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e-CFR data is current as of January 19, 2021

Title 15Subtitle BChapter IXSubchapter BPart 922Subpart P → §922.164


Title 15: Commerce and Foreign Trade
PART 922—NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY PROGRAM REGULATIONS
Subpart P—Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary


§922.164   Additional activity regulations by Sanctuary area.

In addition to the prohibitions set forth in §922.163, which apply throughout the Sanctuary, the following regulations apply with respect to activities conducted within the Sanctuary areas described in this section and in Appendix (II) through (VII) to this subpart. Activities located within two or more overlapping Sanctuary areas are concurrently subject to the regulations applicable to each overlapping area.

(a) Areas to be avoided. Operating a tank vessel or a vessel greater than 50 meters in registered length is prohibited in all areas to be avoided, except if such vessel is a public vessel and its operation is essential for national defense, law enforcement, or responses to emergencies that threaten life, property, or the environment. Appendix VII to this subpart sets forth the geographic coordinates of these areas.

(b) Existing management areas—(1) Key Largo and Looe Key Management Areas. The following activities are prohibited within the Key Largo and Looe Key Management Areas (also known as the Key Largo and Looe Key National Marine Sanctuaries) described in appendix II to this subpart:

(i) Removing, taking, damaging, harmfully disturbing, breaking, cutting, spearing or similarly injuring any coral or other marine invertebrate, or any plant, soil, rock, or other material, except commercial taking of spiny lobster and stone crab by trap and recreational taking of spiny lobster by hand or by hand gear which is consistent with these regulations and the applicable regulations implementing the applicable Fishery Management Plan.

(ii) Taking any tropical fish.

(iii) Fishing with wire fish traps, bottom trawls, dredges, fish sleds, or similar vessel-towed or anchored bottom fishing gear or nets.

(iv) Fishing with, carrying or possessing, except while passing through without interruption or for law enforcement purposes: pole spears, air rifles, bows and arrows, slings, Hawaiian slings, rubber powered arbaletes, pneumatic and spring-loaded guns or similar devices known as spearguns.

(2) Great White Heron and Key West National Wildlife Refuge Management Areas. Operating a personal watercraft, operating an airboat, or water skiing except within Township 66 South, Range 29 East, Sections 5, 11, 12 and 14; Township 66 South, Range 28 East, Section 2; Township 67 South, Range 26 East, Sections 16 and 20, all Tallahassee Meridian, are prohibited within the marine portions of the Great White Heron and Key West National Wildlife Refuge Management Areas described in appendix II to this subpart.

(c) Wildlife management areas. (1) Marine portions of the Wildlife Management Areas listed in appendix III to this subpart or portions thereof may be designated “idle speed only/no-wake,” “no-motor” or “no-access buffer” zones or “closed”. The Director, in cooperation with other Federal, State, or local resource management authorities, as appropriate, shall post signs conspicuously, using mounting posts, buoys, or other means according to location and purpose, at appropriate intervals and locations, clearly delineating an area as an “idle speed only/no wake”, a “no-motor”, or a “no-access buffer” zone or as “closed”, and allowing instant, long-range recognition by boaters. Such signs shall display the official logo of the Sanctuary.

(2) The following activities are prohibited within the marine portions of the Wildlife Management Areas listed in appendix III to this subpart:

(i) In those marine portions of any Wildlife Management Area designated an “idle speed only/no wake” zone in appendix III to this subpart, operating a vessel at a speed greater that idle speed only/no wake.

(ii) In those marine portions of any Wildlife Management Area designated a “no-motor” zone in appendix III to this subpart, using internal combustion motors or engines for any purposes. A vessel with an internal combustion motor or engine may access a “no-motor” zone only through the use of a push pole, paddle, sail, electric motor or similar means of propulsion.

(iii) In those marine portions of any Wildlife Management Area designated a “no-access buffer” zone in appendix III of this subpart, entering the area by vessel.

(iv) In those marine portions of any Wildlife Management Area designated as closed in appendix III of this subpart, entering or using the area.

(3) The Director shall coordinate with other Federal, State, or local resource management authorities, as appropriate, in the establishment and enforcement of access restrictions described in paragraph (c)(2) (i)-(iv) of this section in the marine portions of Wildlife Management Areas.

