Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, March 20, 2015

Contact: Miyoko Sakashita, (415) 632-5308,

Recovering Green Sea Turtles Downlisted to Threatened on Pacific, Florida Coasts

Steady Improvement Demonstrates Effectiveness of Endangered Species Act
Even as Sea Turtle Populations Continue Declining Elsewhere

WASHINGTON— Federal regulators announced today that, as a result of Endangered Species Act protections, several populations of green sea turtles that nest on Florida beaches and the Pacific Coast of Mexico have increased to levels that will allow them to be downlisted from “endangered” to “threatened” status. Today’s proposal from the National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service included downlisting  Hawaii’s green sea turtles to “threatened” status. But the agencies emphasized that ongoing federal protections are essential to this population due to the growing threat of climate change and sea-level rise on the low-lying nesting beaches in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.

“The dramatic improvement of green sea turtle populations in U.S. waters, at a time when sea turtle populations in other parts of the world continue to decline, shows that the Endangered Species Act saves wildlife,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Now we have to take big, brave steps to protect sea turtles from threats like climate change and rising seas."

Today’s proposal was part of a global review of the green sea turtle’s conservation status, and concludes that the sea turtle should be classified into 11 distinct population segments. Although some sea turtle distinct populations segments are improving significantly due to the protections of the Endangered Species Act, several populations in other parts of the world, which do not benefit from the protections of the Act, continue to struggle. The Mediterranean, South Pacific and western Pacific populations remain in danger of extinction and will remain listed as “endangered.”

“Sea turtles face a lot of threats, from plastic trash they swallow by accident to sea-level rise to getting caught in fishing gear — even poaching, in some parts of the world,” said Sakashita. “This success story shows that the Endangered Species Act works, and it is an essential safety net for endangered wildlife.’”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 825,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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