March 11, 2010

Loggerhead Turtles Facing Endangered Status

The loggerhead sea turtle should be classified as an endangered species, American wildlife agencies recommended on Wednesday, in a move that could provide enhanced protection for the world's largest hard-shelled turtle by next summer.

According to Baltimore Sun reporter Timothy B. Wheeler, "The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said they had determined that the status of seven of nine population groups of the turtles around the world had worsened to the point that they should be considered endangered."

Loggerhead turtles are currently listed as a threatened species, but often suffer injury or accidental death when they get caught in fishing hooks, lines, and nets. Additionally, fishing gear often damages the reptiles' nesting areas.

If the loggerhead turtle is made an endangered species, it would mean new fishing restrictions in their native habitats, which include the coastal area of the Atlantic Ocean from Maine to Florida.

The proposal is currently open for public comment, and the earliest it could be put into effect is the summer of 2011. Nonetheless, experts are expressing their approval of the recommendations.

Elizabeth Griffin, a marine wildlife scientist with the ocean protection and restoration agency Oceana, called it a "huge day for loggerhead sea turtles" during a March 11 interview with Associated Press (AP) writer Jay Lindsay. "I think it really draws attention to the fact these turtles are not doing well and more needs to be done to protect them."


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