(4) The Director may modify the number and location of access restrictions described in paragraph (c)(2) (i)-(iv) of this section within the marine portions of a Wildlife Management Area if the Director finds that such action is reasonably necessary to minimize disturbances to Sanctuary wildlife, or to ensure protection and preservation of Sanctuary wildlife consistent with the purposes of the Sanctuary designation and other applicable law governing the protection and preservation of wildlife resources in the Sanctuary. The Director will effect such modification by:

(i) Publishing in the Federal Register, after notice and an opportunity for public comments in accordance, an amendment to the list of such areas set forth in appendix III to this subpart, and a notice regarding the time and place where maps depicting the precise locations of such restrictions will be made available for public inspection, and

(ii) Posting official signs delineating such restrictions in accordance with paragraph (c)(1) of this section.

(d) Ecological Reserves, Sanctuary Preservation Areas, and Special Use (Research only) Areas. (1) The following activities are prohibited within the Ecological Reserves described in appendix IV to this subpart, within the Sanctuary Preservation Areas described in appendix V to this subpart, and within the Special Use (Research only Areas) described in appendix VI to this subpart:

(i) Discharging or depositing any material or other matter except cooling water or engine exhaust.

(ii) Possessing, moving, harvesting, removing, taking, damaging, disturbing, breaking, cutting, spearing, or otherwise injuring any coral, marine invertebrate, fish, bottom formation, algae, seagrass or other living or dead organism, including shells, or attempting any of these activities. However, fish, invertebrates, and marine plants may be possessed aboard a vessel in an Ecological Reserve or Sanctuary Preservation Area, provided such resources can be shown not to have been harvested within, removed from, or taken within, the Ecological Reserve or Sanctuary Preservation Area, as applicable, by being stowed in a cabin, locker, or similar storage area prior to entering and during transit through such reserves or areas, provided further that in an Ecological Reserve or Sanctuary Preservation Area located in Florida State waters, such vessel is in continuous transit through the Ecological Reserve or Sanctuary Preservation Area.

(iii) Except for catch and release fishing by trolling in the Conch Reef, Alligator Reef, Sombrero Reef, and Sand Key SPAs, fishing by any means. However, gear capable of harvesting fish may be aboard a vessel in an Ecological Reserve or Sanctuary Preservation Area, provided such gear is not available for immediate use when entering and during transit through such Ecological Reserve or Sanctuary Preservation Area, and no presumption of fishing activity shall be drawn therefrom.

(iv) Touching living or dead coral, including but not limited to, standing on a living or dead coral formation.

(v) Anchoring in the Tortugas Ecological Reserve. In all other Ecological Reserves and Sanctuary Preservation Areas, placing any anchor in a way that allows the anchor or any portion of the anchor apparatus (including the anchor, chain or rope) to touch living or dead coral, or any attached living organism. When anchoring dive boats, the first diver down must inspect the anchor to ensure that it is not touching living or dead coral, and will not shift in such a way as to touch such coral or other attached organism. No further diving shall take place until the anchor is placed in accordance with these requirements.

(vi) Except in the Tortugas Ecological Reserve where mooring buoys must be used, anchoring instead of mooring when a mooring buoy is available or anchoring in other than a designated anchoring area when such areas have been designated and are available.

(vii) Except for passage without interruption through the area, for law enforcement purposes, or for purposes of monitoring pursuant to paragraph (d)(2) of this section, violating a temporary access restriction imposed by the Director pursuant to paragraph (d)(2) of this section.

(viii) Except for passage without interruption through the area, for law enforcement purposes, or for purposes of monitoring pursuant to paragraph (d)(2) of this section: entering the Tortugas South area of the Tortugas Ecological Reserve; or entering the Tortugas North area of the Tortugas Ecological Reserve without a valid access permit issued pursuant to §922.167 or entering or leaving the Tortugas North area with a valid access permit issued pursuant to §922.167 without notifying FKNMS staff at the Dry Tortugas National Park office by telephone or radio no less than 30 minutes and no more than 6 hours, before entering and upon leaving the Tortugas Ecological Reserve.

(ix) Tying a vessel greater than 100 feet (30.48 meters) LOA, or tying more than one vessel (other than vessels carried on board a vessel) if the combined lengths would exceed 100 feet (30.48 meters) LOA, to a mooring buoy or to a vessel tied to a mooring buoy in the Tortugas Ecological Reserve.

(2) The Director may temporarily restrict access to any portion of any Sanctuary Preservation Area or Ecological Reserve if the Director, on the basis of the best available data, information and studies, determines that a concentration of use appears to be causing or contributing to significant degradation of the living resources of the area and that such action is reasonably necessary to allow for recovery of the living resources of such area. The Director will provide for continuous monitoring of the area during the pendency of the restriction. The Director will provide public notice of the restriction by publishing a notice in the Federal Register, and by such other means as the Director may deem appropriate. The Director may only restrict access to an area for a period of 60 days, with one additional 60 day renewal. The Director may restrict access to an area for a longer period pursuant to a notice and opportunity for public comment rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act. Such restriction will be kept to the minimum amount of area necessary to achieve the purposes thereof.

