At one time, millions of sea turtles migrated along America’s coasts and laid their eggs. Today, all six species found in U.S. waters are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Sea turtles may face extinction during our lifetimes—primarily due to their preventable deaths in the gear used for commercial fishing. Given that record, we should be augmenting protections, not weakening them.
Sea turtles are in danger.
But the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has proposed flaccid new rules for applying the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) to fishery management actions that put sea turtles and other ocean life in greater danger.
The proposal weakens and sometimes even bypasses the NEPA environmental review process. It also shortens the public comment periods. In brief, the proposal would fast-track approval of fishery management proposals that may be harmful to the marine environment without giving the public adequate opportunity to weigh in.
NEPA is the law that requires the federal government to consider the impacts of fishing decisions on all ocean species and ecosystems. Since the 1990’s, NEPA reviews have facilitated a variety of fishing innovations like the Turtle Excluder Device (TED) that have saved the lives of thousands of sea turtles.
Without adequate environmental review, thousands more endangered sea turtles and albatrosses may die each year, and there would be greater threats to seals, whales, dolphins, sea birds and other ocean creatures affected by fishing and fishing technology.
This rule would also set a dangerous precedent for other federal agencies like the Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management, which could similarly weaken protections for terrestrial creatures like wolves and bears.
I urge you to express your strong objections to this proposal. Click here to take action.