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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Places Temporary Buoys at Eleven Federal Manatee Protection Areas


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 16, 2002

Contact:
Chuck Underwood, 904-232-2580 ext. 109, cell 904-910-6254
Christine Eustis, 404-679-7287, cell 678-296-6426

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces today that eleven of the fifteen areas designated as federal manatee protection zones on November 1, 2002, are being posted with temporary notification buoys on the water to notify the public when they are entering a federal manatee protection area.

The temporary notification buoys are the first step in permanently signing these federal manatee protection areas. Permanent signs are being manufactured, and the Service is working closely with the State of Florida, the appropriate counties, and the U.S. Coast Guard to receive the permits and approvals necessary to post these areas with permanent signs. Until that process can be completed, the Service is taking action to post these areas with temporary notification buoys to ensure the protection of manatees. The Service believes these temporary measures are essential as boater activity increases during the winter months and manatees congregate in greater numbers in these areas.

The Service asks boaters to be on the look-out for temporary notification buoys which are white and marked with international, blaze-orange, diamond, marker symbols. The buoys indicate that boaters are entering federal manatee protection areas and should slow down and be aware of manatees in the water.

The eleven areas posted with temporary notification buoys include:

Federal Manatee Sanctuaries (these are areas where boats are seasonally prohibited)

Hillsborough County
  • The Big Bend Manatee Sanctuary is a manatee sanctuary, containing approximately 12.08 ha (29.85 acres), at the Tampa Electric Company’’s Big Bend Electric Generating Station’’s discharge canal in Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County. This closure will prohibit all waterborne activity at this site from November 15 through March 31. In addition, the Service is designating a manatee refuge in the area surrounding the sanctuary (see "Big Bend Manatee Refuge" below).
  • The Port Sutton Manatee Sanctuary is a seasonal manatee sanctuary, encompassing approximately 1.1 ha (2.7 acres), at the warm water discharge of the Tampa Electric Company’’s Gannon Electric Generating Station in Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County. This seasonal closure will prohibit all waterborne activity at this site from November 15 through March 31, inclusive. In addition, we are designating a manatee refuge in the area surrounding the sanctuary (see "Port Sutton Manatee Refuge" below).

Pinellas County

  • The Bartow Electric Generating Plant Manatee Sanctuary is a seasonal manatee sanctuary, containing approximately 12.07 ha (29.82 acres), at the warm water discharge of the Bartow Electric Generating Plant in Tampa Bay, Pinellas County. This seasonal closure will prohibit all waterborne activity at this site from November 15 through March 31.


Federal Manatee Refuges (these are areas where boating activity is restricted)

Hillsborough County

  • The Big Bend Manatee Refuge is a manatee refuge, encompassing approximately 89.35 ha (220.79 areas), in the waters adjacent to and south of the manatee sanctuary at the Tampa Electric Company’’s Big Bend Electric Generating Station on Tampa Bay in Hillsborough County to provide watercraft ingress and egress to the lagoon and canals in North Apollo Beach. Watercraft activity within this refuge will be regulated to idle speed from November 15 through March 31.
  • The Port Sutton Manatee Refuge is the Port Sutton area surrounding the manatee sanctuary at the Tampa Electric Company’’s Port Sutton (Gannon) Electric Generating Station, on Tampa Bay in Hillsborough County, as a manatee refuge. The refuge area includes approximately 39.2 ha (96.9 acres). Watercraft will be required to proceed at idle speed within this refuge from November 15 through March 31.

Sarasota County

  • The Pansy Bayou Manatee Refuge is a manatee refuge, containing approximately 47 ha (116.1 acres) in the northern Pansy Bayou area between City Island and the John Ringling Parkway Bridge on Sarasota Bay in Sarasota County, to regulate vessel traffic to slow speed year-round.

  • The Little Sarasota Bay Manatee Refuge is a manatee refuge, containing approximately 214.20 ha (529.40 acres), to control vessel speeds in the little Sarasota Bay area between the Blackburn Point Bridge and Intracoastal Waterway Channel Marker "40" in Sarasota County. The speed designation for this area will be slow speed, 40 km per hour (25 miles per hour) in the channel, year-round.

Charlotte County

  • The Lemon Bay Manatee Refuge is a manatee refuge, containing approximately 383.61 ha (948.06 acres), in Lemon Bay, Charlotte County, from the Charlotte County/Sarasota County boundary to a line approximately 1.6 km (1 mile) south of the Bay Road Bridge, for the purpose of regulating vessel speeds. Speeds will be restricted to slow speed, 40 km per hour (25 miles per hour) in the channel, year-round.

Charlotte and De Soto counties

  • The Peace River Manatee Refuge is a manatee refuge, containing 1,698.11 ha (4,196.11 acres) more or less, in the Peace River (located on the northeast corner of Charlotte Harbor) in Charlotte and De Soto Counties. This refuge will include the river and specific associated waters northeast of U.S. Highway 41. Waters within described areas will be regulated to allow watercraft to travel at a maximum speed of 40 km per hour (25 miles per hour), while other waters will be regulated to provide for slow-speed vessel operation. These regulations will be in effect year-round.
  • The described areas include:
    • (1) slow speed 300 meter (1,000 feet) shoreline buffers between the U.S. Highway 41 and I-75 bridges;
    • (2) slow speed outside of the marked navigation channel, 40 km per hour (25 miles per hour) in the marked channel, between the I-75 bridge and red channel marker "14";
    • ( 3) 40 km per hour (25 miles per hour), upstream of red channel marker "14";
    • (4) slow speed in Jim Long Lake, Hunter Creek, and Deep Creek; and
    • (5) slow speed in Shell Creek (if the U.S. Coast Guard or the State of Florida approve and designate a marked channel in this area, the channel may be designated as 40 km per hour (25 miles per hour) within the channel.

Lee County

  • The Shell Island Manatee Refuge is a manatee refuge, containing approximately 32.60 ha (80.50 acres), for the purpose of regulating vessel speeds at slow speed within the navigation channel that is located just north of Shell Island at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River. This regulation will be in effect year-round.

Brevard County

  • The Cocoa Beach Manatee Refuge is a manatee refuge, containing approximately 23.9 ha (59.1 acres), to regulate vessel operation at slow speed year-round in the area adjacent to Municipal Park, just west of Cocoa Beach in the Banana River, in Brevard County.

In addition, the remaining four of the fifteen federal manatee protection areas have already been posted with permanent signs. These areas are:

Brevard County

  • The entire length of the Barge Canal Manatee Refuge and an area extending eastward to the Canaveral Locks will be regulated for slow-speed watercraft operations, both inside and outside the marked channel, all year.
  • Sykes Creek Manatee Refuge will be regulated for slow- speed watercraft operation, both inside and outside the marked channel, all year.
  • The Haulover Canal Manatee Refuge is a manatee refuge, containing approximately 8.95 ha (22.11 acres), within the confines of Haulover Canal, located at the north end of Merritt Island between the Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon, in Brevard County. Waters will be designated as slow speed, channel included, year-round.

Citrus County

  • The Blue Waters Manatee Sanctuary is a seasonal manatee sanctuary, containing approximately 0.67 ha (1.66 acres), at the headwaters of the Homosassa River, adjacent to the Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park, commonly referred to as the Blue Waters, in Citrus County. All waterborne activities will be prohibited in this area from November 15 through March 31.

For further information, please visit our website at northflorida.fws.gov.

 

 


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