Opposition to Manatee Downlisting

On March 30, 2017, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) issued its final rule to downgrade the status of the West Indian manatee from endangered to threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. The rule affects both the Florida and Antillean subspecies and was pursued despite strong scientific and legal evidence that shows the downlisting of manatees is not warranted at this time. The FWS decision leaves manatees and their habitat exposed to attacks and could ultimately preclude the species’ recovery.

Save the Manatee Club believes the FWS decision failed to adequately consider data from 2010 to 2016, during which time manatees suffered from unprecedented mortality events linked to habitat pollution, dependence on artificial warm water sources, and record deaths from watercraft strikes.

FWS decided to prematurely downlist manatees without a proven viable plan for reducing record-high watercraft-related manatee deaths and without establishing a long-term plan for the anticipated loss of artificial winter warm water habitat on which more than 60% of the Florida manatee population depends.

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2016

Senator Nelson Voices Strong Opposition to the Proposal to Downgrade the West Indian Manatee
Thank you to U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, who has sent a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“I do not believe there is sufficient scientific support for a reclassification at this time,” said Senator Nelson. He asks the Service to “…maintain the endangered listing for this iconic species to ensure its permanent legacy in Florida.”
Date: April 7, 2016

Congressional Delegation Expresses Concern With FWS Proposal to Downlist Manatees
Thank you to the members of the U.S. Congressional Delegation who have expressed concern with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to downlist manatees. “The Florida manatee continues to face significant threats to its survival such as boating strikes, habitat loss, pollution and the anticipated loss of artificial warm water sources,” the letter states. “The proposal may also fail to reflect the most recent scientific information available.”
Date: April 7, 2016

Buchanan Files Formal Protest to Manatee “Survival” Plan
Thank you to Rep. Vern Buchanan, who has sent a formal objection letter, asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to withdraw their plan to downlist manatees. “I write in strong opposition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to downlist the West Indian manatee under the Endangered Species Act from endangered to threatened status,” said Rep. Buchanan. “This decision is based on outdated information and underestimates the effect that a downlisting will have on protections that have helped limit manatee deaths.”
Date: April 4, 2016

Florida Organizations and Businesses Write In Opposition to Proposed Rule
Thank you to these organizations and businesses, who have written in opposition to the FWS proposal to downlist manatees. “One of the five factors the FWS is supposed to evaluate is ‘the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range,’ the letter states. “Manatees rely on healthy aquatic ecosystems, but in Florida, critical water issues stem from upland land use, runoff, and water consumption for human use. Florida faces serious and increasing threats to the quality and quantity of its water supply, which the State of Florida has been unwilling or unable to resolve. Without serious efforts to address threats to Florida’s waterways, manatee habitat will continue to become increasingly fragmented and degraded.”
Date: April 7, 2016

Threats to Manatees and Habitat on the Rise: Help Protect Their Future
Read an op-ed by Patrick Rose, Executive Director of Save the Manatee Club
Date: March 30, 2016

No Time to Celebrate: Manatees’ Future Far from Certain
Read our op-ed from Dr. Katie Tripp, Save the Manatee Club Director of Science and Conservation,
on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s recent proposal to downlist all West Indian manatees
from endangered to threatened.
Date: January 12, 2016

2015

Higher Manatee Count Simply Means We Have More to Protect
Read an op-ed from Dr. Katie Tripp, Save the Manatee Club Director of Science and Conservation
Date: March 23, 2015

2014

Senator Nelson to USFWS: Maintain Classification As Endangered
Read a letter from U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to
“…maintain the Florida Manatee’s classification as ‘endangered,’
Date: September 4, 2014

On Manatees, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Should Consider
Cautionary Tale of the Indian River Lagoon
Read an opinion-editorial piece by Nathaniel P. Reed,
former Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks
and current Vice Chairman of the Everglades Foundation
Date: August 28, 2014

Manatee Review Should Consider ALL the Facts
Read an op-ed from Dr. Katie Tripp, Save the Manatee Club Director of Science and Conservation
Date: July 17, 2014

U.S. Rep. Castor to FWS: Protect the Florida Manatee
Read the press release and signed letter from Representative Castor and members
of the Florida congressional delegation.
Date: July 10, 2014

After Record Losses, What’s in Store for Manatees in 2014?
Read an op-ed from Dr. Katie Tripp, Save the Manatee Club Director of Science and Conservation
Date: February 11, 2014

2013

The Record You Don’t Want To Break
Read an op-ed from Dr. Katie Tripp, Save the Manatee Club Director of Science and Conservation
Date: October 31, 2013

Record Deaths, Mysterious Mortality — Ongoing Threats Make Manatee Recovery Tenuous
Read an op-ed from Dr. Katie Tripp, Save the Manatee Club Director of Science and Conservation
Date: May 9, 2013