Pre­cious marine life stripped from park

The Palm Beach Post - - OPINION: THE DEBATE STARTS HERE -

This month an in­ci­dent oc­curred at Phil Fos­ter

Park that has dev­as­tated many in the lo­cal scuba and snorkel div­ing com­mu­nity.

Op­er­at­ing un­der a per­mit issued to them by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Com­mis­sion Agency (FWC), sev­eral trop­i­cal fish col­lec­tors sent here by the Moody Aquar­ium and Gar­dens in Galve­ston, Texas, and Texas A&M Uni­ver­sity con­ducted a con­cen­trated and thor­ough strip­ping of marine life from the most pop­u­lar dive site in Palm Beach County, by num­bers pos­si­bly the state.

The per­mit al­lowed for col­lec­tion in four Florida coun­ties, and there was no men­tion of Phil Fos­ter, but these cal­lous and in­dif­fer­ent divers de­cided to con­cen­trate their ef­forts here. As can be found on Face­book, the pop­u­lar­ity of this dive site is un­par­al­leled; it is known glob­ally and pos­sessed cer­tain rare an­i­mals that have be­come photo rock stars. No more. If they sur­vived the trip, they are now in Galve­ston.

The irony is that the process had al­ready be­gun to set this area aside as a marine life sanc­tu­ary where no col­lect­ing could oc­cur, an ef­fort be­gun by the lo­cal dive com­mu­nity.

The Florida Marine Life As­so­ci­a­tion is the decades­old or­ga­ni­za­tion that rep­re­sents Florida com­mer­cial trop­i­cal fish col­lec­tors and we, as a pro­fes­sional or­ga­ni­za­tion, are as hor­ri­fied as ev­ery­one by this bla­tant act of greed and stu­pid­ity.

Mem­bers of our or­ga­ni­za­tion had al­ready voiced sup­port for pro­tec­tion of Phil Fos­ter Park, and the or­ga­ni­za­tion is ex­pected to en­dorse the set-aside at a meet­ing on Wed­nes­day. FMLA has al­ways op­posed any col­lect­ing ac­tiv­i­ties on pop­u­lar dive sites.

We, as an or­ga­ni­za­tion strongly con­demn Moody Aquar­ium for this rap­ing of Phil Fos­ter Park and call on them to make resti­tu­tion to the Palm Beach County div­ing com­mu­nity.

BILL PARKS, BOYN­TON BEACH

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