Take Action: Tell the federal government to protect sea turtles!

//takeaction.oceana.org/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=22292

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Protect Vital Sea Turtle Habitat

//www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=SubmitComment&o=090000648037f89f

The federal government is considering granting much-needed protection to the Pacific leatherback sea turtle's foraging grounds off U.S. West Coast. Pacific leatherbacks, possibly the most imperiled sea turtles today, travel thousands of miles from their nesting grounds in Indonesia to feed on seasonally abundant jellyfish off the California and Oregon coasts. Scientists agree that this area is vital to the survival of this population.

Last fall, the Center, along with Turtle Island Restoration Network and Oceana, petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service to designate these vital feeding grounds as critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act. The agency has agreed that the area has significant value for Pacific leatherbacks and is asking for public comment on the designation. Designating the area as critical habitat will ensure that no activities will be permitted in that area that would harm leatherback sea turtles.

Pacific leatherbacks are in dire need of habitat protection. Their population is at a precariously low level. One of the primary threats to Pacific leatherbacks is entanglement and death in fishing gear such as longlines and gillnets. Granting formal protection under the Endangered Species Act to the leatherback's feeding area would help to ensure that these deadly types of fishing gear would not be allowed in the leatherback's critical feeding and migratory area while turtles are present. This is the only sure way to guarantee that these magnificent, vanishing giants do not cross the ocean only to perish in destructive fishing gear.

Please let the National Marine Fisheries Service know that you support the designation of critical habitat for Pacific leatherbacks off the West Coast.

Click here to take action through Regulations.gov.

//tinyurl.com/yuqhvu

Enter your name and address, then enter your comments or cut and paste from the sample letter below. When you're ready to submit your comments, go to the very bottom of the page and click "next step." You can then confirm and submit your comments. You don't need to use the "attachment" option at Regulations.gov.

You can also fax your comments to 301-427-2522, Attention: Therese Conant.

Or mail to: David Cottingham Chief, Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Conservation Division Office of Protected Resources, NMFS
1315 East-West Highway Silver Spring, MD 20910

Please submit your comments by February 26, 2008.

Sample letter:

RIN 0648-XE13 Pacific Leatherback Critical Habitat

I strongly support the designation of critical habitat for the Pacific leatherback off the U.S. West Coast. Scientific studies show that Pacific leatherbacks nesting in Indonesia rely on the waters off California and Oregon as a vital feeding area. The seasonal abundance of jellyfish in this area is so critical to Pacific leatherbacks that they travel thousands of miles across the Pacific to feed.

Both the perilously low population level of Pacific leatherback and the critical importance of its West Coast foraging grounds make it imperative that the National Marine Fisheries Service designate this area as critical habitat and protect it to the full extent of the law. One of the greatest threats to Pacific leatherbacks is death by entanglement in fishing gear; longlines and gillnets in particular pose grave threats to feeding and migrating leatherbacks. The Service recognized this when it established the Pacific Leatherback Conservation Area and closed it to harmful fishing gear while leatherbacks are feeding in the area.

I urge you to grant formal, permanent protection under the Endangered Species Act to the leatherback's critical feeding area and the adjacent areas it uses to access those feeding grounds. Designating this area as critical habitat will provide much-needed protection for leatherbacks and help to ensure that these individuals can return to their nesting grounds well fed and ready to perpetuate the species.

Thank you.



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