In a Sept. 1 press release, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) issued its evaluation of the U.S. National Park Service’s changes in the final General Management Plan (GMP) for Everglades National Park in Florida, changes that will affect recreational boating, fishing access and habitat conservation.
The release said that Park Service officials worked with the recreational fishing and boating communities to identify ways to better facilitate access to the park’s waters while minimizing boating impacts to native habitat, primarily seagrass.
The NMMA press release noted that “one significant change” in the Park Service’s GMP “is a mandatory boater education and boating permit system.” Operators of motorboats, non-motorized boats and paddled craft will need to complete a program to obtain a permit to use vessels in Everglades National Park.
Trip Aukeman, director of advocacy for the Coastal Conservation Association Florida, said the GMP will guide Everglades Park management for the next 20 to 30 years. He said that the GMP has an appropriate balance of management measures to safeguard resources while allowing for reasonable boating and fishing access.
Mike Leonard, ocean resource policy director for the American Sportfishing Association said the responsiveness of park officials to the recreational fishing “community’s input is reflective of how good public policy should be developed … By recognizing that habitat conservation can be achieved while still allowing the public to get out on the water and enjoy our public places, Everglades National Park officials set a positive example that we hope other National Park Service units will follow.”