A Review of Florida's Manatee Protection: Recommendations for Unifying/Standardizing Boat Facility Siting Plans within Manatee Subpopulation Zones

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

Caryn Self-Sullivan

Second Advisor

Curtis Burney


The Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) and its habitat have been regulated and managed by the State of Florida since 1893; the federal government had also regulated manatee habitat since 1899. Since 1989 State and federal governments have suggested that counties develop their own manatee protection plans (MPP) and boat facility siting plans (BFSP) where manatees occur (Florida Department of Natural Resources [DNR], 1989; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [USFWS], 1989).

In 1989, DNR placed focus on 13key counties identified as having the most significant impacts on manatee populations. These counties were initially required to develop MPPs and BFSPs. To date, only 14 of the 36 total coastal and inland counties where manatees regularly occur have implemented MPPs and BFSPs which vary from county to county (USFWS, 2011). The development of other county plans has not progressed since 2007.

Lack in consistency of protection across inter-jurisdictional boundaries has led to the Florida manatees’ continued presence on the state and federal lists of threatened and endangered species. In effort to de-list this species, a unified BFSP may be developed based on manatee subpopulations. This BFSP should incorporate standardized and consistent methodologies and be comparable among counties which the manatee subpopulations are located. This could impart a more accurate representation of effectiveness of species management.

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