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Critical Wildlife Area signs go up in southwest Florida

Media contact: Melody Kilborn, 863-648-3852; Carli Segelson, 772-215-9459 Release Date: 05-15-2018   All Articles Tags:

Photos available on the FWC’s Flickr site:

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is installing in-water markers around Critical Wildlife Areas in southwest Florida. Alafia Banks CWA in Hillsborough County, and Myakka River CWA and Roberts Bay CWA in Sarasota County, have new signs alerting boaters to the status of these islands.

“These CWAs are a strategic conservation tool for many of Florida’s imperiled bird species,” said Michelle Van Deventer, CWA coordinator for the FWC.

Each CWA supports significant numbers of nesting birds, including brown pelicans, great blue herons and great egrets, as well as state-threatened roseate spoonbills, reddish egrets and tricolored herons, and federally-listed wood storks.

“The parent birds do all the work, building the nest, laying the eggs, incubating the embryos, feeding and protecting their young.  All we need to do is let them do it in peace. And that is what the buffer areas are designed to allow,” said Ann Paul of Audubon Florida.

The locations of these CWAs are:

  • Alafia Banks CWA – Known locally as Bird Island and Sunken Island, this CWA is in Hillsborough Bay at the mouth of the Alafia River. The islands are owned by The Mosaic Company and Port Tampa Bay, and managed by Audubon Florida.  
  • Roberts Bay CWA – Also managed by Audubon Florida, these spoil islands are along the intracoastal waterway in Sarasota Bay, just south of Siesta Key’s north bridge.
  • Myakka River CWA – A mangrove island along the Wild and Scenic portion of the Myakka River in North Port, this site is managed by Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Park Service staff.

Markers will be installed around the CWAs at distances ranging from 50 to 100 feet. Installation of these in-water markers will be completed by May 31.

Myakka River CWA is closed seasonally, from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, while the Alafia Banks and Roberts Bay CWAs are marked for year-round closure. People, vessels and pets are prohibited from entering CWAs during the closure period, and fishing is not allowed within posted areas. A violation of these prohibited activities is a second-degree misdemeanor and could result in law enforcement action ranging from a warning to a citation.

 The posting of these CWAs is a continuation of the FWC’s unprecedented conservation effort to protect vulnerable wildlife species in the state. In November 2016, the Commission approved a proposal to designate 13 new CWAs and improve five existing CWAs.

To learn more about Florida’s CWAs, visit