|FYI — June 2002|
Florida Governor Jeb Bush signed the bill, which takes effect on July 1st, after state legislators volleyed the draft until a compromise could be made. In the end, the bill was approved by both the state House and Senate because it "balanced the rights of boaters with the protection of manatees," says Bonnie Bashum, a lobbyist for the boaters' rights group Standing Watch. Bashum calls it a "humongous" victory for the boating community.
The bill includes five major points that are seen as a victory for boaters, including, for the first time, a clear acknowledgment of boaters' rights. The law provides that future speed zones must balance the need for boaters' water access with the need for manatee protection. It also reinstates seasonal speed zones, which boaters endorsed, and the establishment of local committees to review proposed rule changes to waterways. Finally, the bill establishes a system of measurable biological goals to define manatee recovery, which adds a scientific apparatus to the decision-making process that sets boating limits on waterways.
This article originally appeared in the June 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.