EPA to ban all discharges from boats around the Florida Keys
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a proposal to ban discharges of both treated and untreated waste from boats around the Florida Keys in order to protect the region’s wildlife.
The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, a 220 mile-long (354 km) area of sea encompassing the waters immediately surrounding all 1,700 islands, is an area of high biodiversity, containing seagrass meadows, mangrove islands, and extensive living coral reefs, including the third largest coral barrier reef in the world. The economy of the region depends largely on tourism and fisheries directly tied to its ecological resources, which also include wildlife such as barracuda, various sharks, dolphins and manatees.
“We seek to better protect and preserve the unique natural resources of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, consistent with the wishes of the country, state and our federal partners,” said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. “These marine environments support rich biological communities possessing extensive conservation, recreational, commercial, ecological, educational, and aesthetic values.”
The proposal for a no-discharge zone will be published in the Federal Register in the next couple of weeks, after which the public is invited to comment during a 30 day consultation period.
“I am very pleased that EPA is moving forward in this important initiative,” said Florida Governor Jeb Bush. “We look forward to a continued partnership with the federal government and the local community to ensure that this unique tropical marine ecosystem and coral reef is available for generations to come.”
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