February 5, 2004
Statement by Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Hamilton went on to say this is part of a long term strategy to provide equitable and meaningful enforcement for Florida throughout the law enforcement community, but that public support is what it’s really all about.
FWC news release follows:
FWC TEAMS UP WITH FWS IN MANATEE ZONE ENFORCEMENT
State and federal law enforcement officers will team up to enforce boat speed laws in manatee zones across Florida this year.
Col. Julie Jones, head of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC's) law enforcement division, briefed the agency's seven Commissioners on the joint project today. During the FWC's meeting at Amelia Island Resort, Jones said the complex system of state and federal speed zones is confusing to boaters.
She said the FWC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have worked out a mutual aid agreement that will standardize enforcement across the state, giving federal officers authority to write state citations, which bear lower penalties than federal citations.
"In some areas, state officers will write federal citations when violations are particularly egregious or involve repeat offenders," she said. She said state and federal officers will patrol together in 10 operations during 2004 in areas of high manatee mortality from vessels and in areas of high manatee concentration.
"Under this agreement, officers from the two agencies will train together and work together to enforce manatee protection laws that boaters can understand and accept as reasonable," Jones said. "We're developing an operational plan that will clear the way for improved compliance and provide consistent enforcement statewide."
Jones said an important element in the agreement is that the FWC will be the lead agency in manatee zone enforcement, and that is in line with the FWC's position that the state is best suited to protect manatees in state waters.
The mutual aid agreement between the two agencies will enhance officers' ability to work together on other matters such as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, interstate transportation of protected species cases and federal fisheries issues.
NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at http://southeast.fws.gov. Our national home page is at: http://news.fws.gov/newsreleases/.
Atlanta, GA 30345