Environmental Policy News

Conservation Efforts Recognized in Revised ESA Listing of the Green Sea Turtle

After a review of the global status of green sea turtles, the agencies are proposing to reclassify the species into 11 Distinct Population Segments (DPS) under the ESA, which maintains federal protections while providing a more tailored approach for managers to address specific threats facing different populations. Years of coordinated conservation efforts have resulted in increasing numbers of turtles nesting in Florida and along the Pacific Coast of Mexico. As a result, the agencies are proposing threatened rather than endangered status for the two DPS that encompass those breeding populations.

“The proposal to revise the status of green sea turtles breeding in Florida and Mexico from endangered to threatened shows that conservation is making a difference, and once again demonstrates the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act in protecting and recovering our most at-risk species,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe.

As part of the global status review, the agencies examined the best scientific information available on green sea turtles throughout their global range. The review included data gathered from researchers, non-governmental organizations, industry groups, other federal, state and local government agencies, and members of the public. Advances in genetic studies, and telemetry and tagging data have improved the agencies’ understanding of the green sea turtle’s population structure and distribution since its initial listing.

The agencies are beginning a 90-day public comment period for this proposal to gather new information relevant to the status change. This includes potential critical habitat for the green sea turtle and information that will help ensure that the final determination is based on the best available scientific and commercial information. Critical habitat in Puerto Rico that was designated in 1998 is proposed to remain in effect for the North Atlantic DPS. The deadline for comments is 22 June 2015.

For more information, including where to submit comments, visit www.fisheries.noaa.gov/mediacenter/2015/03/20_03_greenturtles.html.


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