Subject: manatees off list??? (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Fri, 1 Oct 1999 13:38:04 -0400 (EDT)

From: Michael Sorice <>
To: Manatee <>
Sent: Thursday, September 30, 1999 4:00 PM
Subject: Re: manatees off list???

Manatee Watchers Mailing List -

Hello everyone,

 I did a little digging and called the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Commission.  The story was picked up off of the AP wire and originated in
today's (9/30/99) St. Petersburg Times.  I will include the full text of the
story from the paper as well as a link to it.  Additionally, here is a link
to the National Marine Manufacturer's Association who is the main player
stirring things up:

Best regards,
Mike Sorice

Trade group will fight manateeprotections
State marine interests want the mammalsoff the endangered list.


(c) St. Petersburg Times, published September 30, 1999

TALLAHASSEE -- Claiming that the number of manatees in Florida is growing,
the state's largest marine business interests have quietly formed a group to
try to get the sea cows removed from the federal endangered species list.

"Perhaps the time has come to delist the manatee, much as the alligator and
the eagle have been delisted,"
reads a Sept.  3 memo penned by Wade Hopping, a top business lobbyist who
represents the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

Scientists working to protect manatees say the idea of stripping away
protections is ridiculous. Manatee
populations may be stable or even growing a little in some locations, they
say, but the number of boats is growing too.

This year, they predict, Florida will set a record  for the number of
manatees killed by boats.

The formation of Hopping's business group -- called the "Manatee Task
Force" -- comes as 22 environmental
groups are poised to sue the state and federal governments because, they
say, manatee protection laws have not been properly enforced. State
officials estimate there are about 2,500 manatees remaining in Florida's
waters. The creatures have been on the endangered species list since 1967.

The Endangered Species Act allows Florida to impose a host of protections
for manatees, from requiring
boaters to slow down in places where manatees congregate to limiting
development near their habitat.

Hopping was out of town Wednesday and could not be reached for comment. But
on Sept. 3, he wrote the
members of the new task force:  "Last week, the marine manufacturers and
dealers met in Orlando. Manatees were foremost on their mind. They believe
that they have been on the defense far too
long, and therefore they are planning to create a proactive program on
manatee issues. Their fear is that the thrust of all the manatee protection
activities are designed to limit the number of docks and marinas, and to
limit the number of boats that are on the water. Obviously, they have a
tremendous interest in this issue."

Hopping's memo, written on the letterhead of his law firm, says that besides
pushing to take manatees off the  endangered species list, marine interests
have two other goals: one is to get the Legislature to rewrite state
law to exempt marinas from Florida's rigorous Development of Regional Impact
review, which can require studies of imperiled plants and animals. The other
is to take  money from the state's Manatee Protection Trust Fund and use it
to put more marine enforcement officers on the water to enforce speed
limits. The money in the trust fund comes from sales of the specialty
manatee license plate.

Hopping's memo says the new Manatee Task Force also wants to reach out to
other groups, like the Florida
Home Builders Association.  But the reception may be cool.  "None of us have
heard anything about it," said
Wellington Meffert, the home builders' lobbyist. "We really don't consider
it to be our issue."

A gregarious and well-known fixture at the Capitol, Hopping has long been
the nemesis of Florida
environmentalists. He fought against the state's 1985 Growth Management Law.
He opposed a bill that would have required propeller guards to protect
manatees from passing boats. In 1997, he
tacked an amendment on a bill that would have allowed a boat manufacturer to
do high-speed testing in a canal that a state official called "the worst
place in the state for manatee deaths."

Opponents leaked the amendment to the media, and the measure quickly died.
Judith Vallee, executive director of the Save the Manatee Club, said marine
interests may be gathering the troops because of the mammoth lawsuit the 22
groups intend to file soon.

"They are claiming that we want to maybe limit the number of boats, but what
we're really looking for is more
enforcement of existing laws," Vallee said. "Obviously, what the agencies
have been doing is just not enough."

The groups claim that even though Florida directed 13 counties to create
special manatee protection plans
in 1989, it has never enforced the law. Although 10 years have passed, only
three counties have written their
required manatee protection plans, Vallee said.

"Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth." -John
Fitzgerald Kennedy
"One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar." -Helen
Caryn Self Sullivan <>
Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences
Texas A&M University, College Station, TX  77843-2258
MAIL TO:  200 Stonewall Drive, Fredericksburg, VA  22401
HOME phone:  540-373-8205  FAX:  540-373-6035
LAB phone:  409-845-0495  CELL phone:  409-575-7700