Thrown Out of Balance by The Federal Government –
The Cooperative Agreement for Managing Florida Manatee waters
From 2003, at the onset of the Cooperative Agreement between Florida and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for managing the recovery of the manatee, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) objected to the USFWS plan to seize Florida waters and call the acreage “Federal Manatee Refuges”.
2003 FWC Letter to USFWS
The main objection was, even though USFWS conceded that they lacked money for enforcement, they were planning to continue seizing Florida waters regardless.Now, nine years later they have total regulatory control over some 14,750 acres taken from Florida control.
FWC 2007 Manatee Management Plan
Four key ways in which the Federal Government has progressively made the Cooperative Agreement skewed toward growing their own power:
1 – Unpaid Enforcement Mandate by the Feds – True to the original 2003 prediction, today the Feds have only 3 enforcement officers for the entire State, and with a total enforcement budget of $500,000 yearly for the entire 14,750 acres of seized waters. However, the FWC enforcement arm of Florida waters – some 318,000 acres – has 700 hundred enforcement officers. Thus, the Feds expect to continue expanding and rely on the State to pay the enforcement tab.
2 – Ignoring The Rights of Boaters, Fishers, swimmers and water skiers – can not be ignored as stipulated in Florida State Law (FS 379.2431(2)(k)) and in the Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.68C 22.002(14)) issued by the FWC. The USFWS ignores these rights. The most egregious example of late is the seizure of King’s Bay under the excuse – “solely to prevent the takeof one or more manatees.” This criteria could be used on any body of water in the State, including waterways in or near your community!
3 – Florida Ability to Approve Water Access Points Removed in 2010 – The USFWS has decided that “incidental take” occurs any time more boat access points – docks, marinas, ramps – are built in Florida waters where manatees may occasionally be. Prior to November, 2010, the FWC could review applications for permits and they were required to consider the rights of boaters, etc. Without amending the Cooperative Agreement. In November, 2010, the FWC was removed from the permit process, and currently only the USFWS can approve a permit for new boat access.
4 – USFWS Expects the State to Enforce Rule – Even though the State objected to the seizure of Kings Bay, USFWS expects the more stringent water activity rules for King’s Bay to be monitored and patrolled by the State, without providing adequate law enforcement personnel, training, funding, or consideration of state concerns.