Central Florida boaters beware:

Wildlife officials alert boaters to manatee zones
FLORIDA TODAY • August 29, 2008

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission will jointly enforce the federal and state manatee zones in Brevard County during the Labor Day weekend from today through Sept. 1.

Manatee speed zones are clearly marked with large white signs and buoys with international orange lettering, and vessel operators are required to operate at the appropriate posted speeds within the manatee zones.

There is no mile-per-hour speed attached to slow and idle speeds, the FWC said. Slow speed and idle speed are based upon the type of the vessel. Idle speed is the lowest speed a vessel can move and still be steered. Slow speed means the vessel is completely settled in the water, no plowing, and producing a minimum wake.

Boaters who want to know where the zones are prior to launching, can check federal zones online at http://www.fws.gov/northflorida and state zones at http://myfwc.com/manatee/data/mapref.htm

In those areas where the federal and state zones are not identical, the more restrictive zone takes precedence.

Maps on the Web sites provide a general overview of the areas that have manatee speed zones, but are not a substitute for on-the-water markings. When in doubt, boaters should follow the rules as posted on the signs and delineated by the buoys.

The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission will be strictly enforcing the zones and will be using RADAR to check vessel speed, the agencies said. Federal fines for ignoring speed zones range from $125 to $25,000 and/or six months in prison under the Endangered Species Act. The fines increase for each subsequent violation of any state or federal manatee zones throughout the state, according to the agencies.

So far this year, eight manatees in Brevard County have died from watercraft strikes. Last year, 57 manatees in Brevard County died — 10 from watercraft strikes, FWC stated in a memo.

“Voluntary compliance is a win-win for boaters and for Florida manatees, providing for safe passage for both through Florida’s waterways,” the FWC said.

For more information about the zones, call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement at 352-429-1037 or contact the FWC at 352-732-1225.

YEAH, BULL$HIT!!!! Manatee Zones don't work, and they never will!
We have 3 boats going to Bird Island to teach my kids how to waterski, and I bet we get hassled in all of the boats. Hell, you can't even steer the Seadoo jet boat without a little throttle!
This should be interesting this weekend!
Have fun and be safe