A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

Should the manatee be down-listed?

Federal officials are mulling the idea of downgrading the status of the West Indian manatee from endangered to threatened, a move which could make it easier to loosen boating speed limits and other restrictions in Florida.

The good news, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is that manatees have rebounded.

After a five-year review, staff biologists concluded the manatee no longer fits the definition of endangered. The Florida Fish and Wildlife had similar findings, and last year approved a controversial measure to down-list the manatee.

Environmental groups such as Save the Manatee Club are outraged, saying that downgrading the animal’s status undermines years of conservation efforts. They say measures such as enforced boat speed limits and rigid dock permitting rules are necessary to protect the manatee. Propeller strikes and loss of habitat, along with red tide, are the greatest threats to the manatee.

The marine industry has been lobbying to relax restrictions.

Soundings Trade Only would like to hear your opinions. Are speed limits and dock restrictions intended to protect manatees too severe? Or should federal and state officials continue aggressive measures to protect the animal? Should the manatee be down-listed, or is it too soon?

JoAnn W. Goddard
Associate Editor
Soundings Trade Only


8 comments on “Should the manatee be down-listed?

  1. Bill Lindsey

    If conservation groups want to save manatees, they need to look at the actions of FPL, the US Navy and the cruise ship industry. These groups cause more manatee deaths than the recreational boating public. FPL’s fuel barges and tugs run down manatees, as proven by the prop scars on the dead animals, while the Navy and cruise ships squeeze these creatures to death as they dock ships alongside.

    The number of recreational boats has risen tremendously in recent years, yet the death rate of manatees has not even come close to matched this rate. There are now more manatees in our waters than ever, and that is in large part due to the ideal breeding conditions offered by FPL’s water cooling canals as well as by safe boat operation by the boating public.

    If Save the Manatees was correct in its assertion that we, the boating public, are killing manatees every time we leave the dock, these creatures would be all but extinct, yet they are prospering as never before. Save The Manatees is a group that appeals to those who are not aware of the facts. They are the favorite group of condo commandos who seek to control our access to public waterways, and stop “waking” their seawalls.

    We need to be aware of and steer clear of manatees, and we are doing just that.

  2. Patricia Tierney

    Keep the speed limits down and continue aggressive measures to protect the manatee. Give the poor creatures a chance ! We have encroached on their territory and they deserve our awe and respect.

  3. Ted Weyhrauch

    the speed zones are usually in back waters or near shore,areas where idle speed would be considered normal operation to the prudent boater, there is also the damage caused by the wake of fast moving vessels as well as the impact that the boats have on hundreds of other species. I am a avid boater who lives on the upper part of manatee river and am happy to spend the extra 15 minutes it takes to get out of the manatee speed zone. Having these animals around is truly a blessing, please let us embrace this blessing.
    Ted Weyhrauch
    p.s. you have my permission to show this statement publicly if you wish.

  4. Susan Kent

    Is this really a question? We have the opportunity to plug in our brains and preserve some of this planet for future generations or we can drive like drunk fools up and down the ICW. Hmmm, tough question. We share this world with many – we might want to remember that.

  5. George Fischell

    That the manatees are rebounding is a tribute to environmental groups, boaters, marine manufacturers and caring people everywhere. Living in harmony with the manatees and other marine life will require that we continue to do everything we can to reduce our impact on their environment. We should not revert to the old days and the old ways.

  6. CarlM

    To Patricia- HELLO!!! these are west India Manatees we are talking about. They are not native to Fla. They have stopped migrating because we are pumping hot water out of power plants in Florida into the sea.
    Bill is correct in his assesment in kill rates. More by FPL and Carnival. Lot’s more.
    If they are so endangered ask the State of Florida why they keep captive over a dozen breedable females in the State park in Homossassa- by the way NO Males are allowed- reason given: then they would have to explain that thrashing breeding behavior to the childrens group that visit. :-)) No lie.
    So think about this “Every spring mikey the manetee swims up to the chain fence seperating the females from freedom and nussles his nose agianst Maria Manetee on the other side. Never to be one with each other or to be free in nature.
    It’s like “wet side story” and the PC do-gooders are the cause of these broken hearts and the possibility of little manatees – “Don’t save the Manatee’s – Free Them!!!!

  7. Betty Bauman

    I am curious as to how many of the people in this blog have encountered manatees when boating, and if you had the same experiences we have. We have found them to be more responsive when approached by a boat that’s on plane. It seems the higher pitch of the motors give them more advanced warning, giving them ample time to swim away or drop to the bottom. When approaching them at idle speed, they don’t seem to hear the motors until you’re almost on top of them, plus the boat operator can’t see them far in advance as you’re lower in the water.

    Could it be that their biggest danger from recreational boats are those which run quietly, not on plane, or worse, sailboat keels which don’t make enough sound for them to know to get out of the way? We’re not promoting that boats should drive fast when there are manatees around – just wondering if anyone else has had this experience. We want to preserve them as much as anybody else but found the way they react to boat noises is not what the conservation groups say.

  8. Bob

    What is killing the Manatee is that they are not native to Florida. They were imported from Brazil for food. Apparently Manatee serves one purpose, they taste good. The Manatee population is at it’s highest population ever in Florida, and environmental damage they do to the fishing industry is enormous. They eat the grass, without the grass the shrimp population is down. Without shrimp to feed on all other native fish species are way down, some endangered – like Snook, Grouper, and red snapper. FPL needs to install cooling towers on all their power plants. This would solve the Manatee problem.

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