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‘Keymandments’ Encourage Sustainable Behaviors

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This Green Scene story spotlights an environmentally focused attraction, event, person or place that enriches the Florida Keys

Encouraging environmentally responsible behaviors is a crucial element of the Florida Keys’ commitment to protecting the region’s natural resources, including the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef. Divers in particular can share that commitment by following the “10 Keymandments.”

While the Bible’s 10 Commandments advise people what NOT to do, the Keymandments advise divers, snorkelers and others what they CAN do to have a meaningful, memorable experience while respecting and helping preserve the Keys’ environment. They are lighthearted yet educational guidelines for practicing sustainable behaviors underwater, on the water and on land in the subtropical island chain.

  • Plant a coral (or adopt one of the cute little things, but don't touch them on the reef).
  • Support the wildlife (volunteer food, funds or time to a local wild bird center).
  • Take out the trash (especially if it’s floating in the water).
  • Capture a lionfish (any time and any size — we can show you how).
  • Leave a digital footprint (share pictures with fans, friends and followers).
  • Hike it, bike it or hoof it (it’s low on eco-impact and high on fresh tropical air).
  • Catch dinner (and release all the fish you know you can’t eat).
  • Use a mooring buoy at dive sites (save your back and leave the anchor alone).
  • Conserve vs. consume (reduce, reuse and recycle even on vacation).
  • Get off the beaten path (you can hike, bike, walk, kayak or paddleboard along Keys trails).

The Keymandments are a contemporary addition to more than a century of efforts to preserve the Florida Keys environment. Endeavors have included creating John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park as America’s first underwater preserve, establishing the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, developing wildlife preserves and pioneering catch-and-release fishing techniques.

In addition, experts spearheading coral restoration efforts in the Keys are steadily restoring endangered corals by replanting new growths from coral nurseries on the reefs.

More and more, eco-conscious people who love the Florida Keys are practicing a culture of conservation and serving as stewards of the island chain’s unique natural resources.

Learn more about the sustainable Florida Keys

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This article was updated on August 22, 2020 at 6:01 PM
The Keys to Sustainable Travel