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2016-2017 Save the Manatee Annual Trust Fund Report

2016-2017 Save the Manatee Annual Trust Fund Report


Executive Summary

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. 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, 2016 through June 30, 2017.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) reclassified the Florida manatee from an endangered species to a threatened species. The reclassification is a significant conservation milestone reflecting the combined multi-decadal efforts of the FWC, USFWS, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and our many partners. While this step is notable, there is still work to be done to ensure continued progress toward recovery of this species.

This past year scientists with the USGS and FWC used data from ongoing monitoring efforts to complete an updated status and threats analysis for the Florida manatee. They reported that, assuming threats manatees face continue to be managed effectively, manatees are projected to persist on both coasts of Florida. They did caution that the future loss of warm water from industrial effluents (power plants) could negatively affect a significant portion of the state’s manatee population. The FWC, federal agencies, and other partners are working together to address the long-term future of warm water habitat and the conservation of seagrass and freshwater vegetation that manatees need to thrive. These and other efforts are consistent with FWC’s guiding conservation goal for the Florida manatee, which is to effectively manage the wildlife resource in perpetuity throughout Florida. Towards this overarching goal, FWC and partner agencies have identified essential information needs and actions that will maintain a viable population that has suitable and sustained habitat. With the long-term support of the Trust Fund, FWC continues to invest in innovative scientific methods to provide management the information needed to guide actions that conserve the species and their habitat. The rigor and investment in these approaches is appropriate and necessary given the need to adapt to environmental and human-related impacts faced by Florida.

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 2016-17 totaled $3,853,832. Appropriations from the Trust Fund for the same period were $3,900,263, with $325,000 provided for manatee research activities at Mote Marine Laboratory (Mote), and a service charge to General Revenue of $231,251 that most trust funds are required by law to pay. In FY 2016-17, FWC’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation expended $1,149,649 for conservation activities and the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute expended $1,897,430 on research and monitoring. Details of revenues, appropriations, and expenditures are shown on page 6 of this report.