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NOAA: House Dems request update on sea turtle protections in Baja Calif. (Wednesday, December 18, 2013)
Jessica Estepa, E&E reporter
Thirteen House Democrats are asking the Obama administration for an update on its work with Mexico on boosting protection for sea turtles in Baja California.
Thousands of dead loggerhead turtles have washed ashore along the Baja California coast in recent years, and fishing operations have been blamed (Greenwire, Oct. 2).
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said last January that the high bycatch rate should be examined under the Moratorium Protection Act and announced plans to spend two years consulting with the Mexican government on efforts to boost the loggerhead population.
That would require NOAA to provide an update to Congress in January 2015. But Democrats say the timeline is too long.
"We are concerned that this lag may jeopardize the long-term survival and recovery of the North Pacific loggerhead population," they wrote last week in a letter to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and NOAA acting Administrator Kathryn Sullivan.
They requested information on Mexico's response to the NOAA report, official correspondence between the countries, solutions that have been suggested, negotiations that have taken place and an updated timeline for how to resolve the problem.
Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) is leading the effort. The other Democrats who signed the letter: Reps. Lois Capps (Calif.), Anna Eshoo (Calif.), Sam Farr (Calif.), Mike Honda (Calif.), Rick Larsen (Wash.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (Calif.), Alan Lowenthal (Calif.), George Miller (Calif.) and Mike Thompson (Calif.) and Dels. Madeleine Bordallo (Guam) and Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (Northern Mariana Islands).
NOAA didn't return a request for comment on the letter. Environmentalists have petitioned the agency to examine the issue and to recommend the issuing of trade sanctions with Mexico if the issue is not addressed.
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