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Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys

In this Issue:

News & Notes
May 2010

Sanctuary Friends Foundation

  Hot Issues

Oil Spill Update: Safe for Now

Loop CurrentThe effects the Deepwater Horizon oil spill will have on the Florida Keys is still unknown, and predictions of when, and if, oil will reach the Keys change daily. Water from near the spill will eventually flow to the Keys, but the longer it stays out of the Loop Current, the better it is for our unique marine eco-system. Currently, there is no imminent threat to the Keys.

NOAA officials are confident with exposure to heat, weather, dispersants and evaporation, any of the oil sheen presently in the Gulf Loop Current that got close to the Keys would likely transform into small tar balls. Tar balls, they said, would have a lot less impact than a major spill and are less toxic.

Sanctuary Friends is monitoring the situation and posting important information on our website. Visit for best links, important facts, preparation, volunteer opportunities, trainings, meetings and contacts. More information can also be found at

Our Amazing Ocean

Grouper Season Reopens

Recreational and commercial harvest of shallow-water groupers reopened in all Monroe County and Atlantic Ocean waters on May 1. The ban had been in effect since Jan. 1 to address overfishing of grouper in the Atlantic, and will run annually until the stock has recovered.

GrouperThe closure, which covered black and red grouper, affected both commercial fishermen and recreational anglers from North Carolina to Florida during the main grouper spawning season. The much-debated ban stirred controversy because it corresponds with the busy time for Florida charter boat operators, a mainstay in a tourism-based economy.

The economic impact of the closure caused the National Marine Fisheries Service to delay implementing the seasonal ban until this year.

The effects of the ban - on grouper populations, as well as on Keys tourism - are yet to be determined.

 Programs & Projects

Wrap-up: "Florida Keys Days" in Tallahassee

About 75 people traveled to Tallahassee in April for "Florida Keys Days" to lobby the state Legislature. The group included Monroe County and Islamorada commission members, Key Largo Wastewater District officials, School Board members, GLEE officials and other advocates.

The primary goal of the advocacy event was to inform the Florida Legislature of the uniqueness of Monroe County and the Florida Keys, its value and contributions to the state as a whole and its significant problems that require the help of the Legislature to address.

Tallahassee Delegation

The group lobbied the state Legislature to extend a state-mandated deadline to upgrade wastewater systems and pass a bond that could bring $200 million to the Keys for wastewater projects. Monroe County government officials also urged the state to allow them to bring a referendum before the voters that would allow Keys governments to add another penny in sales tax, with proceeds going to wastewater and stormwater projects.

FIRM (Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe County) visited with legislators and their aides to discuss the pending 2010 insurance legislation, focusing on their opposition to the insurance deregulation bills and support for continuing the 'file and use' insurance process, which requires Citizens Property Insurance to file for rate increases before passing them along to consumers.

Other activities included a welcome & briefing by Representative Ron Saunders, a Senate chambers tour, and House gallery recognition by the Speaker of the House, Larry Cretul. The event culminated in a smorgasbord of Keys fare served in the courtyard between the old and new capitol buildings. An estimated 400 people dined on conch salad, fish dip, conch fritters and stone crab chowder in celebration of the Florida Keys.

NOAA Marine Debris Blog
Want to keep up with what NOAA is doing to reduce marine debris? Check out the blog from the NOAA Marine Debris Program. The purpose is to coordinate, strengthen, and increase the visibility of marine debris issues and efforts within the agency, its partners, and the public. Our own Team OCEAN has even made the blog a couple times (click here to view).

Sanctuary Friends Says "Thanks!"
Sanctuary Friends wants to thank meteorologist Bill Cottrill at the National Weather Service in Key West for his help putting together the recent Science Saturday event at the weather office. We also want to recognize Publix Supermarkets and Midland Radio for their sponsorship of this event. These two corporate sponsors have recognized the efforts of the National Weather Service to help keep our citizens safe by providing crucial weather information and the efforts of the Sanctuary Friends to help preserve and protect our beautiful coral reef and marine resources. We would also like to thank the following people whose hard work made this event possible: Todd Hitchins, Billy Causey, Bill and Bobbie Jahnes, Nick and Shara Busby, Peggy Russell and all the others who participated with outdoor displays and information. We are very appreciative of their efforts.

In addition, Sanctuary Friends would like to thank the beautiful people of Fury Water Adventures -- owners and staff alike -- for being the gracious host for our recent fundraiser aboard one of their fabulous catamarans. It was a great party and wonderful silent auction to benefit the FKNMS Mooring Buoy Program. We also want to thank the businesses that provided items for our silent auction.

