Filing Suit to Protect Sea Turtles - Oceana USA
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May 28, 2009

Filing Suit to Protect Sea Turtles

The Center for Biological Diversity, Oceana and the Turtle Island Restoration Network filed a lawsuit today against the National Marine Fisheries Service and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service over violations of the Endangered Species Act. Specifically, the Fisheries Service failed to meet the 12-month legal deadline for responding to three separate petitions focusing on two sea turtle species in U.S. waters off the East and West coasts.Two of the three petitions focus on populations of loggerhead sea turtles in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. We are urging the Fisheries Service to designate the North Pacific and western North Atlantic loggerheads as distinct population segments and to uplist their status from threatened to endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The petitions also call for increased protections in the loggerheads’ key nesting beaches and marine habitats.Loggerhead sea turtles have declined by at least 80 percent in the North Pacific and could become functionally extinct by the mid-21st century if additional protections are not put into place. Florida beaches, thought to host the second-largest loggerhead nesting population in the world, have seen a decline in nesting of more than 40 percent in the past decade.The third petition urges the Fisheries Service to protect key migratory and foraging habitat for leatherback sea turtles in the waters off California and Oregon by designating the area as critical habitat. Critically endangered leatherback sea turtles migrate more than 6,000 miles from nesting beaches in Indonesia to feed on abundant jellyfish in these waters.In a story about the lawsuit today in the Virginian Pilot, Oceana marine scientist Elizabeth Griffin has this quote: “…Right now we really just want them to follow the law and answer our petition.”