[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 184 (Thursday, September 22, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 58867-58952]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-23960]



[[Page 58867]]

Vol. 76

Thursday,

No. 184

September 22, 2011

Part II





Department of the Interior





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Fish and Wildlife Service





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50 CFR Part 17





Department of Commerce





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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration





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50 CFR Parts 223 and 224





Endangered and Threatened Species; Determination of Nine Distinct 
Population Segments of Loggerhead Sea Turtles as Endangered or 
Threatened; Final Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 184 / Thursday, September 22, 2011 / 
Rules and Regulations

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Parts 223 and 224

[Docket No. 100104003-1068-02]
RIN 0648-AY49


Endangered and Threatened Species; Determination of Nine Distinct 
Population Segments of Loggerhead Sea Turtles as Endangered or 
Threatened

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce; United States Fish and 
Wildlife Service (USFWS), Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: We (NMFS and USFWS; also collectively referred to as the 
Services) have determined that the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta 
caretta) is composed of nine distinct population segments (DPSs) that 
constitute ``species'' that may be listed as threatened or endangered 
under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In this final rule, we are 
listing four DPSs as threatened and five as endangered under the ESA. 
We will propose to designate critical habitat for the two loggerhead 
sea turtle DPSs occurring within the United States in a future 
rulemaking. We encourage interested parties to provide any information 
related to the identification of critical habitat and essential 
physical or biological features for this species, as well as economic 
or other relevant impacts of designation of critical habitat, to assist 
us with this effort.

DATES: This rule is effective on October 24, 2011.

ADDRESSES: This final rule and comments and materials received, as well 
as supporting documentation used in the preparation of this rule, are 
available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov and will be 
available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business 
hours at: National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of Protected 
Resources, 1315 East West Highway, Room 13657, Silver Spring, MD 20910. 
You may submit information related to the identification of critical 
habitat for the loggerhead sea turtle by either of the following 
methods:
     Mail: NMFS National Sea Turtle Coordinator, Attn: 
Loggerhead Critical Habitat Information, Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13657, 
Silver Spring, MD 20910 or USFWS National Sea Turtle Coordinator, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 7915 Baymeadows Way, Suite 200, 
Jacksonville, FL 32256.
     Fax: To the attention of NMFS National Sea Turtle 
Coordinator at 301-427-2522 or USFWS National Sea Turtle Coordinator at 
904-731-3045.
    Instructions: All information received will be a part of the public 
record. All personal identifying information (for example, name, 
address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the public may be publicly 
accessible.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Barbara Schroeder, NMFS, at 301-427-
8402; Sandy MacPherson, USFWS, at 904-731-3336; Marta Nammack, NMFS, at 
301-427-8403 or Lorna Patrick, USFWS, at 850-769-0552 ext. 229. Persons 
who use a Telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the 
Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339, 24 hours a 
day, 7 days a week.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    We issued a final rule listing the loggerhead sea turtle as 
threatened throughout its worldwide range on July 28, 1978 (43 FR 
32800). On July 12, 2007, we received a petition to list the ``North 
Pacific populations of loggerhead sea turtle'' as an endangered species 
under the ESA. NMFS published a notice in the Federal Register on 
November 16, 2007 (72 FR 64585), concluding that the petitioners 
(Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle Island Restoration Network) 
presented substantial scientific information indicating that the 
petitioned action may be warranted. Also, on November 15, 2007, we 
received a petition to list the ``Western North Atlantic populations of 
loggerhead sea turtle'' as an endangered species under the ESA. NMFS 
published a notice in the Federal Register on March 5, 2008 (73 FR 
11849), concluding that the petitioners (Center for Biological 
Diversity and Oceana) presented substantial scientific information 
indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted.
    In early 2008, NMFS assembled a Loggerhead Biological Review Team 
(BRT) to complete a status review of the loggerhead sea turtle. The BRT 
was composed of biologists from NMFS, USFWS, the Florida Fish and 
Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the North Carolina Wildlife 
Resources Commission. The BRT was charged with reviewing and evaluating 
all relevant scientific information relating to loggerhead population 
structure globally to determine if any population met the criteria to 
qualify as a DPS and, if so, to assess the extinction risk of each DPS. 
The findings of the BRT, which are detailed in the ``Loggerhead Sea 
Turtle (Caretta caretta) 2009 Status Review under the U.S. Endangered 
Species Act'' (Conant et al., 2009; hereinafter referred to as the 
Status Review), addressed DPS delineations, extinction risks to the 
species, and threats to the species. The Status Review underwent 
independent peer review by nine scientists with expertise in loggerhead 
sea turtle biology, genetics, and modeling. The Status Review is 
available electronically at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/statusreviews.htm.
    On March 12, 2009, the petitioners (Center for Biological 
Diversity, Turtle Island Restoration Network, and Oceana) sent a 60-day 
notice of intent to sue to the Services for failure to make 12-month 
findings on the petitions by the statutory deadlines (July 16, 2008, 
for the North Pacific petition and November 16, 2008, for the Northwest 
Atlantic petition). On May 28, 2009, the petitioners filed a Complaint 
for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief to compel the Services to 
complete the 12-month findings. On October 8, 2009, the petitioners and 
the Services reached a settlement in which the Services agreed to 
submit to the Federal Register a 12-month finding on the two petitions 
on or before February 19, 2010. On February 16, 2010, the United States 
District Court for the Northern District of California modified the 
February 19, 2010, deadline to March 8, 2010.
    On March 16, 2010 (75 FR 12598), the Services published in the 
Federal Register combined 12-month findings on the petitions to list 
the North Pacific populations and the Northwest Atlantic populations of 
the loggerhead sea turtle as DPSs with endangered status, along with a 
proposed rule to designate nine loggerhead sea turtle DPSs worldwide 
and to list two of the DPSs as threatened and seven as endangered. The 
Federal Register notice also announced the opening of a 90-day public 
comment period on the proposed listing determination.
    The Services subsequently received a request from the Maryland 
Department of Natural Resources for a public hearing to be held in 
Maryland. On June 2, 2010 (75 FR 30769), the Services published a 
notice in the Federal Register announcing our plans to hold

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a public hearing on the proposed actions on June 16, 2010. The Federal 
Register notice also announced a re-opening of the public comment 
period for an additional 90 days. The June 16, 2010, public hearing was 
held at the Ocean Pines Public Library in Berlin, Maryland.
    On March 22, 2011 (76 FR 15932), the Services published in the 
Federal Register a notice announcing a 6-month extension of the 
deadline for a final listing decision to address substantial 
disagreement on the interpretation of data related to the status and 
trends for the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS of the loggerhead sea 
turtle and its relevance to the assessment of risk of extinction. At 
this time, we solicited new information or analyses from the public 
that would help clarify this issue. The public comment period was open 
for 20 days, and closed on April 11, 2011.

Policies for Delineating Species Under the ESA

    Section 3 of the ESA defines ``species'' as including ``any 
subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population 
segment of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds 
when mature.'' The term ``distinct population segment'' is not 
recognized in the scientific literature, nor clarified in the ESA or 
its implementing regulations. Therefore, the Services adopted a joint 
policy for recognizing DPSs under the ESA (DPS Policy; 61 FR 4722) on 
February 7, 1996. Congress has instructed the Secretary of the Interior 
or of Commerce to exercise this authority with regard to DPSs ``* * * 
sparingly and only when the biological evidence indicates such action 
is warranted.'' The DPS Policy requires the consideration of two 
elements when evaluating whether a vertebrate population segment 
qualifies as a DPS under the ESA: (1) The discreteness of the 
population segment in relation to the remainder of the species or 
subspecies to which it belongs; and (2) the significance of the 
population segment to the species or subspecies to which it belongs.
    A population segment of a vertebrate species may be considered 
discrete if it satisfies either one of the following conditions: (1) It 
is markedly separated from other populations of the same taxon (an 
organism or group of organisms) as a consequence of physical, 
ecological, or behavioral factors. Quantitative measures of genetic or 
morphological discontinuity may provide evidence of this separation; or 
(2) it is delimited by international governmental boundaries within 
which differences in control of exploitation, management of habitat, 
conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms exist that are 
significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the ESA (i.e., inadequate 
regulatory mechanisms).
    If a population segment is found to be discrete under one or both 
of the above conditions, its biological and ecological significance to 
the taxon to which it belongs is evaluated. This consideration may 
include, but is not limited to: (1) Persistence of the discrete 
population segment in an ecological setting unusual or unique for the 
taxon; (2) evidence that loss of the discrete population segment would 
result in a significant gap in the range of a taxon; (3) evidence that 
the discrete population segment represents the only surviving natural 
occurrence of a taxon that may be more abundant elsewhere as an 
introduced population outside its historical range; or (4) evidence 
that the discrete population segment differs markedly from other 
population segments of the species in its genetic characteristics.

Listing Determinations Under the ESA

    The ESA defines an endangered species as one that is in danger of 
extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, and a 
threatened species as one that is likely to become endangered in the 
foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range 
(sections 3(6) and 3(20), respectively). The statute requires us to 
determine whether any species is endangered or threatened because of 
any of the following five factors: (1) The present or threatened 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (2) 
overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes; (3) disease or predation; (4) the inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms; or (5) other natural or manmade factors 
affecting its continued existence (section 4(a)(1)(A-E)). We are to 
make this determination based solely on the best available scientific 
and commercial data after conducting a review of the status of the 
species and taking into account any efforts being made by States or 
foreign governments to protect the species.

Biology and Life History of Loggerhead Sea Turtles

    A thorough account of loggerhead sea turtle biology and life 
history may be found in the Status Review, which is incorporated here 
by reference. The following is a summary of that information.
    The loggerhead occurs throughout the temperate and tropical regions 
of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans (Dodd, 1988). However, the 
majority of loggerhead nesting is at the western rims of the Atlantic 
and Indian Oceans. The most recent reviews show that only two 
loggerhead nesting aggregations have greater than 10,000 females 
nesting per year: Peninsular Florida, United States, and Masirah 
Island, Oman (Baldwin et al., 2003; Ehrhart et al., 2003; Kamezaki et 
al., 2003; Limpus and Limpus, 2003a; Margaritoulis et al., 2003). 
Nesting aggregations with 1,000 to 9,999 females nesting annually are 
Georgia through North Carolina (United States), Quintana Roo and 
Yucatan (Mexico), Brazil, Cape Verde Islands (Cape Verde), Western 
Australia (Australia), and Japan. Smaller nesting aggregations with 100 
to 999 nesting females annually occur in the Northern Gulf of Mexico 
(United States), Dry Tortugas (United States), Cay Sal Bank (The 
Bahamas), Tongaland (South Africa), Mozambique, Arabian Sea Coast 
(Oman), Halaniyat Islands (Oman), Cyprus, Peloponnesus (Greece), 
Zakynthos (Greece), Crete (Greece), Turkey, and Queensland (Australia). 
In contrast to determining population size on nesting beaches, 
determining population size in the marine environment has been very 
localized. A summary of information on distribution and habitat by 
ocean basin follows.

Pacific Ocean

    Loggerheads can be found throughout tropical to temperate waters in 
the Pacific; however, their breeding grounds include a restricted 
number of sites in the North Pacific and South Pacific. Within the 
North Pacific, loggerhead nesting has been documented only in Japan 
(Kamezaki et al., 2003), although low level nesting may occur outside 
of Japan in areas surrounding the South China Sea (Chan et al., 2007). 
In the South Pacific, nesting beaches are restricted to eastern 
Australia and New Caledonia and, to a much lesser extent, Vanuatu and 
Tokelau (Limpus and Limpus, 2003a).
    Based on tag-recapture studies from Japan, the East China Sea has 
been identified as the major habitat for post-nesting adult females 
(Iwamoto et al., 1985; Kamezaki et al., 1997; Balazs, 2006), while 
satellite tracking indicates the Kuroshio Extension Bifurcation Region 
to be an important pelagic foraging area for juvenile loggerheads 
(Polovina et al., 2006). Other important juvenile turtle foraging areas 
have been identified off the coast of Baja California Sur, Mexico 
(Pitman, 1990; Peckham and Nichols, 2006; Peckham et al., 2007).
    Nesting females tagged on the coast of eastern Australia have been 
recorded

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foraging in New Caledonia; Queensland, northern New South Wales, and 
Northern Territory, Australia; Solomon Islands; Papua New Guinea; and 
Indonesia (Limpus and Limpus, 2003a; Limpus, 2009). Foraging Pacific 
loggerheads originating from nesting beaches in Australia are known to 
migrate to Chile and Peru (Alfaro-Shigueto et al., 2004, 2008a; Donoso 
and Dutton, 2006; Boyle et al., 2009).

Indian Ocean

    In the North Indian Ocean, Oman hosts the vast majority of 
loggerhead nesting. The majority of the nesting in Oman occurs on 
Masirah Island, on the Al Halaniyat Islands, and on mainland beaches 
south of Masirah Island all the way to the Oman-Yemen border (IUCN--The 
World Conservation Union, 1989a, 1989b; Salm, 1991; Salm and Salm, 
1991). In addition, nesting probably occurs on the mainland of Yemen on 
the Arabian Sea coast, and nesting has been confirmed on Socotra, an 
island off the coast of Yemen (Pilcher and Saad, 2000). Limited 
information exists on the foraging habitats of North Indian Ocean 
loggerheads; however, foraging individuals have been reported off the 
southern coastline of Oman (Salm et al., 1993). Satellite telemetry 
studies of post-nesting migrations of loggerheads nesting on Masirah 
Island, Oman, have revealed extensive use of the waters off the Arabian 
Peninsula, with the majority of telemetered turtles traveling 
southwest, following the shoreline of southern Oman and Yemen, and 
circling well offshore in nearby oceanic waters (Environment Society of 
Oman and Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Oman, unpublished 
data). A minority traveled north as far as the western Persian Gulf or 
followed the shoreline of southern Oman and Yemen as far west as the 
Gulf of Aden and the Bab-el-Mandab.
    The only verified nesting beaches for loggerheads on the Indian 
subcontinent are found in Sri Lanka. A small number of nesting females 
use the beaches of Sri Lanka every year (Deraniyagala, 1939; Kar and 
Bhaskar, 1982; Dodd, 1988); however, there are no records indicating 
that Sri Lanka has ever been a major nesting area for loggerheads 
(Kapurusinghe, 2006). No confirmed nesting occurs on the mainland of 
India (Tripathy, 2005; Kapurusinghe, 2006). The Gulf of Mannar provides 
foraging habitat for juvenile and post-nesting adult turtles (Tripathy, 
2005; Kapurusinghe, 2006).
    In the East Indian Ocean, Western Australia hosts all known 
loggerhead nesting (Dodd, 1988). Nesting distributions in Western 
Australia span from the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, including Dirk 
Hartog Island, and northward through the Ningaloo Marine Park coast to 
the North West Cape, including the Muiron Islands (Baldwin et al., 
2003). Nesting individuals from Dirk Hartog Island have been recorded 
foraging within Shark Bay and Exmouth Gulf (Baldwin et al., 2003), and 
satellite tracking of individuals from Ningaloo has demonstrated that 
female turtles can disperse as far east as Torres Strait in Queensland.
    In the Southwest Indian Ocean, loggerhead nesting occurs on the 
southeastern coast of Africa, from the Paradise Islands in Mozambique 
southward to St. Lucia in South Africa, and on the south and 
southwestern coasts of Madagascar (Baldwin et al., 2003). Foraging 
habitats are only known for post-nesting females from Tongaland, South 
Africa; tagging data show these loggerheads migrating eastward to 
Madagascar, northward to Mozambique, Tanzania, and Kenya, and southward 
to Cape Agulhas at the southernmost point of Africa (Baldwin et al., 
2003; Luschi et al., 2006).

Atlantic Ocean

    In the Northwest Atlantic, the majority of loggerhead nesting is 
concentrated along the coasts of the United States from southern 
Virginia through Alabama. Additional nesting beaches are found along 
the northern and western Gulf of Mexico, eastern Yucatan Peninsula, at 
Cay Sal Bank in the eastern Bahamas (Addison and Morford, 1996; 
Addison, 1997), on the southwestern coast of Cuba (F. Moncada-Gavilan, 
personal communication, cited in Ehrhart et al., 2003), and along the 
coasts of Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, and the eastern 
Caribbean Islands. In the Southwest Atlantic, loggerheads nest in 
significant numbers only in Brazil. In the eastern Atlantic, the 
largest nesting population of loggerheads is in the Cape Verde Islands 
(L.F. L[oacute]pez-Jurado, personal communication, cited in Ehrhart et 
al., 2003), and some nesting occurs along the West African coast 
(Fretey, 2001).
    As post-hatchlings, Northwest Atlantic loggerheads use the North 
Atlantic Gyre and enter Northeast Atlantic waters (Carr, 1987). They 
are also found in the Mediterranean Sea (Carreras et al., 2006; Eckert 
et al., 2008). In these areas, they overlap with animals originating 
from the Northeast Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea (Laurent et al., 
1993, 1998; Bolten et al., 1998; LaCasella et al., 2005; Carreras et 
al., 2006; Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2006, 2010; Revelles et 
al., 2007; Eckert et al., 2008). The oceanic juvenile stage in the 
North Atlantic has been primarily studied in the waters around the 
Azores and Madeira (Bolten, 2003). In Azorean waters, satellite 
telemetry data and flipper tag returns suggest a long period of 
residency (Bolten, 2003), whereas turtles appear to be moving through 
Madeiran waters (Dellinger and Freitas, 2000). Preliminary genetic 
analyses indicate that juvenile loggerheads found in Moroccan waters 
are of western Atlantic origin (M. Tiwari, NMFS, and A. Bolten, 
University of Florida, unpublished data). Other concentrations of 
oceanic juvenile turtles exist in the Atlantic (e.g., in the region of 
the Grand Banks off Newfoundland; Witzell, 2002). Genetic information 
indicates the Grand Banks are foraging grounds for a mixture of 
loggerheads from all the North Atlantic rookeries (Bowen et al., 2005; 
LaCasella et al., 2005), and a large size range is represented (Watson 
et al., 2004, 2005).
    After departing the oceanic zone, neritic juvenile loggerheads in 
the Northwest Atlantic inhabit continental shelf waters from Cape Cod 
Bay, Massachusetts, south through Florida, The Bahamas, Cuba, and the 
Gulf of Mexico (Musick and Limpus, 1997; Spotila et al., 1997; Hopkins-
Murphy et al., 2003) (neritic refers to the inshore marine environment 
from the surface to the sea floor where water depths do not exceed 200 
meters).
    Habitat preferences of Northwest Atlantic non-nesting adult 
loggerheads in the neritic zone differ from the juvenile stage in that 
relatively enclosed, shallow water estuarine habitats with limited 
ocean access are less frequently used. Areas such as Pamlico Sound, 
North Carolina, and the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, in the United 
States, regularly used by juvenile loggerheads, are only rarely 
frequented by adults (Ehrhart and Redfoot, 1995; Epperly et al., 2007). 
In comparison, estuarine areas with more open ocean access, such as the 
Chesapeake Bay in the U.S. mid-Atlantic, are also regularly used by 
juvenile loggerheads, as well as by adults primarily during warmer 
seasons (J. Musick, The Virginia Institute of Marine Science, personal 
communication, 2008). Shallow water habitats with large expanses of 
open ocean access, such as Florida Bay, provide year-round resident 
foraging areas for significant numbers of male and female adult 
loggerheads (Schroeder et al., 1998; Witherington et al., 2006a). 
Offshore, adults inhabit continental shelf waters, from New York south 
through Florida, The Bahamas, Cuba, and the Gulf of Mexico (Schroeder 
et al., 2003; Hawkes et al.,

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2007; Foley et al., 2008). The southern edge of the Grand Bahama Bank 
is important habitat for loggerheads nesting on the Cay Sal Bank in The 
Bahamas, but nesting females are also resident in the bights of 
Eleuthera, Long Island, and Ragged Islands as well as Florida Bay in 
the United States, and the north coast of Cuba (A. Bolten and K. 
Bjorndal, University of Florida, unpublished data). Moncada et al. 
(2010) reported the recapture in Cuban waters of five adult female 
loggerheads originally flipper tagged in Quintana Roo, Mexico, 
indicating that Cuban shelf waters likely also provide foraging habitat 
for adult females that nest in Mexico.
    In the Northeast Atlantic, satellite telemetry studies of post-
nesting females from Cape Verde identified two distinct dispersal 
patterns; larger individuals migrated to benthic foraging areas off the 
northwest Africa coast and smaller individuals foraged primarily 
oceanically off the northwest Africa coast (Hawkes et al., 2006). 
Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al. (2009) conducted a mixed stock 
analysis of juvenile loggerheads sampled from foraging areas in the 
Canary Islands, Madeira, Azores, and Andalusia and concluded that while 
juvenile loggerheads from the Cape Verde population were distributed 
among these four sites, a large proportion of Cape Verde juvenile 
turtles appear to inhabit as yet unidentified foraging areas.
    In the South Atlantic, recaptures of tagged juvenile turtles and 
nesting females have shown movement of animals up and down the coast of 
South America (Almeida et al., 2000, 2007; Marcovaldi et al., 2000; 
Laporta and Lopez, 2003). Juvenile loggerheads, presumably of Brazilian 
origin, have also been captured on the high seas of the South Atlantic 
(Kotas et al., 2004; Pinedo and Polacheck, 2004) and off the coast of 
Atlantic Africa (Petersen, 2005; Bal et al., 2007; Petersen et al., 
2007) suggesting that loggerheads of the South Atlantic may undertake 
transoceanic developmental migrations (Bolten et al., 1998; Peckham et 
al., 2007). Marcovaldi et al. (2010) identified the northeastern coast 
of Brazil as important foraging habitat for post-nesting females from 
Bahia, Brazil.

Mediterranean Sea

    Loggerhead sea turtles are widely distributed in the Mediterranean 
Sea. However, nesting is almost entirely confined to the eastern 
Mediterranean basin, with the main nesting concentrations in Cyprus, 
Greece, and Turkey (Margaritoulis et al., 2003; Casale and 
Margaritoulis, 2010). Preliminary surveys in Libya suggested nesting 
activity comparable to Greece and Turkey, although a better 
quantification is needed (Laurent et al., 1999). Minimal to moderate 
nesting also occurs in other countries throughout the Mediterranean 
including Egypt, Israel, Italy (southern coasts and islands), Lebanon, 
Syria, and Tunisia (Margaritoulis et al., 2003). Recently, isolated 
nesting events have been recorded in the western Mediterranean basin, 
namely in Spain, Corsica (France), and in the Tyrrhenian Sea (Italy) 
(Tom[aacute]s et al., 2002; Delaugerre and Cesarini, 2004; Bentivegna 
et al., 2005).
    Important neritic habitats have been suggested for the large 
continental shelves of: (1) Tunisia-Libya, (2) northern Adriatic Sea, 
(3) Egypt, and (4) Spain (Margaritoulis, 1988; Argano et al., 1992; 
Laurent and Lescure, 1994; Lazar et al., 2000; Gomez de Segura et al., 
2006; Broderick et al., 2007; Casale et al., 2007a; Nada and Casale, 
2008). At least the first three constitute shallow benthic habitats for 
adults (including post-nesting females). Some other neritic foraging 
areas include Amvrakikos Bay in western Greece, Lakonikos Bay in 
southern Greece, and southern Turkey. Oceanic foraging areas for small 
juvenile loggerheads have been identified in the south Adriatic Sea 
(Casale et al., 2005a), Ionian Sea (Deflorio et al., 2005), Sicily 
Strait (Casale et al., 2007a), and western Mediterranean (Spain) (e.g., 
Cami[ntilde]as et al., 2006). In addition, tagged juvenile loggerheads 
have been recorded crossing the Mediterranean from the eastern to the 
western basin and vice versa, as well as in the Eastern Atlantic 
(Argano et al., 1992; Casale et al., 2007a).
    Reproductive migrations have been confirmed by flipper tagging and 
satellite telemetry. Female loggerheads, after nesting in Greece, 
migrate primarily to the Gulf of Gab[egrave]s and the northern Adriatic 
(Margaritoulis, 1988; Margaritoulis et al., 2003; Lazar et al., 2004; 
Zbinden et al., 2008). Loggerheads nesting in Cyprus migrate to Egypt 
and Libya, exhibiting fidelity in following the same migration route 
during subsequent nesting seasons (Broderick et al., 2007). In 
addition, directed movements of juvenile loggerheads have been 
confirmed through flipper tagging (Argano et al., 1992; Casale et al., 
2007a) and satellite tracking (Rees and Margaritoulis, 2009).

Overview of Information Used To Identify DPSs

    In the Status Review, the BRT considered a vast array of 
information to assess whether there were any loggerhead population 
segments that satisfy the DPS criteria of both discreteness and 
significance. First, the BRT examined whether there were any loggerhead 
population segments that were discrete. Data relevant to the 
discreteness question included physical, ecological, behavioral, and 
genetic data. Given the physical separation of ocean basins by 
continents, the BRT evaluated these data by ocean basin (Pacific Ocean, 
Indian Ocean, and Atlantic Ocean). This was not to preclude any larger 
or smaller DPS delineation, but to aid in data organization and 
assessment. The BRT then evaluated genetic information by ocean basin. 
The genetic data consisted of results from studies using maternally 
inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and biparentally inherited nuclear 
DNA microsatellite markers. Next, tagging data (both flipper and 
Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags) and telemetry data were 
reviewed. Additional information, such as potential differences in 
morphology, was also evaluated. Finally, the BRT considered whether the 
available information on loggerhead population segments was bounded by 
any oceanographic features (e.g., current systems) or geographic 
features (e.g., land masses).
    In accordance with the DPS policy, the BRT also reviewed whether 
the population segments identified in the discreteness analysis were 
significant. If a population segment is considered discrete, its 
biological and ecological significance relative to the species or 
subspecies must then be considered. NMFS and USFWS must consider 
available scientific evidence of the discrete segment's importance to 
the taxon to which it belongs. Data relevant to the significance 
question include morphological, ecological, behavioral, and genetic 
data, as described above. The BRT considered the following factors, 
listed in the DPS policy, in determining whether the discrete 
population segments were significant: (a) Persistence of the discrete 
segment in an ecological setting unusual or unique for the taxon; (b) 
evidence that loss of the discrete segment would result in a 
significant gap in the range of the taxon; (c) evidence that the 
discrete segment represents the only surviving natural occurrence of a 
taxon that may be more abundant elsewhere as an introduced population 
outside its historical range; and (d) evidence that the discrete 
segment differs markedly from other populations of the species in its 
genetic characteristics. A discrete population segment needs to satisfy 
only one of

[[Page 58872]]

these criteria to be considered significant. As described below, the 
BRT evaluated the available information and considered items (a), (b), 
and (d), as noted above, to be most applicable to loggerheads.

Discreteness Determination

    As described in the Status Review, the loggerhead sea turtle is 
present in all tropical and temperate ocean basins, and has a life 
history that involves nesting on coastal beaches and foraging in 
neritic and oceanic habitats, as well as long-distance migrations 
between and within these areas. As with other globally distributed 
marine species, today's global loggerhead distribution has been shaped 
by a sequence of isolation events created by tectonic and oceanographic 
shifts over geologic time scales, the result of which is population 
substructuring in many areas (Bowen et al., 1994; Bowen, 2003). 
Globally, loggerhead sea turtles comprise a mosaic of populations, each 
with unique nesting sites and in many cases possessing disparate 
demographic features (e.g., mean body size, age at first reproduction) 
(Dodd, 1988). However, despite these differences, loggerheads from 
different nesting populations often mix in common foraging areas during 
certain life stages (Bolten and Witherington, 2003; Bowen and Karl, 
2007), thus creating unique challenges when attempting to delineate 
distinct population segments for management or listing purposes.
    Bowen et al. (1994) examined the mtDNA sequence diversity of 
loggerheads across their global distribution and found a separation of 
loggerheads in the Atlantic-Mediterranean basins from those in the 
Indo-Pacific basins since the Pleistocene period. The divergence 
between these two primary lineages corresponds to approximately three 
million years (2 percent divergence per million years; Dutton et al., 
1996; Encalada et al., 1996). Geography and climate appear to have 
shaped the evolution of these two matriarchal lineages with the onset 
of glacial cycles, the appearance of the Panama Isthmus creating a land 
barrier between the Atlantic and eastern Pacific, and upwelling of cold 
water off southern Africa creating an oceanographic barrier between the 
Atlantic and Indian Oceans (Bowen, 2003). Recent warm temperatures 
during interglacial periods allowed bi-directional invasion by the 
temperate-adapted loggerheads into the respective basins (Bowen et al., 
1994; J.S. Reece, Washington University, personal communication, 2008). 
Today, it appears that loggerheads within a basin are effectively 
isolated from populations in the other basin, but some dispersal from 
the Tongaland rookery in the Indian Ocean into feeding and 
developmental habitat in the South Atlantic is possible via the Agulhas 
Current (G.R. Hughes, unpublished data, cited in Bowen et al., 1994). 
In the Pacific, extensive mtDNA studies show that the northern 
loggerhead populations are isolated from the southern Pacific 
populations, and that juvenile loggerheads from these distinct genetic 
populations do not disperse across the equator (Bowen et al., 1994, 
1995; Hatase et al., 2002a; Dutton, 2007, unpublished data; Boyle et 
al., 2009).
    Mitochondrial DNA data indicate that regional turtle rookeries 
within an ocean basin have been strongly isolated from one another over 
ecological timescales (Bowen et al., 1994; Bowen and Karl, 2007). These 
same data indicate strong female natal homing and suggest that each 
regional nesting population is an independent demographic unit (Bowen 
et al., 2004, 2005; Bowen and Karl, 2007). It is difficult to determine 
the precise boundaries of these demographically independent populations 
in regions, such as the eastern U.S. coast, where rookeries are close 
to each other and range along large areas of a continental coastline. 
There appear to be varying levels of connectivity between proximate 
rookeries facilitated by imprecise natal homing and male mediated gene 
flow (Pearce, 2001; Bowen, 2003; Bowen et al., 2005). Regional genetic 
populations often are characterized by allelic frequency differences 
rather than fixed genetic differences (Bowen and Karl, 2007).
    Through the evaluation of genetic data, tagging data, telemetry, 
and demography, the BRT determined that there are at least nine 
discrete population segments of loggerhead sea turtles globally. These 
discrete population segments are markedly separated from each other as 
a consequence of physical, ecological, behavioral, and oceanographic 
factors and, given the genetic evidence, the BRT concluded that each 
regional population identified is discrete from other populations of 
loggerheads. Information considered by the BRT in its delineation of 
discrete population segments is presented below by ocean basin.

Pacific Ocean

    In the North Pacific Ocean, the primary loggerhead nesting areas 
are found along the southern Japanese coastline and Ryukyu Archipelago 
(Kamezaki et al., 2003), although low level nesting may occur outside 
Japan in areas surrounding the South China Sea (Chan et al., 2007). 
Loggerhead sea turtles hatching on Japanese beaches undertake extensive 
developmental migrations using the Kuroshio and North Pacific Currents 
(Balazs, 2006; Kobayashi et al., 2008), and some turtles reach the 
vicinity of Baja California in the eastern Pacific (Uchida and Teruya, 
1988; Bowen et al., 1995; Peckham et al., 2007). After spending years 
foraging in the central and eastern Pacific, loggerheads return to 
their natal beaches for reproduction (Resendiz et al., 1998; Nichols et 
al., 2000) and remain in the western Pacific for the remainder of their 
life cycle (Iwamoto et al., 1985; Kamezaki et al., 1997; Sakamoto et 
al., 1997; Hatase et al., 2002c).
    Despite these long-distance developmental movements of juvenile 
loggerheads in the North Pacific, current scientific evidence, based on 
genetic analysis, flipper tag recoveries, and satellite telemetry, 
indicates that individuals originating from Japan remain in the North 
Pacific for their entire life cycle, never crossing the equator or 
mixing with individuals from the South Pacific (Bowen et al., 1995; 
Hatase et al., 2002a; LeRoux and Dutton, 2006; Dutton, 2007, 
unpublished data; Boyle et al., 2009). This apparent, almost complete 
separation of two adjacent populations most likely results from: (1) 
The presence of two distinct Northern and Southern Gyre (current flow) 
systems in the Pacific (Briggs, 1974), (2) near-passive movements of 
post-hatchlings in these gyres that initially move them farther away 
from areas of potential mixing among the two populations along the 
equator, and (3) the nest-site fidelity of adult turtles that prevents 
turtles from returning to non-natal nesting areas.
    Pacific loggerheads are further partitioned evolutionarily from 
other loggerheads throughout the world based on additional analyses of 
mtDNA. The haplotypes (a haplotype refers to the genetic signature, 
coded in mtDNA, of an individual) from both North and South Pacific 
loggerheads are distinguished by a minimum genetic distance (d) equal 
to 0.017 from other conspecifics, which indicates isolation of 
approximately one million years (Bowen, 2003).
    Within the Pacific, Bowen et al. (1995) used mtDNA to identify two 
genetically distinct nesting populations in the Pacific--a northern 
hemisphere population nesting in Japan and a southern hemisphere 
population nesting primarily in Australia. This study also suggested 
that some loggerheads sampled as bycatch in the North Pacific

[[Page 58873]]

might be from the Australian nesting population (Bowen et al., 1995). 
However, more extensive mtDNA data from rookeries in Japan (Hatase et 
al., 2002a) taken together with preliminary results from microsatellite 
(nuclear) analysis confirms that loggerheads inhabiting the North 
Pacific actually originate from nesting beaches in Japan (Watanabe et 
al., 2011; P. Dutton, NMFS, unpublished data).
    Although these studies indicate genetic distinctness between 
loggerheads nesting in Japan versus those nesting in Australia, Bowen 
et al. (1995) did identify individuals with the common Australian 
haplotype at foraging areas in the North Pacific, based on a few 
individuals sampled as bycatch in the North Pacific. Bowen et al. 
(1995) indicated that this finding could be an artifact of sampling 
variance or that the Australian haplotype exists at low frequency in 
Japanese nesting aggregates but escaped detection in their study. More 
recently, Hatase et al. (2002a) and Watanabe et al. (2011) detected 
this common Australian haplotype at very low frequency at Japanese 
nesting beaches. However, the presence of the common Australian 
haplotype does not preclude the genetic distinctiveness of Japanese and 
Australian nesting populations, and is likely the result of rare gene 
flow events occurring over geologic time scales. Watanabe et al. (2011) 
found sub-structuring among the Japanese nesting sites based on mtDNA 
results, but homogeneity of nuclear DNA variation among the same 
Japanese nesting sites, indicating connectivity through male-mediated 
gene flow. These results taken together are consistent with the 
previous evidence supporting the genetic distinctiveness of the 
northern (Japanese) stocks from the southern Pacific nesting stocks.
    The discrete status of loggerheads in the North Pacific is further 
supported by results from flipper tagging in the North Pacific. Flipper 
tagging of loggerheads has been widespread throughout this region, 
occurring on adults nesting in Japan and bycaught in the coastal pound 
net fishery (Y. Matsuzawa, Sea Turtle Association of Japan, personal 
communication, 2006), juvenile turtles reared and released in Japan 
(Uchida and Teruya, 1988; Hatase et al., 2002a), juvenile turtles 
foraging near Baja California, Mexico (Nichols, 2003; Seminoff et al., 
2004), and juvenile and adult loggerheads captured in and tagged from 
commercial fisheries platforms in the North Pacific high seas (NMFS, 
unpublished data). To date, there have been at least three trans-
Pacific tag recoveries showing east-west and west-east movements 
(Uchida and Teruya, 1988; Resendiz et al., 1998; W.J. Nichols, 
California Academy of Sciences, and H. Peckham, Pro Peninsula, 
unpublished data) and several recoveries of adults in the western 
Pacific (Iwamoto et al., 1985; Kamezaki et al., 1997). Tag returns show 
post-nesting females migrating into the East China Sea off South Korea, 
China, and the Philippines, and the nearby coastal waters of Japan 
(Iwamoto et al., 1985; Kamezaki et al., 1997, 2003). However, despite 
the more than 30,000 marked individuals, not a single tag recovery has 
been reported outside the North Pacific.
    A lack of movements by loggerheads south across the equator has 
also been supported by extensive satellite telemetry. As with flipper 
tagging, satellite telemetry has been conducted widely in the North 
Pacific, with satellite transmitters being placed on adult turtles 
departing nesting beaches (Sakamoto et al., 1997; Japan Fisheries 
Resource Conservation Association, 1999; Hatase et al., 2002b, 2002c), 
on adult and juvenile turtles bycaught in pound nets off the coast of 
Japan (Sea Turtle Association of Japan, unpublished data), on captive-
reared juvenile turtles released in Japan (Balazs, 2006), on juvenile 
and adult turtles bycaught in the eastern and central North Pacific 
(e.g., Kobayashi et al., 2008; Peckham, 2008), and on juvenile turtles 
foraging in the eastern Pacific (Nichols et al., 2000; Nichols, 2003; 
Peckham et al., 2007; Peckham, 2008; J. Seminoff, NMFS, unpublished 
data). Aerial surveys and satellite telemetry studies, which have 
documented juvenile foraging areas in the eastern Pacific, near Baja 
California, Mexico (Nichols, 2003; Seminoff et al., 2006; Peckham et 
al., 2007; H. Peckham, Pro Peninsula, unpublished data) and Peru 
(Mangel et al., in press), similarly showed a complete lack of long 
distance north or south movements. Of the nearly 200 loggerheads 
tracked using satellite telemetry in the North Pacific, none have moved 
south of the equator.
    Studies have demonstrated the strong association loggerheads show 
with oceanographic mesoscale features such as the Kuroshio Current 
Bifurcation Region and the Transition Zone Chlorophyll Front (Polovina 
et al., 2000, 2001, 2004, 2006; Etnoyer et al., 2006; Kobayashi et al., 
2008). The Kuroshio Extension Current, lying west of the international 
date line, serves as the dominant physical and biological habitat in 
the North Pacific and is highly productive, likely due to unique 
features such as eddies and meanders that concentrate prey and support 
food webs. Juvenile loggerheads originating from nesting beaches in 
Japan exhibit high site fidelity to this area referred to as the 
Kuroshio Extension Bifurcation Region (Polovina et al., 2006). Juvenile 
turtles also were found to correlate strongly with the Transition Zone 
Chlorophyll Front, an area of surface chlorophyll a levels that also 
concentrates surface prey for loggerheads (Polovina et al., 2001; 
Parker et al., 2005; Kobayashi et al., 2008). Kobayashi et al. (2008) 
demonstrated that loggerheads strongly track these zones even as they 
shift in location, suggesting that strong habitat specificity during 
the oceanic stage also contributes to the lack of mixing. In summary, 
loggerheads inhabiting the North Pacific Ocean are derived primarily, 
if not entirely, from Japanese beaches, with the possible exception of 
rare waifs over evolutionary time scales. Further, nesting colonies of 
Japanese loggerheads are found to be genetically distinct based on 
mtDNA analyses, and when compared to much larger and more genetically 
diverse loggerhead populations in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, 
Pacific loggerheads have likely experienced critical bottlenecks (in 
Hatase et al., 2002a). This is the only known population of loggerheads 
to be found north of the equator in the Pacific Ocean, foraging in the 
eastern Pacific as far south as Baja California Sur, Mexico (Seminoff 
et al., 2004; Peckham et al., 2007) and in the western Pacific as far 
south as the Philippines (Limpus, 2009) and the mouth of Mekong River, 
Vietnam (Sadoyama et al., 1996; Hamann et al., 2006).
    In the South Pacific Ocean, loggerhead sea turtles nest primarily 
in Queensland, Australia, and, to a lesser extent, New Caledonia and 
Vanuatu (Limpus and Limpus, 2003a; Limpus et al., 2006; Limpus, 2009). 
Loggerheads from these rookeries undertake an oceanic developmental 
migration, traveling to habitats in the central and southeastern 
Pacific Ocean where they may reside for several years prior to 
returning to the western Pacific for reproduction. Loggerheads in this 
early life history stage differ markedly from those originating from 
Western Australia beaches in that they undertake long west-to-east 
migrations, likely using specific areas of the pelagic environment of 
the South Pacific Ocean. An unknown portion of these loggerheads forage 
off Chile and Peru, and genetic information from foraging areas in the 
southeastern Pacific confirms that the haplotype frequencies among 
juvenile turtles in these areas closely match those found at nesting

[[Page 58874]]

beaches in eastern Australia (Alfaro-Shigueto et al., 2004; Donoso and 
Dutton, 2006, 2007; Boyle et al., 2009). Large juvenile and adult 
loggerheads generally remain in the western South Pacific, inhabiting 
neritic and oceanic foraging sites during non-nesting periods (Limpus 
et al., 1994; Limpus, 2009).
    Loggerheads from Australia and New Caledonia apparently do not 
travel north of the equator. Flipper tag recoveries from nesting 
females have been found throughout the western Pacific, including the 
southern Great Barrier Reef and Moreton Bay off the coast of 
Queensland, Australia, Indonesia (Irian Jaya), Papua New Guinea, 
Solomon Islands, the Torres Strait, and the Gulf of Carpentaria 
(Limpus, 2009). Of approximately 1,000 (adult and juvenile; male and 
female) loggerheads that have been tagged in eastern Australian feeding 
areas over approximately 25 years, only two have been recorded nesting 
outside of Australia; both traveled to New Caledonia (Limpus and 
Limpus, 2003b; Limpus, 2009). Flipper tagging programs in Peru and 
Chile tagged approximately 500 loggerheads from 1999 to 2006, none of 
which have been reported from outside of the southeastern Pacific 
(Alfaro-Shigueto et al., 2008a; S. Kelez, Duke University Marine 
Laboratory, unpublished data; M. Donoso, ONG Pacifico Laud--Chile, 
unpublished data). Limited satellite telemetry data from 12 turtles in 
the southeastern Pacific area show a similar trend (Mangel et al., in 
press).
    The spatial separation between the North Pacific and South Pacific 
loggerhead populations has contributed to substantial differences in 
the genetic profiles of the nesting populations in these two regions. 
Whereas the dominant mtDNA haplotypes among loggerheads nesting in 
Japan are CCP2 and CCP3 (equivalent to B and C respectively in Bowen et 
al., 1995 and Hatase et al., 2002a; LeRoux et al., 2008; P. Dutton, 
NMFS, unpublished data), loggerheads nesting in eastern Australia have 
a third haplotype (CCP1, previously A) which is dominant (98 percent of 
nesting females) (Bowen et al., 1994; FitzSimmons et al., 1996; Boyle 
et al., 2009). Further, preliminary genetic analysis using 
microsatellite markers (nuclear DNA) indicates genetic distinctiveness 
between nesting populations in the North versus South Pacific (P. 
Dutton, NMFS, personal communication, 2008).
    The separateness between nesting populations in eastern Australia 
(in the South Pacific Ocean) and western Australia (in the East Indian 
Ocean) is less clear, although these too are considered to be 
genetically distinct from one another (Limpus, 2009). For example, 
mtDNA haplotype CCP1, which is the overwhelmingly dominant haplotype 
among eastern Australia nesting females (98 percent), is also found in 
western Australia, although at much lower frequency (33 percent) 
(FitzSimmons et al., 1996, 2003). The remaining haplotype for both 
regions was the CCP5 haplotype. Further, FitzSimmons (University of 
Canberra, unpublished data) found significant differences in nuclear 
DNA microsatellite loci from females nesting in these two regions. 
Estimates of gene flow between eastern and western Australian 
populations were an order of magnitude less than gene flow within 
regions. These preliminary results based on nuclear DNA indicate that 
male-mediated gene flow between eastern and western Australia may be 
insignificant, which, when considered in light of the substantial 
disparity in mtDNA haplotype frequencies between these two regions, 
provides further evidence of population separation. It is also 
important to note that there is no nesting by loggerheads recorded by 
either scientists or indigenous peoples for the thousands of kilometers 
of sandy beaches between the rookeries of Queensland and Western 
Australia (Chatto and Baker, 2008).
    At present, there is no indication from genetic studies that the 
loggerhead sea turtles nesting in eastern Australia are distinct from 
those nesting in New Caledonia. Of 27 turtles sequenced from New 
Caledonia, 93 percent carried the CCP1 haplotype and the remaining had 
the CCP5 haplotype; similar to eastern Australia (Boyle et al., 2009).
    The South Pacific population of loggerheads occupies an ecological 
setting distinct from other loggerheads, including the North Pacific 
population; however, less is known about the ecosystem on which South 
Pacific oceanic juvenile and adult loggerheads depend. Sea surface 
temperature and chlorophyll frontal zones in the South Pacific have 
been shown to dramatically affect the movements of green turtles, 
Chelonia mydas (Seminoff et al., 2008) and leatherback turtles, 
Dermochelys coriacea (Shillinger et al., 2008), and it is likely that 
loggerhead distributions are also affected by these mesoscale 
oceanographic features. However, unlike the North Pacific, there are no 
records of oceanic aggregations of loggerhead sea turtles.
    Loggerheads in the South Pacific are substantially impacted by 
periodic environmental perturbations such as the El Ni[ntilde]o 
Southern Oscillation (ENSO). This 3- to 6-year cycle within the coupled 
ocean-atmosphere system of the tropical Pacific brings increased 
surface water temperatures and lower primary productivity, both of 
which have profound biological consequences (Chavez et al., 1999; Saba 
et al., 2008). Loggerheads are presumably adversely impacted by the 
reduced food availability that often results from ENSO events, although 
data on this subject are lacking. Although ENSO may last for only short 
periods and thus not have a long-term effect on loggerheads in the 
region, recent studies by Chaloupka et al. (2008) suggested that long-
term increases in sea surface temperature within the South Pacific may 
influence the ability of the Australian nesting population to recover 
from historical population declines.
    Loggerheads originating from nesting beaches in the western South 
Pacific are the only population of loggerheads to be found south of the 
equator in the Pacific Ocean. As post-hatchlings, they are generally 
swept south by the East Australian Current (Limpus et al., 1994), spend 
a large portion of time foraging in the oceanic South Pacific Ocean, 
and some migrate to the southeastern Pacific Ocean off the coasts of 
Peru and Chile as juvenile turtles (Donoso et al., 2000; Alfaro-
Shigueto et al., 2004, 2008a; Boyle et al., 2009). As large juveniles 
and adults, the foraging range of these loggerheads encompasses the 
eastern Arafura Sea, Gulf of Carpentaria, Torres Strait, Gulf of Papua, 
Coral Sea, and throughout the eastern coastline of Australia from north 
Queensland south to southern New South Wales, including the Great 
Barrier Reef, Hervey Bay, and Moreton Bay. The outer extent of this 
range includes the coastal waters off eastern Indonesia, northeastern 
Papua New Guinea, northeastern Solomon Islands, and New Caledonia 
(Limpus, 2009).
    In summary, all loggerheads inhabiting the South Pacific Ocean are 
derived from beaches in eastern Australia and a lesser known number of 
beaches in southern New Caledonia, Vanuatu, and Tokelau (Limpus and 
Limpus, 2003a; Limpus, 2009). Furthermore, nesting colonies of the 
South Pacific population of loggerheads are found to be genetically 
distinct from loggerheads in the North Pacific and Indian Ocean.
    Given the information presented above, the BRT concluded, and we 
concur, that two discrete population segments exist in the Pacific 
Ocean: (1) North Pacific Ocean and (2) South Pacific Ocean. These two 
population segments are markedly separated from each other and from 
population

[[Page 58875]]

segments within the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean basins as a 
consequence of physical, ecological, behavioral, and oceanographic 
factors. Information supporting this conclusion includes genetic 
analysis, flipper tag recoveries, and satellite telemetry, which 
indicate that individuals originating from Japan remain in the North 
Pacific for their entire life cycle, likely never crossing the equator 
or mixing with individuals from the South Pacific (Bowen et al., 1995; 
Hatase et al., 2002a; LeRoux and Dutton, 2006; Dutton, 2007, 
unpublished data; Boyle et al., 2009). This apparent, almost complete 
separation most likely results from: (1) The presence of two distinct 
Northern and Southern Gyre (current flow) systems in the Pacific 
(Briggs, 1974), (2) near-passive movements of post-hatchlings in these 
gyres that initially move them farther away from areas of potential 
mixing along the equator, and (3) the nest-site fidelity of adult 
turtles that prevents turtles from returning to non-natal nesting 
areas. The separation of the Pacific Ocean population segments from 
population segments within the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean basins 
is believed to be the result of land barriers and oceanographic 
barriers. Based on mtDNA analysis, Bowen et al. (1994) found a 
separation of loggerheads in the Atlantic-Mediterranean basins from 
those in the Indo-Pacific basins since the Pleistocene period. 
Geography and climate appear to have shaped the evolution of these two 
matriarchal lineages with the onset of glacial cycles, the appearance 
of the Panama Isthmus creating a land barrier between the Atlantic and 
eastern Pacific, and upwelling of cold water off southern Africa 
creating an oceanographic barrier between the Atlantic and Indian 
Oceans (Bowen, 2003).

Indian Ocean

    Similar to loggerheads in the Pacific and Atlantic, loggerheads in 
the Indian Ocean nest on coastal beaches, forage in neritic and oceanic 
habitats, and undertake long-distance migrations between and within 
these areas. The distribution of loggerheads in the Indian Ocean is 
limited by the Asian landmass to the north (approximately 30[deg] N. 
lat.); distributions east and west are not restricted by landmasses 
south of approximately 38[deg] S. latitude.
    In the North Indian Ocean, Oman hosts the vast majority of 
loggerhead nesting. The largest nesting assemblage is at Masirah 
Island, Oman, in the northern tropics at 21[deg] N. lat. (Baldwin et 
al., 2003). Other key nesting assemblages occur on the Al Halaniyat 
Islands, Oman (17[deg] S. lat.) and on Oman's Persian Gulf mainland 
beaches south of Masirah Island to the Oman-Yemen border (17-20[deg] S. 
lat.) (IUCN--The World Conservation Union, 1989a, 1989b; Salm, 1991; 
Salm and Salm, 1991; Baldwin et al., 2003). In addition, nesting 
probably occurs on the mainland of Yemen on the Arabian Sea coast, and 
nesting has been confirmed on Socotra, an island off the coast of Yemen 
(Pilcher and Saad, 2000).
    Outside of Oman, loggerhead nesting is rare in the North Indian 
Ocean. The only verified nesting beaches for loggerheads on the Indian 
subcontinent are found in Sri Lanka (Deraniyagala, 1939; Kar and 
Bhaskar, 1982; Dodd, 1988; Kapurusinghe, 2006). Reports of regular 
loggerhead nesting on the Indian mainland are likely misidentifications 
of olive ridleys (Lepidochelys olivacea) (Tripathy, 2005; Kapurusinghe, 
2006). Although loggerheads have been reported nesting in low numbers 
in Myanmar, these data may not be reliable because of misidentification 
of species (Thorbjarnarson et al., 2000).
    Limited information exists on foraging locations of North Indian 
Ocean loggerheads. Foraging individuals have been reported off the 
southern coastline of Oman (Salm et al., 1993) and in the Gulf of 
Mannar, between Sri Lanka and India (Tripathy, 2005; Kapurusinghe, 
2006). Satellite telemetry studies of post-nesting migrations of 
loggerheads nesting on Masirah Island, Oman, have revealed extensive 
use of the waters off the Arabian Peninsula, with the majority of 
telemetered turtles (15 of 20) traveling southwest, following the 
shoreline of southern Oman and Yemen, and circling well offshore in 
nearby oceanic waters (Environment Society of Oman and Ministry of 
Environment and Climate Change, Oman, unpublished data). A minority 
traveled north as far as the western Persian Gulf (3 of 20) or followed 
the shoreline of southern Oman and Yemen as far west as the Gulf of 
Aden and the Bab-el-Mandab (2 of 20). These preliminary data from Oman 
suggest that post-nesting migrations and adult female foraging areas 
are restricted to the Northwest Indian Ocean (Environment Society of 
Oman and Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Oman, unpublished 
data). No tag returns or satellite tracks indicated that loggerheads 
nesting in Oman traveled south of the equator.
    In the East Indian Ocean, Western Australia hosts all known 
loggerhead nesting (Dodd, 1988). Nesting distributions in Western 
Australia span from the Shark Bay World Heritage Area northward through 
the Ningaloo Marine Park coast to the North West Cape and to the nearby 
Muiron Islands (Baldwin et al., 2003). Nesting individuals from Dirk 
Hartog Island have been recorded foraging within Shark Bay and Exmouth 
Gulf, while other adults range into the Gulf of Carpentaria (Baldwin et 
al., 2003) as far east as Torres Strait. At the eastern extent of this 
apparent range, there is likely overlap with loggerheads that nest on 
Australia's Pacific coast (Limpus, 2009). However, despite extensive 
tagging and beach monitoring at principal nesting beaches on 
Australia's Indian Ocean and Pacific coasts, no exchange of females 
between nesting beaches has been observed (Limpus, 2009).
    Loggerhead nesting in the Southwest Indian Ocean includes the 
southeastern coast of Africa from the Paradise Islands in Mozambique 
southward to St. Lucia in South Africa, and on the south and 
southwestern coasts of Madagascar (Baldwin et al., 2003). Foraging 
habitats are only known for the Tongaland, South Africa, adult female 
loggerheads. Returns of flipper tags describe a range that extends 
eastward to Madagascar, northward to Mozambique, Tanzania, and Kenya, 
and southward to Cape Agulhas at the southernmost point of Africa 
(Baldwin et al., 2003). Four post-nesting loggerheads satellite tracked 
by Luschi et al. (2006) migrated northward, hugging the Mozambique 
coast and remained in shallow shelf waters off Mozambique for more than 
2 months. Only one post-nesting female from the Southwest Indian Ocean 
population (South Africa) has been documented migrating north of the 
equator (to southern Somalia) (Hughes and Bartholomew, 1996).
    The available genetic information relates to connectivity and broad 
evolutionary relationships between ocean basins. There is a lack of 
genetic information on population structure among rookeries within the 
Indian Ocean. Bowen et al. (1994) described mtDNA sequence diversity 
among eight loggerhead nesting assemblages and found one of two 
principal branches in the Indo-Pacific basins. Using additional 
published and unpublished data, Bowen (2003) estimated divergence 
between these two lineages to be approximately three million years. 
Bowen pointed out evidence for more recent colonizations (12,000-
250,000 years ago) between the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic-
Mediterranean. For example, the sole mtDNA haplotype (among eight 
samples) identified by Bowen et al. (1994) at Masirah Island, Oman, is 
known from the Atlantic and suggests some exchange between oceans some 
250,000 years ago. The other principal Indian Ocean haplotype reported 
by

[[Page 58876]]

Bowen et al. (1994) was seen in all loggerheads sampled (n = 15) from 
Natal, South Africa. Encalada et al. (1998) reported that this 
haplotype was common throughout the North Atlantic and Mediterranean, 
thus suggesting a similar exchange between the Atlantic and Indian 
Oceans as recently as 12,000 years ago (Bowen et al., 1994). Bowen 
(2003) speculated that Indian-Atlantic Ocean exchanges took place via 
the temperate waters south of South Africa and became rare as the ocean 
shifted to cold temperate conditions in this region.
    To estimate loggerhead gene flow in and out of the Indian Ocean, 
J.S. Reece (Washington University, personal communication, 2008) 
examined 100 samples from Masirah Island, 249 from Atlantic rookeries 
(from Encalada et al., 1998), and 311 from Pacific rookeries (from 
Bowen et al., 1995 and Hatase et al., 2002a). Reece estimated that gene 
flow, expressed as number of effective migrants, or exchanges of 
breeding females between Indian Ocean rookeries and those from the 
Atlantic or Pacific occurred at the rate of less than 0.1 migrant per 
generation. Reece estimated gene flow based on coalescence of combined 
mtDNA and nuclear DNA data to be approximately 0.5 migrants per 
generation. These unpublished results, while somewhat theoretical, may 
indicate that there is restricted gene flow into and out of the Indian 
Ocean. The low level of gene flow most likely reflects the historical 
connectivity over geological timescales rather than any contemporary 
migration, and is consistent with Bowen et al.'s (1994) hypothesis that 
exchange occurred most recently over 12,000-3,000,000 years ago during 
the Pleistocene, and has been restricted over recent ecological 
timescales.
    The discrete status of three loggerhead populations in the Indian 
Ocean is primarily supported by observations of tag returns and 
satellite telemetry. The genetic information currently available based 
on mtDNA sequences does not allow for a comprehensive analysis of 
genetic population structure analysis for Indian Ocean rookeries, 
although Bowen et al. (1994) indicated the Oman and South African 
rookeries are genetically distinct, and, based on preliminary results, 
once sequencing studies are completed for these rookeries, it is likely 
that they will also be genetically distinct from the rookeries in 
Western Australia (P. Dutton, NMFS, unpublished data; N. FitzSimmons, 
University of Canberra, unpublished data; J. Reece, University of 
California at Santa Cruz, unpublished data). Based on multiple lines of 
evidence, discrete status is supported for the North Indian Ocean, 
Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean, and Southwest Indian Ocean loggerhead 
populations. Although there is not a sufficiently clear picture of gene 
flow between these regions, significant vicariant barriers likely exist 
between these three Indian Ocean populations that would prevent 
migration of individuals on a time scale relative to management and 
conservation efforts. These biogeographical barriers are the 
oceanographic phenomena associated with Indian Ocean equatorial waters, 
and the large expanse between continents in the South Indian Ocean 
without suitable benthic foraging habitat.
    Given the information presented above, the BRT concluded, and we 
concur, that three discrete population segments exist in the Indian 
Ocean: (1) North Indian Ocean, (2) Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean, and 
(3) Southwest Indian Ocean. These three population segments are 
markedly separated from each other and from population segments within 
the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean basins as a consequence of 
physical, ecological, behavioral, and oceanographic factors. 
Information supporting this conclusion is primarily based on 
observations of tag returns and satellite telemetry. The genetic 
information currently available based on mtDNA sequences does not allow 
for a comprehensive analysis of genetic population structure for Indian 
Ocean rookeries; however, the Oman and South African rookeries are 
genetically distinct (Bowen et al., 1994), and, based on preliminary 
results, once sequencing studies are completed for these rookeries, it 
is likely that they will also be determined genetically distinct from 
the rookeries in Western Australia (P. Dutton, NMFS, unpublished data; 
N. FitzSimmons, University of Canberra, unpublished data; J. Reece, 
University of California at Santa Cruz, unpublished data). Furthermore, 
significant biogeographical barriers (i.e., oceanographic phenomena 
associated with Indian Ocean equatorial waters, and the large expanse 
between continents in the South Indian Ocean without suitable benthic 
foraging habitat) likely exist between these three Indian Ocean 
populations that would prevent migration of individuals on a time scale 
relative to management and conservation efforts. The separation of the 
Indian Ocean population segments from population segments within the 
Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean basins is believed to be the result of 
land barriers and oceanographic barriers. Based on mtDNA analysis, 
Bowen et al. (1994) found a separation of loggerheads in the Atlantic-
Mediterranean basins from those in the Indo-Pacific basins since the 
Pleistocene period. Geography and climate appear to have shaped the 
evolution of these two matriarchal lineages with the onset of glacial 
cycles, the appearance of the Panama Isthmus creating a land barrier 
between the Atlantic and eastern Pacific, and upwelling of cold water 
off southern Africa creating an oceanographic barrier between the 
Atlantic and Indian Oceans (Bowen, 2003). In the East Indian Ocean, 
although there is possible overlap with loggerheads that nest on 
Australia's Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean coasts, extensive tagging at 
the principal nesting beaches on both coasts has revealed no exchange 
of females between these nesting beaches (Limpus, 2009).

Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea

    Within the Atlantic Ocean, loss and re-colonization of nesting 
beaches over evolutionary time scales has been influenced by climate, 
natal homing, and rare dispersal events (Encalada et al., 1998; Bowen 
and Karl, 2007). At times, temperate beaches were too cool to incubate 
eggs and embryonic development could have succeeded only on tropical 
beaches. Thus, the contemporary distribution of nesting is the product 
of colonization events from the tropical refugia during the last 12,000 
years. Apparently, turtles from the Northwest Atlantic colonized the 
Mediterranean and at least two matrilines were involved (Schroth et 
al., 1996); however, Mediterranean rookeries became isolated from the 
Atlantic populations in the last 10,000 years following the end of the 
Wisconsin glacial period (Encalada et al., 1998). A similar 
colonization event appears to have populated the Northeast Atlantic 
(Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2010).
    Nesting in the western South Atlantic occurs primarily along the 
mainland coast of Brazil from Sergipe south to Rio de Janeiro, with 
peak concentrations in northern Bahia, Esp[iacute]rito Santo, and 
northern Rio de Janeiro (Marcovaldi and Chaloupka, 2007). In the 
eastern South Atlantic, diffuse nesting may occur along the mainland 
coast of Africa (Fretey, 2001), with more than 200 loggerhead nests 
reported for Rio Longa beach in central Angola in 2005 (Brian, 2007). 
However, other researchers have been unable to confirm nesting by 
loggerheads in the last decade anywhere along the south Atlantic coast 
of Africa, including Angola (Fretey, 2001; Weir et al., 2007). There is 
the possibility that reports of nesting loggerheads from Angola and 
Namibia (M[aacute]rquez M., 1990;

[[Page 58877]]

Brian, 2007) may have arisen from misidentified olive ridley turtles 
(Brongersma, 1982; Fretey, 2001). At the current time, it is not 
possible to confirm that regular, if any, nesting of loggerheads occurs 
along the Atlantic coast of Africa, south of the equator.
    Genetic surveys of loggerheads have revealed that the Brazilian 
rookeries have a unique mtDNA haplotype (Encalada et al., 1998; Pearce, 
2001). The Brazilian mtDNA haplotype, relative to North Atlantic 
haplotypes, indicates isolation of South Atlantic loggerheads from 
North Atlantic loggerheads on a scale of 250,000-500,000 years ago, and 
microsatellite DNA results show divergence on the same time scale 
(Bowen, 2003). Brazil's unique haplotype has been found only in low 
numbers in foraging populations of juvenile loggerheads of the North 
Atlantic (Bass et al., 2004). Other lines of evidence support a deep 
division between loggerheads from the South Atlantic and from the North 
Atlantic, including: (1) A nesting season in Brazil that peaks in the 
austral summer around December-January (Marcovaldi and Laurent, 1996), 
as opposed to the April-September nesting season in the southeastern 
United States in the northern hemisphere (Witherington et al., 2009); 
and (2) no observations of tagged loggerheads moving across the equator 
in the Atlantic, except a single case of a captive-reared animal that 
was released as a juvenile from Esp[iacute]rito Santo and was 
recaptured 3 years later in the Azores (Bolten et al., 1990). Post-
nesting females from Esp[iacute]rito Santo, Brazil, moved either north 
or south along the coast, but remained between 10[deg] S. lat. and 
30[deg] S. lat. (Marcovaldi et al., 2000; Lemke et al., 2006), while 
post-nesting females from Bahia, Brazil, all moved north (Marcovaldi et 
al., 2010).
    Recaptures of tagged juvenile turtles and nesting females have 
shown movement of animals up and down the coast of South America 
(Almeida et al., 2000, 2007; Marcovaldi et al., 2000; Laporta and 
Lopez, 2003). Juvenile loggerheads, presumably of Brazilian origin, 
have also been captured on the high seas of the South Atlantic (Kotas 
et al., 2004; Pinedo and Polacheck, 2004) and off the coast of Atlantic 
Africa (Petersen, 2005; Petersen et al., 2007; Weir et al., 2007) 
suggesting that, like their North Pacific, South Pacific, and Northwest 
Atlantic counterparts, loggerheads of the South Atlantic may undertake 
transoceanic developmental migrations (Bowen et al., 1995; Bolten et 
al., 1998; Peckham et al., 2007; Boyle et al., 2009). Marcovaldi et al. 
(2010) equipped 10 loggerheads nesting in Brazil with satellite 
transmitters to study their internesting and postnesting movements. At 
the conclusion of their nesting season, all 10 turtles migrated to the 
northern coast of Brazil to individual foraging areas on the 
continental shelf. Females were also tracked during a second 
postnesting migration back to their foraging areas, showing a strong 
fidelity to foraging grounds.
    Within the Northwest Atlantic, the majority of nesting activity 
occurs from April through September, with a peak in June and July 
(Williams-Walls et al., 1983; Dodd, 1988; Weishampel et al., 2006). 
Nesting occurs within the Northwest Atlantic along the coasts of North 
America, Central America, northern South America, the Antilles, and The 
Bahamas, but is concentrated in the southeastern United States and on 
the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico (Sternberg, 1981; Ehrhart, 1989; 
Ehrhart et al., 2003; NMFS and USFWS, 2008). Five recovery units 
(management subunits of a listed species that are geographically or 
otherwise identifiable and essential to the recovery of the species) 
have been identified based on genetic differences and a combination of 
geographic distribution of nesting densities and geographic separation 
(NMFS and USFWS, 2008). These recovery units are: Northern Recovery 
Unit (Florida/Georgia border through southern Virginia), Peninsular 
Florida Recovery Unit (Florida/Georgia border through Pinellas County, 
Florida), Dry Tortugas Recovery Unit (islands located west of Key West, 
Florida), Northern Gulf of Mexico Recovery Unit (Franklin County, 
Florida, through Texas), and Greater Caribbean Recovery Unit (Mexico 
through French Guiana, The Bahamas, Lesser Antilles, and Greater 
Antilles) (NMFS and USFWS, 2008).
    Loggerheads in the Northwest Atlantic have a complex population 
genetic structure. Based on mtDNA evidence, oceanic juveniles show no 
structure, neritic juveniles show moderate structure, and nesting 
colonies show strong structure (Bowen et al., 2005). In contrast, a 
study using microsatellite (nuclear DNA) markers showed no significant 
population structure among nesting populations (Bowen et al., 2005), 
indicating that while females exhibit strong philopatry, males may 
provide an avenue of gene flow between nesting colonies in this region. 
Nevertheless, Bowen et al. (2005) argued that male-mediated gene flow 
within the Northwest Atlantic does not detract from the classification 
of breeding areas as independent populations (e.g., management/recovery 
units) because the production of progeny depends on female nesting 
success. All Northwest Atlantic recovery units are reproductively 
isolated from populations within the Northeast Atlantic, South 
Atlantic, and Mediterranean Sea.
    As oceanic juveniles, loggerheads from the Northwest Atlantic use 
the North Atlantic Gyre and often are associated with Sargassum 
communities (Carr, 1987). They also are found in the Mediterranean Sea. 
In these areas, they overlap with animals originating from the 
Northeast Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea (Laurent et al., 1993, 
1998; Bolten et al., 1998; Bowen et al., 2005; LaCasella et al., 2005; 
Carreras et al., 2006; Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2006; 
Revelles et al., 2007). In the western Mediterranean, they tend to be 
associated with the waters off the northern African coast and the 
northeastern Balearic Archipelago, areas generally not inhabited by 
turtles of Mediterranean origin (Carreras et al., 2006; Revelles et 
al., 2007; Eckert et al., 2008). As larger neritic juveniles, they show 
more structure and tend to inhabit areas closer to their natal origins 
(Bowen et al., 2004), but some do move to and from oceanic foraging 
grounds throughout this life stage (McClellan and Read, 2007; Mansfield 
et al., 2009; McClellan et al., 2010), and some continue to use the 
Mediterranean Sea (Casale et al., 2008a; Eckert et al., 2008).
    Adult populations are highly structured with no overlap in 
distribution among adult loggerheads from the Northwest Atlantic, 
Northeast Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Mediterranean. Carapace 
epibionts suggest the adult females of different subpopulations use 
different foraging habitats (Caine, 1986). In the Northwest Atlantic, 
based on satellite telemetry studies and flipper tag returns, non-
nesting adult females from the Northern Recovery Unit reside primarily 
off the east coast of the United States; movement into the Bahamas or 
the Gulf of Mexico is rare (Bell and Richardson, 1978; Williams and 
Frick, 2001; Mansfield, 2006; Turtle Expert Working Group (TEWG), 
2009). Adult females of the Peninsular Florida Recovery Unit are 
distributed throughout eastern Florida, The Bahamas, Greater Antilles, 
the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as 
along the Atlantic seaboard of the United States (Meylan, 1982; Meylan 
et al., 1983; Foley et al., 2008; TEWG, 2009). Adult females from the 
Northern Gulf of Mexico Recovery Unit remained in the Gulf of Mexico, 
including off the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, based on satellite 
telemetry and flipper tag returns (Foley et al., 2008; TEWG, 2009;

[[Page 58878]]

M. Lamont, Florida Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, 
personal communication, 2009; M. Nicholas, National Park Service, 
personal communication, 2009).
    Nesting in the Northeast Atlantic is concentrated in the Cape Verde 
Archipelago, with some nesting occurring on most of the islands, and 
the highest concentration on the beaches of Boa Vista Island 
(L[oacute]pez-Jurado et al., 2000; Varo Cruz et al., 2007; Loureiro, 
2008; Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2010). On mainland Africa, 
there is minor nesting on the coasts of Mauritania to Senegal 
(Brongersma, 1982; Arvy et al., 2000; Fretey, 2001). Earlier reports of 
loggerhead nesting in Morocco (Pasteur and Bons, 1960) have not been 
confirmed in recent years (Tiwari et al., 2001). Nesting has not been 
reported from Macaronesia (Azores, Madeira Archipelago, The Selvagens 
Islands, and the Canary Islands), other than in the Cape Verde 
Archipelago (Brongersma, 1982). In Cape Verde, nesting begins in mid-
June and extends into October (Cejudo et al., 2000), which is somewhat 
later than when nesting occurs in the Northwest Atlantic.
    Based on an analysis of mtDNA of nesting females from Boa Vista 
Island, the Cape Verde nesting assemblage is genetically distinct from 
other studied rookeries (Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2009, 
2010). The results also indicate that despite the close proximity of 
the Mediterranean, the Boa Vista rookery is most closely related to the 
rookeries of the Northwest Atlantic.
    The distribution of juvenile loggerheads from the Northeast 
Atlantic is largely unknown but they have been found on the oceanic 
foraging grounds of the North Atlantic (A. Bolten, University of 
Florida, personal communication, 2008, based on Bolten et al., 1998 and 
LaCasella et al., 2005; Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2009; M. 
Tiwari, NMFS, and A. Bolten, University of Florida, unpublished data) 
and in the western and central Mediterranean (A. Bolten, University of 
Florida, personal communication, 2008, based on Carreras et al., 2006), 
along with small juvenile loggerheads from the Northwest Atlantic. The 
size of nesting females in the Northeast Atlantic is comparable to 
those in the Mediterranean (average 72-80 cm straight carapace length 
(SCL); Margaritoulis et al., 2003) and smaller than those in the 
Northwest Atlantic or the South Atlantic; 91 percent of the nesting 
turtles are less than 86.5 cm curved carapace length (CCL) (Hawkes et 
al., 2006) and nesting females average 77.1 cm SCL (Cejudo et al., 
2000). Satellite-tagged, post-nesting females from Cape Verde foraged 
in coastal waters along northwest Africa or foraged oceanically, mostly 
between Cape Verde and the African shelf from Mauritania to Guinea 
Bissau (Hawkes et al., 2006).
    In the Mediterranean, nesting occurs throughout the central and 
eastern basins on the shores of Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, 
Lebanon, Israel, the Sinai, Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia (Sternberg, 1981; 
Margaritoulis et al., 2003; SWOT, 2007; Casale and Margaritoulis, 
2010). Sporadic nesting also has been reported in the western 
Mediterranean on Corsica (Delaugerre and Cesarini, 2004), southwestern 
Italy (Bentivegna et al., 2005), and on the Spanish Mediterranean coast 
(Tom[aacute]s et al., 2003, 2008). Nesting in the Mediterranean is 
concentrated between June and early August (Margaritoulis et al., 2003; 
Casale and Margaritoulis, 2010).
    Within the Mediterranean, a recent study of mtDNA and nuclear DNA 
in nesting assemblages from Greece to Israel indicated genetic 
structuring, philopatry by both females and males, and limited gene 
flow between assemblages (Carreras et al., 2007). Genetic 
differentiation based on mtDNA indicated that there are at least four 
independent nesting assemblages within the Mediterranean and usually 
they are characterized by a single haplotype: (1) Mainland Greece and 
the adjoining Ionian Islands, (2) eastern Turkey, (3) Israel, and (4) 
Cyprus. There is no evidence of adult female exchange among these four 
assemblages (Carreras et al., 2006). In studies of the foraging grounds 
in the western and central Mediterranean, seven of the 17 distinct 
haplotypes detected had not yet been described, indicating that nesting 
beach data to describe the natal origins of juveniles exploiting the 
western Mediterranean Sea are incomplete (Carreras et al., 2006; Casale 
et al., 2008a). Gene flow among the Mediterranean rookeries estimated 
from nuclear DNA was significantly higher than that calculated from 
mtDNA, consistent with the scenario of female philopatry maintaining 
isolation between rookeries, offset by male-mediated gene flow. 
Nevertheless, the nuclear data show there was a higher degree of 
substructuring among Mediterranean rookeries compared to those in the 
Northwest Atlantic (Bowen et al., 2005; Carreras et al., 2007).
    Small oceanic juveniles from the Mediterranean Sea use the eastern 
basin (defined as inclusive of the central Mediterranean, Ionian, 
Adriatic, and Aegean Seas) and the western basin (defined as inclusive 
of the Tyrrhenian Sea) along the European coast (Laurent et al., 1998; 
Margaritoulis et al., 2003; Carreras et al., 2006; Revelles et al., 
2007). Carreras et al. (2006) believe this genetic structuring is 
explained by the pattern of sea surface currents and water masses, with 
a limited exchange of juvenile loggerheads between water masses. Larger 
juveniles also use the eastern Atlantic and the eastern Mediterranean, 
especially the Tunisia-Libya shelf and the Adriatic Sea (Laurent et 
al., 1993; Margaritoulis et al., 2003; Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et 
al., 2006; Revelles et al., 2007; Eckert et al., 2008). Adults appear 
to forage closer to the nesting beaches in the eastern basin; most tag 
recoveries from females nesting in Greece have occurred in the Adriatic 
Sea and off Tunisia (Margaritoulis et al., 2003; Lazar et al., 2004).
    Loggerheads nesting in the Mediterranean were significantly smaller 
than loggerheads nesting in the Northwest Atlantic and the South 
Atlantic. Within the Mediterranean, carapace lengths ranged from 58 to 
95 cm SCL (Margaritoulis et al., 2003). Greece's loggerheads averaged 
77-80 cm SCL (Tiwari and Bjorndal, 2000; Margaritoulis et al., 2003), 
whereas Turkey's loggerheads averaged 72-73 cm SCL (Margaritoulis et 
al., 2003). The Greece turtles also produced larger clutches (relative 
to body size) than those produced by Florida or Brazil nesters (Tiwari 
and Bjorndal, 2000).
    Given the information presented above, the BRT concluded, and we 
concur, that four discrete population segments exist in the Atlantic 
Ocean/Mediterranean: (1) Northwest Atlantic Ocean, (2) Northeast 
Atlantic Ocean, (3) South Atlantic Ocean, and (4) Mediterranean Sea. 
These four population segments are markedly separated from each other 
and from population segments within the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean 
basins as a consequence of physical, ecological, behavioral, and 
oceanographic factors. Information supporting this conclusion includes 
genetic analysis, flipper tag recoveries, and satellite telemetry. 
Genetic studies have shown that adult populations are highly structured 
with no overlap in distribution among adult loggerheads in these four 
population segments (Bowen et al., 1994; Encalada et al., 1998; Pearce, 
2001; Carerras et al., 2007; Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2009, 
2010). Although loggerheads from the Northwest Atlantic, Northeast 
Atlantic, and Mediterranean Sea population segments may comingle on 
oceanic foraging grounds as juveniles, adults are apparently isolated 
from each other; they also differ demographically. Data from satellite 
telemetry studies and

[[Page 58879]]

flipper tag returns have shown that nesting females from the Northwest 
Atlantic return to the same nesting areas; they reveal no evidence of 
movement of adults south of the equator or east of 40[deg] W. 
longitude. Similarly, there is no evidence of movement of Northeast 
Atlantic adults south of the equator, west of 40[deg] W. long., or east 
of the Strait of Gibraltar, a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic 
Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. Also, there is no evidence of movement 
of adult Mediterranean Sea loggerheads west of the Strait of Gibraltar. 
With regard to South Atlantic loggerheads, there have been no 
observations of tagged loggerheads moving across the equator in the 
Atlantic, except a single case of a captive-reared animal that was 
released as a juvenile from Esp[iacute]rito Santo and was recaptured 3 
years later in the Azores (Bolten et al., 1990). The separation of the 
Atlantic Ocean/Mediterranean Sea population segments from population 
segments within the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean basins is believed 
to be the result of land barriers and oceanographic barriers. Based on 
mtDNA analysis, Bowen et al. (1994) found a separation of loggerheads 
in the Atlantic-Mediterranean basins from those in the Indo-Pacific 
basins since the Pleistocene period. Geography and climate appear to 
have shaped the evolution of these two matriarchal lineages with the 
onset of glacial cycles, the appearance of the Panama Isthmus creating 
a land barrier between the Atlantic and eastern Pacific, and upwelling 
of cold water off southern Africa creating an oceanographic barrier 
between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans (Bowen, 2003).

Significance Determination

    As stated in the preceding section, the BRT identified nine 
discrete population segments. As described below by ocean basin, the 
BRT found that each of the nine discrete population segments is 
biologically and ecologically significant. They each represent a large 
portion of the species' range, sometimes encompassing an entire 
hemispheric ocean basin. The range of each discrete population segment 
occurs within a unique ecosystem that has significantly influenced each 
population in physiology, morphology, and genetics. The loss of any 
individual discrete population segment would result in a significant 
gap in the loggerhead's range. Each discrete population segment is 
genetically distinct, often identified by unique mtDNA haplotypes, and 
the BRT suggested that this geographic partitioning of genetic 
variation could also indicate adaptive differences; the loss of any one 
discrete population segment would represent a significant loss of 
genetic diversity. Therefore, the BRT concluded, and we concur, that 
these nine population segments are both discrete from other conspecific 
population segments and significant to the species to which they 
belong, Caretta caretta.
    The geographic delineations given below for each discrete 
population segment were determined primarily based on nesting beach 
locations, genetic evidence, oceanographic features, thermal tolerance, 
fishery bycatch data, and information on loggerhead distribution and 
migrations from satellite telemetry and flipper tagging studies (see 
Map of Loggerhead Sea Turtle DPS Boundaries). With rare exception, 
adults from discrete population segments remain within the delineated 
boundaries. In some cases, juvenile turtles from two or more discrete 
population segments may mix on foraging areas and, therefore, their 
distribution and migrations may extend beyond the geographic boundaries 
delineated below for each discrete population segment (e.g., juvenile 
turtles from the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, Northeast Atlantic Ocean, 
and Mediterranean Sea discrete population segments share foraging 
habitat in the western Mediterranean Sea).
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR22SE11.007

Pacific Ocean

    The BRT considered 60[deg] N. lat. and the equator as the north and 
south boundaries, respectively, of the North Pacific Ocean population 
segment based on oceanographic features, loggerhead sightings, thermal 
tolerance, fishery bycatch data, and information on loggerhead 
distribution from satellite telemetry and flipper tagging studies. The 
BRT determined that the North Pacific Ocean discrete population segment 
is biologically and ecologically significant because the loss of this 
population segment would result in a significant gap in the range of 
the taxon, and the population segment differs

[[Page 58880]]

markedly from other population segments of the species in its genetic 
characteristics. The North Pacific Ocean population segment encompasses 
an entire hemispheric ocean basin and its loss would result in a 
significant gap in the range of the taxon. There is no evidence or 
reason to believe that female loggerheads from South Pacific nesting 
beaches would repopulate the North Pacific nesting beaches should those 
nesting assemblages be lost (Bowen et al., 1994; Bowen, 2003). Tagging 
studies show that the vast majority of nesting females return to the 
same nesting area. As summarized by Hatase et al. (2002a), of 2,219 
tagged nesting females from Japan, only five females were subsequently 
documented nesting away (between 74 and 630 km) from where they were 
originally encountered. In addition, flipper tag and satellite 
telemetry research, as described in detail in the Discreteness 
Determination section above, has shown no evidence of north-south 
movement of loggerheads across the equator. This discrete population 
segment is genetically unique (see Discreteness Determination section 
above) and the BRT indicated that these unique haplotypes could 
represent adaptive differences; thus, the loss of this discrete 
population segment would represent a significant loss of genetic 
diversity. Based on this information, the BRT concluded, and we concur, 
that the North Pacific Ocean population segment is significant to the 
taxon to which it belongs, and, therefore, that it satisfies the 
significance element of the DPS policy.
    The BRT considered the equator and 60[deg] S. lat. as the north and 
south boundaries, respectively, and 67[deg] W. long. and 141[deg] E. 
long. as the east and west boundaries, respectively, of the South 
Pacific Ocean population segment based on oceanographic features, 
loggerhead sightings, thermal tolerance, fishery bycatch data, and 
information on loggerhead distribution from satellite telemetry and 
flipper tagging studies. The BRT determined that the South Pacific 
Ocean discrete population segment is biologically and ecologically 
significant because the loss of this population segment would result in 
a significant gap in the range of the taxon, and the population segment 
differs markedly from other population segments of the species in its 
genetic characteristics. The South Pacific Ocean population segment 
encompasses an entire hemispheric ocean basin, and its loss would 
result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon. The South 
Pacific Ocean population is the only population of loggerheads found 
south of the equator in the Pacific Ocean and there is no evidence or 
reason to believe that female loggerheads from North Pacific nesting 
beaches would repopulate the South Pacific nesting beaches should those 
nesting assemblages be lost (Bowen et al., 1994; Bowen, 2003). In 
addition, flipper tag and satellite telemetry research, as described in 
detail in the Discreteness Determination section above, has shown no 
evidence of north-south movement of loggerheads across the equator. The 
BRT also stated that it does not expect that recolonization from Indian 
Ocean loggerheads would occur in eastern Australia within ecological 
time frames. Despite evidence of foraging in the Gulf of Carpentaria by 
adult loggerheads from the nesting populations in eastern Australia 
(South Pacific Ocean population segment) and western Australia 
(Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean population segment), the nesting females 
from these two regions are considered to be genetically distinct from 
one another (Limpus, 2009). In addition to a substantial disparity in 
mtDNA haplotype frequencies between these two populations, FitzSimmons 
(University of Canberra, unpublished data) found significant 
differences in nuclear DNA microsatellite loci between females nesting 
in these two regions, indicating separation between the South Pacific 
Ocean and the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean population segments. Long-
term studies show a high degree of site fidelity by adult females in 
the South Pacific, with most females returning to the same beach within 
a nesting season and in successive nesting seasons (Limpus, 1985, 2009; 
Limpus et al., 1994). This has been documented as characteristic of 
loggerheads from various rookeries throughout the world (Schroeder et 
al., 2003). This discrete population segment is genetically unique and 
the BRT indicated that these unique haplotypes could represent adaptive 
differences. Thus, the loss of this discrete population segment would 
represent a significant loss of genetic diversity. Based on this 
information, the BRT concluded, and we concur, that the South Pacific 
Ocean population segment is significant to the taxon to which it 
belongs, and, therefore, that it satisfies the significance element of 
the DPS policy.

Indian Ocean

    The BRT considered 30[deg] N. lat. and the equator as the north and 
south boundaries, respectively, of the North Indian Ocean population 
segment based on oceanographic features, loggerhead sightings, thermal 
tolerance, fishery bycatch data, and information on loggerhead 
distribution from satellite telemetry and flipper tagging studies. The 
BRT determined that the North Indian Ocean discrete population segment 
is biologically and ecologically significant because the loss of this 
population segment would result in a significant gap in the range of 
the taxon, and the population segment differs markedly from other 
population segments of the species in its genetic characteristics. The 
North Indian Ocean population segment encompasses an entire hemispheric 
ocean basin, and its loss would result in a significant gap in the 
range of the taxon. Genetic information currently available for Indian 
Ocean populations indicates that the Oman rookery in the North Indian 
Ocean and the South African rookery in the Southwest Indian Ocean are 
genetically distinct (Bowen et al., 1994), and, based on preliminary 
results, once sequencing studies are completed for these rookeries, it 
is likely that they will also be determined to be genetically distinct 
from the Western Australia rookeries in the Southeast Indo-Pacific 
Ocean (P. Dutton, NMFS, unpublished data; N. FitzSimmons, University of 
Canberra, unpublished data; J. Reece, University of California at Santa 
Cruz, unpublished data). In addition, oceanographic phenomena 
associated with Indian Ocean equatorial waters exist between the North 
Indian Ocean population segment and the two population segments in the 
South Indian Ocean, which likely prevent migration of individuals 
across the equator on a time scale relative to management and 
conservation efforts (Conant et al., 2009). Therefore, there is no 
evidence or reason to believe that female loggerheads from the 
Southwest Indian Ocean or Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean would repopulate 
the North Indian Ocean nesting beaches should those populations be lost 
(Bowen et al., 1994; Bowen, 2003). Based on this information, the BRT 
concluded, and we concur, that the North Indian Ocean population 
segment is significant to the taxon to which it belongs, and, 
therefore, that it satisfies the significance element of the DPS 
policy.
    The BRT considered the equator and 60[deg] S. lat. as the north and 
south boundaries, respectively, and 20[deg] E. long. at Cape Agulhas on 
the southern tip of Africa and 80[deg] E. long. as the east and west 
boundaries, respectively, of the Southwest Indian Ocean population 
segment based on oceanographic features, thermal tolerance, fishery 
bycatch data, and information on loggerhead distribution from satellite

[[Page 58881]]

telemetry and flipper tagging studies. The BRT determined that the 
Southwest Indian Ocean discrete population segment is biologically and 
ecologically significant because the loss of this population segment 
would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon, and the 
population segment differs markedly from other population segments of 
the species in its genetic characteristics. The Southwest Indian Ocean 
population segment encompasses half of a hemispheric ocean basin, and 
its loss would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon. 
Genetic information currently available for Indian Ocean populations 
indicates that the Oman rookery in the North Indian Ocean and the South 
African rookery in the Southwest Indian Ocean are genetically distinct 
(Bowen et al., 1994), and, based on preliminary results, once 
sequencing studies are completed for these rookeries, it is likely that 
they will also be determined to be genetically distinct from the 
Western Australia rookeries in the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean (P. 
Dutton, NMFS, unpublished data; N. FitzSimmons, University of Canberra, 
unpublished data; J. Reece, University of California at Santa Cruz, 
unpublished data). In addition, biogeographical barriers (i.e., 
oceanographic phenomena associated with Indian Ocean equatorial waters, 
and the large expanse between continents in the South Indian Ocean 
without suitable benthic foraging habitat) likely exist between the 
three Indian Ocean populations that would prevent migration of 
individuals between populations on a time scale relative to management 
and conservation efforts (Conant et al., 2009). Therefore, there is no 
evidence or reason to believe that female loggerheads from the North 
Indian Ocean or Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean would repopulate the 
Southwest Indian Ocean nesting beaches should those populations be lost 
(Bowen et al., 1994; Bowen, 2003). There is also no evidence of 
movement of adult Southwest Indian Ocean loggerheads west of 20[deg] E. 
long. at Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point on the African continent, 
or east of 80[deg] E. long. within the Indian Ocean. Based on this 
information, the BRT concluded, and we concur, that the Southwest 
Indian Ocean population segment is significant to the taxon to which it 
belongs, and, therefore, that it satisfies the significance element of 
the DPS policy.
    The BRT considered the equator and 60[deg] S. lat. as the north and 
south boundaries, respectively, and 141[deg] E. long. and 80[deg] E. 
long. as the east and west boundaries, respectively, of the Southeast 
Indo-Pacific Ocean population segment based on oceanographic features, 
thermal tolerance, fishery bycatch data, and information on loggerhead 
distribution from satellite telemetry and flipper tagging studies. The 
BRT determined that the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean discrete 
population segment is biologically and ecologically significant because 
the loss of this population segment would result in a significant gap 
in the range of the taxon, and the population segment differs markedly 
from other population segments of the species in its genetic 
characteristics. The Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean population segment 
encompasses half of a hemispheric ocean basin, and its loss would 
result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon. Genetic 
information currently available for Indian Ocean populations indicates 
that the Oman rookery in the North Indian Ocean and the South African 
rookery in the Southwest Indian Ocean are genetically distinct (Bowen 
et al., 1994), and, based on preliminary results, once sequencing 
studies are completed for these rookeries, it is likely that they will 
also be determined to be genetically distinct from the Western 
Australia rookeries in the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean (P. Dutton, 
NMFS, unpublished data; N. FitzSimmons, University of Canberra, 
unpublished data; J. Reece, University of California at Santa Cruz, 
unpublished data). In addition, biogeographical barriers (i.e., 
oceanographic phenomena associated with Indian Ocean equatorial waters, 
and the large expanse between continents in the South Indian Ocean 
without suitable benthic foraging habitat) likely exist between the 
three Indian Ocean populations that would likely prevent migration of 
individuals between populations on a time scale relative to management 
and conservation efforts (Conant et al., 2009). Therefore, there is no 
evidence or reason to believe that female loggerheads from the North 
Indian Ocean or Southwest Indian Ocean would repopulate the Southeast 
Indo-Pacific Ocean nesting beaches should those populations be lost 
(Bowen et al., 1994; Bowen, 2003). There is also no evidence of 
movement of adult Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean loggerheads west of 
80[deg] E. long. within the Indian Ocean. Despite evidence of foraging 
in the Gulf of Carpentaria by adult loggerheads from the nesting 
populations in eastern Australia (South Pacific Ocean population 
segment) and western Australia (Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean population 
segment), the nesting females from these two regions are considered to 
be genetically distinct from one another (Limpus, 2009). In addition to 
a substantial disparity in mtDNA haplotype frequencies between these 
two regions, FitzSimmons (University of Canberra, unpublished data) 
found significant differences in nuclear DNA microsatellite loci from 
females nesting in these two regions, indicating separation between the 
South Pacific Ocean population segment and the Southeast Indo-Pacific 
Ocean population segment. Based on this information, the BRT concluded, 
and we concur, that the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean population segment 
is significant to the taxon to which it belongs, and, therefore, it 
satisfies the significance element of the DPS policy.

Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea

    The BRT considered 60[deg] N. lat. and the equator as the north and 
south boundaries, respectively, and 40[deg] W. long. as the eastern 
boundary of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean population segment based on 
oceanographic features, loggerhead sightings, thermal tolerance, 
fishery bycatch data, and information on loggerhead distribution from 
satellite telemetry and flipper tagging studies. The BRT determined 
that the Northwest Atlantic Ocean discrete population segment is 
biologically and ecologically significant because the loss of this 
population segment would result in a significant gap in the range of 
the taxon, and the population segment differs markedly from other 
population segments of the species in its genetic characteristics. The 
Northwest Atlantic Ocean population segment encompasses half of a 
hemispheric ocean basin, and its loss would result in a significant gap 
in the range of the taxon. Genetic studies have shown that adult 
populations are highly structured with no overlap in distribution among 
adult loggerheads from the Northwest Atlantic, Northeast Atlantic, 
South Atlantic, and Mediterranean Sea (Bowen et al., 1994; Encalada et 
al., 1998; Pearce, 2001; Carerras et al., 2007; Monz[oacute]n-
Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2009, 2010). There is no evidence or reason to 
believe that female loggerheads from the Northeast Atlantic, 
Mediterranean Sea, or South Atlantic nesting beaches would repopulate 
the Northwest Atlantic nesting beaches should these populations be lost 
(Bowen et al., 1994; Bowen, 2003). Data from satellite telemetry 
studies and flipper tag returns, as described in detail in the 
Discreteness Determination section above, have shown that the vast 
majority of nesting females from the Northwest Atlantic return to the 
same

[[Page 58882]]

nesting area; they reveal no evidence of movement of adults south of 
the equator or east of 40[deg] W. longitude. This discrete population 
segment is genetically distinct (see Discreteness Determination section 
above) possibly indicating adaptive differences as suggested by the 
BRT; thus, the loss of this discrete population segment would represent 
a significant loss of genetic diversity. Based on this information, the 
BRT concluded, and we concur, that the Northwest Atlantic Ocean 
population segment is significant to the taxon to which it belongs, 
and, therefore, that it satisfies the significance element of the DPS 
policy.
    The BRT considered 60[deg] N. lat. and the equator as the north and 
south boundaries, respectively, and 40[deg] W. long. as the west 
boundary of the Northeast Atlantic Ocean population segment. The BRT 
considered the boundary between the Northeast Atlantic Ocean and 
Mediterranean Sea population segments as 5[deg] 36' W. long. (Strait of 
Gibraltar). These boundaries are based on oceanographic features, 
loggerhead sightings, thermal tolerance, fishery bycatch data, and 
information on loggerhead distribution from satellite telemetry and 
flipper tagging studies. The BRT determined that the Northeast Atlantic 
Ocean discrete population segment is biologically and ecologically 
significant because the loss of this population segment would result in 
a significant gap in the range of the taxon, and the population segment 
differs markedly from other population segments of the species in its 
genetic characteristics. The Northeast Atlantic Ocean population 
segment encompasses half of a hemispheric ocean basin, and its loss 
would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon. Genetic 
studies have shown that adult populations are highly structured with no 
overlap in distribution among adult loggerheads from the Northwest 
Atlantic, Northeast Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Mediterranean Sea 
(Bowen et al., 1994; Encalada et al., 1998; Pearce, 2001; Carerras et 
al., 2007; Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2009, 2010). There is no 
evidence or reason to believe that female loggerheads from the 
Northwest Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea, or South Atlantic nesting 
beaches would repopulate the Northeast Atlantic nesting beaches should 
these populations be lost (Bowen et al., 1994; Bowen, 2003). There is 
also no evidence of movement of Northeast Atlantic adults west of 
40[deg] W. long. or, in the vicinity of the Strait of Gibraltar (the 
boundary between the Northeast Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea 
population segments), no evidence of movement east of 5[deg] 36' W. 
longitude. This discrete population segment is genetically unique (see 
Discreteness Determination section above) and the BRT indicated that 
these unique haplotypes could represent adaptive differences; thus, the 
loss of this discrete population segment would represent a significant 
loss of genetic diversity. Based on this information, the BRT 
concluded, and we concur, that the Northeast Atlantic Ocean population 
segment is significant to the taxon to which it belongs, and, 
therefore, that it satisfies the significance element of the DPS 
policy.
    The BRT considered the Mediterranean Sea west to 5[deg]36' W. long. 
(Strait of Gibraltar) as the boundary of the Mediterranean Sea 
population segment based on oceanographic features, loggerhead 
sightings, thermal tolerance, fishery bycatch data, and information on 
loggerhead distribution from satellite telemetry and flipper tagging 
studies. The BRT determined that the Mediterranean Sea discrete 
population segment is biologically and ecologically significant because 
the loss of this population segment would result in a significant gap 
in the range of the taxon, and the population segment differs markedly 
from other population segments of the species in its genetic 
characteristics. The Mediterranean Sea population segment encompasses 
the entire Mediterranean Sea basin, and its loss would result in a 
significant gap in the range of the taxon. Genetic studies have shown 
that adult populations are highly structured with no overlap in 
distribution among adult loggerheads from the Northwest Atlantic, 
Northeast Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Mediterranean Sea (Bowen et 
al., 1994; Encalada et al., 1998; Pearce, 2001; Carerras et al., 2007; 
Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2009, 2010). There is no evidence 
or reason to believe that female loggerheads from the Northwest 
Atlantic, Northeast Atlantic, or South Atlantic nesting beaches would 
repopulate the Mediterranean Sea nesting beaches should these 
populations be lost (Bowen et al., 1994; Bowen, 2003). As previously 
described, adults from the Mediterranean Sea population segment appear 
to forage closer to the nesting beaches in the eastern basin, and most 
flipper tag recoveries from females nesting in Greece have occurred in 
the Adriatic Sea and off Tunisia (Margaritoulis et al., 2003; Lazar et 
al., 2004). There is no evidence of movement of adult Mediterranean Sea 
loggerheads west of the Strait of Gibraltar (5[deg]36' W. long.). This 
discrete population segment is genetically unique (see Discreteness 
Determination section above) and the BRT indicated that these unique 
haplotypes could represent adaptive differences; thus, the loss of this 
discrete population segment would represent a significant loss of 
genetic diversity. Based on this information, the BRT concluded, and we 
concur, that the Mediterranean Sea population segment is significant to 
the taxon to which it belongs, and, therefore, that it satisfies the 
significance element of the DPS policy.
    The BRT considered the equator and 60[deg] S. lat. as the north and 
south boundaries, respectively, and 20[deg] E. long. at Cape Agulhas on 
the southern tip of Africa and 67[deg] W. long. as the east and west 
boundaries, respectively, of the South Atlantic Ocean population 
segment based on oceanographic features, loggerhead sightings, thermal 
tolerance, fishery bycatch data, and information on loggerhead 
distribution from satellite telemetry and flipper tagging studies. The 
BRT determined that the South Atlantic Ocean discrete population 
segment is biologically and ecologically significant because the loss 
of this population segment would result in a significant gap in the 
range of the taxon, and the population segment differs markedly from 
other population segments of the species in its genetic 
characteristics. The South Atlantic Ocean population segment 
encompasses an entire hemispheric ocean basin, and its loss would 
result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon. Genetic studies 
have shown that adult populations are highly structured with no overlap 
in distribution among adult loggerheads from the Northwest Atlantic, 
Northeast Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Mediterranean Sea (Bowen et 
al., 1994; Encalada et al., 1998; Pearce, 2001; Carerras et al., 2007; 
Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2009, 2010). There is no evidence 
or reason to believe that female loggerheads from the Northwest 
Atlantic, Northeast Atlantic, or Mediterranean Sea nesting beaches 
would repopulate the South Atlantic nesting beaches should these 
populations be lost (Bowen et al., 1994; Bowen, 2003). This discrete 
population segment is genetically unique (see Discreteness 
Determination section above) and the BRT indicated that these unique 
haplotypes could represent adaptive differences; thus, the loss of this 
discrete population segment would represent a significant loss of 
genetic diversity. Based on this information, the BRT concluded, and we 
concur, that the

[[Page 58883]]

South Atlantic Ocean population segment is significant to the taxon to 
which it belongs, and, therefore, that it satisfies the significance 
element of the DPS policy.
    In summary, based on the information provided in the Discreteness 
Determination and Significance Determination sections above, the BRT 
identified nine loggerhead DPSs distributed globally: (1) North Pacific 
Ocean DPS, (2) South Pacific Ocean DPS, (3) North Indian Ocean DPS, (4) 
Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS, (5) Southwest Indian Ocean DPS, (6) 
Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS, (7) Northeast Atlantic Ocean DPS, (8) 
Mediterranean Sea DPS, and (9) South Atlantic Ocean DPS. We concur with 
the findings and application of the DPS policy described by the BRT and 
herein delineate the nine DPSs identified by the BRT as DPSs (i.e., 
they are discrete and significant).

Significant Portion of the Range

    We have determined that the range of each DPS contributes 
meaningfully to the conservation of the DPS and that populations that 
may contribute more or less to the conservation of each DPS throughout 
a portion of its range cannot be identified due to the highly migratory 
nature of the listed entity.
    The loggerhead sea turtle is highly migratory and crosses multiple 
domestic and international geopolitical boundaries. Depending on the 
life stage, they may occur in oceanic waters or along the continental 
shelf of landmasses, or transit back and forth between oceanic and 
neritic habitats. Protection and management of both the terrestrial and 
marine environments is essential to recovering the listed entity. 
Management measures implemented by any State, foreign nation, or 
political subdivision likely would only affect individual sea turtles 
during certain stages and seasons of the life cycle. Management 
measures implemented by any State, foreign nation, or political 
subdivision may also affect individuals from multiple DPSs because 
juvenile turtles from disparate DPSs can overlap on foraging grounds or 
migratory corridors (e.g., Northwest Atlantic, Northeast Atlantic, and 
Mediterranean Sea DPSs). The term ``significant portion of its range'' 
is not defined by the statute. For the purposes of this rule, a portion 
of the species' (species or distinct population segment) range is 
``significant'' if its contribution to the viability of the species is 
so important that without that portion the species would be in danger 
of extinction. The BRT was unable to identify any particular portion of 
the range of any of the DPSs that was more significant to the DPS than 
another portion of the same range because of the species' migratory 
nature, the varying threats that affect different life stages, and the 
varying benefits accruing from conservation efforts throughout the 
geographic range of each DPS. The next section describes our evaluation 
of the status of each DPS throughout its range.

Status and Trends of the Nine Loggerhead DPSs

    Complete population abundance estimates do not exist for the nine 
DPSs. Within the global range of the species, and within each DPS, the 
primary data available are collected on nesting beaches, either as 
counts of nests or counts of nesting females, or a combination of both 
(either direct or extrapolated). Information on abundance and trends 
away from the nesting beaches is limited or non-existent, primarily 
because these data are, relative to nesting beach studies, logistically 
difficult and expensive to obtain. Therefore, the primary information 
source for directly evaluating status and trends of the nine DPSs is 
nesting beach data.

North Pacific Ocean DPS

    In the North Pacific, loggerhead nesting is essentially restricted 
to Japan where monitoring of loggerhead nesting began in the 1950s on 
some beaches, and expanded to include most known nesting beaches since 
approximately 1990. Kamezaki et al. (2003) reviewed census data 
collected from most of the Japanese nesting beaches. Although most 
surveys were initiated in the 1980s and 1990s, some data collection 
efforts were initiated in the 1950s. Along the Japanese coast, nine 
major nesting beaches (greater than 100 nests per season) and six 
``submajor'' beaches (10-100 nests per season) were identified. Census 
data from 12 of these 15 beaches provide composite information on 
longer-term trends in the Japanese nesting assemblage. Using 
information collected on these beaches, Kamezaki et al. (2003) 
concluded a substantial decline (50-90 percent) in the size of the 
annual loggerhead nesting population in Japan since the 1950s. Snover 
(2008) combined nesting data from the Sea Turtle Association of Japan 
and data from Kamezaki et al. (2002) to analyze an 18-year time series 
of nesting data from 1990-2007. Nesting declined from an initial peak 
of approximately 6,638 nests in 1990-1991, followed by a steep decline 
to a low of 2,064 nests in 1997. During the past decade, nesting 
increased gradually to 5,167 nests in 2005, declined and then rose 
again to a high of just under 11,000 nests in 2008. Estimated nest 
numbers for 2009 were on the order of 7,000-8,000 nests. While nesting 
numbers have gradually increased in recent years and the number for 
2009 was similar to the start of the time series in 1990, historical 
evidence from Kamouda Beach (census data dates back to the 1950s) 
indicates that there has been a substantial decline over the last half 
of the 20th century (Kamezaki et al., 2003) and that current nesting 
represents a fraction of historical nesting levels.

South Pacific Ocean DPS

    In the South Pacific, loggerhead nesting is almost entirely 
restricted to eastern Australia (primarily Queensland) and New 
Caledonia, and the population has been well studied. The size of the 
annual breeding population (females only) has been monitored at 
numerous rookeries in Australia since 1968 (Limpus and Limpus, 2003a), 
and these data constitute the primary measure of the current status of 
the DPS. The total nesting population for Queensland was approximately 
3,500 females in the 1976-1977 nesting season (Limpus, 1985; Limpus and 
Reimer, 1994). Little more than two decades later, Limpus and Limpus 
(2003a) estimated this nesting population at less than 500 females in 
the 1999-2000 nesting season. There has been a marked decline in the 
number of females breeding annually since the mid-1970s, with an 
estimated 50 to 80 percent decline in the number of breeding females at 
various Australian rookeries up to 1990 (Limpus and Reimer, 1994) and a 
decline of approximately 86 percent from 1976-1999 (Limpus and Limpus, 
2003a). However, since 2000, this long-term decline in the number of 
nesting females has reversed with increasing numbers of nesting females 
observed from 2000-2009 (Limpus, in press). More recent data for Mon 
Repos have shown increased nesting; 2009 nesting numbers were similar 
to nesting numbers recorded in the 1990s (M. Hamann, James Cook 
University, personal communication, 2010). However, comparable nesting 
surveys have not been conducted in New Caledonia. Information from a 
pilot study conducted in 2005 combined with oral history information 
collected suggest that there has been a decline in loggerhead nesting 
over recent decades (Limpus et al., 2006). Based on data from the pilot 
study, only 60 to 70 loggerheads nested on the four surveyed New 
Caledonia beaches during the

[[Page 58884]]

2004-2005 nesting season (Limpus et al., 2006).
    Studies of eastern Australia loggerheads at their foraging areas 
provide some information on the status of non-breeding loggerheads of 
the South Pacific Ocean DPS. Chaloupka and Limpus (2001) determined 
that the resident loggerhead population on coral reefs of the southern 
Great Barrier Reef declined at 3 percent per year from 1985 to the late 
1990s. The observed decline occurred in spite of constant high annual 
survivorship measured at this foraging habitat and was hypothesized to 
result from recruitment failure from fox predation of eggs at mainland 
rookeries during the 1960s and pelagic juvenile mortality from 
incidental capture in longline fisheries since the 1970s (Chaloupka and 
Limpus, 2001). Concurrently, a decline in new recruits was measured in 
these foraging areas (Limpus and Limpus, 2003a).

North Indian Ocean DPS

    The North Indian Ocean hosts the largest nesting assemblage of 
loggerheads in the eastern hemisphere; the vast majority of these 
loggerheads nest in Oman (Baldwin et al., 2003). Nesting occurs in 
greatest density on Masirah Island; the number of emergences ranges 
from 27-102 per km nightly (Ross, 1998). Nesting densities have 
complicated the implementation of standardized nesting beach surveys, 
and more precise nesting data have only been collected since 2008. 
Extrapolations resulting from partial surveys and tagging in 1977-1978 
provided broad estimates of 19,000 to 60,000 females nesting annually 
at Masirah Island in 1977 and 28,000 to 35,000 in 1978. A more recent 
partial survey in 1991 provided an estimate of 23,000 nesting females 
at Masirah Island (Ross, 1979, 1998; Ross and Barwani, 1982; Baldwin, 
1992). A reinterpretation of the 1977-1978 estimates, assuming 50 
percent nesting success (as compared to 100 percent in the original 
estimates), resulted in an estimate of 20,000 to 40,000 females nesting 
annually (Baldwin et al., 2003). Reliable trends in nesting cannot be 
determined due to the lack of standardized surveys at Masirah Island 
prior to 2008. From 2008 through 2010, approximately 50,000, 67,600, 
and 62,400 nests, respectively, were estimated annually based on 
standardized daily surveys of the highest density nesting beaches and 
weekly surveys on all remaining island nesting beaches. Using an 
estimated clutch frequency of five nests per nesting female this would 
convert to 10,000, 13,520, and 12,480 nesting females annually (Conant 
et al., 2009). Even using the low end of the 1977-1978 estimates of 
20,000 nesting females at Masirah, this suggests a significant decline 
in the size of the nesting population and is consistent with 
observations by long-term resident rangers that the population has 
declined substantially in the last three decades (E. Possardt, USFWS, 
personal communication, 2008).
    In addition to the nesting beaches on Masirah Island, over 3,000 
nests per year have been recorded in Oman on the Al-Halaniyat Islands 
and, along the Oman mainland of the Arabian Sea, approximately 2,000 
nests are deposited annually (Salm, 1991; Salm et al., 1993). In Yemen, 
on Socotra Island, 50-100 loggerheads were estimated to have nested in 
1999 (Pilcher and Saad, 2000). A time series of nesting data based on 
standardized surveys is not available to determine trends for these 
nesting sites.
    Loggerhead nesting is rare elsewhere in the northern Indian Ocean 
and in some cases is complicated by inaccurate species identification 
(Shanker, 2004; Tripathy, 2005). A small number of nesting females use 
the beaches of Sri Lanka every year; however, there are no records to 
suggest that Sri Lanka has ever been a major nesting area for 
loggerheads (Kapurusinghe, 2006). Loggerheads have been reported 
nesting in low numbers in Myanmar; however, these data may not be 
reliable because of misidentification of species (Thorbjarnarson et 
al., 2000).

Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS

    In the eastern Indian Ocean, loggerhead nesting is restricted to 
Western Australia (Dodd, 1988), and this nesting population is the 
largest in Australia (Wirsing et al., unpublished data, cited in 
Natural Heritage Trust, 2005; Limpus, 2009).
    Dirk Hartog Island hosts about 70-75 percent of nesting individuals 
in the eastern Indian Ocean (Baldwin et al., 2003). Surveys were 
conducted on the island for the duration of six nesting seasons between 
1993/1994 and 1999/2000 (Baldwin et al., 2003) and continued until 2009 
during which time 800-1,500 loggerheads were estimated to nest annually 
on Dirk Hartog Island beaches (Baldwin et al., 2003).
    Fewer loggerheads (approximately 150-350 per season) are reported 
nesting on the Muiron Islands; however, more nesting loggerheads are 
reported here than on North West Cape (approximately 50-150 per season) 
(Baldwin et al., 2003). Although data are insufficient to determine 
trends, historical information suggests the nesting population in the 
Muiron Islands and North West Cape region was likely reduced from 
historical numbers, before recent beach monitoring programs began, as a 
result of bycatch in commercial fisheries (Nishemura and Nakahigashi, 
1990; Poiner et al., 1990; Poiner and Harris, 1996).

Southwest Indian Ocean DPS

    In the Southwest Indian Ocean, the highest concentration of nesting 
occurs on the coast of Tongaland, South Africa, where surveys and 
management practices were instituted in 1963 (Baldwin et al., 2003). A 
trend analysis of index nesting beach data from this region from 1965 
to 2008 indicates an increasing nesting population between the first 
decade of surveys, which documented 500-800 nests annually, and the 
last 8 years, which documented 1,100-1,500 nests annually (Nel, 2008). 
These data represent approximately 50 percent of all nesting within 
South Africa and are believed to be representative of trends in the 
region. Loggerhead nesting occurs elsewhere in South Africa, but 
sampling is not consistent and no trend data are available. The total 
number of females nesting annually in South Africa is estimated between 
500-2,000 turtles (Baldwin et al., 2003). In Mozambique, surveys have 
been instituted much more recently; likely less than 200 females nest 
annually and no trend data are available (Baldwin et al., 2003; Louro 
et al., 2006; Videira et al., 2008, 2010; Pereira et al., 2009). 
Similarly, in Madagascar, loggerheads have been documented nesting in 
low numbers, but no trend data are available (Rakotonirina, 2001).

Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS

    Nesting occurs within the Northwest Atlantic along the coasts of 
North America, Central America, northern South America, the Antilles, 
and The Bahamas, but is concentrated in the southeastern U.S. and on 
the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico (Sternberg, 1981; Ehrhart, 1989; 
Ehrhart et al., 2003; NMFS and USFWS, 2008). Collectively, the 
Northwest Atlantic Ocean hosts the most significant nesting assemblage 
of loggerheads in the western hemisphere and is one of the two largest 
loggerhead nesting assemblages in the world. NMFS and USFWS (2008), 
Witherington et al. (2009), and TEWG (2009) provide comprehensive 
analyses of the status of the nesting assemblages within the Northwest 
Atlantic Ocean DPS using standardized data collected over survey 
periods ranging from 10 to 23 years. The results of these analyses, 
using different analytical approaches, were consistent in their 
findings--there had been a significant, overall nesting decline

[[Page 58885]]

within this DPS. However, with the addition of nesting data from 2008 
through 2010, which was not available at the time those analyses were 
conducted, the final result for the trend line changes. Nesting in 2008 
showed a substantial increase compared to the low of 2007, and nesting 
in 2010 reached the highest level seen since 2000 (Florida Fish and 
Wildlife Conservation Commission Core Index Nesting Beach Database). 
The most current nesting trend for the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS, 
from 1989-2010, is very slightly negative, but the rate of decline is 
not statistically different from zero. Additionally, the range from the 
statistical analysis of the nesting trend includes both negative and 
positive growth (NMFS, unpublished data).
    NMFS and USFWS (2008) identified five recovery units (nesting 
subpopulations) in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean: The Northern (Florida/
Georgia border to southern Virginia); Peninsular Florida (Florida/
Georgia border south through Pinellas County, excluding the islands 
west of Key West, Florida); Dry Tortugas (islands west of Key West, 
Florida); Northern Gulf of Mexico (Franklin County, Florida, west 
through Texas); and Greater Caribbean (Mexico through French Guiana, 
The Bahamas, Lesser and Greater Antilles). At that time, declining 
trends in the annual number of nests were documented for all recovery 
units for which there were an adequate time series of nesting data.
    The Peninsular Florida Recovery Unit represents approximately 87 
percent of all nesting effort in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS 
(Ehrhart et al., 2003). A significant declining trend had been 
documented for the Peninsular Florida Recovery Unit, where nesting 
declined 26 percent over the 20-year period from 1989-2008, and 
declined 41 percent over the period 1998-2008 (NMFS and USFWS, 2008; 
Witherington et al., 2009). As explained previously, with the addition 
of nesting data through 2010, the nesting trend for the Peninsular 
Florida Recovery Unit, and the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS, does not 
show a nesting decline statistically different from zero. The Northern 
Recovery Unit is the second largest recovery unit within the DPS and 
was declining significantly at 1.3 percent annually from 1983 to 2007 
(NMFS and USFWS, 2008). Currently, nesting for that recovery unit is 
showing possible signs of stabilizing. In 2008, nesting in Georgia 
reached what was a new record at that time (1,646 nests), with a 
downturn in 2009, followed by yet another record in 2010 (1,760 nests). 
South Carolina had the two highest years of nesting in the 2000s in 
2009 (2,183 nests) and 2010 (3,141 nests). The previous high for that 
11-year span was 1,433 nests in 2003. North Carolina had 847 nests in 
2010, which is above the average of 715. The Georgia, South Carolina, 
and North Carolina nesting data come from the seaturtle.org Sea Turtle 
Nest Monitoring System which is populated with data input by the State 
agencies. The Greater Caribbean Recovery Unit is the third largest 
recovery unit within the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS, with the 
majority of nesting at Quintana Roo, Mexico. TEWG (2009) reported a 
greater than 5 percent annual decline in loggerhead nesting from 1995-
2006 at Quintana Roo. When nest counts up through 2010 are analyzed, 
however, the nesting trends from 1989 through 2010 are not 
significantly different from zero for all of the recovery units within 
the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS for which there are enough data to 
analyze (NMFS, unpublished data).
    In an effort to evaluate loggerhead population status and trends 
beyond the nesting beach, NMFS and USFWS (2008) and TEWG (2009) 
reviewed data from in-water studies within the range of the Northwest 
Atlantic Ocean DPS. NMFS and USFWS (2008), in the Recovery Plan for the 
Northwest Atlantic Population of the Loggerhead Sea Turtle, summarized 
population trend data reported from nine in-water study sites where 
loggerheads were regularly captured and where efforts were made to 
provide local indices of abundance. These sites were located from Long 
Island Sound, New York, to Florida Bay, Florida. The study periods for 
these nine sites varied. The earliest began in 1987, and the most 
recent were initiated in 2000. Results reported from four of the 
studies indicated no discernible trend, two studies reported declining 
trends, and two studies reported increasing trends. Trends at one study 
site, Mosquito Lagoon, Florida, indicated either a declining trend (all 
data, 1977-2005) or no trend (more recent data, 1995-2005), depending 
on whether all sample years were used or only the more recent, and 
likely more comparable sample years, were used. TEWG (2009) used raw 
data from six of the aforementioned nine in-water study sites to 
conduct trend analyses. Results from three of the four sites located in 
the southeastern United States showed an increasing trend in the 
abundance of loggerheads, one showed no discernible trend, and the two 
sites located in the northeastern United States showed a decreasing 
trend in abundance of loggerheads.
    Crouse et al. (1987) and Crowder et al. (1994) presented models, 
using data available from what is now the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS, 
suggesting that adults (males and females) are approximately 0.3 
percent of the total population. These models assume that the 
population is density independent and growing exponentially; however, 
in the case of sea turtles, it is unlikely that either of these 
assumptions is met. The most recent point estimate of the number of 
adult females in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS is 30,000 (Southeast 
Fisheries Science Center, 2009); assuming a 1:1 adult sex ratio results 
in 60,000 adults. If those individuals represent 0.3 percent of the 
total population size, then the total population size would be on the 
order of 20 million individuals. The vast majority of these individuals 
would be in the youngest life stages, where natural mortality is very 
high. This is the life history strategy of sea turtles; many 
individuals must be produced to contribute to the breeding population 
and to keep the population from declining. The most important point to 
understand regarding these models and subsequent calculations is that 
their main assumptions--the population has a stable age distribution, 
anthropogenic mortality is constant, sex ratios are equal, and the 
environment is constant--are likely not met.
    A recent aerial survey from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to the mouth 
of the Gulf of St. Lawrence provided insight into loggerhead abundance 
in continental shelf waters of the U.S. Atlantic coast. In a 
preliminary report (Northeast Fisheries Science Center, 2011), the most 
conservative estimate, in which only sightings that were positively 
identified as loggerhead sea turtles were used, was that about 588,000 
juvenile and adult loggerheads were present in the survey area 
(approximate inter-quartile range of 382,000-817,000 individuals). When 
a portion of the unidentified turtles were assigned as loggerheads, the 
estimate increased to 801,000 individuals (inter-quartile range of 
521,000-1,111,000). The survey effort did not encompass waters south of 
Cape Canaveral on the Atlantic Coast or in the Gulf of Mexico 
(Northeast Fisheries Science Center, 2011).

Northeast Atlantic Ocean DPS

    In the northeastern Atlantic, the Cape Verde Islands support the 
only large nesting population of loggerheads in the region (Fretey, 
2001). Nesting occurs at some level on most of the islands in the 
archipelago with the largest nesting

[[Page 58886]]

numbers reported from the island of Boa Vista where studies have been 
ongoing since 1998 (Lazar and Holcer, 1998; L[oacute]pez-Jurado et al., 
2000; Fretey, 2001; Varo Cruz et al., 2007; Loureiro, 2008; M. Tiwari, 
NMFS, personal communication, 2008). On Boa Vista Island, 833 and 1,917 
nests were reported in 2001 and 2002 respectively from 3.1 km of beach 
(Varo Cruz et al., 2007) and between 1998 and 2002 the local project 
had tagged 2,856 females (Varo Cruz et al., 2007). In 2005, 5,396 nests 
and 3,121 females were reported from 9 km of beach on Boa Vista Island 
(L[oacute]pez-Jurado et al., 2007). More recently, 12,028 nests in 
2008, 20,102 nests in 2009, and 9,174 nests in 2010 were reported from 
approximately 68 km of beach on Boa Vista Island (Cabo Verde Natura 
2000, 2010). On Sal Island, 344 nests were reported in 2008, 1,037 
nests in 2009, and 566 nests in 2010 (SOS Tartarugas, 2009; J. Cozens, 
SOS Tartarugas, personal communication, 2011). From Santiago Island, 66 
nests were reported from four beaches in 2007 and 53 nests from five 
beaches in 2008 (http://tartarugascaboverde.wordpress.com/santiago). 
Due to limited data available, a population trend cannot currently be 
determined for the Cape Verde population; however, available 
information on the directed killing of nesting females suggests that 
this nesting population is under severe pressure and likely 
significantly reduced from historical levels (Marco et al., 2010). 
Loureiro (2008) reported a reduction in nesting from historical levels 
at Santiago Island, based on interviews with elders. Elsewhere in the 
northeastern Atlantic, loggerhead nesting is non-existent or occurs at 
very low levels. In Morocco, anecdotal reports indicated high numbers 
of nesting turtles in southern Morocco (Pasteur and Bons, 1960), but a 
few recent surveys of the Atlantic coastline have suggested a dramatic 
decline (Tiwari et al., 2001, 2006). A few nests have been reported 
from Mauritania (Arvy et al., 2000) and Sierra Leone (E. Aruna, 
Conservation Society of Sierra Leone, personal communication, 2008). 
Some loggerhead nesting in Senegal and elsewhere along the coast of 
West Africa has been reported; however, a more recent and reliable 
confirmation is needed (Fretey, 2001).

Mediterranean Sea DPS

    Nesting occurs throughout the central and eastern Mediterranean in 
Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Libya, 
and Tunisia (Sternberg, 1981; Margaritoulis et al., 2003; SWOT, 2007; 
Casale and Margaritoulis, 2010). In addition, sporadic nesting has been 
reported from the western Mediterranean (Spain and France), but the 
vast majority of nesting occurs in Greece and Turkey (Margaritoulis et 
al., 2003). The documented annual nesting of loggerheads in the 
Mediterranean averages over 7,200 nests (Casale and Margaritoulis, 
2010). There has been no discernible trend in nesting reported for the 
two longest monitoring projects in Greece, Laganas Bay (Margaritoulis, 
2005) and southern Kyparissia Bay (Margaritoulis and Rees, 2001). 
However, the nesting trend at Rethymno Beach, which hosts approximately 
7 percent of all documented loggerhead nesting in the Mediterranean, 
showed a highly significant declining trend from 1990 through 2004 
(Margaritoulis et al., 2009). In Turkey, intermittent nesting surveys 
have been conducted since the 1970s with more consistent surveys 
conducted on some beaches only since the 1990s, making it difficult to 
assess trends in nesting. Ilgaz et al. (2007) reported a declining 
trend at Fethiye Beach from 1993-2004, this beach represents 
approximately 10 percent of loggerhead nesting in Turkey (Margaritoulis 
et al., 2003).

South Atlantic Ocean DPS

    In the South Atlantic, nesting occurs primarily along the mainland 
coast of Brazil from Sergipe south to Rio de Janeiro, with peak 
concentrations in northern Bahia, Esp[iacute]rito Santo, and northern 
Rio de Janeiro with peak nesting along the coast of Bahia (Marcovaldi 
and Chaloupka, 2007). Prior to 1980, loggerhead nesting populations in 
Brazil were considered severely depleted. Recently, Marcovaldi and 
Chaloupka (2007) reported a long-term, sustained increasing trend in 
nesting abundance over a 16-year period from 1988 through 2003 on 22 
surveyed beaches containing more than 75 percent of all loggerhead 
nesting in Brazil. A total of 4,837 nests were reported from these 
survey beaches for the 2003-2004 nesting season (Marcovaldi and 
Chaloupka, 2007). Loggerhead nesting has continued to increase with 
approximately 6,800 nests recorded during the 2008-2009 nesting season 
(dos Santos et al., 2011).
Summary of Comments
    With the publication of the proposed listing determination for the 
nine loggerhead sea turtle DPSs on March 16, 2010 (75 FR 12598), we 
announced a 90-day comment period extending through June 14, 2010. On 
June 2, 2010 (75 FR 30769), we extended the public comment period for 
an additional 90 days through September 13, 2010, and announced our 
intention to hold a public hearing to provide an additional opportunity 
and format to receive public input. The public hearing was held in 
Berlin, Maryland, on June 16, 2010. On March 22, 2011 (76 FR 15932), we 
published in the Federal Register a notice announcing a 6-month 
extension of the deadline for a final listing decision to address 
substantial disagreement that existed on the interpretation of data 
related to the status and trends for the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS 
of the loggerhead sea turtle and its relevance to the assessment of 
risk of extinction. At this time, we announced an additional 20-day 
comment period for new information or analyses from the public that 
would help clarify this issue.
    A joint NMFS/USFWS policy requires us to solicit independent expert 
review from at least three qualified specialists, concurrent with the 
public comment period (59 FR 34270; July 1, 1994). In December 2004, 
the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a Final Information 
Quality Bulletin for Peer Review establishing minimum peer review 
standards, a transparent process for public disclosure, and 
opportunities for public input. The OMB Peer Review Bulletin, 
implemented under the Information Quality Act (Public Law 106-554), is 
intended to provide public oversight on the quality of agency 
information, analyses, and regulatory activities, and applies to 
information disseminated on or after June 16, 2005. We solicited 
technical review of the proposed listing determination from six 
independent experts, and received reviews from all six of these 
experts. The independent expert review under the joint NMFS/USFWS peer 
review policy collectively satisfies the requirements of the OMB Peer 
Review Bulletin and the joint NMFS/USFWS peer review policy. The peer 
reviewers provided additional information, clarifications, suggestions, 
and editorial comments to improve this final rule. Peer reviewer 
comments are addressed in the following summary and incorporated into 
this final rule as appropriate.
    The Services received over 109,000 public comments on the proposed 
rule, of which over 104,000 were form letters sent as part of comment 
campaigns from environmental organizations. Approximately 5,000 unique 
individual comments received were generally supportive of the proposed 
rule. Comments were received from interested individuals, State and 
Federal agencies, fishing groups, environmental

[[Page 58887]]

organizations, industry groups, and peer reviewers with scientific 
expertise.
    The Services received many comments outside the scope of this 
rulemaking. These included comments on agency guidance on listing 
species, prohibitions on take, exceptions to the ESA prohibition on 
take (e.g., incidental take permits under section 10, incidental take 
statements under section 7), the difference between ``take'' as defined 
by the ESA and mortality, actions that may be taken as a result of 
changes to the ESA listing for loggerheads, management measures 
implemented via subsequent rulemakings, the findings of a National 
Research Council report on the assessment of sea turtle status and 
trends, and implementation of recovery plans. We do not respond to 
these comments in this final rule.
    The summary of comments and our responses below are organized into 
six general categories: (1) Peer review comments; (2) comments on the 
identification of DPSs; (3) comments on the identification and 
consideration of specific threats; (4) comments on the status and 
trends and extinction risk assessments of the DPSs; (5) comments on the 
status determinations for the DPSs; and (6) other comments.

