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Collier boat speeds under review

Posted at 6:35 PM, Apr 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-08 18:35:48-04

Speed zones for boaters went under review Friday by Collier County's Local Rule Review Committee, to examine what, if any, changes should be made to protect the area's manatees. The speed zones have not been reviewed for a number of years.

Capt. Ron Hagerman, who operates Captain Ron's Awesome Everglades Adventures on Marco Island, was concerned that making boat speeds any slower there would hurt his bottom line.

"They're looking to update it because it's, quote, an 'old plan,'" Hagerman told Fox 4. "It's an old plan that's apparently worked very well."

Hagerman said that his waverunner tours that give visitors an up close look at dolphins and other local wildlife would take too long if they had to idle for up to half an hour in some areas.

"If you're talking about changing something from 30 (mph) slow speed...I think that's detrimental," Hagerman told the review committee during public comment. "It's detrimental to my business, for sure."

But despite data showing high manatee density in certain areas around Marco Island, committee members were unable to find enough data to support recommending any major changes to the speed zones.

The committee voted to make only one minor change to the channel speeds around Marco Island. Hagerman said that anything more could hurt tourism.

"Most activities, or a good portion I should say, are water-borne," Hagerman said. "You take that away, and we're not going to be the number one island to come to anymore."

The committee's recommendations will be forwarded to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission for further review.