Dive Industry Businesses Speak Out on Behalf of Protection for Florida Keys
More than 50 dive businesses, industry groups, and individuals signed and delivered a letter urging the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to take action to protect and restore Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the species and seascapes on which the dive industry depends.
Annually, recreational diving in Florida generates more than $1 billion in revenue, more than a quarter of a billion dollars in wages, and almost 12,000 jobs. More than 1.6 million divers and snorkelers per year visit the Florida Keys. Because of this, the dive community acts as a steward of the underwater environment, which is under increasing threat from water quality and pollution issues due to urban runoff, marine debris, and other dangers.
NOAA is soliciting comments until January 31 on the Restoration Blueprint, its plan to restore and protect the sanctuary. In its letter, the dive community urged NOAA and FWC to address degraded water quality; enhance enforcement on the water; strengthen the mooring buoy network; strengthened protections in Sanctuary Preservation Areas; promote stewardship education programs, including the Blue Star dive and fishing programs; and other protection measures.
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects spectacular, unique, and nationally significant marine resources stretching from Miami to the Tortugas, including North America’s only coral barrier reef, extensive seagrass beds, mangrove-fringed islands, and more than 6,000 species of marine life. The sanctuary also protects an estimated 800 underwater historic sites. As one of North America’s most popular diving and fishing destinations, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary supports the region’s success in global tourism, with more than half the jobs in Monroe County tied to ocean activities.
DEMA, the Diving Equipment & Marketing Association, is an international, non-profit trade association with the mission of bringing businesses together to grow the diving industry worldwide. DEMA owns and produces DEMA Show, an annual trade-only event for businesses in the scuba diving, action watersports and adventure/dive travel industries. DEMA Show 2020 will take place November 4-7 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, LA. For more information on DEMA and affiliated programs visit DEMA.org or contact (858) 616-6408. Stay updated by following “DEMAOrg” on Facebook and Twitter.
The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, established in 2000, is the official non-profit partner of the National Marine Sanctuary System. The Foundation directly supports America’s national marine sanctuaries through our mission to protect species, conserve ecosystems and preserve America’s maritime heritage. We accomplish our mission through community stewardship and engagement programs, on-the-water conservation projects, public education and outreach programs, and scientific research and exploration. The Foundation fosters innovative projects that are solution-oriented, scalable and transferable, and develop strategic partnerships that promote the conservation and recovery of species and their habitats. Learn more at marinesanctuary.org.