Peer Review Comments

    Comment 1: Two of the six peer reviewers requested clearer 
definitions for Endangered Species Act terminology used in the proposed 
rule. For instance, the proposed rule stated ``The ESA defines an 
endangered species as one that is in danger of extinction throughout 
all or a significant portion of its range, and a threatened species as 
one that is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future 
throughout all or a significant portion of its range * * *'' These two 
reviewers asked about the time frame for ``in danger of extinction'' 
and whether the term extinction is referring to quasi-extinction or 
absolute extinction. One of these reviewers also asked what is meant by 
a ``significant portion of its range'' and ``foreseeable future.''
    Response: The ESA defines an endangered species as a species that 
is ``in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of 
its range,'' and a threatened species as a species that is ``likely to 
become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout 
all or a significant portion of its range.'' The legislative history of 
the ESA indicates Congress did not provide any quantitative measures 
for the Services to apply when determining whether a species is ``in 
danger of extinction.'' Rather, it left to the discretion of the 
Services the task of giving meaning to the terms through the process of 
case-specific analyses that necessarily depend on the Services' 
expertise to make the highly fact-specific decisions to list species as 
endangered or threatened. Although Congress did not seek to make any 
single factor controlling when drawing the distinction, Congress 
acknowledged that ``there is a temporal element to the distinction 
between the categories.'' In Re Polar Bear Endangered Species Act 
Listing and Sec.  4(d) Rule Litigation, Slip Opinion at 40 n. 24, 51, 
51 n. 27. (D.D.C. June 30, 2011). Thus, in the context of the ESA, the 
Services interpret an ``endangered species'' to be one that is 
presently at risk of extinction. A ``threatened species,'' on the other 
hand, is not currently at risk of extinction, but is likely to become 
so. In other words, a key statutory difference between a threatened and 
endangered species is the timing of when a species may be in danger of 
extinction, either now (endangered) or in the foreseeable future 
(threatened).
    The term ``significant portion of its range'' is not defined by the 
statute. For the purposes of this rule, a portion of the species' 
(species, subspecies, or distinct population segment) range is 
``significant'' if its contribution to the viability of the species is 
so important that, without that portion, the species would be in danger 
of extinction. The definition of a ``threatened species'' is a species 
that is ``likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable 
future.'' USFWS uses the term foreseeable future as interpreted by the 
U.S. Department of the Interior Office of the Solicitor (Bernhardt, 
2009): ``In summary, the foreseeable future describes the extent to 
which the Secretary (of Interior) can, in making determinations about 
the future conservation status of the species, reasonably rely on 
predictions about the future. Those predictions can be in the form of 
extrapolation of population or threat trends, analysis of how threats 
will affect the status of the species, or events that will have a 
significant new impact on the species. The Secretary's ability to rely 
on predictions may significantly vary with the amount and substance of 
available data.''
    Comment 2: Three of the six peer reviewers agreed with the 
designation of the nine proposed DPSs. Two reviewers agreed with eight 
of the proposed DPSs, but disagreed with the proposed North Indian 
Ocean DPS and questioned the rationale for not breaking out this DPS 
into East and West components. One reviewer felt that the separation of 
the Indian Ocean into three DPSs was not sufficiently explained. 
Another reviewer found the evidence compelling to conclude that the 
North Pacific Ocean, South Pacific Ocean, and South Atlantic Ocean DPSs 
were discrete. However, he had questions about the discreteness of the 
Indian Ocean DPSs, and the northern Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean 
Sea DPSs. While he did not question the discreteness findings of these 
DPSs, the full argument was not clear to him.
    Response: Insufficient information was available to further 
separate the North Indian Ocean DPS into east and west segments. As for 
the comments indicating that sufficient information was not provided to 
justify the separation of some of the DPSs, the Services believe the 
information provided in the Discreteness Determination section of this 
final rule and the Discreteness Determination section of the Status 
Review (Conant et al., 2009), which is incorporated into this final 
rule by reference, meets agency policy for identifying DPSs.
    Comment 3: In most cases, the peer reviewers either agreed with or 
did not oppose the proposed listing status for the nine DPSs. However, 
one reviewer stated that while he does not oppose the proposed status 
for any of the DPSs, he does not believe the proposed status for each 
DPS was adequately explained or justified. Another reviewer expressed 
similar concerns for the North Pacific Ocean DPS, South Pacific Ocean 
DPS, North Indian Ocean DPS, Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS, and the 
Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS and stated that the status determinations 
needed to be more explicitly justified. One reviewer expressed concern 
about the restricted use of nesting data for the South Pacific Ocean 
DPS up until 1999 only and indicated that more recent data should be 
used. This reviewer indicated that the more recent data for Mon Repos, 
for example, have shown increased nesting with 2009 nesting levels back 
up to similar numbers as seen in the 1990s. Two reviewers did not 
believe sufficient data were presented to justify listing of the North 
Indian Ocean DPS as endangered, particularly in light of the large size 
of the nesting population, although one of them indicated he did not 
feel strongly about this. These same two reviewers also questioned the 
proposed endangered status for the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS 
because the nesting population is protected, trends have been stable, 
and there do not appear to be major sources of mortality; however, one 
of the two reviewers indicated he did not feel strongly about this.

[[Page 58888]]

    Response: With regard to the North Indian Ocean DPS, threats are 
substantial as identified in the five-factor review, and conservation 
efforts are embryonic relative to the known and suspected threats 
impacting the population. Given the information suggesting declines in 
the nesting population, the emergence of gillnet fisheries in close 
proximity to the nesting beaches, and the embryonic stage of 
conservation efforts in the region, the Services believe an endangered 
status is justified. In the case of the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean 
DPS, the nesting survey effort and methods have varied over the last 2 
decades and currently there are no nesting population estimates 
available to suggest any positive trend in nesting populations. 
However, some of the fisheries bycatch impacts have been resolved 
through requirement of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) in shrimp 
trawlers, and longline fishery effort has declined due to fish stock 
decreases and economic reasons. Although a new fisheries effort has 
emerged for portunid crabs and is posing new threats to loggerheads, 
and longline fishing effort for tuna and billfish is also subject to 
increase if and when economics and fish populations improve, we are 
unable to quantify these threats. As a result, based primarily on peer 
reviewer comments regarding current threats and conservation efforts, 
the Services now believe a threatened status for the Southeast Indo-
Pacific Ocean DPS is appropriate. With regard to the comment that the 
status determinations for several of the DPSs lacked sufficient 
justification, we have clarified the rationale for the status 
determinations in the Finding section in this final rule.
    Comment 4: One peer reviewer commented that the information 
presented in the proposed rule appeared thorough, up-to-date, and 
convincing for the conclusions made, both with respect to DPS 
designation and listing status. However, he noted the Services could 
have readily arrived at these conclusions without the use of either the 
susceptibility to quasi-extinction (SQE) or the threat matrix analysis. 
He also noted that the relative novelty and thin track records of both 
methods may draw criticism that distracts from the real substance of 
the analysis of the available data. Another reviewer noted weaknesses 
with the extinction risk assessments, but was pleased to see these 
quantitative risk assessments included in the proposed rule and 
appreciated that they were considered hand-in-hand with the threats 
analysis. Specifically, he stated that the SQE approach looked at the 
risk of declining to 30 percent of the current population size, but it 
was not clear over what time frame this decline was examined or what 
risk of decline warranted listing. He also noted that the SQE method 
was largely retrospective, as it used past empirical trends to forecast 
future trends. He thought the matrix method was better at exploring the 
potential risk posed by future trends, so it was more forward-looking 
than the SQE method, but it only looked at deterministic risk, not 
stochastic risk. A third reviewer agreed with the threat based 
assessments, but he thought details were lacking in the SQE analysis. 
Specifically, he thought there should be more emphasis on the 
relationship between reduced population sizes and decreased resilience 
to cope with current and future impacts and felt this to be 
particularly relevant given the large time frames for maturity and the 
large spatial scales involved.
    Response: The Services have clarified the text in the Extinction 
Risk Assessments section to more clearly state that the SQE and threat 
matrix analyses were only used to provide some additional insights into 
the status of the nine DPSs, but that ultimately the conclusions and 
determinations made were based on an assessment of population sizes and 
trends, current and anticipated threats (i.e., five-factor analysis), 
and conservation efforts for each DPS.
    Comment 5: One peer reviewer stated that the threats assessments 
were not as future-focused as he would have liked. He thought they 
tended to rely on current or past status and trends, but he believes 
the ESA is forward-looking and is concerned about the future status of 
the species. He recognized that some evidence was presented about 
future trends, such as development pressures on beaches in various 
areas of the world, progress toward enforcing existing legislation, 
reduction of bycatch, and potential climate change impacts, but he 
still thought the final assessments could be more future-focused.
    Response: Section 4 of the ESA and its implementing regulations (50 
CFR part 424) set forth the procedures for adding species to the 
Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. A 
species may be determined to be endangered or threatened due to one or 
more of the five factors described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act. The 
Services are required to use the best scientific and commercial 
information available at the time we are making our listing 
assessments. Thus, predicting potential future threats to a species is 
dependent on available data and the life history and ecology of the 
species, the nature of the threats, and the species' response to those 
threats. While the SQE analysis relied on nesting beach surveys and is 
retrospective, the threat matrix analyses look at the potential future 
directions given the known threats and loggerhead sea turtle biology. 
Although the SQE and threat matrix analyses provided some additional 
insights into the status of the nine DPSs, ultimately the conclusions 
and determinations made were primarily based on an assessment of 
population sizes and trends, current and anticipated threats, and 
conservation efforts for each DPS.
    Comment 6: One peer reviewer said that for some populations (e.g., 
Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS) there has been a great deal of study over 
the past few decades and there is a lot of information about many 
aspects of the life history of the population and its anthropogenic 
threats. For other populations, there are little data. As a result he 
was unclear how the quality of the empirical evidence affected the risk 
assessment and the status classification under the ESA. He questioned 
whether a more precautionary interpretation of the risk was taken when 
there was greater uncertainty or whether the greater amount of evidence 
in some places actually made it easier.
    Response: We are to make status determinations based solely on the 
best available scientific and commercial data after conducting a review 
of the status of the species and taking into account any efforts being 
made by States or foreign governments to protect the species. In 
assessing the status of each identified DPS, we considered available 
information on status and trends, the five-factor analysis (see Summary 
of Factors Affecting the Nine Loggerhead DPSs section), and 
conservation efforts that have been implemented (see Conservation 
Efforts section). We considered this information in light of the ESA 
definitions of endangered and threatened (see Listing Determinations 
Under the ESA section).
    Comment 7: One peer reviewer commented that the boundary of 
139[deg] E. long. in the Gulf of Carpentaria separating the South 
Pacific Ocean DPS and the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS was too far 
west. He stated that satellite tracking showed a female from Western 
Australia moving into 141[deg] E. long. and indicated there are 
reasonable numbers of loggerheads foraging in the Torres Strait for 
which genetic analyses have not yet been conducted.
    Response: Based on the information provided by this peer reviewer, 
the

[[Page 58889]]

Services have revised the boundary separating the South Pacific Ocean 
DPS and the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS from 139[deg] E. long. to 
141[deg] E. longitude.

Comments on the Identification of DPSs

    Comment 8: Two commenters questioned the Services' application of 
the DPS policy. They noted that DPS designations should be used 
sparingly and only when biological evidence indicates that such action 
is warranted to meet Congressional intent. They stated that the 
separation must be marked, and DPS designations are only appropriate 
where scientific evidence is conclusive to justify such listing.
    Response: The Services acknowledge in the Policies for Delineating 
Species Under the ESA section of this final rule that Congress has 
instructed the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce to exercise the 
authority to designate DPSs ``* * * sparingly and only when the 
biological evidence indicates such action is warranted.'' As a result, 
the Services adopted a joint policy for recognizing DPSs under the ESA 
(DPS Policy; 61 FR 4722) on February 7, 1996. This policy, described in 
the Policies for Delineating Species Under the ESA section, has been 
closely followed in determining loggerhead DPSs, and the Services 
believe it meets the Congressional intent.
    Comment 9: One commenter did not believe additional benefits to the 
populations would occur if DPSs were designated (e.g., threatened 
turtles are already treated the same as endangered turtles under a 4(d) 
rule, critical habitat can be designated, and section 7 of the ESA 
applies). Another commenter believes the United States will diminish 
its role in international sea turtle conservation by only having an 
interest in the two DPSs (Northwest Atlantic Ocean and North Pacific 
Ocean) that occur in the United States.
    Response: The Services were petitioned to list the Northwest 
Atlantic and North Pacific loggerhead sea turtle populations as DPSs 
and to change the listing status of turtles in those populations from 
threatened to endangered. The Services do not believe that identifying 
DPSs for the loggerhead will diminish the United States' role in 
international sea turtle conservation. Both Services have strong 
international programs for sea turtles, including implementation of the 
U.S. Marine Turtle Conservation Act of 2004, which was created to 
assist in the conservation of sea turtles and their nesting habitats in 
foreign countries.
    Comment 10: The State of Florida supports the identification of 
nine DPSs. The States of Georgia and South Carolina support the 
designation of the Northwest Atlantic DPS. The State of Connecticut 
believes the listing of nine loggerhead DPSs is reasonable and will 
result in better targeted conservation for this species. The State of 
Maryland believes it is premature to consider listing DPSs without full 
disclosure of loggerhead population status. Numerous conservation 
organizations and individuals, including all the individuals that sent 
form letters, support designation of the nine proposed DPSs. Three 
fishing groups do not support the identification of loggerhead DPSs.
    Response: The Services have considered the best available 
information on loggerhead population status and have summarized this 
information in the Status and Trends of the Nine Loggerhead DPSs 
section of this final rule.
    Comment 11: The State of Alaska provided information that only two 
loggerheads have been observed in Alaska in the past 50 years and 
requested that Alaska waters be excluded from the North Pacific Ocean 
DPS.
    Response: While the ESA authorizes the listing, delisting, or 
reclassification of a species, subspecies, or DPS of a vertebrate 
species, it does not authorize the exclusion of a subset or portion of 
a listed species, subspecies, or DPS from a listing decision. Although 
only two observations of loggerheads in Alaska waters have been 
reported, this indicates the species does at least occasionally occur 
there.
    Comment 12: One commenter contended that the Services failed to 
conduct analyses (e.g., statistical analysis, gene flow, extent of DNA 
allele and haplotype differences, degree of DNA sequence divergence for 
mtDNA or nuclear DNA) necessary to determine if the data support a 
conclusion of marked separation with respect to genetics. The commenter 
noted that the proposed rule stated that it relied on genetic 
differences characterized by allele frequency differences rather than 
fixed genetic differences.
    Response: The Services conducted a thorough review of the best 
available science and presented and discussed the body of published 
genetic studies in the scientific literature, including statistical 
analysis, gene flow, extent of DNA allele and haplotype differences, 
and degree of DNA sequence divergence for mtDNA and nuclear DNA. All of 
these studies consistently show evidence of deep evolutionary 
divergence between the proposed DPSs. Several of the DPSs are 
characterized by fixed genetic differences or endemic mtDNA haplotypes; 
however, fixation is not a requirement for marked genetic separation.
    Comment 13: One commenter disagreed with the Services' 
determination that physical factors separate DPSs in different ocean 
basins, and further disagreed that water temperatures are a sufficient 
barrier to prevent turtles from moving between ocean basins. The 
commenter noted that dispersal from the Indian Ocean to the South 
Atlantic is possible via the Agulhas current and cited Bowen and Karl 
(2007), which documented at least two such transfers. The commenter 
disagreed with the rationale for dividing the Atlantic basin into North 
and South because a DNA haplotype unique to the Brazilian nesting 
assemblage has been found in foraging juveniles in the North Atlantic, 
therefore contradicting that loggerheads in the North and South 
Atlantic are isolated from each other. The commenter also believes that 
loggerheads from the North Pacific and South Pacific mix during their 
trans-Pacific migrations, which results in gene flow across the 
equator. The commenter cited information presented in Hatase et al. 
(2002a) that the Australian haplotype (South Pacific Ocean DPS) was 
present in loggerheads nesting in Japan (North Pacific Ocean DPS) and 
in Bowen and Karl (2007) that turtles caught off Baja California have 5 
percent of the Australian haplotype.
    Response: There is substantial genetic evidence that is consistent 
with satellite telemetry and other lines of evidence to support the 
division between Ocean basins and between the North and South Atlantic 
and Pacific Oceans. The Services present a review of the available 
science and discuss the rationale in detail for each DPS, which are 
based on distribution of breeding populations (rookeries). The Services 
note that the distribution of and migration of juveniles may extend 
beyond the geographic boundaries of each DPS and that juveniles from 
different DPSs may share oceanic foraging habitat. The dispersal (in 
terms of expansion/exchange and establishment of breeding populations) 
between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans referred to by the commenter 
occurred on geological timescales, most recently during the Pleistocene 
12,000-250,000 years ago. The separation between the North and South 
Atlantic is believed to be even deeper according to the published 
scientific literature detailed by the Services. The earlier speculation 
by Bowen et al. (2005) of an Australian haplotype present in the North 
Pacific (including Baja California foraging

[[Page 58890]]

grounds) has been shown by more recent studies to be a sampling 
artifact (Bowen et al., 1994, 1995; Hatase et al., 2002a; Dutton, 2007, 
unpublished data; Boyle et al., 2009; Watanabe et al., 2011).
    Comment 14: One commenter referred to the Status Review statement 
that unique DNA haplotypes could represent adaptive differences. The 
commenter contended that this is speculation with no supporting 
evidence and, therefore, that adaptation and selection should not be 
considered in the discreteness finding.
    Response: Adaptation and selection were not explicitly used as 
criteria to evaluate discreteness, but are processes that are 
implicitly involved in the evolution of populations (e.g., the 
accumulation of geographically divergent genetic variation). The text 
has been revised to clarify this point.
    Comment 15: One commenter believes the Services cannot limit 
genetic analysis to a subset of the DPS (adult females) because doing 
so would be listing below the DPS level and contrary to court findings 
and legislative history. The commenter cited various court cases 
including Modesto Irrigation District v. Gutierrez, Alsea Valley 
Alliance v. Evans, and Rock Creek Alliance v. United States Fish and 
Wildlife Service. The commenter believes that limiting genetic analyses 
to only mtDNA can yield misleading results because it only reflects 
female gene flow. Alternately, nuclear DNA reflects total gene flow.
    Response: The Services followed the DPS Policy to determine the 
applicability of the policy for the loggerhead sea turtle. The DPS 
policy requires the consideration of two elements when evaluating 
whether a vertebrate population segment qualifies as a DPS under the 
ESA: (1) The discreteness of the population segment in relation to the 
remainder of the species or subspecies to which it belongs; and (2) the 
significance of the population segment to the species or subspecies to 
which it belongs. The loggerhead sea turtle's global distribution and 
natal site fidelity and migratory nature are integral to this 
determination. While the Services relied on the genetic analysis 
results of mitochondrial DNA (matriarchal), nuclear DNA analysis 
results, where available, were used to determine discreteness and 
significance of the DPSs. The Services presented a detailed rationale 
for identifying breeding populations as the population units given the 
complex life history of sea turtles. The geographic structure of 
maternal lineages is an appropriate measure that has been used 
extensively to delineate populations of sea turtles whose life history 
is characterized by natal homing (both of adult males and females).
    Comment 16: One commenter disagreed that genetic separation exists 
for loggerheads in the Atlantic. The commenter believes that the data 
suggest the proposed DPSs in the Atlantic (Northwest Atlantic, 
Northeast Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Mediterranean) are not 
genetically distinct because they share mtDNA haplotypes and 
microsatellite DNA alleles. The commenter provided their own analysis 
of the Northwest Atlantic and South Atlantic that showed at least four 
migrants per generation between the Northwest Atlantic and South 
Atlantic; the commenter contended that migration of 1 to 10 animals 
between population groups per generation is sufficient to prevent 
genetic differentiation. Another commenter noted scientific agreement 
that male mediated gene flow is common among loggerheads, which leads 
the commenter to conclude that loggerheads are not ``reproductively-
isolated'' on a global scale. This commenter believes that exchanges 
between ocean basins have occurred, are occurring now, and will likely 
occur in the future, while even subpopulations have been shown as 
genetically distinct within regions. One commenter questioned the 
Services' finding that the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS is 
reproductively isolated and therefore markedly separated based on male-
mediated gene flow as well as nest site fidelity. The commenter cited 
studies that have documented individual adult females returning to nest 
at sites that were equal to or greater than distances between nesting 
colonies. This commenter further believes that by declaring female 
loggerheads are reproductively isolated because of ``unique'' nesting 
areas is to classify an entire species based on the characteristics of 
part of the proposed DPS (nesting adult females), which violates the 
ESA.
    Response: Male mediated gene flow is one hypothesis explaining lack 
of differentiation with nuclear markers that have been found between 
proximate rookeries that have otherwise shown structure based on mtDNA. 
Follow up studies are necessary to further test the alternative 
hypothesis that the lack of differentiation was due to the lack of 
statistical power of the microsatellite markers used in early studies 
to resolve fine scale structure. These studies are ongoing and there is 
a suite of new microsatellite markers that has been developed to 
further this research. Published studies consistently indicate that 
gene flow between the DPSs identified by the Services occur over 
geological time scales and shared haplotypes are the result of shared 
common ancestry 12,000-3 million years ago and not ongoing radiation 
and colonization between DPSs.
    Comment 17: One commenter questioned and disagreed with the 
Services' finding that the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS is genetically 
separated from other DPSs, particularly the Northeast Atlantic Ocean 
and South Atlantic Ocean DPSs. As evidence of substantial mixing in the 
oceanic zone, the commenter cited data from bycaught loggerheads in the 
pelagic longline fishery operating off Atlantic Canada as well as 
fisheries off the Azores and Madeira. Relative to foraging grounds, 
another commenter believes that the documented mixing of males and 
females facilitates male mediated gene flow between different nesting 
assemblages and different ocean basins and results in mixing by male 
mediated gene flow. This commenter also believes that Northwest 
Atlantic loggerheads are not a legitimate DPS because they do not have 
private microsatellite alleles, share microsatellite alleles with other 
loggerheads, and do not have monophyletic DNA haplotypes within 
regions.
    Response: There is no evidence that mating occurs on the distant 
foraging grounds. Indeed the body of genetic, behavioral, and telemetry 
research over the last 25 years is consistent with a paradigm of 
migration by adults, both male and female, to coastal areas near natal 
beaches where mating takes place at the beginning of the nesting 
season. There is no evidence that mixing of immature turtles at high 
seas foraging areas where pelagic fisheries also interact facilitates 
male mediated gene flow. Bowen et al. (2005) also showed tendency 
toward natal homing by immature loggerheads in the Northwest Atlantic 
as they move into the nearshore neritic habitat.
    Comment 18: One commenter provided an analysis comparing mtDNA 
haplotypes directly (i.e., not transforming them to Fst) for the 
proposed DPSs in the Northwest Atlantic and Mediterranean. The 
commenter concluded that actual genetic data show that the Northwest 
Atlantic, Northeast Atlantic, and Mediterranean populations are 
genetically similar, with shared mtDNA haplotypes with similar 
frequencies in some nesting populations. The commenter believes these 
observations of genetic patterns within and between regions indicate 
the proposed DPSs

[[Page 58891]]

(Northwest Atlantic, Northeast Atlantic, and Mediterranean) are not 
genetically distinct or markedly separated. The commenter noted that 
after the Services concluded genetic separation between the proposed 
Northwest and Northeast Atlantic Ocean DPSs, the Services admitted that 
nesting females of the Boa Vista rookery in the Northeast Atlantic, 
despite their proximity to other Northeast Atlantic rookeries and to 
the Mediterranean, are ``most closely related to the rookeries of the 
Northwest Atlantic.'' Thus, the commenter believes the Services' admit 
no marked genetic separation between these two proposed DPSs. The 
commenter further recalled that the proposed rule admitted loggerheads 
from the Northwest Atlantic colonized the Northeast Atlantic and 
Mediterranean. Additionally, the commenter believes this same rationale 
applies to other DPSs. An Australian haplotype (South Pacific Ocean) is 
found in Japanese nesting populations (North Pacific Ocean) indicating 
comingling of these groups. Similarly, the proposed South Pacific Ocean 
DPS (eastern Australia) does not appear to be markedly different from 
nesting assemblages in Western Australia in the proposed Southeast 
Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS because the two groups share two mtDNA 
haplotypes. Turtles caught off Baja California included 95 percent of 
the haplotypes that are common to Japanese nesting areas and 5 percent 
of Australian haplotypes; the Status Review admitted gene flow between 
these populations. As noted by Bowen and Karl (2007) ``there appears to 
be sufficient leakage [of genes] between ocean basins to prevent long-
term isolation and allopatric specification.''
    Response: Standard population genetic analysis published in the 
peer-reviewed scientific literature indicates significant population 
structure. Recent studies (Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2010) 
reinforce this and identify haplotypes that are common in the Northeast 
Atlantic but absent in the Northwest Atlantic rookeries. Furthermore, 
Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al. (2010) show that haplotypes that 
were the same based on relatively short (~380bp) sequences were 
actually different when longer sequence fragments (~760bp) were 
analyzed. They identified four new variants of the base haplotype and 
showed fixed differences between a Northwest Atlantic rookery and 
Northeast Atlantic rookery, suggesting that previous studies have 
underestimated the level of differentiation between these DPSs. 
Research is currently underway using longer sequence data to 
comprehensively reanalyze Atlantic and Mediterranean rookery structure 
that is expected to provide greater power to detect differentiation. 
Also, see the response to Comment 17.
    Comment 19: One commenter believes there is an error in the 
proposed rule, which notes that loggerheads at Brazilian rookeries have 
a ``unique mtDNA haplotype * * *.'' but then notes the haplotype is not 
``unique'' because it has been found ``in foraging populations of 
juvenile loggerheads of the North Atlantic * * *.'' The commenter 
believes that if the haplotype is found throughout the Atlantic it is 
not ``unique'' and instead indicates common recent ancestry and male 
mediated gene flow throughout the Atlantic basin. Additionally, the 
commenter believes that mtDNA obtained from 11 animals from one site in 
Brazil is too small a sample and limited geographically to properly 
assess the presence of haplotypes in North and South Atlantic 
populations.
    Response: The commenter has confused the presence of haplotype in 
juvenile foraging populations with absence of this haplotype in North 
Atlantic rookeries. Furthermore the commenter overstates the frequency 
of occurrence of the Brazilian haplotype in the North Atlantic juvenile 
foraging aggregations, and since mtDNA is maternally inherited, the 
claim that this is evidence of male mediated gene flow is erroneous.
    Comment 20: One commenter disagreed that there are ecological 
differences for adult females in the Atlantic basin because multiple 
populations mix on foraging grounds. The commenter also feels that 
ecological differences cannot be used as justification for delineating 
a Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS because foraging behavior of adult males 
and other life stages are not included. Therefore, DPS designation is 
based only on a subset of the population and not the entire DPS. To 
further illustrate this point, the commenter cited a 2001 Atlantic 
Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan that noted adult 
females comprise only 1 percent of the total turtle population and a 
National Research Council report that concluded adults comprise less 
than 5 percent of the non-hatchling population.
    Response: See response to comment 15. Also, in general, adult 
females occupy neritic foraging habitat, and mixing of adults from 
different DPSs on foraging grounds is unlikely.
    Comment 21: One commenter disagreed that behavioral differences 
(i.e., nesting season) justify discreteness. The commenter noted that 
nesting occurs in the summer months in both the South Atlantic and the 
Northwest Atlantic; the months that nesting occurs are not the same 
because of the earth's rotation and have nothing to do with turtle 
behavior. The commenter contended that the behavior patterns of turtles 
are the same in both regions, thus if nesting season is used as the 
justification, it argues against separating the Northwest Atlantic from 
the Northeast Atlantic and the Mediterranean.
    Response: Marked differences in nesting season between northern and 
southern hemispheres is one of several characteristics that help 
support distinction. The Services do not use nesting season per se as a 
diagnostic criterion to justify DPS designation, but rather consider it 
as one of several supporting factors.
    Comment 22: One commenter believes the Services reached conclusions 
on the discreteness factors without analysis or explanation.
    Response: The Services disagree. The Discreteness Determination 
section of the proposed rule clearly presented the information we 
considered in determining the discreteness of populations.
    Comment 23: One commenter noted that the proposed rule addressed 
size issues only in the Atlantic and neglected the other ocean basins. 
Also with respect to size, the commenter did not agree that mean size 
of reproductive female loggerheads should be used to support splitting 
the Northwest Atlantic Ocean and South Atlantic Ocean DPSs because the 
proposed rule noted that SCL in Brazil is comparable to that in the 
Northwest Atlantic. Further, the commenter does not believe that size 
differences are justification for separate DPSs as these differences 
could be attributed to various ages, sexes, nutrition, and water 
temperature, which would greatly affect growth rates and corresponding 
size.
    Response: The Services did not use nesting female size per se as a 
diagnostic criterion to justify DPS designation, but rather considered 
it as one of several supporting factors.
    Comment 24: One commenter does not believe the ``significance'' 
standard is met in the proposed rule. The commenter believes that being 
located in different geographic areas does not make each area unique 
for loggerheads such that each area is significant.
    Response: The Services disagree with the comment. Each of the nine 
populations represents a large portion of the species' range and each 
represents a unique ecosystem that is significant to the taxon as a 
whole, influenced by

[[Page 58892]]

local ecological and physical factors. The loss of any individual 
population would result in a significant gap in the loggerhead's range. 
Each population segment is genetically unique, often identified by 
unique mtDNA haplotypes, and the loss of any one population segment 
would represent a significant loss of genetic diversity.

Comments on the Identification and Consideration of Specific Threats

    Comment 25: Three commenters believe climate change should be 
determined as a significant threat to the persistence of all of the 
DPSs. The commenters provided detailed information on sea level rise 
impacts on nesting beaches and nesting success, increasing sand 
temperatures resulting in skewed sex ratios and higher egg mortality, 
impacts of storm activity on nesting beaches and nesting success, 
warmer ocean temperatures and changes in circulation effects on all age 
classes, and ocean acidification impacts on nesting beaches and food 
resources. Another commenter believes that global climate change should 
not be considered in the listing decision for the North Pacific Ocean 
DPS because its effects on loggerheads and the ecosystem are too 
complex and speculative, and they could adapt to changing conditions.
    Response: The Services have identified climate change impacts as 
potentially having profound long-term impacts on nesting populations, 
but also continue to believe it is not possible to quantify the 
potential impacts at this time. Impacts from climate change, especially 
due to global warming, are likely to become more apparent in future 
years (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007). The global 
mean temperature has risen 0.76 degrees Celsius over the last 150 
years, and the linear trend over the last 50 years is nearly twice that 
for the last 100 years (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 
2007). One of the most certain consequences of climate change is sea 
level rise (Titus and Narayanan, 1995), which will result in increased 
erosion rates along nesting beaches. On undeveloped and unarmored 
beaches with no landward infrastructure, shoreline migration may have 
limited effects on the suitability of nesting habitat. Bruun (1962) 
hypothesized that during sea level rise a typical beach profile will 
maintain its configuration but will be translated landward and upward. 
However, along developed coastlines, and especially in areas where 
erosion control structures have been constructed to limit shoreline 
movement, rising sea levels are likely to cause severe effects on 
nesting females and their eggs (Hawkes et al., 2009; Poloczanska et 
al., 2009).
    Comment 26: One commenter believes that terrestrial threats 
documented in the proposed rule should be irrelevant because the North 
Pacific Ocean DPS nesting beach counts have increased despite these 
threats during the same time period. While these threats may have some 
as yet unquantified impact on the population, they are most certainly 
not driving the population to extinction.
    Response: The Services believe that increased impacts in the 
terrestrial zone, such as beach armoring and human traffic, serve to 
decrease nesting success, hatching success, and hatchling survivorship. 
Thus, although terrestrial threats may not impact loggerheads through 
direct mortality, the indirect effects hamper the reproductive output 
of the population, on which the effects will be manifested for decades 
to come.
    Comment 27: One commenter believes the listing factor analysis for 
the North Pacific Ocean DPS does not appropriately weigh the adequacy 
of existing regulatory mechanisms (e.g., regulatory measures that 
address egg harvest and drift netting).
    Response: The Services believe that the illegal, unidentified, and 
unregulated industrial longline and driftnet fleets operating in the 
North Pacific have a major adverse effect on loggerhead sea turtles. 
Thus, the existing regulatory mechanisms are currently insufficient to 
address these fishing impacts. It is likely that the existing 
regulatory mechanisms mandating fishing strategies in U.S.-based fleets 
are approaching adequate, yet loggerheads remain vulnerable to impacts 
from foreign fleets.
    Comment 28: One commenter believes the impacts of U.S. commercial 
fisheries on North Pacific loggerheads are extremely small and not 
currently (or foreseeably) a significant source of injury or mortality. 
The commenter noted that peer-reviewed scientific literature 
demonstrated that severe restrictions placed on the shallow-set fishery 
ostensibly to protect turtles, actually resulted in substantially more 
takes on the high seas by foreign fleets filling market demand not 
being met by Hawaii-based longline fisheries. While foreign high seas 
fisheries interact with North Pacific loggerheads, the commenter noted 
the impact of this take is uncertain and unquantified. The commenter 
believes that known data demonstrate that the North Pacific population 
has increased and remained stable since the 1990s, which suggests that 
high seas bycatch is not driving the population to extinction; this is 
contrary to the language in the proposed rule on foreign high seas 
fisheries' effects on the population.
    Response: The Services agree that efforts by Hawaii-based longline 
fisheries to minimize loggerhead takes have been substantial and 
effective. However, to focus on loggerhead population trends since 1990 
only tells part of the story. Empirical data clearly show that by 1990 
the annual nesting population was substantially reduced relative to 
historical levels. Thus, loggerheads in the North Pacific remain a 
depleted population that continues to be vulnerable to fisheries 
bycatch.
    Comment 29: One commenter did not agree that bycatch in Japanese 
coastal pound net and other fisheries is causing population declines of 
the North Pacific Ocean DPS and requested detailed bycatch data/
information that supports the Services' conclusion.
    Response: The loggerhead Status Review concludes that impacts from 
fisheries bycatch represent a substantial threat to loggerhead sea 
turtles. Coastal pound-net fisheries in Japan have been shown to 
present a problem to loggerhead sea turtles in Japan and, when taken in 
context of all the other fisheries impacts ongoing at present, it is 
clear that no single fishery (coastal pound nets included) constitutes 
the only threat to loggerheads.
    Comment 30: One commenter noted that for listing Factor A (The 
Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of its 
Habitat or Range), the Status Review listed threats as low and very low 
for Northwest Atlantic loggerheads. The commenter believes that low or 
very low threats do not provide a legally sound basis to designate the 
Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as endangered. The commenter believes the 
proposed rule is inadequate in its assessment of listing Factor A and 
does not believe this factor justifies an endangered finding. The 
commenter listed several threats for which effects were not quantified 
(e.g., number of individuals or amount of habitat affected) or 
evaluated for impacts to Northwest Atlantic loggerheads: Nesting beach 
erosion, erosion control devices (beach armoring), beach washout, jetty 
construction, light pollution, vehicular traffic, fishing effects on 
loggerhead diet, sediment dredging for port navigation, and climate 
change effects on trophic changes. Further, the commenter noted that 
the proposed rule does not explain how impacts from armoring or 
dredging are offset by beach nourishment programs that increase 
loggerhead nesting. Another commenter also provided comments for 
listing

[[Page 58893]]

Factor A and believes the discussion of trends in addressing these 
threats is missing in the proposed rule (e.g., artificial lighting in 
Florida, beach driving in North Carolina, Magnuson-Stevens Fishery 
Conservation and Management Act and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries 
Commission management measures, etc.).
    Response: For a number of reasons, discussed in the Finding 
section, the Services are listing the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as 
threatened. While a listing could proceed based on one of the five 
factors, determinations of any listing decision are generally based on 
an examination of all five factors and how they impact the entity in 
total and not by examining or relying on only one factor in isolation. 
Habitat modification or destruction impacts are considered to the 
extent they are known based on the best available information. 
Quantification of such impacts is typically very difficult as a result 
of lack of available information. Regarding armoring or dredging 
impacts being offset by beach nourishment programs, we cannot quantify 
what the trade-off in effects would be. However, while nourishment can 
provide nesting habitat where either it had been destroyed previously 
or to augment impacts from other coastal measures, it at best helps 
reduce the impacts, but does not provide new benefits to the turtles. 
The Services agree that many efforts have been made to reduce threats 
on the nesting beaches. However, in many cases past policies have 
resulted in permanent detrimental impacts to nesting beaches. As 
coastal development increases, additional pressure on beach systems 
will occur, and are occurring now. In many areas breakwaters, jetties, 
seawalls, and other erosion control structures designed to protect 
public and private property continue to be permitted and built. 
Additional residential and commercial properties near beaches also 
continue to be permitted and built. While measures (e.g., lighting 
ordinances, construction setbacks) to mitigate these pressures to some 
degree provide important protections, threats remain a serious concern.
    Comment 31: One commenter noted that for listing Factor B 
(Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes), the Status Review lists threats as low or very 
low for Northwest Atlantic loggerheads. The commenter believes that low 
or very low threats do not provide a legally sound basis to designate 
the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as endangered. The commenter also 
questioned how a harvest of close to zero threatens loggerheads with 
extinction in the Northwest Atlantic, citing the TEWG assessment of 
harvest in the Caribbean and the proposed rule.
    Response: For a number of reasons, discussed in the Finding 
section, the Services are listing the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as 
threatened. While a listing could proceed based on one of the five 
factors, determinations of any listing decision are generally based on 
an examination of all five factors and how they impact the listed 
entity in total and not by examining or relying on only one factor in 
isolation.
    Comment 32: One commenter noted that for listing Factor C (Disease 
or Predation), the Status Review lists threats as low or very low for 
Northwest Atlantic loggerheads. The commenter believes that low or very 
low threats do not provide a legally sound basis to designate the 
Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as endangered. The commenter also asserted 
the proposed rule does not claim that threat from disease and predation 
actually exists, only that it may be an issue for Northwest Atlantic 
loggerheads. Further, the commenter believes the Services failed to 
indicate the nature or extent of the threat or how many loggerheads may 
be affected.
    Response: For a number of reasons, discussed in the Finding 
section, the Services are listing the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as 
threatened. While a listing could proceed based on one of the five 
factors, determinations of any listing decision are generally based on 
an examination of all five factors and how they impact the entity in 
total and not by examining or relying on only one factor in isolation. 
There are little data to assess the extent of disease and predation 
threats, thus a more qualitative discussion on the factor is presented. 
That some degree of disease and predation occurs is known, though it is 
not expected to be significant by itself. That is the reason it was 
considered to be a low to very low threat.
    Comment 33: One commenter presented an argument that the declines 
in Northwest Atlantic loggerhead nesting can best be explained by an 
epizootic event that specifically impacted loggerheads, and not fishery 
interactions. The commenter also claimed that the epizootic ended some 
years ago and populations are in recovery.
    Response: The Services do not find there is enough evidence to 
support the epizootic hypothesis at this time. While epizootic events 
may play a factor in the population trajectory, a much stronger case 
would need to be made. Witherington et al. (2009) published a very 
compelling analysis of loggerhead nesting trends and demonstrated that 
fisheries impacts appear to account for a significant proportion of the 
trend.
    Comment 34: One commenter believes listing Factor D (Inadequacy of 
Existing Regulatory Mechanisms) is not at issue and cannot be used to 
justify an endangered designation for the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS 
because the Status Review noted that it is ``not considered to be 
reducing survival rates directly.'' Additionally, the commenter 
believes the Services never discussed what mechanisms are believed to 
be inadequate nor identified any indirect impacts.
    Response: For a number of reasons, discussed in the Finding 
section, the Services are listing the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as 
threatened. While a listing could proceed based on one of the five 
factors, determinations of any listing decision are generally based on 
an examination of all five factors and how they impact the entity in 
total and not by examining or relying on only one factor in isolation. 
Our review of regulatory mechanisms for this DPS described below in the 
Summary of Factors Affecting the Nine Loggerhead DPSs demonstrates that 
regulatory mechanisms are in place that should address direct and 
incidental take for this DPS. While the regulatory mechanisms contained 
within international instruments are inconsistent and likely 
insufficient, the mechanisms of existing national legislation and 
protection enacted under existing regulatory mechanisms, primarily the 
ESA, Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and 
State regulations, are much more adequate. However, it remains to be 
determined if national measures are being implemented effectively to 
fully address the needs of loggerheads as many of the most significant 
measures have come within the last generation of loggerheads, and thus 
the benefits may not yet be seen in the nesting trends. In addition, 
even with the existing regulatory mechanisms there is still a potential 
threat from both national and international fishery bycatch and coastal 
development, beachfront lighting, and coastal armoring and other 
erosion control structures on nesting beaches in the United States. 
More work needs to be done under the existing national regulatory 
mechanisms, as well as continuing to advance the development and 
effectiveness of international instruments, to ensure the persistence 
of this DPS. Therefore, we have determined that the threat from the 
inadequacy of existing regulatory

[[Page 58894]]

mechanisms is significant relative to the persistence of this DPS.
    Comment 35: One commenter agrees with the Services that although 
regulatory mechanisms are in place that should address direct and 
incidental take in Northwest Atlantic loggerheads, these regulatory 
mechanisms are insufficient or are not being implemented effectively to 
address the needs of loggerheads.
    Response: More work needs to be done under the existing national 
regulatory mechanisms, as well as continuing to advance the development 
and effectiveness of international instruments, to ensure the 
persistence of this DPS. See the response to Comment 34 for additional 
information.
    Comment 36: One commenter believes that the Services' assessment of 
existing regulatory measures for loggerheads in the Northwest Atlantic 
Ocean DPS was confounded by the Services' failure to implement existing 
mechanisms. The commenter believes it is difficult to argue that the 
existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate for the Northwest 
Atlantic Ocean DPS. The commenter noted that many conservation measures 
have been enacted, but given the species' prolonged age to maturity, 
coupled with transitory dynamics, it is likely too early to begin 
measuring effects of past actions on nesting activity; this is further 
complicated by multiple measures, implemented at different times, 
affecting different life stages.
    Response: The Services agree that nationally, significant measures 
have been enacted under existing regulatory mechanisms and that is not 
yet possible to determine whether the measures are sufficiently 
effective as many of the most significant measures have come within the 
last generation of loggerheads, and thus the benefits may not yet be 
seen in the nesting trends. However, we have determined that additional 
work needs to be done under the existing national regulatory 
mechanisms, as well as continuing to advance the development and 
effectiveness of international instruments, to ensure the persistence 
of this DPS.
    Comment 37: One commenter is concerned about apparent low survival 
rates of adult females from the Peninsular Florida Recovery Unit within 
the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS, but suggested this is better 
addressed through more effective implementation of existing regulatory 
measures.
    Response: The apparent low survival rate of adult females from the 
Peninsular Florida Recovery Unit has also been a concern for the 
Services. There is a need to continue researching the issue to better 
understand what the actual survival rates are for adult females and all 
age classes. The Services agree that continued, and more effective, 
implementation of measures under the existing regulatory mechanisms is 
needed.
    Comment 38: One commenter disagreed that existing regulatory 
mechanisms have failed to adequately address threats to Northwest 
Atlantic loggerheads from incidental take and that no mechanism has 
effectively eliminated or sufficiently reduced mortality from fishing. 
Similarly, another commenter stated that the claims that NMFS faces 
``limitations on implementing demonstrated effective conservation 
measures'' and that domestic ``regulatory mechanisms are insufficient 
or are not being implemented effectively to address the needs of 
loggerheads'' of the Northwest Atlantic is contrary to the commenters' 
beliefs. This commenter noted that while no regulatory measure is 
perfect, the mechanisms in the United States (and increasingly 
internationally) are strong and subject to constant improvement and 
enforcement. The law virtually assures that identified gaps in 
protection are filled. Further, this commenter states that the current 
system for enforcing sea turtle protective measures is comprehensive 
and effective and took issue with the Services' characterization of 
``limitations on enforcement capacity.'' However, several commenters 
disagreed that NMFS has an adequate number of officers to enforce 
existing regulations.
    Response: The Services agree that substantial measures have been 
taken to reduce sea turtle mortality from fishery bycatch, and NMFS is 
committed to reducing bycatch and bycatch mortality further. However, 
in many fisheries high interaction levels and mortalities still occur, 
both nationally and internationally. While the Federal law does require 
that gaps in protection under U.S. jurisdiction are addressed, many 
gaps remain, and many of the measures enacted provide benefits to the 
species, but impacts still remain significant. NMFS disagrees with the 
assertion that there are not substantial limitations on enforcement 
capacity, as the geographic scope and variety of fisheries, inshore, 
coastal, and on the high seas that are known to, or potentially, impact 
sea turtles make effective enforcement difficult with limited resources 
at both the State and Federal levels.
    Comment 39: One commenter questioned what the Services meant by 
``lack of availability of comprehensive bycatch reduction 
technologies'' under Factor D (Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory 
Mechanisms) for the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS.
    Response: While TEDs stand as the model for sea turtle bycatch 
reduction technology, many gear types do not lend themselves to 
technological fixes that can reach a similarly high level of 
effectiveness when properly used. Even for some trawl fisheries, 
further development is needed to devise TED designs that effectively 
exclude sea turtles while maintaining sufficient target catch. Longline 
measures such as circle hooks and release gear requirements are 
valuable, but partial, solutions. Take levels in longline fisheries, 
both pelagic and bottom, can still result in significant impacts. For 
many other gear types, effective technological solutions are not so 
readily available, and much work remains to determine what gear 
changes, if any, will result in significant reductions in interactions 
and mortalities.
    Comment 40: One commenter believes that ``limitations on 
implementing demonstrated conservation measures'' is a fallacious 
rationale to justify a change in status. The commenters again cited 
longline and shrimp trawl as well as scallop dredge gear modifications 
as leading to increasing protection for sea turtles at all life stages.
    Response: While important measures have been enacted to address sea 
turtle interactions in some fisheries, there are still substantial 
levels of interactions in those and other fisheries. Limitations in 
applicability, resources, and industry acceptance and compliance in 
many cases present very real limitations on implementing demonstrated 
conservation measures in an effective manner.
    Comment 41: One commenter noted that Federal negligence to design 
and execute appropriate loggerhead recovery efforts is a routinely 
overlooked threat to loggerhead survival. However, the commenter 
believes these failures can simply be corrected by harmonizing the 
conservation recommendations of ESA mandates with permitted incidental 
take. The commenter suggested better integration of three integral 
agency actions--mandatory species recovery plans, ESA section 7 
Biological Consultations, and incidental take (both Incidental Take 
Permits for State and private actions and Incidental Take Statements 
for Federal agency actions)--to facilitate the recovery of the 
loggerhead sea turtle. Specifically, the commenter stated the belief 
that crucial

[[Page 58895]]

recommendations in recovery plans are routinely ignored during section 
7 consultations and incidental take authorizations and urged NMFS to 
reassess its internal recovery management strategy (e.g., reinitiating 
section 7 consultation when necessary not just when authorized take 
limits are exceeded) to meet the recovery needs of loggerheads.
    Response: Although the commenter is referring to actions taken 
subsequent to the listing, the Services point out that the ``three 
integral agency actions'' cited by the commenter are and will continue 
to be integrated. The ``ESA section 7 biological consultations'' and 
incidental take are both part of the same action for a Federal agency 
action. Incidental take is authorized by section 7 Biological Opinions, 
which are formal ESA consultations that occur when take is anticipated 
from a Federal action. Section 10(a)(1)(B) provides a mechanism when an 
action is being undertaken by a non-Federal entity that results in 
incidental take of a species; section 10(a)(1)(A) provides a mechanism 
for exempting directed take for scientific purposes. Recovery plans are 
important tools in the species conservation and recovery and provide 
recommendations at a broader scale and are used as guidelines but are 
not regulatory. Reasonable and Prudent Measures and Terms and 
Conditions, in Biological Opinions are project specific and are 
intended to minimize the effects of the incidental take on a species. 
Reinitiation of section 7 consultations takes place when: The amount or 
extent of take specified in the incidental take statement is exceeded; 
new information reveals effects of the action that may affect listed 
species or critical habitat in a manner or to an extent not previously 
considered; the identified action is subsequently modified in a manner 
that causes an effect to the listed species or critical habitat that 
was not considered in the biological opinion; and a new species is 
listed or critical habitat designated that may be affected by the 
identified action.
    Comment 42: One commenter believes that permitting incidental take 
in the face of uncertainties in baseline loggerhead life history 
parameters and population estimates suggests existing regulatory 
mechanisms are inadequate. Specifically, the commenter stated the 
belief that data for both sexes of loggerheads at all life stages 
(growth rate, size, dispersal, etc.) are either nonexistent or 
inadequate, significantly curtailing their value for modeling.
    Response: The Services agree that there remain substantial gaps in 
knowledge regarding loggerhead life history parameters; however, the 
ESA requires us to use the best scientific data available when making a 
listing determination. Although significant measures have been enacted 
nationally under existing regulatory mechanisms, it is not yet possible 
to determine whether the measures are sufficiently effective as many of 
the most significant measures have come within the last generation of 
loggerheads, and thus the benefits may not yet be seen in the nesting 
trends. We have determined that additional work needs to be done under 
the existing national regulatory mechanisms, as well as continuing to 
advance the development and effectiveness of international instruments, 
to ensure the persistence of this DPS.
    Comment 43: One commenter questioned the analysis of loggerhead 
survival rates in the Status Review. The commenter noted that the 
natural survival rate for neritic adults (i.e., large prebreeding and 
breeding males and females) is stated to be 95 percent in all DPSs. The 
Status Review also stated that anthropogenic mortalities for neritic 
juveniles and adults in the proposed Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS are 
between 13 percent and 50 percent of the 95 percent of loggerheads left 
after natural mortality is subtracted. In other words, using the high 
end of the anthropogenic mortality estimate in the Status Review, 
approximately 52.5 percent of the proposed Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS 
neritic juvenile and adult population dies annually. The TEWG estimated 
the neritic juvenile and adult population of the proposed Northwest 
Atlantic Ocean DPS to be 230,000. Given that, the Status Review 
asserted that 120,750 neritic juveniles and adults from this population 
die annually, almost entirely because of anthropogenic mortality. Yet 
the Status Review admitted that the largest source of mortality in the 
proposed Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS, fishery bycatch, totals only 
3,743 turtles annually.
    Response: The Status Review document prepared by the BRT was only 
one of many sources of information considered by the Services to make 
the listing status determination. The mortality estimate used for that 
particular threat analysis was based upon a majority opinion of experts 
comprising the BRT, but it was not a consensus opinion. Another study 
estimated that total annual mortality (natural and anthropogenic) for 
the neritic juveniles was 17 percent, with a range of 11-26 percent 
(Braun-McNeill et al., 2007). However, another preliminary study 
determined that adult female survivorship from the Northwest Atlantic 
Ocean DPS may be a significant concern. That study estimated annual 
survivorship of adult females to be as low as 0.41 (0.20-0.65, 95 
percent confidence intervals), and at best 0.60 (0.40-0.78, 95 percent 
confidence intervals) (NMFS, unpublished data). Additional research to 
better understand survival rates for the various life stages is a high 
priority for the Services.
    Comment 44: One commenter believes the justification for listing 
the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as endangered by evaluating other 
natural or manmade factors is missing. The commenter noted several 
threats for which effects were not quantified adequately or 
inappropriately assessed, such as vessel strikes, changing weather 
(e.g., hurricanes and cold stun events), habitat change, saltwater 
cooling, and bycatch. Specific to bycatch in the shrimp fishery, the 
commenter provided a population calculation for Northwest Atlantic 
loggerheads based on annual bycatch in all fisheries and questioned how 
take of 0.17 percent of the population is likely to result in an 
endangered listing.
    Response: The Services disagree that an evaluation of other natural 
or manmade factors was missing. In many cases, there are substantial 
data limitations that prevent in-depth, quantitative analysis of 
threats, including those listed by the commenter. The five-factor 
analysis for listing determinations is based on consideration of all of 
the factors, using the best data available.
    Comment 45: The State of Florida referenced the Witherington et al. 
(2009) analysis of the Index Nesting Beach Survey data set that 
concluded the causal factor that best fit the nesting decline was 
fisheries bycatch. The State judged the magnitude, timing, and ongoing 
nature of fisheries threats to be consistent with the steep decline in 
nesting following 1998. The State believes the full scope of threats 
and impacts remain poorly understood as evidenced by the recent 
discovery of unexpectedly high mortality rates of sea turtles in the 
Gulf of Mexico reef fish bottom longline fishery. The State does not 
believe the threat posed by fisheries bycatch is likely to abate 
significantly in the foreseeable future.
    Response: Inclusion of nesting data up through 2010 results in the 
nesting trend line being slightly negative, but not significantly 
different from zero. The Services agree that fisheries bycatch is one 
factor that best fits the nesting decline seen in the past. However, 
various fishery bycatch reduction measures have occurred within the 
last generation time for loggerhead sea

[[Page 58896]]

turtles, and the benefits of those actions may only now be starting to 
become evident on the nesting beaches. The agencies are committed to 
reducing fisheries bycatch further.
    Comment 46: The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries and the 
State of South Carolina suggested that instead of reclassifying 
Northwest Atlantic loggerheads as endangered, existing measures (e.g., 
TEDs, circle hooks, time/area closures) should be broadened or modified 
to apply to problem gears or areas. Additionally, the North Carolina 
Division of Marine Fisheries believes that annual catch limits and 
accountability measures under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation 
and Management Act will result in lower harvest levels, reduced fishing 
effort, closed areas, and shorter seasons, all of which will decrease 
potential for sea turtle bycatch.
    Response: A variety of conservation measures for fisheries and non-
fishery activities have been enacted in many areas, including in the 
Northwest Atlantic, and many within the past generation of loggerhead 
sea turtles. Additionally, many fisheries, especially the shrimp trawl 
fisheries in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, have 
experienced substantial declines, thus potentially reducing impacts to 
sea turtles. The benefits of those fishery reductions, if permanent, 
combined with conservation actions, if sufficiently effective, may only 
now, or may soon, begin to become evident on the nesting beaches. The 
agencies are committed to reducing fisheries bycatch further regardless 
of the listing status.
    Comment 47: Two commenters noted that loggerheads are at risk from 
fisheries using longlines, trawls, gillnets, hooks and lines, dredges, 
and assorted other types of gear, citing mortality estimates in the 
2008 Recovery Plan for Northwest Atlantic loggerheads. Additionally, 
the commenters noted that an unknown number of animals also sustain 
serious and moderate injuries in other fisheries. The commenters 
referenced Wallace et al. (2008), which concluded that turtles killed 
in U.S. waters are larger and more valuable to the population; 
therefore, the failure of NMFS to reduce fishery interactions is 
significantly undermining the survival of Northwest Atlantic 
loggerheads. Further, the commenters noted the 2008 Biological Opinion 
on the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery, which states that the 
population ``is likely to continue to decline until large mortality 
reductions in all fisheries and other sources of mortality (including 
impacts outside U.S. jurisdiction) are achieved.''
    Response: The Services agree that fishery bycatch is a significant 
threat to sea turtles, including Northwest Atlantic loggerheads, and 
that substantial gaps remain in our understanding of take and mortality 
levels for many fisheries. Various fishery bycatch reduction measures 
have occurred within the most recent generation of loggerhead sea 
turtles, including technological measures, time/area closures, and 
effort reductions. Additionally, some U.S. fisheries that incidentally 
capture loggerhead turtles have experienced effort declines within that 
time. The benefits of those actions may only now be starting to become 
evident on the nesting beaches. NMFS is committed to reducing fisheries 
bycatch further to conserve loggerhead sea turtles, regardless of the 
listing status of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS.
    Comment 48: Three commenters referenced recent data showing 1,451 
loggerhead mortalities in the Southeast U.S. and Gulf of Mexico shrimp 
trawl fleets, indicating this fishery is the leading cause of mortality 
for Northwest Atlantic loggerheads.
    Response: The Services agree that taking measures to limit sea 
turtle interactions with fisheries, including the U.S. shrimp trawl 
fishery, is a top priority for sea turtle conservation. NMFS is 
currently working on a new consultation for the shrimp trawl fishery, a 
rule to require TEDs in certain mid-Atlantic trawl fisheries, and a 
rule to require TEDs in skimmer trawl fisheries. NMFS continues to work 
with the coastal States to improve TED enforcement.
    Comment 49: Two commenters highlighted the bycatch of hundreds of 
loggerheads in the Gulf of Mexico reef fish bottom longline fishery, 
citing NMFS 2005 and 2009 biological opinions. The commenters noted the 
particularly lethal nature of takes in this fishery because turtles 
become hooked while too deep and cannot reach the surface to breathe. 
Additionally, the commenters stated that gillnet interactions represent 
the greatest unknown for turtles because there is no estimate of the 
total numbers of interactions occurring or the mortality sustained by 
loggerheads in gillnets as observer coverage in many fisheries is so 
low and State fisheries are often not observed or regulated. The 
commenters further noted that as observer coverage increases, actual 
take levels and authorizations are regularly revised upward. However, 
another commenter disagreed with the Services' statement that 
``gillnets, longlines, and trawl gear collectively result in tens of 
thousands of Northwest Atlantic loggerhead deaths annually throughout 
their range'' especially with regard to the pelagic longline fleet. 
Additionally, yet another commenter stated that measures, particularly 
shrimp TEDs, modifications to longline gear and practices, and gillnet 
reductions, have progressively reduced the threat facing juvenile and 
adult loggerheads by orders of magnitudes and weigh strongly against a 
change in listing status.
    Response: NMFS has enacted various efforts over the years to reduce 
bycatch and mortality rates in domestic fisheries, and has engaged 
other nations bilaterally and through larger international 
organizations in efforts to reduce sea turtle bycatch overseas. Such 
efforts continue to be a top priority for the agency. This includes 
reductions in take, and mortality rates, for the Gulf of Mexico reef 
fish bottom longline fishery enacted in 2009. However, the effect of 
those measures are yet to be determined as many of the most significant 
measures have come within the last generation of loggerheads, and thus 
the benefits may not yet be seen in the nesting trends. The Services 
are committed to enacting additional measures to reduce anthropogenic 
impacts. NMFS also continues to undertake efforts to increase the 
understanding of interaction levels and impacts of the many Federal and 
State fisheries through means such as the 2007 ESA Sea Turtle Observer 
Rule (72 FR 43176; August 3, 2007).
    The level of take authorized under the ESA is based upon an 
analysis of the anticipated take from the proposed action. Upward 
revisions of take occur when new data indicate that take levels are 
higher than previously anticipated. That new expected take level is 
then analyzed to determine if it would jeopardize the continued 
existence of the species, and often additional terms and conditions are 
required as part of the new biological opinion that could result in 
additional or different limitations or gear restrictions for the 
fishing industry.
    Comment 50: The State of Maryland provided information on 
loggerhead strandings documented from May to November from 1991-2009 
along the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Coast. Of the 378 dead loggerhead 
strandings, less than 3 percent of strandings with evidence of human 
interaction exhibited signs of fishery interaction. The Maryland 
Department of Natural Resources conducts fishery-dependent and 
independent surveys each year and rarely finds turtles associated with 
either of these surveys.

