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Old 02-11-2003, 09:26 PM
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE For More Information:
February 11, 2003 Ted Forsgren (850) 224-3474






CCA FLORIDA JOINS STATE OF FLORIDA AND BOATING INTERESTS TO BLAST FEDERAL DEAL FOR MORE MANATEE SPEED ZONES

Today, in their strongest statement ever on the manatee issue, CCA Florida joined Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and boating interests in blasting action by the U.S. Department of Interior which will “undermine state manatee conservation efforts.” In a deal worked out between Interior officials and the Manatee Club, another major wave of federal manatee speed zones are scheduled to be enacted in Florida waters.
A February 10, 2003 statement and objections filed by the FWC states that remedies for the Department of Interiors mishandling of the settlement agreement “should not be to prematurely create additional Federal manatee refuges and sanctuaries” and that “it is unfair to the Commission (FWC) and to all Floridians to thrust burdens on them because of the alleged failure of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) efforts.”
CCA Florida’s comments were even stronger. “The issue here is not mismanagement of manatees, whose populations are at record levels of abundance, but of gross mismanagement of a manatee lawsuit settlement agreement by high level federal officials ” said Michael Kennedy, Chairman-CCA Florida. “Federal judges shouldn’t punish Florida’s citizens and saltwater anglers for the incompetence of the leadership and legal staff of the U.S. Department of Interior.”
The federal deal includes extreme restrictions that would wreck recreational fishing in the Caloosahatchee, Tomoka and St. Johns Rivers. In addition, premier saltwater recreational fishing areas like Chokoloskee Bay, the Ten Thousand Island’s, and Whitewater Bay in Everglades National Park are on the hit list for more restrictions.
“The State of Florida alone has already established more than one quarter of a million acres of manatee protection zones and Florida’s manatee population is continuously expanding,” said CCA Florida Executive Director Ted Forsgren. “There is simply no justification or science to support federal action.”
As an example of the incompetence demonstrated by the federal officials, Forsgren noted that several areas targeted for year-round extreme regulations do not even have manatees in those areas year-round. “This is clearly a political deal created by Interior’s leadership to get them out of the legal mess that they created,” said Forsgren. “These federal officials do not care at all about the interests of Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Commission or Florida’s recreational fishers.”
The whole legal battle began two-and-a-half years ago when the Manatee Club and others filed lawsuits claiming that the State of Florida and the federal government had not done enough to protect manatees and that such inaction had caused manatees to decline and “sink further toward extinction.”
“That representation by the Club was then, and always has been false,” said Forsgren.
In support of their strong objections to the federal plan, CCA Florida offered the following information:

 For many years, the State of Florida has taken the lead in manatee protection and their efforts have been a success leading to substantial increases in abundance. The FWC’s scientific report entitled “Re-Evaluation of the Biological Status of Manatees” clearly documents that there is no evidence of any declines in manatee populations over the last 45 years and that, in fact, manatee populations have been expanding since the 1970’s. (FWC 2002)

 In January 2001, scientists counted an all time record 3,276 manatees in statewide aerial surveys; more than double the number counted 10 years previously.

 In January 2003, scientist’s counted 3113, the second highest count on record. The 2003 counts included the highest number of manatees ever counted on Florida’s east coast and in Tampa Bay. (FWC 2003)

 The state and federal government have established “measurable biological goals” for manatee recovery. In three of the four subpopulations where complete data is available, manatee populations have exceeded the biological goals for recovery. (FWC 2003)


 The State of Florida alone has established MORE THAN ONE QUARTER OF A MILLION ACRES OF MANATEE PROTECTION ZONES. Those 298,816 acres represent 24% of Florida’s coastal and inland waters. (FWC 2002)

CCA Florida stated that the manatee issue is being driven by manatee groups emotionally exploiting a single issue, the number of animals killed by watercraft. Twenty-seven years of data in the state carcass recovery program indicates that efforts by manatee groups to portray watercraft mortalities as skyrocketing out of control are deliberately misleading.

“The rate of increase in watercraft related deaths is less that the rate of increase in natural mortalities and the rate of increase in the total of all non-watercraft deaths,” said Forsgren. “A steady increase in all forms of mortality validates and fits with what is being seen in the annual population counts which have more than doubled in the last ten years. An increase in all mortalities is exactly what you would expect to see with a manatee population that has been continuously expanding for 45 years.”

Even with expanding manatee populations, CCA Florida has stated that conservationists and recreational fishers who share the coastal waters with manatees should support reasonable protection measures to help reduce accidental watercraft mortalities, which is why CCA worked cooperatively with the FWC to develop manatee zones that would protect manatees and still provide reasonable access for recreational fishing.
“From the beginning, our goal in this process has been to insure that the interests of saltwater anglers are fairly considered and to offer reasonable recommendations and alternatives based on facts not emotion,” said Dr. Ernie Hendry, Past Chairman-CCA Florida. “We supported virtually all of the new zones created by the FWC last September. However, we are not about to accept federal government deals developed behind closed doors that are not science based and where no meaningful public input has been or will be allowed.”
CCA Florida urged all saltwater anglers to join CCA, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and boating interests in adamantly opposing the deal developed by U.S. Department of Interior and Manatee Club.
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Old 02-11-2003, 09:33 PM
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I'm a director for our local chapter. It is a great organiztion to be involved with. Many of there interest paralell the interests of powerboaters. Check into your local chapter for information or contact me if interest. Much of there money is raised through banquets and auctions and I can attest from many years of experience they are alot of fun.
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