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Are boating restrictions against the Bill of Rights?

It’s the tea party versus the manatees . . . at least that’s the story behind the headline in yesterday’s St. Petersburg Times. Reporter Craig Pittman cited opposition to new powers to restrict boating that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service wants.

It seems the Citrus County Tea Party Patriots have staked out their position that the new rules — which could eliminate boating in an entire bay — go against the Bill of Rights. They’re not alone. The Crystal River City Council and the Citrus County Commission agree, along with area boaters and tours operators, all see FWS actions as bad for tourism and the local economy.

The small Florida community of Crystal River is located along the Gulf of Mexico about 65 miles north of Tampa. Its Kings Bay became famous some 40 years ago when Jacques Cousteau featured the Bay’s manatees in “Forgotten Mermaids.” These days more than 100,000 visitors come each winter to view, interact and even swim with the manatees.

In 1980, a series of five manatee sanctuary areas in the Bay were established. Last winter, however, FWS posted “temporary” rules that enabled the agency to close more areas and set other rules anywhere in the Bay “as the situation arises.” FWS is now proposing to declare all of Kings Bay a refuge and make those temporary rules permanent. It could lead to elimination, for example, of the summer “water sports zone” that permits fast boat operation, or FWS could unilaterally establish “no entry” areas which could even include private docks on private property around the Bay. It all raises the question: when is enough regulation enough?

Records show that when the sanctuary zones were instituted in 1980, there were an estimated 100 summer manatees there. (The manatee population greatly increases during the winter months.) Today, FWS says there are more than 500 in the Bay year-round. That’s excellent! It clearly demonstrates that the current regulations and policies are adequate.

The Save the Manatee Club claims the manatees are now in great danger. You’ll recall this is the group that used to dress their kids in baby manatee costumes and parade them through the Florida legislature. But the facts don’t back them up. In the last 10 years on Kings Bay, 13 manatee deaths have been attributed to boats, just 6 during the summer months when the “water sports zone” is active.

On so many fronts these days, federal agencies in general have become belligerent in their goal to issue new restrictions and regulations on everything from styrene to snapper. This is just another example of government overreaching. Hopefully there will be sufficient pushback in the Crystal River area to keep the FWS from going over the top. To that end, the Tea Party Patriots are urging letters to their Congressional delegation.

If you want to throw your hat in the ring, FWS is accepting public comment on its Kings Bay proposals until Aug. 22.

Comments

13 comments on “Are boating restrictions against the Bill of Rights?

  1. Doug Reimel

    Here in Michigan if you can enter a waterway from a navigable waterway then you can boat in that trubutary, estruary, river, canal ect. This law is called the Floating Log Rule. If you can float a log you can boat. Government is the problem!

  2. Ed Wiser

    Let’s not get beliigerent and parochial Norm. You do not provide any documentation for your data and that leads me to question its source, bias, and validity. Few people spend more time on the water than I do and my livelihood is totally dependent upon recreational boating. That’s why I know that maintenance of clean waterways and healthy marine populations is vital to the boating industry. There are two sides to this story and you clearly represent one, and only one. The idea that regulation in itself is bad for the industry is ludicrous. We could use more in my opinion and experience, especially in educational requirements and boat manufacturing. I would like to hear a rational, balanced presentation of this argument instead of a sound bite for a single extremist position.

  3. Bob Menne

    Just like the Wolfs in Montana, Idaho and Minnesota they are out of control and the Fed’s will not take of the endangered list.

  4. Bob Lucas

    When will these ridiculous regulations going to stop? We’ve done enough to protect the manatees, turtles, fish, and everything else that lives in the water. Enough is enough!

  5. Pat Rose

    Wrong on so many counts but don’t take my word for it, listen to the boaters who use King’s Bay as reported in today’s Citrus County Chronicle: http://www.chronicleonline.com/content/no-1-boating-mishaps

    Since your publication is known for good reporting, I am amazed you got this one so wrong. The FWS is not proposing to “eliminate boating in the entire bay” as you state. If they were, as a boater, diver, and fisherman – I would be against it.

    The proposal to limit high speed boating in part of the bay is actually supported by many boaters, the tour industries (who’s clients are not safe) and the majority of the locals who know this will bring greater economic recovery to the area from even more manatee ecotourism.

    Please do your normally good job, and check your facts before you act.

    Thanks, however, for making it clear that endangered manatees are being killed by high speed boat traffic in Kings Bay.

