Florida trade group seeks delay in manatee project

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The Marine Industries Association of Florida recently issued an alert to its members concerning the Army Corps of Engineers' plans to install a Manatee Protection System in the Moore Haven Lock on Lake Okeechobee from May 14 to July 9.

The trade group said that doing the work during that period will greatly affect marine businesses that are “so dependent on this lock to bring customers east and west via the Okeechobee Waterway. This will have an impact on jobs in the area.”

The group suggests moving the closing to the end of June, or preferably to Aug. 1, when the high boating season will be over and the effects on boaters and businesses will be minimized.

The primary goal of the Manatee Pass Gates project is to safeguard Florida’s endangered manatees from serious injury or death at water control structures and navigation locks by modifying the structures with a manatee protection system.

The system consists of a set of acoustic transmitters and receivers that run from the bottom of the gates to the water line. The system turns on when the gates are about 15 percent from the fully closed position. If the signal between the sensors is interrupted by a manatee, the lock gates automatically stop.

The trade group is asking its members to contact the Army Corps of Engineers and let them know how the project will affect business. Here is contact information:

Col. Alfred A. Pantano Jr., district commander

col.pantano@usace.army.mil

Lt. Col. Michele K. Kinard, deputy district commander

(904) 322-0129

Michael.k.kinard@usace.army.mil

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District

701 San Marco Boulevard, Room 372

Jacksonville, FL 32207-0019

Phone: (800) 291-9405 or (904) 232-2234

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