2000-2001 Save the Manatee Trust Fund Annual Report
This is the annual status report on expenditures from the Save The Manatee Trust Fund (STMTF). This report is provided to the President of the Florida Senate and the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives each year.
Funding for the state's manatee related research and management activities is provided primarily from the STMTF, which receives money from sales of manatee license plates and decals, boat registration fees, and voluntary donations. Revenues for FY 2000-2001 totaled $4,028,844. Appropriations for the same fiscal year were approximately $4,075,284. Details are presented in the accompanying pie charts. Appropriation from the STMTF supported the FWC manatee program: $1,520,921 was spent for research activities coordinated by the Florida Marine Research Institute (FMRI) in St. Petersburg; and $1,438,719 for management activities within the Office of Environmental Services' Bureau of Protected Species Management (BPSM). Budgetary breakdowns for individual program units under both the research and management efforts are included followed by summaries of the work performed at the FMRI and the BPSM.
The Florida manatee is native to Florida's coastal and riverine waters and is listed by both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) as an endangered species. Florida has protected manatees since 1892. Current state efforts to recover the population are guided by the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978 and the federally approved Florida Manatee Recovery Plan of 2001. In addition, the manatee is protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).
During the past year, a record number of manatees (3,276) were counted during a statewide winter count. Scientists believe sub-populations in at least two areas, Florida's northwest coast (including Crystal River) and the upper St. Johns River, are increasing while manatees living along Florida's east coast may not be faring as well. The status of the manatees in southwest Florida is unclear. Nevertheless, the higher statewide count and apparent population growth in at least sections of the state has fueled public debate on the manatees' status and long-term prospects. The FWC remains cautiously optimistic that the manatee population will survive and will be secure enough to remove the animal's endangered status in the future. For this to occur, we must continue to implement the many tasks outlined in the Florida Manatee Recovery Plan. By taking steps to reduce human-related injury and death, and by protecting habitat, the long-term survival of this species can be ensured.