NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on April 5 that it will revise the label of green sea turtles from being endangered to threatened. The development may be good news, but it is not high time to celebrate as threats to the species population remain.
The two federal agencies say it will reclassify turtles that come from two breeding populations as a result of successful conservation interventions.
"Successful conservation and management efforts developed in Florida and along the Pacific coast of Mexico are a roadmap for further recovery strategies of green turtle populations around the world," says NOAA's Eileen Sobeck.
Despite the positive news, authorities are not letting their guards down as they acknowledge how the species remain to face different threats to its population.
Around the world, conservation and restoration of green sea turtles persist to be challenged by different factors. This puts nearly 600,000 nesting female species at harmful risks.
Among the main threats to green sea turtles are harvest of turtles, fisheries bycatch, egg poaching and changes in the species' habitats. Fishing nets also remains to be a significant issue.
Green sea turtles are also faced with the risk of acquiring diseases such as a viral infection called fibropapillomatosis. This disease may result in tumors among young turtles situated in warm waters.
Speaking of warm waters, climate change may also take a toll on the population of green sea turtles. Rising sea levels contribute significantly to the loss of nesting habitats in beaches, leaving the turtles unprotected.
Green sea turtles indeed remain to be challenged by various threats. It is therefore critically important to create management techniques intended for small groups so as to cater to the specific needs that each individual population faces.
The federal agencies, as well as its collaborators, are working to study the green sea turtles more to guarantee that conservation and management efforts are based on sound science.
Still, the news of the reclassification of green sea turtles is a positive news that represents hope. It signifies that conservation efforts are at par with what's ideal and that the Endangered Species Act indeed works.