NOAA proposes listing of loggerhead sea turtles, releases draft recovery plan for Kemp's Ridley
75 Fed. Reg. 12598 (Tuesday, March 16, 2010) / Vol. 75, No. 50 / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service / 50 CFR Part 17
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration / 50 CFR Parts 223 and 224
Docket No. 100104003–0004–01 / RIN 0648–AY49
Endangered and Threatened Species; Proposed Listing of Nine Distinct Population Segments of Loggerhead Sea Turtles as Endangered or Threatened
AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce; United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Interior.
ACTION: Proposed rules; 12-month petition findings; request for comments.
SUMMARY: We (NMFS and USFWS; also collectively referred to as the Services) have determined that the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) is composed of nine distinct population segments (DPSs) that qualify as ‘‘species’’ for listing as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and we propose to list two as threatened and seven as endangered. This also constitutes the 12-month findings on a petition to reclassify loggerhead turtles in the North Pacific Ocean as a DPS with endangered status and designate critical habitat, and a petition to reclassify loggerhead turtles in the Northwest Atlantic as a DPS with endangered status and designate critical habitat. We will propose to designate critical habitat, if found to be prudent and determinable, for the two loggerhead sea turtle DPSs occurring within the United States in a subsequent Federal Register notice.
The loggerhead occurs throughout the temperate and tropical regions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans (Dodd, 1988). However, the majority of loggerhead nesting is at the western rims of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The most recent reviews show that only two loggerhead nesting aggregations have greater than 10,000 females nesting per year: Peninsular Florida, United States, and Masirah Island, Oman. In early 2008, NMFS assembled a Loggerhead Biological Review Team (BRT) to complete a status review of the loggerhead sea turtle. The BRT was composed of biologists from NMFS, USFWS, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. The BRT was charged with reviewing and evaluating all relevant scientific information relating to loggerhead population structure globally to determine whether DPSs exist and, if so, to assess the status of each DPS. The findings of the BRT, which are detailed in the ‘‘Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta) 2009 Status Review under the U.S. Endangered Species Act’’ (Conant et al., 2009; hereinafter referred to as the Status Review), addressed DPS delineations, extinction risks to the species, and threats to the species. The Status Review underwent independent peer review by nine scientists with expertise in loggerhead sea turtle biology, genetics, and modeling. The Status Review is available electronically. Loggerhead turtle image from NOAA.
KEITHINKING: The decision could have significant implications for regulated fisheries, and will likely increase scrutiny of already tightly regulated coastal development projects. For news coverage and analysis, visit MSNBC, Boston Globe, StarNews Online,
75 Fed. Reg. 12496 (Tuesday, March 16, 2010) / Vol. 75, No. 50 / / Notices
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
RIN 0648–XS00 Endangered and Threatened Species; Recovery Plans; Recovery Plan for the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle
AGENCIES: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce; Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Interior.
ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.
The draft recovery plan is not a regulatory action, but presents guidance for use by agencies and interested parties to assist in the recovery of loggerhead turtles. Recovery of Kemp’s ridleys has and will continue to be a long-term effort between the U.S. and Mexico. Nevertheless, the Kemp’s ridley nesting population is exponentially increasing, which may indicate a similar increase in the population as a whole. In large part, that success can be traced to preservation efforts at Rancho Nuevo in Tamaulipas, Mexico, and nearby beaches where nesting has increased 14-16% per year. Photo of Kemp's Ridley hatchling at Rancho Nuevo from Sea Turtle Restoration Project.org
SUMMARY: We, NMFS and USFWS, announce the availability for public review of the draft Bi-National Recovery Plan (Plan) for the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys kempii). The Kemp’s Ridley Recovery Plan is a binational plan developed by the NMFS and USFWS and the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, Mexico. We are soliciting review and comment on the Plan from the public and all interested parties, including state and local governments. We will consider all substantive comments received during the review period before submitting the Plan for final approval.
EXCERPT: The highest priority needs for Kemp’s ridley recovery are to maintain and strengthen the conservation efforts that have proven successful. On the nesting beaches, this includes reinforcing habitat protection efforts, protecting nesting females, and maintaining or increasing hatchling production levels. In the water, successful conservation efforts include maintaining the use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) in fisheries currently required to use them, expanding TED-use to all trawl fisheries of concern, and reducing mortality in gillnet fisheries. Adequate enforcement in both the terrestrial and marine environment also is essential to meeting recovery goals.