2015-2016 Save the Manatee Annual Trust Fund Report
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is pleased to submit the annual report on the expenditures from the Save the Manatee Trust Fund (Trust Fund), per section 379.2431(4)(b), Florida Statutes (F.S.). The Trust Fund is the primary source of funding for the State's manatee-related research and conservation activities. As required by Florida law, the report is provided to the President of the Florida Senate and the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives by December 1, annually. This report covers the period from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016.
A key component of FWC’s guiding conservation goal for the Florida manatee is to effectively manage the wildlife resource in perpetuity throughout Florida. The word “perpetuity” underscores the commitment of the agency to manage this treasured public trust resource for intergenerational benefit. Several conservation objectives, laid out in FWC’s Manatee Management Plan, highlight essential information needs and actions in line with the principal responsibility to maintaining viable wildlife populations that are capable of enduring environmental catastrophes, periodic large-scale die-offs, changes in environmental conditions, and human-related stressors. FWC highlights important steps made in carrying out conservation plans throughout this and previous annual reports. These steps include using sharper science to build upon species and habitat knowledge in support of effective management actions. With the long-term support of the Trust Fund, FWC has developed state-of-the-art techniques to monitor manatee abundance, trends in abundance, and threats using data from multiple research efforts, such as aerial surveys, high quality cause of death evaluations, statewide rescue operations, survival rate estimation, risk estimators/assessments, and habitat quality. The rigor and investment in these approaches is appropriate and necessary given the many environmental challenges faced by Florida. Evidence contained in this annual report, such as anthropogenic-related mortality and rescues, underscore the conservation reliance of the species-meaning that threats cannot be eliminated, but only managed. Through sound conservation practices and strong public stewardship, the species can be sustained and human-related threats reduced. The significant achievements made thus far as well as ongoing and future commitment to monitoring, evaluation, and timely management actions position FWC along with many conservation partners to successfully fulfill public trust obligations; ensuring with high certainty the long-term persistence and vigor of the Florida manatee population.
These activities are possible because of the funding of the Trust Fund. The Trust Fund receives money from sales of manatee license plates and decals, boat registration fees, and voluntary donations. Revenues for FY 2015-2016 totaled $3,826,539. Appropriations from the Trust Fund for the same period were $3,836,602, with $325,000 provided for manatee research activities at Mote Marine Laboratory (Mote), and a service charge to General Revenue of $304,874 that most trust funds are required by law to pay. In FY 2015-2016, FWC’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation expended $1,079,716 for conservation activities and the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute expended $1,871,174 on research and monitoring. Details of revenues, appropriations, and expenditures are shown on page 6 of this report.