With manatee numbers temporarily growing, Florida developers are waging an all-out campaign to undo the very protections that are credited with producing a modest rebound in the manatee population. With fewer than 4,000 in Florida waters, the manatee remains one of the most endangered marine mammals in North America.
Even as the state is weakening its manatee protections, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is ceding its authority to the state in a grant agreement that puts the state in charge of enforcing boating and waterway rules crucial to manatee survival:
- Speed Kills. While manatee numbers are up, so too are manatee deaths from propeller wounds. The slow moving manatee is more and more frequently a living (and bleeding) speed bump for fast moving boats;
- What Sign? Under orders from a lawsuit won against it in 2000, FWS is supposed to clearly post warnings and enforce speed limits in designated manatee zones. But there has been no real follow-up no status reports on the repair needs and visibility of speed limit and warning signs or evaluations of signage effectiveness in preventing manatee deaths or injuries; and
- Pave Paradise and Put up a Parking Dock. Marina construction is eating up manatee habitat at a ferocious rate. A recent policy change by the Army Corps of Engineers and the state has quickened the process for marina and dock approvals.
PEER is working with concerned federal and state scientists to shore up fast-eroding manatee protections. Help us reduce manatee-boating deaths and maiming.