  6. Enginecom

    Any we know where the public comments will do, nothing. The tree huggers want us to just stay home and play video games, collect government checks paid with worthless printed paper money. Jobs be damned in under the Oblunder administration along with the income of workers. Unless you are in a union especially municipal. We are losing our rights to use the earth responsibly by these idiots who think humans come last. We come first and we must elect our representatives who believe in that tennant that government is best that governs least.

  7. AnonymousBob

    Again, Norm, you’ve gone and posted something that appeals to your partisan, jaded beliefs without learning all the real facts about an issue:

    http://www.fws.gov/northflorida/Manatee/Documents/MPARules/June11_KB_Proposed_Rule/20110621_FAQS_Proposed_Kings_Bay_manatee_Rule.html

    This will NOT affect private docks or waterways. The proposal does NOT prohibit water traffic. The proposal does NOT prohibit commercial activities. Jeez, please do some research!!!

    Your “sky is falling” post creates more hyperbolic posts by others who don’t know how to research a topic but would rather spout lies and false talking points. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Your journalistic standards have once again fallen by the wayside to make way for your partisan mud slinging. I’m just waiting on C. Moore to respond. Maybe “Enginecom” is his alias??!!

  8. CaptainA

    Norm,

    I think Pat Rose just exposed your right wind agenda against government. You really owe it to your readers to give a balanced report/review of issues that affect our industry. You really do a disservice to this publication when you don’t relay all the facts.

  9. dave

    of course the “save the xxxxx (insert your critter here) club/org/forum/foundation/etc” are going to say that their cause is still valid, no matter the real condition of the critters…they see an end to their gov’t subsidized/non profit/golden goose empire possibly suffering a cash crunch or worse yet …going away.

    They even come up with new words that they choose to mean “endangered”..once was they used the gov’t definition of endangered, but now that many of these critters are no longer “endangered” according to the best science…they make up their own definition.

    They are eco/enviro terrorists, and will not be happy with anything a reasonable person would propose. Extremists with their own agenda and their own science, and their own ideas of what is right.

    The comments mean nothing, the science even less….they will do and believe what they want. This has been proven time and time again..

  10. captbh

    OK Pat I took the time to read the article you linked to, since you stated,

    “don’t take my word for it, listen to the boaters who use King’s Bay as reported in today’s Citrus County Chronicle: http://www.chronicleonline.com/content/no-1-boating-mishaps

    There were comments by 3 boaters, hardly a broad spectrum and only 1 mentioned slowing speeds for safety. That is a fact, this is YOUR assumption,

    “The proposal to limit high speed boating in part of the bay is actually supported by many boaters, the tour industries (who’s clients are not safe) and the majority of the locals”.

    The facts get messy when you are trying to make a point that has no solid ground. Florida has the most boating accidents. Think maybe part of that is simply that Florida has the most boats?
    Which color car is involved in the most accidents? White, because there are more white cars than any other color. Can you see the simple logic of facts.

    There are more manatee deaths that there used to be. Oh yea, there are 5 times as many manatees as there used to be.

    ” Records show that when the sanctuary zones were instituted in 1980, there were an estimated 100 summer manatees there. (The manatee population greatly increases during the winter months.) Today, FWS says there are more than 500 in the Bay year-round. That’s excellent! It clearly demonstrates that the current regulations and policies are adequate”

    It’s time to start concentrating on a truly endangered species, the middle class working American just trying to earn a living and have a little fun.

    Maybe you could care for some of the injured manatees in your pool and while your at it pick up a few illegal immigrints to house and feed too! But typically people like you want this done, they just want it done by the government and not in their back yard.

  11. C. Moore

    Thanks for the shout out Abob, but as ussual you are incorrect. Though as I was reading the posts I was thinking your new alias was Ed Wiser- Bud’s brother or Pat Rose…
    BTW: We still are waiting to be enlightened how you are involved in the marine dealer aspect of this industry??? You never seem able to respond to this simplest of question because you are anonymous….
    I think it’s time to get my old bumper stickers out for ya
    “I Heart Manatee they taste like eagles”.
    You know the most holly, indigenious indians use to drag the youngin’s out by their tails & throw them on a big fire for the nightly feast…. right??

  12. bpante

    I see one fact left out Manatee are a NON-NATIVE SPECIES they were brought here from Brazil for food. They were kept in an area in the Keys called Cowpens that was where they got the name Sea Cow. They escaped during a storm.
    I have nothing against Manatee but if the Save the Manatee club wants to get the manatee population back to where it used be that would ZERO and we would have to ship them all back to Brazil.
    Only Florida would put a NON-NATIVE INVASIVE SPECIES one the endangered species list.

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