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BP Funding Designated to Save Endangered Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles

Houston, Texas (April 20, 2015)–Five years after the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees have announced another milestone in Gulf of Mexico early restoration.  The Trustees and BP have identified approximately $134 million in proposed early restoration projects for inclusion in a draft Phase IV Early Restoration Plan.   Trustees have released a welcome plan for sea turtle conservationists.  Among Ten Early Restoration Projects is a 10-year project to increase Kemp’s ridley sea turtle nest detection adding additional staff, training and equipment in both Texas and Mexico.  The Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network, which provides vital information and a formal Emergency Response Program, will receive funding.

“We are particularly pleased to see money for patrols, equipment, training and staff on the Upper Texas Coast which has been virtually ignored for several years,” said Carole Allen, Gulf Office Director of the Turtle Island Restoration Network.

With no funding from state or federal sources, this year’s patrols on the upper Texas coast were begun thanks to the Turtle Island Restoration Network with volunteer residents under the direction of Joanie Steinhaus, Associate Turtle Island Restoration Network Campaign Director.  Over 100 volunteers, many with the Master Naturalists organization are patrolling on foot every day, six days a week.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement will be enhanced to expand education of shrimp fishermen and to encourage compliance with existing federal turtle excluder devices (TED) regulations.  In addition is an allowance for two more nesting corrals and two cabins at the Padre Island National Seashore. Observers will be placed on commercial shrimp trawls to increase monitoring of sea turtle bycatch.

“A public comment period will be announced and we know that sea turtle fans will speak up in favor of the announced funding,” Allen said. “Watch SeaTurtles.Org for information about writing, calling and e-mailing.”

Details about the other projects can be found here.

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Turtle Island Restoration Network (SeaTurtles.org) works to mobilize people and communities around the world to protect marine wildlife, the oceans and the inland waterways that sustain them.