Public Testimony Opposing Delisting of Hawai'i Green Sea Turtle from ESA


Dear National Marine Fisheries Service,

As someone who values the environmental, cultural and economic importance of the Hawai’i green sea turtle (or “honu”), I am writing to formally oppose the delisting of the species from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and possible future hunting of the honu for these reasons:

  1. The Hawaiian green sea turtle has not met established recovery goals of 5,000 nesters per year under the Recovery Plan for U.S. Populations of the Pacific Green Sea Turtle (ESA). Prematurely removing these protections could reverse decades of conservation.
  2. Green sea turtles are long-lived animals that don’t reach sexual maturity until the ages of 20 to 40.  Long-term protections are essential to prevent their populations from crashing.
  3. Threats to the survival and recovery of Hawaiian green sea turtles from human activities are increasing, not decreasing  – due to disease (fibropapillomatosis), climate change, coastal development, marine debris, pollution and capture in commercial fisheries.
  4. Hunting of green sea turtles led to their near-extinction and should not be allowed to resume under any circumstance. Sea turtle hunting is illegal in most nations around the world and is being phased out in isolated locations where it still occurs in favor of protection and the benefits of eco-tourism.
  5. Green sea turtles are central to the Hawaiian experience.  The green sea turtle attracts divers, snorkelers, beachgoers and sea turtle lovers to Hawaii, generating millions of dollars in revenue.  A protected, thriving sea turtle population is more economically beneficial to the island community as a whole than a turtle harvest.  

The Endangered Species, Act was created to ensure that endangered and threatened animals and plants were protected, even in the face of conflicting commercial interests. In the case of the Hawaiian green sea turtle, I feel that current population estimates and scientific understanding of the species does not meet the criteria for delisting.  I therefore ask NOAA Fisheries and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to consider the fate of the Hawaiian population of green sea turtles through rigorous, unbiased scientific evaluation, and with the understanding that for more than 100 million years, sea turtles have dutifully played their roles in maintaining the health of oceans worldwide.


Sincerely yours,


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