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[email protected] June 7, 2014 

A plan going to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary's advisory council for review June 17 proposes to double the number of wildlife management areas in nearshore waters.

Regulations in the 27 existing wildlife areas typically limit boats to low speeds, require no-motor access or ban entry altogether to protect birds, seagrasses and flats fish.

One suggestion from the Shallow Water Working Group, a subcommittee of the full advisory council, would create an idle-speed area running along much of Marathon's Atlantic Ocean shoreline to protect flats and fish species.

The Marathon Guides Association endorsed such an area a decade ago. The current proposal would not limit speeds in existing access channels or waterways like Vaca Cut.

"We're not cutting off any access. All the guides want is for people to use common sense," group President Richard Grathwohl said Friday. "At high water, people have been jumping the flats instead of going out the channels." Read more at