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NMFS and FWS Announce Response to Green Turtle Delisting Petition

On March 20, 2015, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced the 12-month finding and proposed rule in response to the 2012 petition to delist the Hawaii green turtle from the Endangered Species Act (ESA). NMFS and FWS have denied the delisting petition after finding that the Hawaii population, while qualifying as a distinct population segment (DPS) called the Central North Pacific DPS, should continue to be listed as “threatened” due to its small and narrowly distributed nesting population and threats of climate change and sea level rise. The proposal will publish in the Federal Register on Monday, March 23, 2015.

The proposed rule will also change the status of green turtles in American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) from its current threatened listing to “endangered.” Guam and CNMI green turtles are considered part of a population called the Central Western Pacific DPS, and American Samoa part of the Central South Pacific DPS.

A public hearing is scheduled in Honolulu on April 8, 2015, 6-8pm at the Japanese Cultural Center, but no hearings are currently scheduled in the outer islands in Hawaii or in American Samoa, Guam or CNMI.

The proposed rule is open for public comment for 90-days until June 22, 2015.

To read the full proposed rule, see: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/03/23/2015-06136/endangered-and-threatened-wildlife-and-plants-identification-and-proposed-listing-of-eleven-distinct

The status review that provides the scientific basis for the decision is available here: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/documents/2015_green_turtle__chelonia_mydas__status_review_under_the_u.s._endangered_species_act.pdf

To read the NMFS press release, see: http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2015/20150320-successful-conservation-efforts-along-florida-pacific-coasts-recognized-in-revised-esa-listing-of-green-sea-turtle.html