MIAMI – Lee Hefty said he is concerned about the manatees that need to be able to rest, feed and take care of their young in Biscayne Bay.
Miami-Dade County commissioners are allowing the 2022 Miami International Boat Show to test boats in February in an area that is part of the manatees’ habitat.
Hefty, the director of the county’s Division of Environmental Resources Management, or DERM, said commissioners faced a challenging decision to balance public good and environmental protection.
“Manatees are actually starving to death all over the state right now because they’re not finding food, so everything that happens on the water that causes you to either be scared away or makes you stay in one area and not look for food — even if it’s just vessel traffic not running you over — those are things that are potentially injurious to the species,” Hefty said on Sunday during This Week In South Florida.
Federal and state officials have yet to sign off on the boat show’s petition to run more than 100 sea trials for potential buyers, east of Miami’s Arts and Entertainment District. The show is also increasing banknotes from about 630 to 947.
“We live in an amazing place on this planet ... Along with that comes the responsibility to protect the resources so that our children and their children can enjoy the same beauty,” Hefty said.
The Miami International Boat Show released a statement saying they are committed to running a program to protect the manatees.
“I think the concern that we have in the long run is this particular area is not appropriate for years and years of the same kind of activity going forward,” Hefty said.
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