04 May 2012 New Manatee Protection Zones Announced Posted by: Caitlin Leutwiler | 2 comments | Share: Make way for manatees! That was the message coming from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) yesterday, with the establishment of new manatee protection zones in the state’s Flagler County. The move is an effort to protect the marine mammals in the summer months, when they are most likely to be found in the Intracoastal Waterway in Flagler County, and when increased boat traffic presents a greater risk of injury. And so from May 1 through Sept 7 (once the signs are posted), 2.7 miles of the 18.6 miles of Intracoastal Waterway channel will become slow zones. The conservation measure aims to improve manatee protection while limiting the impact on local businesses and boaters. Kipp Frohlich, leader of the FWC’s Imperiled Species section, said of the new measure, “In summer, when the new manatee protection zones are in effect, the time needed for a boater to travel the entire length of the Intracoastal Waterway in Flagler County will increase by about 15 minutes.” Collisions with watercraft continues to be the leading human-caused threat to Florida manatees, as the slow-moving manatees often cannot avoid the speed boats and other watercraft that frequent the waterways they call home. As a result, propellers and boat hulls inflict serious or mortal wounds, and most manatees have a pattern of scars on their backs or tails after surviving collisions with boats. Defenders works to protect manatees from fast-moving boats, and has been advocating additional slow speed zones in dangerous areas such as Flagler County since 1997. Florida representative Elizabeth Fleming testified in support of establishing the zones, reminding commissioners yesterday that the state manatee management plan they adopted in 2007 identified addressing manatee-boat strikes in Flagler County as a priority action. “With more and more boaters using the Intracoastal Waterway in Flagler County, these areas have become increasingly dangerous for manatees,” she said. “We’re pleased that FWC Commissioners voted to establish the protection zones and make these critical areas safer for the marine mammals.” That wasn’t the only good news for sea cows this month: on April 26, the FWC denied a petition to undo protections for manatees that went into effect just this year, upholding the establishment of a manatee refuge in the waters of Florida’s Kings Bay that will expand protections for the animals at Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. Learn more: Read more about Florida manatees and what Defenders is doing to protect these unique animals. 2 Responses to “New Manatee Protection Zones Announced” linda May 4th, 2012 I am glad the manatees are getting sonme protection. They are such gentle giants. I adopted a manatee name Paddy Doyle. Hoping for a safe summer for all manantees. Karen Uyeno May 12th, 2012 I’m so glad the manatees are getting some slow speed zones. Is 2.7 miles out of 18.6 really enough, though? It doesn’t seem like much, but oh, well, it’s a start! Post Your Comment Click here to cancel reply. Name (required) Mail (required) (will not be published) You May also be interested in It’s Time to Act for Right Whales Years after they agreed to expand critical habitat for endangered North Atlantic right whales, we’re still waiting on NMFS to follow through. So we took to the courts to get this much-needed protection in place. How Should We Honor Earth Day? America has many worldwide firsts in conservation: we were the first nation to establish a national park, the first to create a national wildlife refuge, the first to approve a law protecting endangered species and the first to create a national day dedicated to conservation, Earth Day. But today, we are experiencing another period of crisis in America’s commitment to conservation. When did conservation become a polarizing political issue, when it has been, for the past century, a defining characteristic of American values and the American spirit? Ecological Insults and Injuries Revealed Four Years after Deepwater Horizon Four years after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig spilled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, we’re beginning to see the full scope of how this ecological disaster is impacting our wildlife on land, air and sea.