[[Page 58897]]

    Response: The Services are aware that there is variability, both 
geographically and temporally, in the instances of fishery interactions 
with loggerheads in coastal waters. Evidence of human interaction in 
stranded turtles is difficult to ascertain, especially if the 
examination is limited to externally observable anomalies. Bycatch 
mortality due to drowning is not apparent through external examination, 
and turtles captured in gear, such as trawls or gillnets, are most 
often removed from the gear and, as such, do not strand with gear 
attached. This makes it difficult to use the referenced stranding data 
to ascertain rates of fisheries interactions. The Services believe that 
fisheries bycatch is the leading source of anthropogenic mortality in 
U.S. waters.
    Comment 51: Five commenters cited information on the threat of 
direct and indirect effects of oil, as well as the actions to contain, 
remove, and disperse oil, on sea turtles. Two of these commenters noted 
that while the preamble of the proposed rule discusses the threat posed 
by oil spills, it was published prior to the Deepwater Horizon oil 
spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, three of the commenters 
noted that the total number of loggerhead sea turtles harmed by the 
spill is likely higher than observed numbers. Another commenter 
provided information on the impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil 
spills on loggerheads.
    Response: The full scope and effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon 
(Mississippi Canyon 252) oil well blowout and uncontrolled oil release 
on sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico, including Northwest Atlantic 
Ocean DPS loggerheads, is not yet determined.
    Comment 52: Three commenters believe that plastic ingestion poses 
immediate threats and risks to Northwest Atlantic loggerheads. The 
commenters provided detailed information to support this.
    Response: The Services agree that plastic ingestion is a threat to 
Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS loggerheads as well as other DPSs and 
species. Discussion of this threat was added to the ``Other Manmade and 
Natural Impacts'' section under the analysis for Factor E (Other 
Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting its Continued Existence) in the 
five-factor analysis.
    Comment 53: One commenter questioned why ``geopolitical 
complexities'' contribute to a listing determination given that all 
populations are within the U.S. and subject to the Convention on 
International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora 
(CITES), the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic 
Tunas (ICCAT), etc.
    Response: Although the majority of Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS 
nesting is within the United States, and a significant portion of adult 
and sub-adult stages are spent in U.S. waters, the wide-ranging habits 
of the species still results in significant exposure to pressures 
outside of U.S. jurisdiction. The existence of various international 
conventions (e.g., CITES) and organizations (e.g., ICCAT) are valuable 
tools, as pointed out by the commenter. However, advances made in 
reducing bycatch in foreign nations via these instruments are still 
limited, in need of strengthening and expansion, and in many cases 
tenuous as a result of political uncertainties.

Comments on the Status and Trends and Extinction Risk Assessments of 
the DPSs

    Comment 54: One commenter believes that neither of the 
methodologies used in the 2009 Status Review provided the necessary 
``convincing evidence'' of near-term extinction of loggerheads, either 
globally or in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS. The commenter believes 
that neither of the two models employed were geared toward the legally 
relevant factors, and thus do nothing to further the inquiry as to the 
imminence of loggerhead extinction. The commenter believes that the 
models used do not meet the ESA standard that the Services use the best 
available scientific and commercial data. Thus, as a legal matter, the 
commenter believes that a change in listing status is not warranted by 
the best scientific and commercial data available. Another commenter 
believes that models are an inappropriate tool to measure fluctuating 
population trends and predict extinction.
    Response: The Services have clarified the text in the Extinction 
Risk Assessments section to more clearly state that the SQE and threat 
matrix analyses were only used to provide some additional insights into 
the status of the nine DPSs, but that ultimately the conclusions and 
determinations made were primarily based on an assessment of population 
sizes and trends, current and anticipated threats, and conservation 
efforts for each DPS. However, for a number of reasons, discussed in 
the Finding section, the Services are listing the Northwest Atlantic 
Ocean DPS as threatened.
    Comment 55: Given the species' life history, one commenter 
expressed concern that any positive trends in the adult segment of the 
Northwest Atlantic population as a result of conservation efforts over 
the last 15 years would not be apparent until 2020 and beyond. The 
North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries also stated that 
conservation measures (e.g., TEDs) from the 1980s should have positive 
effects on the segment of the population that is just now becoming 
sexually mature; therefore, it would be prudent to allow enough time to 
evaluate whether those conservation measures have worked before taking 
further action. Similarly, a third commenter stated that the most 
recent and effective management measures have and will continue to have 
beneficial impacts that will not be seen on beaches for decades.
    Response: The Services agree that the effects of most conservation 
measures will not be apparent for many years given the loggerhead's 
prolonged age to maturity. Although individual conservation measures 
should have a positive effect on a population, in many cases it would 
be difficult to clearly determine the effect of any individual 
conservation activity due to the many different conservation efforts 
being undertaken simultaneously. Collectively, however, conservation 
efforts should result in a positive effect on a population as long as 
the key threats have been sufficiently targeted. For a number of 
reasons, discussed in the Finding section, the Services are listing the 
Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as threatened. However, the Services do 
not believe it would be prudent to wait to see the results of 
conservation efforts that have been implemented before taking any 
additional actions to protect the species given the species life 
history. Further, under the ESA, the Services are required to make 
determinations based on the best available scientific and commercial 
data, and not wait to determine whether measures already implemented 
are effective at ameliorating threats.
    Comment 56: The Services received several comments relative to in-
water abundance and population size. One commenter questioned why the 
Status Review did not consider existing in-water survey data, which 
show an increase in loggerhead populations, as reported in the 2009 
TEWG Report. Another commenter noted that both Epperly et al. (2007) 
and the SEAMAP survey show an increase in juvenile loggerheads. Both of 
these commenters stated that the Services should not proceed until a 
major survey of in-water abundance is undertaken, and that the Services 
should wait to make a final decision until additional data were 
available.

[[Page 58898]]

    Response: It would not be appropriate for the Services to wait for 
additional in-water data to become available before proceeding with 
this final rule. Under the ESA, the Services must base each listing 
determination solely on the best available scientific and commercial 
data after conducting a review of the status of the species and taking 
into account any efforts being made by States or foreign governments to 
protect the species. The Services were petitioned to list the North 
Pacific and Northwest Atlantic populations as DPSs under the ESA. The 
Services must respond to petitions within statutory deadlines. We do 
not have the latitude to defer listing decisions until additional 
information becomes available.
    Although the Services did consider available data from in-water 
studies within the range of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS in its 
assessment of population status, extrapolation of these localized in-
water trends to the broader population, and relating localized trends 
at neritic sites to population trends at nesting beaches, is a problem 
of scale and requires the integration of many representative foraging 
grounds throughout the population range (Bjorndal et al., 2005). NMFS 
and USFWS (2008) summarized trend data available from nine in-water 
sampling programs along the U.S. Atlantic coast. Four studies indicated 
no discernible trend, two studies reported declining trends, and two 
studies reported increasing trends. Trends at one study site indicated 
either a declining trend or no trend depending on whether all sample 
years were used or only the more recent, and likely more comparable, 
sample years were used. TEWG (2009) used raw data from six of the 
aforementioned nine in-water study sites to conduct trend analyses and 
found three with positive trends, two with a negative trend, and one 
with no trend. The TEWG did not provide a shared agreement about the 
weighting of these data, nor did they establish how representative 
these programs were of the larger population. As a result, caution must 
be exercised in evaluating results from all of the above referenced 
studies, given the relative short-term duration of most of the studies, 
noted difficulties in comparisons of trend data across disparate 
sampling periods, changes in sampling methodologies and equipment, 
small study areas, and uncontrolled variables such as weather, sea-
state, migration patterns, and possible shifts in loggerhead 
distributions.
    Comment 57: One commenter referenced Northeast Fisheries Science 
Center (2011) (Preliminary Summer 2010 Regional Abundance Estimate of 
Loggerhead Turtles (Caretta caretta) in Northwestern Atlantic Ocean 
Continental Shelf Waters) and suggested that the Services incorporate 
this new information into the final rule.
    Response: The Services agree and have incorporated this information 
into the Status and Trends of the Nine Loggerhead DPSs section of this 
final rule.
    Comment 58: One commenter stated that the Status Review never 
assessed the status of the proposed Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as a 
whole; rather the analysis focused solely on specific indices. Thus, 
the commenter stated the opinion that no finding was ever made as to 
whether the proposed DPS is in danger of extinction. The commenter also 
stated there was no analysis of the timeframe in which extinction is 
likely to occur, which is the primary factor distinguishing a 
threatened from an endangered species under the ESA. Therefore, the 
commenter recommends that the appropriate response would be to find 
that there is not sufficient evidence to justify reclassifying 
Northwest Atlantic loggerheads as endangered.
    Response: Both modeling approaches assessed the Northwest Atlantic 
Ocean DPS as a whole; the indices used were based on the population. 
The commenter is correct in saying that the models did not find that 
the proposed DPS was in danger of extinction. The models also did not 
find that the DPS was increasing. The Status Review simply stated that 
the model outputs indicated that the DPS may be declining without us 
detecting the decline. However, for a number of reasons, discussed in 
the Finding section, the Services are listing the Northwest Atlantic 
Ocean DPS as threatened.
    Comment 59: One commenter stated that she does not believe that a 
proportional decline in the population is the appropriate definition of 
extinction when other information exists. Specifically, the commenter 
did not agree that listing decisions should depend solely on whether 
the population will decline to 50 percent, 30 percent, or 10 percent of 
its current or historical population size, but should instead be based 
on more quantitative listing criteria whenever possible. The commenter 
further noted that stochastic population models have indicated that 
population size and trend are the best focus in determining listing 
status and provided several references.
    Response: Stochastic population models are useful when we have 
information on the magnitude of stochasticity. We incorporated the 
uncertainty in the threat matrix analyses. Because of the late maturity 
of the species, only small additional mortality can be tolerated for a 
population of loggerhead sea turtles. Because of the large 
uncertainties in additional mortalities from a wide variety of threats, 
a population of loggerheads can be increasing or decreasing rapidly. 
The observed trend at nesting beaches may not reflect what happens at 
sea.
    Comment 60: One commenter questioned whether a decline to 30 
percent by itself warrants listing any species under the ESA regardless 
of the population size when at 30 percent. In the case of the Northwest 
Atlantic Ocean DPS, in 2007 (the lowest nesting activity in the series) 
the adult population size of all recovery units combined was 
approximately 30,000 adult females (TEWG, 2009). Thus, a quasi-
extinction threshold (QET) of 0.3 of that number translates to a 
decline to, or below, 10,000 nesting females (or 20,000 adult females 
and males combined) within 100 years, if the model was initialized with 
the 2007 numbers, not the 1998 numbers, which were greater. The 
commenter asked whether a population of 10,000 adult females 100 years 
later warrants endangered or threatened status.
    Response: The Services believe that population size is just one 
piece of information to be taken into consideration when considering 
the status of a species. Although the SQE and threat matrix analyses 
provided some additional insights into the status of the nine DPSs, 
ultimately the conclusions and determinations made were primarily based 
on an assessment of population sizes and trends, current and 
anticipated threats, and conservation efforts for each DPS.
    Comment 61: One commenter believes the SQE analysis used outdated, 
qualitative estimates of risk factors that fail to incorporate 
significant changes in fishing effort and management measures that have 
drastically reduced take and mortality.
    Response: The SQE analysis did not use risk factors. Fishing effort 
or management measures were not relevant to the SQE analysis.
    Comment 62: One commenter believes that because the SQE analysis 
relies exclusively on nesting beach surveys, it is retrospective and 
considers only mature females thereby failing to capture important 
indicators of current abundance.
    Response: The Services agree that because the SQE analysis relied 
on nesting beach surveys, it is retrospective and considers only mature 
females. That

[[Page 58899]]

is why the BRT also conducted the threat matrix analyses to provide 
insight into the future outlook for each DPS, given the known threats 
and loggerhead sea turtle biology.
    Comment 63: One commenter recommended that the Services update the 
model to include nesting data through 2008 for the Northwest Atlantic 
Ocean DPS, Peninsula Florida Recovery Unit, and the North Pacific Ocean 
DPS and through 2008-2009 for the Indian Ocean DPS as data were 
provided by an independent reviewer of the Status Review. The commenter 
stated the belief that including these data will change the model's 
results. Another commenter also requested that the Services update the 
model to include 2008 nesting data. A third commenter noted that 
nesting beach abundance data for the North Pacific Ocean DPS exhibit a 
long-term increasing trend. Additionally, this commenter noted that in 
the Snover model, the North Pacific population ranked 0.3 on the SQE 
index, thus indicating that it is at risk (i.e., ``threatened''). The 
model used a single composite time series of nesting counts for 1990-
2007, which likely underestimates a strong recovery trend because it 
does not include 2008 and 2009 nesting data. A fourth commenter also 
noted that most major nesting beaches for which pre-1990 nest count 
data are available show a consistent lower trend in the latter half of 
the 1980s compared to the early 1990s, raising the question of whether 
1990 may have been an anomalous year with high nesting activity.
    Response: The Services have included the most recent nesting data 
available for each DPS in the Status and Trends of the Nine Loggerhead 
DPSs section. For the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS, the nesting data 
for 2008-2010 were incorporated into the nesting trend analyses, and 
the result indicated that the nesting trend for this DPS from 1989-2010 
is slightly negative but not statistically different from zero. 
Available data for the North Pacific Ocean DPS suggest this DPS has 
declined up to 90 percent from its recorded historical population size 
of about 50 years ago. The 2010 estimate of the number of nests 
suggests the abundance of nesting females has returned to earlier 
levels (ca. 1990); however, this level is still low relative to the 
historical population.
    Comment 64: One commenter noted that the Status Review model used a 
constant parameter for the number of nests laid per female per season 
for the next 100 years. The commenter stated that this was 
inappropriate because older females produce more nests per season than 
new nesters. Therefore, the commenter stated the belief that the model 
fails to account for the large number of females that are about to be 
added to the breeding population and the possibility of a naturally 
fluctuating decrease that may follow.
    Response: Because the models were not age-specific, the BRT did not 
incorporate age-specific demographic parameters. Such an exercise is 
important for demographic studies but not for determining effects of 
possible threats to a population, as those uncertainties would be 
overwhelmed with much greater uncertainty in threat measures. The 
parameters of the base model in the threat matrix analyses were derived 
from the basic biology of loggerhead sea turtles, rather than what may 
happen in the future.
    Comment 65: One commenter stated that the application of the 
diffusion approximation model was so flawed as to make the results 
unusable and provided a detailed analysis of these flaws. The commenter 
questioned why the Services did not specify a population threshold or 
range that below which the population could not survive. The commenter 
also contended that the Services did not provide direct probability 
estimates of extinction; instead the Services provided susceptibility 
to quasi-extinction.
    Response: The Services agree that the diffusion approximation 
approach has limitations as do any other approaches used to estimate 
possible extinctions of a population. That is why we also conducted the 
threat matrix analyses to provide insight into the future outlook for 
each DPS, given the known threats and loggerhead sea turtle biology. 
The Services have clarified the text in the Extinction Risk Assessments 
section to more clearly state that the SQE and threat matrix analyses 
were only used to provide some additional insights into the status of 
the nine DPSs, but that ultimately the conclusions and determinations 
made were based on an assessment of population sizes and trends, 
current and anticipated threats (i.e., five-factor analysis), and 
conservation efforts for each DPS.
    Comment 66: One commenter stated that neither the Status Review nor 
the Services dealt with the actual abundance of loggerhead sea turtles 
or bothered to develop a numeric value to define ``quasi-extinction'' 
based on known biological characteristics of loggerheads. Rather, the 
Status Review included relative estimates of potential decline in its 
SQE analysis. Further, the analysis relied solely on nesting data as 
the only empirical input. Because sea turtles are both long-lived and 
late maturing, this analysis completely ignored the myriad efforts 
implemented over the past 20 to 30 years to reduce anthropogenic 
mortality and increase survival, of which the benefits to conservation 
of juvenile loggerheads have yet to influence adult numbers. This math-
rich, but data-poor approach does not address relevant legal criteria.
    Response: The BRT included all available information in the threat 
matrix analysis approach and used mathematics as a tool to explain how 
these data are related to the results provided in the Status Review 
rather than treating them as separate entities. The BRT also considered 
the time-lag effects of the long-lived and late maturing nature of the 
species through the matrix modeling approach.
    Comment 67: One commenter disagreed with using 100 years in the 
diffusion approximation model given that scientists who support this 
concept recommend limiting the number of years to 2.5 times the number 
of years for which nesting survey data are available (i.e., 50 years 
based on the 20 years or less of nesting data in the Status Review). 
The commenter stated that, using the current model, the population size 
of the Peninsula Florida Recovery Unit within the Northwest Atlantic 
Ocean DPS in 100 years would still approach 1 million loggerheads, 
which does not suggest an immediate risk of extinction.
    Response: Because loggerhead sea turtles are likely to mature at 
greater than 30 years of age, the BRT used the time period of 100 years 
to compute QETs, which is consistent with the IUCN Red List Criteria 
for estimating extinction risk (3 generations or 100 years, whichever 
is shorter). To incorporate the uncertainty of parameter estimates in 
determining SQE, the BRT used 95 percent confidence limits of the 
arithmetic mean of the log population growth rate and the variance of 
the log population growth rate, which accounts for sources of 
variability, including environmental and demographic stochasticity, and 
observation error.
    Comment 68: One commenter stated that the diffusion approximation 
model produced results outside appropriate and acceptable boundaries 
and contended that the Services did not evaluate the model assumptions 
to determine whether the results were within appropriate boundaries.
    Response: The Services believe the assumptions made for the 
diffusion approximation model were appropriate for the modeling 
exercise conducted by the BRT. For further information on the 
assumptions for the diffusion approximation model, see Conant et al.

[[Page 58900]]

2009, section 4. The Services have clarified the text in the Extinction 
Risk Assessments section to more clearly state that the SQE and threat 
matrix analyses were only used to provide some additional insights into 
the status of the nine DPSs, but that ultimately the conclusions and 
determinations made were primarily based on an assessment of population 
sizes and trends, current and anticipated threats, and conservation 
efforts for each DPS.
    Comment 69: One commenter noted that there is no universal 
definition or numerical value of the QET, but it is generally defined 
as a small population that is doomed to eventual extinction. The 
commenter provided specific information from Morris and Doak (2002) on 
the range of QET values, starting at 1 (extremely low), including 20 
and 50, and continuing to a much larger value of 100 breeders and noted 
that typically QET values are less than 500 individuals, breeders, or 
females. The commenter suggested that the Services make informed 
decisions about the QET for sea turtles and use population size. The 
commenter provided an example of susceptibility of quasi-extinction for 
Kemp's ridley sea turtles to support this point. The commenter 
recommended using a QET of 1,000 (or lesser value) adult female 
loggerhead population size. The commenter provided a new analysis of 
various SQE values using QET levels ranging from 10,000 to 50 adult 
females. The Peninsular Florida Recovery Unit is the largest in the 
Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS (80 percent of nesting occurs in this 
recovery unit) and it drives the dynamics of the DPS. Based on the 
revised SQE analysis, the commenter expressed the opinion that there is 
little risk (SQE<0.3) that the Peninsular Florida Recovery Unit, and 
therefore the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS, will fall to or below the 
threshold of 1,000 adult females in 100 years. Similarly, the commenter 
stated the South Atlantic Ocean DPS is not at risk of dropping below 
1,000 adult females, whereas the North Pacific Ocean DPS and the South 
Pacific Ocean DPS are at risk. The commenter stated that the 
conclusions are the same when QET is set at 500 and 250 adult females, 
but begin to differ when QET is 100 or less (fewer DPSs are at risk).
    Response: The SQE analyses only provided information on what has 
happened and what may happen if the same trend continues in the future. 
Consequently, the Services do not rely solely on the SQE analysis in 
the decision-making process. The Services have clarified the text in 
the Extinction Risk Assessments section to more clearly state that the 
SQE and threat matrix analyses were only used to provide some 
additional insights into the status of the nine DPSs, but that 
ultimately the conclusions and determinations made were primarily based 
on an assessment of population sizes and trends, current and 
anticipated threats, and conservation efforts for each DPS.
    Comment 70: One commenter noted that when the impact of the scallop 
fishery on loggerhead sea turtles was last assessed, NMFS undertook an 
analysis that looked at the probability of extinction in terms of the 
time to quasi-extinction. This report was conducted in the context of 
an ESA section 7 consultation to determine whether the fishery could 
lead to ``jeopardy.'' The basic findings, utilizing the same nesting 
trends and similar modeling techniques as relied upon by the 2009 
Status Review and very conservative (i.e., precautionary high) 
estimates of takes by the scallop fishery, were that the likelihood of 
quasi-extinction over a 75-year period was zero, and the likelihood at 
100 years was only 0.01. The commenter noted that neither the BRT nor 
the Services made a comparable quantitative finding of the likelihood 
of near-term extinction with respect to loggerheads as a global species 
or as a species within any of the newly proposed DPSs.
    Response: The Services believe the analyses conducted were 
appropriate and tailored to the best available information (see section 
4 of the 2009 Status Review (Conant et al. 2009)). The Services have 
clarified the text in the Extinction Risk Assessments section to more 
clearly state that the SQE and threat matrix analyses were only used to 
provide some additional insights into the status of the nine DPSs, but 
that ultimately the conclusions and determinations made were primarily 
based on an assessment of population sizes and trends, current and 
anticipated threats, and conservation efforts for each DPS.
    Comment 71: Comments were provided with respect to survey methods 
and how the resulting data are used in the listing process for the 
North Pacific Ocean DPS. One commenter stated that the proposed rule is 
internally inconsistent and unjustifiably relies on questionable long-
term data. For example, the Kamouda Beach 1955-1992 data only covers 
500 m of beach, is unreliable, and does not outweigh standardized data 
collection from 1990 to present. Another commenter stated that 
individual beach level data should be used to ameliorate the distorting 
effects of inconsistent survey methods, which likely skew results when 
combining Japanese nesting beach data into a single time series. This 
commenter suggested the Services revise the Status Review and 
extinction analysis using individual nesting beach data for longer time 
periods, which would likely produce different, more positive results. 
The proposed rule recognizes the positive nesting trend, but states 
``nesting beach count data for the North Pacific Ocean DPS indicated a 
decline of loggerhead nesting in the last 20 years.''
    Response: The Services used the best available information in 
assessing population trends for the North Pacific Ocean DPS. Population 
size trends for this DPS rely on nesting beach counts at a number of 
nesting beaches in Japan. Overall counts in the early 1990s approached 
7,000 nests, declined to a low point in the mid-1990s (just over 2,000 
nests), and between 2008 and 2010 have ranged from approximately 7,000 
to 11,000 nests. A long-term dataset available from a single beach 
(Kamouda, Japan) documents turtle emergences from 1954 to at least 
2004. While these emergence counts include both nesting emergences and 
non-nesting emergences (false crawls), they have a relationship to the 
number of nests, and thereby to nesting females. As such, it is the 
longest continual index of adult females in the North Pacific 
population, and these data suggest a decline of approximately 90 
percent in turtle emergences at the site over the 50-year period. Given 
historical records overall, during the last half of the 20th century, 
over fewer than three generations, the size of the nesting population 
in Japan has declined between 50-90 percent.
    Comment 72: Four commenters stated that they did not agree with the 
expert opinions used in the Status Review threat matrix model. One of 
the commenters questioned the validity of this approach and cited one 
of the Status Review peer reviewer's comments to support their opinion 
as well as a National Research Council report noting that models are a 
``heuristic exercise with little or no real power for prediction.'' 
Further, this commenter contended that the experts arbitrarily assigned 
threat rankings that were inconsistent with actual data. Another of 
these commenters noted that despite disagreeing on values for 
anthropogenic mortality in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS, the 
analysis on extinction risk using population growth rate showed that 
this DPS cannot withstand much anthropogenic mortality. Yet another of 
these commenters also stated that the

[[Page 58901]]

model skewed estimates of anthropogenic mortalities high (e.g., for the 
scallop fishery, trawl fisheries), leading to a false sense of urgency, 
primarily because it over-relied on the subjective opinions of experts. 
In addition, one of the four commenters asserted that threat rankings 
were arbitrarily assigned mortality values that do not correlate with 
actual data. Three different commenters indicated that a paper by Dulvy 
et al. (2004) noted that the available approaches have been subject to 
considerable debate, but this suggests that deference to the scientific 
expertise of those knowledgeable about loggerhead sea turtles, such as 
the BRT, is required. These three commenters noted that general 
criticisms, such as the fact that loggerhead sea turtles may be 
numerous, are not sufficient to undermine the BRT's report and are not 
based on the best available science. For example, Dulvy et al. (2004) 
stated that the decline of an abundant species may represent a massive 
biomass loss that may be of greater concern than the loss of a small 
number of individuals of a rare species because it may compromise the 
ecosystem's functionality, stability, or resilience. These three 
commenters stressed that scientists with intimate knowledge both of 
loggerhead sea turtles and their ecosystem must be able to use their 
scientific opinions to analyze the status of the species.
    Response: As stated in the Status Review, known anthropogenic 
threats to each life stage of a DPS, measured as additional annual 
mortality, were quantified using both available data and experts' 
opinions, where the stage-specific additional annual mortality was 
summarized in a matrix format (threat matrix). The BRT loggerhead sea 
turtle experts estimated threat levels based on the best information 
available. Justifications and references for each threat were provided 
in the Status Review and in the online threat matrix spreadsheets 
[http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/statusreviews.htm].
    The threat matrix analysis was not used to predict the population 
trends. The National Research Council (2010) review is correct in that 
the threats matrix analysis was used as a heuristic exercise to show 
that the current knowledge about loggerhead sea turtle biology and 
anthropogenic mortalities is not sufficient to make precise conclusions 
about the future. In the Status Review, the BRT stated ``* * * these 
indices were used to measure the negative effects of known 
anthropogenic mortalities on the overall health of each DPS and not to 
estimate the actual population growth rates of these DPSs.''
    Comment 73: One commenter stated the belief that the BRT 
incorporated the most pessimistic and conservative assumptions in its 
analyses. For example, with respect to the assumptions made in the 
threat matrix analysis, the BRT stated that ``we used the precautionary 
principle for characterizing the threat level.'' For the SQE analysis, 
the commenter stated that the BRT ignored the model developers' use of 
0.4 as the critical value, which was found to balance the risk of 
making both Type I and Type II errors, opting to reduce that value to 
0.3. This had the effect of increasing the chances of finding risk 
where none exists. The commenter stated that all assumptions 
incorporated in the models were skewed toward findings of endangerment. 
The commenter noted this approach could be suitable, and perhaps even 
required, in the context of a section 7 consultation, where the 
question is whether a Federal action is or is not likely to result in 
jeopardy to a listed species. However, the commenter argued that it is 
legally inappropriate in the context of a listing decision. The 
commenter noted that the Services are required to use the best 
scientific and commercial data available, not data skewed toward a 
particular result. In the present case, the commenter stated that the 
BRT failed to utilize both basic biological and population dynamics 
expertise. Further, the commenter noted that contrary information, such 
as the TEWG's findings with respect to the increase in juvenile 
abundance and the newer nest numbers, was ignored.
    Response: The BRT clearly explained its rationale for using the SQE 
value of 0.3 as follows: ``Using simulations, Snover and Heppell (2009) 
demonstrated that SQE values greater than 0.4 indicated a population 
has > 0.9 probability of quasi-extinction. At this critical value (SQE 
= 0.40), Type I and Type II errors are minimized simultaneously at 
approximately 10%. Reducing the critical value to 0.3 lessens the `Type 
I' error rate but increases the `Type II' error rate (Snover and 
Heppell, 2009). The choice of 0.9 as the cut-off probability was 
arbitrary, and values other than 0.9 could be used. However, new 
critical values other than 0.4 needed to be established for different 
values of the cut-off probability. Qualitatively, the results would not 
differ if a value other than 0.9 was used (Snover and Heppell, 2009). 
In this assessment, we used the cut-off probability of 0.9 as in Snover 
and Heppell (2009) and a critical value for the SQE of 0.30, which 
reduced the `Type I' error (a DPS is considered to be not at risk when 
in fact it is). SQE values greater than 0.30, therefore, indicate the 
DPS is at risk.'' The Services agree with this approach taken by the 
BRT.

Comments on the Status Determinations for the DPSs

    Comment 74: All individuals that sent form letters, as well as 18 
organizations or individuals that sent non-form letters, supported the 
proposed endangered listing status for seven of the DPSs.
    Response: While general support or non-support of a listing is not, 
in itself, a substantive comment that we take into consideration as 
part of our five-factor analysis, we appreciate the support of these 
commenters. Support is important to the conservation of species.
    Comment 75: Several commenters noted that in the NMFS and USFWS 5-
year review for the loggerhead sea turtle (NMFS and USFWS, 2007), the 
agencies concluded that they do not believe the loggerhead sea turtle 
should be reclassified; therefore, the 2009 Status Review presents no 
new information to justify a new ``endangered'' finding.
    Response: In the 5-year review for the loggerhead sea turtle, NMFS 
and USFWS concluded that, based on the best available information, we 
did not believe the entire species, as listed worldwide, should be 
delisted or reclassified. However, we stated that we had information 
indicating that an analysis and review of the species should be 
conducted to determine the application of the DPS policy to the 
loggerhead sea turtle. Subsequently, the BRT reviewed and evaluated all 
relevant scientific information relating to loggerhead population 
structure globally to determine whether DPSs exist and, if so, to 
assess the status of each DPS. The findings of the BRT informed this 
rulemaking.
    Comment 76: One commenter provided an analysis of the distinction 
between ``threatened'' and ``endangered'' under the ESA, referencing a 
memorandum written by Dan Ashe, USFWS (Ashe Memo). The commenter stated 
that the key difference is the timing for when the species is in danger 
of extinction--threatened means may be in danger of extinction in the 
foreseeable future and endangered means in danger now and on the brink 
of extinction. The commenter referenced four basic categories included 
in the Ashe Memo and provided information relative to loggerhead sea 
turtles as follows: ``(1) Species facing a catastrophic threat from 
which the risk of extinction is imminent and certain. Unlike snail 
darters, loggerhead sea turtles are found throughout the world making 
it neither

[[Page 58902]]

uniquely dependent on a single, vulnerable area nor subject to any 
impending, catastrophic threat. (2) Narrowly restricted endemics that, 
as a result of their limited range or population size, are vulnerable 
to extinction from elevated threats. Conservation efforts for 
loggerheads in the U.S. and internationally have greatly minimized 
anthropogenic threats and these threats have been significantly reduced 
over recent decades. (3) Species formerly more widespread that have 
been reduced to such critically low numbers or restricted ranges that 
they are at a high risk of extinction due to threats that would not 
otherwise imperil the species. Loggerheads do not meet these particular 
criteria, for many of the same reasons already discussed. Additionally, 
in the Northwest Atlantic alone, this species numbers in the millions 
at all life stages. Furthermore, such as in the Tongaland example, 
local loggerhead subpopulations have shown the ability to recover from 
levels of only a couple hundred mature females. (4) Species with still 
relatively widespread distribution that have nevertheless suffered 
ongoing major reductions in its numbers, range, or both, as a result of 
factors that have not abated.'' The commenter noted that protective 
measures in the form of ever improving TEDs, protective longline gear 
and practices, time/area closures, and nesting beach improvements and 
ordinances have gone a long way toward abating threats to loggerhead 
sea turtles and that the current trend in loggerhead abundance in the 
Northwest Atlantic is increasing.
    The commenter further referenced the Ashe Memo, which says 
``threatened species typically have some of the characteristics of the 
fourth category above, in that they too have generally suffered some 
recent declines in numbers, range or both, but to a less severe extent 
than endangered species.'' The Ashe Memo goes on to distinguish between 
a species that is endangered and one that is threatened and ``depends 
on the life history and ecology of the species, the nature of the 
threats, and population numbers and trends.'' The trends for 
loggerheads, both in terms of increased nesting and reduced threats, 
not to mention the geographic diversity of nesting habitat, the 
species' extensive distribution, and the sheer numbers of individuals 
in the population, all point toward, at most, a ``threatened'' status.
    Response: The Services agree that numerous protective measures have 
been implemented to protect loggerhead sea turtles in the Northwest 
Atlantic Ocean. However, compliance levels with TEDs, high interaction 
levels and mortalities in many domestic and international fisheries, 
continued loss of nesting beach habitat, and inadequate development and 
enforcement of lighting ordinances, to name a few, suggest that many 
threats are still impacting Northwest Atlantic loggerhead sea turtles 
and need to be further addressed. With regard to the commenter's 
assertion that the current trend in loggerhead abundance in the 
Northwest Atlantic is increasing, inclusion of nesting data up through 
2010 results in the nesting trend line being slightly negative, but not 
significantly different from zero. Regardless, for a number of reasons, 
discussed in the Finding section, the Services are listing the 
Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as threatened.
    Comment 77: Three commenters noted that best available science 
suggests that focusing solely on biological extinction, or imminent 
extinction, is not useful from an ecological, management, or ecosystem 
perspective because even after population declines of more than 95 
percent, many marine fishes would still number in the hundreds of 
thousands or millions of individuals and, therefore, not be considered 
to be at an increased risk of extinction. The commenters argued that 
scientists do not understand ``how the multitude of factors that 
influence the extinction probability for a given population or species 
interact with one another under specific physical and biological 
environments.'' They contended that the ESA, by requiring NMFS and 
USFWS to consider five statutory listing criteria, anticipates the 
interactions of many factors and provides inherent flexibility in 
determining whether a species warrants protection as endangered. The 
commenters stated that requiring that the species face imminent 
extinction or that the species be on the brink of extinction is neither 
legally justifiable nor scientifically possible given the current 
published literature on extinction risk in marine species. The 
commenters urged the Services to be open to scientists' assessments of 
extinction risk because these are important to convey that a species' 
extinction probability has increased and that its probability of 
recovery is low.
    Response: The Services agree that even species that have suffered 
fairly substantial declines in numbers or range are sometimes listed as 
threatened rather than endangered, based on the species' resilience and 
resistance to threats making the species currently less vulnerable to 
threats. Whether a species is ultimately protected as an endangered 
species or a threatened species depends on the specific life history 
and ecology of the species, the nature of the threats, the species' 
response to those threats, and population numbers and trends.
    Comment 78: Two commenters stated that they did not support the 
proposed endangered listing for North Pacific loggerheads. One of these 
commenters stated the proposed endangered listing is contrary to 
established listing practices for other species in similar situations 
with North Pacific loggerheads (e.g., crested caracara, ribbon seal, 
northern spotted owl, slickspot peppergrass, chirichua leopard frog, 
delta green ground beetle, California red-legged frog, southeastern 
beach mouse, Anastasia Island beach mouse, and Waccamaw silverside 
minnow). This commenter argued that even though a species may be at 
risk from significant past and projected habitat destruction, 
population declines, or elimination from a portion of its range, the 
Services regularly list a species as threatened when the population 
declines are not steep and when the threat to the species' ongoing 
survival is not imminent.
    Response: An endangered species is any species which is in danger 
of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. A 
threatened species is any species which is likely to become an 
endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range. Thus, a species may be listed as 
threatened if it is likely to become in danger of extinction within the 
foreseeable future. Threatened species typically have some of the same 
characteristics as endangered species with relatively widespread 
distribution that have suffered ongoing major reductions in numbers, 
range, or both, as a result of factors that have not been abated, in 
that they too have generally suffered some recent decline in numbers, 
range, or both, but to a less severe extent than endangered species. 
Whether a species is ultimately protected as an endangered species or a 
threatened species depends on the specific life history and ecology of 
the species, the nature of the threats, the species' response to those 
threats, and population numbers and trends.
    Comment 79: One commenter stated that there is a lack of evidence 
to support the endangered designation for the North Pacific Ocean DPS. 
The commenter stated that recent nesting increases are clear evidence 
that the North Pacific Ocean DPS is increasing, which is inconsistent 
with the proposed endangered status.
    Response: The Services agree there has been an encouraging trend in 
the annual nesting abundance of

[[Page 58903]]

loggerheads in Japan. However, relative to historical levels, the 
annual nesting abundance is very low. The agencies believe the 
substantial depletion of this population, despite the aforementioned 
increases, coupled with ongoing threats to loggerheads in the North 
Pacific, warrants endangered status for the North Pacific Ocean DPS.
    Comment 80: Two commenters stated that they do not support listing 
the Southwest Indian Ocean DPS as threatened and suggested it should be 
listed as endangered. The commenters noted that although this 
population is increasing, it remains small and vulnerable. The 
commenters noted that while the majority of nesting habitat is 
protected in South Africa and Mozambique, loggerheads are at risk from 
direct exploitation, especially in Madagascar, and incidental capture 
has not yet been quantified. Additionally, dramatic increases in 
regional longline fishing for tuna are expected to increase loggerhead 
bycatch.
    Response: A trend analysis of index nesting beach data from this 
region from 1965 to 2008 indicates an increasing nesting population. 
Although the Services agree that fisheries bycatch is a concern, the 
extent of this threat is not well understood. In light of the protected 
status of the majority of nesting beaches and the increasing nesting 
trend, the Services believe a threatened status is appropriate for the 
Southwest Indian Ocean DPS.
    Comment 81: Thousands of commenters stated that they strongly 
supported listing the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as endangered, 
particularly noting that Northwest Atlantic loggerheads are more in 
need of endangered status to ensure their survival after the recent oil 
spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Many commenters noted that the majority of 
Northwest Atlantic loggerheads nest in the United States and represent 
the second largest nesting assemblage in the world, which makes their 
survival critical to the future of the species. The States of Florida, 
Georgia, and Virginia support an endangered status for the Northwest 
Atlantic Ocean DPS. The North Carolina Department of Marine Fisheries 
stated that it opposes an endangered listing because appropriate 
information is lacking. Specifically, the agency stated that it opposes 
the listing because counts of nests or females are not an assessment of 
the population. Three other commenters also stated that they oppose 
listing the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as endangered, arguing that 
the case for a change in listing status has not been established and 
the proposed rule should be rejected, particularly for the Northwest 
Atlantic Ocean DPS.
    Response: The Services agree on the importance of the Northwest 
Atlantic Ocean DPS. The predominance of nesting in the United States 
and the extensive use of U.S. coastal and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) 
waters by adults and large neritic juveniles from this DPS provides us 
the ability to better control anthropogenic threats to individuals of 
those highly valuable life stages compared to other DPSs which 
originate in, and inhabit waters of, other nations over which we have 
no control. Based on additional review and discussions within the 
Services on status and trends, threats, and conservation efforts, we do 
not believe the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS is currently ``in danger 
of extinction throughout all or a portion of its range,'' and 
determined that a ``threatened'' listing under the ESA is more 
appropriate.
    Comment 82: The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries stated 
that there is no accurate way to determine the status of the Northwest 
Atlantic Ocean DPS because there is no benchmark assessment of the DPS 
and periodic updates. It suggested conducting an assessment similar to 
the 2009 bottlenose dolphin stock assessment.
    Response: The Services agree that gaps remain in what is known 
about the population dynamics of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS. The 
Services continue to evaluate ways to improve population assessments 
for sea turtles. The Services used the best available data and the most 
appropriate analyses in assessing the status of the Northwest Atlantic 
Ocean DPS and making our final determination.
    Comment 83: Three commenters stated the belief that the Northwest 
Atlantic Ocean DPS is ``in danger of extinction throughout all or a 
portion of its range'' and therefore must be listed as endangered. The 
commenters noted that the definition of an endangered species is 
necessarily forward-looking, as a species ``in danger'' of extinction 
is not currently extinct. Rather it is a species facing a risk of 
extinction in the future. The Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS, facing a 
high probability of quasi-extinction, cannot be merely threatened, 
because the threatened category is only for species that are not 
currently in danger of extinction but instead likely to become so in 
the future.
    Response: Based on additional review and discussions within the 
Services on status and trends, threats, and conservation efforts, we do 
not believe the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS is currently ``in danger 
of extinction throughout all or a portion of its range,'' and 
determined that a ``threatened'' listing under the ESA is more 
appropriate. Quasi-extinction analyses support the fact that the 
Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS is not currently in danger of extinction 
throughout all or a portion of its range. In one such analysis, a 
Dennis-Holmes demographic population viability analysis (PVA) was 
conducted using nesting data through 2009. Quasi-extinction was defined 
as 1,000 remaining adults (which is higher than is typically used in 
most PVAs) within 100 years. For a population of 35,000 turtles 
(approximately the current estimated number of adult females), the risk 
of reaching that QET was 0.0017, less than two-tenths of a percent 
(NMFS, unpublished data). A revision of the SQE analysis done in the 
Status Report written by the BRT had similar results. Including nesting 
data through 2009 instead of just 2007, and redoing the analysis to use 
a range of adult female abundance estimates as QETs, it was determined 
that there was little risk (SQE < 0.3) of the Peninsular Florida 
Recovery Unit (comprising approximately 80 percent of the Northwest 
Atlantic Ocean DPS) reaching 1,000 or fewer females in 100 years.
    Comment 84: Three commenters referenced Center for Biological 
Diversity v. Lohn, where the court found that uncertainty regarding 
data used in an ESA section 4 listing determination did not justify 
failing to list the species, citing Conner v. Burford. The commenters 
noted that, while data gaps exist for loggerhead sea turtles, this is 
true for many if not all marine species and cannot excuse the lack of 
agency action under the ESA to protect loggerhead sea turtles. The 
commenters noted that with a threatened listing for over 30 years, 
Northwest Atlantic loggerheads continue to decline; therefore, the 
Services must grant additional protections to recover the species.
    Response: The Services agree and understand that data gaps do not 
justify failing to list a species under the ESA. Despite the gaps in 
knowledge, loggerhead sea turtles in the Northwest Atlantic have been, 
and will continue to be, listed as a threatened species under the ESA. 
We disagree that there has been a ``lack of agency action under the ESA 
to protect loggerhead sea turtles.'' Numerous protective regulations 
and measures have been adopted since the original listing of the 
loggerhead sea turtle, both on the nesting beaches and in the marine 
environment. The effectiveness of many of those measures

[[Page 58904]]

may not yet be observed on the nesting beaches because of the recent 
enactment relative to the life history and age to maturity of 
loggerhead sea turtles. However, additional measures continue to be 
undertaken to reduce anthropogenic impacts, as required by the ESA. 
Analysis of nesting trends from 1989-2010 results in a trend line that 
is slightly negative, but not significantly different from zero.
    Comment 85: Three commenters reiterated that the Services' 
determinations concerning listing species or DPSs and changing the 
status of a listed species or DPS must be made ``solely on the basis of 
the best scientific and commercial data available.'' The commenters 
noted that the Services may not cater to political influences in 
conducting a purely scientific evaluation. The commenters noted that 
their petitions, prior comments, the 2009 Status Review, and the best 
available science support the Services' proposed DPS designations and 
changing the status of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS from threatened 
to endangered. The commenters argued that the Services' alleged 
substantial disagreement on the interpretation of the existing data, 
which prompted a 6-month extension on the final determination, suggests 
political and not scientific differences of opinion.
    Response: The Services agree that such determinations must be made 
solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data 
available. The final determination was based upon all available 
information, as well as information and comments provided in response 
to the proposed rule, including information provided during the public 
comment extension periods. The Services then determined that the 
Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS should be listed as threatened. A 
discussion of that information and basis for the listing status is 
contained in the final determination for the DPS, below.
    Comment 86: One commenter questioned why the Services reasoned that 
current circumstances warrant an endangered listing for the Northwest 
Atlantic Ocean DPS instead of a threatened listing. The commenter noted 
that at the time of the original listing in 1978, adult loggerhead 
population sizes were not well known. For example, the Final EIS 
associated with the original listing of the species in 1978 identified 
the Florida population with a total of 41,524 adults of both sexes and 
Georgia with 551 females nesting annually. Assuming a 3-year 
remigration interval and a 1:1 sex ratio, the Georgia estimate equates 
to approximately 3,306 adults, and combined with the Florida estimate, 
yields an adult population size of 44,830 turtles for the region. The 
regional population was thought to be declining. The most recent adult 
population point estimate for the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS is 
30,050 adult females or approximately 60,100 adult males and females, 
and that number is believed to be declining. Thus, while the number of 
nests in the DPS [at the largest rookery] in the Northwest Atlantic 
increased for 2 decades after being listed, it since has declined, and 
now the population size of adults (extrapolated from the number of 
nests) is comparable to or slightly greater than the number that 
existed when the species was listed as threatened. Another commenter 
also questioned the size of the loggerhead population against which 
impacts are measured and provided an estimate of between 1,230,000 and 
at least 3,300,000 animals in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS.
    Response: Based on additional review and discussions within the 
Services on status and trends, threats, and conservation efforts, we do 
not believe the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS is currently ``in danger 
of extinction throughout all or a portion of its range,'' and have 
determined that a ``threatened'' listing under the ESA is more 
appropriate.
    Comment 87: One commenter questioned whether nesting declines are 
truly valid evidence that the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS is headed 
for extinction. The commenter expressed the belief that the Services 
should have delved more rigorously into all existing abundance data to 
determine whether trends in nesting actually reflect trends in the 
population. The commenter cited the following text from the TEWG (2000) 
report: ``nesting trends alone may give an incomplete picture of 
population status.''
    Response: The Services agree with the TEWG (2000) report's 
statement that nesting trends alone may give an incomplete picture of 
population status. However, at this time it is the strongest indicator, 
and most thorough and consistent data set available for such 
determinations. The limited in-water data are also given consideration 
when making determinations of population status. Note that subsequent 
to the publication of the proposed rule, nesting data for 2008-2010 was 
incorporated into the nesting trend analyses, and the result indicated 
that the nesting trend for the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS from 1989-
2010 is slightly negative but not statistically different from zero.
    Comment 88: The State of Florida provided data on loggerhead 
nesting activity on Florida beaches collected by the Florida Fish and 
Wildlife Conservation Commission through June 2010. The analysis of 
these data shows a marked decline in nest counts since 1989 when 
extensive index beach monitoring began. The recent analysis reveals 
that the decline in nest counts from 1989 to 2009 was 23.9 percent and 
from 1998 to 2009 was 38.4 percent, which corresponds to a decline of 
1.42 percent and 4.84 percent per year, respectively. The State of 
Florida noted that nesting declines correspond with declines of adult 
female loggerheads. The State acknowledged that nest counts vary with 
reproductive output as well as adult female abundance and that this 
source of variation could contribute to either an under- or over-
estimate of females from nests in a given year. As such, declines in 
adult females may be lower or greater than nest counts indicate, but 
the declining trend is not in dispute. The State of Florida recognized 
data from other data sets representing younger life stages within the 
Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS that come from in-water captures where 
capture effort was recorded. The trends in catch per unit effort vary 
by location with some showing a statistically significant increasing 
trend in immature loggerheads. The State of Florida explained that 
there are important differences between nest count data and catch per 
unit effort data that apply to how accurately each data set represents 
actual population changes. Florida nest count data have a time series 
of 21 years collected via a standardized protocol, are spatially 
detailed, and are collected over the majority of the principal nesting 
range of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS. In contrast, catch per unit 
effort data, even when a composite data set, do not come close to the 
spatial detail and population range as the nest count data. The State 
of Florida acknowledged the importance of catch per unit effort trends 
assessment, but cautioned that the inherent sampling bias of catch per 
unit effort techniques introduces uncertainty into any conclusions 
drawn from those data.
    Response: The Services acknowledge the nesting decline reported by 
the State of Florida for the period 1989-2009; however, analysis of the 
data through 2010 (2010 data were not available at the time of the 
proposed rule) results in a trend line that is slightly negative, but 
not statistically different from zero. Nesting in 2009 on the Core 
Index Nesting Beaches was relatively low at 32,717. However, in 2008, 
nesting

[[Page 58905]]

numbers exceeded 38,000, the second highest total since 2002. In 2010, 
the nest count was 47,880, the highest since 2000, and the ninth 
highest in the 22 years in the data set. The Services agree that 
available in-water abundance information must be used with caution due 
to inherent sampling biases; however, we believe these data are an 
important piece of information that can be used to help assess the 
status of this DPS.
    Comment 89: Five commenters referenced Witherington et al. (2009) 
and the decline of nesting in Florida. The commenters noted that if the 
trend continues the nesting population will decline by 80 percent by 
2017 (using 1989-2007 data); such a drastic decline over just 19 years, 
less than half a loggerhead's generation time, would warrant IUCN 
Critically Endangered status. Witherington et al. 2009 noted that 
fisheries bycatch is the factor that best fits the nesting decline.
    Response: Inclusion of nesting data up through 2010 results in the 
nesting trend line being slightly negative, but not significantly 
different from zero. The Services agree that fisheries bycatch is one 
factor that best fits the nesting decline seen in the past. However, 
various fishery bycatch reduction measures have occurred within the 
last generation time for loggerhead sea turtles, and the benefits of 
those actions may only now be starting to become evident on the nesting 
beaches. The agencies are committed to reducing fisheries bycatch 
further.
    Comment 90: The State of Georgia provided data on loggerhead 
nesting in Georgia. The State noted that loggerhead nest counts in 
Georgia show a stable nesting population for the corresponding time 
period used in Witherington et al. (2009). However, the State 
acknowledged that nesting in Georgia represents a small fraction (less 
than 2 percent) of the nesting by loggerheads in the Northwest Atlantic 
Ocean DPS and, therefore, has little effect on the overall nesting 
trend for the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS.
    Response: The Services agree that Georgia loggerhead nesting 
indicates a stable nesting population. Additionally, nesting in South 
Carolina and North Carolina has also been relatively stable over the 
past decade, with record or near record nesting since 2008 in some 
cases. Nesting in these three States constitute most of the Northern 
Recovery Unit of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS. While small in 
comparison to the Peninsular Florida Recovery Unit, it is the second 
largest recovery unit in the DPS and an important source of gene flow 
within the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS.
    Comment 91: One commenter provided a critique of the methods used 
in the loggerhead Status Review written by the BRT. In more than one 
instance, the commenter made reference to the Status Review making an 
``endangered'' determination or recommendation.
    Response: The Services would like to clarify that the role of the 
BRT and the Status Review was not to make a determination or 
recommendation of listing status under the ESA. The BRT was to provide 
an analysis of loggerhead status, which was then used in conjunction 
with numerous other sources of information by the Services to make a 
final listing determination. Confusion occurred for many readers of the 
Status Review because of the convergence of language used in the BRT 
report and the legal language used in the ESA. The BRT did not make 
conclusions as to ESA listing status.
    Comment 92: Two commenters stated that they did not support listing 
the South Atlantic Ocean DPS as threatened and suggested it should be 
listed as endangered. The commenters noted that although this 
population is increasing, it remains small and vulnerable. The 
commenters further noted that the South Atlantic Ocean DPS in Brazil is 
subject to various threats on both important nesting beaches and in-
water habitat, particularly climate change and ocean acidification.
    Response: The Services determined that a threatened status is 
appropriate for the South Atlantic Ocean DPS. A long-term, sustained 
increasing trend in nesting abundance was observed from 1988 through 
2003, and loggerhead nesting has continued to increase through the 
2008-2009 nesting season. Conservation efforts on nesting beaches have 
been largely successful although coastal development in the main 
nesting areas continues to be a concern. The Services agree that 
fisheries bycatch remains a concern; however, there are efforts 
underway within Brazilian waters and elsewhere in their range to 
address these threats.

Other Comments

    Comment 93: The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries and one 
other commenter noted that the proposed rule contained limited 
discussion of mitigating non-fisheries threats (e.g., oil spills, 
vessel strikes, entanglement in marine debris, and indirect 
anthropogenic factors that affect reproductive success such as 
alteration/loss of nesting habitat, light pollution, etc.) for the 
Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS.
    Response: The Services appreciate the significance and importance 
of non-fisheries threats on sea turtle populations, including the 
Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS. Discussion of these threats does occur 
within the preamble language of the listing rule. However, as a result 
of the greater specific information available for known fishery impacts 
and the general understanding that fishery impacts constitute what is 
likely the largest category of impact on sea turtle populations, a 
greater volume of text is dedicated to that discussion.
    Comment 94: Three commenters argued the 6-month extension was 
unjustified and unlawful and requested the Services withdraw the 
extension and complete the final rule immediately.
    Response: The Services disagree that the 6-month extension was 
unjustified and unlawful. Section 4(b)(6) of the ESA allows for 6-month 
extensions of final determinations when ``there is substantial 
disagreement regarding the sufficiency or accuracy of the available 
data relevant to the determination * * * for purposes of soliciting 
additional data.'' The Services proposed to list the Northwest Atlantic 
Ocean DPS of the loggerhead sea turtle as endangered. However, in 
preparing the final rule, there was substantial disagreement regarding 
the interpretation of the existing data on status and trends and its 
relevance to the assessment of extinction risk to the Northwest 
Atlantic Ocean DPS. There was also considerable disagreement regarding 
the magnitude and immediacy of the fisheries bycatch threat and 
measures to reduce this threat to the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS. As 
part of the 6-month extension notice, the Services solicited new 
information or analyses to help clarify these issues and used this time 
to fully evaluate and assess the best scientific and commercial data 
available and ensure consistent interpretation of data and application 
of statutory standards for all of the nine proposed DPSs.
    Comment 95: Several individuals provided comments on critical 
habitat designations for the Northwest Atlantic Ocean and North Pacific 
Ocean DPSs.
    Response: The Services have not designated critical habitat for the 
loggerhead sea turtle. Critical habitat is not determinable at this 
time, but will be proposed in a separate rulemaking.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Nine Loggerhead DPSs

    Section 4 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1533) and implementing regulations 
at 50 CFR part 424 set forth procedures for adding species to the 
Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Species.

[[Page 58906]]

Under section 4(a) of the ESA, we must determine if a species is 
threatened or endangered because of any of the following five factors: 
(A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment 
of its habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial, 
recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) disease or 
predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) 
other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.
    We have described the effects of various factors leading to the 
decline of the loggerhead sea turtle in the original listing 
determination (43 FR 32800; July 28, 1978) and other documents (NMFS 
and USFWS, 1998, 2007, 2008). In making this finding, information 
regarding the status of each of the nine loggerhead DPSs is considered 
in relation to the five factors provided in section 4(a)(1) of the ESA. 
The reader is directed to section 5 of the Status Review for a more 
detailed discussion of the factors affecting the nine identified 
loggerhead DPSs. In section 5.1, a general description of the threats 
that occur for all DPSs is presented under the relevant section 4(a)(1) 
factor. In section 5.2, threats that are specific to a particular DPS 
are presented by DPS under each section 4(a)(1) factor. That 
information is incorporated here by reference; the following is a 
summary of that information by DPS.

North Pacific Ocean DPS

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of its Habitat or Range

Terrestrial Zone

    Destruction and modification of loggerhead nesting habitat in the 
North Pacific result from coastal development and construction, 
placement of erosion control structures and other barriers to nesting, 
beachfront lighting, vehicular and pedestrian traffic, sand extraction, 
beach erosion, beach sand placement, beach pollution, removal of native 
vegetation, planting of non-native vegetation (NMFS and USFWS, 1998), 
and climate change. Beaches in Japan where loggerheads nest are 
extensively eroded due to dredging and dams constructed upstream, and 
are obstructed by seawalls as well. Unfortunately, no quantitative 
studies have been conducted to determine the impact to the loggerhead 
nesting populations (Kamezaki et al., 2003). However, it is clear that 
loggerhead nesting habitat has been impacted by erosion and extensive 
beach use by tourists, both of which have contributed to unusually high 
mortality of eggs and pre-emergent hatchlings at many Japanese 
rookeries (Matsuzawa, 2006). While the Services cannot predict the 
exact impacts of climate change, sea level rise may present a more 
immediate challenge for this DPS because of the proportion of beaches 
with shoreline armoring that prevents or interferes with the ability of 
nesting females to access to suitable nesting habitat.
    Maehama Beach and Inakahama Beach on Yakushima in Kagoshima 
Prefecture account for approximately 30 percent of loggerhead nesting 
in Japan (Kamezaki et al., 2003), making Yakushima an important area 
for nesting beach protection. However, the beaches suffer from beach 
erosion and light pollution, especially from passing cars, as well as 
from tourists encroaching on the nesting beaches (Matsuzawa, 2006). 
Burgeoning numbers of visitors to beaches may cause sand compaction and 
nest trampling. Egg and pre-emergent hatchling mortality in Yakushima 
has been shown to be higher in areas where public access is not 
restricted and is mostly attributed to human foot traffic on nests 
(Kudo et al., 2003). Fences have been constructed around areas where 
the highest densities of nests are laid; however, there are still lower 
survival rates of eggs and pre-emergent hatchlings due to excessive 
foot traffic (Ohmuta, 2006).
    Loggerhead nesting habitat also has been lost at important 
rookeries in Miyazaki due in part to port construction that involved 
development of a groin of 1 kilometer from the coast into the sea, a 
yacht harbor with breakwaters and artificial beach, and an airport, 
causing erosion of beaches on both sides of the construction zone. This 
once excellent nesting habitat for loggerheads is now seriously 
threatened by erosion (Takeshita, 2006).
    Minabe-Senri beach, Wakayama Prefecture is a ``submajor'' nesting 
beach (in Kamezaki et al., 2003), but is one of the most important 
rookeries on the main island of Japan (Honshu). Based on unpublished 
data, Matsuzawa (2006) reported hatching success of unwashed-out 
clutches at Minabe-Senri beach to be 24 percent in 1996, 50 percent in 
1997, 53 percent in 1998, 48 percent in 1999, 62 percent in 2000, 41 
percent in 2001, and 34 percent in 2002.

Neritic/Oceanic Zones

    Threats to habitat in the loggerhead neritic and oceanic zones in 
the North Pacific Ocean include fishing practices, channel dredging, 
sand extraction, marine pollution, and climate change. Fishing methods 
not only incidentally capture loggerheads, but also deplete 
invertebrate and fish populations and thus alter ecosystem dynamics. In 
many cases loggerhead foraging areas coincide with fishing zones. For 
example, using aerial surveys and satellite telemetry, juvenile 
foraging hotspots have recently been identified off the coast of Baja 
California, Mexico; these hotspots overlap with intensive small-scale 
fisheries (Peckham and Nichols, 2006; Peckham et al., 2007, 2008). 
Comprehensive data currently are unavailable to fully understand how 
intense harvesting of fish resources changes neritic and oceanic 
ecosystems. Climate change also may result in future trophic changes, 
thus impacting loggerhead prey abundance and distribution.
    In summary, we find that the North Pacific Ocean DPS of the 
loggerhead sea turtle is negatively affected by ongoing changes in both 
its terrestrial and marine habitats as a result of land and water use 
practices as considered above in Factor A. Within Factor A, we find 
that coastal development and coastal armoring on nesting beaches in 
Japan are significant threats to the persistence of this DPS.
B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes
    In Japan, the use of loggerhead meat for food was historically 
popular in local communities such as Kochi and Wakayama prefectures. In 
addition, egg collection was common in the coastal areas during times 
of hunger and later by those who valued loggerhead eggs as revitalizers 
or aphrodisiacs and acquired them on the black market (in Kamezaki et 
al., 2003; Takeshita, 2006). Currently, due in large part to research 
and conservation efforts throughout the country, egg harvesting no 
longer represents a problem in Japan (Kamezaki et al., 2003; Ohmuta, 
2006; Takeshita, 2006). Laws were enacted in 1973 to prohibit egg 
collection on Yakushima, and in 1988, the laws were extended to the 
entire Kagoshima Prefecture, where two of the most important loggerhead 
nesting beaches are protected (Matsuzawa, 2006).
    Despite national laws, in many other countries where loggerheads 
are found migrating through or foraging, the hunting of adult and 
juvenile turtles is still a problem, as seen in Baja California Sur, 
Mexico (Koch et al., 2006; Mancini and Koch, 2009). Sea turtles have 
been protected in Mexico since 1990, when a Federal law decreed the 
prohibition of the ``extraction, capture and pursuit of all species of 
sea turtle in federal waters or from beaches within national territory 
* * * [and a

[[Page 58907]]

requirement that] * * * any species of sea turtle incidentally captured 
during the operations of any commercial fishery shall be returned to 
the sea, independently of its physical state, dead or alive'' (in 
Garcia-Martinez and Nichols, 2000). Despite the ban, studies have shown 
that sea turtles continue to be caught, both indirectly in fisheries 
and by a directed harvest of juvenile turtles. Turtles are principally 
hunted using nets, longlines, and harpoons. While some are killed 
immediately, others are kept alive in pens and transported to market. 
The market for sea turtles consists of two types: the local market 
(consumed locally) and the export market (sold to restaurants in Mexico 
cities such as Tijuana, Ensenada, and Mexicali, and U.S. cities such as 
San Diego and Tucson). Consumption is highest during holidays such as 
Easter and Christmas (Wildcoast/Grupo Tortuguero de las Californias, 
2003).
    Based on a combination of analyses of stranding data, beach and sea 
surveys, tag-recapture studies, and extensive interviews, all carried 
out between June 1994 and January 1999, Nichols (2003) conservatively 
estimated the annual take of sea turtles by various fisheries and 
through direct harvest in the Baja California, Mexico, region. Sea 
turtle mortality data collected between 1994 and 1999 indicated that 
over 90 percent of sea turtles recorded dead were either green turtles 
(30 percent of total) or loggerheads (61 percent of total), and signs 
of human consumption were evident in over half of the specimens. These 
studies resulted in an estimated 1,950 loggerheads killed annually, 
affecting primarily juvenile size classes. The primary causes for 
mortality were the incidental take in a variety of fishing gears and 
direct harvest for consumption and [illegal] trade (Gardner and 
Nichols, 2001; Nichols, 2003).
    From April 2000 to July 2003 throughout the Bahia Magdalena region 
(including local beaches and towns), researchers found 1,945 sea turtle 
carcasses, 44.1 percent of which were loggerheads. Of the sea turtle 
carcasses found, slaughter for human consumption was the primary cause 
of death for all species (63 percent for loggerheads). Over 90 percent 
of all turtles found were juvenile turtles (Koch et al., 2006). As the 
population of green turtles has declined in Baja California Sur waters, 
poachers have switched to loggerheads (H. Peckham, Pro Peninsula, 
personal communication, 2006).
    In summary, overutilization for commercial purposes in both Japan 
and Mexico likely was a factor that contributed to the historical 
declines of this DPS. Current illegal harvest of loggerheads in Baja, 
California for human consumption continues as a significant threat to 
the persistence of this DPS.
C. Disease or Predation
    The potential exists for diseases and endoparasites to impact 
loggerheads found in the North Pacific Ocean. As in other nesting 
locations, egg predation also exists in Japan, particularly by raccoon 
dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides) and weasels (Mustela itatsi); however, 
quantitative data do not exist to evaluate the impact on loggerhead 
populations (Kamezaki et al., 2003). Loggerheads in the North Pacific 
Ocean also may be impacted by harmful algal blooms.
    In summary, although nest predation in Japan is known to occur, 
quantitative data are not sufficient to assess the degree of impact of 
nest predation on the persistence of this DPS.
D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

International Instruments

    The BRT identified several regulatory mechanisms that apply to 
loggerhead sea turtles globally and within the North Pacific Ocean. The 
reader is directed to sections 5.1.4. and 5.2.1.4. of the Status Review 
for a discussion of these regulatory mechanisms. Hykle (2002) and 
Tiwari (2002) have reviewed the effectiveness of some of these 
international instruments. The problems with existing international 
treaties are often that they have not realized their full potential, do 
not include some key countries, do not specifically address sea turtle 
conservation, and are handicapped by the lack of a sovereign authority 
to enforce environmental regulations. The ineffectiveness of 
international treaties and national legislation is oftentimes due to 
the lack of motivation or obligation by countries to implement and 
enforce them. A thorough discussion of this topic is available in a 
special 2002 issue of the Journal of International Wildlife Law and 
Policy: International Instruments and Marine Turtle Conservation 
(Hykle, 2002).

