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Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys
March 2014
Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys
News & Notes


Captain Larry Battaglia Memorial Fund Update
Last month we informed you of a new memorial fund honoring Captain Larry Battaglia of Marathon. Since then, $650.00 has been donated to the fund, which will support restoration and maintenance of NOAA's weather station at Sombrero Lighthouse. Thank you to all who have donated!
To contribute to this or any of our programs, please click below:
Donate Now!
For the memorial fund, please note "In Memory of Larry" in the memo or email Kristen with your request.

FWC Considers Limiting Commercial Sea Cucumber Harvest

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) is considering tighter restrictions on sea cucumber harvesting in the Florida Keys. The proposal is to limit the daily commercial harvest to 200 per vessel per day to ensure that Florida’s harvest of sea cucumbers continues to be sustainable. Florida’s recreational collectors of sea cucumbers are subject to a daily trip limit, but commercial fishermen with a basic saltwater products license can currently harvest as many as they want.
Florida Sea Cucumber
Commercial sea cucumber landings have increased substantially over the past year, in part due to the development of an export market for dried sea cucumbers. There are roughly 160 commercial sea cucumber harvesters from the Keys to Palm Beach County with a majority of the collecting occurring in the Keys, according to FWC data. Several of the collectors sell to the Florida Sea Cucumber Corporation on Ramrod Key. Owner Erik Lee has a permit with the Florida Department of Agriculture to harvest and export sea cucumbers to Asian markets. Lee started his operation 18 months ago after moving back to the Keys from China, where people eat sea cucumbers in stir fry concoctions, or grind them into a powder and take them as a medicinal supplement for joint pain or other health purposes. They are also viewed as an aphrodisiac in China, Lee said.
Sea cucumbers are sedentary marine invertebrates that live in shallow water areas such as seagrass beds, lagoons and nearshore reefs. They are vulnerable to overfishing due to their visible and sedentary nature, which makes them easy to locate and collect. Many of the fisheries that have developed throughout the world in recent decades have been characterized by rapid expansion, unsustainable harvest rates and fishery collapse.
Sea cucumbers are broadcast spawners, meaning they release their sperm and eggs into the water column. This spawning behavior also contributes to slow recovery times once the population becomes depleted. In the case of sea cucumbers, recovery can take decades.
The FWC Commission was originally set to vote on the proposal at its February meeting, but commissioners then tabled action and instructed staff to consider "other potential options" for managing sea cucumbers. The issue likely will be back on the agenda in April or June. Until then, current law on the echinoderms (invertebrates similar to starfish) remains in effect.

Ecosystem Protection Working Group Meetings Scheduled

The FKNMS uses a strategy of marine zoning to protect and preserve sensitive parts of the marine ecosystem, while allowing activities compatible with resource protection. The Sanctuary’s Condition Report and scoping comments identified a significant need to review current marine zones and decide what changes must be undertaken to meet the goals and objectives identified by the Advisory Council. While certain zones were established to allow areas of high ecological importance to evolve with minimal human influence, and others were set aside to reduce user conflict, additional areas may need to be considered to ensure long term protection of the natural resources.
Marine Zone Map
You can get involved in this process! Ecosystem Protection: Ecological Reserves, Preservation Areas and Wildlife Protection Working Group has scheduled upcoming meetings from March through June. Meetings will be held regionally when those regions are being discussed and the first and last meeting will be held in the middle Keys as a central location. All meetings are open to the public and there is a public comment period scheduled during each meeting. Meetings run from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Find meeting dates here.

Cuba Slideshow & Discussion March 18
Larry Benvenuti Presents "Friends in Focus" Lecture

One of our most popular "Friends in Focus" Lectures comes from Marathon’s own photographer and Cuba enthusiast Larry Benvenuti. Larry’s first trip to Cuba was in October 1993, when he accompanied members of Basta, a humanitarian organization based in Key West, to the island. Since that first mission, Larry has made 14 other licensed journeys to Cuba. His primary purpose is humanitarian -- to deliver food and supplies to people and places that need it. Larry has not been satisfied in only helping the people of Havana, Santiago de Cuba and other large cities; he has also traveled to rural areas, mountains and swamps to find people in need.
Havana Sunset by Larry Benvenuti
He is a proponent of ocean life in Cuba and has a working relationship with non-profits in Cuba like Acualina and the Instituto de Oceanologia. Larry is also a member and supporter of Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys.
Join us for Larry's all new Cuba slideshow and travel discussion on Tuesday, March 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Marathon Sail & Power Squadron Education Building, 12 Loggerhead Lane at 52nd Street Gulfside in Marathon. Free popcorn!


