Some good news has emerged for the Green Sea Turtle.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries have announced they will revise their listing of the reptile from endangered to threatened for two breeding populations of the species off the Pacific coast of Mexico and off the coast of Florida. The new designation is the result of conservation efforts since the turtles were placed on the Endangered Species List in 1978, the two federal agencies said in an April 5 statement.
“Successful conservation and management efforts developed in Florida and along the Pacific coast of Mexico are a roadmap for further recovery strategies of green turtle populations around the world,” Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries, said in the statement. “Identifying distinct population segments across the green sea turtle’s range provides flexibility for managers to address specific challenges facing individual populations with a tailored approach. Ultimately, this will help us protect and conserve green sea turtles more efficiently and effectively, so that we can achieve our goal of recovering the species.”
The agencies also announced division of the global population of the turtles into 11 distinct populations in an effort to customize conservation efforts based on these segments. Of the 11 population segments, three will be classified as endangered while the remaining eight will be classified as threatened.
Although reclassifying the populations from endangered to threatened shows that progress has been made in ensuring the survival of the species, the pelagic reptile faces other challenges, including threats from climate change, plastic pollution, habitat alteration and destruction, and the continued harvesting of green sea turtles and their eggs.
“While threats remain for green sea turtles globally, the reclassification of green sea turtles in Florida and Mexico shows how ESA-inspired partnerships between the federal agencies, states, NGOs and even countries is making a real difference for some of our planet’s most imperiled species,” Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe said in the statement.
Conservation efforts such as protections placed on nesting beaches in Mexico and Florida have had positive impacts on the population of the reptile, the agencies said. The reduction of green sea turtle bycatch in fisheries by using turtle excluder devices, circle hooks in fishing equipment, sea turtle harvesting prohibitions and other measures have helped the turtle populations rebound off the Pacific Coast of Mexico and Florida over the last 40 years.