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PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The Coast Guard has signed a memorandum of agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concerning cooperative efforts to safeguard the Florida Manatee.
This is the first formal document recognizing the Coast Guard’s role in assisting with manatee stranding response. The agreement authorizes the Coast Guard to provide emergency support for the rescue of stranded manatees as requested by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Under the signed agreement the Coast Guard can provide operational assistance, logistic support and safety standby for stranding and disentanglement responses.
“The Coast Guard takes great pride in being able to do our job to help recover and maintain our nations marine protected species such as the endangered manatee,” said Capt. Mark Ogle, chief of future operations at Coast Guard Atlantic Area.
Manatees are protected under both the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act but collisions with boats continue to be the most pressing human-related threat to manatees.
The Coast Guard protects endangered manatees by enforcing federally-regulated manatee zones throughout Florida. To enforce the zones Coast Guard units stop vessels operating above posted speed limits and issue monetary fines.
This year the Coast Guard has issued more than 33 manatee speed zone violations and conducted numerous joint patrols to encourage compliance and reduce manatee deaths.
To help protect endangered manatees the Coast Guard reminds boaters to observe all manatee speed zones and to report sightings of stranded or injured manatees to the Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16.