Special Protections for Sea Turtles
The Pacific Leatherback Conservation Area (PLCA) was established in 2001 specifically to protect endangered leatherback sea turtles from driftnets by prohibiting drift gillnet fishing in this area annually from August 15 through November 15. Oceana has been fighting to maintain these important protections since 2006.
Additionally, due to a petition submitted by Oceana and our partners in 2007, critical habitat was designated by the National Marine Fisheries Service in January 2012, and is the first permanent safe haven for leatherbacks designated in continental U.S. waters and is the largest area set aside to protect sea turtle habitat in the U.S. or its territories.
The Pacific Loggerhead Conservation Area was also established in 2001 to protect loggerhead sea turtles that migrate into waters south of Pt. Conception during forecasted El Niño events— warmer than normal waters — in search of their favorite prey, pelagic red crabs. In direct response to pressure from Oceana, the National Marine Fisheries Service announced on July 24, 2014 enforcement of the Pacific Loggerhead Conservation Area. The closure off Southern California restricted swordfish drift gillnets from operating within the Loggerhead Conservation Area (more than 25,000 square miles) from July 25, 2014 through August 31, 2014 to prevent entanglements and drownings of endangered loggerhead sea turtles in these deadly nets. This was the first time the conservation area has been closed since it went into effect over a decade ago.