Mooring Buoy and Marker Plan

Biscayne National Park » Mooring Buoy and Marker Plan » Document List

The National Park Service (NPS) has released an environmental assessment (EA) for a proposed Mooring Buoy and Marker Plan at Biscayne National Park. The purpose of this EA is to assist the NPS in analyzing the impacts from different alternatives to manage its embedded and floating marker system, as well as to determine criteria for adding or relocating markers and mooring buoys. Waters within Biscayne National Park are marked to assist boating navigation by a system of aids to navigation (ATONs). This system employs a variety of markers using a simple arrangement of colors, shapes, numbers and light characteristics to mark navigable channels and hazards to navigation. Buoys are installed and managed by a variety of agencies to denote sensitive areas and closures; these aids are installed with the concurrence of the U.S. Coast Guard to ensure that their placement does not present a hazard to safe navigation. Aids found within the park include embedded markers such as lighted structures, day markers (both lighted and non-lighted), poles and pilings, as well as floating buoys. Markers are in place to assist navigation through routes or around hazards, or to give information such as the presence of scientific sites or swim areas. Some markers within the park are managed by other agencies (such as the U.S. Coast Guard or Miami-Dade County) or private entities (such as Florida Power and Light). The park also manages several mooring buoys to prevent anchor damage to resources while allowing boaters easy access to dive, snorkel, or fish at reefs and historic shipwrecks. The purpose of this plan is to increase the protection of marine natural and cultural resources while enhancing visitor enjoyment of these resources, as well as to protect human health and safety through the appropriate use of mooring buoys, aids to navigation, and informational signs. Vessel groundings can be dangerous. Vessel groundings, improper anchoring, and visitor crowding in or near sensitive habitats can cause considerable damage to seagrass beds and coral reefs. It can take years and even decades for seagrasses and corals to recover from grounding and anchoring damage, and in some areas, they may never grow back; instead forming sandy areas, such as by the Sand Key sandbar. The park is reviewing its current navigational and mooring system to determine whether moorings and navigational markers should be removed, relocated, or increased in number to protect marine resources and provide for the enjoyment of park resources such as reefs and shipwrecks. The park is proposing appropriate criteria and standards for establishing future mooring sites, as well as defining desired conditions for mooring sites and navigation. The park is also proposing to formalize and expand the Maritime Heritage Trail in order to facilitate access to historic shipwrecks and other submerged archeological sites, by installing mooring buoys and providing diver cards and brochures for each of these sites.

Contact Information

If you have any questions about the process or public meetings, please contact Elsa Alvear, Chief of Resource Management, at (305) 230-1144 ext 002.