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More than 40,000 square miles protected for Pacific Leatherback sea turtles

The National Marine Fisheries Service finalized protection of 40,000 square miles of protected critical ocean habitat off the shores of Washington, Oregon and California today for the endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle. The final rule establishes critical habitat in areas where leatherbacks feed on jellyfish after swimming 6,000 miles across the ocean from nests in Indonesia. This is the first permanent safe haven for leatherbacks designated in continental U.S. waters and the largest area set aside to protect sea turtle habitat in the United States or its territories. “Habitat protections are vital to the survival of leatherbacks. We urgently need migration safeguards for these ancient animals as they make the longest, most epic journey of any creature on the planet to get to our West Coast every year,” said Catherine Kilduff with the Center for Biological Diversity.

The 40,000 square miles designated for protection will be crucial to the survival of the giant turtles though they are far fewer than the 70,600 square miles originally proposed; unfortunately the final rule overlooks the need to protect turtles’ migratory paths from commercial fishing, water pollution and marine vessel traffic. The new regulation excludes protections for migration through these habitats and also excludes consideration of dangers to the turtles from fishing, such as mile-long drift nets used for swordfish off California…

Source: Center for Biological Diversity

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