Last summer, WSPA and its supporters asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to designate all of King’s Bay (Citrus County, Florida) as a year-round, permanent refuge to safeguard manatees. Thanks in part to the more than 25,000 concerned individuals who signed our petition, FWS announced a proposed rule on Mar. 16 to establish the King’s Bay Manatee Refuge.
The refuge will greatly increase manatee protection. For example:
To prevent injuries and deaths caused by watercraft collisions, speeds will be regulated throughout the refuge and the seven existing sanctuary areas will be maintained
High-speed watercraft operation will be reduced from 123 to 76 days per year and confined to daylight hours, three months per year
Because manatees are attracted to anchored boats, anchoring in the high-speed area will be prohibited to help keep them out of harm’s way
To reduce harassment and injuries associated with human interactions and manatee viewing, no-entry areas will be established and 12 prohibitions have been identified
Some high-speed watercraft activity will still be allowed in the refuge, as is the use of mooring and floatlines that can entangle manatees. While we are concerned that these activities could have detrimental effects on manatees in King’s Bay, WSPA is extremely pleased with the improved protection measures outlined in the final rule. FWS has taken steps in the right direction to safeguard the hundreds of “endangered” and “depleted” manatees actively using the waters of King’s Bay.
Campaign Coordinator, WSPA USA
P.S. Please help us to continue our advocacy efforts on behalf of animals everywhere.