U.S. federal officials have reclassified green sea turtles from endangered to threatened.
The green sea turtle populations in question live in Florida and the Pacific Coast of Mexico. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, they no longer face an impending risk of extinction.
Populations in Florida and Mexico reclassified
Since 1978 the number of nesting females on Florida beaches increased dramatically, with at least 2,250 counted every year. Despite the new classification, the green sea turtles will still be protected by the same Florida regulations.
The change will however reclassify turtle from two breeding populations of the 11 identified by the U.S. FWS and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries. Distinct population segments were identified in order to enable individualized conservation regimes for each one, including Florida and Mexico.
Around the world the three most threatened populations are those in the Central South Pacific, Central West Pacific Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Despite the new classification, green sea turtles are still protected by the Endangered Species Act, which should see their numbers continue to increase.
Green sea turtles proof that conservation efforts work
Both agencies undertook a review of the status of green sea turtle populations in order to reach the new classification, using both tracking methods and genetic studies. The joint efforts of the agencies mean that green sea turtle populations are increasing and there is a chance that the animals won’t be included on the endangered species list again.
he implementation of different population segments meant that managers could work on specific solutions, aiding the effectiveness of the programs. Conservation efforts sometimes run into difficulties when blanket solutions are proposed.
Years of conservation efforts have been cited by the agencies as the reason for the turnaround. Among these efforts include protection for beaches where green sea turtles go to nest, reduction of bycatch fisheries and a ban on harvesting the turtles.
Green sea turtles still face a number of threats but their reclassification in Florida and Mexico goes to show that conservation efforts can have a massive positive effect. It must be hoped that efforts continue around the world in order for other populations to eventually be reclassified.