The Coastal Conservation Association of Florida, the state's largest recreational fishing conservation group, has become actively involved in the state and federal actions regarding new manatee sanctuaries and refuges. The CCA is primarily concerned that many of Florida's premier saltwater fishing areas are being considered for severe boating restrictions or total closures.
Last December, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service released information indicating that it is considering establishing manatee sanctuaries and refuges in 150 new areas. In addition, a major group suing the state and federal government over manatee protection prepared a list recommending 115 new sanctuaries and refuges. Many of Florida's major saltwater fishing areas are on these lists, including Chokoloskee Bay, Bull and Turtle Bays, Mosquito Lagoon, Pine Island Sound, Terra Ceia Bay, Cockroach Bay, Bishops Harbour and Whitewater Bay.
Scientists have confirmed that manatee populations are at an all-time record 3,276 in statewide aerial surveys, more than double the number counted 10 years ago. In some areas of the state, such as the Crystal River/Kings Bay area, manatee abundance has dramatically increased. The manatee increases in the Crystal River/Homossassa area have occurred over the same time period and in the same areas that saltwater recreational fishing activity for tarpon, redfish and seatrout has also dramatically increased.
For more information, contact CCA-Florida at 407-672-2058.