The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in conjunction with the Lee County Marine Law Enforcement Task Force and other participating agencies will partner during the Veterans Day Holiday Weekend to enforce the federal and state manatee zones in Lee and Collier Counties.
The Lee County Marine Law Enforcement Task Force will also be participating in an outreach program during the Lee County Boat Show at the Harborside Event Center in Downtown Ft. Myers during the holiday weekend. Marine enforcement agents and officers will be available at the task force booth to answer questions and provided information about manatee protection zones in the area.
A special task force presentation is scheduled for Friday, November 11, at 4 PM inside the Harborside Event Center.
On-the-water enforcement efforts will be conducted in earnest on Saturday, November 12, and Sunday, November 13.
Along with USFWS and FWC agents and officers, numerous federal, state and local marine agencies from the area will be participating in the detail to enforce not only the manatee protection zones but other regulations on the water.
Maps of federal manatee protection zones and regulations may be found online at:http://www.fws.gov/northflorida/Manatee/Documents/MPARules/index-federal-mpa-maps.htm.
Those state regulated areas protected by the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act may be found at: http://www.myfwc.com/WILDLIFEHABITATS/Manatee_protectionzones.htm#Maps
Manatee zone boundaries are marked by large posted signs and buoys; both are white in color with an international orange circle and lettering.
Federal and state regulations require vessel operators to operate at the appropriate posted speeds within the manatee zones. Some manatee zones have a maximum speed of 25 mph and will be enforced utilizing RADAR.
Law enforcement will be strictly enforcing manatee zones. Federal fines range from $125 to a maximum of $25,000 and/or six (6) months imprisonment under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The fines increase for each subsequent violation of any state or federal manatee zone, up to the maximum of $25,000.