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News Coverage: Pacific Loggerheads Achieve Endangered Status

After a four-year battle, the Sea Turtle Restoration Project won enhanced and desperately needed protections for Pacific loggerhead sea turtles resulting in news coverage across the nation. The Obama Administration designated the Pacific loggerhead sea turtle as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in response to our 2007 legal petition.  Click here to read or press release on the loggerhead final rule.

Here are some of the news stories that were generated with links:

The San Francisco Chronicle, U.S. adds loggerhead sea turtle to endangered list

The Miami Herald, Some loggerheads now endangered

MSNBC online, Loggerhead turtles get more help – but only on the West Coast

Click on each newspaper title for archived copies of these stories for downloading from the San Francisco Chronicle, Miami Herald, MSNBC online, and the Los Angeles Times.

 

U.S. adds loggerhead sea turtle to endangered list
Peter Fimrite, Chronicle Staff Writer, Saturday, September 17, 2011
The increasingly rare loggerhead sea turtle was designated an endangered species Friday in an attempt to help it recover from the ravages of fishing, poaching, habitat disruptions, oil spills and plastic trash.
The National Marine Fisheries Service moved the loggerhead population in the North Pacific from threatened to endangered under the Endangered Species Act after four years of lobbying by conservationists.
The giant oceangoing turtles, which frequent the California coast, have declined by at least 80 percent over the past decade, according to marine biologists.
“Pacific loggerheads need increased protections immediately to reverse their decline toward extinction,” said Chris Pincetich, a marine biologist with the Sea Turtle Restoration Project of the Turtle Island Restoration Network. “Deadly high-seas longline fisheries, illegal poaching and the radioactive debris
offshore of loggerhead nesting beaches in Japan all jeopardize these endangered sea turtles.”
North Pacific loggerheads nest in Japan, but spend most of their lives along the coast of Mexico and Southern California. They occasionally stray into Northern California when the water is warmer during El Niño weather patterns, Pincetich said.
Swordfish boats from Hawaii often hook and drown loggerhead turtles on their longline hooks, but Pincetich said the real threats are the Taiwanese, Chinese and Japanese longline fleets that are not subject to U.S. fishing regulations. The longlines and nets dragged by these oceangoing vessels kill thousands of
turtles, he said.
“This designation will allow us to put pressure on the United Nations and other foreign bodies to respond to this uplisting of loggerhead sea turtles,” Pincetich said.
The loggerhead, which has been listed as threatened since 1978, is the first species to be satellite-tracked swimming across an entire ocean basin, some 7,000 miles from Baja Mexico to Japan. Loggerheads, which reach weights of 200 to 300 pounds when fully grown, are particularly vulnerable to being snagged in nets, hooks and other gear set out for fish.
The decision to upgrade loggerheads was a response to legal petitions filed in 2007 by the Center for Biological Diversity, Turtle Island Restoration Network and Oceana. The rule separates loggerheads into nine populations, five of which are now considered endangered.
The government did not list as endangered Northwest Atlantic loggerheads to the dismay of Pincetich, who cited increasing threats from shrimp trawlers and the BP oil spill. The Pacific sea turtle listing was nevertheless crucial, he said.
“All sea turtle species are slipping toward extinction in the Pacific Ocean,” he said.
E-mail Peter Fimrite at pfimrite@sfchronicle.com.
This article appeared on page C – 2 of the San Francisco Chronicle