2003-2004 Save the Manatee Trust Fund Annual Report
This is the annual status report on expenditures from the Save the Manatee Trust Fund (STMTF). Each year, the report is provided to the President of the Florida Senate and the Florida Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Funding for the state's manatee-related research and conservation 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 fiscal year (FY) 2003-2004 totaled $3,612,062. Expenditures for the same period were pproximately $3,794,000, with $325,000 provided for manatee research activities at Mote Marine Laboratory and a charge to General Revenue of $107,639. Details are presented in pie charts in the report.
Expenditures from the STMTF were made for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) manatee programs: $382,320 provided to the Division of Law Enforcement; $1,054,038 for management activities within the Division of Wildlife's Bureau of Protected Species Management (BPSM); and $1,649,696 for research activities coordinated by the Florida Marine Research Institute (FMRI) in St. Petersburg. The report includes budgetary analyses for individual research and management program efforts, followed by summaries of the work performed.
The Florida manatee is native to Florida's coastal and riverine waters; both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the FWC list the manatee as an endangered species. Manatees have been protected in Florida since 1892. Federally, both the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endagered Species Act protect manatees. Current state efforts to recover the population are guided by the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act [Section 370.12 (2), Florida Statute] and the federal Florida Manatee Recovery Plan of 2001.
In FY 2003-2004, the FWC's manatee program, in cooperation with the USFWS, continued efforts to bring together stakeholder groups to foster constructive dialog. FWC and USFWS developed a joint position statement and an action plan to clearly express the core values and the needs of the state and federal manatee conservation effort. The USFWS Florida Manatee Recovery and Implementation Team was reinstated in FY 2003-2004, and many FWC staff were asked to serve on various working groups and task forces to promote recovery of the species.
Although great strides have been made toward recovering the Florida manatee, there are still human-related and natural factors that could negatively affect the long-term survival of the species. With continuing management, law enforcement, outreach, research, and partnerships, the FWC hopes to ensure that there will be a viable manatee population in Florida's future.
Editor's note: Under the legislatively approved structural reorganization of the FWC, the office became the Boating and Waterways Section of the Division of Law Enforcement, the Bureau of Protected Species Management became the Imperiled Species Management Section of the Division of Habitat and Species Conservation, and the Florida Marine Research Institute became the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute on July 1, 2004.