Sarasota County, FL Manatee Protection Program

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Sarasota County, FL, US

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Type: Program

Status: In effect

Source File:


Sarasota County is one of 13 counties designated as a priority protection site for the state and federally endangered West Indian Manatee. Counties with this designation are required by Florida Statute to develop a Manatee Protection Plan (MPP).

The MPP is a planning document designed to reduce detrimental human-related impacts to manatees.

The Sarasota County Commission adopted the Sarasota County-wide Manatee Protection Plan (MPP) on Sept. 24, 2003. On that date they also adopted the Manatee Protection Plan Implementation Code (MPPIC) which authorizes the application of MPP provisions.

In accordance with FS 370.12, Sarasota County has submitted the MPP to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for agency approval.

  • Hard copies of the Manatee Protection Plan or a CD-Rom version may be purchased through Sarasota County Natural Resources.
  • For details call the Sarasota County Call Center at 941-861-5000 and ask for Resource Protection.

What is the Manatee Protection Plan?

Countywide Manatee Protection Plans*
The impetus to develop an MPP comes from two parallel efforts. First, the Florida Manatee Recovery Team, an interagency group of manatee experts, developed a Florida Manatee Recovery Plan, which was approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in 1989 and updated in 1996. One task of the plan is to "develop site-specific manatee protection plans at the local level."

The Florida Manatee Recovery Plan ranks this as a priority task important to the recovery of the species. Secondly, in October 1989, Florida's governor and cabinet directed 13 "key" counties to develop manatee protection plans. There are various components of a MPP.

The plans are to include:

1. An inventory of boat facilities (marinas, docks, boat ramps, dry storage areas, etc.)
2. An assessment of boating activity patterns
3. Manatee sighting and mortality information
4. A boat facility siting plan - to determine the best areas for new marinas, boat ramps, etc.
5. Manatee protection measures, such as boating speed regulations in areas with high boat and manatee usage
6. Information on aquatic preserves, "Outstanding Florida Waters," ports, manatee refuges, etc. within the county
7. An education and awareness program for the public and boaters, divers, and school children
8. A water quality and habitat protection program (including land acquisition, and aquatic plant control plans for manatee areas)

The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) encourages county MPPs to be adopted as an amendment to counties' comprehensive plans. The individual components, boat facility siting, etc. must be compatible with local policies and ordinances while addressing manatee concerns.

In setting policies to safeguard manatees and their habitats, the MPPs will also increase boater safety, facilitate recreation planning, and protect estuarine habitat critical to many species. Much of the commission's research and work is aimed at reducing manatee mortality. However, equally important is the protection of habitat to ensure the long-term viability of the species. For this reason, the comprehensive manatee protection plan addresses ecosystem management.

Due to the complexity of issues a county must address in its plan and the range of information that must be collected, plans are expected to be several years in development. FWC-approved plans are in place for Citrus, Collier, Dade, Duval and Indian River counties. Plans are under development in several other counties and regions.