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TBEP Policy Board supports federal legislation to re-list West Indian Manatee as endangered

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On May 27th, 2022, the Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP) Policy Board expressed unanimous support for proposed federal legislation to relist the West Indian manatee, Trichechus manatus, as an endangered species (U.S. House Resolution 4946).

Approximately 1,101 manatee mortalities were reported in 2021, bringing the total statewide population to about 7,500 individuals. This recent mass mortality event has been attributed to significant losses of seagrass along Florida’s east coast – the primary food source for the manatee.

Recent seagrass losses along Florida’s southwest Gulf coast are prompting additional concerns for the long-term status of this iconic Florida species. Likewise, watercraft-related mortalities averaged 113 deaths per year from 2017-2021 and remain a pressing concern in our region. It is with these recent statistics that the TBEP Policy Board felt that additional protections are warranted for this species.

In response, the TBEP and its Policy Board have requested action by Congress, addressing their concerns to the Florida Delegation in support of H.R. 4946 to relist the manatee under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

To read the letter to the Florida Delegation, please view the link below.