County Proposes Revisions to Manatee Protection Plan
Under a county proposal meant to revise the current Manatee Protection Plan, some Bird Key marinas and other boat facilities will need to follow new guidelines if they wish to add more than five new boat slips.
Under the new proposal, the areas where manatees congregate have been identified and recommendations have been made regarding where to build additional slips. For the most part, the plan expands the area where smaller facilities throughout the county can expand while reducing the area for facilities with 100 or more slips. The proposal also makes recommendations regarding upgrades to public boat access.
Due to the fact that manatees eat only vegetation and are slow-moving creatures, which means they are prone to being injured by fast-moving boats, the proposal focuses on protecting the mammals from harm caused by boats and development. To better achieve this goal, the new plan proposal has identified those areas where manatees tend to congregate. Many of these areas are quite different than they were when the plan was first put in place in 2003. The eastern portion of Bird Key, for example, has been upgraded from being a moderate use zone to a critical zone.
In those areas that are considered critical, obtaining permits for new slips will be less likely than in those areas that are considered low-use areas. Fortunately for homeowners, the Manatee Protection Plan will not have an effect on getting new docks or slips so long as they do not intend to build more than four slips.
In addition to upgrading the eastern portion of Bird key to critical, the southern portion of Roberts Bay in Sarasota has also been upgraded from moderate to critical. The same is true of the eastern shoreline of Sarasota Bay outside of the Hudson Bayou. The eastern shoreline of Sarasota Bay from the Hudson Bayou to the North Siesta Key Bridge, on the other hand, went from low use to moderate use, while the eastern shoreline of Sarasota Bay from Stephens Point to the Ringling Causeway went from moderate use to low use. Whitaker Bayou and the Hyatt Boat Basin, however, remain unchanged.
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