Marco Island News, Manatee Meeting

On Thursday, March 15th, the Marco Island Marriott was the scene of a gathering to find out the truth about the new proposed guidelines put forth by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  With at least 400 people in attendance, the crowd sat open eared to the various speakers, including former city official, Ed Day.

The resounding theme was that of mistrust of our government officials.

Jim Kalvin, founder of Standing Watch, echoed the other speakers, stating that it is possible that you soon will not be able to get back to your favorite backwater fishing spot, or your secluded beach due to miles of no wake zones.  Kalvin said that his group is positioned to fight for property owner's rights and has grown to over 5000 members in a very short time.  

Kalvin angrily said that," The government could shut down the whole state of Florida by declaring it a sanctuary".  Kalvin then gave a definition of a sanctuary, "That means no human activity".

The F.W.S. can take any area of water and convert it into a no wake zone, thus making a trip that would normally take an hour, into a full day.  This could make ventures into the 10,000 islands a two day trip.  Charter fishing operators could face devastating effects if the 10,000 islands were declared a no wake zone.

Ed Day stated that the manatee population is increasing, not decreasing.  Day also stated that all of this is a gross lie advanced by the "Save the Manatee Group".

In January, the Save the Manatee Club, along with 17 national and state environmental, animal welfare, and public interest groups, announced that they had reached a landmark settlement agreement in a federal lawsuit filed last year.

The lawsuit was filed against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service). The suit alleged that by their actions and omissions, the government agencies charged with the protection of the manatee were causing manatees to be “taken.” The taking of manatees includes the killing, injuring, and harassing of these endangered animals.

The settlement commits the Service to a rapid schedule for the designation of new manatee refuges and sanctuaries throughout Florida with the final rule to be issued by the end of September of this year.  Manatees will now have a network of protected areas where they can be free from harassment and human activity to rest, breed, feed, and nurse their calves.

The Service and the Corps have also committed to adopting "small take" regulations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) within no more than 28 months.   Under the MMPA, such regulations could only be issued if the Secretary of the Interior ensures that the "taking" being authorized -- which includes not only mortalities, but also sub-lethal injuries from collisions and harassment -- has no more than a negligible effect on the species.  If the effect will be more than negligible, the authorization must be denied.

In issuing the MMPA rules, the Service has agreed to evaluate, at a minimum, the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts on manatees and their habitat for all Corps permitting activities.  "The net effect of these changes will result in much more protective measures for manatees." said Eric Glitzenstein of Meyer and Glitzenstein, the Washington, D.C. law firm that represented SMC and the coalition in the lawsuit.   Until these new MMPA regulations are adopted, the Service must determine that a proposed project (such as a marina) is not likely to adversely affect manatees before the project can be built.  Adequate speed zones and signage will have to be in place as well as speed zone enforcement sufficient to prevent watercraft collisions from occurring as a result of the project.

This lawsuit was apparently settled behind closed doors to get dock construction back on track.  When the lawsuit was filed, all dock permitting (excluding residential) was halted.  

It is a well known fact that Jimmy Buffet is a big supporter of Save the Manatee, so perhaps we all should put away our Margaritaville CD's for a while.

Anyone interested in joining Jim Kelvin's "Standing Watch" can visit their website at www.standing-watch.org

The tone was clear, everyone likes manatees, however, we want to keep our boating rights! 

 


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Ed Day speaking his concerns.