Nearly fifty student and student-serving groups from coast to call on NOAA to expand protections for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS).
On Wednesday, forty-seven student and youth groups submitted a letter to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) comment period in support of action to save the Florida Keys. This national treasure off the coast of Florida has seen its ecosystem decline in recent years, with its mangroves, seagrasses, and coral reefs threatened by climate change, overuse and pollution.
The comment period solicited input from the public on the Florida Keys Restoration Blueprint, NOAA’s proposal to get the Keys back on track.
The student and youth group letter highlights the fact that young people want a future with healthy ecosystems and amazing places, and want the Keys to be part of that future. But if that dream is to become a reality, more needs to be done to it for future generations.
“When students mobilize around the environment, they are also working to ensure that the state that they will inherit is clean and beautiful for decades to come. This administration has an incredible opportunity to enact policy that will positively impact our state’s ocean heritage. By protecting strategic shorelines and expanding the sanctuary boundaries we can guarantee the safety and beauty of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary for years to come,” said Florida State University student Andres Cubillos, president of Florida PIRG at FSU.
The Blueprint is broadly seen as a step in the right direction but more can be done to protect the Sanctuary. The sign-on letter highlighted the need for larger, contiguous zones, expanding the Sanctuary boundaries to encompass deeper ocean corals, as well as establishing no-motor zones within 100 yards of shore.
If implemented, these protections will be seen as a huge win for conservationists and the FKNMS, not to mention students and the younger generation- those who will inherit this wonderland in the future.