KeysKeeper was in the forefront of efforts to oppose widening Cut B, the main shipping channel in Key West.
The issue was moved into the political arena by way of a referendum on the October 2013 ballot. The issue was being prosecuted by two political PAC’s – the Key West Committee for Responsible Tourism (against the referendum and dredging); the “Just a Study” (for the referendum). 73% of Key West residents voted no to the study. In response to the overwhelming response of the 4,531 Key West residents who voted against the referendum, the City Commissioner in turn voted to notify the United States Army Corps of Engineers that it does not want the United States Army Corps of Engineers to undertake or commission future studies to consider the concept of widening the Key West Main Ship Channel, regardless of potential funding sources.
There is seasonal conflict in the waters around Key West between the jet ski industry and the fishing guides. The jet ski industry is running tours with several jet-skis at a time in the same areas that fishing guides take their clients to fish. Jet skis are loud and spook the fish, and at times destroy the fish habitats.
KeysKeeper brought both parties together and developed a working agreement that holds the promise of resolving the conflict.
KeysKeeper backstopped the initial funding by Bonefish & Tarpon Trust of a specific staffing assignment within the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust to work with fishing guides in the Lower Keys to map areas that are especially sensitive to fish. This effort contributes to the ongoing 10 year review process of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary regulations, and will be used in the discussion of “no motor” areas and the like.
Ultimately most of the initial pledge by KeysKeeper was funded by B.T.T and The Nature Conservancy.
Bonefish are now catch and release only over the range its habitat in Florida and in the adjacent Federal waters.
According to the Fish and Wildlife Commission, a recent study done by the University of Miami shows that a single Bonefish is worth $3500 per year with a net worth of $75,000 over its life span. Bonefish are stealthy with ghost-like tendencies making this fish one of the premier fishing species of the flats in the Florida Keys, and one of the most valuable. Conserving this species is not just important to the health of the Florida Keys ecosystem, but it also holds great economic value. KeysKeeper and other organizations have worked together in further protecting these species.
Tarpon are now catch and release only throughout the entirety of its range in Florida and in the adjacent Federal waters.
Tarpon populations have showed a decline throughout their range. Tarpon are listed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s red list as a vulnerable species – meaning that its populations had declined globally by 30%.
Permit, African Pompano, and Florida Pompano were regulated as the same species, but were valued very differently as a resource through-out the state of Florida. KeysKeeper worked with other organizations such as the Lower Keys Guides Association in changing management strategies for Permit.