Dry Tortugas National Park (DTNP)

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Chapter 3. SITE DESCRIPTION

f - Impacts and threats affecting the area

Impacts and threats within the area


Impact and threats level Evolution In the short term Evolution In the long term Species affected Habitats affected Description / comments
Exploitation of natural ressources: Fishing very important unknown unknown Drastic declines in reef fish landings during the 1980s and 1990s lead to efforts to reduce extraction and to restore reef fish populations in the Tortugas region. Several regulations were enacted to limit the species targeted, gear types used, and daily catches landed from the region (http://www.nps.gov; http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/regs/welcome.html). In 1935, commercial extraction was prohibited within the original Fort Jefferson National Monument and later in DTNP. In 2001, commercial extraction also was prohibited within the wider Tortugas Ecological Reserve outside the Park. More recently (2007), the implementation of the RNA zone further prohibited recreational fishing in 46% of the Park while allowing scuba diving, snorkeling and other nonextractive activities. Reef fish assemblages in the Dry Tortugas have suffered significant declines in the abundance and size of desirable species because of historical overfishing. Although full recovery is expected to take decades, the establishment of no-take reserves coupled with a suite of management actions that reduced fishing mortality already are having a net positive effect on previously exploited reef fish populations. Several studies have characterized population abundance and size of exploited species and are tracking their temporal trends to evaluate the effectiveness of no-take reserves, including the newly established RNA within DTNP. Other anthropogenic stressors including ocean warming and sea level rise are more difficult to quantify for their precise ecological impact. Monitoring of corals will yield information on trends in coral health.
Exploitation of natural ressources: Agriculture limited unknown unknown N/A
Exploitation of natural ressources: Tourism limited unknown unknown N/A
Exploitation of natural ressources: Industry limited unknown unknown N/A
Exploitation of natural ressources: Forest products limited unknown unknown N/A
Increased population limited unknown unknown N/A
Invasive alien species very important unknown unknown Lionfish have been observed in DTNP since 2010 and may cause direct impacts on reef fish and invertebrates by predation, including ecologically and recreationally important species. DTNP and National Park Service adopted a Lionfish Response Plan to evaluate and mitigate the impacts of lionfish on DTNP resources.
Pollution limited unknown unknown N/A
Other significant unknown unknown - turtles - colonizing seabirds Sea level rise and increased storm intensity is likely to inundate and erode the low-lying Tortugas islands over time thereby reducing the availability of nesting beaches for sea turtles and colonizing seabirds. Anchoring can damage corals and is addressed by the RNA zone where anchoring is restricted. Unpredictable disturbances, including hurricanes, disease outbreaks, and coldwater and warm-water events, and other extreme events have resulted in atypical oceanographic conditions that have negatively affected reef-building corals and seagrass communities. Coral bleaching and disease outbreaks have dramatically reduced populations of staghorn and elkhorn corals.

Impacts and threats around the area


Impact and threats Level Evolution In the short term Evolution In the long term Species affected Habitats affected Description / comments
Exploitation of natural ressources: Fishing limited unknown unknown N/A
Exploitation of natural ressources: Agriculture limited unknown unknown N/A
Exploitation of natural ressources: Tourism limited unknown unknown N/A
Exploitation of natural ressources: Industry limited unknown unknown N/A
Exploitation of natural ressources: Forest products limited unknown unknown N/A
Increased population limited unknown unknown N/A
Invasive alien species limited unknown unknown N/A
Pollution limited unknown unknown N/A
Other limited unknown unknown N/A