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Proposed Congress Bill May Block Fishing Ban

Eleonora Edreva
U.S. House Committee at Monday's Congressional Hearing

On Monday, the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on Small Business held a congressional hearing in Homestead.

The subject of the hearing was a proposed bill that would allow state fishery managers to block fishing bans in state waters within national parks. 

The bill’s relevance to South Florida is that it would shut down an attempt to create a marine reserve zone blocking commercial and recreational fishing in a portion of Biscayne National Park. 

The hearing was standing-room only, and supporters representing both sides of the bill brought their passionate arguments to the Homestead community center.

Brian Carlstrom, the park's superintendent, explains that the idea behind proposing the reserve zone was to “help preserve the Florida Keys coral reef, the only living coral reef in the United States.”

But bill supporters claim the reserve zone would also have other, less desirable effects. Among these are the economic impacts on the fishing industry and the pressure that would be put on fish populations outside of the zone.

The president of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association, Ernie Piton, is against the reserve zone because of the negative impact it’ll have on his industry. 

“Virtually if it does happen — if all commercial fishing gets pushed out of Biscayne — it’ll almost put me out of business,” Piton says.

Congressman Carlos Curbelo, who represents the Keys and a portion of Miami-Dade, is one of the bill’s sponsors.