FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 5, 1997

Diana M. Hawkins or

Vicki M. Boatwright



SERVICE'S MANATEE TASK FORCE NETS PROTECTION ZONE VIOLATORS

During a recent crack-down on speeding boaters who violate manatee protection zone regulations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in partnership with the Florida Marine Patrol and the Brevard County Sheriff's Office, has stopped more than 1,000 boaters and issued some 350 citations.

Service law enforcement officers issue a ticket to a boat operator violating manatee protection zone speed restrictions.
According to the Service's Deputy Southeast Regional Director, Dale Hall, the Service task force began operations in Brevard County, Florida, in late July in areas where manatees are often injured or killed by watercraft violating speed restrictions.

"When properly posted and enforced, the zones are an effective way to reduce boat accidents involving manatees," Hall said, noting that the task force was established to encourage boaters to comply with zone restrictions, thereby reducing the number of manatees killed and injured in these areas.

Service law enforcement officers patrolling the zones issued tickets with fines of $100 per violation. Money collected from the fines is paid into the Lacey Act Reward Fund, which provides reward money for information leading to the arrest and conviction of individuals who break federal laws protecting wildlife and their habitat. Hall said that law enforcement officers reported that several violators were ticketed on more than one occasion during a single day, but noted that overall, officers found that approximately 90 percent of the boaters were obeying the manatee protection zone regulations. There was also significant local support for the task force initiative. In many cases, area residents watching the officers in action commended them for enforcing the zones.

To reduce the number of manatees killed or injured annually in Florida boating accidents the Service, in conjunction with state and local law enforcement agencies, plans to continue its efforts to ensure compliance of manatee protection zone regulations.

Information on zones and speed restrictions can be obtained from local boat ramps and marinas, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Bob Turner at [904] 232-2580 ext. 117 and Joe Oliveros at [904] 232-2580 ext. 113), the Florida Marine Patrol in Titusville at (407) 383-2740, and the Florida Inland Navigation District Office at (407) 627-3386. For further information, please contact Bob Turner or Joe Oliveros of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the above numbers.

X X X XRelease #: R97-82


1997 News Releases

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