North Florida Ecological Services Office
Southeast Region

Florida Manatee - Issues and Information


West Indian Manatee Reclassification Proposed - comment period closed April 7, 2016

As a result of significant improvements in its population and habitat conditions, and reductions in direct threats, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today that the West Indian manatee is proposed to be downlisted from endangered to threatened status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The proposal to downlist the manatee to threatened will not affect federal protections currently afforded by the ESA, and the Service remains committed to conservation actions to fully recover manatee populations.

The ESA defines an endangered species as one currently in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, and a threatened species as one that is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future. Given its review of the best scientific and commercial information available, including analyses of threats and populations, the Service proposes that the West Indian manatee no longer falls within the ESA's definition of endangered and should be reclassified as threatened. The Service will publish its proposal in the Federal Register tomorrow, beginning a 90-day comment period in which the public is invited to submit scientific or technical information that will aid the agency in reaching its final decision.

The manatee protection measures currently in place would remain in force if the species is downlisted from endangered to threatened.

The finding and additional information is available online at the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov/. In the Keyword box, enter Docket Number FWS-R4-ES-2015-0178. Background information on the Florida and Antillean sub-species is available at http://www.fws.gov/southeast/wildlife/mammal/manatee/.

To ensure the Service's review is complete and based on the best available scientific and commercial information, the Service is requesting information concerning the status of the West Indian manatee throughout its entire range (see range map). Specifically, the Service seeks information on the manatee's biology, distribution, abundance, population trends, demographics and genetics; habitat conditions; the threat posed by climate change; past and ongoing conservation measures that have been implemented for the species, its habitat or both; threat status and trends within the geographical range; and a wide variety of other information.

Comment period closed April 7, 2016. For more information, see Frequently Asked Questions. You can view all of the comments and information submitted at the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov/.

NOTE: an inadvertent error occurred in the Federal Register's original notice published on January 8, 2016 reflecting the comment period closing April 8, 2015: that is not correct. The date shown above is the correct closing date. The FR published a correction in its Wednesday, January 13, 2016, edition, see link below.

News Release

Federal Register Notice - Proposal to Reclassify Leaving this site icon

Federal Register Notice - Public Comment Period Closing Date Correction Leaving site icon

Frequently Asked Questions

Submit Information, data and comments via the www.regulations.gov - docket # FWS-R4-ES-2015-0178. Leaving this site icon

Listen to the press conference announcing our proposal.

Feb. 20, 2016 Open House & Public Hearing Presentation - PDF with speaker notes - PDF slides only

Feb. 20, 2016 Open House & Public Hearing Posters - PDF

Feb. 20, 2016 Public Hearing Transcript - PDF

Feb. 20, 2016 Public Hearing Comments Submitted from Non-Speakers (not captured in transcript) - PDF


Manatee Stock Assessment Reports (SAR)

  • 2012 Final Revised SAR for West Indian Manatee Stocks

IMPORTANT NOTE: A Tampa Bay Times article published January 23, 2013 by Craig Pittman contained an error in fact. In the third paragraph the reference to 99 commercial fisheries deaths is incorrect. As stated in the report, there has been a five-year average of 99 human related deaths per year (Table 1, pg 17); none of which were tied to commercial fisheries operations.

Thus, within the context of this fisheries focused report, lethal take of Florida manatees from commercial fisheries activities is obviously well below the calculated Potential Biological Removal (PBR) number of 14.98 (pg 3).

As noted in the Service spokesperon's interview with Mr. Pittman, this report acknowledges there remain other human and natural threats but only focused its conclusions within the fisheries context as required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).

  • 2009 Final Revised SAR for West Indian Manatee Stocks

Governing Laws

General and Useful Information

2011 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

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Last updated: September 13, 2016