Designated in 1990, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) is one of fifteen national marine sanctuaries and two national marine monuments that make up the National Marine Sanctuary System.
FKNMS is jointly managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), under the advisement of the community based Sanctuary Advisory Council. It protects 2,900 square nautical miles of waters surrounding the Florida Keys, from Biscayne Bay National Park to the Dry Tortugas, excluding Dry Tortugas National Park and northward to Everglades National Park. The shoreward boundary of the Sanctuary is the mean high-water mark, meaning that once you set foot in waters of the Florida Keys , you have entered the Sanctuary.
Within the boundaries of the sanctuary lie spectacular, unique and nationally significant marine resources, including Florida’s Coral Reef, extensive seagrass beds, beautiful sandbars, mangrove-fringed islands and more than 6,000 species of marine life. The sanctuary also protects pieces of our nation’s history such as shipwrecks and other archaeological treasures. Through the public federal rule-making process, a series of marine zones have been established to protect sensitive natural resources from overuse, separate conflicting uses, and to preserve the diversity of marine life in an area.
Visitors to the sanctuary are encouraged to take advantage of the many recreational activities this amazing ecosystem has to offer, including world-class diving, swimming, snorkeling and fishing. However, rules and regulations are in place to make sure that these activities happen in ways – and at places – that reduce user conflict and are not harmful to the sanctuary’s natural and cultural resources.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.