New protection zones for manatees in western Pinellas County moved closer to final approval Thursday at a meeting of the FWC commissioners in Key Largo. But stakeholders who consider the measures excessive will get at least one more say.
The commissioners approved the next step in a winding legal process: publishing the proposed rules, which affect boaters and some waterside businesses in 46 miles of inshore waterways. The proposal would create 21 slow-boating areas stretching from the mouth of the Anclote River to Egmont Key.
The new measures intended to reduce manatee boat strikes involve a mixture of year-round, warm-season and cold-season no-wake and minimum-wake zones, according to a 34-page recommendation to the commissioners.
“Through our analysis of manatee and boating data, we believe the proposed zones will provide improved protection for manatees while causing a relatively small effect on boaters’ travel time,” said Carol Knox, head of the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management Section.
We are excited to announce the winners of the NOAA Marine Debris Program Annual Art Contest! Congratulations, and thank you for helping us continue to spread awareness about marine debris! https://t.co/GytndSaniU pic.twitter.com/wCXjaCRGS4— NOAA Marine Debris (@NOAADebris) April 18, 2018
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