North Florida Ecological Services Office
Southeast Region

Florida Manatee - Issues and Information

Manatee Reclassified from Endangered to Threatened as Habitat Improves and Population Expands – Existing Federal Protections Remain in Place

On the heels of Manatee Appreciation Day, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced the downlisting of the West Indian manatee from endangered to threatened. Notable increases in manatee populations and improvements in its habitat allowed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to change the species’ status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The downlisting comes after diverse conservation efforts and collaborations by Florida and other manatee states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Caribbean nations, public and private organizations and citizens, there have been notable increases in manatee populations and improvements in its habitat.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service has worked hand in hand with state and local governments, businesses, industry, and countless stakeholders over many years to protect and restore a mammal that is cherished by people around the world,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “Without this type of collaboration and the commitment of state and local partners, this downlisting would not have been possible.”

In its review, FWS considered the status of the West Indian manatee throughout its range, which includes the Florida manatee subspecies, found primarily in the southeastern United States, and the Antillean manatee, found in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Central America, northern South America and the Greater and Lesser Antilles (see range map). The downlisting means that the manatee is no longer considered in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, but is likely to become so in the foreseeable future without continued ESA protections.

Although the downlisting represents a milestone for the manatee, the agency underscored that important challenges still remain to ensuring the species’ long-term future throughout its range. As such, FWS biologists emphasized that the downlisting will not diminish any existing federal protections that will continue to play a vital role in the recovery of the species. The manatee will also continue to be protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.


Final Decision as published in Federal Register Leaving this site icon or download PDF

Press ReleaseLeaving this site icon

Questions and Answers (HTML) - PDF Version Leaving this site icon

News Conference

Manatee Stock Assessment Reports (SAR)

  • 2012 Final Revised SAR for West Indian Manatee Stocks
  • 2009 Final Revised SAR for West Indian Manatee Stocks

Governing Laws

General and Useful Information

Florida Manatee Project Key Programmatic Assessment

  • Appendix A - Incidental Take Avoidance-minimization measures for new or expanding multi-slip facilities and dredging projects, 2011 - PDF 14KB
  • Appendix B - Standard Manatee Conditions for In-Water Activities, April 2013 - PDF - 121KB
  • Appendix C - Additional Conditions for Project In-water Activities in Manatee Habitat, 2011 - PDF - 16KB
  • Appendix D - Standard Manatee Conditions for new and existing pipes and culverts, 2011 - PDF - 12KB
  • Appendix E - Dock Construction Guidelines in Florida for docks or other minor structures constructed in or over submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), marsh or mangrove (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/National Marine Fisheries Service, August 2001 - PDF - 12KB
  • Appendix F - Key for construction conditions for docks or other minor structures in or over Johnson's seagrass (Halophila johnsonii) October 2002 - PDF - 13KB


Bookmark and Share

Last updated: November 20, 2019