Applications for Sanctuary Advisory Council due March 31

FKNMS is seeking applicants for two seats on its advisory council. The open seats are: member and alternate representing Citizen-at-large, Middle Keys. The council ensures public participation in sanctuary management and provides advice to the sanctuary superintendent. It consists of 40 primary and alternate members representing a variety of public interest groups and 11 government agencies.
Candidates are selected based on their expertise and experience in relation to the seat for which they are applying, community and professional affiliations and views regarding the protection and management of marine resources. Applicants who are chosen as members should expect to serve a three-year term, pursuant to the council’s charter.
Applications are due March 31. For further information, please contact council coordinator Beth Dieveney  at 305-809-4700 ext. 228. Download an application kit here.

Our Mission
Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys supports the Florida Keys and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) in the preservation, restoration, and sustainable use of our coral reef ecosystem, from the uplands to the deep sea. We focus on development of community support and advancement of public awareness, education, outreach and scientific research.

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In This Issue:
Sea Cucumber Limit Proposal
Ecosystem Protection Working Group Meetings
Cuba Slideshow March 18
Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events

Please add your upcoming events to our online Florida Keys Environmental Calendar. This community-wide resource allows any organization or group to set up an account and post environmentally-related events.

Friends in Focus Lecture
March 18, 7 pm, Sail & Power Squadron Education Building, 12 Loggerhead Land, Marathon.
Larry Benvenuti, Marathon's own photographer and Cuba enthusiast, will present an all-new slideshow and travel discussion on Cuba. Part of a monthly film and lecture series sponsored by Sanctuary Friends and the Marathon Sail & Power Squadron. Social begins at 6:30 pm.

Ocean Life Series: Last Train to Paradise
March 21, 7 pm, Nelson Government Center, MM102, Key Largo
Acclaimed novelist Dr. Les Standiford will discuss his fast-paced and gripping true account of the extraordinary construction and spectacular demise of Henry Flagler's Key West Railroad. Meet & Greet begins at 6 p.m. More information.

Florida Keys Ocean Festival
March 29, 11 am–6 pm, Eco-Discovery Center, Key West
Bring the family and friends to celebrate our treasured Keys waters and environment! Free admission, free parking, food and drinks, kids activities, exhibits, silent auction, live music all day and lots of shopping with great local marine artists and vendors. Donations and proceeds benefit Mote Marine Laboratory’s Coral Reef Restoration and Research Programs. More information.

Membership Update
February 2014
Welcome! Thank you for your support!

New & Returning Members ($30-$199)

Christina Celano

Raymond Blazevic



Ocean Reef Community Foundation

The Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory

Shirley Shumway

Charles Causey

Mike Klayman

Bruce Ferrer

Mr. & Mrs. Russel W. Fisher

Mildred Ryan

Please support the companies that support the FKNMS and Sanctuary Friends.
Waste Management
Marathon Garbage Service
Keys Sanitary
Sunbelt Rentals
Little Palm Island Resort
Cressi International
Centennial Bank
The Weekly Newspapers
Hawks Cay Resort
Marathon Jet Center
Keys Acoustics Insulation
Tranquility Bay Resort
Meacham Electric
Marathon Boat Yard
Grader Mike Construction
First State Bank
Stephen Frink Photography
Marathon Chamber of Commerce
A Deep Blue Dive Center
Christina’s Boutique
Paver Dave
Keys Contracting Services
Florida Keys Contractor’s Association
CSA Coral Restoration
Bee Brothers
Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory 

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We want your input!
If you have stories of note or just want to comment on our newsletter, please email:
Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys
Located at the at the historic Crane House at Crane Point Museum and Hammock
5550 Overseas Hwy.
Marathon, Florida 33050
Tel: (305)
289-2288 Fax: (305) 289-2289

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Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys
PO Box 504301
Marathon, FL 33050

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