2004-2005 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 Speaker of the Florida 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) 2004-2005 totaled $3,548,984. Expenditures for the same period were $3,607,089, with $325,000 provided for manatee research activities at Mote Marine Laboratory and a charge to General Revenue of $99,830. Expenditures above revenues were taken from the balance of the STMTF. 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: $419,867 provided to the Division of Law Enforcement (LE) for manatee-related patrols, etc.; $867,258 for management activities within the Division of Habitat and Species Conservation's Imperiled Species Management Section (ISM); and $1,611,112 for research activities conducted by the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) 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 Endangered Species Act protect manatees. Current state efforts to recover the population are guided by the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act [Section 370.12 (2), Florida Statutes] and the federal Florida Manatee Recovery Plan of 2001.
The FWC and the USFWS have continued to address the existing controversy surrounding manatee issues. During FY 2004-05 a series of Manatee Forums were convened with key stakeholders. The goal of the Forums is to provide a process to improve communication and understanding among stakeholder groups and participating agencies. Through this process we hope to establish areas of common ground, identify problems or conflicts, and develop potential solutions. The Executive Director of the FWC and the Director of Region Four of the USFWS have been instrumental in the development of this idea and its implementation.
Another FWC and USFWS initiative this year was to begin developing a process to determine effectiveness of regulatory zones. In addition, FWC staff members continued to serve on the federal Florida Manatee Recovery and Implementation Team and were represented on all of the team's working groups and task forces.
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 is working to ensure that there will be a viable manatee population in Florida's future.