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Editorial: Added protection for loggerhead turtles

The federal government has taken a needed step to protect the imperiled loggerhead sea turtle. While the designation of beachfront in Florida and five other states as critical habitat is not extraordinary, it gives the turtles a better chance to increase their numbers by making for a safer nesting season. And it could help the cause of conservation over time by calling attention to how normal human activities affect the turtle population.

Federal wildlife and ocean management agencies declared 685 miles of turtle nesting beaches from North Carolina to Mississippi as critical habitat. Those beaches account for 84 percent of the known loggerhead nesting areas in these six states and 45 percent of the coastal beach shoreline overall. Florida beaches account for 300 miles of the designated area, with nearly 30 miles in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

The designation doesn't come with sweeping new regulations, and it doesn't mean open season for turtles in areas not covered by the rule. Loggerheads have been protected since being classified as a threatened species in 1978. The new designation means that federal agencies will take a closer look at impacts to the turtles in the targeted areas.

With the nesting season running until October, the announcement is a timely reminder that Florida hosts 90 percent of all loggerhead nesting in the United States. Sharing our beaches is vital for these turtles to recover.

Editorial: Added protection for loggerhead turtles 07/18/14 [Last modified: Friday, July 18, 2014 5:01pm]
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