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Fort Myers considering lowering speed limits in manatee zones

Many Florida waterways have no-wake zones for manatees.

Many Florida waterways have no-wake zones for manatees.

After residents of Beach Lane in Fort Myers, Fla., complained about speed limits being raised during the off-season in a local manatee zone, town manager Roger Herstadt said the city council will address a local ordinance at a meeting on March 13. The speed could be reduced to no-wake.

Any ordinance would need to be reviewed by the FWC before approval. A second hearing would also be required so if a change is decided on, the reduction in speed wouldn’t be enforced before the end of the 2020 season. The manatee zone speed limit remains no-wake from April to November.

Hernstadt told FortMyersBeachTalk.com that the focus of the ordinance would be “safety and environmental.” He added that county officials have been talking with the FWC.

Members of the Waterside Dock Association have tried to allege that the increased wakes have impacted their docks and boats tied to them. Hernstadt said that issue doesn’t rise to the level of concern the FWC needs to approve a speed change.

He added that the presence of manatees and dolphins in in the area could result in FWC dropping the speed limit. Manatees are no longer endangered and dolphins and other mammals are federally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

FWC spokesman Adam Brown said the town can reduce boating speeds to protect public safety.

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