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Oceana Petitions for Critical Habitat Protection for Endangered Leatherback Sea Turtles
By Wendy Heller, January 26, 2008 @ 02:00 AM (EST)
Source: Oceana.org

Pacific leatherback sea turtles lived side by side with the dinosaurs more than 65 million years ago, but now, largely due to human impacts, these ancient and majestic creatures are in serious trouble.

These gentle giants are being caught and killed as bycatch in commercial fishing operations - hooked and entangled on longlines and in drift gillnets. In 2001, the federal government established the Pacific Leatherback Conservation Area between Point Conception in Southern California and Cape Falcon in Northern Oregon to help protect leatherbacks while they are feeding in U.S. Pacific waters each autumn. Despite its success in protecting leatherback sea turtles, there has been continual debate over whether this vital area should remain closed to longlines and gillnets, and further protection measures are needed.

Along with the Center for Biological Diversity and the Turtle Island Restoration Network, Oceana is petitioning the government to designate the Pacific Leatherback Conservation Area as critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act. This is needed to help Pacific leatherback populations bounce back from their dramatic decline, and to address increasing threats from commercial longline and driftnet fleets. The federal government is currently considering our petition, and needs to hear from voices like yours today.



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