NOAA Acts to Protect Turtles - Oceana USA
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April 29, 2009

NOAA Acts to Protect Turtles

Another victory for sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico today!As you may recall, In late January we celebrated when the Gulf Council voted to request that the federal government issue an emergency rule to protect sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico.Well, more good news on that front: Today the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued an emergency closure of the bottom longline sector of the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery in an effort to protect sea turtles from injury and death. The closure is effective May 18 to October 28 of this year, and it will prohibit bottom longline fishing gear in eastern Gulf waters shallower than 50 fathoms. The Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) are currently developing a long-term solution that will take effect after the six month closure has ended.Remember, nearly 1,000 sea turtles were caught by bottom longlines in this fishery in 30 months — that’s approximately ten times the federally authorized capture level for the entire fishery. Nearly 80% of the sea turtles were loggerheads, a species listed as threatened with extinction under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.