Turtle season off to slow start
The public comment period has been extended on a move to reclassify loggerhead sea turtles from threatened to endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service will accept comments until Sept. 13 on nine different species of loggerheads, seven of which could be uplisted to endangered status.
Loggerheads are the most common turtles that nest on Anna Maria Island beaches, and local nesting numbers are declining, according to Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch statistics.
With one month of the 2010 turtle nesting season gone, two nests have been laid, less than usual, said Suzi Fox of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shore Bird Monitoring.
Threats to loggerheads include habitat loss, fishermen and the oil spill, according to NOAA.
NOAA is seeking comments on whether the nine proposed loggerhead sea turtle species qualify as distinct species, and, if so, whether each should be classified as threatened or endangered.
Submissions stating support for or opposition to the action without providing supporting information will not be considered in making a determination.
Specific information sought includes population status, distribution, migration, behavior, genetic structure, current or planned activities that may adversely impact loggerheads and ongoing efforts to protect them.
Those wishing to comment or submit information may do so online at www.regulations.gov (follow the instructions for submitting comments on case number RIN 0648–AY49); by mail to NMFS National Sea Turtle Coordinator, Attn: Loggerhead Proposed Listing Rule, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13657, Silver Spring, MD 20910 or USFWS National Sea Turtle Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 7915 Baymeadows Way, Suite 200, Jacksonville, FL 32256; or by fax to the attention of NMFS National Sea Turtle Coordinator at 301–713–0376 or USFWS National Sea Turtle Coordinator at 904–731–3045.
All information, including personal information, will be posted online. Anonymous comments are accepted.