Sea Turtle Restoration Project (STRP) and coalition partners have obtained a letter of support from 200+ scientists who back our petition with the federal government to revise the critical habitat designation for the leatherback sea turtle under the Endangered Species Act. In a letter sent the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on February 26, 2008, these scientists urged NMFS to designate a large swath of coastal waters from central California to the mid-Oregon coast as Critical Habitat for the Pacific Leatherback. This area is considered to be one of the most important foraging areas in the world for the critically endangered leatherback.
These coastal waters include the Pacific Leatherback Conservation Area, created in 2001 after a successful lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and STRP. This important Leatherback Conservation Area has resulted in NO leatherback deaths since it was put in place. The fishing industry has attempted to rollback these vital protection measures in 2006 and 2007 that prevent the capture and drowning of the Pacific leatherback and other marine species in drift gillnets and longlines. Each time, however, STRP has prevailed and no new fishing was allowed in the Leatherback Conservation Area.
The creation of critical habitat for the Pacific Leatherback would reduce the threats to sea turtles, marine mammals, and other species in this biologically sensitive area. Designation would also increase the chances of a population recovery by the Pacific leatherback, since species with official critical habitat are twice as likely to have a growing population.
Click below to view a copy of the letter: