Marine industry officials are fighting a plan they say would hurt the boating industry, which is big business in South Florida.
Broward County's proposed manatee protection proposal would limit the number of new slips in the county to 4,200, with most of the those concentrated in the north and central regions of the county. But that number is less than adequate in the southern region, where there are already shortages, said Frank Herhold, executive director of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida.
"We feel [there is] a potential for irreparable damage to Broward's marine industry, which is a $10.8 billion economic engine responsible for 134,000 jobs," Herhold said in a telephone interview.
Boaters can choose from more than 30,000 slips in Broward County, he said. But of the 19 boatyards that existed five years ago, only 13 remain, according to a recent report. Of those, nine have received offers from developers.
Herhold said his group has been working with other "core stakeholders" to revise the proposed plan before August, when it goes to the county commissioners for a vote.
A public relations firm has been hired, he said, as well as Susan Engle, an environmental consultant and past president of the MIASF.
Herhold noted that an average of 1.77 manatees have died each year for the past 30 years in Broward County because of boating.
Furthermore, he said, the plan does not adequately address Port Everglades, where 31 out of 55 boat related manatee mortalities have occurred during the 30-year period.
If the 31 mortalities were removed, he said, Broward's 30-year average would drop to 0.77 manatee mortalities a year.
"If reason and logic prevail, Broward County will be fine," he said.