Coastal development and activities such as dredge and fill projects, boat facility and boat ramp construction, bridge construction and even movie production can harm manatees or their habitat.  Staff at the FWC frequently provides expert opinion to state regulatory and planning agencies for potential adverse impacts to the Florida manatee.  FWC provides recommendations for permit conditions or lease conditions to help reduce (or eliminate) potential negative affects to manatees.

clam shell ship excavation

In-water work in manatee habitat has the potential to directly injure manatees.   There are numerous recommendations made by FWC to reduce these threats, depending on the type and location of work being proposed.  The most common recommendations are known as standard manatee protection construction conditions.  These conditions were originally developed by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1979, when two manatees were killed during a dredging operation.  These conditions represent the minimum amount of protection for manatees during in-water work.  Additional conditions may be necessary, depending upon the project.


Additional conditions for in-water work may include, but is not limited to, the need for observers while work is being performed, seasonal restrictions, restrictions on the types of equipment, or restrictions on the time of day work is being performed.


Aerial photo of sea shore
Photo by Sea Shore Alliance

Projects that pose a significant threat to manatees may need a Manatee Watch Program in order to sufficiently offset the potential adverse impacts.  Examples include some types and locations of dredging projects, boat races or large boat parades, and blasting projects.  Blasting is sometimes used in bridge demolitions, dredging and movie productions that use explosives. Protected marine species blasting conditions, specific to the project, are recommended to offset these risks.  These conditions typically include a Blast and Watch program, which includes an aerial survey with highly experienced observers.

boat congestionSecondary and cumulative impacts to manatees, such as increased boat traffic as the result of the development of new marinas, are also reviewed by FWC staff.  Commonly seen recommendations for boat facility development includes permanent Manatee Educational Signs and Manatee Educational Programs.  FWC approves where signs are installed and the number of signs at each location.  Additional recommendations or permit conditions may be necessary, depending upon the project.

Manatees also enter submerged or partially submerged culverts and pipes, and occasionally become stuck. They have drowned and starved to death within these types of pipes. In response, we frequently recommend placing grates or other exclusion devices in front of the pipes to prevent manatee access.

Habitat loss, such as loss of seagrass, occurs with coastal development. During our review, we attempt to eliminate or reduce losses to manatee foraging habitat.

For large vessels, such as those found at Port facilities, manatees may become entrapped and crushed between a ship and wharf or bulkhead.  Fenders, buoys or cantilevered docks are usually recommended in order to avoid this type of death.

Important Links

Standard manatee protection construction conditions (2011)

Manatee Observer/Watch Program Information

Manatee Educational Signs

Grates or other exclusion devices for culverts and pipes

DRAFT FWC Seagrass Survey Protocol Recommendations Adobe PDF

Related Links


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