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FL - Environmental groups appeal to Ron DeSantis to keep Key West cruise regulations in place

The GOP-controlled Legislature is weighing a bill to reverse those regulations and preempt local control.

Two dozen environmental groups are authoring a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis asking him to halt Republicans’ push to preempt local governments from regulating major aspects of the cruise ship industry.

That legislation, backed by Republicans, was filed in response to three referendums approved by Key West voters last November. One bans large cruise ships from docking in Key West. Another measure limits the number of cruise passengers that can embark in Key West per day. A third allows cruise ships with better health and environmental records to gain priority in terms of docking.

Republican lawmakers are now pushing to undo those changes and prevent local governments from taking similar action in the future. That’s cause for concern, according to the letter from environmental groups.

“Key West is the only cruise port in the world with a relatively shallow and narrow main channel in such close proximity to coral reef ecosystem habitats,” the letter to DeSantis reads.

“The ship channel runs directly through the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and in the immediate vicinity of some of the most sensitive ecological preserves in the hemisphere, including the Key West National Wildlife Refuge; Sanctuary Preservation Areas including Sand Key, Rock Key, and Western Sambo; and Western Dry Rocks, which was granted new protections by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission just this year.”

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