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North Florida Field Office

News Release

For Immediate Release

Date: April 28, 2005
Release #: 004-05
Media Contact: Chuck Underwood, 904/731-3332

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Amends Federal Manatee Protection Area in Duval County

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today it has amended its August 2003 Federal manatee protection area designation in Duval County, Florida

The amendment modifies an area downstream of the Hart Bridge and addresses concerns of State and Local officials that the area, if posted as originally designated under the August 2003 rule, could pose a boating safety issue and would be problematic for state and local law enforcement officers to enforce.

"Today's decision reflects the Service's commitment to accomplish manatee protection and conservation through collaboration and corporation with all stakeholders," said Sam D. Hamilton, the Service's regional director for the Southeast, noting that the modifications will provide for increased manatee protection through increased law enforcement presence, as well as provide for the safety of the boating public.

The decision, which was published in the Federal Register today, modifies the area located downstream of the Hart Bridge to allow watercraft to travel up to 25 miles per hour (mph) in a broader portion of the St. Johns River to include areas adjacent to but outside of the navigation channel. The manatee protection area will also be expanded approximately one mile further downstream to the extent it was originally proposed (68 FR 16602; April 4, 2003) in order to compliment existing state and local governmental manatee protection measures.

The final rule amendment is available online at northflorida.fws.gov or may be requested by e-mail to manatee@fws.gov, by mail at U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Attn: Amended MPA Rule, 6620 Southpoint Drive, Suite 310, Jacksonville, FL 32216-0958, by fax at 904/232-2404, or by telephone at 904/232-2580.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses more than 542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

Refer to the Federal Register notice available at our web site, for detailed information on the differences between the original designation and this amendment, as well as the specific details of the modifications.

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Last modified April 28, 2005

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