Democratic Representative Charlie Christ is once again asking the United States Interior Department to reverse its decision that downgrade’s the Florida manatee’s status to “threatened” from “endangered.”
Last year, Representative Crist signed a letter along with other Florida representatives directed to Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke opposing the decision.
In the letter, the representatives called for Zinke to “reconsider and reverse the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision last week to downgrade protections for the Florida manatee. This decision was disappointing and potentially very harmful to the survival of the iconic Florida animal. Despite the agency’s assertion that a downlisting from endangered to threatened would not affect federal protections for the manatee, the move could cause a broader reassessment of critical state and local protections for the animals. In fact, just days after this rule proposal was announced, the Brevard County commissioners approved a resolution requesting that the Florida Legislature review slow-speed zones currently in place for boats and called for a reconsideration of the state’s Manatee Sanctuary Act, which established protections for manatees and their habitats in several counties, including Sarasota and Manatee.”
One again, Representative Crist has written to Zinke again, considering that Wednesday was Manatee Appreciation Day.
In his letter, he detailed that “It has been nearly a year since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) downgraded protections for the Florida manatee from ‘endangered’ to ‘threatened.’ Since then, the State of Florida has witnessed a record number of manatee deaths. With this in mind – and on Manatee Appreciation Day – I am writing to again request that FWS reconsider its decision to downgrade protections for this beloved animal. The manatee has become synonymous with Florida’s waters. It was designated the state’s marine mammal in 1975 and contributes to Florida’s $5 billion wildlife viewing industry. The manatee is iconic in my home state, but they face a number of threats to their existence, including watercraft collisions and loss of habitat. Without the proper protections, I fear this gentle giant will not be around for future generations to enjoy and admire.”