FWC ADOPTS NEW MANATEE PROTECTION ZONES
September 13, 2002
CONTACT: Henry Cabbage (850) 488-8843
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved 10
new manatee protection zones Thursday in a day-long special session (
The FWC met at the Osceola County Administration Building in Kissimmee
to consider staff recommendations concerning manatee protection measures
for Charlotte, Citrus, Hillsborough, Indian River, Manatee and Sarasota
counties. Commissioners heard more than 100 hours of formal public input
in workshops, stakeholders' meetings and public hearings before taking
"The FWC has listened carefully to all parties throughout this process,"
Chairman John D. Rood said. "We have made great efforts to minimize
impact on traditional boating activities while providing much-improved
protection for manatees."
Commissioners scheduled the special meeting for central Florida rather
than take up the matter at its regular meeting last week in Pensacola
to ensure people who live in affected counties would have adequate opportunity
to share their opinions and information with the agency.
New manatee zone regulations in Charlotte and DeSoto counties include
slow-speed zones for boaters in the Lemon Bay area from the Sarasota County
line to Boca Grande Causeway, with the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and
the marked channel through Stump Pass allowing boats to travel 25 mph.
Also, the FWC will establish two idle speed zones in Turtle Bay, with
the rest of the bay having a 25-mph speed limit. For Lemon Bay, Commissioners
approved a 25-mph corridor from the mainland to Little Gasparilla Island
and another 25-mph zone adjacent to Boca Grande Causeway. In the Peace
River, the FWC will establish a combination of slow speed shoreline buffers,
shore-to-shore slow speed zones (some with 25 mph channels) and shore-to-shore
25-mph zones east of U.S. 41 and south of S.R. 761 in DeSoto County.
After hearing several hours of public comment, Commissioners agreed to
incorporate key elements of the manatee plan produced by Charlotte County
officials and input from the Coastal Conservation Association. The revisions
resulted in an additional 25-mph zone north of Long Island and east of
Bird Key in addition to another 25-mph zone in part of Hunter Creek, both
in the Peace River.
In an area of Sarasota County, the eastern boundary of the existing slow
speed zone in the vicinity of City Island will move westward to a line
between the northwestern end of Bird Key and the eastern end of City Island.
In addition, the currently unregulated area northeast of Pansy Bayou will
become a slow-speed zone. A winter season (Nov. 15 - March 15) no-entry
zone will go into effect in a section of Salt Creek/Warm Mineral Springs
north of U.S. 41, while the existing slow speed zone north of the weir
to the Warm Mineral Springs will no longer apply. Commissioners granted
a variance for the Ski-A-Rees water skiing team.
In Manatee County, the FWC will establish slow speed shoreline buffer
zones throughout most of Terra Ceia Bay and Terra Ceia Bayou, with the
waters outside of the buffer in the western part of the bay having a 25
mph speed limit. Shore-to-shore slow speed regulations will apply in Peterson
Bayou and the portions of Terra Ceia Bay south of Terra Ceia Bayou and
north of Snead Cut to the vicinity of the freshwater outfall. Snead Cut
will become an idle speed zone.
The existing winter season (Nov. 15 - March 31) zone in Hillsborough County's
shipping channel leading to the Alafia River in Hillsborough Bay will
no longer apply, and the existing winter season idle speed zone in the
Alafia River west of U.S. 41 will become a year-round slow speed zone
except in the marked channel that allows boats to travel 25 mph. A 25-mph
zone will take effect on the Alafia River between U.S. 41 and I-75.
In Citrus County, two seasonal (Nov. 15 - March 31) no entry zones will
take effect in the Blue Waters area of the Homosassa River. However, the
FWC will allow public access to part of the Blue Waters area, even when
the zones are in effect. The entire area will remain accessible during
In Indian River County, the existing seasonal (Nov. 1 - April 30) zone
(30 mph in the Atlantic ICW channel and slow speed outside the ICW) in
Jungle Trail Narrows will be replaced by a year-round slow-speed zone
that will allow speeds up to 30 mph in the ICW channel the entire length
of Jungle Trail Narrows. A seasonal (Nov. 15 - March 31) no-entry zone
will be added to the canal system north of the Vero Beach Municipal Power
Plant. Motorboat access to private residence, boat houses and docks in
the no-entry zone by residents and authorized guests will be allowed at
idle speed under permits.
The FWC chairman said the Commission worked diligently to ensure the new
regulations strike a balance between the rights of boaters and property
owners and sound management practices for protecting manatees.
"We are committed to the principle that responsible manatee protection
should also constitute good public policy," he said. "We believe
we have developed a plan which will have wide support in the affected
area and throughout the state. I am grateful to the hundreds of people
who took the time to offer their comments and help with the process."
The new manatee protection zones will take effect as soon as signs can
Franchesta L. Wilson
Office of Informational Services
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission [email protected]
P.O. Box 296, Estero, FL 33928 E-mail
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