Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, whose district includes the Florida Keys, as well as the ecologically sensitive Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Biscayne Bay National Park, is concerned about recent reports that tar balls that washed ashore at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in Key West as well as in other parts of the Keys. The Coast Guard and NOAA will analyze the tar balls to determine if they are indeed from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
"Should these tar balls be confirmed as the result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, then Florida will have entered unchartered territory, with serious ramifications on our environment and economy. The water surrounding Fort Zachary Taylor is home to one of the world's largest coral reef tracts and a variety of marine species and wildlife. The waters around the entire island chain are home to a diverse and fragile marine habitat. The protection of this fragile area must be part of any future containment effort.
Our local economy is dependent on our ocean resources, whether it is for fishing, diving, or boating. It is important to verify the source. There is a delicate balance between protecting our environment and taking premature and unsound measures which could have a negative impact on local Keys businesses that are already hurting. Let the message go out that the Keys and the rest of Florida are open for business."