National Legislation and Protection

    Fishery bycatch that occurs throughout the North Pacific Ocean is 
substantial (see Factor E). Although national and international 
governmental and non-governmental entities on both sides of the North 
Pacific are currently working toward reducing loggerhead bycatch, and 
some positive actions have been implemented, it is unlikely that this 
source of mortality can be sufficiently reduced in the near future due 
to the challenges of mitigating illegal, unregulated, and unreported 
fisheries, the lack of comprehensive information on fishing 
distribution and effort, limitations on implementing demonstrated 
effective conservation measures, geopolitical complexities, limitations 
on enforcement capacity, and lack of availability of comprehensive 
bycatch reduction technologies.
    In addition to fishery bycatch, coastal development and coastal 
armoring on nesting beaches in Japan continues as a substantial threat 
(see Factor A). Coastal armoring, if left unaddressed, will become an 
even more substantial threat as sea level rises. Recently, the Japan 
Ministry of Environment has supported the local non-governmental 
organization conducting turtle surveys and conservation on Yakushima in 
establishing guidelines for surveys and minimizing impacts by humans 
encroaching on the nesting beaches. As of the 2009 nesting season, 
humans accessing Inakahama, Maehama, and Yotsuse beaches at night must 
comply with the established rules (Y. Matsuzawa, Sea Turtle Association 
of Japan, personal communication, 2009).
    In summary, our review of regulatory mechanisms under Factor D 
demonstrates that although regulatory mechanisms are in place that 
should address direct and incidental take of North Pacific Ocean 
loggerheads, these regulatory mechanisms are insufficient or are not 
being implemented effectively to address the needs of loggerheads. We 
find that the threats from the inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms for fishery bycatch (Factor E) and coastal development and 
coastal armoring (Factor A) are significant relative to the persistence 
of this DPS.
E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

Incidental Bycatch in Fishing Gear

    Incidental capture in artisanal and commercial fisheries is a 
significant threat to the survival of loggerheads in the North Pacific. 
(Artisanal fisheries are typically small scale-commercial or 
subsistence fisheries.) Sea turtles may be caught in pelagic and 
demersal longlines, drift and set gillnets, bottom and mid-water 
trawling, fishing dredges, pound nets and weirs, haul and purse seines, 
pots and traps, and hook and line gear.
    Based on turtle sightings and capture rates reported in an April 
1988 through

[[Page 58908]]

March 1989 survey of fisheries research and training vessels and 
extrapolated to total longline fleet effort by the Japanese fleet in 
1978, Nishemura and Nakahigashi (1990) estimated that 21,200 turtles, 
including greens, leatherbacks, loggerheads, olive ridleys, and 
hawksbills, were captured annually by Japanese tuna longliners in the 
western Pacific and South China Sea, with a reported mortality of 
approximately 12,300 turtles per year. Using commercial tuna longline 
logbooks, research vessel data, and questionnaires, Nishemura and 
Nakahigashi (1990) estimated that for every 10,000 hooks in the western 
Pacific and South China Sea, one turtle is captured, with a mortality 
rate of 42 percent. Although species-specific information on the 
bycatch is not available, vessels reported that 36 percent of the 
sightings of turtles in locations that overlap with these commercial 
fishing grounds were loggerheads.
    Caution should be used in interpreting the results of Nishemura and 
Nakahigashi (1990), including estimates of sea turtle take rate (per 
number of hooks) and resultant mortality rate, and estimates of annual 
take by the fishery, for the following reasons: (1) The data collected 
were based on observations by training and research vessels, logbooks, 
and a questionnaire (i.e., hypothetical), and do not represent actual, 
substantiated logged or observed catch of sea turtles by the fishery; 
(2) the authors assumed that turtles were distributed homogeneously; 
and (3) the authors used only one year (1978) to estimate total effort 
and distribution of the Japanese tuna longline fleet. Although the data 
and analyses provided by Nishemura and Nakahigashi (1990) are 
conjectural, longliners fishing in the Pacific have significantly 
impacted and, with the current level of effort, probably will continue 
to have significant impacts on sea turtle populations.
    Foreign high-seas driftnet fishing in the North Pacific Ocean for 
squid, tuna, and billfish ended with a United Nations moratorium in 
December 1992. Except for observer data collected in 1990-1991, there 
is virtually no information on the incidental take of sea turtle 
species by the driftnet fisheries prior to the moratorium. The high-
seas squid driftnet fishery in the North Pacific was observed in Japan, 
Korea, and Taiwan, while the large-mesh fisheries targeting tuna and 
billfish were observed in the Japanese fleet (1990-1991) and the 
Taiwanese fleet (1990). A combination of observer data and fleet effort 
statistics indicate that 2,986 loggerhead sea turtles were entangled by 
the combined fleets of Japan, Korea, and Taiwan from June 1990 through 
May 1991, when all fleets were monitored. Of these incidental 
entanglements, an estimated 805 loggerheads were killed (27 percent 
mortality rate) (Wetherall, 1997). Data on size composition of the 
turtles caught in the high-seas driftnet fisheries also were collected 
by observers. The majority of loggerheads measured by observers were 
juvenile (Wetherall, 1997). The cessation of high-seas driftnet fishing 
in 1992 should have reduced the incidental take of marine turtles. 
However, nations involved in driftnet fishing may have shifted to other 
gear types (e.g., pelagic or demersal longlines, coastal gillnets); 
this shift in gear types could have resulted in either similar or 
increased turtle bycatch and associated mortality.
    These rough mortality estimates for a single fishing season provide 
only a narrow glimpse of the impacts of the driftnet fishery on sea 
turtles, and a full assessment of impacts would consider the turtle 
mortality generated by the driftnet fleets over their entire range. 
Unfortunately, comprehensive data are lacking, but the observer data do 
indicate the possible magnitude of turtle mortality given the best 
information available. Wetherall et al. (1993) speculate that the 
actual mortality of sea turtles may have been between 2,500 and 9,000 
per year, with most of the mortalities being loggerheads taken in the 
Japanese and Taiwanese large-mesh fisheries.
    While a comprehensive, quantitative assessment of the impacts of 
the North Pacific driftnet fishery on turtles is impossible without a 
better understanding of turtle population abundance, genetic 
identities, exploitation history, and population dynamics, it is likely 
that the mortality inflicted by the driftnet fisheries in 1990 and in 
prior years was significant (Wetherall et al., 1993), and the effects 
may still be evident in sea turtle populations today. The high 
mortality of juvenile turtles and reproductive adults in the high-seas 
driftnet fishery has probably altered the current age structure 
(especially if certain age groups were more vulnerable to driftnet 
fisheries) and therefore diminished or limited the future reproductive 
potential of affected sea turtle populations.
    Extensive ongoing studies regarding loggerhead mortality and 
bycatch have been administered off the coast of Baja California Sur, 
Mexico. The location and timing of loggerhead strandings documented in 
2003-2005 along a 43-kilometer beach (Playa San Lazaro) indicated 
bycatch in local small-scale fisheries. In order to corroborate this, 
in 2005, researchers observed two small-scale fleets operating closest 
to an area identified as a high-use area for loggerheads. One fleet, 
based out of Puerto L[oacute]pez-Mateos, fished primarily for halibut 
using bottom set gillnets, soaking from 20 to 48 hours. This fleet 
consisted of up to 75 boats in 2005, and, on a given day, 9 to 40 
vessels fished the deep area (32-45 meter depths). During a 2-month 
period, 11 loggerheads were observed taken in 73 gillnet day-trips, 
with eight of those loggerheads landed dead (observed mortality rate of 
73 percent). The other fleet, based in Santa Rosa, fished primarily for 
demersal sharks using bottom-set longlines baited with tuna or mackerel 
and left to soak for 20 to 48 hours. In 2005, the fleet numbered only 
five to six vessels. During the seven day-long bottom-set longline 
trips observed, 26 loggerheads were caught; 24 of them were dead when 
the longlines were retrieved (observed mortality rate of 92 percent). 
Based on these observations, researchers estimated that in 2005 at 
least 299 loggerheads died in the bottom-set gillnet fishery and at 
least 680 loggerheads died in the bottom-set longline fishery. This 
annual bycatch estimate of approximately 1,000 loggerheads is 
considered a minimum and is also supported by shoreline mortality 
surveys and informal interviews (Peckham et al., 2007). These results 
suggest that incidental capture at Baja California Sur is one of the 
most significant sources of mortality identified for the North Pacific 
loggerhead population and underscores the importance of reducing 
bycatch in small-scale fisheries.
    Peckham et al. (2008) assessed anthropogenic mortality of 
loggerhead sea turtles in the coastal waters of Baja California Sur 
through the synthesis of three sources: (1) Intensive surveys of an 
index shoreline from 2003-2007, (2) bimonthly surveys of additional 
shorelines and towns for stranded and consumed carcasses from 2006-
2007, and (3) bycatch observations of two small-scale fishing fleets. 
They estimated that 1,500-2,950 loggerhead sea turtles died per year 
from 2005-2006 due to bycatch in the two observed fleets. Actual 
mortality may have been considerably higher due to bycatch in other 
fisheries, directed hunting for black market trade, and natural factors 
including predation and disease. From 2003-2007, 2,719 loggerhead 
carcasses were encountered on shorelines and in and around towns of 
Baja California Sur. Along the 43-km Playa San L[aacute]zaro, thousands 
of loggerheads stranded

[[Page 58909]]

during the summer fishing months over 5 years, which is among the 
highest reported stranding rates worldwide. This stranding rate 
corroborates similarly high observed bycatch rates for local small-
scale longline (29 loggerheads per 1,000 hooks) and gillnet (1.0 
loggerhead per km of net) fisheries. A significant increase in mean 
length of 2,636 carcasses measured at Baja California Sur occurred from 
1995-2007. Due to the decades-long maturation time of loggerheads, this 
increasing trend in turtle size may reflect both long term declines in 
nesting described from Japan (Kamezaki et al., 2003) and also 
historically high bycatch of juvenile loggerheads in both high seas 
driftnet (Wetherall et al., 1993) and longline fisheries (Lewison et 
al., 2004). The decreasing proportion of smaller juveniles at Baja 
California Sur especially from 2000-2007 could be related to sharp 
declines in nesting observed across all Japanese rookeries in the 1990s 
(Peckham et al., 2008).
    In the U.S. Pacific, longline fisheries targeting swordfish and 
tuna and drift gillnet fisheries targeting swordfish have been 
identified as the primary fisheries of concern for loggerheads. Bycatch 
of loggerhead sea turtles in these fisheries has been significantly 
reduced as a result of time-area closures, required gear modifications, 
and hard caps imposed on turtle bycatch, with 100 percent observer 
coverage in certain areas.
    The California/Oregon (CA/OR) drift gillnet fishery targets 
swordfish and thresher shark off the west coast of the United States. 
The fishery has been observed by NMFS since July 1990 and currently 
averages 20 percent observer coverage. From July 1990 to January 2000, 
the CA/OR drift gillnet fishery was observed to incidentally capture 17 
loggerheads (12 released alive, 1 injured, and 4 killed). Based on a 
worst-case scenario, NMFS estimated that a maximum of 33 loggerheads in 
a given year could be incidentally taken by the CA/OR drift gillnet 
fleet. Sea turtle mortality rates for hard-shelled species were 
estimated to be 32 percent (NMFS, 2000). In 2000, analyses conducted 
under the mandates of the ESA showed that the CA/OR drift gillnet 
fishery was taking excessive numbers of sea turtles, such that the 
fishery ``jeopardized the continued existence of'' loggerheads and 
leatherbacks. In this case, the consulting agency (NMFS) was required 
to provide a reasonable and prudent alternative to the action (i.e., 
the fishery). In order to reduce the likelihood of interactions with 
loggerhead sea turtles, NMFS has regulations in place to close areas to 
drift gillnet fishing off southern California during forecasted or 
occurring El Ni[ntilde]o events from June 1 through August 31, when 
loggerheads are likely to move into the area from the Pacific coast of 
Baja California following a preferred prey species, pelagic red crabs.
    Prior to 2000, the Hawaii-based longline fishery targeted highly 
migratory species north of Hawaii using gear largely used by fleets 
around the world. From 1994-1999, the fishery was estimated to take 
between 369 and 501 loggerheads per year, with between 64 and 88 
mortalities per year (NMFS, 2000). Currently, the Hawaii-based shallow 
longline fishery targeting swordfish is strictly regulated such that an 
annual take of 17 loggerheads is authorized for the fishery, beginning 
in 2004, when the fishery was re-opened after being closed for several 
years. In 2004 and 2005, the fishing year was completed without 
reaching the turtle take levels (1 and 10 loggerheads were captured, 
respectively, with fleets operating with 100 percent observer 
coverage). However, in 2006, 17 loggerheads were taken, resulting in 
early closure of the fishery. From 2007 through 2010, 15, 0, 3, and 5 
loggerheads were taken, respectively, by the fishery. Most loggerheads 
were released alive (NMFS--Pacific Islands Regional Office, Observer 
Database Public Web site, 2011, http://www.fpir.noaa.gov/OBS/obs_qrtrly_annual_rprts.html).
    Recent investigations off the coast of Japan, particularly focused 
off the main islands of Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu, have revealed a 
major threat to the more mature stage classes of loggerheads 
(approximately 70-80 cm SCL) due to pound net fisheries set offshore of 
the nesting beaches and in the coastal foraging areas (T. Ishihara, Sea 
Turtle Association of Japan, personal communication, 2007). While pound 
nets constitute the third largest fishery in terms of metric tons of 
fish caught in Japan, they account for the majority of loggerhead 
bycatch by Japanese fisheries (Ishihara, 2007, 2009). Open-type pound 
nets studied in an area off Shikoku were shown to take loggerheads as 
the most prevalent sea turtle species caught but had lower mortality 
rates (less than 15 percent), primarily because turtles could reach the 
surface to breathe. Middle layer and bottom-type pound nets in 
particular have high rates of mortality (nearly 100 percent), because 
the nets are submerged and sea turtles are unable to reach the surface. 
Estimates of loggerhead mortality in one area studied between April 
2006 and September 2007 were on the order of 100 individuals. While the 
fishing industry has an interest in changing its gear to open-type, it 
is very expensive, and the support from the Japanese government is 
limited (T. Ishihara, Sea Turtle Association of Japan, personal 
communication, 2007). Nonetheless, the BRT recognized that coastal 
pound net fisheries off Japan may pose a significant threat to the 
North Pacific population of loggerheads.
    Quantifying the magnitude of the threat of fisheries in the North 
Pacific Ocean on loggerhead sea turtles is very difficult given the low 
level of observer coverage or investigations into bycatch conducted by 
countries that have large fishing fleets. Efforts have been made to 
quantify the effect of pelagic longline fishing on loggerheads, and 
annual estimates of bycatch were on the order of over 10,000 sea 
turtles, with as many as 2,600 individual loggerheads killed annually 
through immediate or delayed mortality as a result of interacting with 
the gear (Lewison et al., 2004).

Other Manmade and Natural Impacts

    Similar to other areas of the world, climate change and sea level 
rise have the potential to impact loggerheads in the North Pacific 
Ocean. This includes beach erosion and loss from rising sea levels, 
skewed hatchling sex ratios from rising beach incubation temperatures, 
and abrupt disruption of ocean currents used for natural dispersal 
during the complex life cycle (Hawkes et al., 2009; Poloczanska et al., 
2009). Because the majority of Japanese beaches are armored, 
loggerheads nesting on Japan beaches are likely to be left with 
increasingly limited nesting habitat when they undergo the vertical and 
poleward shifts in nesting habitat selection necessitated by sea level 
rise (S.H. Peckham, Grupo Tortuguero de las Californias, personal 
communication, 2010). Matsuzawa et al. (2002) found heat-related 
mortality of pre-emergent hatchlings in Minabe Senri Beach and 
concluded that this population is vulnerable to even small temperature 
increases resulting from global warming because sand temperatures 
already exceed the optimal thermal range for incubation. Recently, 
Chaloupka et al. (2008) used generalized additive regression modeling 
and autoregressive-prewhitened cross-correlation analysis to consider 
whether changes in regional ocean temperatures affect long-term nesting 
population dynamics for Pacific loggerheads from primary nesting 
assemblages in Japan and Australia. Researchers chose four nesting 
sites with a generally long time series to model, two in Japan (Kamouda 
rookery, declining population, and Yakushima

[[Page 58910]]

rookery, generally increasing in the last 20 years), and two in 
Australia (Woongarra rookery, generally declining through early 1990s 
and beginning to recover, and Wreck Island rookery, which is generally 
declining). Analysis of 51 years of mean annual sea surface 
temperatures around two core foraging areas off Japan and eastern 
Australia, showed a general warming of the oceans in these regions. In 
general, nesting abundance for all four rookeries was inversely related 
to sea surface temperatures; that is, higher sea surface temperatures 
during the previous year in the core foraging area resulted in lower 
summer season nesting at all rookeries. Given that cooler ocean 
temperatures are generally associated with increased productivity and 
that female sea turtles generally require at least 1 year to acquire 
sufficient fat stores for vitellogenesis to be completed, as well as 
the necessary somatic energy reserves required for the breeding season, 
any lag in productivity due to warmer temperatures has physiological 
basis. Over the long term, warming ocean temperatures could therefore 
lead to lower productivity and prey abundance, and thus reduced nesting 
and recruitment by Pacific loggerheads (Chaloupka et al., 2008).
    Other anthropogenic impacts include boat strikes, ingestion of and 
entanglement in marine debris, and entrainment in coastal power plants.
    Natural environmental events, such as cyclones, hurricanes, and 
tsunamis, may affect loggerheads in the North Pacific Ocean. Typhoons 
also have been shown to cause severe beach erosion and negatively 
affect hatching success at many loggerhead nesting beaches in Japan, 
especially in areas already prone to erosion. For example, during the 
2004 season, the Japanese archipelago suffered a record number of 
typhoons and many nests were drowned or washed out. Extreme sand 
temperatures at nesting beaches also create highly skewed female sex 
ratios of hatchlings or threaten the health of hatchlings. Without 
human intervention to protect clutches against some of these natural 
threats, many of these nests would be lost (Matsuzawa, 2006).
    In summary, we find that the North Pacific Ocean DPS of the 
loggerhead sea turtle is negatively affected by both natural and 
manmade impacts as described above in Factor E. Within Factor E, we 
find that fishery bycatch that occurs throughout the North Pacific 
Ocean, including the coastal pound net fisheries off Japan, coastal 
fisheries impacting juvenile foraging populations off Baja California, 
Mexico, and undescribed fisheries likely affecting loggerheads in the 
South China Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, is a significant threat to 
the persistence of this DPS.

South Pacific Ocean DPS

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

Terrestrial Zone

    In the South Pacific Ocean, loggerhead sea turtles nest primarily 
in Queensland, Australia, and, to a lesser extent, New Caledonia and 
Vanuatu (Limpus and Limpus, 2003a; Limpus et al., 2006; Limpus, 2009). 
Over 80 percent of all loggerhead nesting in Queensland occurs within 
the protected habitat of Conservation Parks and National Parks (Limpus, 
2009). However, destruction and modification of loggerhead nesting 
habitat outside the protected areas in Queensland result from coastal 
development and construction, beach erosion, placement of erosion 
control structures, and beachfront lighting (Limpus et al., 2006; 
Limpus, 2009).
    Removal or destruction of native dune vegetation, which enhances 
beach stability and acts as an integral buffer zone between land and 
sea, results in erosion of nesting habitat. Preliminary studies on 
nesting beaches in New Caledonia include local oral histories that 
attribute the decrease in loggerhead nesting to the removal of 
vegetation for construction purposes and subsequent beach erosion 
(Limpus et al., 2006).
    Beach armoring presents a barrier to nesting in New Caledonia. On 
the primary nesting beach in New Caledonia, a rock wall was constructed 
to prevent coastal erosion, and sea turtle nesting attempts have been 
unsuccessful. Local residents are seeking authorization to extend the 
wall further down the beach (Limpus et al., 2006).
    Beachfront lighting has been identified as a problem in some areas 
of Queensland. Hatchling disorientations have been regularly documented 
on the small nesting beaches adjacent to Mon Repos (Burnett Heads, 
Neilson Park, Bargara) and at Heron Island (Limpus, 1985; EPA 
Queensland Turtle Conservation Project unpublished data cited in 
Limpus, 2009). However, efforts have been made to reduce hatchling 
disorientations on Burnett Heads beach with the installation of low 
pressure sodium vapor lighting. Lighting has not been controlled at 
other beaches (Neilson Park, Bargara, Kellys Beach), and eggs are 
relocated to nearby dark beaches to protect emerging hatchlings 
(Limpus, 2009). Hatchling disorientations have been reduced along the 
Woongarra Coast to a few clutches annually as a result of altered light 
horizons (Limpus, 2009).

Neritic/Oceanic Zones

    Threats to habitat in the loggerhead neritic and oceanic zones in 
the South Pacific Ocean include fishing practices, channel dredging, 
sand extraction, marine pollution, and climate change, though they 
appear to be minor. However, climate change may result in future 
trophic changes, thus impacting loggerhead prey abundance and 
distribution.
    In summary, we find that the South Pacific Ocean DPS of the 
loggerhead sea turtle is negatively affected by ongoing changes in both 
its terrestrial and marine habitats as a result of land and water use 
practices as considered above in Factor A. However, the majority of 
nesting is located within protected parks in Queensland, and current 
threats in both the terrestrial and marine environments appear to be 
low and are not believed to be significant threats to the persistence 
of this DPS.
B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes
    The Australian Native Title Legislation (Native Title Act 1993) 
allows the harvesting of loggerheads and their eggs by indigenous 
peoples (Environment Australia, 2003). However, egg consumption in 
Australia is virtually nil and very few loggerheads are taken for food 
by indigenous Australians (M. Hamann, James Cook University, personal 
communication, 2010). Outside of Australia, despite national laws, in 
many areas the poaching of eggs and hunting of adult and juvenile 
turtles is still a problem, and Limpus (2009) suggests that the harvest 
rate of loggerheads by indigenous hunters (including the legal take in 
Australia and the illegal take in neighboring countries) is on the 
order of 40 turtles per year. Preliminary studies suggest that local 
harvesting in New Caledonia constitutes about 5 percent of the nesting 
population (Limpus et al., 2006). Loggerheads also are consumed after 
being captured incidentally in high-seas fisheries of the southeastern 
Pacific (Alfaro-Shigueto et al., 2006), and occasionally may be the 
product of illegal trade throughout the region.
    In summary, current legal and illegal harvest of loggerheads in 
Australia and New Caledonia for human consumption, as well as the 
consumption of loggerheads incidentally taken in high-seas fisheries, 
continues to affect the South Pacific Ocean DPS. However, current 
threats in both the terrestrial

[[Page 58911]]

and marine environments appears to be minor to moderate and are not 
believed to be a significant threat to the persistence of this DPS.
C. Disease or Predation
    There are no reports of diseases causing significant loggerhead 
mortality in the South Pacific (Limpus, 2009). The prevalence of 
fibropapillomatosis is thought to be small and occurs at low frequency 
among loggerheads in Moreton Bay and the southern Great Barrier Reef 
(Limpus and Miller, 1994; Limpus, 2009). Limpus et al. (1994) reported 
14 of 320 loggerheads (4.4 percent) captured in Moreton Bay, Australia, 
during 1990-1992 as exhibiting the disease. According to Limpus (2009), 
there is no evidence this disease is having a significant impact on the 
population. Predation on nests and hatchlings by terrestrial 
vertebrates is a major problem at loggerhead rookeries in the South 
Pacific. At mainland rookeries in eastern Australia, for example, the 
introduced fox (Vulpes vulpes) has been the most significant predator 
on loggerhead eggs (Limpus, 1985, 2009). Although this has been 
minimized in recent years (to less than 5 percent; Limpus, 2009), 
researchers believe the earlier egg loss will greatly impact 
recruitment to this nesting population in the early 21st century 
(Limpus and Reimer, 1994). Predation on hatchlings by crabs and diurnal 
birds is also a threat (Limpus, 2009). In New Caledonia, feral dogs 
pose a predation threat to nesting loggerheads, and thus far no 
management has been implemented (Limpus et al., 2006).
    In summary, nest and hatchling predation likely was a factor that 
contributed to the historical decline of this DPS. Current fox 
predation levels in eastern Australia are greatly reduced from 
historical levels, although predation by other species still occurs, 
and predation by feral dogs in New Caledonia has not been addressed and 
continues to affect the South Pacific Ocean DPS. In addition, a low 
incidence of the fibropapillomatosis disease exists in Moreton Bay and 
the southern Great Barrier Reef. However, these threats appear to be 
minor and are not believed to be a significant threat to the 
persistence of this DPS.
D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

International Instruments

    The BRT identified several regulatory mechanisms that apply to 
loggerhead sea turtles globally and within the South Pacific Ocean. The 
reader is directed to sections 5.1.4. and 5.2.2.4. of the Status Review 
for a discussion of these regulatory mechanisms. Hykle (2002) and 
Tiwari (2002) have reviewed the effectiveness of some of these 
international instruments. The problems with existing international 
treaties are often that they have not realized their full potential, do 
not include some key countries, do not specifically address sea turtle 
conservation, and are handicapped by the lack of a sovereign authority 
to enforce environmental regulations. The ineffectiveness of 
international treaties and national legislation is oftentimes due to 
the lack of motivation or obligation by countries to implement and 
enforce them. A thorough discussion of this topic is available in a 
special 2002 issue of the Journal of International Wildlife Law and 
Policy: International Instruments and Marine Turtle Conservation 
(Hykle, 2002).

National Legislation and Protection

    A large part of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, 
Australia, is protected as part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, 
which helps limit human use impacts such as fishing and tourism. Over 
80 percent of all loggerhead nesting in Queensland occurs within the 
protected ownership (Limpus, 2009). In 1981, in recognition of its rich 
faunal diversity, the Great Barrier Reef was inscribed on the United 
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's World 
Heritage List. One of the key reasons for its listing as the Great 
Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA) was the presence of 
internationally significant foraging and nesting populations of sea 
turtles, including loggerheads. Since its listing, protection of 
habitats within the GBRWHA has increased, with the current zone-based 
management plan enacted in 2004 (Dryden et al., 2008). Nesting habitat 
protection has also increased with the addition of indigenous co-
management plans and ecotourism regulations at Mon Repos (M. Hamann, 
James Cook University, personal communication, 2010). However, 
destruction and modification of loggerhead nesting habitat outside the 
protected areas in Queensland result from coastal development and 
construction, beach erosion, placement of erosion control structures, 
and beachfront lighting, (Limpus et al., 2006; Limpus, 2009).
    Fishery bycatch that occurs throughout the South Pacific Ocean is 
substantial (see Factor E). Although national and international 
governmental and non-governmental entities on both sides of the South 
Pacific are currently working toward reducing loggerhead bycatch, and 
some positive actions have been implemented (e.g., TED requirements in 
certain trawl fisheries in Australia), it is unlikely that this 
cumulative bycatch mortality can be sufficiently reduced in the near 
future due to the challenges of mitigating illegal, unregulated, and 
unreported fisheries, the continued expansion of artisanal fleets in 
the southeastern Pacific, the lack of comprehensive information on 
fishing distribution and effort, limitations on implementing 
demonstrated effective conservation measures, geopolitical 
complexities, limitations on enforcement capacity, and lack of 
availability of comprehensive bycatch reduction technologies.
    In summary, our review of regulatory mechanisms under Factor D 
demonstrates that although regulatory mechanisms are in place that 
should address direct and incidental take of South Pacific Ocean 
loggerheads, these regulatory mechanisms are insufficient or are not 
being implemented effectively to address the needs of loggerheads. We 
find that the threat from the inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms for fishery bycatch across the range of the DPS (Factor E) 
is significant relative to the persistence of this DPS.
E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

Incidental Bycatch in Fishing Gear

    Incidental capture in artisanal and commercial fisheries and shark 
control programs are a significant threat to the survival of 
loggerheads throughout the South Pacific. The primary gear types 
involved in these interactions include longlines, driftnets, set nets, 
and trawl fisheries. These are employed by both artisanal and 
industrial fleets, and target a wide variety of species including 
tunas, sharks, sardines, swordfish, and mahi mahi.
    In the southwestern Pacific, bottom trawling gear has been a 
contributing factor to the decline in the eastern Australian loggerhead 
population (Limpus and Reimer, 1994). The northern Australian prawn 
fishery (NPF) is made up of both a banana prawn fishery and a tiger 
prawn fishery, and extends from Cape York, Queensland (142[deg] E) to 
Cape Londonberry, Western Australia (127[deg] E). The fishery is one of 
the most valuable in all of Australia and in 2000 comprised 121 vessels 
fishing approximately 16,000 fishing days (Robins et al., 2002a). In 
2000, the use of TEDs in the NPF was made mandatory, due in part to 
several factors: (1) Objectives of the Draft

[[Page 58912]]

Australian Recovery Plan for Marine Turtles, (2) requirement of the 
Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act for 
Commonwealth fisheries to become ecologically sustainable, and (3) the 
1996 U.S. import embargo on wild-caught prawns taken in a fishery 
without adequate turtle bycatch management practices (Robins et al., 
2002a). Data primarily were collected by volunteer fishers who were 
trained extensively in the collection of scientific data on sea turtles 
caught as bycatch in their fishery. Prior to the use of TEDs in this 
fishery, the NPF annually took between 5,000 and 6,000 sea turtles as 
bycatch, with a mortality rate of an estimated 40 percent due to 
drowning, injuries, or being returned to the water comatose (Poiner and 
Harris, 1996). Since the mandatory use of TEDs has been in effect, the 
annual bycatch of sea turtles in the NPF has dropped to less than 200 
sea turtles per year, with a mortality rate of approximately 22 percent 
(based on recent years). This lower mortality rate also may be based on 
better sea turtle handling techniques adopted by the fleet. In general, 
loggerheads were the third most common sea turtle taken in this 
fishery. In the East Coast otter trawl fishery, Robins (1995) suggests 
that upwards of 340 turtle mortalities may potentially occur each year, 
with loggerheads comprising the bulk of the interactions. Despite 
encouraging signs of reduced impacts to turtles from these and other 
fisheries operating on the East Coast due to rezoning of the Great 
Barrier Reef World Heritage site, there remain fisheries threats in 
nearshore areas that have yet to be abated and that may continue to 
impact loggerhead sea turtles (Dryden et al., 2008).
    Loggerheads also are taken by longline fisheries operating out of 
Australia (Limpus, 2009). For example, Robins et al. (2002b) estimate 
that approximately 400 turtles are killed annually in Australian 
pelagic longline fishery operations. Of this annual estimate, 
leatherbacks accounted for over 60 percent of this total, while 
unidentified hardshelled turtles accounted for the remaining species. 
Therefore, the effect of this longline fishery on loggerheads is 
unknown.
    Loggerheads also have been the most common turtle species captured 
in shark control programs in Australia (Kidston et al., 1992; Limpus, 
2009). From 1998-2002, a total of 232 loggerheads was captured with 195 
taken on drum lines and 37 taken in nets, both with a low level of 
direct mortality (Limpus, 2009).
    In the southeastern Pacific, significant bycatch has been reported 
in artisanal gillnet and longline shark and mahi mahi fisheries 
operating out of Peru (Kelez et al., 2003; Alfaro-Shigueto et al., 
2006, 2010) and, to a lesser extent, Chile (Donoso and Dutton, 2010). 
The fishing industry in Peru is the second largest economic activity in 
the country, and, over the past few years, the longline fishery has 
rapidly increased. Currently, nearly 600 longline vessels fish in the 
winter and over 1,300 vessels fish in the summer. During an observer 
program in 2003/2004, 588 sets were observed during 60 trips, and 154 
sea turtles were taken as bycatch. Loggerheads were the species most 
often caught (73.4 percent). Of the loggerheads taken, 68 percent were 
entangled and 32 percent were hooked. Of the two fisheries, sea turtle 
bycatch was highest during the mahi mahi season, with 0.597 turtles/
1,000 hooks, while the shark fishery caught 0.356 turtles/1,000 hooks 
(Alfaro-Shigueto et al., 2008b). A separate study by Kelez et al. 
(2003) reported that approximately 30 percent of all turtles bycaught 
in Peru were loggerheads. In many cases, loggerheads are kept on board 
for human consumption; therefore, the mortality rate in this artisanal 
longline fishery is likely high because sea turtles are retained for 
future consumption or sale.
    Data on loggerhead bycatch in Chile are limited to the industrial 
swordfish fleet (Donoso and Dutton, 2010). Since 1990, fleet size has 
ranged from 7 to 23 vessels with a mean of approximately 14 vessels per 
year. These vessels fish up to and over 1,000 nautical miles along the 
Chilean coast with mechanized sets numbering approximately 1,300 to 
2,000 hooks (M. Donoso, ONG Pacifico Laud--Chile, personal 
communication, 2007; Donoso and Dutton, 2010). Loggerhead bycatch is 
present in Chilean fleets; however, the catch rate is substantially 
lower than that reported for Peru (Alfaro-Shigueto et al., 2008b, 2010; 
Donoso and Dutton, 2010).

Other Manmade and Natural Impacts

    Other threats such as marine debris ingestion, boat strikes, port 
dredging, and oil and gas development also impact loggerheads in the 
South Pacific (Limpus, 2009; M. Hamann, James Cook University, personal 
communication, 2010). Loggerhead mortality resulting from dredging of 
channels in Queensland is a persistent, albeit minor problem. From 
1999-2002, the average annual reported mortality was 1.7 turtles per 
year (range = 1-3) from port dredging operations (Limpus, 2009).
    Similar to other areas of the world, climate change and sea level 
rise have the potential to impact loggerheads in the South Pacific 
Ocean. This includes beach erosion and loss from rising sea levels, 
skewed hatchling sex ratios from rising beach incubation temperatures, 
and abrupt disruption of ocean currents used for natural dispersal 
during the complex life cycle (Hawkes et al., 2009; Poloczanska et al., 
2009). Climate change studies for the northern Great Barrier Reef green 
turtle population indicate that increased sand temperatures will result 
in the sex ratio of hatchlings produced by this population skewing 
toward females, as well as lethal incubation temperatures; up to 34 
percent of available nesting habitat used by this population may be 
inundated as a result of sea level rise; and changes in nesting beach 
sedimentology may result in changes in nesting success, hatchling 
emerging success, and reduced optimal nesting habitat (Fuentes et al., 
2009, 2010a, 2010b, 2010c, 2011). Thus, climate change and sea level 
rise have the potential to also impact loggerheads in the South Pacific 
Ocean; however, the impact of these threats for loggerheads has not 
been quantified (Hamann et al., 2007).
    Natural environmental events, such as cyclones or hurricanes, may 
affect loggerheads in the South Pacific Ocean. These types of events 
may disrupt loggerhead nesting activity, albeit on a temporary scale. 
Chaloupka et al. (2008) demonstrated that nesting abundance of 
loggerheads in Australia was inversely related to sea surface 
temperatures, and suggested that a long-term warming trend in the South 
Pacific may be adversely impacting the recovery potential of this 
population.
    In summary, we find that the South Pacific Ocean DPS of the 
loggerhead sea turtle is negatively affected by both natural and 
manmade impacts as described above in Factor E. Within Factor E, we 
find that the cumulative fishery bycatch of loggerheads that occurs 
throughout the South Pacific Ocean is a significant threat to the 
persistence of this DPS.

North Indian Ocean DPS

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of its Habitat or Range

Terrestrial Zone

    Destruction and modification of loggerhead nesting habitat in the 
North Indian Ocean result from coastal development and construction, 
beachfront lighting, vehicular and pedestrian traffic, beach pollution,

[[Page 58913]]

removal of native vegetation, and planting of non-native vegetation (E. 
Possardt, USFWS, personal observation, 2008).
    The primary loggerhead nesting beaches of this DPS are at Masirah 
Island, Oman, and are still relatively undeveloped but now facing 
increasing development pressures. Newly paved roads closely paralleling 
most of the Masirah Island coast are bringing newly constructed highway 
lights (E. Possardt, USFWS, personal observation, 2008) and greater 
access to nesting beaches by the public. Light pollution from the 
military installation at Masirah Island also is evident at the most 
densely nested northern end of the island and is a likely cause of 
hatchling disorientation and nesting female disturbance (E. Possardt, 
USFWS, personal observation, 2008). Beach driving occurs on most of the 
major beaches outside the military installation. This vehicular traffic 
creates ruts that obstruct hatchling movements (Mann, 1977; Hosier et 
al., 1981; Baldwin, 1992; Cox et al., 1994), tramples nests, and 
destroys vegetation and dune formation processes, which exacerbates 
light pollution effects. Free ranging camels, sheep, and goats 
overgraze beach vegetation, which impedes natural dune formation (E. 
Possardt, USFWS, personal observation, 2008). A new hotel on a major 
loggerhead nesting beach at Masirah Island was recently completed and, 
although not yet approved, there are plans for a major resort at an 
important loggerhead nesting beach on one of the Halaniyat Islands. 
Armoring structures common to many developed beaches throughout the 
world are not yet evident on the major loggerhead nesting beaches of 
this DPS.

Neritic/Oceanic Zones

    Threats to habitat in the loggerhead neritic and oceanic zones in 
the North Indian Ocean include fishing practices, channel dredging, 
sand extraction, marine pollution, and climate change. Fishing methods 
not only incidentally capture loggerheads, but also deplete 
invertebrate and fish populations and thus alter ecosystem dynamics. In 
many cases loggerhead foraging areas coincide with fishing zones. There 
has been an apparent growth in artisanal and commercial fisheries in 
waters surrounding Masirah Island (Baldwin, 1992). Climate change also 
may result in future trophic changes, thus impacting loggerhead prey 
abundance and distribution.
    In summary, we find that the North Indian Ocean DPS of the 
loggerhead sea turtle is negatively affected by ongoing changes in both 
its terrestrial and marine habitats as a result of land and water use 
practices as considered above in Factor A. Within Factor A, we find 
that coastal development, beachfront lighting, and vehicular beach 
driving on nesting beaches in Oman are significant threats to the 
persistence of this DPS.
B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes
    The use of loggerhead meat for food in Oman is not legal or 
popular. However, routine egg collection on Masirah Island does occur 
(Baldwin, 1992). The extent of egg collection as estimated by Masirah 
rangers and local residents is approximately 2,000 clutches per year 
(less than 10 percent).
    In summary, although the collection of eggs for human consumption 
is known to occur, it does not appear to be a significant threat to the 
persistence of this DPS.
C. Disease or Predation
    The potential exists for diseases and endoparasites to impact 
loggerheads found in the North Indian Ocean. Natural egg predation on 
Oman loggerhead nesting beaches undoubtedly occurs, but is not well 
documented or believed to be significant. Predation on hatchlings by 
Arabian red fox (Vulpes vulpes arabica), ghost crabs (Ocypode saratan), 
night herons (Nycticorax nycticorax), and gulls (Larus spp.) likely 
occurs. While quantitative data do not exist to evaluate these impacts 
on the North Indian Ocean loggerhead population, they are not likely to 
be significant.
    In summary, nest predation is known to occur and hatchling 
predation is likely. The best available data suggest predation is 
potentially affecting the persistence of this DPS; however, 
quantitative data are not sufficient to assess the degree of impact of 
nest predation on the persistence of this DPS.
D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

International Instruments

    The BRT identified several regulatory mechanisms that apply to 
loggerhead sea turtles globally and within the North Indian Ocean. The 
reader is directed to sections 5.1.4. and 5.2.3.4. of the Status Review 
for a discussion of these regulatory mechanisms. Hykle (2002) and 
Tiwari (2002) have reviewed the effectiveness of some of these 
international instruments. The problems with existing international 
treaties are often that they have not realized their full potential, do 
not include some key countries, do not specifically address sea turtle 
conservation, and are handicapped by the lack of a sovereign authority 
to enforce environmental regulations. The ineffectiveness of 
international treaties and national legislation is oftentimes due to 
the lack of motivation or obligation by countries to implement and 
enforce them. A thorough discussion of this topic is available in a 
special 2002 issue of the Journal of International Wildlife Law and 
Policy: International Instruments and Marine Turtle Conservation 
(Hykle, 2002).

National Legislation and Protection

    Oman Royal Decree No. 6/2003 (The Law of Nature Conservation and 
Wildlife) prohibits harm to all species of sea turtles or the 
collecting of their eggs. Royal Decrees also exist to protect habitat 
for important green turtle nesting beaches (Ras al Hadd Turtle Reserve) 
and hawksbills (Damaniyat Nature Reserve). No such protection exists in 
Oman for the important nesting beaches at Masirah Island and Halaniyat 
Islands, although a proposed protected area is being developed and 
considered for Masirah Island for the loggerhead nesting beaches and 
other endangered wildlife.
    Impacts to loggerheads and loggerhead nesting habitat from coastal 
development, beachfront lighting, and vehicular beach driving on 
nesting beaches in Oman is substantial (see Factor A). In addition, 
fishery bycatch that occurs throughout the North Indian Ocean, although 
not quantified, is likely substantial (see Factor E). Threats to 
nesting beaches are likely to increase, which would require additional 
and widespread nesting beach protection efforts (Factor A). Little is 
currently being done to monitor and reduce mortality from neritic and 
oceanic fisheries in the range of the North Indian Ocean DPS; this 
mortality is likely to continue and increase with expected additional 
fishing effort from commercial and artisanal fisheries (Factor E). 
Reduction of mortality would be difficult due to a lack of 
comprehensive information on fishing distribution and effort, 
limitations on implementing demonstrated effective conservation 
measures, geopolitical complexities, limitations on enforcement 
capacity, and lack of availability of comprehensive bycatch reduction 
technologies.
    In summary, our review of regulatory mechanisms under Factor D 
indicates that existing regulatory mechanisms may be insufficient or 
may not be sufficiently implemented to address the

[[Page 58914]]

needs of loggerheads. The best available data suggest that insufficient 
or insufficiently implemented regulatory mechanisms in both the 
terrestrial and marine environments are potentially affecting the 
persistence of this DPS; however, sufficient data are not available to 
assess the adequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms on the 
persistence of this DPS.
E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

Incidental Bycatch in Fishing Gear

    The magnitude of the threat of incidental capture of sea turtles in 
artisanal and commercial fisheries in the North Indian Ocean is 
difficult to assess. A bycatch survey administered off the coast of Sri 
Lanka between September 1999 and November 2000 reported 5,241 total 
turtle entanglements, of which 1,310 were loggerheads, between 
Kalpitiya and Kirinda (Kapurusinghe and Saman, 2001; Kapurusinghe and 
Cooray, 2002). Sea turtle bycatch has been reported in driftnet and set 
gillnets, longlines, trawls, and hook and line gear (Kapurusinghe and 
Saman, 2001; Kapurusinghe and Cooray, 2002; Lewison et al., 2004).
    Quantifying the magnitude of the threat of fisheries on loggerheads 
in the North Indian Ocean is difficult given the low level of observer 
coverage or investigations into bycatch conducted by countries that 
have large fishing fleets. Efforts have been made to quantify the 
effects of pelagic longline fishing on loggerheads globally (Lewison et 
al., 2004; Wallace et al., 2010). While there were no turtle bycatch 
data available from the North Indian Ocean to use in their assessment, 
extrapolations that considered bycatch data for the Pacific and 
Atlantic basins gave a conservative estimate of 6,000 loggerheads 
captured in the Indian Ocean in the year 2000 (Lewison et al., 2004). 
Interviews with rangers at Masirah Island reveal that shark gillnets 
capture many loggerheads off nesting beaches during the nesting season. 
As many as 60 boats are involved in this fishery with up to 6 km of 
gillnets being fished daily from June through October along the Masirah 
Island coast. Quantitative estimates of bycatch are not available due 
to lack of observer coverage; however, rangers reported that loggerhead 
bycatch is a common occurrence (E. Possardt, USFWS, personal 
communication, 2008).

Other Manmade and Natural Impacts

    Other anthropogenic impacts, such as boat strikes and ingestion or 
entanglement in marine debris, as well as entrainment in coastal power 
plants, likely apply to loggerheads in the North Indian Ocean. Similar 
to other areas of the world, climate change and sea level rise have the 
potential to impact loggerheads in the North Indian Ocean. This 
includes beach erosion and loss from rising sea levels, skewed 
hatchling sex ratios from rising beach incubation temperatures, and 
abrupt disruption of ocean currents used for natural dispersal during 
the complex life cycle (Hawkes et al., 2009; Poloczanska et al., 2009). 
Climate change impacts could have profound long-term impacts on nesting 
populations in the North Indian Ocean, but it is not possible to 
quantify the potential impacts at this point in time.
    Natural environmental events, such as cyclones, tsunamis, and 
hurricanes, affect loggerheads in the North Indian Ocean. For example, 
during the 2007 season, Oman suffered a rare typhoon. In general, 
however, severe storm events are episodic and, although they may affect 
loggerhead hatchling production, the results are generally localized 
and they rarely result in whole-scale losses over multiple nesting 
seasons.
    In summary, we find that the North Indian Ocean DPS of the 
loggerhead sea turtle is negatively affected by both natural and 
manmade impacts as described above in Factor E. Within Factor E, we 
find that fishery bycatch that occurs throughout the North Indian 
Ocean, although not quantified, is likely a significant threat to the 
persistence of this DPS.

Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

Terrestrial Zone

    The primary loggerhead nesting beaches for this DPS occur in 
Australia on Dirk Hartog Island and Murion Islands (Baldwin et al., 
2003), which are undeveloped. Dirk Hartog Island and the Murion Islands 
recently became part of the Western Australian Protected Area System.
    On the mainland, loggerhead nesting habitat is not well protected 
within the Australian conservation reserve system (Limpus, 2009). 
Nesting habitat on the Ningaloo Coast is almost entirely contained 
within the Ningaloo Marine Park; however, management of nesting habitat 
on this coast is primarily driven by management related to the adjacent 
pastoral leases. South of the Ningaloo Marine Park, other mainland 
nesting habitat mostly occurs within pastoral leases (Limpus, 2009). 
The Gnaraloo section of the coast is a private leasehold, but there are 
concerns about future coastal development (M. Hamann, James Cook 
University, personal communication, 2010). The Ningaloo Coast 
(including Gnaraloo) is currently being considered for World Heritage 
listing (Commonwealth of Australia, 2010).

Neritic/Oceanic Zones

    Threats to habitat in the loggerhead neritic and oceanic zones in 
the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean include fishing practices, channel 
dredging, oil and gas development, sand extraction, marine pollution, 
and climate change. Fishing methods not only incidentally capture 
loggerheads, but also deplete invertebrate and fish populations and 
thus alter ecosystem dynamics. In many cases, loggerhead foraging areas 
coincide with fishing zones. Climate change also may result in future 
trophic changes, thus impacting loggerhead prey abundance and 
distribution.
    In summary, we find that the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS of 
the loggerhead sea turtle is negatively affected by ongoing changes in 
its marine habitats. The best available data suggest that threats to 
neritic and oceanic habitats are potentially affecting the persistence 
of this DPS; however, sufficient data are not available to assess the 
degree of impact of these threats on the persistence of this DPS.
B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes
    The Australian Native Title Legislation (Native Title Act 1993) 
allows the harvesting of loggerheads and their eggs by indigenous 
peoples (Environment Australia, 2003). However, egg consumption in 
Australia is virtually nil, and very few loggerheads are taken for food 
by indigenous Australians (M. Hamann, James Cook University, personal 
communication, 2010). Dirk Hartog Island and Murion Islands are largely 
uninhabited, and poaching of eggs and turtles is likely negligible.
    In summary, harvest of eggs and turtles is believed to be 
negligible and does not appear to be a threat to the persistence of 
this DPS.
C. Disease or Predation
    The potential exists for diseases and endoparasites to impact 
loggerheads found in the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean. On the North 
West Cape and the beaches of the Ningaloo coast of mainland Australia, 
a long established feral European red fox (Vulpes vulpes) population 
preyed heavily on eggs and

[[Page 58915]]

is thought to be responsible for the lower numbers of nesting turtles 
on the mainland beaches (Baldwin et al., 2003).
    The fox populations have been eradicated on Dirk Hartog Island and 
Murion Islands (Baldwin et al., 2003), and fox eradication projects 
currently occur at Gnaraloo and Ningaloo in Western Australia. However, 
fox predation is still a significant issue on these mainland beaches 
(Limpus, 2009; Butcher, 2010; Hattingh et al., 2010), but these are 
minor nesting sites (M. Hamann, James Cook University, personal 
communication, 2010).
    In summary, nest predation likely was a factor that contributed to 
the historical decline of this DPS. However, foxes have been eradicated 
on Dirk Hartog Island and Murion Islands, and current fox predation 
levels on mainland beaches in Western Australia are greatly reduced 
from historical levels. Therefore, predation no longer appears to be a 
significant threat to the persistence of this DPS.
D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

International Instruments

    The BRT identified several regulatory mechanisms that apply to 
loggerhead sea turtles globally and within the Southeast Indo-Pacific 
Ocean. The reader is directed to sections 5.1.4. and 5.2.4.4. of the 
Status Review for a discussion of these regulatory mechanisms. Hykle 
(2002) and Tiwari (2002) have reviewed the effectiveness of some of 
these international instruments. The problems with existing 
international treaties are often that they have not realized their full 
potential, do not include some key countries, do not specifically 
address sea turtle conservation, and are handicapped by the lack of a 
sovereign authority to enforce environmental regulations. The 
ineffectiveness of international treaties and national legislation is 
oftentimes due to the lack of motivation or obligation by countries to 
implement and enforce them. A thorough discussion of this topic is 
available in a special 2002 issue of the Journal of International 
Wildlife Law and Policy: International Instruments and Marine Turtle 
Conservation (Hykle, 2002).

National Legislation and Protection

    Fishery bycatch that occurs throughout the Southeast Indo-Pacific 
Ocean, although not quantified, is likely substantial (see Factor E). 
With the exception of efforts to reduce loggerhead bycatch in the 
northern Australian prawn fishery, little is currently being done to 
monitor and reduce mortality from neritic and oceanic fisheries in the 
range of the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS. This mortality is likely 
to continue and increase with expected additional fishing effort from 
commercial and artisanal fisheries (Factor E). Although national and 
international governmental and non-governmental entities are currently 
working toward reducing loggerhead bycatch, and some positive actions 
have been implemented, it is unlikely that this source of mortality can 
be sufficiently reduced in the near future due to the challenges of 
mitigating illegal, unregulated, and unreported fisheries, the 
continued expansion of artisanal fleets, the lack of comprehensive 
information on fishing distribution and effort, limitations on 
implementing demonstrated effective conservation measures, geopolitical 
complexities, limitations on enforcement capacity, and lack of 
availability of comprehensive bycatch reduction technologies.
    Loggerheads are listed as Endangered under Australia's Environment 
Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act of 1999. As described 
under Factor A, the primary nesting beaches for this DPS occur in 
Australia on Dirk Hartog Island and Murion Islands (Baldwin et al., 
2003). These islands are undeveloped and recently became part of the 
Western Australian Protected Area System. On the mainland, loggerhead 
nesting habitat is not well protected within the Australian 
conservation reserve system (Limpus, 2009), although the Ningaloo Coast 
(including Gnaraloo) is currently being considered for World Heritage 
listing (Commonwealth of Australia, 2010). At this time, loggerhead 
nesting habitat on the Ningaloo Coast is almost entirely contained 
within the Ningaloo Marine Park, but the Gnaraloo section of the coast 
is a private leasehold and there are concerns about future coastal 
development (M. Hamann, James Cook University, personal communication, 
2010).
    In summary, our review of regulatory mechanisms under Factor D 
demonstrates that although regulatory mechanisms are in place that 
should address direct and incidental take of Southeast Indo-Pacific 
Ocean loggerheads, these regulatory mechanisms are insufficient or are 
not being implemented effectively to address the needs of loggerheads. 
We find that the threat from the inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms for fishery bycatch (Factor E) is significant relative to 
the persistence of this DPS.
E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

Incidental Bycatch in Fishing Gear

    The extent of the threat of incidental capture of sea turtles in 
artisanal and commercial fisheries in the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean 
is unknown. Sea turtles are caught in pelagic and demersal longlines, 
gillnets, trawls, seines, and pots and traps (Environment Australia, 
2003). There is evidence of significant historical bycatch from prawn 
fisheries, which may have depleted nesting populations long before 
nesting surveys were initiated in the 1990s (Baldwin et al., 2003).
    Quantifying the magnitude of the threat of fisheries on loggerheads 
in the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean is very difficult given the low 
level of observer coverage or investigations into bycatch conducted by 
countries that have large fishing fleets. Efforts have been made to 
quantify the effects of pelagic longline fishing on loggerheads 
globally (Lewison et al., 2004). While there were no turtle bycatch 
data available from the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean to use in their 
assessment, extrapolations that considered bycatch data for the Pacific 
and Atlantic basins gave a conservative estimate of 6,000 loggerheads 
captured in the Indian Ocean in the year 2000. Loggerheads are known to 
be taken by Japanese longline fisheries operating off of Western 
Australia (Limpus, 2009).
    The northern Australian prawn fishery (NPF) is made up of both a 
banana prawn fishery and a tiger prawn fishery, and extends from Cape 
York, Queensland (142[deg] E) to Cape Londonberry, Western Australia 
(127[deg] E). The fishery is one of the most valuable in all of 
Australia and in 2000 comprised 121 vessels fishing approximately 
16,000 fishing days (Robins et al., 2002a). In 2000, the use of TEDs in 
the NPF was made mandatory, due in part to several factors: (1) 
Objectives of the Draft Australian Recovery Plan for Marine Turtles, 
(2) requirement of the Australian Environment Protection and 
Biodiversity Conservation Act for Commonwealth fisheries to become 
ecologically sustainable, and (3) the 1996 U.S. import embargo on wild-
caught prawns taken in a fishery without adequate turtle bycatch 
management practices (Robins et al., 2002a). Data primarily were 
collected by volunteer fishers who were trained extensively in the 
collection of scientific data on sea turtles caught as bycatch in their 
fishery. Prior to the use of TEDs in this fishery, the NPF annually 
took between 5,000 and 6,000 sea turtles as bycatch, with a mortality 
rate of an

[[Page 58916]]

estimated 40 percent, due to drowning, injuries, or being returned to 
the water comatose (Poiner and Harris, 1996). Since the mandatory use 
of TEDs has been in effect, the annual bycatch of sea turtles in the 
NPF has dropped to less than 200 sea turtles per year, with a mortality 
rate of approximately 22 percent (based on recent years). This lower 
mortality rate also may be based on better sea turtle handling 
techniques adopted by the fleet. In general, loggerheads were the third 
most common sea turtle taken in this fishery.
    Loggerheads also have been the most common turtle species captured 
in shark control programs in Pacific Australia (Kidston et al., 1992; 
Limpus, 2009); however, the Western Australian demersal longline 
fishery for sharks has no recorded interaction with loggerheads. An 
emerging and expanding fishery for portunid crabs has started up in 
Western Australia and is known to kill loggerheads as bycatch (R. 
Prince, Department of Environment and Conservation, Western Australia, 
personal communication, 2011).

Other Manmade and Natural Impacts

    Other anthropogenic impacts, such as boat strikes, oil and gas 
development, and ingestion or entanglement in marine debris, likely 
apply to loggerheads in the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean. Similar to 
other areas of the world, climate change and sea level rise have the 
potential to impact loggerheads in the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean. 
This includes beach erosion and loss from rising sea levels, skewed 
hatchling sex ratios from rising beach incubation temperatures, and 
abrupt disruption of ocean currents used for natural dispersal during 
the complex life cycle (Hawkes et al., 2009; Poloczanska et al., 2009). 
Climate change impacts could have profound long-term impacts on nesting 
populations in the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean, but it is not possible 
to quantify the potential impacts at this point in time.
    Natural environmental events, such as cyclones and hurricanes, may 
affect loggerheads in the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean. In general, 
however, severe storm events are episodic and, although they may affect 
loggerhead hatchling production, the results are generally localized 
and they rarely result in whole-scale losses over multiple nesting 
seasons.
    In summary, we find that the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS of 
the loggerhead sea turtle is negatively affected by both natural and 
manmade impacts as described above in Factor E; however, many of these 
threats have not been quantified. Within Factor E, we find that fishery 
bycatch, particularly from the northern Australian prawn fishery, was a 
factor that contributed to the historical decline of this DPS. Although 
loggerhead bycatch has been greatly reduced in the northern Australian 
prawn fishery, bycatch that occurs elsewhere in the Southeast Indo-
Pacific Ocean has not been fully quantified, and there is a new fishery 
for portunid crabs with known but unquantified bycatch. The best 
available data suggest the effects of pelagic longline fishing on 
loggerheads in the Southeast Indo-Pacific are likely substantial when 
considering the number of industrial and artisanal vessels operating 
out of nations lining the Indo-Pacific region (FAO Fisheries Statistics 
[http://www.fao.org/fishery/statistics/en], accessed online June 2011). 
Within Factor E, we find that fishery bycatch that occurs throughout 
the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean, although not quantified, is likely a 
significant threat to the persistence of this DPS.

Southwest Indian Ocean DPS

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

Terrestrial Zone

    Limited information is available on threats in the terrestrial 
zone. All nesting beaches within South Africa are within protected 
areas (Baldwin et al., 2003). In Mozambique, nesting beaches in the 
Maputo Special Reserve (approximately 60 km of nesting beach) and in 
the Paradise Islands are within protected areas (Baldwin et al., 2003; 
Costa et al., 2007).

Neritic/Oceanic Zones

    Threats to habitat from fishing practices, channel dredging, sand 
extraction, and marine pollution likely apply to loggerhead neritic and 
oceanic zones in the Southwest Indian Ocean DPS. Fishing methods not 
only incidentally capture loggerheads, but also deplete invertebrate 
and fish populations and thus alter ecosystem dynamics. In many cases, 
loggerhead foraging areas coincide with fishing zones. Climate change 
also may result in future trophic changes, thus impacting loggerhead 
prey abundance and distribution.
    In summary, we find that the Southwest Indian Ocean DPS of the 
loggerhead sea turtle is likely negatively affected by ongoing changes 
in its marine habitats as a result of land and water use practices as 
considered above in Factor A. The best available data suggest that 
threats to neritic and oceanic habitats are potentially affecting the 
persistence of this DPS; however, sufficient data are not available to 
assess the significance of these threats to the persistence of this 
DPS.
B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes
    In the Southwest Indian Ocean, on the east coast of Africa, 
subsistence hunting by local people is a continued threat to 
loggerheads (Baldwin et al., 2003). Illegal hunting of marine turtles 
and egg harvesting remains a threat in Mozambique as well (Louro et 
al., 2006).
    In summary, harvest of loggerheads and eggs for human consumption 
on the east coast of Africa, although not quantified, is likely a 
significant threat to the persistence of this DPS.
 C. Disease or Predation
    The potential exists for diseases and endoparasites to impact 
loggerheads found in the Southwest Indian Ocean. Side striped jackals 
(Canis adustus) and honey badgers (Melivora capensis) are known to 
depredate nests (Baldwin et al., 2003).
    In summary, nest predation is known to occur. The best available 
data suggest predation is potentially affecting the persistence of this 
DPS; however, quantitative data are not sufficient to assess the degree 
of impact of nest predation on the persistence of this DPS.
D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

International Instruments

    The BRT identified several regulatory mechanisms that apply to 
loggerhead sea turtles globally and within the Southwest Indian Ocean. 
The reader is directed to sections 5.1.4. and 5.2.5.4. of the Status 
Review for a discussion of these regulatory mechanisms. Hykle (2002) 
and Tiwari (2002) have reviewed the effectiveness of some of these 
international instruments. The problems with existing international 
treaties are often that they have not realized their full potential, do 
not include some key countries, do not specifically address sea turtle 
conservation, and are handicapped by the lack of a sovereign authority 
to enforce environmental regulations. The ineffectiveness of 
international treaties and national legislation is oftentimes due to 
the lack of motivation or obligation by countries to implement and 
enforce them. A thorough discussion of this topic is available in a 
special 2002 issue of the Journal of International Wildlife Law

[[Page 58917]]

and Policy: International Instruments and Marine Turtle Conservation 
(Hykle, 2002).

