For Immediate Release, April 16, 2012
Lawsuit Launched to Protect Habitat for Endangered Pacific Loggerhead Sea Turtles
Turtle Safeguards Also Needed Along Florida's Beaches
SAN FRANCISCO— The Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle Island Restoration Network (SeaTurtles.org) filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Obama administration today seeking to protect critical habitat for endangered Pacific loggerhead sea turtles along the U.S. West Coast and across the Pacific Ocean. North Pacific loggerheads, which nest in Japan and cross the Pacific to feed along the coasts of Southern California and Mexico, have declined by at least 80 percent over the past decade.
The lawsuit also calls for habitat protections for loggerheads in Florida, where nesting populations have declined by 40 percent.
“Loggerheads on both coasts need robust protections from fisheries, oil spills and climate change to reverse their trajectory toward extinction,” says Teri Shore, program director of the Turtle Island Restoration Network (SeaTurtles.org). “While awaiting the protections that they deserve, loggerhead sea turtles continue to die, entangled in nets or hooked on longlines for swordfish and tuna.”
“As seas rise due to climate change, nesting turtles will have nowhere to go unless we protect their beach habitat now from unchecked coastal development,” said Catherine Kilduff, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “If we’re going to save these amazing turtles, we have to save the places they live.”
Critical habitat protections are an important step toward achieving improved protections for key nesting beaches and migratory and feeding habitat in the ocean. The designation would prohibit federal actions that would destroy or harm sea turtle critical habitat by ensuring that harmful projects are modified to ensure the conservation and recovery of imperiled sea turtles. Endangered species with protected critical habitat are twice as likely to be recovering than those without critical habitat.
On Sept. 22, 2011, North Pacific loggerhead sea turtle populations were uplisted from threatened to endangered status under the Endangered Species Act, but the Obama administration failed to protect the sea turtle’s habitat as required by law. It also failed to protect Atlantic waters for the threatened Northwest Atlantic loggerheads in Florida.
Click here for more information about loggerhead populations and to download the Center’s petitions.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 350,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. www.biologicaldiversity.org.
Turtle Island Restoration Network (SeaTurtles.org) is an international marine conservation organization headquartered in California whose 60,000 members and online activists work to protect sea turtles and marine biodiversity in the United States and around the world. For more information, visit www.SeaTurtles.org.