Manatee Down-listing – Public Comment Needed


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced plans to downlist the West Indian manatee from endangered to a less-serious status of threatened under the Endangered Species Act.  This is primarily a result of a steady increase in the manatee population in recent years.

It is not anticipated that this would mean any short-term changes in speed zones or other protections currently in place.  In the longer term, it could ease some restrictions on dock permitting and dredging and may lessen the chance for further speed zone restrictions.

The Marine Industries Association of Florida actively supports responsible boating practices and stewardship of all natural resources.  We continue to advocate for sound decisions, based on science, in managing the manatee.  It is our belief that this is a responsible move on the part of the service and indicative of the success of the Endangered Species Act in bringing the manatee population back to sustainable levels.

The Service is now asking for public comment, a key step in the downlisting process.  We encourage every boater, fisherman, and outdoorsman to participate in this process.  Comments from actual waterway users has far more impact than any other single source.

Please link to the comment site at:!documentDetail;D=FWS-R4-ES-2015-0178-0001.

Be respectful, be factual, and point out that you actually live in Florida or make use of Florida waters. Below is a sample response, but please use your own words and personal experience in crafting your reply. The more individual each response is without it looking like a form letter the more likely it will be read and considered.

“Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed down-listing of the manatee from ‘endangered’ to ‘threatened’. As a Florida resident and a boater, I have personally seen the growth of the population, and the expansion of their range. Given this growth over the past decades, “endangered’ status is not applicable. I encourage wildlife managers to develop a long term program to sustain the population in balance with other critical resources important for our estuaries. As with other species, we should study carrying capacity, food resources, and possible threats from an over-abundance of animals in certain locations.  Those efforts cannot be undertaken with a species listed as “endangered’.  This step is long over-due, and I applaud the Service for its action and more importantly it’s success in recovering the manatee.”

Finally, mark your calendar for February 20th. There will be a public forum at the Buena Vista Palace in Orlando.   It is critical that concerned residents attend and testify in person. The meeting runs from 3:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M.


Who is is hosted by the Southwest Florida Marine Industries Association. We are a member-owned trade association made up of businesses involved in the recreational boating industry. SWFMIA was formed in the early 1970’s when a small group of Ft. Myers boat dealers joined together to stage the first Fort Myers Boat Show.


At the time, the only plan was to generate a few boat sales from a show, but before long the show began to grow, by-laws were written, a board of directors formed and SWFMIA was incorporated. Actually, Boat Shows and Trade Associations are an essential element in the marine industry. Most major boat shows in the U.S. are owned by a trade association and it is the revenue from these shows that fund the lion’s share of operating budgets.

Today, SWFMIA represents the industry from Lee County through Tampa Bay, with over 200 members. We are governed by a Board of Directors consisting of a very diverse group of industry business leaders. Our objectives are to protect, promote and grow recreational boating. We play an active role monitoring legislative and political issues that affect boating, both for our member businesses and for the boating public. We provide a variety of services to our members and keep them informed on industry news and issues.
We produce three annual boat shows. The Fort Myers Boat Show, downtown on the river in November. The Charlotte County Boat Show, in January at the Charlotte County Fairgrounds. The Bonita Springs Boat Show in February at the Naples/Fort Myers Greyhound Track.


About four years ago, our Board decided to create a web site that would be a source of boating information for the public. As you look through the site, you will find all kinds of information useful to enjoying your time on the water. You will also find a listing of our members, the products and services they offer and links to their web sites. This is a great source for just about any type of boat, product or service you might need in our region.

We are working to make the site a better resource to keep boaters informed about legislative, political, and rule making issues related to boating. We have local, state and national lobbyists who keep us up to speed on potential issues. For example, in the last several months, we have been involved in or are monitoring the Manatee Protection Plan being adopted in Pinellas County, the St. Petersburg Downtown Waterfront Redevelopment, the dredging of Big Pass in Sarasota, boat ramp issues in Cape Coral, and development of the Historic District in downtown Fort Myers. We’re keeping an eye on pending statewide legislation standardizing rules on where boaters can anchor. On a national level, pending legislation to increase ethanol levels to 15% will adversely affect most marine engines.

You will also see blogs on our site with all kinds of boating information. Boaters are welcome to provide contributions about your time on the water. Send us a story and a few photos about a recent day on the water or a special fishing trip. How about a great restaurant or watering hole you have been to by boat. We live in the greatest boating area in the U.S. and it would be great if you would share your boating lifestyle with others.

We welcome your comments, suggestions, and input on our site. How can we make it more informative and useful? Please e-mail us at We will respond.

SWFMIA Spring Boat Show Moving To Bonita Springs.


Fort Myers, FL  –  The  Southwest Florida Marine Industries Association has relocated its 25th Annual Spring Boat Show, to the Naples Fort Myers Greyhound Track in Bonita Springs, March 6th -9th.

“After more than twenty years at the Lee Civic Center in North Ft. Myers it was time for a change and we could not be more excited about this new venue,” commented John Good, Boat Show Manager.  “It moves our show into the heart of a fast growing population base of Southwest Florida Boaters and gives us a great geographical spread for our three annual shows.  We now have a show in Bonita Springs, our Fort Myers Boat Show, downtown in November, and our Charlotte County Boat Show in January in Port Charlotte.”

The Greyhound Track is located on Bonita Beach Road between I-75 and U.S. 41.  The site offers all the space needed for boat and accessory displays in one area and there is more than ample on-site parking.  “We do not see a downside to this location,” says Good.  “It’s convenient, very easy to find and all displays will be in a large paved parking area.”

Nearly all the area’s major dealers will be on hand with hundreds of boats on display.  The show will feature a wide variety of booth displays with all kinds of marine accessories, and services.  Port Charlotte’s “Fishin’ Frank” and his crew of experienced and entertaining guides will conduct fishing seminars all four days of the show.  Frank’s new fishing simulator will give show visitors a chance to experience the excitement of fighting everything from bass to billfish.

This is a great opportunity to see, compare and buy boats and accessories.  Boat shows are always so appealing to the public because you can shop without driving all over Southwest Florida.  But more than that, if you are new to the area or thinking about getting into boating, the show is a great learning experience.  What do you want to do on the water?  What kind of boat fits your budget?  What about financing and insurance?  What kind of accessories do you need?  How about a boat lift?  How can I learn about safe boat operation?   Where are fun places to go on a boat?  You can answer all those questions at the show.

We’re even bringing our Caloosa Café & Pub that is such a hit at our November Show, featuring great food and all kinds of drinks.  And, of course, the Greyhound Track and Poker Room will be in full operation throughout the show.

Show hours are 10AM-6PM, Thursday – Saturday and 10AM – 5PM on Sunday.  Admission is $8.00 (kids under 16 are free with paid adult admission).  Parking is free.  The Naples Fort Myers Greyhound Track is located at 10601 Bonita Beach Road SE Bonita Springs, FL  34135.

For more information about the show and about boating in Southwest Florida,  visit or contact:   The Southwest Florida Marine Industries Association.  239-656-7083.