National Legislation and Protection

    Fishery bycatch that occurs throughout the Southwest Indian Ocean, 
although not broadly quantified, is likely substantial (see Factor E). 
This mortality is likely to continue and may increase with expected 
additional fishing effort from commercial and artisanal fisheries. 
Reduction of mortality would be difficult due to a lack of 
comprehensive information on fishing distribution and effort, 
limitations on implementing demonstrated effective conservation 
measures, geopolitical complexities, limitations on enforcement 
capacity, and lack of availability of comprehensive bycatch reduction 
technologies.
    As described under Factor A, all loggerhead nesting beaches within 
South Africa are within protected areas (Baldwin et al., 2003). In 
Mozambique, nesting beaches in the Maputo Special Reserve 
(approximately 60 km of nesting beach) and in the Paradise Islands are 
within protected areas (Baldwin et al., 2003; Costa et al., 2007).
    In summary, our review of regulatory mechanisms under Factor D 
indicates that existing regulatory mechanisms may be insufficient or 
may not be sufficiently implemented to address the needs of 
loggerheads. The best available data suggest that insufficient or 
insufficiently implemented regulatory mechanisms in the marine 
environment are potentially affecting the persistence of this DPS; 
however, sufficient data are not available to assess the adequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms on the persistence of this DPS.
E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

Incidental Bycatch in Fishing Gear

    The full extent of the threat of incidental capture of sea turtles 
in artisanal and commercial fisheries in the Southwest Indian Ocean is 
unknown. Sea turtles are caught in demersal and pelagic longlines, 
trawls, gillnets, and seines (Petersen, 2005; Louro et al., 2006; Costa 
et al., 2007; Fennessy and Isaksen, 2007; Petersen et al., 2007, 2009). 
There is evidence of significant historical bycatch from prawn 
fisheries, which may have depleted nesting populations long before 
nesting surveys were initiated in the 1990s (Baldwin et al., 2003).
    Quantifying the magnitude of the threat of fisheries on loggerheads 
in the Southwest Indian Ocean is very difficult given the low level of 
observer coverage or investigations into bycatch conducted by countries 
that have large fishing fleets. Efforts have been made to quantify the 
effects of pelagic longline fishing on loggerheads globally (Lewison et 
al., 2004). While there were no turtle bycatch data available from the 
Southwest Indian Ocean to use in their assessment, extrapolations that 
considered bycatch data for the Pacific and Atlantic basins gave a 
conservative estimate of 6,000 loggerheads captured in the Indian Ocean 
in the year 2000. The effect of the longline fishery on loggerheads in 
the Indian Ocean is largely unknown (Lewison et al., 2004).

Other Manmade and Natural Impacts

    Other anthropogenic impacts, such as boat strikes and ingestion or 
entanglement in marine debris, likely apply to loggerheads in the 
Southwest Indian Ocean. Similar to other areas of the world, climate 
change and sea level rise have the potential to impact loggerheads in 
the Southwest Indian Ocean. This includes beach erosion and loss from 
rising sea levels, skewed hatchling sex ratios from rising beach 
incubation temperatures, and abrupt disruption of ocean currents used 
for natural dispersal during the complex life cycle (Hawkes et al., 
2009; Poloczanska et al., 2009). Climate change impacts could have 
profound long-term impacts on nesting populations in the Southwest 
Indian Ocean, but it is not possible at this time to predict how and 
the extent to which climate change will impact this DPS.
    Natural environmental events, such as cyclones, tsunamis and 
hurricanes, may affect loggerheads in the Southwest Indian Ocean. In 
general, however, severe storm events are episodic and, although they 
may affect loggerhead hatchling production, the results are generally 
localized and they rarely result in whole-scale losses over multiple 
nesting seasons.
    In summary, we find that the Southwest Indian Ocean DPS of the 
loggerhead sea turtle is negatively affected by both natural and 
manmade impacts as described above in Factor E. Within Factor E, we 
find that fishery bycatch that occurs throughout the Southwest Indian 
Ocean, although not quantified, is likely a significant threat to the 
persistence of this DPS.

Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

Terrestrial Zone

    Destruction and modification of loggerhead nesting habitat in the 
Northwest Atlantic results from coastal development and construction, 
placement of erosion control structures and other barriers to nesting, 
placement of nearshore shoreline stabilization structures, beachfront 
lighting, vehicular and pedestrian traffic, beach erosion, beach sand 
placement, removal of native vegetation, and planting of non-native 
vegetation (NMFS and USFWS, 2008).
    Numerous beaches in the southeastern United States are eroding due 
to both natural (e.g., storms, sea level changes, waves, shoreline 
geology) and anthropogenic (e.g., construction of armoring structures, 
groins, and jetties; coastal development; inlet dredging) factors. Such 
shoreline erosion leads to a loss of nesting habitat for sea turtles.
    In the southeastern United States, numerous erosion control 
structures (e.g., bulkheads, seawalls, soil retaining walls, rock 
revetments, sandbags, geotextile tubes) that create barriers to nesting 
have been constructed. The proportion of coastline that is armored is 
approximately 18 percent (239 km) in Florida (Clark, 1992; Schroeder 
and Mosier, 2000; Witherington et al., 2006b), 9 percent (14 km) in 
Georgia (M. Dodd, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, personal 
communication, 2009), 12 percent (29 km) in South Carolina (D. Griffin, 
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, personal communication, 
2009), and 3 percent (9 km) in North Carolina (M. Godfrey, North 
Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, 2009). These estimates of 
armoring extent do not include structures that are also barriers to sea 
turtle nesting but do not fit the definition of armoring, such as dune 
crossovers, cabanas, sand fences, and recreational equipment. Jetties 
have been placed at many ocean inlets along the U.S. Atlantic coast to 
keep transported sand from closing the inlet channel. Witherington et 
al. (2005) found a significant negative relationship between loggerhead 
nesting density and distance from the nearest of 17 ocean inlets on the 
Atlantic coast of Florida. The effect of inlets in lowering nesting 
density was observed both updrift and downdrift of the inlets, leading 
researchers to propose that beach instability from both erosion and

[[Page 58918]]

accretion may discourage loggerhead nesting.
    Stormwater and other water source runoff from coastal development, 
including beachfront parking lots, building rooftops, roads, decks, and 
draining swimming pools adjacent to the beach, is frequently discharged 
directly onto Northwest Atlantic beaches and dunes either by sheet 
flow, through stormwater collection system outfalls, or through small 
diameter pipes. These outfalls create localized erosion channels, 
prevent natural dune establishment, and wash out sea turtle nests 
(Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, unpublished data). 
Contaminants contained in stormwater, such as oils, grease, antifreeze, 
gasoline, metals, pesticides, chlorine, and nutrients, are also 
discharged onto the beach and have the potential to affect sea turtle 
nests and emergent hatchlings. The effects of these contaminants on 
loggerheads are not yet understood. As a result of natural and 
anthropogenic factors, beach nourishment is a frequent activity, and 
many beaches are on a periodic nourishment schedule. On severely eroded 
sections of beach, where little or no suitable nesting habitat 
previously existed, beach nourishment has been found to result in 
increased nesting (Ernest and Martin, 1999). However, on most beaches 
in the southeastern United States, nesting success typically declines 
for the first year or two following construction, even though more 
nesting habitat is available for turtles (Trindell et al., 1998; Ernest 
and Martin, 1999; Herren, 1999).
    Coastal development also contributes to habitat degradation by 
increasing light pollution. Both nesting and hatchling sea turtles are 
adversely affected by the presence of artificial lighting on or near 
the beach (Witherington and Martin, 1996). Experimental studies have 
shown that artificial lighting deters adult female turtles from 
emerging from the ocean to nest (Witherington, 1992). Witherington 
(1986) also noted that loggerheads aborted nesting attempts at a 
greater frequency in lighted areas. Because adult females rely on 
visual brightness cues to find their way back to the ocean after 
nesting, those turtles that nest on lighted beaches may become 
disoriented by artificial lighting and have difficulty finding their 
way back to the ocean. In some cases, misdirected nesting females have 
crawled onto coastal highways and have been struck and killed by 
vehicles (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 
unpublished data).
    Reports of hatchling disorientation events in Florida alone 
describe several hundred nests each year and are likely to involve tens 
of thousands of hatchlings (Nelson et al., 2002); however, this number 
calculated is likely a vast underestimate. Independent of these 
reports, Witherington et al. (1996) surveyed hatchling orientation at 
nests located at 23 representative beaches in six counties around 
Florida in 1993 and 1994 and found that, by county, approximately 10 to 
30 percent of nests showed evidence of hatchlings disoriented by 
lighting. From this survey and from measures of hatchling production 
(Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, unpublished data), 
the number of hatchlings disoriented by lighting in Florida is 
calculated in the range of hundreds of thousands per year. Mortality of 
disoriented clutches is likely very high (NMFS and USFWS, 2008--see 
Appendix 2).
    In the United States, vehicular driving is allowed on certain 
beaches in northeast Florida (Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, and Volusia 
Counties), northwest Florida (Walton and Gulf Counties), Georgia 
(Cumberland, Little Cumberland, and Sapelo Islands), North Carolina 
(Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, Carolina Beach, Freeman Park, 
Onslow Beach, Emerald Isle, Indian Beach/Salter Path, Pine Knoll 
Shores, Atlantic Beach, Cape Lookout National Seashore, Cape Hatteras 
National Seashore, Nag's Head, Kill Devil Hills, Town of Duck, and 
Currituck Banks), Virginia (Chincoteague NWR and Wallops Island), and 
Texas (the majority of beaches except for a highly developed section of 
South Padre Island and Padre Island National Seashore, San Jose Island, 
Matagorda Island, and Matagorda Peninsula where driving is not allowed 
or is limited to agency personnel, land owners, and researchers). Beach 
driving has been found to reduce the quality of loggerhead nesting 
habitat in several ways. In the southeastern U.S., vehicle ruts on the 
beach have been found to prevent or impede hatchlings from reaching the 
ocean following emergence from the nest (Mann, 1977; Hosier et al., 
1981; Cox et al., 1994; Hughes and Caine, 1994). Sand compaction by 
vehicles has been found to hinder nest construction and hatchling 
emergence from nests (Mann, 1977). Vehicle lights and vehicle movement 
on the beach after dark results in reduced habitat suitability, which 
can deter females from nesting and disorient hatchlings. Additionally, 
vehicle traffic on nesting beaches contributes to erosion, especially 
during high tides or on narrow beaches where driving is concentrated on 
the high beach and foredune.

Neritic/Oceanic Zones

    Threats to habitat in the loggerhead neritic and oceanic zones in 
the Northwest Atlantic Ocean include fishing practices, channel 
dredging, sand extraction, oil exploration and development, marine 
pollution, and climate change. Fishing methods not only incidentally 
capture loggerheads, but also deplete invertebrate and fish populations 
and thus alter ecosystem dynamics. Although anthropogenic disruptions 
of natural ecological interactions have been difficult to discern, a 
few studies have been focused on the effects of these disruptions on 
loggerheads. For instance, Youngkin (2001) analyzed gut contents from 
hundreds of loggerheads stranded in Georgia over a 20-year period. His 
findings point to the probability of major effects on loggerhead diet 
from activities such as shrimp trawling and dredging. Lutcavage and 
Musick (1985) found that horseshoe crabs strongly dominated the diet of 
loggerheads in Chesapeake Bay in 1980-1981. Subsequently, fishermen 
began to harvest horseshoe crabs, primarily for use as bait in the eel 
and whelk pot fisheries, using several gear types. Atlantic coast 
horseshoe crab landings increased by an order of magnitude (0.5 to 6.0 
million pounds) between 1980 and 1997, and in 1998 the Atlantic States 
Marine Fisheries Commission implemented a horseshoe crab fishery 
management plan to curtail catches (Atlantic States Marine Fisheries 
Commission, 1998). The decline in horseshoe crab availability has 
apparently caused a diet shift in juvenile loggerheads, from 
predominantly horseshoe crabs in the early to mid-1980s to blue crabs 
in the late 1980s and early 1990s, to mostly finfish in the late 1990s 
and early 2000s (Seney, 2003; Seney and Musick, 2007). These data 
suggest that turtles are foraging in greater numbers in or around 
fishing gears and on discarded bycatch (Seney, 2003). However, Wallace 
et al. (2009) and McClellan et al. (2010) reported that neritic crabs 
(blue crabs, in particular) and whelk comprised the most important 
dietary items for juvenile loggerheads in neritic areas in North 
Carolina, indicating that the trend reported by Seney and Musick (2007) 
might be regional.
    Periodic dredging of sediments from navigational channels is 
carried out at large ports to provide for the passage of large 
commercial and military vessels. In addition, sand mining (dredging) 
for

[[Page 58919]]

beach renourishment and construction projects occurs in the Northwest 
Atlantic along the U.S., Mexico, Central American, Colombia, and 
Venezuela coasts. Although directed studies have not been conducted, 
dredging activities, which occur regularly in the Northwest Atlantic, 
have the potential to destroy or degrade benthic habitats used by 
loggerheads. Channelization of inshore and nearshore habitat and the 
subsequent disposal of dredged material in the marine environment can 
destroy or disrupt resting or foraging grounds (including grass beds 
and coral reefs) and may affect nesting distribution by altering 
physical features in the marine environment (Hopkins and Murphy, 1980). 
Oil exploration and development on live bottom areas may disrupt 
foraging grounds by smothering benthic organisms with sediments and 
drilling muds (Coston-Clements and Hoss, 1983). The effects of benthic 
habitat alteration on loggerhead prey abundance and distribution, and 
the effects of these potential changes on loggerhead populations, have 
not been determined but are of concern. Climate change also may result 
in trophic changes, thus impacting loggerhead prey abundance and 
distribution.
    In summary, we find that the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS of the 
loggerhead sea turtle is negatively affected by ongoing changes in both 
its terrestrial and marine habitats as a result of land and water use 
practices as considered above in Factor A. Within Factor A, we find 
that coastal development, beachfront lighting, and coastal armoring and 
other erosion control structures on nesting beaches in the United 
States are significant threats to the persistence of this DPS. We also 
find that anthropogenic disruptions of natural ecological interactions 
as a result of fishing practices, channel dredging, and oil exploration 
and development are likely a significant threat to the persistence of 
this DPS. However, compared to many of the other loggerhead DPSs and 
sea turtle species, the United States has the ability to control a very 
large proportion of the anthropogenic threats to nesting and foraging 
habitats used by neritic juveniles and adults. While not minimizing the 
role of the Caribbean rookeries, the vast majority of nesting is on 
U.S. beaches, and a great number of large neritic juveniles and adults, 
the most reproductively valuable age classes, from all rookeries spend 
a large portion of their time in U.S. waters.
B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes
    Deliberate hunting of loggerheads for their meat, shells, and eggs 
is reduced from previous exploitation levels, but still exists. In the 
Caribbean, 12 of 29 (41 percent) countries/territories allow the 
harvest of loggerheads (NMFS and USFWS, 2008--see Appendix 3; A. 
Bolten, University of Florida, personal communication, 2009); this 
takes into account the September 2009 ban on the harvest of sea turtles 
in The Bahamas. Loggerhead harvest in the Caribbean is generally 
restricted to the non-nesting season with the exception of St. Kitts 
and Nevis, where turtle harvest is allowed annually from March 1 
through September 30, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, where turtle 
harvest is allowed year-round. Most countries/territories that allow 
harvest have regulations that favor the harvest of large juvenile and 
adult turtles, the most reproductively valuable members of the 
population. Exceptions include the Cayman Islands, which mandates 
maximum size limits, and Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago, which have no 
size restrictions. All North, Central, and South American countries in 
the Northwest Atlantic have enacted laws that mandate complete 
protection of loggerheads from harvest in their territorial waters with 
the exception of Guyana. Despite national laws, in many countries the 
poaching of eggs and hunting of adult and juvenile turtles still occurs 
at varying levels (NMFS and USFWS, 2008--see Appendix 3). Although 
unquantified, the extent of legal and illegal take in most locations is 
believed to be low and occur in locations where loggerhead density is 
low (NMFS and USFWS, 2008--see Appendix 2; TEWG, 2009). However, take 
in Cuba, despite the national ban, is thought to be rather extensive 
(F. Moncada-Gavilan, Cuba Fisheries Research Centre, personal 
communication, 2009).
    In summary, overutilization for commercial purposes likely was a 
factor that contributed to the historical decline of this DPS. Legal 
and illegal harvest of loggerheads in the Caribbean for human 
consumption continues, and the best available data suggest this harvest 
is potentially affecting the persistence of this DPS; however, 
quantitative data are not sufficient to assess the degree of impact of 
overutilization on the persistence of this DPS.
C. Disease or Predation
    The potential exists for diseases and endoparasites to impact 
loggerheads found in the Northwest Atlantic. Viral diseases have not 
been documented in free-ranging loggerheads, with the possible 
exception of sea turtle fibropapillomatosis, which may have a viral 
etiology (Herbst and Jacobson, 1995; George, 1997). Although 
fibropapillomatosis reaches epidemic proportions in some wild green 
turtle populations, the prevalence of this disease in most loggerhead 
populations is thought to be small. An exception is Florida Bay where 
approximately 9.5 percent of the loggerheads captured exhibit 
fibropapilloma-like external lesions (B. Schroeder, NMFS, personal 
communication, 2006). Mortality levels and population-level effects 
associated with the disease are still unknown. Heavy infestations of 
endoparasites may cause or contribute to debilitation or mortality in 
loggerhead sea turtles. Trematode eggs and adult trematodes were 
recorded in a variety of tissues including the spinal cord and brain of 
debilitated loggerheads during an epizootic in South Florida, USA, 
during late 2000 and early 2001. These endoparasites were implicated as 
a possible cause of the epizootic (Jacobson et al., 2006). Although 
many health problems have been described in wild populations through 
the necropsy of stranded turtles, the significance of diseases on the 
ecology of wild loggerhead populations is not known (Herbst and 
Jacobson, 1995).
    Predation of eggs and hatchlings by native and introduced species 
occurs on almost all nesting beaches throughout the Northwest Atlantic. 
The most common predators at the primary nesting beaches in the 
southeastern United States are ghost crabs (Ocypode quadrata), raccoons 
(Procyon lotor), feral hogs (Sus scrofa), foxes (Urocyon 
cinereoargenteus and Vulpes vulpes), coyotes (Canis latrans), 
armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus), and red fire ants (Solenopsis 
invicta) (Stancyk, 1982; Dodd, 1988). In the absence of well managed 
nest protection programs, predators may take significant numbers of 
eggs; however, nest protection programs are in place at most of the 
major nesting beaches in the Northwest Atlantic.
    Non-native vegetation has invaded many coastal areas and often 
outcompetes native plant species. Exotic vegetation may form 
impenetrable root mats that can invade and desiccate eggs, as well as 
trap hatchlings. The Australian pine (Casuarina equisetifolia) is 
particularly harmful to sea turtles. Dense stands have taken over many 
coastal areas throughout central and south Florida. Australian pines 
cause excessive shading of the beach that would not otherwise occur.

[[Page 58920]]

Studies in Florida suggest that nests laid in shaded areas are 
subjected to lower incubation temperatures, which may alter the natural 
hatchling sex ratio (Marcus and Maley, 1987; Schmelz and Mezich, 1988; 
Hanson et al., 1998). Fallen Australian pines limit access to suitable 
nest sites and can entrap nesting females (Austin, 1978; Reardon and 
Mansfield, 1997). The shallow root network of these pines can interfere 
with nest construction (Schmelz and Mezich, 1988). Davis and Whiting 
(1977) reported that nesting activity declined in Everglades National 
Park where dense stands of Australian pine took over native dune 
vegetation on a remote nesting beach. Beach vitex (Vitex rotundifolia) 
is native to countries in the western Pacific and was introduced to the 
horticulture trade in the southeastern United States in the mid-1980s 
and is often sold as a ``dune stabilizer.'' Its presence on North 
Carolina and South Carolina beaches has a negative effect on sea turtle 
nesting as its dense mats interfere with sea turtle nesting and 
hatchling emergence from nests (Brabson, 2006). This exotic plant is 
crowding out the native species, such as sea oats and bitter panicum, 
and can colonize large areas in just a few years. Sisal, or century 
plant, (Agave americana) is native to arid regions of Mexico. The plant 
was widely grown in sandy soils around Florida in order to provide 
fiber for cordage. It has escaped cultivation in Florida and has been 
purposely planted on dunes. Although the effects of sisal on sea turtle 
nesting are uncertain, thickets with impenetrable sharp spines are 
occasionally found on developed beaches.
    Harmful algal blooms, such as a red tide, also affect loggerheads 
in the Northwest Atlantic. In Florida, the species that causes most red 
tides is Karenia brevis, a dinoflagellate that produces a toxin 
(Florida Marine Research Institute, 2003) and can cause mortality in 
birds, marine mammals, and sea turtles. During four red tide events 
along the west coast of Florida, sea turtle stranding trends indicated 
that these events were acting as a mortality factor (Redlow et al., 
2003). Furthermore, brevetoxin concentrations supportive of 
intoxication were detected in biological samples from dead and moribund 
sea turtles during a mortality event in 2005 and in subsequent events 
(Fauquier et al., 2007). The population level effects of these events 
are not yet known.
    In summary, nest and hatchling predation likely was a factor that 
contributed to the historical decline of this DPS. Although current 
predation levels in the United States are greatly reduced from 
historical levels, predation still occurs in the United States, as well 
as in Mexico, and could be significant in the absence of the current 
well managed protection efforts. Although diseases and parasites are 
known to impact loggerheads in this DPS, the significance of these 
threats is not known. Overall, however, current threats in both the 
terrestrial and marine environments are not believed to be a 
significant threat to the persistence of this DPS.
D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

International Instruments

    The BRT identified several regulatory mechanisms that apply to 
loggerhead sea turtles globally and within the Northwest Atlantic Ocean 
(Conant et al., 2009). Hykle (2002) and Tiwari (2002) have reviewed the 
effectiveness of some of these international instruments. The problems 
with existing international treaties are often that they have not 
realized their full potential, do not include some key countries, do 
not specifically address sea turtle conservation, and are handicapped 
by the lack of a sovereign authority to enforce environmental 
regulations. The ineffectiveness of international treaties and national 
legislation is oftentimes due to the lack of motivation or obligation 
by countries to implement and enforce them. A thorough discussion of 
this topic is available in a special 2002 issue of the Journal of 
International Wildlife Law and Policy: International Instruments and 
Marine Turtle Conservation (Hykle, 2002). However, efforts continue to 
establish international instruments for sea turtle protection and to 
incorporate sea turtle protection into existing instruments. In 
November 2010, ICCAT approved a proposal to require data reporting on 
the capture of sea turtles in the Atlantic Ocean and mandated the use 
of hook-removal and fishing line disentanglement gear.

National Legislation and Protection

    Fishery bycatch that occurs throughout the North Atlantic Ocean is 
substantial (see Factor E). National and international governmental and 
non-governmental entities on both sides of the North Atlantic are 
currently working toward reducing loggerhead bycatch. Some positive 
actions have been implemented in addition to effort reductions 
occurring in some fisheries as a result of economics and reductions in 
target species. However, it is still unclear to what degree this source 
of mortality can be reduced across the range of the DPS in the near 
future because of the diversity and magnitude of the fisheries 
operating in the North Atlantic, the lack of comprehensive information 
on fishing distribution and effort, limitations on implementing 
demonstrated effective conservation measures, geopolitical 
complexities, limitations on enforcement capacity, and lack of 
availability of comprehensive bycatch reduction technologies. National 
legislation and protective measures have been implemented in the past, 
and in many cases it is yet too early to determine the effectiveness of 
those actions stemming from the available regulatory mechanisms. With a 
long age to maturity and transitory dynamics in the populations, the 
effects of actions taken over 20 years ago may just now be expected to 
be observed on the nesting beaches. The existing regulatory framework 
uses the authority of the ESA, as well as that of the Magnuson-Stevens 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as the primary means of 
providing protection from fishery interactions. Further explanation of 
specific protective actions taken under these Acts to reduce fishery 
bycatch are detailed in the discussion of incidental bycatch in fishing 
gear under Factor E as well as under the Conservation Efforts section. 
A comprehensive review of the framework for all U.S. fisheries in which 
turtle (as well as mammal and seabird) bycatch occurs is provided by 
Moore et al. (2009).
    Coastal development, coupled with critical beach erosion, has led 
to the placement of structures (e.g., armoring, sand fences, and other 
erosion control structures to protect upland property), which have 
destroyed or degraded nesting habitat. While some States have 
regulations prohibiting coastal armoring, other State regulations are 
insufficient to protect nesting habitat. State regulations related to 
the placement and design of new coastal structures need to be reviewed 
and revised as appropriate to reduce the need for coastal armoring. 
Where lighting ordinances have been adopted and adequately enforced, 
hatchling disorientation has been managed at acceptable levels; 
however, not all coastal counties or municipalities have adopted or 
fully enforced effective lighting ordinances and thus additional work 
is needed to ensure more consistent protective measures.
    In summary, our review of regulatory mechanisms under Factor D 
demonstrates that regulatory mechanisms are in place that should 
address direct and incidental take of

[[Page 58921]]

Northwest Atlantic Ocean loggerheads. While the regulatory mechanisms 
contained within international instruments are inconsistent and likely 
insufficient, the mechanisms of existing national legislation and 
protection are much more adequate. However, it remains to be determined 
if national measures are being implemented effectively to fully address 
the needs of loggerheads. The potential strength of the existing 
national regulatory mechanisms provides a likely advantage to the 
Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS compared to other loggerhead DPSs and 
other sea turtle species, as a very large proportion of the adult and 
large juvenile stages occur in waters under our national jurisdiction. 
However, we find that even with the existing regulatory mechanisms 
there is still a potential threat from both national and international 
fishery bycatch (Factor E) and coastal development, beachfront 
lighting, and coastal armoring and other erosion control structures on 
nesting beaches in the United States (Factor A). More work needs to be 
done under the existing national regulatory mechanisms, as well as 
continuing to advance the development and effectiveness of 
international instruments, to ensure the persistence of this DPS. 
Therefore, we find that the threat from the inadequacy of existing 
regulatory mechanisms is significant relative to the persistence of 
this DPS.
E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

Incidental Bycatch in Fishing Gear

    Bycatch of loggerheads in commercial and recreational fisheries in 
the Northwest Atlantic is a significant threat facing the species in 
this region. A variety of fishing gears that incidentally capture 
loggerhead sea turtles are employed including gillnets, trawls, hook 
and line, longlines, seines, dredges, pound nets, and various types of 
pots/traps. Among these, gillnets, longlines, and trawl gear contribute 
to the vast majority of bycatch mortality of loggerheads annually 
throughout their range in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico with 
shrimp trawls likely accounting for the majority of bycatch mortality 
(Epperly et al., 1995; NMFS, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008; Lewison et al., 
2003, 2004; Richards, 2007; Moore et al., 2009; NMFS, unpublished 
data). Considerable effort has been expended since the 1980s to 
document and address fishery bycatch, especially in the United States 
and Mexico. Observer programs have been implemented in some fisheries 
to collect turtle bycatch data, and efforts to reduce bycatch and 
mortality of loggerheads in certain fishing operations have been 
undertaken and implemented or partially implemented. These efforts 
include developing gear solutions to prevent or reduce captures or to 
allow turtles to escape without harm (e.g., TEDs, circle hooks and bait 
combinations), implementing time and area closures to prevent 
interactions from occurring (e.g., prohibitions on gillnet fishing 
along the mid-Atlantic coast during the critical time of northward 
migration of loggerheads), implementation of careful release protocols 
(e.g., requirements for careful release of turtles captured in longline 
fisheries), prohibitions of gillnetting in some U.S. State waters, and 
modifying gear (e.g., requirements to reduce mesh size in the leaders 
of pound nets in certain U.S. coastal waters to prevent entanglement).
    The primary bycatch reduction focus in the Northwest Atlantic, 
since the 1978 ESA listing of the loggerhead, has been on bycatch 
reduction in shrimp trawls. The United States has required the use of 
TEDs throughout the year since the mid-1990s, with modifications 
required and implemented as necessary (52 FR 24244; June 29, 1987; 57 
FR 57348; December 4, 1992; Epperly, 2003). Most notably, in 2003, NMFS 
implemented new requirements for TEDs in the shrimp trawl fishery to 
ensure that large loggerheads could escape through TED openings (68 FR 
8456; February 21, 2003). Significant effort has been expended to 
transfer this technology to other shrimping fleets in the Northwest 
Atlantic; however, not all nations where loggerheads occur require the 
device be used. Enforcement of TED regulations is difficult and 
compliance is not believed to be complete in any of the nations 
requiring TED use, including the United States. Even if compliance was 
complete, TEDs are not 100 percent effective, as it is estimated that 
as much as 3 percent of turtles may still be retained and possibly 
drown in a trawl with a properly installed TED. Therefore, a 
significant number of loggerheads are estimated to still be killed 
annually in shrimp trawls throughout the Northwest Atlantic. For the 
U.S. Southeast food shrimp trawl fishery, NMFS previously estimated the 
annual mortality of loggerheads in the Gulf of Mexico and southeastern 
U.S. Atlantic Ocean as 3,948 individuals (95 percent confidence 
intervals, 1,221-8,498) based upon 2001 effort data (NMFS, 2002). 
However, shrimping effort by otter trawls in the southeastern United 
States has significantly declined in both the Gulf of Mexico (2009 
effort was 39 percent of 2001 effort) and the South Atlantic (2009 
effort was 62 percent of 2001 effort) (NMFS, unpublished data). In 2011 
a revised estimate of annual loggerhead mortality for the Southeast 
food shrimp trawl fishery was calculated using 2009 data (the latest 
available at the time). It estimated annual mortality to be 778 
individuals in the Gulf of Mexico and 673 in the South Atlantic (NMFS, 
unpublished data).
    Other trawl fisheries operating in Northwest Atlantic waters that 
are known or expected to capture sea turtles include, but are not 
limited to, summer flounder, calico scallop, sea scallop, blue crab, 
whelk, cannonball jellyfish, horseshoe crab, and mid-Atlantic directed 
finfish trawl fisheries and the Sargassum fishery. In the United 
States, the summer flounder fishery is the only trawl fishery (other 
than the shrimp fishery) with federally mandated TED use (in certain 
areas). Loggerhead annual bycatch estimates in 2004 and 2005 in U.S. 
mid-Atlantic scallop trawl gear ranged from 81 to 191 turtles, 
depending on the estimation methodology used (Murray, 2007). Estimated 
average annual bycatch of loggerheads in other mid-Atlantic federally 
managed bottom otter trawl fisheries during 1996-2004 was 616 turtles 
(Murray, 2006). A more recent study estimated that between the years 
2005-2008, an average of 352 loggerheads were caught annually by the 
U.S. Mid-Atlantic fish and scallop bottom otter trawl fisheries 
(Warden, 2011). The harvest of Sargassum by trawlers can result in 
incidental capture of post-hatchlings and habitat destruction 
(Schwartz, 1988; Witherington, 2002); however, this fishery is not 
currently active. Likewise, the calico scallop fishery was a periodic 
fishery that did not occur on a regular basis and has not been 
prosecuted for years: no commercial landings of calico scallop have 
been reported from the East Coast of Florida since 2003 (NMFS 
commercial fisheries landings database), and the processing facilities 
that previously supported these fisheries have been closed, hampering 
the rapid resumption of a large-scale fishery.
    Dredge fishing gear is the predominant gear used to harvest sea 
scallops off the mid- and northeastern United States Atlantic coast. 
Turtles can be struck and injured or killed by the dredge frame or 
captured in the bag where they may drown or be further injured or 
killed when the catch and heavy gear are dumped on the vessel deck. 
Total estimated bycatch of loggerhead sea turtles in the U.S. sea 
scallop dredge fishery operating in the mid-Atlantic region (New York 
to North

[[Page 58922]]

Carolina) from June through November is on the order of several hundred 
turtles per year (Murray, 2004, 2005, 2007). The impact of the sea 
scallop dredge fishery on loggerheads in U.S. waters of the Northwest 
Atlantic remains a serious concern.
    Incidental take of oceanic-stage loggerheads in pelagic longline 
fisheries has recently received significant attention (Balazs and 
Pooley, 1994; Bolten et al., 1994, 2000; Aguilar et al., 1995; Laurent 
et al., 1998; Long and Schroeder, 2004; Watson et al., 2005). Large-
scale commercial longline fisheries operate throughout the pelagic 
range of the Northwest Atlantic loggerhead, including the western 
Mediterranean. The largest size classes in the oceanic stage are the 
size classes impacted by the swordfish longline fishery in the Azores 
(Bolten, 2003) and on the Scotian Shelf, Georges Bank, and Grand Banks 
in Canadian waters (Watson et al., 2005; Brazner and McMillan, 2008), 
and this is likely the case for other nation's fleets operating in the 
region, including but not limited to, the European Union, United 
States, Japan, and Taiwan. The demographic consequences relative to 
population recovery of the increased mortality of these size classes 
have been discussed (Crouse et al., 1987; Heppell et al., 2003; 
Chaloupka, 2003; Wallace et al., 2008). Estimates derived from data 
recorded by the international observer program suggest that thousands 
of mostly juvenile loggerheads have been captured in the Canadian 
pelagic longline fishery in the western North Atlantic since 1999 
(Brazner and McMillan, 2008). NMFS (2004) estimates that 635 
loggerheads (143 lethal) will be taken annually in the U.S. pelagic 
longline fishery.
    Incidental capture of neritic-stage loggerheads in demersal 
longline fishing gear has also been documented. Richards (2007) 
estimated total annual bycatch of loggerheads in the Southeast U.S. 
Atlantic and U.S. Gulf of Mexico commercial directed shark bottom 
longline fishery from 2003-2005 as follows: 2003: 302-1,620 (CV 0.45); 
2004: 95-591 (CV 0.49); and 2005: 139-778 (CV 0.46). NMFS (2009) 
estimated the total number of captures of hardshell turtles in the U.S. 
Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery (demersal longline fishery) from July 
2006-December 2008 as 861 turtles (95 percent confidence intervals, 
383-1934). Based on the 2009 biological opinion for the Gulf of Mexico 
reef fish fishery, estimated takes by the demersal longline portion of 
the fishery following new regulations on gear restrictions and post-
hooking gear removal was determined to be 623 every 3 years, with a 
mortality of 378 over that time span. This represents a reduction 
compared to the recent historical take cited above. These estimates are 
not comprehensive across this gear type (i.e., pelagic and demersal 
longline) throughout the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. Cumulatively, the 
bycatch and mortality of Northwest Atlantic loggerheads in longline 
fisheries is significant.
    Gillnet fisheries may be the most ubiquitous of fisheries operating 
in the neritic range of the Northwest Atlantic loggerhead. 
Comprehensive estimates of bycatch in gillnet fisheries do not yet 
exist and, while this precludes a quantitative analysis of their 
impacts on loggerhead populations, the cumulative mortality of 
loggerheads in gillnet fisheries is likely high. In the U.S. mid-
Atlantic, the average annual estimated bycatch of loggerheads from 
1995-2006 was 350 turtles (CV = 0.20., 95 percent confidence intervals 
over the 12-year period: 234 to 504) (Murray, 2009). From 2007-2009, 
the U.S. pelagic shark gillnet fishery had a total of three observed 
loggerhead takes (all in 2007), but insufficient data exist to 
extrapolate a total estimated take for the fishery (NMFS, unpublished 
report). In the United States, some States (e.g., South Carolina, 
Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas) have prohibited gillnets in 
their waters, but there remain active gillnet fisheries in other U.S. 
States, in U.S. Federal waters, Mexico waters, Central and South 
America waters, and the Northeast Atlantic.
    Pound nets are fixed gear with a long mesh leader that can be 
suspended from the surface by a series of stringers or vertical lines 
or a mesh supported along its length supported by stakes; both end in a 
``heart'' that funnels animals into an impoundment for trapping fish at 
the terminal point of the gear. Sea turtles incidentally captured in 
the open top pound are usually safe from injury and can be released 
when the fishermen pull the nets (Mansfield et al., 2002; Epperly et 
al., 2007). However, sea turtle mortalities have been documented in the 
leader of certain pound nets. Large mesh leaders (greater than 12-inch 
stretched mesh) may act as a gillnet, entangling sea turtles by the 
head or foreflippers (Bellmund et al., 1987) or may act as a barrier 
against which turtles may be impinged (NMFS, unpublished data). Nets 
with small mesh leaders (less than 8 inches stretched mesh) usually do 
not present a mortality threat to loggerheads, but some mortality has 
been reported (Morreale and Standora, 1998; Epperly et al., 2000, 2007; 
Mansfield et al., 2002). In 2002, the United States prohibited, in 
certain areas within the Chesapeake Bay and at certain times, pound net 
leaders having mesh greater than or equal to 12 inches and leaders with 
stringers (67 FR 41196; June 17, 2002). Subsequent regulations have 
further restricted the use of certain pound net leaders in certain 
geographic areas and established pound net leader gear modifications 
(69 FR 24997; May 5, 2004; 71 FR 36024; June 23, 2006).
    Pots/traps are commonly used to target crabs, lobsters, whelk, and 
reef fishes. These traps vary in size and configuration, but all are 
attached to a surface float by means of a vertical line leading to the 
trap. Entanglement and mortality of loggerheads has been documented in 
various pot/trap fisheries in the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. 
Data from the U.S. Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network indicate 
that 82 loggerheads (dead and rescued alive) were documented by the 
stranding network in various pot/trap gear from 1996-2005, of these 
approximately 30-40 percent were adults and the remainder juvenile 
turtles (NMFS, unpublished data). Without intervention it is likely 
that the majority of the live, entangled turtles would die. 
Additionally, documented strandings represent only a portion of total 
interactions and mortality. Recently, a small number of loggerhead 
entanglements also have been recorded in whelk pot bridles in the U.S. 
Mid-Atlantic (M. Fagan, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, personal 
communication, 2008). However, no dedicated observer programs exist to 
provide estimates of take and mortality from pot/trap fisheries; 
therefore, comprehensive estimates of loggerhead interactions with pot/
trap gear are not available, but the gear is widely used throughout the 
range of the DPS, and poses a continuing threat.

Other Manmade and Natural Impacts

    Propeller and collision injuries from boats and ships are becoming 
more common in sea turtles. In the U.S. Atlantic, from 1997 to 2005, 
14.9 percent of all stranded loggerheads were documented as having 
sustained some type of propeller or collision injuries (NMFS, 
unpublished data). The incidence of propeller wounds observed in sea 
turtles stranded in the United States has risen from approximately 10 
percent in the late 1980s to a record high of 20.5 percent in 2004, 
followed by annual rates of 15.2, 15.6, and 16.5 percent from 2005 to 
2007, respectively (NMFS, unpublished data). In the United States, 
propeller wounds are greatest in Southeast Florida; during some years, 
as many as 60 percent of the loggerhead strandings found in these

[[Page 58923]]

areas had propeller wounds (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation 
Commission, unpublished data). However, it is still unclear what 
proportion of those received the wounds postmortem. As the number of 
vessels increases, in concert with increased coastal development, and 
possibly increasing numbers of juvenile sea turtles, especially in 
nearshore waters, propeller and vessel collision injuries are also 
expected to rise.
    Marine pollution impacts, especially the ingestion of or 
entanglement in plastic, is another significant anthropogenic impact to 
loggerhead sea turtles. Studies have shown that approximately 15 
percent of post-hatchling loggerheads that emerge from Florida beaches 
ingest plastics as they forage during their first few weeks in the 
pelagic environment. Even in small quantities, plastics can kill sea 
turtles due to obstruction of the esophagus or perforation of the 
bowel, as well as potentially reducing normal food intake.
    Several activities associated with offshore oil and gas production, 
including oil spills, water quality (operational discharge), seismic 
surveys, explosive platform removal, platform lighting, and noise from 
drillships and production activities, are known to impact loggerheads 
(National Research Council, 1996; Minerals Management Service, 2000; 
Gregg Gitschlag, NMFS, personal communication, 2007; Viada et al., 
2008). Currently, there are 3,443 federally regulated offshore 
platforms in the Gulf of Mexico dedicated to natural gas and oil 
production. Additional State-regulated platforms are located in State 
waters (Texas and Louisiana). There are currently no active leases off 
the Atlantic coast.
    Oil spills also threaten loggerheads in the Northwest Atlantic. Two 
oil spills that occurred near loggerhead nesting beaches in Florida 
were observed to affect eggs, hatchlings, and nesting females. 
Approximately 350,000 gallons of fuel oil spilled in Tampa Bay in 
August 1993 and was carried onto nesting beaches in Pinellas County. 
Observed mortalities included 31 hatchlings and 176 oil-covered nests; 
an additional 2,177 eggs and hatchlings were either exposed to oil or 
disturbed by response activities (Florida Department of Environmental 
Protection et al., 1997). Another spill near the beaches of Broward 
County in August 2000 involved approximately 15,000 gallons of oil and 
tar (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Florida 
Department of Environmental Protection, 2002). Models estimated that 
approximately 1,500 to 2,000 hatchlings and 0 to 1 adult were injured 
or killed. Annually about 1 percent of all sea turtle strandings along 
the U.S. east coast have been associated with oil, but higher rates of 
3 to 6 percent have been observed in South Florida and Texas (Rabalais 
and Rabalais, 1980; Plotkin and Amos, 1990; Teas, 1994). It is not yet 
clear what the immediate and long-term impacts of the 2010 Deepwater 
Horizon (Mississippi Canyon 252) oil well blowout and uncontrolled 
release has had, and will have, on sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico, 
including Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS loggerheads.
    In addition to the destruction or degradation of habitat, periodic 
dredging of sediments from navigational channels can also result in 
incidental mortality of sea turtles. Direct injury or mortality of 
loggerheads by dredges has been well documented in the southeastern and 
mid-Atlantic United States (National Research Council, 1990). 
Solutions, including modification of dredges and time/area closures, 
have been successfully implemented to reduce mortalities and injuries 
in the United States (NMFS, 1991, 1995, 1997; Nelson and Shafer, 1996).
    The entrainment and entrapment of loggerheads in saltwater cooling 
intake systems of coastal power plants has been documented in New 
Jersey, North Carolina, Florida, and Texas (Eggers, 1989; National 
Research Council, 1990; Carolina Power and Light Company, 2003; 
Progress Energy Florida, Inc., 2003; Florida Power and Light Company 
and Quantum Resources, Inc., 2005). Average annual incidental capture 
rates for most coastal plants from which captures have been reported 
amount to several turtles per plant per year. One notable exception is 
the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant located on Hutchinson Island, 
Florida. During the first 15 years of operation (1977-1991), an average 
of 128 loggerheads per year was captured in the intake canal with a 
mortality rate of 6.4 percent. During 1991-2005, loggerhead captures 
more than doubled (average of 308 per year), while mortality rates 
decreased to 0.3 percent per year (Florida Power and Light Company and 
Quantum Resources, Inc., 2005). From 2005-2009, numbers fluctuated in 
the 200+ to 400+ range (Florida Power and Light Company and Quantum 
Resources, Inc. take database). Epperly et al. (2007) and TEWG (2009) 
used this dataset, among others, to demonstrate that an examination of 
all in-water research sites in the United States with data suitable for 
trend analysis was showing a similar increase. This suggests a possible 
juvenile population increase.
    Although not a major source of mortality, cold stunning of 
loggerheads has been reported at several locations in the United 
States, including Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts (Still et al., 2002); 
Long Island Sound, New York (Meylan and Sadove, 1986; Morreale et al., 
1992); the Indian River system, Florida (Mendon[ccedil]a and Ehrhart, 
1982; Witherington and Ehrhart, 1989); and Texas inshore waters 
(Hildebrand, 1982; Shaver, 1990). Cold stunning is a phenomenon during 
which turtles become incapacitated as a result of rapidly dropping 
water temperatures (Witherington and Ehrhart, 1989; Morreale et al., 
1992). As temperatures fall below 8-10[deg] C, turtles may lose their 
ability to swim and dive, often floating to the surface. The rate of 
cooling that precipitates cold stunning appears to be the primary 
threat, rather than the water temperature itself (Milton and Lutz, 
2003). Sea turtles that overwinter in inshore waters are most 
susceptible to cold stunning, because temperature changes are most 
rapid in shallow water (Witherington and Ehrhart, 1989). More recent 
large-scale cold-stunning events have occurred in January 2010, and 
December 2010/January 2011. Although the vast majority of the sea 
turtles were green turtles, some loggerheads were also impacted 
(Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission data).
    Another natural factor that has the potential to affect recovery of 
loggerhead sea turtles is aperiodic hurricanes. In general, these 
events are episodic and, although they may affect loggerhead hatchling 
production, the results are generally localized and they rarely result 
in whole-scale losses over multiple nesting seasons. The negative 
effects of hurricanes on low-lying and developed shorelines may be 
longer-lasting and a greater threat overall.
    Similar to other areas of the world, climate change and sea level 
rise have the potential to impact loggerheads in the Northwest 
Atlantic. These potential impacts include beach erosion from rising sea 
levels, repeated inundation of nests, skewed hatchling sex ratios from 
rising incubation temperatures, and abrupt disruption of ocean currents 
used for natural dispersal during the complex life cycle (Fish et al., 
2005, 2008; Hawkes et al., 2009; Poloczanska et al., 2009). Climate 
change impacts could have profound long-term impacts on nesting 
populations in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, but it is not possible to 
predict the impacts at this point in time.
    In summary, we find that the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS of the 
loggerhead sea turtle is negatively affected by both natural and 
manmade impacts as described above in Factor E. Within Factor E, we 
find that fishery bycatch that occurs throughout the

[[Page 58924]]

North Atlantic Ocean, particularly bycatch mortality of loggerheads 
from gillnet, longline, and trawl fisheries throughout their range in 
the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, is a significant threat to the 
persistence of this DPS. In addition, boat strikes are becoming more 
common, possibly as a result of increased boat traffic, increased 
juvenile populations, or some combination of both, and are possibly a 
significant threat to the persistence of this DPS.

Northeast Atlantic Ocean DPS

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

Terrestrial Zone

    Destruction and modification of loggerhead nesting habitat in the 
Northeast Atlantic result from coastal development and construction, 
placement of erosion control structures and other barriers to nesting, 
beachfront lighting, vehicular and pedestrian traffic, sand extraction, 
beach erosion, and beach pollution (Formia et al., 2003; Loureiro, 
2008).
    In the Northeast Atlantic, the only loggerhead nesting of note 
occurs in the Cape Verde Islands. The Cape Verde government's plans to 
develop Boa Vista Island, the location of the main nesting beaches, 
could increase the terrestrial threats to loggerheads (van Bogaert, 
2006). Sand extraction on Santiago Island, Cape Verde, may be 
responsible for the apparent decrease in nesting there (Loureiro, 
2008). Both sand extraction and beachfront lighting have been 
identified as serious threats to the continued existence of a nesting 
population on Santiago Island (Loureiro, 2008). Scattered and 
infrequent nesting occurs in western Africa, where much 
industrialization is located on the coast and population growth rates 
fluctuate between 0.8 percent (Cape Verde) and 3.8 percent (C[ocirc]te 
D'Ivoire) (Abe et al., 2004; Tayaa et al., 2005). Land mines on some of 
the beaches of mainland Africa, within the reported historical range of 
nesting by loggerheads (e.g., the Western Sahara region), would be 
detrimental to nesters and are an impediment to scientific surveys of 
the region (Tiwari et al., 2001). Tiwari et al. (2001) noted a high 
level of human use of many of the beaches in Morocco--enough that any 
evidence of nesting activity would be quickly erased. Garbage litters 
many developed beaches (Formia et al., 2003). Erosion is a problem 
along the long stretches of high energy ocean shoreline of Africa and 
is further exacerbated by sand mining and harbor building (Formia et 
al., 2003); crumbling buildings claimed by the sea may present 
obstructions to nesting females.

Neritic/Oceanic Zones

    Threats to habitat in the loggerhead neritic and oceanic zones in 
the Northeast Atlantic Ocean include fishing practices, marine 
pollution and climate change. Ecosystem alterations have occurred due 
to the tremendous human pressure on the environment in the region. 
Turtles, including loggerheads, usually are included in ecosystem 
models of the region (see Palomares and Pauly, 2004). In the Canary 
Current Large Marine Ecosystem (LME), the area is characterized by the 
Global International Waters Assessment as severely impacted in the area 
of modification or loss of ecosystems or ecotones and health impacts, 
but these impacts are decreasing (http://www.lme.noaa.gov). The Celtic-
Biscay Shelf LME is affected by alterations to the seabed, agriculture, 
and sewage (Vald[eacute]s and Lavin, 2002). The Gulf of Guinea has been 
characterized as severely impacted in the area of solid wastes by the 
Global International Waters Assessment; this and other pollution 
indicators are increasing (http://www.lme.noaa.gov). Marine pollution, 
such as oil and debris, has been shown to negatively impact loggerheads 
and represent a degradation of the habitat (Or[oacute]s et al., 2005, 
2009; Calabuig Miranda and Liria Loza, 2007). Climate change also may 
result in future trophic changes, thus impacting loggerhead prey 
abundance and distribution.
    Additionally, fishing is a major source of ecosystem alteration of 
the neritic and oceanic habitats of loggerhead sea turtles in the 
region. Fishing effort off the western African coast is increasing and 
record low biomass has been recorded for exploited resources, 
representing a decline in fish biomass by a factor of 13 since 1960 
(see Palomares and Pauly, 2004). Throughout the North Atlantic, fishery 
landings fell by 90 percent during the 20th century, foreboding a 
trophic cascade and a change in food-web competition (Pauly et al., 
1998; Christensen et al., 2003). For a description of the exploited 
marine resources in the region, see Lamboeuf (1997). The Celtic-Biscay 
Shelf LME, the Iberian Coastal Ecosystem LME, the Canary Current LME, 
and the Guinea Current LME all are severely overfished, and effort now 
is turning to a focus on pelagic fisheries, whereas historically there 
were demersal fisheries. The impacts continue to increase in the Guinea 
Current LME despite efforts throughout the region to reduce fishing 
pressure (http://www.lme.noaa.gov).
    The threats to bottom habitat for loggerheads include modification 
of the habitat through bottom trawling. Trawling occurs off the 
European coast and the area off Northwest Africa is one of the most 
intensively trawled areas in the world (Zeeberg et al., 2006). Trawling 
has been banned in the Azores, Madeira, and Canary Islands to protect 
cold-water corals (Lutter, 2005). Although illegal, trawling also 
occurs in the Cape Verde Islands (L[oacute]pez-Jurado et al., 2003). 
The use of destructive fishing practices, such as explosives and toxic 
chemicals, has been reported in the Canary Current area, causing 
serious damage to both the resources and the habitat (Tayaa et al., 
2005).
    In summary, we find that the Northeast Atlantic Ocean DPS of the 
loggerhead sea turtle is negatively affected by ongoing changes in both 
its terrestrial and marine habitats as a result of land and water use 
practices as considered above in Factor A. Within Factor A, we find 
that sand extraction and beachfront lighting on nesting beaches are 
significant threats to the persistence of this DPS. We also find that 
anthropogenic disruptions of natural ecological interactions as a 
result of fishing practices and marine pollution are likely a 
significant threat to the persistence of this DPS.
B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes
    Deliberate hunting of loggerheads for their meat, shells, and eggs 
still exists and remains the most serious threat facing nesting turtles 
in the Northeast Atlantic. Historical records indicate turtles were 
harvested throughout Macaronesia (see L[oacute]pez-Jurado, 2007). 
Intensive exploitation has been cited for the extirpation of the 
loggerhead nesting colony in the Canary Islands (L[oacute]pez-Jurado, 
2007), and heavy human predation on nesting and foraging animals 
occurred on Santiago Island, Cape Verde, the first in the Archipelago 
to be settled (Loureiro, 2008), as well as on Sal and Sao Vicente 
islands (L[oacute]pez-Jurado, 2007). Nesting loggerheads and eggs are 
still harvested at Boa Vista, Cape Verde (Cabrera et al., 2000; 
L[oacute]pez-Jurado et al., 2003). In 2007, over 1,100 (36 percent) of 
the nesting turtles were hunted, which is about 15 percent of the 
estimated adult female population (Marco et al., 2010). In 2008, the 
military protected one of the major nesting beaches on Boa Vista where 
in 2007 55 percent of the mortality had occurred; with the additional 
protection, only 17 percent of the turtles

[[Page 58925]]

on that beach were slaughtered (Roder et al., in press). On Sal Island, 
11.5 percent of the emergences on unprotected beaches ended with 
mortality, whereas mortality was 3 percent of the emergences on 
protected beaches (Cozens et al., in press). The slaughter of nesting 
turtles is a problem wherever turtles nest in the Cape Verde Islands 
and may approach 100 percent in some places (C. Roder, Turtle 
Foundation, M[uuml]nsing, Germany, personal communication, 2009; 
Cozens, in press). The meat and eggs are consumed locally as well as 
traded among the archipelago (C. Roder, Turtle Foundation, 
M[uuml]nsing, Germany, personal communication, 2009). Hatchlings are 
collected on Sal Island, but this activity appears to be rare on other 
islands of the archipelago (J. Cozens, SOS Tartarugas, Santa Maria, Sal 
Island, Cape Verde, personal communication, 2009). Additionally, free 
divers target turtles for consumption of meat, often selectively taking 
large males (L[oacute]pez-Jurado et al., 2003). Turtles are harvested 
along the African coast and, in some areas, are considered a 
significant source of food and income due to the poverty of many 
residents along the African coast (Formia et al., 2003). Loggerhead 
carapaces are sold in markets in Morocco and Western Sahara (Fretey, 
2001; Tiwari et al., 2001; Benhardouze et al., 2004).
    In summary, overutilization for human consumption likely was a 
factor that contributed to the historical decline of this DPS. Current 
harvest of loggerhead sea turtles and eggs for human consumption in 
both Cape Verde and along the African coast, as well as the sale of 
loggerhead carapaces in markets in Africa, are a significant threat to 
the persistence of this DPS.
C. Disease or Predation
    The potential exists for diseases and endoparasites to impact 
loggerheads found in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean. Spontaneous diseases 
documented in the Northeast Atlantic include pneumonia, hepatitis, 
meningitis, septicemic processes, and neoplasia (Or[oacute]s et al., 
2005). Pneumonia could result from the aspiration of water from forced 
submergence in fishing gear. The authors also reported nephritis, 
esophagitis, nematode infestation, and eye lesions. Fibropapillomatosis 
does not appear to be an issue in the Northeast Atlantic.
    Nest depredation by ghost crabs (Ocypode cursor) occurs in Cape 
Verde (L[oacute]pez-Jurado et al., 2000). The ghost crabs feed on both 
eggs and hatchlings. Arvy et al. (2000) reported predation of 
loggerhead eggs in two nests in Mauritania by golden jackals (Canis 
aureus); a loggerhead sea turtle creating a third nest also had been 
killed, with meat and eggs eaten, but the predator was not identified.
    Loggerheads in the Northeast Atlantic also may be impacted by 
harmful algal blooms, which have been reported infrequently in the 
Canary Islands and the Iberian Coastal LME (Ramos et al., 2005; Akin-
Oriola et al., 2006; Amorim and Dale, 2006; Moita et al., 2006; http://www.lme.noaa.gov).
    In summary, disease and predation are known to occur. The best 
available data suggest these threats are potentially affecting the 
persistence of this DPS; however, quantitative data are not sufficient 
to assess the degree of impact of these threats on the persistence of 
this DPS.
D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

International Instruments

    The BRT identified several regulatory mechanisms that apply to 
loggerhead sea turtles globally and within the Northeast Atlantic 
Ocean. The reader is directed to sections 5.1.4. and 5.2.7.4. of the 
Status Review for a discussion of these regulatory mechanisms. Hykle 
(2002) and Tiwari (2002) have reviewed the effectiveness of some of 
these international instruments. The problems with existing 
international treaties are often that they have not realized their full 
potential, do not include some key countries, do not specifically 
address sea turtle conservation, and are handicapped by the lack of a 
sovereign authority to enforce environmental regulations. The 
ineffectiveness of international treaties and national legislation is 
oftentimes due to the lack of motivation or obligation by countries to 
implement and enforce them. A thorough discussion of this topic is 
available in a special 2002 issue of the Journal of International 
Wildlife Law and Policy: International Instruments and Marine Turtle 
Conservation (Hykle, 2002).

National Legislation and Protection

    Ongoing directed lethal take of nesting females and eggs (Factor 
B), low hatching and emergence success (Factors A, B, and C), and 
mortality of juvenile and adult turtles from fishery bycatch (Factor E) 
that occurs throughout the Northeast Atlantic Ocean is substantial. 
Currently, conservation efforts to protect nesting females are growing, 
and a reduction in this source of mortality is likely to continue in 
the near future. Although national and international governmental and 
non-governmental entities in the Northeast Atlantic are currently 
working toward reducing loggerhead bycatch, and some positive actions 
have been implemented, it is unlikely that this source of mortality can 
be sufficiently reduced across the range of the DPS in the near future 
because of the lack of bycatch reduction in high seas fisheries 
operating within the range of this DPS, lack of bycatch reduction in 
coastal fisheries in Africa, the lack of comprehensive information on 
fishing distribution and effort, limitations on implementing 
demonstrated effective conservation measures, geopolitical 
complexities, limitations on enforcement capacity, and lack of 
availability of comprehensive bycatch reduction technologies.
    In summary, our review of regulatory mechanisms under Factor D 
demonstrates that although regulatory mechanisms are in place that 
should address direct and incidental take of Northeast Atlantic Ocean 
loggerheads, these regulatory mechanisms are insufficient or are not 
being implemented effectively to address the needs of loggerheads. We 
find that the threat from the inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms for harvest of turtles and eggs for human consumption 
(Factor B), fishery bycatch (Factor E), and sand extraction and 
beachfront lighting on nesting beaches (Factor A) is significant 
relative to the persistence of this DPS.
E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

Incidental Bycatch in Fishing Gear

    Loggerhead sea turtles strand throughout the Northeast Atlantic 
(Fretey, 2001; Tiwari et al., 2001; Duguy et al., 2004, 2005; Witt et 
al., 2007), and there are indications that the turtles become entangled 
in nets and monofilament and swallow hooks in the region (Or[oacute]s 
et al., 2005; Calabuig Miranda and Liria Loza, 2007). On the European 
coasts, most stranded loggerheads are small (mean of less than 30 cm 
SCL), but a few are greater than 60 cm SCL (Witt et al., 2007). 
Similarly, Tiwari et al. (2001) and Benhardouze et al. (2004) indicated 
that the animals they viewed in Morocco and Western Sahara were small 
juveniles and preliminary genetic analyses of stranded turtles indicate 
that they are of western Atlantic origin (M. Tiwari, NMFS, and A. 
Bolten, University of Florida, unpublished data), whereas Fretey (2001) 
reported that loggerheads captured and stranded in Mauritania

[[Page 58926]]

were both juvenile and adult-sized animals.
    Incidental capture of sea turtles in artisanal and commercial 
fisheries is a threat to the survival of loggerheads in the Northeast 
Atlantic. Sea turtles may be caught in a multitude of gears deployed in 
the region: pelagic and demersal longlines, drift and set gillnets, 
bottom and mid-water trawling, weirs, haul and purse seines, pots and 
traps, cast nets, and hook and line gear (see Pascoe and 
Gr[eacute]boval, 2003; Bayliff et al., 2005; Tayaa et al., 2005; Dossa 
et al., 2007). Fishing effort off the western African coast has been 
increasing (see Palomares and Pauly, 2004). Impacts continue to 
increase in the Guinea Current LME, but, in contrast, the impacts are 
reported to be decreasing in the Canary Current LME (http://www.lme.noaa.gov). Throughout the region, fish stocks are depleted and 
management authorities are striving to reduce the fishing pressure.
    In the Northeast Atlantic, loggerheads, particularly the largest 
size classes in the oceanic environment (most of which are small 
juveniles), are captured in surface longline fisheries targeting 
swordfish (Ziphias gladius) and tuna (Thunnus spp.) (Ferreira et al., 
2001; Bolten, 2003). Bottom longlines in Madeira Island targeting 
black-scabbard (Aphanopus carbo) capture and kill small juvenile 
loggerhead sea turtles as the fishing depth does not allow hooked 
turtles to surface (Dellinger and Encarna[ccedil][acirc]o, 2000; 
Delgado et al., in press).
    In United Kingdom and Irish waters, loggerhead bycatch is uncommon 
but has been noted in pelagic driftnet fisheries (Pierpoint, 2000; 
Rogan and Mackey, 2007). Loggerheads have not been captured in pelagic 
trawls, demersal trawls, or gillnets in United Kingdom and Irish waters 
(Pierpoint, 2000), but have been captured in nets off France (Duguy et 
al., 2004, 2005).
    International fleets of trawl fisheries operate in Mauritania and 
have been documented to capture sea turtles, including loggerheads 
(Zeeberg et al., 2006). Despite being illegal, trawling occurs in the 
Cape Verde Islands and has the potential to capture and kill loggerhead 
sea turtles; one piece of abandoned trawl net washed ashore with eight 
live and two dead loggerheads (L[oacute]pez-Jurado et al., 2003). 
Longlines, seines, and hook and line have been documented to capture 
loggerheads 35-73 cm SCL off the northwestern Moroccan coast 
(Benhardouze, 2004).

Other Manmade and Natural Impacts

    Other anthropogenic impacts, such as boat strikes and ingestion or 
entanglement in marine debris, also apply to loggerheads in the 
Northeast Atlantic. Propeller and boat strike injuries have been 
documented in the Northeast Atlantic (Or[oacute]s et al., 2005; 
Calabuig Miranda and Liria Loza, 2007). Exposure to crude oil is also 
of concern. Loggerhead strandings in the Canary Islands have shown 
evidence of hydrocarbon exposure as well as ingestion of marine debris, 
such as plastic and monofilament (Or[oacute]s et al., 2005; Calabuig 
Miranda and Liria Loza, 2007), and in the Azores and elsewhere plastic 
debris is found both on the beaches and floating in the waters 
(Barrerios and Barcelos, 2001; Tiwari et al., 2001). Pollution from 
heavy metals is a concern for the seas around the Iberian Peninsula 
(European Environmental Agency, 1998) and in the Guinea Current LME 
(Abe et al., 2004). Bioaccumulation of metals in loggerheads has been 
measured in the Canary Islands and along the French Atlantic Coast 
(Caurant et al., 1999; Torrent et al., 2004). However, the consequences 
of long-term exposure to heavy metals are unknown (Torrent et al., 
2004).
    Natural environmental events, such as climate change, could affect 
loggerheads in the Northeast Atlantic. Similar to other areas of the 
world, climate change and sea level rise have the potential to impact 
loggerheads in the Northeast Atlantic, and the changes may be further 
exacerbated by the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. This 
includes beach erosion and loss from rising sea levels, skewed 
hatchling sex ratios from rising beach incubation temperatures, and 
abrupt disruption of ocean currents used for natural dispersal during 
the complex life cycle (Hawkes et al., 2009; Poloczanska et al., 2009). 
Climate change impacts could have profound long-term impacts on nesting 
populations in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean, but it is not possible to 
quantify the potential impacts at this point in time. Tropical and sub-
tropical storms occasionally strike the area and could have a negative 
impact on nesting, although such an impact would be of limited 
duration.
    In summary, we find that the Northeast Atlantic Ocean DPS of the 
loggerhead sea turtle is negatively affected by both natural and 
manmade impacts as described above in Factor E. Within Factor E, we 
find that fishery bycatch that occurs throughout the Northeast Atlantic 
Ocean, particularly bycatch mortality of loggerheads from longline and 
trawl fisheries, is a significant threat to the persistence of this 
DPS.

