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article imageSea turtles need NOAA's help

By Betty Kowall     Apr 16, 2010 in Environment
Two species of sea turtles are in the news as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is about to make critical decisions about their futures.
NOAA has proposed the designation of more than 70,000 square miles of water off the West Coast as critical habitat for the Pacific leatherback sea turtle. However, this is only a fraction of the area that conservation groups petitioned to have designated critical habitat in 2007.
Additionally, conservation groups are concerned that what constitutes adequate protection of critical habitat. The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) objects that "the proposal does not address threats from commercial longline and drift-net fisheries."
Just over one week ago pubished an article that attributed the death of millions of sea turtles to commercial fishing. ""For sea turtles, fisheries bycatch [accidental catch species] is the most serious, acute threat to the persistence of their populations," according to lead author Bryan Wallace.
In 2007 the World Wildlife Fund noted that during the 1990s approximately 1,500 leatherback females had been dying each year as a consequence of bycatch.
Additionally, the protected areas are summer and winter resident areas but the migratory routes between southern California, and Oregon and Washington states are unprotected. This proposal is open to public comment until April 26, 2010.
At the same time, in California and Mexico Kemp's Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) is in the sights of the NOAA. A draft recovery plan has developed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, Mexico. The FWWS is soliciting review and comment on the plan from the public and all interested parties, including state and local governments until mid-May.
More about Seat turtle, NOAA, Critical habitat
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