Several Florida organizations are claiming the United States Environmental Protection Agency currently has low standards when it comes to protecting marine wildlife.By Casey Albritton

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Several Florida organizations are claiming the United States Environmental Protection Agency currently has low standards when it comes to protecting marine wildlife.

The organization and several partners filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the EPA.

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“The agency that’s tasked with protecting species and protecting this landscape is failing,” said Ragan Whitlock with the Center for Biological Diversity.

A major concern about marine life and pollution is being brought to light in Florida.

“These gentle giants are starving to death because the nutrient pollution is degrading their habitat and robbing them of their only food source,” said Whitlock.

Whitlock is talking about manatees and says something needs to be done now to protect them.

“Last year we lost 1,100 manatees in the state of Florida. That’s 13% of the states entire population,” said Whitlock.

He says the main reason for manatees dying is the Environmental Protection Agency’s low standards on how much pollution can be dumped into the water.

“Of primary concern, we have nitrogen and phosphorus, two fertilizer compounds that are the main fuel of algae blooms across the state,” said Whitlock.

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He says these pollutants caused the Tampa Bay red tide outbreak in 2021.

“That claimed the life of more than 600 tons of marine life,” said Whitlock.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Save the Manatee Club, Defenders of Wildlife and Earth Justice filed a lawsuit against the EPA on Tuesday, claiming that the agency’s current water quality standards from 2013 are causing marine life to die.

“It’s clear that these nutrient criteria are not sufficient and they will not work,” said Whitlock.

Whitlock says a big focus is the Tampa Bay Area and Indian River Lagoon on the East Coast.

“The Indian River Lagoon has lost 58% of its seagrass in the last decade,” said Whitlock.

The CW44 News At 10 did reach out to EPA employees for comment and they never responded, but they did release a statement Tuesday saying “EPA, along with our partners, will leverage resources and expertise to look for opportunities to enhance or accelerate actions that will improve water quality in the Indian River Lagoon.”

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“The time to act was yesterday and if not yesterday, it’s now,” said Whitlock.