Mediterranean Sea DPS

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

Terrestrial Zone

    In the Mediterranean, some areas known to host nesting activity in 
the past have been lost to turtles (e.g., Malta) or severely degraded 
(e.g., Israel) (Margaritoulis et al., 2003). Destruction and 
modification of loggerhead nesting habitat in the Mediterranean result 
from coastal development and construction, placement of erosion control 
structures and other barriers to nesting, beachfront lighting, 
vehicular and pedestrian traffic, sand extraction, beach erosion, beach 
sand placement, beach pollution, removal of native vegetation, and 
planting of non-native vegetation (Baldwin, 1992; Margaritoulis et al., 
2003). These activities may directly impact the nesting success of 
loggerheads and survivability of eggs and hatchlings. Nesting in the 
Mediterranean almost exclusively occurs in the Eastern basin, with the 
main concentrations found in Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, and Libya 
(Margaritoulis et al., 2003; Laurent et al., 1999); therefore, the 
following threats to the nesting habitat are concentrated in these 
areas.
    The Mediterranean experiences a large influx of tourists during the 
summer months, coinciding with the nesting season. Margaritoulis et al. 
(2003) stated that extensive urbanization of the coastline, largely a 
result of tourism and recreation, is likely the most serious threat to 
loggerhead nesting areas. The large numbers of tourists that use 
Mediterranean beaches result in an increase in umbrellas, chairs, 
garbage, and towels, as well as related hotels, restaurants, and 
stationary (e.g., street lights, hotels) and moving (e.g., cars) 
lighting, all which can impact sea turtle nesting success 
(Demetropoulos, 2000). Further, the eastern Mediterranean is exposed to 
high levels of pollution and marine debris, in particular the nesting 
beaches of Cyprus, Turkey, and Egypt (Cami[ntilde]as, 2004).
    Construction and infrastructure development also have the potential 
to alter nesting beaches and subsequently impact nesting success. The 
construction of new buildings on or near nesting beaches has been a 
problem in Greece and Turkey (Cami[ntilde]as, 2004). The construction 
of a jetty and waterworks around Mersin, Turkey, has

[[Page 58927]]

contributed significantly to the continuous loss of adjacent beach 
(Cami[ntilde]as, 2004).
    Beach erosion and sand extraction also pose a problem for sea 
turtle nesting sites. The noted decline of the nesting population at 
Rethymno, Island of Crete, Greece, is partly attributed to beach 
erosion caused by construction on the high beach and at sea (e.g., 
groins) (Margaritoulis et al., 2009). A 2001 survey of Lebanese nesting 
beaches found severe erosion on beaches where previous nesting had been 
reported, and in some cases the beaches had disappeared completely 
(Venizelos et al., 2005). Definitive causes of this erosion were found 
to be sand extraction, offshore sand dredging, and sediment removal 
from river beds for construction and military purposes. Beach erosion 
also may occur from natural changes, with the same deleterious effects 
to loggerhead nesting. On Patara, Turkey, beach erosion and subsequent 
inundation by waves and shifting sand dunes are responsible for about 
half of all loggerhead nest losses (Cami[ntilde]as, 2004). Erosion can 
further be exacerbated when native dune vegetation, which enhances 
beach stability and acts as an integral buffer zone between land and 
sea, is degraded or destroyed. This in turn often leaves insufficient 
nesting opportunities above the high tide line, and nests may be washed 
out. In contrast, the planting or invasion of less stabilizing, non-
native plants can lead to increased erosion and degradation of suitable 
nesting habitat. Finally, sand extraction has been a serious problem on 
Mediterranean nesting beaches, especially in Turkey (T[uuml]rkozan and 
Baran, 1996), Cyprus (Demetropoulos and Hadjichristophorou, 1989; 
Godley et al., 1996), and Israel (Levy, 2003).
    While the most obvious effect of nesting beach destruction and 
modification may be to the existence of the actual nests, hatchlings 
are also threatened by habitat alteration. In the Mediterranean, 
disorientation of hatchlings due to artificial lighting has been 
recorded mainly in Greece (Rees, 2005; Margaritoulis et al., 2007, 
2009), Turkey (T[uuml]rkozan and Baran, 1996), and Lebanon (Newbury et 
al., 2002). Additionally, vehicle traffic on nesting beaches may 
disrupt the natural beach environment and contribute to erosion, 
especially during high tides or on narrow beaches where driving is 
concentrated on the high beach and foredune. On Zakynthos Island in 
Greece, Venizelos et al. (2006) reported that vehicles drove along the 
beach and sand dunes throughout the tourist season on East Laganas and 
Kalamaki beaches, leaving deep ruts in the sand, disturbing sea turtles 
trying to nest, and impacting hatchlings trying to reach the sea.

Neritic/Oceanic Zones

    Threats to habitat in the loggerhead neritic and oceanic zones in 
the Mediterranean Sea include fishing practices, channel dredging, sand 
extraction, marine pollution, and climate change. Trawling occurs 
throughout the Mediterranean, most notably in areas off Albania, 
Algeria, Croatia, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Libya, Morocco, 
Slovenia, Spain, Tunisia, and Turkey (Gerosa and Casale, 1999; 
Cami[ntilde]as, 2004; Casale, 2008). This fishing practice has the 
potential to destroy bottom habitat in these areas. Fishing methods 
affect neritic zones by not only impacting bottom habitat and 
incidentally capturing loggerheads but also depleting fish populations, 
and thus altering ecosystem dynamics. For example, depleted fish stocks 
in Zakynthos, Greece, likely contributed to predation of adult 
loggerheads by monk seals (Monachus monachus) (Margaritoulis et al., 
1996). Further, by depleting fish populations, the trophic dynamics 
will be altered, which may then in turn affect the ability of 
loggerheads to find prey resources. If loggerheads are not able to 
forage on the necessary prey resources, their long-term survivability 
may be impacted. Climate change also may result in future trophic 
changes, thus impacting loggerhead prey abundance and distribution.
    Marine pollution, including direct contamination and structural 
habitat degradation, can affect loggerhead neritic and oceanic habitat. 
As the Mediterranean is an enclosed sea, organic and inorganic wastes, 
toxic effluents, and other pollutants rapidly affect the ecosystem 
(Cami[ntilde]as, 2004). The Mediterranean has been declared a ``special 
area'' by the MARPOL Convention, in which deliberate petroleum 
discharges from vessels are banned, but numerous repeated offenses are 
still thought to occur (Pavlakis et al., 1996). Some estimates of the 
amount of oil released into the region are as high as 1,200,000 metric 
tons (Alpers, 1993). Direct oil spill events also occur as happened in 
Lebanon in 2006 when 10,000 to 15,000 tons of heavy fuel oil spilled 
into the eastern Mediterranean (United Nations Environment Programme, 
2007).
    Destruction and modification of loggerhead habitat also may occur 
as a result of other activities. For example, underwater explosives 
have been identified as a key threat to loggerhead habitat in 
internesting areas in the Mediterranean (Margaritoulis et al., 2003). 
Further, the Mediterranean is a site of intense tourist activity, and 
corresponding boat anchoring also may impact loggerhead habitat in the 
neritic environment.
    In summary, we find that the Mediterranean Sea DPS of the 
loggerhead sea turtle is negatively affected by ongoing changes in both 
its terrestrial and marine habitats as a result of land and water use 
practices as considered above in Factor A. Within Factor A, we find 
that coastal development, placement of barriers to nesting, beachfront 
lighting, and erosion resulting from sand extraction, offshore sand 
dredging, and sediment removal from river beds are significant threats 
to the persistence of this DPS.
B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes
    Mediterranean turtle populations were subject to severe 
exploitation until the mid-1960s (Margaritoulis et al., 2003). 
Deliberate hunting of loggerheads for their meat, shells, and eggs is 
reduced from previous exploitation levels, but still exists. For 
example, Nada and Casale (2008) found that egg collection (for 
individual consumption) still occurs in Egypt. In some areas of the 
Mediterranean, like on the Greek Island of Zakynthos, nesting beaches 
are protected (Panagopoulou et al., 2008), so egg harvest by humans in 
those areas is likely negligible.
    Exploitation of juveniles and adults still occurs in some 
Mediterranean areas. In Tunisia, clandestine trade for local 
consumption is still recorded, despite prohibition of the sale of 
turtles in fish markets in 1989 (Laurent et al., 1996). In Egypt, 
turtles are sold in fish markets despite prohibitive laws; of 71 
turtles observed at fish markets in 1995 and 1996, 68 percent were 
loggerheads (Laurent et al., 1996). Nada (2001) reported 135 turtles 
(of which 85 percent were loggerheads) slaughtered at the fish market 
of Alexandria in 6 months (December 1998-May 1999). Based on observed 
sea turtle slaughters in 1995 and 1996, Laurent et al. (1996) estimated 
that several thousand sea turtles were probably killed each year in 
Egypt. More recently, a study found that the open selling of sea 
turtles in Egypt generally has been curtailed due to enforcement 
efforts, but a high level of intentional killing for the black market 
or for direct personal consumption still exists (Nada and Casale, 
2008). Given the high numbers of turtles caught in this area, several 
hundred turtles are currently estimated to be slaughtered

[[Page 58928]]

each year in Egypt (Nada and Casale, 2008). This estimate likely 
includes both juvenile and adult loggerheads, as Egyptian fish markets 
have been documented selling different sized sea turtles. While the 
mean sea turtle size was 65.7 cm CCL (range 38-86.3 cm CCL; n = 48), 
37.5 percent of observed loggerhead samples were greater than 70 cm CCL 
(Laurent et al., 1996).
    In summary, overutilization for commercial purposes likely was a 
factor that contributed to the historical declines of this DPS. Current 
illegal harvest of loggerheads in Egypt for human consumption continues 
as a significant threat to the persistence of this DPS.
C. Disease or Predation
    The potential exists for diseases and endoparasites to impact 
loggerheads found in the Mediterranean. Endoparasites in loggerheads 
have been studied in the western Mediterranean. While the composition 
of the gastrointestinal community of sea turtles is expected to include 
digeneans, nematodes, and aspidogastreans, loggerheads in the 
Mediterranean were found to harbor only four digenean species typical 
of marine turtles (Aznar et al., 1998). There have been no records of 
fibropapillomatosis in the Mediterranean. While there is the potential 
for disease in this area, information on the prevalence of such disease 
is lacking.
    In the Mediterranean Sea, loggerhead hatchlings and eggs are 
subject to depredation by wild canids (i.e., foxes (Vulpes vulpes), 
golden jackals (Canis aureus)), feral/domestic dogs, and ghost crabs 
(Ocypode cursor) (Margaritoulis et al., 2003). Predators have caused 
the loss of 48.4 percent of loggerhead clutches at Kyparissia Bay, 
Greece (Margaritoulis, 1988), 70-80 percent at Dalyan Beach, Turkey 
(Erk'akan, 1993), 36 percent (includes green turtle clutches) in Cyprus 
(Broderick and Godley, 1996), and 44.8 percent in Libya (Laurent et 
al., 1995). A survey of the Syrian coast in 1999 found 100 percent nest 
predation, mostly due to stray dogs and humans (Venizelos et al., 
2005). Loggerhead eggs are also depredated by insect larvae in Cyprus 
(McGowan et al., 2001), Turkey ([Ouml]zdemir et al., 2004), and Greece 
(Lazou and Rees, 2006). Ghost crabs have been reported preying on 
loggerhead hatchlings in northern Cyprus and Egypt, suggesting 66 
percent of emerging hatchlings succumb to this mortality source (Simms 
et al., 2002). Predation also has been influenced by anthropogenic 
sources. On Zakynthos, Greece, a landfill site next to loggerhead 
nesting beaches has resulted in an artificially high level of seagulls 
(Larus spp.), which results in increased predation pressure on 
hatchlings (Panagopoulou et al., 2008). Planting of non-native plants 
also can have a detrimental effect on nests in the form of roots 
invading eggs (e.g., tamarisk tree (Tamarix spp.) roots invading eggs 
in Zakynthos, Greece) (Margaritoulis et al., 2007).
    Predation on adult and juvenile loggerheads has also been 
documented in the Mediterranean. Predation of nesting loggerheads by 
golden jackals has been recorded in Turkey (Peters et al., 1994). 
During a 1995 survey of loggerhead nesting in Libya, two nesting 
females were found killed by carnivores, probably jackals (Laurent et 
al., 1997). Off the sea turtle nesting beach of Zakynthos, Greece, 
adult loggerheads were found being predated upon by Mediterranean monk 
seals (Monachus monachus). Of the eight predated turtles observed or 
reported, 62.5 percent were adult males (Margaritoulis et al., 1996). 
Further, stomach contents were examined from 24 Mediterranean white 
sharks (Carcharodon carcharias), and 17 percent contained remains of 
marine turtles, including two loggerheads, one green, and one 
unidentifiable turtle (Fergusson et al., 2000). One of the loggerhead 
sea turtles ingested was a juvenile with a carapace length of 
approximately 60 cm (length not reported as either SCL or CCL). 
Fergusson et al. (2000) report that white shark interactions with sea 
turtles are likely rare east of the Ionian Sea, and while the impact of 
shark predation on turtle populations is unknown, it is probably small 
compared to other sources of mortality.
    The Mediterranean is a low-productivity body of water, with high 
water clarity as a result. However, harmful algal blooms do occur in 
this area (e.g., off Algeria in 2002), and the problem is particularly 
acute in enclosed ocean basins such as the Mediterranean. In the 
northern Adriatic Sea, fish kills have occurred as a result of noxious 
phytoplankton blooms and anoxic conditions (Mediterranean Sea LME). 
While fish may be more susceptible to these harmful algal blooms, 
loggerheads in the Mediterranean also may be impacted by such noxious 
or toxic phytoplankton to some extent.
    In summary, nest and hatchling predation likely was a factor that 
contributed to the historical decline of this DPS. The best available 
data suggest that current nest and hatchling predation on several 
Mediterranean nesting beaches is a significant threat to the 
persistence of this DPS.
D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

International Instruments

    The BRT identified several regulatory mechanisms that apply to 
loggerhead sea turtles globally and within the Mediterranean Sea. The 
reader is directed to sections 5.1.4. and 5.2.8.4. of the Status Review 
for a discussion of these regulatory mechanisms. Hykle (2002) and 
Tiwari (2002) have reviewed the effectiveness of some of these 
international instruments. The problems with existing international 
treaties are often that they have not realized their full potential, do 
not include some key countries, do not specifically address sea turtle 
conservation, and are handicapped by the lack of a sovereign authority 
to enforce environmental regulations. The ineffectiveness of 
international treaties and national legislation is oftentimes due to 
the lack of motivation or obligation by countries to implement and 
enforce them. A thorough discussion of this topic is available in a 
special 2002 issue of the Journal of International Wildlife Law and 
Policy: International Instruments and Marine Turtle Conservation 
(Hykle, 2002).

National Legislation and Protection

    Fishery bycatch that occurs throughout the Mediterranean Sea (see 
Factor E), as well as anthropogenic threats to nesting beaches (Factor 
A) and eggs/hatchlings (Factors A, B, C, and E), is substantial. 
Although conservation efforts to protect some nesting beaches are 
underway, more widespread and consistent protection is needed. Although 
national and international governmental and non-governmental entities 
in the Mediterranean Sea are currently working toward reducing 
loggerhead bycatch, it is unlikely that this source of mortality can be 
sufficiently reduced across the range of the DPS in the near future 
because of the lack of bycatch reduction in commercial and artisanal 
fisheries operating within the range of this DPS, the lack of 
comprehensive information on fishing distribution and effort, 
limitations on implementing demonstrated effective conservation 
measures, geopolitical complexities, limitations on enforcement 
capacity, and lack of availability of comprehensive bycatch reduction 
technologies.
    In summary, our review of regulatory mechanisms under Factor D 
demonstrates that although regulatory mechanisms are in place that 
should address direct and incidental take of Mediterranean Sea 
loggerheads, these

[[Page 58929]]

regulatory mechanisms are insufficient or are not being implemented 
effectively to address the needs of loggerheads. We find that the 
threat from the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms for 
fishery bycatch (Factor E) and impacts to nesting beach habitat (Factor 
A) is significant relative to the persistence of this DPS.
E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence
    Other anthropogenic and natural factors affecting loggerhead 
survival include incidental bycatch in fisheries, vessel collisions, 
marine pollution, climate change, and cyclonic storm events. Fishing 
practices alone have been estimated to result in over 150,000 sea 
turtle captures per year, with approximately 50,000 mortalities 
(Casale, 2008; Lucchetti and Sala, 2009), and sea turtle bycatch in 
multiple gears in the Mediterranean is considered among the most urgent 
conservation priorities globally (Wallace et al., 2010).
    The only estimation of loggerhead survival probabilities in the 
Mediterranean was calculated by using capture-mark-recapture techniques 
from 1981-2003 (Casale et al., 2007b). Of the 3,254 loggerheads tagged, 
134 were recaptured at different sites throughout the Mediterranean. 
Most recaptured animals were juveniles (mean 54.4 cm CCL; range 25-88 
cm CCL), but the study did not delineate between juvenile life stages. 
This research estimated a loggerhead annual survival probability of 
0.73 (95 percent confidence intervals; 0.67-0.78), recognizing that 
there are methodological limitations of the technique used. 
Nonetheless, Casale et al. (2007c) stated that assuming a natural 
survivorship no higher than 0.95 and a tag loss rate of 0.1, a range of 
0.1-0.2 appears reasonable for the additional human induced mortality 
(from all sources).

Incidental Bycatch in Fishing Gear

    Incidental capture of sea turtles in artisanal and commercial 
fisheries is a significant threat to the survivability of loggerheads 
in the Mediterranean. Sea turtles may be caught in pelagic and demersal 
longlines, drift gillnets, set gillnets and trammel nets, bottom and 
mid-water trawls, seines, dredges, traps/pots, and hook and line gear. 
In a 2004 FAO Fisheries Report, Cami[ntilde]as (2004) stated that the 
main fisheries affecting sea turtles in the Mediterranean Sea (at that 
time) were Spanish and Italian longline, North Adriatic Italian, 
Tunisian, and Turkish trawl, and Moroccan and Italian driftnet. 
Available information on sea turtle bycatch by gear type is discussed 
below. There is growing evidence that artisanal/small vessel fisheries 
(set gillnet, bottom longline, and part of the pelagic longline 
fishery) may be responsible for a comparable or higher number of 
captures with higher mortality rates than the commercial/large vessel 
fisheries (Casale, 2008) as previously suggested by indirect clues 
(Casale et al., 2005b).
    Mediterranean fish landings have increased steadily since the 
1950s, but the FAO 10-year capture trend from 1990-1999 shows stable 
landings (Mediterranean LME, http://www.lme.noaa.gov). However, stable 
fish landings may result from stable fishing effort at the same catch 
rates, or higher fishing effort at lower catch rates. As fish stocks in 
the Mediterranean are being depleted (P. Casale, MTSG-IUCN Italy, 
personal communication, 2009), fishing effort in some areas may be 
increasing to catch the available fish. This trend has not yet been 
verified throughout the Mediterranean, but fishing pressures may be 
increasing even though landings appear stable.
    Longline Fisheries. In the Mediterranean, pelagic longline 
fisheries targeting swordfish (Ziphias gladius) and albacore (Thunnus 
alalunga) may be the primary source of loggerhead bycatch. It appears 
that most of the incidental captures occur in the western and central 
portions of the area (Demetropoulos and Hadjichristophorou, 1995). The 
most severe bycatch in the Mediterranean occurs around the Balearic 
Islands where 1,950-35,000 juveniles are caught annually in the surface 
longline fishery (Mayol and Castell[oacute] Mas, 1983; Cami[ntilde]as, 
1988, 1997; Aguilar et al., 1995). Specifically, the following regions 
have reported annual estimates of total turtle bycatch from pelagic 
longlines: Spain--17,000 to 35,000 turtles (Aguilar et al., 1995; 
Cami[ntilde]as et al., 2003); Italy (Ionian Sea)--1,084 to 4,447 
turtles (Deflorio et al., 2005); Morocco--3,000 turtles (Laurent, 
1990); Greece--280 to 3,310 turtles (Panou et al., 1999; Kapantagakis 
and Lioudakis, 2006); Italy (Lampedusa)--2,100 turtles (Casale et al., 
2007c); Malta--1,500 to 2,500 turtles (Gramentz, 1989); South Tunisia 
(Gulf of Gab[egrave]s)--486 turtles (Jribi et al., 2008); and Algeria--
300 turtles (Laurent, 1990).
    For the entire Mediterranean pelagic longline fishery, an 
extrapolation resulted in a bycatch estimate of 60,000 to 80,000 
loggerheads in 2000 (Lewison et al., 2004). Further, a more recent 
paper used the best available information to estimate that Spain, 
Morocco, and Italy have the highest level of sea turtle bycatch, with 
over 10,000 turtle captures per year for each country, and Greece, 
Malta, Libya, and Tunisia each catch 1,000 to 3,000 turtles per year 
(Casale, 2008). Available data suggest the annual number of loggerhead 
sea turtle captures by all Mediterranean pelagic longline fisheries may 
be greater than 50,000 (Casale, 2008). Note that these are not 
necessarily individual turtles, as the same sea turtle can be captured 
more than once.
    Mortality estimates in the pelagic longline fishery at gear 
retrieval appear to be lower than in some other types of gear (e.g., 
set gillnet). Although limited to observations of direct mortality at 
gear retrieval, Carreras et al. (2004) found mortality to be low (0-7.7 
percent) in the longline fishery off the Balearic Islands, and Jribi et 
al. (2008) reported 0 percent direct mortality in the southern Tunisia 
surface longline fishery. These estimates are consistent with those 
found in other areas; direct mortality was estimated at 4.3 percent in 
Greece (n = 23), 0 percent in Italy (n = 214), and 2.6 percent in Spain 
(n = 676) (Laurent et al., 2001). However, considering injured turtles 
and those released with hooks, the potential for mortality is likely 
much higher. Based upon observations of hooked loggerhead sea turtles 
in captivity, Aguilar et al. (1995) estimated 20-30 percent of animals 
caught in longline gear may eventually die. More recently, Casale et 
al. (2008b) reported, given variations in hook position affecting 
survivability, the mortality rate of turtles caught by pelagic 
longlines could be higher than previously thought (17-42 percent; 
Lewison et al., 2004). Considering direct and post-release mortality, 
Casale (2008) used a conservative approach to arrive at 40 percent for 
the average mortality from Mediterranean pelagic longlines. The result 
is an estimated 20,000 turtles killed per year by pelagic longlines 
(Casale, 2008).
    In general, most of the turtles captured in the Mediterranean 
surface longline fisheries are juvenile animals (Aguilar et al., 1995; 
Panou et al., 1999; Cami[ntilde]as et al., 2003; Casale et al., 2007c; 
Jribi et al., 2008), but some adult loggerhead bycatch is also 
reported. Considering data from many Mediterranean areas and research 
studies, the average size of turtles caught by pelagic longlines was 
48.9 cm CCL (range 20.5-79.2 cm CCL; n = 1868) (Casale, 2008). 
Specifically, in the Spanish surface longline fishery, 13 percent of 
estimated carapace sizes (n = 455) ranged from 75.36 to 107 cm CCL, 
considered to be adult animals (Cami[ntilde]as et al., 2003), and in 
the Ionian Sea, 15

[[Page 58930]]

percent of a total 157 loggerhead sea turtles captured in swordfish 
longlines were adult animals (estimated size at greater than or equal 
to 75 cm) (Panou et al., 1999).
    Bottom longlines are also fished in the Mediterranean, but specific 
capture rates for loggerheads are largely unknown for many areas. The 
countries with the highest number of documented captures (in the 
thousands per year) are Tunisia, Libya, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, 
and Italy (Casale, 2008). Available data suggest the annual number of 
loggerhead sea turtle captures (not necessarily individual turtles) by 
all Mediterranean demersal longliners may be greater than 35,000 
(Casale, 2008). Given available information and using a conservative 
approach, mortality from bottom longlines may be at least equal to 
pelagic longline mortality (40 percent; Casale, 2008). The result is an 
estimated 14,000 turtles killed per year in Mediterranean bottom 
longlines (Casale, 2008). It is likely that these animals represent 
mostly juvenile loggerheads, Casale (2008) reported an average turtle 
size of 51.8 cm CCL (n = 35) in bottom longlines based on available 
data throughout the Mediterranean.
    Artisanal longline fisheries also have the potential to take sea 
turtles. A survey of 54 small boat (4-10 meter length) artisanal 
fishermen in Cyprus and Turkey resulted in an estimated minimum bycatch 
of over 2,000 turtles per year, with an estimated 10 percent mortality 
rate (Godley et al., 1998a). These small boats fished with a 
combination of longlines and trammel/gillnets. However, note that it is 
likely that a proportion (perhaps a large proportion) of the turtle 
bycatch estimated in this study are green turtles.
    Set Net (Gillnet) Fisheries. As in other areas, sea turtles have 
the potential to interact with set nets (gillnets or trammel nets) in 
the Mediterranean. Mediterranean set nets refer to gillnets (a single 
layer of net) and trammel nets, which consist of three layers of net 
with different mesh size. Casale (2008) estimated that the countries 
with the highest number of loggerhead captures (in the thousands per 
year) are Tunisia, Libya, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, and Croatia. Italy, 
Morocco, Egypt, and France likely have high capture rates as well. 
Available information suggests the annual number of loggerhead captures 
by Mediterranean set nets may be greater than 30,000 (Casale, 2008).
    Due to the nature of the gear and fishing practices (e.g., 
relatively long soak times), incidental capture in gillnets is among 
the highest source of direct sea turtle mortality. An evaluation of 
turtles tagged then recaptured in gillnets along the Italian coast 
found 14 of 19 loggerheads (73.7 percent) to be dead (Argano et al., 
1992). Gillnets off France were observed to capture six loggerheads 
with a 50 percent mortality rate (Laurent, 1991). Six loggerheads were 
recovered in gillnets off Croatia between 1993 and 1996; 83 percent 
were found dead (Lazar et al., 2000). Off the Balearic Islands, 196 sea 
turtles were estimated to be captured in lobster trammel nets in 2001, 
with a CPUE of 0.17 turtles per vessel (Carreras et al., 2004). 
Mortality estimates for this artisanal lobster trammel net fishery 
ranged from 78 to 100 percent. Given this mortality rate and the number 
of turtles reported in lobster trammel nets, Carreras et al. (2004) 
estimate that a few thousand loggerhead sea turtles are killed annually 
by lobster trammel nets in the whole western Mediterranean. Considering 
data throughout the entire Mediterranean, as well as a conservative 
approach, Casale (2008) considered mortality by set nets to be 60 
percent, with a resulting estimate of 16,000 turtles killed per year. 
Most of these animals are likely juveniles; Casale (2008) evaluated 
available set net catch data throughout the Mediterranean and found an 
average size of 45.4 cm CCL (n = 74).
    As noted above, artisanal set net fisheries also may capture 
numerous sea turtles, as observed off Cyprus and Turkey (Godley et al., 
1998a).
    Driftnet Fisheries. Historically, driftnet fishing in the 
Mediterranean caught large numbers of sea turtles. An estimated 16,000 
turtles were captured annually in the Ionian Sea driftnet fishery in 
the 1980s (De Metrio and Megalofonou, 1988). The United Nations 
established a worldwide moratorium on driftnet fishing effective in 
1992, but unregulated driftnetting continued to occur in the 
Mediterranean. For instance, a bycatch estimate of 236 loggerhead sea 
turtles was developed for the Spanish swordfish driftnet fishery in 
1994 (Silvani et al., 1999). While the Spanish fleet curtailed activity 
in 1994, the Moroccan, Turkish, French, and Italian driftnet fleets 
continued to operate. Tudela et al. (2005) presented bycatch rates for 
driftnet fisheries in the Alboran Sea and off Italy. The Moroccan 
Alboran Sea driftnet fleet bycatch rate ranged from 0.21 to 0.78 
loggerheads per haul, whereas the Italian driftnet fleet had a lower 
bycatch rate of 0.046 to 0.057 loggerheads per haul (Di Natale, 1995; 
Cami[ntilde]as, 1997; Silvani et al., 1999). The use of driftnets in 
the Mediterranean continues to be illegal: the General Fisheries 
Commission for the Mediterranean prohibited driftnet fishing in 1997; a 
total ban on driftnet fishing by the European Union fleet in the 
Mediterranean went into effect in 2002; and ICCAT banned driftnets in 
2003. Nevertheless, there are an estimated 600 illegal driftnet vessels 
operating in the Mediterranean, including fleets based in Algeria, 
France, Italy, Morocco, and Turkey (Environmental Justice Foundation, 
2007). In particular, the Moroccan fleet, operating in the Alboran Sea 
and Straits of Gibraltar, comprises the bulk of Mediterranean 
driftnetting, and has been found responsible for high bycatch, 
including loggerhead sea turtles (Environmental Justice Foundation, 
2007; Aksissou et al., 2010). Driftnet fishing in the Mediterranean, 
and accompanying threats to loggerhead sea turtles, continues to occur.
    Trawl Fisheries. Sea turtles are known to be incidentally captured 
in trawls in Albania, Algeria, Croatia, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, 
Libya, Morocco, Slovenia, Spain, Tunisia, and Turkey (Gerosa and 
Casale, 1999; Cami[ntilde]as, 2004; Casale, 2008). Laurent et al. 
(1996) estimated that approximately 10,000 to 15,000 sea turtles (most 
of which are loggerheads) are captured by bottom trawling in the entire 
Mediterranean. More recently, Casale (2008) compiled available trawl 
bycatch data throughout the Mediterranean and reported that Italy and 
Tunisia have the highest level of sea turtle bycatch, potentially over 
20,000 captures per year combined, and Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, 
and Libya each catch more than 2,000 turtles per year. Further, Spain 
and Albania may each capture a few hundred sea turtles per year 
(Casale, 2008). Available data suggest the annual number of sea turtle 
captures by all Mediterranean trawlers may be greater than 40,000 
(Casale, 2008). Although juveniles are incidentally captured in trawl 
gear in many areas of the Mediterranean (Casale et al., 2004, 2007c; 
Jribi et al., 2007), adult turtles are also found. In Egypt, 25 percent 
of loggerheads captured in bottom trawl gear (n = 16) were greater than 
or equal to 70 cm CCL, and in Tunisia, 26.2 percent (n = 62) were of 
this larger size class (Laurent et al., 1996). Off Lampedusa Island, 
Italy, the average size of turtles caught by bottom trawlers was 51.8 
cm CCL (range 22-87 cm CCL; n = 368), and approximately 10 percent of 
the animals measured greater than 75 cm CCL (Casale et al., 2007c). For 
all areas of the Mediterranean, Casale (2008) reported that medium to 
large turtles are generally caught by

[[Page 58931]]

bottom trawl gear (mean 53.9 cm CCL; range 22-87 cm CCL; n = 648).
    While there is a notable interaction rate in the Mediterranean, it 
appears that the mortality associated with trawling is relatively low. 
Incidents of mortality have ranged from 3.3 percent (n = 60) in Tunisia 
(Jribi et al., 2007) and 3.3 percent (n = 92) in France (Laurent, 1991) 
to 9.4 percent (n = 32) in Italy (Casale et al., 2004). Casale et al. 
(2004) found that mortality would be higher if all comatose turtles 
were assumed to die. It also should be noted that the mortality rate in 
trawls depends on the duration of the haul, with longer haul durations 
resulting in higher mortality rates (Henwood and Stuntz, 1987; Sasso 
and Epperly, 2006). Jribi et al. (2007) stated that the low recorded 
mortality in the Gulf of Gab[egrave]s is likely due to the short haul 
durations in this area. Based on available information from multiple 
areas of the Mediterranean, and assuming that comatose animals die if 
released in that condition, the overall average mortality rate for 
bottom trawlers was estimated to be 20 percent (Casale, 2008). This 
results in at least 7,400 turtles killed per year by bottom trawlers in 
all of the Mediterranean, but the number is likely more than 10,000 
(Casale, 2008).
    Mid-water trawling may have less total impact on sea turtles found 
in the Mediterranean than some other gear types, but interactions still 
occur. Casale et al. (2004) found that while no turtles were caught on 
observed mid-water trawl trips in the North Adriatic Sea, vessel 
captains reported 13 sea turtles captured from April to September. 
Considering total fishing effort, these reports resulted in a minimum 
total catch estimate of 161 turtles a year in the Italian mid-water 
trawl fishery. Off Turkey, 71 loggerheads were captured in mid-water 
trawls from 1995-1996, while 43 loggerheads were incidentally taken in 
bottom trawls (Oru[ccedil], 2001). In this same study, of a total 320 
turtles captured in mid-water trawls (loggerheads and greens combined), 
95 percent were captured alive and apparently healthy. While the total 
catch numbers throughout the Mediterranean have not been estimated, 
mid-water trawl fisheries do present a threat to loggerhead sea 
turtles.
    Other Gear Types. Seine, dredge, trap/pot, and hook and line 
fisheries operate in Mediterranean waters and may affect loggerhead sea 
turtles, although incidental captures in these gear types are largely 
unknown (Cami[ntilde]as, 2004). Artisanal fisheries using a variety of 
gear types also have the potential for sea turtle takes, but the 
effects of most artisanal gear types on sea turtles have not been 
estimated.

Other Manmade and Natural Impacts

    Other anthropogenic threats, such as interactions with recreational 
and commercial vessels, marine pollution, and intentional killing, also 
impact loggerheads found in the Mediterranean. Propeller and collision 
injuries from boats and ships are becoming more common in sea turtles, 
although it is unclear as to whether the events are increasing or just 
the reporting of the injuries. Speedboat impacts are of particular 
concern in areas of intense tourist activity, such as Greece and 
Turkey. Losses of nesting females from vessel collisions have been 
documented in Zakynthos and Crete in Greece (Cami[ntilde]as, 2004). In 
the Gulf of Naples, 28.1 percent of loggerheads recovered from 1993-
1996 had injuries attributed to boat strikes (Bentivegna and 
Paglialonga, 1998). Along the Greece coastline from 1997-1999, boat 
strikes were reported as a seasonal phenomenon in stranded turtles 
(Kopsida et al., 2002), but numbers were not presented.
    Direct or indirect disposal of anthropogenic debris introduces 
potentially lethal materials into loggerhead foraging habitats. 
Unattended or discarded nets, floating plastics and bags, and tar balls 
are of particular concern (Cami[ntilde]as, 2004; Margaritoulis, 2007). 
Monofilament netting appears to be the most dangerous waste produced by 
the fishing industry (Cami[ntilde]as, 2004). In the Mediterranean, 20 
of 99 loggerhead sea turtles examined from Maltese fisheries were found 
contaminated with plastic or metal litter and hydrocarbons, with crude 
oil being the most common pollutant (Gramentz, 1988). Of 54 juvenile 
loggerhead sea turtles incidentally caught by fisheries in Spanish 
Mediterranean waters, 79.6 percent had debris in their digestive tracts 
(Tom[aacute]s et al., 2002). In this study, plastics were the most 
frequent type of marine debris observed (75.9 percent), followed by tar 
(25.9 percent). However, an examination of stranded sea turtles in 
Northern Cyprus and Turkey found that only 3 of 98 animals were 
affected by marine debris (Godley et al., 1998b).
    Pollutant waste in the marine environment may impact loggerheads, 
likely more than other sea turtle species. Omnivorous loggerheads 
stranded in Cyprus, Greece, and Scotland had the highest organochlorine 
contaminant concentrations, as compared to green and leatherback 
turtles (Mckenzie et al., 1999). In northern Cyprus, Godley et al. 
(1999) found heavy metal concentrations (mercury, cadmium, and lead) to 
be higher in loggerheads than green turtles. Even so, concentrations of 
contaminants from sea turtles in Mediterranean waters were found to be 
comparable to other areas, generally with levels lower than 
concentrations shown to cause deleterious effects in other species 
(Godley et al., 1999; Mckenzie et al., 1999). However, lead 
concentrations in some Mediterranean loggerhead hatchlings were at 
levels known to cause toxic effects in other vertebrate groups (Godley 
et al., 1999).
    As in other areas of the world, intentional killing or injuring of 
sea turtles has been reported to occur in the Mediterranean. Of 524 
strandings in Greece, it appeared that 23 percent had been 
intentionally killed or injured (Kopsida et al., 2002). While some 
turtles incidentally captured are used for consumption, it has been 
reported that some fishermen kill the sea turtles they catch for a 
variety of other reasons, including non-commercial use, hostility, 
prejudice, recovery of hooks, and ignorance (Laurent et al., 1996; 
Godley et al., 1998a; Gerosa and Casale, 1999; Casale, 2008).
    Natural environmental events also may affect loggerheads in the 
Mediterranean. Cyclonic storms that closely resemble tropical cyclones 
in satellite images occasionally form over the Mediterranean Sea 
(Emanuel, 2005). While hurricanes typically do not occur in the 
Mediterranean, researchers have suggested that climate change could 
trigger hurricane development in this area in the future (Gaertner et 
al., 2007). Any significant storm event that may develop could disrupt 
loggerhead nesting activity and hatchling production, but the results 
are generally localized and rarely result in whole-scale losses over 
multiple nesting seasons.
    Similar to other areas of the world, climate change and sea level 
rise have the potential to impact loggerheads in the Mediterranean. 
Over the long term, Mediterranean turtle populations could be 
threatened by the alteration of thermal sand characteristics (from 
global warming), resulting in the reduction or cessation of female 
hatchling production (Cami[ntilde]as, 2004; Hawkes et al., 2009; 
Poloczanska et al., 2009). Further, a significant rise in sea level 
would restrict loggerhead nesting habitat in the eastern Mediterranean.
    In summary, we find that the Mediterranean Sea DPS of the 
loggerhead sea turtle is negatively affected by both natural and 
manmade impacts as described above in Factor E. Within Factor E, we 
find that fishery bycatch that occurs throughout the

[[Page 58932]]

Mediterranean Sea, particularly bycatch mortality of loggerheads from 
pelagic and bottom longline, set net, driftnet, and trawl fisheries, is 
a significant threat to the persistence of this DPS. In addition, boat 
strikes are becoming more common and are likely also a significant 
threat to the persistence of this DPS.

South Atlantic Ocean DPS

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

Terrestrial Zone

    Destruction and modification of loggerhead nesting habitat in the 
South Atlantic result from coastal development and construction, 
placement of erosion control structures and other barriers to nesting, 
beachfront lighting, vehicular and pedestrian traffic, sand extraction, 
beach erosion, beach sand placement, beach pollution, removal of native 
vegetation, and planting of non-native vegetation (D'Amato and 
Marczwski, 1993; Marcovaldi and Marcovaldi, 1999; Naro-Maciel et al., 
1999; Marcovaldi et al., 2002b, 2005; Marcovaldi, 2007).
    The primary nesting areas for loggerheads in the South Atlantic are 
in the States of Sergipe, Bahia, Esp[iacute]rito Santo, and Rio de 
Janeiro in Brazil (Marcovaldi and Marcovaldi, 1999). These primary 
nesting areas are monitored by Projeto TAMAR, the national sea turtle 
conservation program in Brazil. Since 1980, Projeto TAMAR has worked to 
establish legal protection for nesting beaches (Marcovaldi and 
Marcovaldi, 1999). As such, human activities, including sand 
extraction, beach nourishment, seawall construction, beach driving, and 
artificial lighting, that can negatively impact sea turtle nesting 
habitat, as well as directly impact nesting turtles and their eggs and 
hatchlings during the reproductive season, are restricted by various 
State and Federal laws (Marcovaldi and Marcovaldi, 1999; Marcovaldi et 
al., 2002b, 2005). Nevertheless, tourism development in coastal areas 
in Brazil is high, and Projeto TAMAR works toward raising awareness of 
turtles and their conservation needs through educational and 
informational activities at their Visitor Centers that are dispersed 
throughout the nesting areas (Marcovaldi et al., 2005).
    In terms of non-native vegetation, the majority of nesting beaches 
in northern Bahia, where loggerhead nesting density is highest in 
Brazil (Marcovaldi and Chaloupka, 2007), have coconut plantations 
dating back to the 17th century backing them (Naro-Maciel et al., 
1999). It is impossible to assess whether this structured habitat has 
resulted in long-term changes to the loggerhead nesting rookery in 
northern Bahia.

Neritic/Oceanic Zones

    Human activities that impact bottom habitat in the loggerhead 
neritic and oceanic zones in the South Atlantic Ocean include fishing 
practices, channel dredging, sand extraction, marine pollution, and 
climate change (e.g., Ibe, 1996; Silva et al., 1997). General human 
activities have altered ocean ecosystems, as identified by ecosystem 
models (http://www.lme.noaa.gov). On the western side of the South 
Atlantic, the Brazil Current LME region is characterized by the Global 
International Waters Assessment as suffering severe impacts in the 
areas of pollution, coastal habitat modification, and overexploitation 
of fish stocks (Marques et al., 2004). The Patagonian Shelf LME is 
moderately affected by pollution, habitat modification, and overfishing 
(Mugetti et al., 2004). On the eastern side of the South Atlantic, the 
Benguela Current LME has been characterized as moderately impacted in 
the area of overfishing, with future conditions expected to worsen by 
the Global International Waters Assessment (Prochazka et al., 2005). 
Climate change also may result in future trophic changes, thus 
impacting loggerhead prey abundance and distribution.
    In summary, we find that the South Atlantic Ocean DPS of the 
loggerhead sea turtle is negatively affected by ongoing changes in its 
marine habitats as a result of land and water use practices as 
considered above in Factor A. The best available data suggest that 
threats to neritic and oceanic habitats are potentially affecting the 
persistence of this DPS; however, sufficient data are not available to 
assess the significance of these threats to the persistence of this 
DPS.
B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes
    Deliberate hunting of loggerheads for their meat, shells, and eggs 
is reduced from previous exploitation levels, but still exists. Limited 
numbers of eggs are taken for human consumption in Brazil, but the 
relative amount is considered minor when compared to historical rates 
of egg collection (Marcovaldi and Marcovaldi, 1999; Marcovaldi et al., 
2005; Almeida and Mendes, 2007). Use of sea turtles including 
loggerheads for medicinal purposes occasionally occurs in northeastern 
Brazil (Alves and Rosa, 2006). Use of bycaught loggerheads for 
subsistence and medicinal purposes is likely to occur in southern 
Atlantic Africa, based on information from central West Africa (Fretey, 
2001; Fretey et al., 2007).
    In summary, the harvest of loggerheads in Brazil for their meat, 
shells, and eggs likely was a factor that contributed to the historical 
decline of this DPS. However, current harvest levels are greatly 
reduced from historical levels. Although harvest is known to still 
occur in Brazil and southern Atlantic Africa, it no longer appears to 
be a significant threat to the persistence of this DPS.
C. Disease or Predation
    The potential exists for diseases and endoparasites to impact 
loggerheads found in the South Atlantic Ocean. There have been five 
confirmed cases of fibropapillomatosis in loggerheads in Brazil 
(Baptistotte, 2007). There is no indication that this disease poses a 
major threat for this species in the eastern South Atlantic (Formia et 
al., 2007).
    Eggs and nests in Brazil experience depredation, primarily by foxes 
(Marcovaldi and Laurent, 1996). Nests laid by loggerheads in the 
southern Atlantic African coastline, if any, likely experience similar 
predation pressures to those on nests of other species laid in the same 
area (e.g., jackals depredate green turtle nests in Angola; Weir et 
al., 2007).
    Loggerheads in the South Atlantic also may be impacted by harmful 
algal blooms (Gilbert et al., 2005).
    In summary, disease and predation are known to occur. The best 
available data suggest these threats are potentially affecting the 
persistence of this DPS; however, quantitative data are not sufficient 
to assess the degree of impact of these threats on the persistence of 
this DPS.
D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

International Instruments

    The BRT identified several regulatory mechanisms that apply to 
loggerhead sea turtles globally and within the South Atlantic Ocean. 
The reader is directed to sections 5.1.4. and 5.2.9.4. of the Status 
Review for a discussion of these regulatory mechanisms. Hykle (2002) 
and Tiwari (2002) have reviewed the effectiveness of some of these 
international instruments. The problems with existing international 
treaties are often that they have not realized their full potential, do 
not include some key countries, do not specifically address

[[Page 58933]]

sea turtle conservation, and are handicapped by the lack of a sovereign 
authority to enforce environmental regulations. The ineffectiveness of 
international treaties and national legislation is oftentimes due to 
the lack of motivation or obligation by countries to implement and 
enforce them. A thorough discussion of this topic is available in a 
special 2002 issue of the Journal of International Wildlife Law and 
Policy: International Instruments and Marine Turtle Conservation 
(Hykle, 2002).

National Legislation and Protection

    Fishery bycatch that occurs throughout the South Atlantic Ocean is 
substantial (see Factor E). Although national and international 
governmental and non-governmental entities on both sides of the South 
Atlantic are currently working toward reducing loggerhead bycatch in 
the South Atlantic, it is unlikely that this source of mortality can be 
sufficiently reduced across the range of the DPS in the near future 
because of the diversity and magnitude of the commercial and artisanal 
fisheries operating in the South Atlantic, the lack of comprehensive 
information on fishing distribution and effort, limitations on 
implementing demonstrated effective conservation measures, geopolitical 
complexities, limitations on enforcement capacity, and lack of 
availability of comprehensive bycatch reduction technologies.
    In the primary nesting areas in the States of Sergipe, Bahia, 
Esp[iacute]rito Santo, and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, human activities, 
including sand extraction, beach nourishment, seawall construction, 
beach driving, and artificial lighting, are restricted by various State 
and Federal laws (Marcovaldi and Marcovaldi, 1999; Marcovaldi et al., 
2002b, 2005).
    In summary, our review of regulatory mechanisms under Factor D 
demonstrates that although regulatory mechanisms are in place that 
should address direct and incidental take of South Atlantic Ocean 
loggerheads, these regulatory mechanisms are insufficient or are not 
being implemented effectively to address the needs of loggerheads. We 
find that the threat from the inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms for fishery bycatch (Factor E) is significant relative to 
the persistence of this DPS.
E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

Incidental Bycatch in Fishing Gear

    Incidental capture of sea turtles in artisanal and commercial 
fisheries is a significant threat to the survivability of loggerheads 
in the South Atlantic. Sea turtles may be caught in pelagic and 
demersal longlines, drift and set gillnets, bottom and mid-water 
trawling, fishing dredges, pound nets and weirs, haul and purse seines, 
pots and traps, and hook and line gear. In the western South Atlantic, 
there are various efforts aimed at mitigating bycatch of sea turtles in 
various fisheries. In Brazil, there is the National Action Plan to 
Reduce Incidental Capture of Sea Turtles in Fisheries, coordinated by 
Projeto TAMAR (Marcovaldi et al., 2006). This action plan focuses on 
both artisanal and commercial fisheries, and collects data directly 
from fishers as well as on-board observers. Although loggerheads have 
been observed as bycatch in all fishing gear and methods identified 
above, Marcovaldi et al. (2006) have identified longlining as the major 
source of incidental capture of loggerhead sea turtles. Reports of 
loggerhead bycatch by pelagic longlines come mostly from the southern 
portion of the Brazilian Exclusive Economic Zone, between 20[deg] S. 
and 35[deg] S. latitude. Bugoni et al. (2008) reported a loggerhead 
bycatch rate of 0.52 juvenile turtles/1,000 hooks by surface longlines 
targeting dolphinfish. Pinedo and Polacheck (2004) reported seasonal 
variation in bycatch of juvenile loggerheads (and other sea turtle 
species) by pelagic longlines in the same region of Brazil, with the 
highest rates (1.85 turtles/1,000 hooks) in the austral spring. Kotas 
et al. (2004) reported the highest rates of loggerhead bycatch (greater 
than 10 turtles/1,000 hooks) by pelagic longlines in the austral 
summer/fall months. A study based on several years found that the 
highest rate of loggerhead bycatch in pelagic longlines off Uruguay and 
Brazil was in the late austral summer month of February: 2.72 turtles/
1,000 hooks (L[oacute]pez-Medilaharsu et al., 2007). Sales et al. 
(2008) reported a loggerhead bycatch rate of 0.87/1,000 hooks near the 
Rio Grande Elevacao do Rio Grande, about 600 nautical miles off the 
coast of southern Brazil. In Uruguayan waters, the primary fisheries 
with loggerhead bycatch are bottom trawlers and longlines (Domingo et 
al., 2006). Domingo et al. (2008) reported bycatch rates of loggerheads 
of 0.9-1.3/1,000 hooks by longline deployed south of 30[deg] S. 
latitude. In waters off Argentina, bottom trawlers also catch some 
loggerheads (Domingo et al., 2006).
    In the eastern South Atlantic, sea turtle bycatch in fisheries has 
been documented from Gabon to South Africa (Fretey, 2001). Limited data 
are available on bycatch of loggerheads in coastal fisheries, although 
loggerheads are known (or strongly suspected) to occur in coastal 
waters from Gabon to South Africa (Fretey, 2001; Bal et al., 2007; Weir 
et al., 2007). Coastal fisheries implicated in bycatch of loggerheads 
and other turtles include gillnets, beach seines, and trawlers (Bal et 
al., 2007).
    In the high seas, longlines are used by fishing boats targeting 
tuna and swordfish in the eastern South Atlantic. A recent study by 
Honig et al. (2008) estimates 7,600-120,000 sea turtles are 
incidentally captured by commercial longlines fishing in the Benguela 
Current LME; 60 percent of these are loggerheads. Petersen et al. 
(2007, 2009) reported that the rate of loggerhead bycatch in South 
African longliners was around 0.02 turtles/1,000 hooks, largely in the 
Benguela Current LME. In the middle of the South Atlantic, loggerhead 
bycatch by longlines was reported to be low, relative to other regions 
in the Atlantic (Mejuto et al., 2008).

Other Manmade and Natural Impacts

    Other anthropogenic impacts, such as boat strikes and ingestion or 
entanglement in marine debris, also apply to loggerheads in the South 
Atlantic. Bugoni et al. (2001) have suggested the ingestion of plastic 
and oil may contribute to loggerhead mortality on the southern coast of 
Brazil. Plastic marine debris in the eastern South Atlantic also may 
pose a problem for loggerheads and other sea turtles (Ryan, 1996). 
Similar to other areas of the world, climate change and sea level rise 
have the potential to impact loggerheads in the South Atlantic. This 
includes beach erosion and loss from rising sea levels, repeated 
inundation of nests, skewed hatchling sex ratios from rising beach 
incubation temperatures, and abrupt disruption of ocean currents used 
for natural dispersal during the complex life cycle (Hawkes et al., 
2009; Poloczanska et al., 2009). Climate change impacts could have 
profound long-term impacts on nesting populations in the South Atlantic 
Ocean, as is the case for all DPSs, but at this time we cannot predict 
what those impacts may be.
    Oil reserve exploration and extraction activities also may pose a 
threat for sea turtles in the South Atlantic. Seismic surveys in Brazil 
and Angola have recorded sea turtle occurrences near the seismic work 
(Gurj[atilde]o et al., 2005; Weir et al., 2007). While no sea turtle 
takes were directly observed on these surveys, increased equipment and 
presence in the water that is associated with these

[[Page 58934]]

activities also increases the likelihood of sea turtle interactions 
(Weir et al., 2007).
    Natural environmental events may affect loggerheads in the South 
Atlantic. However, while a rare hurricane hit Brazil in March 2004, 
typically hurricanes do not occur in the South Atlantic (McTaggart-
Cowan et al., 2006). This is generally due to higher windspeeds aloft, 
preventing the storms from gaining height and therefore strength.
    In summary, we find that the South Atlantic Ocean DPS of the 
loggerhead sea turtle is negatively affected by both natural and 
manmade impacts as described above in Factor E. Within Factor E, we 
find that fishery bycatch, particularly bycatch mortality of 
loggerheads from pelagic longline fisheries, is a significant threat to 
the persistence of this DPS.

Supplemental Extinction Risk Assessments

    In addition to the status evaluation and Section 4(a)(1) 5-factor 
analysis provided above, the BRT conducted two independent analyses to 
further assess extinction risks of the nine identified DPSs. Although 
these analyses provided some additional insights into the status of the 
nine DPSs, ultimately the conclusions and determinations made were 
primarily based on an assessment of population sizes and trends, 
current and anticipated threats, and conservation efforts for each DPS.
    The first analysis used the diffusion approximation approach based 
on time series of counts of nesting females (Lande and Orzack, 1988; 
Dennis et al., 1991; Holmes, 2001; Snover and Heppell, 2009). This 
analysis provided a metric (SQE) to determine if the probability of a 
population's risk of quasi-extinction is high enough to warrant a 
particular listing status (Snover and Heppell, 2009). The term ``quasi-
extinction'' is defined by Ginzburg et al. (1982) as the minimum number 
of individuals (often females) below which the population is likely to 
be critically and immediately imperiled. The diffusion approximation 
approach is based on stochastic projections of observed trends and 
variability in the numbers of mature females at various nesting 
beaches. The second analysis used a deterministic stage-based 
population model that focused on determining the effects of known 
anthropogenic mortalities on each DPS with respect to the vital rates 
of the species. Anthropogenic mortalities were added to natural 
mortalities and possible ranges of population growth rates were 
computed as another metric of population health. Because this approach 
is based on matrix models, the BRT referred to it as a threat matrix 
analysis. This approach focused on how additional mortalities may 
affect the future growth and recovery rate of a loggerhead sea turtle 
DPS. The first approach (SQE) was solely based on the available time-
series data on the numbers of nests at nesting beaches, whereas the 
second approach (threat matrix analysis) was based on the known biology 
of the species, natural mortality rates, and anthropogenic mortalities, 
independent of observed nesting beach data.
    The BRT found that for three of five DPSs with sufficient data to 
conduct the SQE analysis (North Pacific Ocean, South Pacific Ocean, and 
Northwest Atlantic Ocean), these DPSs were at risk of declining to 
levels that are less than 30 percent of the current numbers of nesting 
females (QETs <0.30). The BRT found that for the other two DPSs with 
sufficient data to conduct the SQE analysis (Southwest Indian Ocean and 
South Atlantic Ocean), the risk of declining to any level of quasi-
extinction is negligible using the SQE analysis because of the observed 
increases in the nesting females in both DPSs. There were not enough 
data to conduct the SQE analysis for the North Indian Ocean, Southeast 
Indo-Pacific Ocean, Northeast Atlantic Ocean, and Mediterranean Sea 
DPSs. It is important to note that the BRT's analysis was not based on 
the actual population size at the end of the 100-year projection 
period, but was based on reaching a certain proportion (2.5 and 97.5 
percent) of the current population size. Thus, it is possible to 
greatly diminish a population but still have a large population size 
after 100 years.
    According to the threat matrix analysis using a majority of 
experts' opinions in the matrix model framework, the BRT determined 
that all loggerhead sea turtle DPSs have the potential to decline in 
the future. Although some DPSs are indicating increasing trends at 
nesting beaches (Southwest Indian Ocean and South Atlantic Ocean), 
available information about anthropogenic threats to juvenile and adult 
loggerheads in neritic and oceanic environments indicate possible 
unsustainable additional mortalities. According to the threat matrix 
analysis, the potential for future decline is greatest for the North 
Indian Ocean, Northwest Atlantic Ocean, Northeast Atlantic Ocean, 
Mediterranean Sea, and South Atlantic Ocean DPSs.
    The BRT's approach to the risk analysis presented several important 
points. First, the lack of precise estimates of age at first 
reproduction hindered precise assessment of the status of any DPS. 
Within the range of possible ages at first reproduction of the species, 
however, some DPSs could decline rapidly regardless of the exact age at 
first reproduction because of high anthropogenic mortality.
    Second, the lack of precise estimates of anthropogenic mortalities 
resulted in a wide range of possible status using the threat matrix 
analysis. For the best case scenario, a DPS may be considered healthy, 
whereas for the worst case scenario the same DPS may be considered as 
declining rapidly. The precise prognosis of each DPS relies on 
obtaining precise estimates of anthropogenic mortality and vital rates.
    Third, the assessment of a population without the information on 
natural and anthropogenic mortalities is difficult. Because of the 
longevity of the species, loggerhead sea turtles require high survival 
rates throughout their life to maintain a population. Anthropogenic 
mortality on the species occurs at every stage of their life, where the 
exact magnitude of the mortality is often unknown. As described in the 
Status Review, the upper end of natural mortality can be computed from 
available information.
    Nesting beach count data for the North Pacific Ocean DPS indicated 
a decline of loggerhead sea turtle nesting in the last 20 years. The 
SQE approach reflected the observed decline. However, in the threat 
matrix analysis, the asymptotic population growth rates ([lambda]) with 
anthropogenic mortalities ranged from less than one to greater than 
one, indicating a large uncertainty about the future of the DPS. 
Fishery bycatch along the coast of the Baja Peninsula and the nearshore 
waters of Japan are the main known sources of mortalities. Mortalities 
in the high-seas, where a large number of juvenile loggerhead sea 
turtles reside (Kobayashi et al., 2008), from fishery bycatch are still 
unknown.
    The SQE approach indicated that, based on nest count data from the 
mid-1970s through the early to mid-2000s, the South Pacific Ocean DPS 
is at risk and thus likely to decline in the future. These results were 
based on recently published nesting census data for loggerhead sea 
turtles at index beaches in eastern Australia (Limpus, 2009). The 
threat matrix analysis provided uncertain results: in the case of the 
lowest anthropogenic threats, the South Pacific Ocean DPS may recover, 
but in the worst-case scenario, the DPS may substantially decline in 
the future. These results are largely driven by the ongoing threats to 
juvenile and adult loggerheads from fishery bycatch that

[[Page 58935]]

occur throughout the South Pacific Ocean and the uncertainty in 
estimated mortalities.
    For the North Indian Ocean DPS, there were no nesting beach data 
available to conduct the SQE analysis. The threat matrix analysis 
indicated a decline of the DPS in the future, primarily as a result of 
fishery bycatch in neritic habitats. Cumulatively, substantial threats 
may exist for eggs/hatchlings. Because of the lack of precise estimates 
of bycatch, however, the range of possible [lambda] values was large.
    Similar to the North Indian Ocean DPS, no nesting beach data were 
available for the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS. The level of 
anthropogenic mortalities is low for the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean 
DPS, based on the best available information, resulting in relatively 
large P[lambda] (the proportion of [lambda] values greater 
than 1) and a narrow range. The greatest threats for the Southeast 
Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS exist for the first year of the life stages 
(eggs and hatchlings).
    For the Southwest Indian Ocean DPS, the SQE approach, based on a 
37-year time series of nesting female counts at Tongaland, South Africa 
(1963-1999), indicated this segment of the population, while small, has 
increased, and the likelihood of quasi-extinction is negligible. The 
threat matrix analysis, on the other hand, provided a wide range of 
results: In the best case scenario, the DPS would grow slowly, whereas 
in the worst case scenario, the DPS would decline in the future. The 
results of the threat matrix analysis were driven by uncertainty in 
anthropogenic mortalities in the neritic environment and the eggs/
hatchlings stage.
    Within the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS, four of the five 
identified recovery units have adequate time series data for applying 
the original SQE analysis; these are the Northern, Peninsular Florida, 
Northern Gulf of Mexico, and Greater Caribbean Recovery Units. The 
original SQE analysis indicated differences in SQEs among these four 
recovery units. Although the Northern Gulf of Mexico Recovery Unit 
indicated the worst result among the four recovery units assessed the 
length of the time series was shortest (12 data points). The other 
three recovery units, however, appeared to show similar declining 
trends, which were indicated through the SQE approach. A revision of 
the SQE analysis, however, had different results. Including nesting 
data through 2009 instead of just 2007, and redoing the analysis to use 
a range of adult female abundance estimates as QETs, it was determined 
that there was little risk (SQE <0.3) of the Peninsular Florida 
Recovery Unit (comprising approximately 80 percent of the Northwest 
Atlantic Ocean DPS) reaching 1,000 or fewer females in 100 years. This 
revised analysis was done by the same member of the BRT that performed 
the original SQE analysis. The threat matrix analysis indicated a 
likely decline of the DPS in the future. The greatest threats to the 
DPS result from cumulative fishery bycatch in neritic and oceanic 
habitats.
    Sufficient nesting beach data for the Northeast Atlantic Ocean DPS 
were not available to conduct the SQE analysis. The high likelihood of 
the predicted decline of the Northeast Atlantic Ocean DPS from the 
threat matrix analysis is largely driven by the ongoing harvest of 
nesting females, low hatchling and emergence success, and mortality of 
juvenile and adult turtles from fishery bycatch throughout the 
Northeast Atlantic Ocean. The threat matrix analysis indicated a 
consistently pessimistic future for the DPS.
    Representative nesting beach data for the Mediterranean Sea DPS 
were not available to conduct the SQE analysis. The threat matrix 
analysis indicated the DPS is likely to decline in the future. The 
primary threats are fishery bycatch in neritic and oceanic habitats.
    The two approaches for determining risks to the South Atlantic 
Ocean DPS provided different, although not incompatible, results. The 
SQE approach indicated that, based on nest count data for the past 2 
decades, the population was unlikely to decline in the future. These 
results were based on recently published nesting beach trend analyses 
by Marcovaldi and Chaloupka (2007) and this QET analysis was consistent 
with their conclusions. However, the SQE approach was based on past 
performance of the DPS, specifically only nesting beach data, and did 
not address ongoing or future threats to segments of the DPS that might 
not have been or might not yet be reflected by nest count data. The 
threat matrix approach indicated that the South Atlantic Ocean DPS is 
likely to decline in the future. These results were largely driven by 
the ongoing mortality threats to juvenile turtles from fishery bycatch 
that occurs throughout the South Atlantic Ocean. Although conservation 
efforts by national and international groups in the South Atlantic are 
currently working toward mitigating bycatch in the South Atlantic, it 
is unlikely that this source of mortality can be greatly reduced in the 
near future, largely due to inadequate funding and knowledge gaps that 
together inhibit implementation of large-scale management actions 
(Domingo et al., 2006).

