (a few hectares). The SPAs were generally designed to resolve conflicts between user groups, whereas the Sambos ER was designed to protect an ecosystem.
Commercial Fishing Panels
In 1998, NOAA established a set of commercial fishing panels to monitor the impacts of sanctuary regulations on commercial fisheries. Thomas Murray and Associates, Inc., was contracted to set up the commercial fishing panels and collect information to assess their catch and financial performance. Thomas Murray and Associates has a subcontract with the University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, to collect data directly from fishermen.
The following four panels were established:
- “General Fishermen.” This panel consists of fishermen with active saltwater product licenses (SPLs) who did not fish in the SPAs or Sambos ER. Excluded from this group were fishermen that fished in the Dry Tortugas, since no-take areas were being considered for this area.
- “Sambos Fishermen.” This panel consists of fishermen with active SPLs who fished in the Sambos ER prior to July 1997 (date when the Sambos ER no-take regulation went into effect).
- “Tortugas Fishermen.” This panel consists of fishermen with active SPLs who fished in the area generally known as the Dry Tortugas (as referenced by the Florida Marine Research Institute (FMRI) statistical grids 2.0 and 2.9 for gathering information through the trip ticket program).
- “Marine Life Collectors.” This panel consists of fishermen with active SPLs who report collecting marine species for the aquarium trade.
Status: Data collection and reports for eight years (1998 – 2005) have been completed and are posted below. We are seeking funding for years 9 & 10. For years 9 and on, we plan to convert the panels to regional panels to better capture the dynamic changes in the fisheries.