Endangered Status Proposed for U.S. Loggerhead Sea Turtles
Florida beaches, which host the largest nesting population of loggerheads in the Northwest Atlantic, have seen a decline in nesting of more than 40 percent in the past decade. Loggerheads have declined by at least 80 percent in the North Pacific and could become functionally or ecologically extinct by the mid-twenty-first century if additional protections are not put into place.

Based on these and other statistics, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service recently issued a proposed rule to change the status of North Pacific and Northwest Atlantic loggerhead sea turtles from "threatened" to "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. government also proposed listing loggerhead sea turtles around the globe as nine separate populations, each with its own threatened or endangered status.

Human actions, including commercial fishing and habitat degradation, are pushing loggerheads towards extinction. Climate change threatens to make the situation even worse. In addition to demanding that the Fisheries Service protect sea turtles and their habitat under existing law, the groups are calling for comprehensive legislation that would protect U.S. sea turtles in ocean waters as well as on land.
Source: Oceana press release

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May is
National Bike Month

Biking is fun, healthy and reduces your carbon footprint. Why not bike to work today? 

Become a Sanctuary Friend
help support our coral reef
and marine ecosystems.

 From the Board

Dear Friends,

As someone who has worked on offshore, land-based, and inland water drilling rigs during my previous life, the Deepwater Horizon rig oil spill is especially tragic for me. For 30-something years, we've been blessed not to experience a "Blow Out." Now, the lives of so many will be affected.

Although having never worked in depths such as these, the risk is always there for tragic accidents. This risk grows exponentially when safety practices are violated in an attempt to save a buck. The lose-lose-lose situation for the industry, the environment and the economy is tragic. The loss of 11 lives and the tragedy to those families is even more tragic.

Now we are on watch as to the negative effects this catastrophe will produce for the environment. But there are ways to help; check the Sanctuary Friends website for the most recent updates and volunteer opportunities. You can also join us as a member. In these difficult times, our mission remains the same - the preservation, restoration, and sustainable use of our coral reef and marine ecosystems. Thank you for your support.

George Neugent,
Vice Chair, SFFFK Board of Directors

Upcoming Events

The first and only Florida Keys Environmental Event Calendar is up and running! This community-wide resource allows any environmentally-related organization or group to set up an account and post events.

To add YOUR event, first request an account. Once you've been approved and have selected a username and password, you can give it a try!

Key Largo Reef Fest
June 5-10, A celebration of Key Largo's coral reefs and Shipwrecks. More information.

World Oceans Day Film Fest
June 6, Eco-Discovery Center
2 pm & 6 pm: A Sea Change (83 min.)
4 pm & 8 pm: End of the Line (82 min.)
Email Robert Keeley for more information.

Capitol Hill Ocean Week
June 8-10, Washington, DC
This 3-day event brings together a wide-range of stakeholders to discuss current ocean and coastal issues. This year's symposium will explore the role of our ocean in leading us toward a sustainable energy future. More information.

REEF, Fish & Friends Seminar Series

June 9, 6 - 7:30 pm, REEF Headquarters, MM 98.3, Key Largo

REEF's Executive Director, Lisa Mitchell, will cover the nuts and bolts of how to do a REEF Survey and how REEF data is used. Part of the free seminar series about fish on the second Tuesday of the month sponsored by Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) and Sanctuary Friends.

FKNMS Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC) meeting
June 15, 9 am, Marathon Garden Club, 5270 Overseas Highway, Marathon
The Council provides advice regarding management of the FKNMS. All meetings are open to the public and include morning and afternoon public comment periods. More information and agenda.

EcoWeek 2010
Nov. 1-14
A Keys-wide event to educate and celebrate environmental preservation. Special activities in the Upper, Middle and Lower Keys. Inaugural event in 2010 to celebrate healthy living, a healthy planet and peaceable and sustainable communities.
Coming ...
Eco-Discovery Tours
Discover the Florida Keys
through eco-friendly and historical excursions
For more information or to request a brochure,
call 305-289-2288 or e-mail
Welcome New Members
/ May 2010
Thank you for your support!
Sanctuary Advocate $200
Sean Morton
Sanctuary Advocate $300
Thomas N. Davidson
Sanctuary Patron $500
Harold and Mona Brewer
Billy and Laura Causey
Our Mission
Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys supports the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) in the preservation, restoration, and sustainable use of our coral reef and marine ecosystems. We focus on development of community support and advancement of public awareness, education, outreach and scientific research.

blue & green occasions

celebrating the event...
                 honoring the earth and sea


We invite you to hold your special celebrations, business meetings and other occasions in a meaningful way at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center. Our staff will help you celebrate in a green way, and your donations will help to give back to the “Sanctuary.” Call today to reserve your date and share your celebration with the earth and sea! Call 847-612-4712 or email.

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Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys
11450 Overseas Highway
Suite 102
Marathon, Florida 33050

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