All six species of sea turtles in U.S. waters are threatened with extinction — and we want to know why more isn’t being done to protect them. The U.S. government wants to charge us an arm and a leg for more information about it. So we filed a lawsuit.
Last March, Oceana submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) asking for records relating to trawl gear modifications intended to prevent sea turtle bycatch in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. (The government has still not acted to modify trawl gear to protect sea turtles on much of the East Coast.) In response, NOAA asked Oceana to pay more than $16,000 for the documents.
As a non-profit conservation organization, Oceana is entitled to a FOIA fee waiver because we don’t use the information for commercial purposes, but rather to inform the public about how our government is failing to use its authority to adequately ensure the safety of sea turtles supposedly protected under the Endangered Species Act.
NOAA denied Oceana’s request for a fee waiver in June, citing a number of pretexts that appeared baseless on their face and had no demonstrable support in law. What’s more, Oceana has routinely been granted fee waivers when requesting information under FOIA in the past.