Manatee Regulations On The Line

The federal Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) sets a general ban on the
"take"(killing, hunting, and harassment) of manatees, with some
exceptions for"incidental take,"(the unintentional killing related to
otherwise lawful activity) as long as it involves only small numbers of
animals and will have only a negligible effect on the population's

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), after decades of
allowing unlawful killing of manatees by boats," has at last proposed a
new set of"Incidental Take Regulations"for manatees in Florida. The
Incidental Take Regulations must determine how many manatees can be killed
without harming the population (for the next five years) during permitted
activities in critical Florida manatee habitats. The regulations must also
include mandatory measures to minimize manatee deaths. Boating-related
construction projects have been permitted for years without consideration
of manatees who are killed due to this construction. As of Nov. 1, 2002,
Florida has seen an all-time record of 87 manatee deaths and countless,
propeller injuries to other manatees. The current proposal for incidental
killing regulations is desperately needed now more than ever.


Write to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials by January 10, 2003,
about their proposed"Incidental Take Regulations":

Pete Benjamin, USFWS
6620 Southpoint Dr. South #310
Jacksonville, FL 32216
fax: 904-232-2404

Let them know:

  1. FWS must base decisions on the best available scientific data;
  2. New or expanded watercraft access facilities should not be permitted
    until manatees are adequately protected;

  3. The FWS must expand their list of new federal manatee refuges and
    sanctuaries to include those proposed by Save the Manatee Club;

  4. More on-water law enforcement and strategic enforcement efforts at the
    city, county, state and federal levels are needed;

  5. More outreach to boaters regarding safe boating practices, especially
    to boat rental businesses, is needed.

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