In the early 2000s, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began exploring options for expansion of The Flower Garden, a 56-square-mile national marine sanctuary. It has proposed five alternatives for expansion. Staffers recommend adding 15 reefs, including one basalt sphere — a geological feature.
Buddy Guindon, owner of Katie’s Seafood and commercial fishing boats, said he initially balked at the huge increase in the size of the expansion. The corals and structures need protecting, Guindon said, but he wants to review the proposal more closely to see how it might affect the industry.
“They’ve hugely expanded the boundaries,” Guindon said. “That may or may not cause problems. We still have issues we’re working through.”
While commercial fishing is allowed, vessels are not allowed to anchor over the reefs, and anglers can only use hooks and lines.
Public comments on all of the alternatives are being accepted until Aug. 19. The agency will review the public input, select one of the alternatives and write a final proposal, which could take another year. Some suggestions have recommended 12 natural features encompassing several hundred square miles.