USFWS Seeks to Reduce Manatee Protections

In January, the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed a reclassification of the West Indian manatee from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act. AWI strongly opposes this proposal. The species in Florida numbers around 6,000 individuals, up from around 1,000 almost three decades ago, but they continue to face myriad and increasing threats and an uncertain future, even with current protections in place. Threats include collisions with a growing number of watercraft, cold stress, and pollution—particularly that which exacerbates harmful red tide algal blooms. In addition, for reasons still largely undetermined, there have been mass die-offs in recent years (close to 800 manatees in 2013 alone).