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Soundings Archive

FWS Says It Doesn't Have Money to Expand Manatee Critical Habitat
Other Court-Ordered activities leave FWS no resources to help the manatee

On January 12, 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced in the Federal Register its 12-month finding on a petition to revise critical habitat for the Florida manatee under the Endangered Species Act. The manatee is already listed as an endangered species under the ESA. After reviewing all available scientific and commercial information, FWS found that revisions to critical habitat for the Florida manatee are warranted because the original designation does not meet current regulations and guidelines.

These guidelines include FWS' Information Quality Act guidelines. FWS explains in its Federal Register notice that

    "Section 4 of the Act requires that we designate critical habitat on the basis of the best scientific data available. Further, our Policy on Information Standards Under the Act (published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34271)), the Information Quality Act (section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Pub. L. 106-554; H.R. 5658)), and our associated Information Quality Guidelines, provide criteria, establish procedures, and provide guidance to ensure that our decisions are based on the best scientific data available. They require our biologists, to the extent consistent with the Act and with the use of the best scientific data available, to use primary and original sources of information as the basis for recommendations to designate critical habitat."
FWS further explained that despite the need to revise the critical habitat in order to protect the manatee,
    "sufficient funds are not available due to higher priority actions such as court-ordered listing-related actions and judicially approved settlement agreements. We intend to initiate rulemaking when we complete the higher priorities and have the necessary resources to do so."
  • Click here to read FWS' Federal Register notice

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