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Statement on Signing the Bill Designating Florida Keys Coastal Waters as a National Marine Sanctuary

November 16, 1990

On Earth Day of this year, I stated that "the Florida coral reefs are one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world and a unique national treasure. Protecting the reefs from damage, both from vessel groundings and pollution, is imperative." Today I take great pleasure in signing H.R. 5909 -- a bill that designates 2,600 square nautical miles of coastal waters off the Florida Keys as our Nation's ninth national marine sanctuary. The new Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary covers the entire Florida reef tract, as well as part of one of America's favorite fishing areas, the Florida Bay "backcountry."

National marine sanctuaries should only be designated after adherence to the comprehensive evaluation and designation procedures set forth in the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act (the "Act") of 1972. Department of Commerce studies supporting designation of a Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, however, justify bypassing part of the usual process in this instance.

My approval of the legislation demonstrates this Nation's resolve to preserve ecologically unique ocean areas. Next year, through the process set forth in the Act, we intend to designate several other national marine sanctuaries including the Flower Garden Banks in the Gulf of Mexico; Monterey Bay, California; and the Olympic Coast off the State of Washington.

I am pleased that the bill makes the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) responsible for developing and implementing the management plan for the Sanctuary. NOAA has managed our other national marine sanctuaries well and, in cooperation with the Florida Department of Natural Resources, has had great success in managing the existing Key Largo and Looe Key National Marine Sanctuaries off Florida. Those two Sanctuaries eventually will become part of the new Sanctuary.

Designation of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary will complement and augment existing Federal Government, Florida State and local government, and private sector efforts to protect the marine resources of the Florida Keys. It is an accomplishment of which we can all be proud.

George Bush

The White House,

November 16, 1990.

Note: H.R. 5909, approved November 16, was assigned Public Law No. 101 - 605. An original was not available for verification of the content of this statement.

George Bush, Statement on Signing the Bill Designating Florida Keys Coastal Waters as a National Marine Sanctuary Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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