Boaters protest closure of Biscayne National Park
COCONUT GROVE, Fla. (WSVN) -- The government shutdown is not only having an effect on furloughed workers but also on South Floridians taking part in boating and fishing activities during the Columbus Day Weekend.
Dozens of local fishermen gathered at Dinner Key Marina Wednesday afternoon to protest the park's closure. Everglades and Biscayne National Park will also be closed. The government shutdown is hitting local businesses and tourism on the water. "We are on a losing situation as it is right now," said fishing guide Gary Ellis.
According to park officials, the park will be closed. However, boats will be welcomed to go through the park, and they will also be able to seek refuge for safe harbor if they have an emergency in park waters. "I started guiding professionally, I think, since 1987," said fishing guide Craig Brewer.
Brewer is a long time fishing guide out of Islamorada. He's losing hundreds of dollars everyday.
The Columbus Day Regatta will continue, but boaters are asked to stay in waterways, which are open. Boaters are not allowed to stop at the park but are allowed to pass through it. "You're not allowed to stop, and you're not allowed to anchor, and they will be enforcing that rule," said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesperson Jorge Pino.
The park will also remain open to anyone wanting to fish.
Columbus Day Regatta Chairman Scott Pincus said the shutdown will not have an effect on their event because they do not go into Biscayne National Park.
Park rangers will be on duty during the Columbus Day Weekend to respond to any violations or problems. "Don't operate a vessel while intoxicated. Use common sense while you're out there. Hydrate," said Pino.
(Copyright 2013 by Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)