USA Allows Thousands of Endangered Turtles Killed
If the federal government of the United States of America allows tens of thousands of animals that are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act, is the government complying with the Endangered Species Act? Not according to a new report by Oceana, an organization dedicated to the protection of marine ecosystems.
For the first time ever, Oceana has tallied the number of sea turtles that the US government allows to be killed and injured every year. What they found: The allowed kill of sea turtles is nearly 10,000 every year. The number of sea turtles that are allowed by our government to be injured per year is about 334,000.
This massive slaughter and maiming of sea turtles in US waters takes place with government permission, in spite of the fact that every species of sea turtle in US waters is under legal protection from two federal laws: The Endangered Species Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires commercial fishing operations in US waters to reduce bycatch to lowest practicable amount. Nonetheless, the fishery management plans agreed to and proposed by the Bush Administration do not even take turtle bycatch into account.
In US waters, the olive ridley sea turtle and the loggerhead sea turtle are registered as threatened species. The kempís ridley sea turtle, the leatherback sea turtle and the hawksbill sea turtle are registered as endangered species. The green sea turtle is listed as endangered in Florida’s waters, and threatened elsewhere. The Endangered Species Act requires the federal government to take action to reduce harmful human activities against these turtles to a level that will not threaten the ability of the species to survive. However, the Bush Administration has not been keeping track of the impact of the cumulative allowances it gives for killing and injuring sea turtles, much less studying the impact of those cululative allowances upon the six species of sea turtles in US waters. Furthermore, even when commercial fishing operations go beyond government allowances for killing and injuring endangered sea turtles, the Bush Administration refuses to stop the fishing operations from continuing to kill and injure even more turtles.
The Bush Administration doesn’t follow the laws that protect America’s endangered and threatened sea turtles, and President George W. Bush doesn’t seem to care enough about the problem to reform how the government does its business. In 2008, we need to elect a President who understands enough about the threats to marine ecosystems to bring the government into accordance with the law.
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