2008–2009 Save the Manatee Trust Fund Annual Report
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is pleased to submit this annual report on the expenditures from the Save the Manatee Trust Fund (Trust Fund). The report covers the period from July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009. As required by Florida law, §379.2431(4)(b), Florida Statutes (F.S.), the report is provided to the President of the Florida Senate and the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives by December 1, each year. The Trust Fund receives money from sales of manatee license plates and decals, boat registration fees, and voluntary donations. It is the primary source of funding for the State's manatee-related research and conservation activities. Revenues for Fiscal Year (FY) 2008-2009 totaled $3,868,422. Appropriations from the Trust Fund for the same period were $4,021,122.
In FY 2008-2009, the Division of Habitat and Species Conservation expended $1,019,526 for management and conservation activities and the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute expended $1,789,220 on research and monitoring. In the pages that follow, details of these expenditures and highlights of specific accomplishments and updates are provided.
The Florida manatee is native to the rivers and coastal waters of the State. First protected legislatively in Florida in 1892, today it is protected by the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act (§379.2431(2), F.S.) and federally by both the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. On the federal level there has been a Manatee Recovery Plan since 1980. As of 2007, FWC approved a Manatee Management Plan (Plan) to guide State conservation efforts. The goal of the Plan is to effectively manage the manatee population in perpetuity by protecting habitat and minimizing threats.
In FY 2008-2009, FWC and its partners made signifi cant strides to advance the long term goals and objectives of the Plan. During the annual synoptic count, a record high number of manatees (over 3,800) was observed. This is tempered by the record high number of deaths also recorded during the Fiscal Year (a total of 418). In addition, innovative research in understanding how manatees perceive and respond to boats was conducted and new advances in genetic sampling were made. Measures were taken to evaluate natural springs to determine fl ow quality and manatee access and how these attributes may be protected and even enhanced. Intergovernmental partnerships resulted in a streamlined process for permit applications and reviews.
These efforts are but a few of the many programs, studies, and partnerships that are part of the Plan. Through an integrated conservation framework of research, management, law enforcement, and outreach, FWC is working to better understand the threats manatees face, ensure adequate habitat for the present as well as the future, employ necessary and appropriate protections, and create effective and long-lasting partnerships aimed at the conservation and protection of this unique and iconic creature. Provided that the Save the Manatee Trust Fund revenues are secure and remain dedicated to the implementation of the Manatee Management Plan, the FWC can continue working toward a brighter future for the Florida manatee.