[Federal Register: November 8, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 217)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 68490-68491]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 68490]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Input on 
Additional Manatee Protection Measures

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of request for input on additional measures to protect 
manatees and further recovery of the species.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service, are seeking input and 
soliciting comments on additional measures to protect the endangered 
West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) in Florida and further 
recovery of the species. Specifically, as part of this request, we are 
seeking information or suggestions that would help us identify 
additional protection areas; locations that would be appropriate for 
increased law enforcement efforts; locations where the existing speed 
zone signage can be improved; how we can effectively increase boater 
education and outreach; where and when this education and outreach 
should be directed; factors that should or should not be considered to 
improve our boating facility site reviews; and other activities that we 
should undertake or modify or cease to protect the manatee in Florida.

DATES: We must receive your comments regarding this request for 
information on or before February 6, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Submit written comments to the Field Supervisor, 
Jacksonville Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 6620 
Southpoint Drive, South, Suite 310, Jacksonville, Florida 32216 or via 
electronic mail to manatee@fws.gov.
    Comments and materials received in response to this request will be 
available for public inspection at this address during normal working 
hours from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

at telephone 904/232-2580, extension 106; facsimile 904/232-2404; or 
electronic mail manatee@fws.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We are soliciting comments for additional 
measures to protect manatees. The designation of manatee protection 
areas is just one of the tools available to us to protect manatees and 
further manatee recovery to meet our responsibilities under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), 
and the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended (MMPA) (16 
U.S.C. 1361-1407). With respect to waterborne activities, the tools we 
currently use include: designation of manatee protection areas; 
increased law enforcement efforts; improvement of current speed zone 
signage; boater education and outreach; and boating facility site 
reviews. We are also working with our Manatee Recovery Team (Recovery 
Team) and our Habitat Working Group (HWG) to identify and implement 
manatee conservation activities that will protect manatees and enhance 
their recovery. We hope that information and suggestions received in 
response to this request, together with the work generated by the 
Recovery Team and the HWG, will allow us to more effectively focus our 
limited resources to protect manatees and further recovery of the 
    During this comment period, we may also conduct public meetings, if 
requested, to ensure full public participation to develop additional 
measures to protect manatees. Once the comment period is closed, we 
will host a meeting of the Recovery Team so it can review the 
information submitted pursuant to this notice, and to discuss, evaluate 
and recommend to the Service additional protection measures and habitat 
protection needs to help ensure the recovery of the manatee.
    We propose to hold additional Recovery Team meetings to assist us 
in identifying additional manatee protection measures, and developing 
an implementation plan and schedule to carry out these measures. The 
Recovery Team will be asked to consider the public comments and 
suggestions obtained through this notice, as well as the recovery needs 
of the species identified in the final recovery plan, the assessment of 
the habitat recovery criteria developed by the HWG, the final 
determinations by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 
(FWCC) and us in establishing additional protection areas, the FWCC's 
Caloosahatchee River study, the species status reviews conducted by 
both the FWCC and us, and the most up-to-date manatee population model 
outputs. The benefits of the Recovery Team's assessment of these data 
and the Team's recommendation will aid us in formulating additional 
protection measures for possible implementation by State, Federal, 
county and private conservation entities. It will also ensure that the 
best science is being utilized to determine manatee protection needs.
    In addition, the Service is also publishing in the Federal Register 
proposed incidental take regulations pursuant to the Marine Mammal 
Protection Act for public comment in November 2002. As a part of the 
MMPA regulatory process, we will request comments on the proposed 
mitigating measures we have identified that would be required in order 
for the Service to make a finding pursuant to the MMPA that the 
incidental take of manatees will have a negligible impact on the 
population. Many of the current measures being implemented to protect 
and recover manatees under the Endangered Species Act (e.g., increased 
law enforcement efforts, improvement of current speed zone signage, and 
boater education and outreach), may be the same or comparable to those 
that may be proposed under the MMPA incidental take regulations, and 
may be similar to comments or suggestions received from the public 
through this notice.
    The public is encouraged to provide individual comments to both 
Service actions (this notice requesting input on additional protective 
measures that the Service could consider and the proposed MMPA 
incidental take regulations).

Public Comments Solicited

    Persons wishing to provide relevant information and comments 
regarding this request for input on additional measures to protect 
manatees, should submit such comments in writing to the Jacksonville 
Field Office (see ADDRESSES section).
    Our practice is to make comments we receive on this process, 
including names and home addresses of respondents, available for public 
review during regular business hours. Individual respondents may 
request that we withhold their home address from the process, which we 
will honor to the extent allowable by law. There also may be 
circumstances in which we would withhold a respondent's identity from 
the process, as allowable by law. If you wish us to withhold your name 
and/or address, you must state this prominently at the beginning of 
your comments. However, we will not consider anonymous comments. We 
will make all submissions from organizations or businesses, and from 
individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of 
organizations or businesses, available for public inspection in their 


    The primary author of this document is Peter Benjamin (see 
ADDRESSES section).

[[Page 68491]]


    The authority to establish manatee protection areas is provided by 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.), and the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (16 U.S.C. 1361-
1407), as amended.

    Dated: October 31, 2002.
Paul Hoffman,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 02-28279 Filed 11-5-02; 9:57 am]