NOAA News Release
NOAA’s Fisheries Service announced that it will work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to conduct a global status review of green turtles, which have been listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) since 1978. The species is found in tropical and subtropical waters around the globe, and nest on the beaches of 80 countries.
As part of this review, NOAA and FWS will also assess whether Hawaii’s green turtles should be listed as a distinct population segment, and if so, whether they should be removed from the list of species protected under the ESA.
This process was prompted by a recent petition from the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, and is consistent with recommendations from NOAA’s most recent five-year review of the species, completed in 2007. That review recommended a global status review of the species within 10 years, and indicated that Hawaii’s green turtle population had steadily increased at a rate of 5.7 percent per year over the last three decades.
The association petitioned NOAA’s Fisheries Service and the FWS on Feb. 16, requesting that the agencies identify green turtles in Hawaii as a distinct population segment and subsequently remove them from the list of species protected under the ESA.
NOAA believes the petition presents substantial scientific information, and the requested action may be warranted. However, a positive finding at this initial stage does not prejudge the outcome of the full review.
The status review is a comprehensive assessment of a species’ biological status and its threats, and the basis for determining whether a species warrants protection under the ESA. The review will assess new information gathered since green turtles were listed in 1978. This will include taking a fresh look at information the agencies already have, and information submitted during the public comment period, with special emphasis on the agencies’ requirements for classifying populations as distinct population segments.
Within 12 months of receiving the petition, NOAA and FWS are required to publish their final determination. A proposed rule would be subject to at least 60 days of public comment, and public hearings may be held. One year after publishing a proposed rule, NOAA and FWS are required to finalize the rule.
For more information on the listing and delisting process, go to nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/listing. You may submit comments, information, or data on green turtles or their critical habitat until September 30, 2012.
Online: Submit all electronic information via the Federal eRulemaking Portal regulations.gov. To submit information via the e-Rulemaking Portal, first click the “submit a comment” icon, then enter “NOAA-NMFS-2012-0154” in the keyword search. Locate the document you wish to provide information on from the resulting list and click on the “Submit a Comment” icon to the right of that line.
By mail: Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Please include the Regulation Identifier Number NOAA-NMFS-2012-0154 when submitting comments.