Manatees have official been taken off the U.S Interior Department’s list of endangered species list.
The magnificent sea beast has been declared an endangered species since 1967 and in 1972 they were placed under the Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.
However the manatee has now been reclassified as ‘threatened’. This is due to, as The Metro refer to it, a ‘population rebound’ of the West Indian manatee – a native of the Florida coastline.
According to the Interior Department, manatee numbers have risen to more than 6,600 (in Florida alone) since the 1970s when there were only a few hundred left.
This is thanks to 30 years of tireless conservation efforts from the United States government, the State of Florida, other countries in the Caribbean as well as environmental workers and activists.
According to The Metro:
Among the measures that have benefited the species were a redesign of locks and levees, setting up manatee sanctuaries and speed limits on boats to avoid collisions….
A spokesman for the department’s Fish and Wildlife Service, Phil Kloer, said that they consider this a ‘success story’.
However there some who are not pleased that the manatee has been taken off the endangered species list. They feel that more can (and should) be done, and that removing them from the list will do more harm to their population than good.
The move has been condemned by conservationists who say it ‘weakens protections for the giant marine mammal’.
Frank Jackalone, director of the Florida chapter of the Sierra Club, has been very vocal about the matter. He thinks that both local and state authorities will begin to ease boating laws that were originally put in place to protect the species.
Mr Jackalone claims:
Florida boaters are going to take this as a signal that they can increase their speed in manatee zones.Getty UK
This is backed up by stats which show that of the 520 manatee deaths last year, 104 of them were caused by watercraft.
Furthermore, Jackalone has highlighted that the Interior Department has failed to address the potential issues that the closing of ageing power plants in Florida is likely to cause, as manatees depend on the outflow of warm water from them during cold winters.
This only highlights fears that the new ‘threatened’ classification means that manatees are likely to see their population dwindle in the foreseeable future, therefore becoming endangered again.