News Releases

FWC approves new manatee zones for western Pinellas

News Release

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Media contact: Diane Hirth, 850-251-2130; Carli Segelson, 772-215-9459

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a final rule establishing new manatee zones in portions of the inshore waters of western Pinellas County at its June 24 meeting in Sarasota.

The proposed rule was opened for comment in December 2014 and included two public hearings in Pinellas County in January 2015. Written comments also were accepted by mail or email.

To develop the proposed manatee zones, the FWC worked closely with Pinellas County, local municipalities, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a local rule review committee. The measures will provide important protection for manatees while having limited impacts on local businesses and boaters.

“The zones address a portion of the state not previously evaluated for manatee zones and help implement a level of conservation statewide that will maintain the manatee population for the long term,” said Carol Knox, leader of the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management Section.

The new zones will slow speeds in seagrass areas where manatees feed and will have limited effect on travel time for boaters because only a small portion of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) channel is included.

The new zones will not be in effect until signs are installed marking the zones’ boundaries. Sign posting is not expected to occur until sometime in 2016.

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



FWC Facts:
The manatee is Florida’s official marine mammal. Fossils indicate they have been in Florida waters for millions of years.

Learn More at AskFWC