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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

FWC considers slow speed zone for Anna Maria Sound

More than 100 people met with officials of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission last week at the Manatee Civic Center to discuss proposed state regulations to protect manatees that would include a "slow speed" zone in Anna Maria Sound.

A number of Island residents spoke against the proposal, including Holmes Beach charter fisherman Scott Moore, who said the county's manatee protection ordinance should be enough.

Environmentalists such as Suzanne Tarr of Save the Manatee Club, however, argued that the state needs to do more to protect manatees and other fish and wildlife.

The FWC already has a number of "slow speed" zones for manatee protection around Tampa Bay, including Terra Ceia Bay and Terra Ceia Bayou in Manatee, but wants more zones, including larger areas of Tampa Bay and in Warner's Bayou in Manatee, in addition to Anna Maria Sound.

Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash claimed the FWC wants to eliminate recreational boating near the Kingfish Boat Ramp and other areas along the Island's bayside by making them "slow speed" zones. He also said there are few, if any, manatees in that area.

The FWC will meet in St. Petersburg in September with a governor-appointed wildlife panel to discuss public input from the meeting and its recommendations.