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2019-2020 Save the Manatee Trust Fund Annual Report

View the 2019-2020 Save the Manatee Trust Fund Annual 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 (s.) 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, 2019 through June 30, 2020.

Through the long-term public support of the Trust Fund, the FWC actively implements science-based conservation programs and engages partnerships that are making a difference for manatees and habitat. The FWC’s guiding conservation goal for the Florida manatee is to effectively manage the wildlife resource in perpetuity throughout Florida. In order to accomplish this goal, the species must recover from a threatened status and be effectively managed so that manatees can endure future impacts that can affect their population including: large-scale die-offs from red tide and cold stress, human-related impacts and continued degradation and loss of important habitats. During the 2019-2020 red tide bloom, staff prepared a report for review by a federally mandated panel of experts, referred to as the Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Morality Events (Working Group). The Working Group declared a Repeat Mortality Event (RME) involving red tide and manatees in southwest Florida. This was the 13th officially declared mortality event in Florida (and 10th related to red tide) since 1996, roughly an event every other year over the past two decades. What will the longer-term impacts of such large-scale die-offs be on the manatee population in Florida? To help address this, the FWC monitors multiple aspects of the manatee population including: prevalence of certain reasons for death, adult survival rates, and reproduction that, when taken in context of each other, improve our understanding of population dynamics. As with all species, future resiliency is associated with population size and distribution, growth rate, health, and habitat quality. Together these factors will impact the ability of manatees to cope with future changes and are the focus of conservation work.

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 2019-2020 totaled $3,909,746. Appropriations from the Trust Fund for the same period were $3,578,803 to FWC plus $313,310 provided for manatee research activities at Mote Marine Laboratory (Mote), and a service charge to General Revenue of $308,401 that most trust funds are required by law to pay. In FY 2019-2020, FWC’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation expended $1,000,628 for conservation activities and the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute expended $1,878,025 on research and monitoring. Details of revenues, appropriations, and expenditures are shown on page 6 of this report.