FWC seeks input on proposed manatee zones for western Pinellas

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

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November 20, 2014


Photos available on FWC’s Flickr site. Go to: https://flic.kr/s/aHsjxNrc5v.


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FWC seeks input on proposed manatee zones for western Pinellas


The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), at its Nov. 20 meeting in Key Largo, approved publication of a draft rule for new manatee protection zones for inshore waters of western Pinellas County.

FWC staff will seek further public input on these proposed zones through a public comment period that will include at least one additional public meeting in Pinellas County. Written comments will also be accepted and can be submitted by mail or email.

To develop the proposed manatee protection zones, the FWC worked closely with Pinellas County, local municipalities, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Local Rule Review Committee (LRRC). The review committee is selected by the county, as indicated by state statute. It is composed of an equal number of local waterway users including boaters, anglers and water-dependent business owners; representatives of environmental organizations; and manatee advocates. Since 2012, the FWC has been working on the review of these zones, which are being developed because of increasing risks to manatees from boat collisions.

FWC staff believes these zones will provide important protection for manatees while minimizing impacts to local businesses and boaters.

“Through our analysis of manatee and boating data, we believe the proposed zones will provide improved protection for manatees while causing a relatively small effect on boaters’ travel time,” said Carol Knox, leader of the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management Section.

Staff will evaluate all public input and any new ideas or suggested changes before bringing a recommended final rule back to the Commission for action in 2015.

For more information about manatee protection zones, visit MyFWC.com/Manatee and click on “Protection Zones.”

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