North Florida Ecological Services Office
Southeast Region

Joint Agency/Manatee Detail
News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: March 16, 2010
Target Publication Date: March 18, 2010

Media Contacts:
Lt. Steve Zukowski, Flagler County Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission 904-237-4499
Lt. Steve VanNortwick Volusia County Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission 386-566-2770
Joy Hill, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission – 352-732-1225
Chuck Underwood, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – 904-731-3332

Manatee Enforcement Effort Slated for Flagler and Volusia Counties Weekend of March 19, 2010

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will initiate a joint enforcement effort over the weekend of March 19th to enforce the federal and state Manatee zones in South Flagler and Volusia counties. The joint enforcement effort will run from Saturday, March 20th, through Sunday, March 21st.

Along with FWS and FWC agents and officers, numerous federal, state and local marine enforcement units from the area will be participating in the enforcement detail to enforce not only the manatee protection zones but other legal requirements on the water, as well.

The federal manatee protection zones and regulations may be found online at: http://www.fws.gov/northflorida/Manatee/Documents/MPARules/index-federal-mpa-maps.htm.

Those areas designated as protected pursuant to the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act may be at: http://www.myfwc.com/WILDLIFEHABITATS/Manatee_protectionzones.htm#Maps

In those areas where the federal and state zones are not identical, the more restrictive zone takes precedence. The web page maps provide a general overview of the areas that have manatee speed zones but are not a substitute for on-the-water markings. When in doubt, follow the rules as posted on the signs and delineated by the buoys throughout the designated areas in Flagler and Volusia counties to mark the regulated zones.

Manatee zone boundaries are marked by large posted signs and buoys; both are white in color with international orange lettering.

Federal and State regulations require vessel operators to operate at the appropriate posted speeds within the manatee zones. Portions of the manatee zones are regulated at a maximum speed of 35 mph and are enforced utilizing RADAR units.

According to the regulations, a watercraft is considered to be proceeding at slow speed if the vessel is fully off plane, bow down, and completely settled in the water, not creating an excessive wake. However, if a watercraft is on plane, in the process of coming up on or coming off of plane, or creating an excessive wake it is not considered to be proceeding at slow speed. There is no mile per hour speed attached to slow and idle zones. Slow speed and idle speed are based upon the attitude of the vessel. Idle Speed is considered to be enough forward momentum to maintain steerage of a vessel.

Law enforcement participants in this joint effort will be doing strict enforcement of the manatee zones. Federal fines range from $125 to $25,000 and/or six (6) months imprisonment under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The fines increase for each subsequent violation of any state or federal manatee zone throughout the state.

State data indicates manatee mortalities related to watercraft strikes represented 13 to 20 percent of all mortalities in Flagler and Volusia counties, as shown in the table below.

Florida manatee Mortalities Flagler Volusia
2009 Watercraft 1 4
2009 Overall 5 30
2010 Watercraft through February 16 0 0
2010 Overall through February 16 0 0

Source: FWCC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute – Manatee Mortality Statistics (http://research.myfwc.com/features/category_sub.asp?id=2241)

Voluntary compliance is a win-win for boaters and for Florida manatees: providing for safe passage for both through Florida’s waterways.

Enforcement questions regarding the various zones may be directed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement at 352-429-1037 or contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 352-732-1225.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. Visit the Service’s Web site at "http://www.fws.gov.

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Last updated: February 7, 2018