|Hawaiian green sea turtle or honu. Photo copyright Anita Wintner.|
Like anyone who has ever seen a honu or snorkeled or dived with the sea turtles in Hawaii, we love the honu. This beloved sea turtle is far more precious to us all when it is living peacefully and protected from harm.
Read our Press Release here.Read the Associated Press article here.
Here is a summary of the new threats that the Hawaiian green sea turtle is facing:
Proposed Removal of Endangered Species Act Protections and Possible Hunting
U.S. federal fishery managers are now taking the first steps to remove the Hawaiian green sea turtle as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). National Marine Fisheries Service is acting in response to entrenched commercial fishing interests who want to strip away the honu’s safety net and push for future turtle hunting. If delisted, the honus would lose federal protections and face pressure for renewed hunting for their flesh and eggs.
Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle Nesting and Numbers
Since 1978, when the green sea turtle hunt was ended in Hawaii and the honu given ESA protections, their numbers have steadily climbed from a low of 67 females nesting in 1973 to a high of 843 nesters in 2011. However, the Hawaiian green sea turtles are far from reaching published recovery goals of at least 5,000 nesters per year. Almost all honus nest in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and then return to the waters of main islands where we can see them swimming, feeding on underwater vegetation, or basking on in the sun on rocks and sandy beaches.
Why Honus Need Safety and Permanent Protections
- The Hawaiian green sea turtle has not met recovery goals under the Endangered Species Act. Prematurely removing these protections could reverse decades of conservation.
- Hunting of green sea turtles led to their near-extinction and should not be allowed to resume.
- Green sea turtles are long-lived animals that don’t reach sexual maturity until the ages of 26 to 40. Long-term protections are essential to prevent their populations from crashing.
- Threats to the survival and recovery of Hawaiian green sea turtles from human activities are increasing, not decreasing – ¬due to climate change, coastal development, marine debris, pollution and capture in commercial fisheries.
- Green sea turtles are central to the Hawaiian experience. The green sea turtle attracts millions of divers, snorkelers, beachgoers and sea turtle lovers to Hawaii, who share photos and stories to family and friends around the world.
- If honus were hunted again, they would swim quickly away from any humans they encounter and disappear from sight. The loss of the honu could take a major toll on Hawaii’s tourism.