News Releases

FWC approves Sarasota Co. manatee zone changes

News Release

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Media contact: Patricia Behnke, 850-251-2130

New rule amendments will go into effect in Sarasota County to protect manatees after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved the final rule changes on Wednesday.

The FWC's Manatee Management Plan provides for review of existing manatee protection rules. Sarasota County's rule was the first one reviewed under the process set forth in the 2007 plan. Review of rules in other counties will follow.

Sarasota became the first county for the review because of new manatee and boating data collected there and because its rule is one of the oldest in the state. In addition, the manatee population in this county does not meet the minimum goals set forth in the management plan. The FWC used a wide range of information during the review process, including manatee sighting data, manatee mortality figures, habitat availability and other conditions in the channels and zones. Law enforcement, both FWC and county, helped identify areas for potential changes.

Sarasota convened a 14-member Local Review Committee after the FWC presented its findings. Public hearings were held after the Commission directed staff to finalize the rules at the December meeting. The new rules increase the regulated areas in Sarasota by 313 acres.

"These amendments are based on sound science," said Kipp Frohlich, FWC Imperiled Species section leader. "And they reduce the risk to manatees in Sarasota County."

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