HAWAII SEA TURTLES REMAIN PROTECTED UNDER STATE AND FEDERAL LAWS

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Joint News Release
For Immediate Release: May 15, 2012

HAWAII SEA TURTLES REMAIN PROTECTED UNDER STATE AND FEDERAL LAWS

HONOLULU ­ The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), the U. S.
Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and NOAA Fisheries remind the community
that sea turtles remain protected under State and Federal laws. In HawaiŒi,
sea turtles are protected by the HawaiŒi Revised Statutes (Chapter 195D) and
HawaiŒi Administrative Rules (13-124). Although Federal and State wildlife
conservation laws differ in some respects, all prohibit actions that can
harm, injure, kill, or otherwise disturb sea turtles without a permit.

The two types of sea turtles most frequently observed in HawaiŒi nearshore
waters are the green and hawksbill sea turtle. The green sea turtle
(Chelonia mydas) is listed as threatened and the hawksbill sea turtle
(Eretmochelys imbricata) is listed as endangered under the Endangered
Species Act (ESA). Three other listed species ­ loggerhead, leatherback,
and olive ridley sea turtles ­ generally inhabit offshore environments in
the region and are very rarely seen in HawaiŒi¹s coastal waters.

³We want to remind the community that all sea turtles are still protected,
and that both State and Federal consequences apply to anyone harming a green
sea turtle,² said DLNR Chairperson William J. Aila, Jr. The public is urged
to act responsibly and not attempt to touch, disturb, feed, pursue, ride,
harass, harm, or otherwise injure these animals.

On February 16, 2012, NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
(jointly referred to as the Services) received a petition to classify the
HawaiŒi population of green sea turtle as a Distinct Population Segment
(DPS) and evaluate that population for de-listing under the ESA. The
contents of this petition are currently being reviewed to determine if the
petition warrants further consideration. If so, a scientific review of the
status of the species will be initiated.

While any person or organization may submit a petition to list or de-list a
species, this action alone does not affect the legal status of that species.
If the Services propose any changes to the listing status of green sea
turtles in the future, public comments will be requested and considered
before any final decisions about de-listing are made.

³Even though a petition for de-listing was filed, green sea turtles in
HawaiŒi remain protected under State and Federal laws,² said Aila.

Sea turtles across the U.S. face threats including, but not limited to,
illegal harvest, destruction and alteration of nesting and feeding areas,
incidental capture in commercial and recreational fisheries, entanglement in
and ingestion of marine debris, disease, vessel strikes, and climate change.
To effectively address all threats to sea turtles, the Services have
developed recovery plans to direct research and management efforts for each
sea turtle species. In HawaiŒi, on-going sea turtle recovery activities
include efforts to reduce and eliminate direct harvest of, and interactions
with, sea turtles in nearshore and commercial fisheries; eliminate the
threat of fibropapilloma (a tumor disease that can be harmful to sea
turtles); protect important nesting and feeding areas; and reduce impacts
from boat strikes, disturbance, and marine debris.

To report a sea turtle in distress, please call (808) 983-5730 or visit
NOAA¹s sea turtle stranding website at:
http://www.pifsc.noaa.gov/psd/mtrp/turtle_contact.php
<http://www.pifsc.noaa.gov/psd/mtrp/turtle_contact.php>

For more information on the DLNR visit www.hawaii.gov/dlnr
<http://www.hawaii.gov/dlnr>
For more information on NOAA visit http://www.fpir.noaa.gov/
<http://www.fpir.noaa.gov/>
For more information on the USFWS visit
http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands/teslist.html
<http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands/teslist.html>

# # #

For more information, news media may contact:

NOAA
Wende Goo
Communications Officer
Phone: (808) 721-4098

DLNR
Deborah Ward
DLNR Public Information Specialist
Phone: (808) 587-0320

USFWS
Ken Foote
Information and Education Specialist
Phone: (808) 792-9535
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