The Manatee Project of the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute began in August of 1996. The project focuses on research, management and education of the endangered Antillean manatee in Belize.
The National Manatee Working Group acts as an oversight committee for the project. Committee representation is broad, including government (Forestry Department, Fisheries Department), academia (University of Belize), non-governmental (TIDE), and researchers (CZMAI, Dr. James Powell of Wildlife Trust, USA and Dr. Benjamin Morales of ECOSUR, Mexico). The primary activities of the committee are:
- To oversee the CZMAI National Manatee Project.
- To evaluate all proposed manatee research projects in Belize and provide recommendations to the relevant Ministry.
- To review legislation concerning manatees and provide recommendations to the Ministry.
- To ensure sound management plans are produced for protected areas.
The Belize Manatee Recovery Plan (Auil 1998) is a comprehensive document that outlines a four-year schedule of conservation activities that has been followed. The two goals were 1) to prevent extinction or irreversible decline of the species in the foreseeable future, and 2) to prevent decline of the quality of their habitat. A second draft is expected by 2005.