Sanctuary. The very word brings to mind ideas of peace and safety, but for wildlife living in and around the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, it was anything but.
Thanks to the hard work of ocean protection organizations and activists like you, however, a new policy passed in late December 2010 means that boaters will no longer be able to discharge sewage into waters in the sanctuary.
The new government rule takes effect this month, and also expands the area where discharges are illegal. Now, sewage dumping will be prohibited within the 2,900 square nautical miles of the sanctuary.
The 3,801 square-mile Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary supports one of the most diverse assemblages of underwater plants and animals in North America (Friends of the Earth).
FOE also reports that “while the Florida Keys Sanctuary banned the dumping of sewage from vessels in state waters of the Sanctuary in 2002, ships were still allowed to dump barely treated sewage without limitation in 35 percent of Sanctuary waters that were federally controlled.”
Boat sewage can contain disease-causing bacteria, viruses and parasites, and contribute to the spreading of water-borne diseases, including hepatitis A, giardia, typhoid and cholera.
“This rule is another important step in restoring the water quality of the Florida Keys,” Sean Morton, superintendent of the sanctuary, told the Palm Beach Post.
“Combined with other strategies such as increased pump-out facility availability and ongoing progress in advanced wastewater treatment,” Morton continued, “this new rule brings us closer to reversing the trends of declining water quality associated with human sources of pollution.”
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Image Credit: Flickr - wscottheath
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