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Sarasota Monday, Jan. 11, 2010 8 years ago

Big Pass manatee-protection zone considered

by: Robin Roy City Editor

A request to extend a boat safety zone along Big Pass and North Siesta Key channel will be discussed at County Commission Tuesday.

The city of Sarasota asked the county to consider a slower speed zone in the area to better protect manatees, fishermen and kayakers.

Currently, once boats are outside of the existing boating safety zone, they are free to travel close to several docks.

The commission has two options. It can ask the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to extend the North Siesta Key boating safety zone along the Big Pass shoreline, which would also keep boats 150 feet away from the docks.

After its initial discussions with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, county staff believes a new speed zone may not meet the criteria needed for approval.

The permit requires the new zone be within 300 feet of a blind corner, which it is not.

A new boating zone would require at least 40 hours of county staff time to request, as well as an unspecified amount of money to install markers and maintain the zone.

The commission’s second option is to do nothing. County staff said marine law enforcement officials don’t believe this is an area that poses a great risk to the public and would add a new burden on boaters.

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].

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