Action timeline

August 28, 2007 — The Center filed a notice of intent to sue the Department of the Interior for political interference with 55 endangered species, including a proposed downlisting for the Florida manatee.

October 04, 2007 – The Center, along with the Turtle Island Restoration Network, filed a lawsuit against the secretary of the Interior for failing to update population assessments that are used in wildlife management decisions for the Florida and Puerto Rico manatee populations.

December 29, 2008 – A coalition of conservation groups, including the Center, petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service to revise the boundaries of critical habitat for the Florida manatee in southwest Florida. The critical habitat designation for the manatee had not been updated since it was implemented in 1976.

January 6, 2009 – A year-end report showed that approximately 90 manatees were killed in 2008 as a direct result of boat strikes.

September 29, 2009 – In response to our 2008 petition, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it would consider new critical habitat protections for the Florida manatee. The original critical habitat designation, implemented in1976, did not include areas since determined to be essential to manatee survival.

December 30, 2009 – As part of the settlement of a Center lawsuit, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced final stock assessments for manatees. The assessments found that an unsustainable number of manatees — 87 — were dying each year as a result of human interference, most notably from collisions with watercraft.

January 12, 2009 – The Service announced that new critical habitat protections were warranted for the Florida manatee but said it would wait for increased funding before it took any action to grant them.

May 14, 2010 – The Center filed a formal notice of intent to sue Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for ignoring marine-mammal protection laws when approving offshore oil-drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico. Since Salazar took office, the Department of the Interior had approved three lease sales, more than 100 seismic surveys, and more than 300 drilling operations without permits required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act designed to protect endangered whales and other marine mammals.

September 12, 2014 – The Center released Collision Course: The Government's Failing System for Protecting Florida Manatees From Deadly Boat Strikes, a report revealing that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state of Florida had been failing to consider cumulative impacts of thousands of recently permitted docks, piers and boat ramps on manatees, resulting in an average of 82 manatee deaths every year.

January 7, 2016 – The Service announced a proposal to downlist the manatee from "endangered" to "threatened," despite the fact that hundreds of manatees die each year from boat strikes, habitat loss and other causes.

March 30, 2017 – The Fish and Wildlife Service announced its final rule downlisting the Florida manatee from “endangered” to “threatened” — despite hundreds of manatees still dying each year from boat strikes, habitat loss and other causes.

Florida manatee photo courtesy USFWS/S. Whitcraft