(e) Special-use Areas. (1) The Director may set aside discrete areas of the Sanctuary as Special-use Areas, and, by designation pursuant to this paragraph, impose the access and use restrictions specified in paragraph (e)(3) of this section. Special-use Areas are described in appendix VI to this subpart, in accordance with the following designations and corresponding objectives:

(i) “Recovery area” to provide for the recovery of Sanctuary resources from degradation or other injury attributable to human uses;

(ii) “Restoration area” to provide for restoration of degraded or otherwise injured Sanctuary resources;

(iii) “Research-only area” to provide for scientific research or education relating to protection and management, through the issuance of a Sanctuary General permit for research pursuant to §922.166 of these regulations; and

(iv) “Facilitated-use area” to provide for the prevention of use or user conflicts or the facilitation of access and use, or to promote public use and understanding, of Sanctuary resources through the issuance of special-use permits.

(2) A Special-use Area shall be no larger than the size the Director deems reasonably necessary to accomplish the applicable objective.

(3) Persons conducting activities within any Special-use Area shall comply with the access and use restrictions specified in this paragraph and made applicable to such area by means of its designation as a “recovery area,” “restoration area,” “research-only area,” or “facilitated-use area.” Except for passage without interruption through the area or for law enforcement purposes, no person may enter a Special-use Area except to conduct or cause to be conducted the following activities:

(i) In such area designated as a “recovery area” or a “restoration area”, habitat manipulation related to restoration of degraded or otherwise injured Sanctuary resources, or activities reasonably necessary to monitor recovery of degraded or otherwise injured Sanctuary resources;

(ii) In such area designated as a “research only area”, scientific research or educational use specifically authorized by and conducted in accordance with the scope, purpose, terms and conditions of a valid National Marine Sanctuary General or Historical Resources permit, or

(iii) In such area designated as a “facilitated-use area”, activities specified by the Director or specifically authorized by and conducted in accordance with the scope, purpose, terms, and conditions of a valid Special-use permit.

(4)(i) The Director may modify the number of, location of, or designations applicable to, Special-use Areas by publishing in the Federal Register, after notice and an opportunity for public comment in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act, an amendment to appendix VI to this subpart, except that, with respect to such areas designated as a “recovery area,” “restoration area,” or “research only area,” the Director may modify the number of, location of, or designation applicable to, such areas by publishing a notice of such action in the Federal Register if the Director determines that immediate action is reasonably necessary to:

(A) Prevent significant injury to Sanctuary resources where circumstances create an imminent risk to such resources;

(B) Initiate restoration activity where a delay in time would significantly impair the ability of such restoration activity to succeed;

(C) Initiate research activity where an unforeseen natural event produces an opportunity for scientific research that may be lost if research is not initiated immediately.

(ii) If the Director determines that a notice of modification must be promulgated immediately in accordance with paragraph (e)(4)(i) of this section, the Director will, as part of the same notice, invite public comment and specify that comments will be received for 15 days after the effective date of the notice. As soon as practicable after the end of the comment period, the Director will either rescind, modify or allow the modification to remain unchanged through notice in the Federal Register.

(5) In addition to paragraph (e)(3) of this section no person shall conduct activities listed in paragraph (d) of this section in “Research-only Areas.”

(f) Additional Wildlife Management Areas, Ecological Reserves, Sanctuary Preservation Areas, or Special-use Areas, and additional restrictions in such areas, shall not take effect in Florida State waters unless first approved by the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund of the State of Florida.

(g) Anchoring on Tortugas Bank. Vessels 50 meters or greater in registered length, are prohibited from anchoring on the portion of Tortugas Bank within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary west of the Dry Tortugas National Park that is outside of the Tortugas Ecological Reserve. The boundary of the area closed to anchoring by vessels 50 meters or greater in registered length is formed by connecting in succession the points at the following coordinates (based on the North American Datum of 1983):

(1) 24 deg. 32.00 N 83 deg. 00.05 W

(2) 24 deg. 37.00 N 83 deg. 06.00 W

(3) 24 deg. 39.00 N 83 deg. 06.00 W

(4) 24 deg. 39.00 N 83 deg. 00.05 W

(5) 24 deg. 32.00 N 83 deg. 00.05 W

[62 FR 32161, June 12, 1997, as amended at 63 FR 43873, Aug. 17, 1998; 66 FR 4369, Jan. 17, 2001; 74 FR 38095, July 31, 2009]

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