Posted on: April 13, 2012

Pacific Whale Foundation Testimony Opposes Push to "Delist" Hawaii's Green Turtles

 Pacific Whale Foundation recently submitted testimony to the Committee on Water, Land and Natural Resources of the Hawaii House of Representatives opposing a proposal to push for removing Hawaii's green sea turtles from the U.S. Endangered Species list.

In Hawaii, the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) is protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act as a threatened species. The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council and some of Hawaii's fishermen want the sea turtles removed from the protections of the Endangered Species Act.  
 
After receiving numerous testimonies in opposition to the proposed bills, the Committee on Water, Land and Natural Resources decided to table both bills. 
 
Pacific Whale Foundation's testimony follows:
 
 April 12, 2012
TESTIMONY IN OPPOSITION TO H.C.R. No. 87 and H.R. No. 61
 
SUBMITTED TO:
COMMITTEE ON WATER, LAND, & OCEAN RESOURCES
 
Rep. Jerry L. Chang, Chair
Rep. Sharon E. Har, Vice Chair
State of Hawaii House of Representatives
 
Dear Chairperson Chang and Committee Members,
 
Through this letter of testimony, Pacific Whale Foundation, a
nonprofit marine conservation organization based on Maui since 1980,
formally registers our strong opposition to H.C.R. 87 and H.R. 61.
 
We believe that any decisions to delist the green sea turtle (Chelonia
mydas) should be based on the rigorous protocol established by the
U.S. Endangered Species Act. This protocol is based on sound
scientific evaluation of the species.
 
H.C.R. 87 and H.R. 61 wrongly attempts to replace sound science with
politics. Many hundreds of hours of scientific research, data
evaluation and thoughtful discussion went into the management plan for
Hawaii’s green sea turtles. The intent of H.C.R. 87 and H.R. 61 is to
disregard all of this work, in favor of opinions formed by legislators
who may have, at best, spent just a few hours reading about our green
sea turtle population.
 
It is unfortunate that this committee would consider taking the word
of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council – as
motivation to draft H.C.R. 87 and H.R. 61 Is this not like giving the
fox the ability to oversee the hen house?
 
There is no valid scientific evidence that “the environment and
ecosystem are suffering from the current overprotection,
over-population, and lack of management of honu” as stated in the act.
 There is however, a clear and significant threat to Hawaii’s green
turtle population in the form of the tumorous disease,
fibropapillomatosis. Nesting populations of the turtles at their
primary nesting beach at French Frigate Shoals also continue to
fluctuate from year to year and do not, as of yet, indicate a fully
recovered population.
 
The Endangered Species, Act, enacted by Congress in 1973, was created
to ensure that endangered and threatened animals and plants were
protected, even in the face of conflicting commercial interests. We
ask the Committee on Land, Water and Natural Resources to drop H.C.R.
87 in favor of supporting the recovery plan that was established by
NOAA and NMFS for Hawaii’s green turtles under the Endangered Species
Act.
 
Sincerely,
 
Anne Rillero
Communications Manager
Pacific Whale Foundation