Conservation Efforts

    When considering the listing of a species, section 4(b)(1)(A) of 
the ESA requires us to consider efforts by any State, foreign nation, 
or political subdivision of a State or foreign nation to protect the 
species. Such efforts would include measures by Native American tribes 
and organizations. Also, Federal, tribal, State, and foreign recovery 
actions (16 U.S.C. 1533(f)), and Federal consultation requirements (16 
U.S.C. 1536) constitute conservation measures. In addition to 
identifying these efforts, under the ESA and our policy implementing 
this provision (68 FR 15100; March 28, 2003) we must evaluate the 
certainty of an effort's effectiveness on the basis of whether the 
effort or plan establishes specific conservation objectives; identifies 
the necessary steps to reduce threats or factors for decline; includes 
quantifiable performance measures for the monitoring of compliance and 
effectiveness; incorporates the principles of adaptive management; is 
likely to be implemented; and is likely to improve the species' 
viability at the time of the listing determination.

North Pacific Ocean DPS

    NMFS has formalized two conservation actions to protect foraging 
loggerheads in the North Pacific Ocean, both of which were implemented 
to reduce loggerhead bycatch in U.S. fisheries. Prior to 2001, the 
Hawaii-based longline fishery had annual interaction levels of 300 to 
500 loggerhead sea turtles. The temporary closure of the shallow-set 
swordfish fishery in 2001 in large part over concerns of turtle 
interactions brought about the immediate need to develop effective 
solutions to reduce turtle interactions while maintaining the viability 
of the industry. Since the reopening of the swordfish sector in 2004, 
the fishery has operated under strict management measures, including 
the use of large circle hooks and fish bait, restricted annual effort, 
annual caps on loggerhead interactions (17 annually), and 100 percent 
onboard observer coverage (50 CFR 665.3). As a result of these 
measures, loggerhead interactions in the swordfish fishery have been 
reduced by over 90 percent (Gilman et al., 2007). Furthermore, in 2003, 
NMFS implemented a time/area closure in southern California during 
forecasted or existing El Ni[ntilde]o-like conditions to reduce the 
take of loggerheads in the California/Oregon drift gillnet fishery (68 
FR 69962;

[[Page 58936]]

December 16, 2003). While this closure has not been implemented since 
the passage of these regulations due to the lack of conditions 
occurring in the area, such a closure is expected to reduce 
interactions between the large-mesh gillnet fishery and loggerheads by 
over 70 percent. NMFS has also developed a mapping product known as 
TurtleWatch that provides a near real time product that recommends 
areas where the deployment of pelagic longline shallow sets should be 
avoided to help reduce interactions between Hawaii-based pelagic 
longline fishing vessels and loggerhead sea turtles (Howell et al., 
2008).
    Loggerhead interactions and mortalities with coastal fisheries in 
Mexico and Japan are of concern and are considered a major threat to 
North Pacific loggerhead recovery. NMFS and U.S. non-governmental 
organizations have worked with international entities to: (1) Assess 
bycatch mortality through systematic stranding surveys in Baja 
California Sur, Mexico; (2) reduce interactions and mortalities in two 
bottom-set fisheries in Mexico; (3) conduct gear mitigation trials to 
reduce bycatch in Japanese pound nets; and (4) convey information to 
fishers and other stakeholders through participatory activities, events 
and outreach.
    In 2003, the Grupo Tortuguero's ProCaguama (Operation Loggerhead) 
was initiated to partner directly with fishermen to assess and mitigate 
their bycatch while maintaining fisheries sustainability in Baja 
California, Mexico. ProCaguama's fisher-scientist team discovered the 
highest turtle bycatch rates documented worldwide and has made 
considerable progress in mitigating anthropogenic mortality in Mexican 
waters (Peckham et al., 2007, 2008). As a result of the 2006 and 2007 
tri-national fishermen's exchanges run by ProCaguama, Sea Turtle 
Association of Japan, and the Western Pacific Fisheries Management 
Council, in 2007 a prominent Baja California Sur fleet retired its 
bottom-set longlines (Peckham et al., 2008; Peckham and Maldonado-Diaz, 
in press). Prior to this closure, the longline fleet interacted with an 
estimated 1,160-2,174 loggerheads annually, with nearly all (89 
percent) of the takes resulting in mortalities (Peckham et al., 2008). 
Because this fleet no longer interacts with loggerheads, conservation 
efforts have resulted in the continued protection of approximately 
1,160-2,174 juvenile loggerheads annually.
    Led by the Mexican wildlife service (Vida Silvestre), a Federal 
loggerhead bycatch reduction task force was organized in 2008 to ensure 
loggerheads receive the protection they are afforded by Mexican law. 
The task force is comprised of Federal and State agencies, in addition 
to non-governmental organizations, to address the bycatch problem, 
meeting ProCaguama's bottom-up initiatives with complementary top-down 
management and enforcement resources. In 2009, while testing a variety 
of potential solutions, ProCaguama's fisher-scientist team demonstrated 
the commercial viability of substituting bycatch-free hook fishing for 
gillnet fishing. Local fishers are interested in adoption of this gear 
because the technique results in higher quality catch offering access 
to higher-value markets and potentially higher sustainability with zero 
bycatch. ProCaguama, in coordination with the task force, is working to 
develop a market-based bycatch solution consisting of hook 
substitution, training to augment ex-vessel fish value, development of 
fisheries infrastructure, linkage of local fleets with regional and 
international markets, and concurrent strengthening of local fisheries 
management.
    The United States has also funded non-governmental organizations to 
convey bycatch solutions to local fishers as well as to educate 
communities on the protection of all sea turtles (i.e., reduce directed 
harvest). The effectiveness of these efforts are difficult to quantify 
without several post-outreach years of documenting reductions in sea 
turtle strandings, directed takes, or bycatch in local fisheries.
    Due to concerns of high adult loggerhead mortality in mid-water 
pound nets, as documented in 2006, Sea Turtle Association of Japan 
researchers began to engage the pound net operators in an effort to 
study the impact and reduce sea turtle bycatch. This work was expanded 
in 2008 with U.S. support and, similar to outreach efforts in Mexico, 
is intended to engage local fishermen in conservation throughout 
several Japanese prefectures. Research opportunities will be developed 
with and for local fishermen in order to assess and mitigate bycatch.
    The Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), an 
intergovernmental organization established in 1967 to promote 
sustainable fisheries development, also has made progress in managing 
sea turtle bycatch in the North Pacific region. SEAFDEC activities 
include research for the enhancement of sea turtle populations that is 
comprised of a sea turtle tagging and satellite telemetry study aimed 
at determining migration routes, inter-nesting and foraging habitats, 
and other relevant biological information of sea turtles in the region; 
investigation of the interaction between fisheries activities and sea 
turtle mortality; and an assessment of the effectiveness of the use of 
TEDs and circle hooks in reducing sea turtle mortality (SEAFDEC 2009, 
2010). Since 2003, with the assistance of the United States, the Sea 
Turtle Association of Japan and, in recent years with the Grupo 
Tortuguero, has conducted nesting beach monitoring and management at 
several major loggerhead nesting beaches, with the intent of increasing 
the number of beaches surveyed and protected. Due to logistical 
problems and costs, the Sea Turtle Association of Japan's program had 
been limited to five primary rookeries. At these areas, hatchling 
production has been augmented through: (1) Relocation of doomed nests; 
and (2) protection of nests in situ from trampling, desiccation, and 
predation. Between 2004 and 2008, management activities have been 
successful with over 160,000 hatchlings released from relocated nests 
that would have otherwise been lost to inundation or erosion, with many 
more hatchlings produced from in situ nests.
    The United States plans to continue supporting this project in the 
foreseeable future, increasing relocation activities at other high-
density nesting beaches, implementing predator control activities to 
reduce predation by raccoon dogs and raccoons, and assessing the 
effects of light pollution at a major nesting beach (Maehama Beach). 
Determination of hatching success will also be initiated at several key 
nesting beaches (Inakahama, Maehama, Yotsuse, and Kurio, all in 
Yakushima) to provide information to support the removal of armoring 
structures and to evaluate the success of relocation and other nest 
protection activities. Outreach and education activities in coastal 
cities will increase public awareness of problems with foot traffic, 
light pollution, and armoring.
    Egg harvest was common in Japan until the 1970s, when several of 
the major nesting areas (notably Yakushima and Miyazaki) led locally 
based efforts to ban or eliminate egg harvest. As a result, egg harvest 
at Japanese nesting beaches was eliminated by the early 1980s.
    The establishment of the Sea Turtle Association of Japan in 1990 
created a network of individuals and organizations conducting sea 
turtle monitoring and conservation activities in Japan for the first 
time. The Sea Turtle Association of Japan also served

[[Page 58937]]

to standardize data collection methods (for tagging and measuring). The 
Association greatly depends on its members around Japan to gather 
nesting data as well as to conduct various conservation measures.
    Shoreline erosion and bycatch are some of the major concerns the 
Sea Turtle Association of Japan is dealing with today. Much of Japan's 
coastline is ``armored'' using concrete structures to prevent and 
minimize impacts to coastal communities from natural disasters. These 
structures have resulted in a number of nesting beaches losing sand 
suitable for sea turtle nesting, and nests are often relocated to safe 
areas or hatcheries to protect them from further erosion and 
inundation. In recent years, a portion of the concrete structures at a 
beach in Toyohashi City, Aichi Prefecture, was experimentally removed 
to create better nesting habitat. The Sea Turtle Association of Japan, 
along with various other organizations in Japan, are carrying out 
discussions with local and Federal Government agencies to develop 
further solutions to the beach erosion issue and to maintain viable 
nesting sites. Beach erosion and armament still remain one of the most 
significant threats to nesting beaches in Japan.
    While conservation efforts for the North Pacific Ocean DPS are 
substantive and improving and may be reflected in the recent increases 
in the number of nesting females, they still remain inadequate to 
ensure the long-term viability of the population. For example, while 
most of the major nesting beaches are monitored, some of the management 
measures in place are inadequate and may be inappropriate. On some 
beaches, hatchling releases are coordinated with the tourist industry 
or nests are being trampled on or are unprotected. The largest threat 
on the nesting beach, reduced availability of habitat due to heavy 
armament and subsequent erosion, is just beginning to be addressed but 
without immediate attention may ultimately result in the demise of the 
highest density beaches. Efforts to reduce loggerhead bycatch in known 
coastal fisheries off Baja California, Mexico, and Japan is 
encouraging, but concerns remain regarding the mortalities of adult and 
juvenile turtles in mid-water pound nets and the high costs that may be 
involved in replacing or mitigating this gear. With these coastal 
fishery threats still emerging, there has not yet been sufficient 
time--or a nationwide understanding of the threat--to develop 
appropriate conservation strategies or work to fully engage with the 
government of Japan. Greater international cooperation and 
implementation of the use of circle hooks in longline fisheries 
operating in the North Pacific Ocean is necessary, as well as 
understanding fishery related impacts in the South China Sea. Further, 
it is suspected that there are substantial impacts from illegal, 
unreported, and unregulated fishing, which we are unable to mitigate 
without additional fisheries management efforts and international 
collaborations. While conservation projects for this population have 
been in place since 2004 for some important areas, efforts in other 
areas are still being developed to address major threats, including 
fisheries bycatch and long-term nesting habitat protection.

South Pacific Ocean DPS

    The New Caledonia Aquarium and NMFS have collaborated since 2007 to 
address and influence management measures of the regional fishery 
management organization. Their intent is to reduce pelagic fishery 
interactions with sea turtles through increased understanding of 
pelagic habitat use by South Pacific loggerheads using satellite 
telemetry, oceanographic analysis, and juvenile loggerheads reared at 
the Aquarium. NMFS augments this effort by supporting animal husbandry, 
education and outreach activities coordinated through the New Caledonia 
Aquarium to build capacity, and public awareness regarding turtle 
conservation in general.
    The United States has collaborated on at-sea conservation of sea 
turtles with Chile under the US-Chile Fisheries Cooperation Agreement, 
and with Peru in collaboration with El Instituto del Mar del Peru and 
local non-governmental organizations. Research from this collaboration 
showed that loggerheads of southwestern Pacific stock origin interact 
with commercial and artisanal longline fisheries off the South American 
coast. NMFS has supported efforts by Chile to reduce bycatch and 
mortality by placing observers that have been trained and equipped to 
dehook, resuscitate, and release loggerheads on vessels. Since 2002, 
Chile also has closed the northernmost sector where the loggerheads 
interactions occur to longline fishing (Miguel Donoso, Pacifico Laud, 
personal communication, 2009). Local non-governmental organizations, 
such as Pacifico Laud (Chile), Associacion Pro Delphinus (Peru), and 
Areas Costeras y Recursos Marinos (Peru), have been engaged in outreach 
and conservation activities promoting loggerhead bycatch reduction, 
with support from NMFS.
    Coastal trawl fisheries also threaten juvenile and adult 
loggerheads foraging off eastern Australia, particularly the northern 
Australian prawn fishery (estimated to take between 5,000 and 6,000 
turtles annually in the late 1980s/early 1990s). However, since the 
introduction and requirement for these fisheries to use TEDs in 2000, 
that threat has been drastically reduced, to an estimated 200 turtles/
year (Robins et al., 2002a). TEDs were also made mandatory in the 
Queensland East Coast trawl fisheries (2000), the Torres Strait prawn 
fishery (2002), and the Western Australian prawn and scallop fisheries 
(2002) (Limpus, 2009).
    Predation of loggerhead eggs by foxes was a major threat to nests 
laid in eastern Australia through the late 1970s, particularly on Mon 
Repos and Wreck Rock. Harassment by local residents and researchers, as 
well as baiting and shooting, discouraged foxes from encroaching on the 
nesting beach at Mon Repos so that by the mid-1970s predation levels 
had declined to trivial levels. At Wreck Rock, fox predation was 
intense through the mid-1980s, with a 90-95 percent predation rate 
documented. Fox baiting was introduced at Wreck Rock and some adjacent 
beaches in 1987, and has been successful at reducing the predation rate 
to low levels by the late 1990s (Limpus, 2009). To reduce the risk of 
hatchling disorientation due to artificial lighting inland of the 
nesting beaches adjacent to Mon Repos and Heron Island, low pressure 
sodium vapor lights have been installed or, where lighting has not been 
controlled, eggs are relocated to artificial nests on nearby dark 
beaches. Limpus (2009) reported that hatchling mortality due to altered 
light horizons on the Woongara coast has been reduced to a handful of 
clutches annually.
    Since the Great Barrier Reef's listing on the United Nations 
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's World Heritage List 
in 1981, protection of habitats within the GBRWHA has increased, with 
the current zone-based management plan enacted in 2004 (Dryden et al., 
2008). Nesting habitat protection has also increased with the addition 
of indigenous co-management plans and ecotourism regulations at Mon 
Repos (M. Hamann, James Cook University, personal communication, 2010).
    While most of the conservation efforts for the South Pacific Ocean 
DPS are long-term, substantive, and improving, given the low number of 
nesting females, the declining trends, and major threats that are just 
beginning to be addressed, they still remain inadequate to ensure the 
long-term viability of the

[[Page 58938]]

population. The use of TEDs in most of the major trawl fisheries in 
Australia has certainly reduced the bycatch of juvenile and adult 
turtles, as has the reduction in fox predation on important nesting 
beaches. However, the intense effort by longline fisheries in the South 
Pacific, particularly from artisanal fleets operating out of Peru, and 
its estimated impact on this loggerhead population, particularly 
oceanic juveniles, remains a significant threat that is just beginning 
to be addressed by most participating countries, including the regional 
fishery management council(s) that manages many of these fleets. 
Modeling by Chaloupka (2003) showed the impact of this fleet poses a 
greater risk than either fox predation at major nesting beaches (90 
percent egg loss per year during unmanaged periods) or past high 
mortalities in coastal trawl fisheries. The recent sea turtle 
conservation resolution by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries 
Commission, requiring longline fleets to use specific gear and collect 
information on bycatch, is encouraging but took effect in January 2010, 
so improvement in the status of this population may not be realized for 
many years. Potentially important pelagic foraging habitat in areas of 
high fishing intensity remains poorly studied but is improving through 
U.S. and international collaborations. While a comprehensive 
conservation program for this population has been in place for 
important nesting beaches, efforts in other areas are still being 
developed to address major threats, including fisheries bycatch.

North Indian Ocean DPS

    The main threats to North Indian Ocean loggerheads are fishery 
bycatch and nesting beach habitat loss and degradation. Royal Decree 
53/81 prohibits the hunting of turtles and eggs in Oman. The Ministry 
of Environment and Climate Affairs (MECA) and Environmental Society of 
Oman (ESO) are collaborating to carry out a number of conservation 
measures at Masirah Island for the nesting loggerhead population. First 
and foremost are standardized annual nesting surveys to monitor 
population trends. Standardized surveys were first implemented in 2008. 
Less complete nesting surveys have been conducted in some previous 
years beginning in 1977, but the data have yet to be adequately 
analyzed to determine their usefulness in determining population size 
and trends. Nine kilometers of nesting habitat within the Masirah Air 
Force Base is largely protected from tourist development but remains 
subject to light pollution from military operations. The remaining 50 
kilometers of loggerhead nesting beaches are not protected from egg 
harvest, lighting, or beach driving. Currently, MECA is in the process 
of developing a protected area proposal for Masirah Island that will 
address needed protection of nesting beaches, including protection from 
egg collection and beach driving. In the meantime, development is 
continuing and it is uncertain how much, when, and if nesting habitat 
will receive adequate protection. MECA is beginning to regulate 
artificial lighting in new development. In 2010, a major outreach 
effort in the form of a Turtle Celebration Day is planned at Masirah 
Island to raise greater awareness of the local communities about the 
global importance of the Masirah Island loggerhead nesting population 
and to increase community involvement in conservation efforts. Nesting 
surveys are also being conducted on the Halaniyat Islands. There are no 
specific efforts underway to designate Halaniyat nesting beaches as 
Protected Areas in the face of proposed development plans. Although 
important management actions are underway on the nesting beaches, their 
effectiveness has yet to be determined and the potential for strong 
habitat protection and restoration of degraded nesting habitat remains 
uncertain. At present, hatchling production is not measured.
    The only research that has been conducted on the nesting population 
to date was a study of internesting and post-nesting movements 
conducted in 2006 when 20 nesting females were fitted with satellite 
transmitters. This research identified important inter-seasonal 
foraging grounds but is considered incomplete, and additional nesting 
females were satellite tagged in 2011 to assess clutch frequency, 
determine inter-nesting and post-nesting movements, and identify 
potential overlap of loggerhead habitat use with coastal fisheries. In 
2009, efforts to investigate loggerhead bycatch in gillnet fisheries at 
Masirah were initiated, and some fisherman are cooperating and 
documenting bycatch.
    While conservation efforts for the North Indian Ocean loggerhead 
DPS are substantive and improving, they still remain inadequate to 
ensure the long-term viability of the population. For example, there is 
currently no assessment of hatchling production on the main nesting 
beaches, no efforts underway to restore the largely degraded nesting 
habitat on the major nesting beaches, and little understanding or 
knowledge of foraging grounds for juveniles or adults and the extent of 
their interactions with fisheries. There is no information on bycatch 
from fisheries off the main nesting beaches other than reports that 
this bycatch occurs. A comprehensive conservation program for this 
population is under development, but is incomplete relative to 
fisheries bycatch and long-term nesting habitat protection.

Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS

    The level of anthropogenic mortalities is low for the Southeast 
Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS, based on the best available information. 
However, there are many known opportunities for conservation efforts 
that would aid recovery. Some significant conservation efforts are 
underway.
    One of the principal nesting beaches for this DPS, Australia's Dirk 
Hartog Island, is part of the Shark Bay World Heritage Area and 
recently became part of Australia's National Park System. This 
designation may facilitate monitoring of nesting beaches and 
enforcement of prohibitions on direct take of loggerheads and their 
eggs. Loggerheads are listed as Endangered under Australia's 
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act of 1999.
    Conservation efforts on nesting beaches have included invasive 
predator control. On the North West Cape and the beaches of the 
Ningaloo coast of mainland Australia, a long established feral European 
red fox (Vulpes vulpes) population preyed heavily on eggs and is 
thought to be responsible for the lower numbers of nesting turtles on 
the mainland beaches (Baldwin et al., 2003). Fox populations have been 
eradicated on Dirk Hartog Island and Murion Islands (Baldwin et al., 
2003), and threat abatement plans have been implemented for the control 
of foxes (1999) and feral pigs (2005).
    In 2000, the use of TEDs in the Northern Australian Prawn Fishery 
(NPF) was made mandatory. Prior to the use of TEDs in this fishery, the 
NPF annually took between 5,000 and 6,000 sea turtles as bycatch, with 
a mortality rate estimated to be 40 percent (Poiner and Harris, 1996). 
Since the mandatory use of TEDs has been in effect, the annual bycatch 
of sea turtles in the NPF has dropped to less than 200 sea turtles per 
year, with a mortality rate of approximately 22 percent (based on 
recent years). Initial progress has been made to measure the threat of 
incidental capture of sea turtles in other artisanal and commercial 
fisheries in the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean (Lewison et al., 2004; 
Limpus, 2009); however, the data remain inadequate for population 
assessment.

[[Page 58939]]

    As in other DPSs, persistent marine debris poses entanglement and 
ingestion hazards to loggerheads. In 2009, Australia's Department of 
the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts published a threat 
abatement plan for the impacts of marine debris on vertebrate marine 
life.
    In spite of these conservation efforts, considerable uncertainty in 
the status of this DPS lies with inadequate efforts to measure bycatch 
in the region, a short time-series of monitoring on nesting beaches, 
and missing vital rates data necessary for population assessments.

Southwest Indian Ocean DPS

    The Southwest Indian Ocean DPS is small but has experienced an 
increase in numbers of nesting females. Although there is considerable 
uncertainty in anthropogenic mortalities, especially in the water, the 
DPS may have benefitted from important conservation efforts at the 
nesting beaches.
    All principal nesting beaches, centered in South Africa, are within 
protected areas (Baldwin et al., 2003). In Mozambique, nesting beaches 
in the Maputo Special Reserve (approximately 60 kilometers of nesting 
beach) and in the Paradise Islands are also within protected areas 
(Baldwin et al., 2003; Costa et al., 2007).
    The international regulatory mechanisms described in Section 5.1.4. 
of the Status Review apply to loggerheads found in the Southwest Indian 
Ocean. In addition, loggerheads of this DPS benefit from the Indian 
Ocean-South-East Asian Marine Turtle Memorandum of Understanding 
(IOSEA) and the Nairobi Convention for the Protection, Management and 
Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Eastern 
African Region.
    In spite of these conservation efforts, caution in the status of 
this DPS lies with its small population size, inadequate efforts to 
measure bycatch in the region, and missing vital rates data necessary 
for population assessments.

Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS

    The main threats to Northwest Atlantic Ocean loggerheads include 
fishery bycatch mortality, particularly in gillnet, longline, and trawl 
fisheries; nesting beach habitat loss and degradation (e.g., beachfront 
lighting, coastal armoring); and ingestion of marine debris during the 
epipelagic lifestage. In addition, mortality from vessel strikes is 
increasing and likely also a significant threat to this DPS.
    Mortality resulting from domestic and international commercial 
fishing is the most significant threat to Northwest Atlantic 
loggerheads. Fishing gear types include gillnets, trawls, hook and line 
(e.g., longlines), seines, dredges, and various types of pots/traps. 
Among these, gillnets, longlines, and trawl gear collectively result in 
tens of thousands of Northwest Atlantic loggerhead deaths annually 
throughout their range (see for example, NMFS, 2002, 2004; Lewison et 
al., 2004; Wallace et al., 2008, 2010).
    Considerable effort has been expended since the 1980s to document 
and reduce commercial fishing bycatch mortality. NMFS has implemented 
observer programs in many federally managed and some State-managed 
fisheries to collect turtle bycatch data and estimate mortality. NMFS, 
working with industry and other partners, has reduced bycatch in some 
fisheries by developing technological solutions to prevent capture or 
to allow most turtles to escape without harm (e.g., TEDs), by 
implementing time and area closures to prevent interactions from 
occurring (e.g., prohibitions on gillnet fishing along the mid-Atlantic 
coast during the periods of high loggerhead abundance), and by 
modifying gear (e.g., requirements to reduce mesh size in the leaders 
of pound nets to prevent entanglement, requirements to use large circle 
hooks with certain bait types in segments of the pelagic longline 
fishery). Many of these measures have been implemented within the 
lifetime of one generation of loggerhead sea turtles, and thus the 
conservation benefits may not yet be observed on the nesting beaches. 
NMFS is currently working to implement a coastwide, comprehensive 
strategy to reduce bycatch of sea turtles in State and Federal 
fisheries in the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. This approach was 
developed to address sea turtle bycatch issues on a per-gear basis, 
rather than a fishery by fishery basis, with a goal of developing and 
implementing coastwide solutions for reducing turtle bycatch inshore, 
nearshore, and offshore.
    The development and implementation of TEDs in the shrimp trawl 
fishery is arguably the most significant conservation accomplishment 
for Northwest Atlantic loggerheads in the marine environment since 
their listing. In the southeastern United States and Gulf of Mexico, 
TEDs have been mandatory in shrimp and flounder trawls for over a 
decade. However, TEDs are not required in all trawl fisheries, and 
significant loggerhead mortality continues in some trawl fisheries. In 
addition, enforcement of TED regulations depends on available 
resources, and illegal or improperly installed TEDs continue to 
contribute to mortality. Current observer coverage in the shrimp 
fishery is very limited, at around 2 percent of total directed effort, 
as a result of the size of the fishery and the expense of observer 
programs.
    Gillnets of various mesh sizes are used extensively to harvest fish 
in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. All size classes of 
loggerheads in coastal waters are prone to entanglement in gillnets, 
and, generally, the larger the mesh size the more likely that turtles 
will become entangled. State resource agencies and NMFS have been 
addressing this issue on several fronts. In the southeastern United 
States, gillnets are prohibited in the State waters of South Carolina, 
Georgia, Florida, and Texas and are restricted to fishing for pompano 
and mullet in saltwater areas of Louisiana. Reducing bycatch of 
loggerheads in the remaining State and federally regulated gillnet 
fisheries of the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico has not been fully 
accomplished. NMFS has addressed the issue for several federally 
managed fisheries, such as the large-mesh gillnet fishery (primarily 
for monkfish) along the Atlantic coast, where gillnets larger than 8-
inch stretched mesh are now regulated in North Carolina and Virginia 
through rolling closures timed to match the northward migration of 
loggerheads along the mid-Atlantic coast in late spring and early 
summer. The State of North Carolina, working with NMFS through the ESA 
section 10 process, has been making some progress in reducing bycatch 
of loggerheads in gillnet fisheries operating in Pamlico Sound though 
that fishery predominantly catches green and Kemp's ridley turtles, 
with loggerheads accounting for a smaller percentage. The large mesh 
driftnet fishery for sharks off the Atlantic coast of Florida and 
Georgia remains a concern as do gillnet fisheries operating elsewhere 
in the range of the DPS, including Mexico and Cuba.
    Observer programs have documented significant bycatch of 
loggerheads in the U.S. longline fishery operating in the Atlantic 
Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. In recent years, NMFS has dedicated 
significant funding and effort to address this bycatch issue. In 
partnership with academia and industry, NMFS has funded and conducted 
field experiments in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean to develop gear 
modifications that eliminate or significantly reduce loggerhead bycatch 
and mortality. As a result of these experiments, NMFS now requires the 
use of circle hooks fleet-wide and larger circle hooks in combination 
with whole finfish bait in the Northeast Distant area (69 FR 40734; 
July 6, 2004). Gear limitations, seasonal restrictions, and sea turtle 
release gear

[[Page 58940]]

and handling requirements in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic 
bottom longline fisheries are also expected to reduce loggerhead 
bycatch and mortality.
    The incidental capture and mortality of loggerheads by 
international longline fleets operating in the North Atlantic Ocean and 
Mediterranean Sea is of great concern. The United States has been 
attempting to work through Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, 
such as the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic 
Tunas, to encourage member nations to adopt gear modifications (e.g., 
large circle hooks) that have been shown to significantly reduce 
loggerhead bycatch. As stated previously, in late 2010, ICCAT approved 
a proposal to require data reporting on the capture of sea turtles in 
the Atlantic Ocean and mandated the use of hook-removal and fishing 
line disentanglement gear. To date, limited success in reducing 
loggerhead bycatch has been achieved in these international forums, but 
efforts are ongoing.
    Although numerous efforts are underway to reduce loggerhead bycatch 
in fisheries, and many positive actions have been implemented, it is 
unknown whether this source of mortality can be sufficiently reduced 
across the range of the DPS in the near future because of the diversity 
and magnitude of the fisheries operating in the North Atlantic, the 
lack of comprehensive information on fishing distribution and effort 
(primarily international, but even some State fisheries), limitations 
on implementing demonstrated effective conservation measures, 
geopolitical complexities, limitations on enforcement capacity, and 
lack of availability of comprehensive bycatch reduction technologies. 
The advent of TED requirements, longline requirements, and other 
conservation measures, along with the decline of some fisheries, 
especially trawling and surface longlining, have primarily occurred 
within one generation of loggerhead sea turtles. A number of measures 
(larger TED openings and longline requirements among the most 
important) occurred only in the past 8 years or less. Therefore, the 
conservation benefit to loggerhead populations is difficult to gauge at 
this time as the effect on the nesting population may only be starting 
to be realized.
    In the southeastern U.S., nest protection efforts have been 
implemented on the majority of nesting beaches, and progress has been 
made in reducing mortality from human-related impacts on the nesting 
beach. A key effort has been the acquisition of Archie Carr National 
Wildlife Refuge in Florida, where nesting densities often exceed 600 
nests per km (1,000 nests per mile). Over 60 percent of the available 
beachfront acquisitions for the Refuge have been completed as the 
result of a multi-agency land acquisition effort. In addition, 14 
additional refuges, as well as numerous coastal national seashores, 
military installations, and State parks in the Southeast where 
loggerheads regularly nest are also provided protection. However, 
despite these efforts, alteration of the coastline continues, and 
outside of publicly owned lands, coastal development and associated 
coastal armoring remains a serious threat.
    Efforts are also ongoing to reduce light pollution on nesting 
beaches. A significant number of local governments in the southeastern 
U.S. have enacted lighting ordinances designed to reduce the effects of 
artificial lighting on sea turtles. However, enforcement of the 
lighting ordinances varies considerably and efforts to strengthen these 
measures are ongoing.
    With regard to marine debris, the MARPOL Convention (International 
Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as 
modified by the Protocol of 1978) is the main international convention 
that addresses prevention of pollution (including oil, chemicals, 
harmful substances in packaged form, sewage, and garbage) of the marine 
environment by ships from operational or accidental causes. However, 
challenges remain to implementation and enforcement of the MARPOL 
Convention and marine pollution remains an issue of concern.
    The seriousness of the threat caused by vessel strikes to 
loggerheads in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico is not fully understood 
at this time, but is expected to be significant. This growing problem 
is particularly difficult to address. In some cases, NMFS, through 
section 7 of the ESA, has worked with the U.S. Coast Guard in an 
attempt to reduce the probability of vessel strikes during permitted 
offshore race events. However, most vessel strikes occur outside of 
these venues and the growing number of licensed vessels over the years, 
especially inshore and nearshore, exacerbates the conflict.
    A number of regulatory instruments at international, regional, 
national, and local levels have been developed that provide legal 
protection for loggerhead sea turtles globally and within the Northwest 
Atlantic Ocean. The Status Review identifies and includes a discussion 
of these regulatory instruments (Conant et al., 2009). The problems 
with existing international treaties are often that they have not 
realized their full potential, do not include some key countries, do 
not specifically address sea turtle conservation, and are handicapped 
by the lack of a sovereign authority to enforce environmental 
regulations. Continued efforts are needed to develop and strengthen 
these international initiatives.
    In summary, while conservation efforts for the Northwest Atlantic 
Ocean loggerhead DPS are substantive and improving, it is still too 
soon to tell if they are adequate to ensure the long-term viability of 
the population.

Northeast Atlantic Ocean DPS

    Since 2002, all sea turtles and their habitats in Cape Verde have 
been protected by law (Decreto-Regulamentar n[deg] 7/2002). The 
reality, however, is that the laws are not respected or enforced and 
that in recent years until 2008 up to 25-30 percent of nesting females 
were illegally killed for meat each year on the nesting beaches. Egg 
collection is also a serious threat on some of the islands. Other major 
threats include developments and commensurate light pollution behind 
one important nesting beach on Boa Vista and the most important nesting 
beach on Sal, as well as sand mining on many of the islands. Other 
planned and potential developments on these and other islands present 
future threats. Bycatch and directed take in coastal waters is likely a 
significant mortality factor to the population given the importance of 
the coastal waters as loggerhead foraging grounds and the extensive 
fisheries occurring there. Adult females nesting in Cape Verde have 
been found foraging along the mainland coast of West Africa as well as 
in the oceanic environment, thereby making them vulnerable to impacts 
from a wide range of fisheries (Hawkes et al., 2006). Unfortunately, 
law enforcement on the nesting beaches and in the marine environment is 
lacking in Cape Verde.
    Conservation efforts in Cape Verde began in the mid-1990s and 
focused on efforts to raise local, national, and international 
awareness of the importance of the Cape Verdian loggerhead population 
and the ongoing slaughter of nesting females. A field camp set up by 
the non-governmental organization Cabo Verde Natura 2000 in 1999 on the 
10-kilometer Ervatao Beach, the single most important nesting beach at 
Boa Vista, grew out of this initial effort. This camp established a 
presence to deter poaching and gather data on nesting and poaching 
activity. In 2008, The Turtle Foundation, another non-

[[Page 58941]]

governmental organization, began to work at Porto Ferreira Beach, the 
second most important nesting area on Boa Vista. The non-governmental 
organization SOS Tartarugas began conservation work on the important 
nesting beaches of Sal in 2008. In May 2009, USFWS funded a workshop in 
Cape Verde to bring together representatives from the three non-
governmental organizations and the universities involved with 
loggerhead conservation in Cape Verde and government representatives 
from the Ministry of Environment, Military and Municipalities to 
discuss the threats, current conservation efforts, and priority actions 
needed. A Sea Turtle Network was established to better coordinate and 
expand conservation efforts throughout the Cape Verdean islands.
    Cabo Verde Natura 2000 has continued its efforts on Ervatao Beach 
and in 2009 assumed responsibility for work on Porto Ferreira Beach. 
Cabo Verde Natura 2000 has reduced poaching to about 5 percent on these 
two important beaches, which represent 75 percent of the nesting on Boa 
Vista. The Turtle Foundation also conducts extensive public outreach on 
sea turtle conservation issues. The Turtle Foundation covered four 
other important beaches in 2009 with the assistance of the Cape Verdian 
military and likewise believes poaching was reduced to about 5 percent 
of nesting females on the beaches covered. The University of Algarve 
established a research project on Santiago Island in 2007; activities 
included nest monitoring and protection, collecting biological data and 
information on poaching, and outreach through the media and to the 
government representatives (Loureiro, 2008). This project minimized its 
efforts in 2009. The Turtle Foundation continued to focus its primary 
efforts on patrolling beaches to protect nesting females on Boa Vista 
with the assistance of the military. SOS Tartarugas has also been doing 
regular monitoring of beaches with support from the military, extensive 
public outreach on light pollution behind nesting beaches, and 
relocating nests to a hatchery to alleviate hatchling disorientation, 
as well as assisting with training of turtle projects on the islands of 
Maio and Sao Nicolau.
    In the last 2 years, new efforts to better coordinate and expand 
projects being conducted by the three non-governmental organizations, 
as well as engage the national and municipal governments, are 
dramatically decreasing the poaching of nesting turtles and with 
sustained and planned efforts may be able to reduce it to less than 1 
percent in the next few years. The issues of light pollution, sand 
mining on nesting beaches, long-term protection of even the most 
important nesting beaches, law enforcement, and bycatch have not even 
begun to be addressed. While there is definite improvement in a once 
gloomy situation as recent as 2 years ago, the future of the population 
is tenuous.

Mediterranean Sea DPS

    The main threats to Mediterranean Sea loggerheads include fishery 
bycatch, as well as pollution/debris, vessel collisions, and habitat 
destruction impacting eggs and hatchlings at nesting beaches. Most 
Mediterranean countries have developed national legislation to protect 
sea turtles and nesting habitats (Margaritoulis, 2007). National 
protective legislation generally prohibits intentional killing, 
harassment, possession, trade, or attempts at these (Margaritoulis et 
al., 2003). Some countries have site specific legislation for turtle 
habitat protection. In 1999, a National Marine Park was established on 
Zakynthos in western Greece, with the primary aim to provide protection 
to loggerhead nesting areas (Dimopoulos, 2001). Zakynthos represents 
approximately 43 percent of the average annual nesting effort of the 
major and moderate nesting areas in Greece (Margaritoulis et al., 2003) 
and about 26 percent of the documented nesting effort in the 
Mediterranean (Touliatou et al., 2009). It is noteworthy for 
conservation purposes that this site is legally protected. While park 
management has improved over the last several years, there are still 
some needed measures to improve and ensure sufficient protection at 
this Park (Panagopoulou et al., 2008; Touliatou et al., 2009).
    In Turkey, five nesting beaches (Belek, Dalyan, Fethiye, Goksu 
Delta, and Patara) were designated Specially Protected Area status in 
the context of the Barcelona Convention (Margaritoulis et al., 2003). 
Based on the average annual number of nests from the major nesting 
sites, these five beaches represent approximately 56 percent of nesting 
in Turkey (World Wildlife Fund, 2005). In Cyprus, the two nesting 
beaches of Lara and Toxeftra have been afforded protection through the 
Fisheries Regulation since 1989 (Margaritoulis, 2007), and Alagadi is a 
Specially Protected Area (World Wildlife Fund, 2005). Of the major 
Cyprus nesting sites included in the 2005 World Wildlife Fund Species 
Action Plan, the nesting beaches afforded protection represent 51 
percent of the average annual number of nests in Cyprus. Note, however, 
that the annual nesting effort in Cyprus presented in Margaritoulis et 
al. (2003) includes additional sites, so the total proportion of 
protected nesting sites in Cyprus is much lower, potentially around 22 
percent. In Italy, a reserve to protect nesting on Lampedusa was 
established in 1984 (Margaritoulis et al., 2003). In summary, 
Mediterranean loggerhead nesting primarily occurs in Greece, Libya, 
Turkey, and Cyprus, and a notable proportion of nesting in those areas 
is protected through various mechanisms. It is important to recognize 
the success of these protected areas, but as the protection has been in 
place for some time and the threats to the species remain (particularly 
from increasing tourism activities), it is unlikely that the 
conservation measures discussed here will change the status of the 
species as outlined in Conant et al. (2009).
    Protection of marine habitats is at the early stages in the 
Mediterranean, as in other areas of the world. Off Zakynthos, the 
National Marine Park established in 1999 also included maritime zones. 
The marine area of Laganas Bay is divided into three zones controlling 
maritime traffic from May 1 to October 31: Zone A--no boating activity; 
Zone B--speed limit of 6 knots, no anchoring; Zone C--speed limit of 6 
knots. The restraints on boating activity are particularly aimed at 
protecting the internesting area surrounding the Zakynthos Laganas Bay 
nesting area. However, despite the regulations, there has been 
insufficient enforcement (especially of the 6 knot speed limit), and a 
high density of speedboats and recorded violations within the marine 
area of the Park have been reported. In 2009, 13 of 28 recorded 
strandings in the area of the National Marine Park bore evidence of 
watercraft injuries and fishing gear interactions, and four live 
turtles were found with fishing gear lines/hooks. Another marine zone 
occurs in Cyprus; off the nesting beaches of Lara and Toxeftra, a 
maritime zone extends to the 20 meter isobath as delineated by the 
Fisheries Regulation (Margaritoulis, 2007).
    The main concern to loggerheads in the Mediterranean includes 
incidental capture in fisheries. While there are country specific 
fishery regulations that may limit fishing effort to some degree (to 
conserve the fishery resource), little, if anything, has been 
undertaken to reduce sea turtle bycatch and associated mortality in 
Mediterranean fisheries. Given the lack of conservation efforts to 
address fisheries and the limited in-water protection provided to 
turtles to reduce the additional impacts of vessel

[[Page 58942]]

collisions and pollution/debris interactions, it is unlikely that the 
status of the species will change given the measures discussed here.
    It appears that international and national laws are not always 
enforced or followed. This minimizes the potential success of these 
conservation efforts. For example, in Egypt, international and national 
measures to protect turtles were not immediately adhered to, but in 
recent years, there has been a notable effort to enforce laws and 
regulations that prohibit the trade of sea turtles at fish markets. 
However, the illegal trade of turtles in the Alexandria fish market has 
persisted and a black market has been created (Nada and Casale, 2008). 
This is an example of ineffective sea turtle protection and continuing 
threat to the species, even with conservation efforts in place.

South Atlantic Ocean DPS

    The only documented and confirmed nesting locations for loggerhead 
sea turtles in the South Atlantic occur in Brazil, and major nesting 
beaches are found in the States of Rio de Janeiro, Espirito Santo, 
Bahia, and Sergipe (Marcovaldi and Marcovaldi, 1999). Protection of 
nesting loggerheads and their eggs in Brazil is afforded by national 
law that was established in 1989 and most recently reaffirmed in 2008. 
Illegal practices, such as collecting eggs or nesting females for 
consumption or sale, are considered environmental crimes and are 
punishable by law. Other State or Federal laws have been established in 
Brazil to protect reproductive females, incubating eggs, emergent 
hatchlings, and nesting habitat, including restricting nighttime 
lighting adjacent to nesting beaches during the nesting/hatching 
seasons and prohibiting vehicular traffic on beaches. Projeto TAMAR, a 
semi-governmental organization, is responsible for sea turtle 
conservation in Brazil. In general, nesting beach protection in Brazil 
is considered to be effective and successful for loggerheads and other 
species of nesting turtles (e.g. Marcovaldi and Chaloupka, 2007; 
Thom[eacute] et al., 2007; da Silva et al., 2007). Efforts at 
protecting reproductive turtles, their nests, hatchlings and their 
nesting beaches have been supplemented by the establishment of 
federally mandated protected areas that include major loggerhead 
nesting populations: Reserva Biologica de Santa Isabel (established in 
1988 in Sergipe) and Reserva Biologica de Comboios (established in 1984 
in Espirito Santo); at the State level, Environmental Protection Areas 
have been established for many loggerhead nesting beaches in Bahia and 
Espirito Santo (Marcovaldi et al., 2005). In addition, Projeto TAMAR 
has initiated several high-profile public awareness campaigns, which 
have focused national attention on the conservation of loggerheads and 
other marine turtles in Brazil.
    Loggerhead sea turtles of various sizes and life stages occur 
throughout the South Atlantic, although density/observations are more 
limited in equatorial waters (Ehrhart et al., 2003). Within national 
waters of specific countries, various laws and actions have been 
instituted to mitigate threats to loggerheads and other species of sea 
turtles; less protection is afforded in the high seas of the South 
Atlantic. Overall, the principal in-water threat to loggerheads in the 
South Atlantic is incidental capture in fisheries. In the southwest 
Atlantic, the South Atlantic Association is a multinational group that 
includes representatives from Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina, and meets 
bi-annually to share information and develop regional action plans to 
address threats including bycatch (http://www.tortugasaso.org/). At the 
national level, Brazil has developed a national plan for the reduction 
of incidental capture of sea turtles that was initiated in 2001 
(Marcovaldi et al., 2002a). This national plan includes various 
activities to mitigate bycatch, including time-area restrictions of 
fisheries, use of bycatch reduction devices, and working with fishermen 
to successfully release live-captured turtles. In Uruguay, all sea 
turtles are protected from human impacts, including fisheries bycatch, 
by presidential decree (Decreto presidencial 144/98). The Karumbe 
conservation project in Uruguay has been working on assessing in-water 
threats to loggerheads and marine turtles for several years (see http://www.seaturtle.org/promacoda), with the objective of developing 
mitigation plans in the future. In Argentina, various conservation 
organizations are working toward assessing bycatch of loggerheads and 
other sea turtle species in fisheries, with the objective of developing 
mitigation plans for this threat (see http://www.prictma.com.ar). 
Overall, more effort to date has been expended on evaluating and 
assessing levels of fisheries bycatch of loggerhead sea turtles, than 
concretely reducing bycatch in the Southwest Atlantic, but this 
information is necessary for developing adequate mitigation plans. In 
the southeastern Atlantic, efforts have been directed toward assessing 
the distribution and levels of bycatch of loggerheads in coastal waters 
of southwestern Africa (Petersen et al., 2007, 2009; Weir et al., 
2007). Bycatch of loggerheads has been documented in longline fisheries 
off the Atlantic coasts of Angola, Namibia, and South Africa (Petersen 
et al., 2007), and several authors have highlighted the need to develop 
regional mitigation plans to reduce bycatch of loggerheads and other 
sea turtle species in coastal waters (Formia et al., 2003; Weir et al., 
2007; Petersen et al., 2009). On the high seas of the South Atlantic, 
little is known about exact bycatch levels, but there are some areas of 
higher concentration of longline effort that are likely to result in 
loggerhead bycatch (Lewison et al., 2004).
    Overall, conservation efforts for loggerhead sea turtles in the 
South Atlantic are dichotomous. On the nesting beaches (almost 
exclusively in Brazil), conservation actions are successful at 
protecting nesting females and their clutches, resulting in large 
numbers of hatchlings being released each year. In contrast, fisheries 
bycatch in coastal and oceanic waters remains a serious threat, despite 
regional emphasis on assessing bycatch rates in various fisheries on 
both sides of the South Atlantic. Comprehensive management actions to 
reduce or eliminate bycatch mortality are lacking in most areas, which 
is likely to result in a decline of this DPS in the future.

 Finding

    We find that nine loggerhead sea turtle DPSs exist. We have 
carefully considered the best scientific and commercial data available 
regarding the past, present and future threats faced by the nine 
loggerhead sea turtle DPSs. We are listing the North Pacific Ocean, 
South Pacific Ocean, North Indian Ocean, Northeast Atlantic Ocean, and 
Mediterranean Sea DPSs of the loggerhead sea turtle as endangered and 
the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean, Southwest Indian Ocean, Northwest 
Atlantic Ocean, and South Atlantic Ocean DPSs as threatened for the 
reasons described below for each DPS.

North Pacific Ocean DPS

    In the North Pacific, loggerhead nesting is essentially restricted 
to Japan where monitoring of loggerhead nesting began in the 1950s on 
some beaches, and expanded to include most known nesting beaches since 
approximately 1990. While nesting numbers have gradually increased in 
recent years and the number for 2009 is similar to the start of the 
time series in 1990, historical evidence indicates that there has been 
a substantial decline over the

[[Page 58943]]

last half of the 20th century and that current nesting represents a 
fraction of historical nesting levels. In addition, based on nest count 
data for nearly the past 2 decades, the North Pacific population of 
loggerheads is small. The SQE approach described in the Status and 
Trends of the Nine Loggerhead DPSs section suggested that the North 
Pacific Ocean DPS appears to be declining, is at risk, and is thus 
likely to decline in the future. The stage-based deterministic modeling 
approach suggested that the North Pacific Ocean DPS could grow 
slightly, but in the worst-case scenario, the model indicates that the 
population is likely to substantially decline in the future. These 
results are largely driven by the mortality of juvenile and adult 
loggerheads from fishery bycatch that occurs throughout the North 
Pacific Ocean, including the coastal pound net fisheries off Japan, 
coastal fisheries impacting juvenile foraging populations off Baja 
California, Mexico, and undescribed fisheries likely affecting 
loggerheads in the South China Sea and the North Pacific Ocean (Factor 
E). Although national and international governmental and non-
governmental entities on both sides of the North Pacific are currently 
working toward reducing loggerhead bycatch, and some positive actions 
have been implemented, it is unlikely that this source of mortality can 
be sufficiently reduced in the near future due to the challenges of 
mitigating illegal, unregulated, and unreported fisheries, the lack of 
comprehensive information on fishing distribution and effort, 
limitations on implementing demonstrated effective conservation 
measures, geopolitical complexities, limitations on enforcement 
capacity, and lack of availability of comprehensive bycatch reduction 
technologies. In addition to fishery bycatch, coastal development and 
coastal armoring on nesting beaches in Japan continues as a substantial 
threat (Factor A). Coastal armoring, if left unaddressed, will become 
an even more substantial threat as sea level rises as a result of 
climate change. It is highly uncertain whether the actions identified 
in the Conservation Efforts section above will be fully implemented in 
the near future or that they will be sufficiently effective. While 
climate change may have adverse effects on all of the loggerhead sea 
turtle DPSs, it is not possible to predict exactly what those would be 
and the extent to which they would affect this DPS beyond the concern 
noted above.
    We have considered the five factors described above in the Summary 
of Factors Affecting the Nine Loggerhead DPSs, efforts to protect the 
DPS, and the population size and trends of the DPS. In light of the 
small nesting range and small size of the nesting population, an 
estimated decline between 50-90 percent in the size of the nesting 
population since the 1950s, significant and ongoing threats to the 
nesting beaches, significant and continuing fishery bycatch with 
limited bycatch reduction success except in the Hawaii longline 
fishery, and only limited efforts at conservation thus far, we have 
determined that the North Pacific Ocean DPS is in danger of extinction 
throughout all of its range. Therefore, we are listing it as 
endangered. In other words, we believe that a threatened status is not 
appropriate for this DPS because of the significance of the threats, 
the small size of the nesting population, and the estimated historical 
decline in the nesting population.

South Pacific Ocean DPS

    In the South Pacific, loggerhead nesting is almost entirely 
restricted to eastern Australia (primarily Queensland) and New 
Caledonia. In eastern Australia, there has been a marked decline in the 
number of females breeding annually since the mid-1970s, with an 
estimated 50 to 80 percent decline in the number of breeding females at 
various Australian rookeries up to 1990 and a decline of approximately 
86 percent by 1999. Comparable nesting surveys have not been conducted 
in New Caledonia however. Information from pilot surveys conducted in 
2005, combined with oral history information collected, suggest that 
there has been a decline in loggerhead nesting (see the Status and 
Trends of the Nine Loggerhead DPSs section above for additional 
information). Similarly, studies of eastern Australia loggerheads at 
their foraging areas revealed a decline of 3 percent per year from 1985 
to the late 1990s on the coral reefs of the southern Great Barrier 
Reef. A decline in new recruits was also measured in these foraging 
areas. The SQE approach described in the Status and Trends of the Nine 
Loggerhead DPSs section suggested that, based on nest count data from 
the mid-1970s through the early to mid-2000s, the population is at risk 
and thus likely to decline in the future. These results were based on 
published nesting census data for loggerhead sea turtles at index 
beaches in eastern Australia. The stage-based deterministic modeling 
approach provided a wide range of results: in the case of the lowest 
anthropogenic mortality rates (or the best case scenario), the 
deterministic model suggests that the South Pacific Ocean DPS will grow 
slightly, but in the worst-case scenario, the model indicates that the 
population is likely to substantially decline in the future. These 
results are largely driven by mortality of juvenile and adult 
loggerheads from fishery bycatch that occurs throughout the South 
Pacific Ocean (Factor E). Although national and international 
governmental and non-governmental entities on both sides of the South 
Pacific are currently working toward reducing loggerhead bycatch, and 
some positive actions have been implemented, it is unlikely that this 
source of mortality can be sufficiently reduced in the near future due 
to the challenges of mitigating illegal, unregulated, and unreported 
fisheries, the continued expansion of artisanal fleets in the 
southeastern Pacific, the lack of comprehensive information on fishing 
distribution and effort, limitations on implementing demonstrated 
effective conservation measures, geopolitical complexities, limitations 
on enforcement capacity, and lack of availability of comprehensive 
bycatch reduction technologies. It is highly uncertain whether the 
actions identified in the Conservation Efforts section above will be 
fully implemented in the near future or that they will be sufficiently 
effective. While climate change may have adverse effects on all of the 
loggerhead sea turtle DPSs, it is not possible to predict exactly what 
those would be and the extent to which they would affect this DPS.
    We have considered the five factors described above in the Summary 
of Factors Affecting the Nine Loggerhead DPSs, efforts to protect the 
DPS, and the population size and trends of the DPS. In light of the 
small nesting range and small size of the nesting population, a marked 
decline in the number of females nesting annually since the mid-1970s, 
and significant and continuing fishery bycatch with limited bycatch 
reduction success except in the northern Australian prawn fishery, we 
have determined that the South Pacific Ocean DPS is in danger of 
extinction throughout all of its range. Therefore, we are listing it as 
endangered. In other words, we believe that a threatened status is not 
appropriate for this DPS because of the significance of the threats, 
the small size of the nesting population, and the observed marked 
decline in the nesting population.

[[Page 58944]]

North Indian Ocean DPS

    In the North Indian Ocean, nesting occurs in greatest density on 
Masirah Island. Reliable trends in nesting cannot be determined due to 
the lack of standardized surveys at Masirah Island prior to 2008. 
However, a reinterpretation of the 1977-1978 and 1991 estimates of 
nesting females was compared to survey information collected since 2008 
and results suggest a significant decline in the size of the nesting 
population, which is consistent with observations by local rangers that 
the population has declined dramatically in the last three decades. 
Nesting trends cannot be determined elsewhere in the North Indian Ocean 
where loggerhead nesting occurs because the time series of nesting data 
based on standardized surveys is not available. The SQE approach 
described in the Status and Trends of the Nine Loggerhead DPSs section 
is based on nesting data; however, an adequate time series of nesting 
data for this DPS was not available. Therefore, we could not use this 
approach to evaluate extinction risk. The stage-based deterministic 
modeling approach indicated the North Indian Ocean DPS is likely to 
decline in the future. These results are driven by cumulative mortality 
from a variety of sources across all life stages. Threats to nesting 
beaches are likely to increase, which would require additional and 
widespread nesting beach protection efforts (Factor A). Little is 
currently being done to monitor and reduce mortality from neritic and 
oceanic fisheries in the range of the North Indian Ocean DPS; this 
mortality is likely to continue and increase with expected additional 
fishing effort from commercial and artisanal fisheries (Factor E). 
Reduction of mortality would be difficult due to a lack of 
comprehensive information on fishing distribution and effort, 
limitations on implementing demonstrated effective conservation 
measures, geopolitical complexities, limitations on enforcement 
capacity, and lack of availability of comprehensive bycatch reduction 
technologies. It is highly uncertain whether the actions identified in 
the Conservation Efforts section above will be fully implemented in the 
near future or that they will be sufficiently effective. While climate 
change may have adverse effects on all of the loggerhead sea turtle 
DPSs, it is not possible to predict exactly what those would be and the 
extent to which they would affect this DPS.
    We have considered the five factors described above in the Summary 
of Factors Affecting the Nine Loggerhead DPSs, efforts to protect the 
DPS, and the population size and trends of the DPS. In light of the 
estimated significant decline in the number of females nesting annually 
since the late 1970s, significant and increasing threats on nesting 
beaches, insufficient monitoring and reduction of bycatch in neritic 
and oceanic fisheries, and only limited efforts at conservation thus 
far, we have determined that the North Indian Ocean DPS is in danger of 
extinction throughout all of its range. Therefore, we are listing it as 
endangered. In other words, we believe that a threatened status is not 
appropriate for this DPS because of the significance of the threats and 
the estimated significant decline in the nesting population.

Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS

    The Services originally published a proposed rule (75 FR 12598; 
March 16, 2010) in which a Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS would be 
established and listed as endangered under the ESA. Subsequently, based 
on information provided by one of the peer reviewers and information 
gathered in response, the Services determined that the Southeast Indo-
Pacific Ocean population warranted DPS designation, but that the 
proposed listing status of the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS needed 
to be revisited prior to making a final determination. The Services 
ultimately determined that the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS should 
be listed as threatened because the majority of nesting occurs on 
protected lands and nesting trends have been stable. However, the 
nesting survey effort and methods have varied over the last 2 decades 
and currently there are no nesting population estimates available to 
suggest any positive trend in nesting populations. In addition, some of 
the fisheries bycatch impacts appear to have been resolved through 
requirement of TEDs in shrimp trawlers, and longline fishery effort has 
declined due to fish stock decreases and economic reasons. However, a 
new fisheries effort has emerged for portunid crabs and is posing new 
threats to loggerheads, and longline fishing effort for tuna and 
billfish is also subject to increase if and when economics and fish 
populations improve.
    In the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean, loggerhead nesting is 
restricted to Western Australia, with the greatest number of 
loggerheads nesting on Dirk Hartog Island. Loggerheads also nest on the 
Muiron Islands and North West Cape, but in smaller numbers. Although 
data are insufficient to determine trends, evidence suggests the 
nesting population in the Muiron Islands and North West Cape region was 
depleted before recent beach monitoring programs began. The SQE 
approach described in the Status and Trends of the Nine Loggerhead DPSs 
section is based on nesting data; however, an adequate time series of 
nesting data for this DPS was not available; therefore, we could not 
use this approach to evaluate extinction risk. The stage-based 
deterministic modeling approach provided a wide range of results: in 
the case of the lowest anthropogenic mortality rates, the deterministic 
model suggests that the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS will grow 
slightly, but in the worst-case scenario, the model indicates that the 
population is likely to substantially decline in the future. These 
results are largely driven by mortality of juvenile and adult 
loggerheads from fishery bycatch that occurs throughout the region, as 
can be inferred from data from Australia's Pacific waters (Factor E). 
However, the current level of anthropogenic mortalities is low for the 
Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS, based on the best available 
information. In addition, some significant conservation efforts are 
underway. One of the principal nesting beaches for this DPS, 
Australia's Dirk Hartog Island, is part of the Shark Bay World Heritage 
Area and recently became part of Australia's National Park System. 
Control of red foxes, formerly a significant threat to nests laid on 
the principal nesting beaches for this DPS, has been extremely 
successful with fox populations now eradicated on Dirk Hartog Island 
and Murion Islands. A requirement for the mandatory use of TEDs in the 
Northern Australian Prawn Fishery in 2000 has substantially reduced the 
annual bycatch of sea turtles in this fishery. Regardless, although 
national and international governmental and non-governmental entities 
are currently working toward reducing loggerhead bycatch, and some 
positive actions have been implemented, it is unlikely that mortality 
from fishery bycatch that occurs throughout the entire region can be 
sufficiently reduced in the near future due to the challenges of 
mitigating illegal, unregulated, and unreported fisheries, the 
continued expansion of artisanal fleets, the lack of comprehensive 
information on fishing distribution and effort, limitations on 
implementing demonstrated effective conservation measures, geopolitical 
complexities, limitations on enforcement capacity, and lack of 
availability of comprehensive bycatch reduction technologies. In spite 
of the actions identified in the Conservation

[[Page 58945]]

Efforts section above, considerable uncertainty in the status of this 
DPS still exists relative to inadequate efforts to measure bycatch 
throughout the entire region, a short time-series of monitoring on 
nesting beaches, and missing vital rates data necessary for population 
assessments. While climate change may have adverse effects on all the 
loggerhead sea turtle DPSs, it is not possible to predict exactly what 
those would be and the extent to which they would affect this DPS.
    We have considered the five factors described above in the Summary 
of Factors Affecting the Nine Loggerhead DPSs, efforts to protect the 
DPS, and the population size and trends of the DPS. Although the 
nesting population is small, the primary nesting beaches on Dirk Hartog 
Island and the Murion Islands are undeveloped and are now both 
protected under the Western Australian Protected Area System; Dirk 
Hartog also recently became a National Park. In addition, nest 
predation and bycatch from the northern Australian prawn fishery that 
contributed to the historical decline of this DPS have been greatly 
reduced and are no longer significant threats. However, bycatch in 
other fisheries, including a new fishery for portunid crabs and pelagic 
longline fishing, are believed to be substantial. As a result, we have 
determined that the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS of the loggerhead 
sea turtle is not currently in danger of extinction, but is likely to 
become so in the foreseeable future throughout all of its range. 
Therefore, we are listing it as threatened. In other words, we believe 
that an endangered status is not appropriate for this DPS because of 
the protected status of the primary nesting beaches and the successful 
conservation efforts that have significantly reduced some of the key 
threats that historically affected this DPS.

Southwest Indian Ocean DPS

    In the Southwest Indian Ocean, the highest concentration of nesting 
occurs on the coast of Tongaland, South Africa, where surveys and 
management practices were instituted in 1963. A trend analysis of index 
nesting beach data from this region from 1965 to 2008 indicates an 
increasing nesting population between the first decade of surveys and 
the last 8 years. These data represent approximately 50 percent of all 
nesting within South Africa and are believed to be representative of 
trends in the region. Loggerhead nesting occurs elsewhere in South 
Africa, but sampling is not consistent and no trend data are available. 
Similarly, in Madagascar, loggerheads have been documented nesting in 
low numbers, but no trend data are available. The SQE approach 
described in the Status and Trends of the Nine Loggerhead DPSs section, 
based on a 37-year time series of nesting female counts at Tongaland, 
South Africa (1963-1999), indicated this segment of the population, 
while small, has increased, and the likelihood of quasi-extinction is 
negligible. We note that the SQE approach we used is based on past 
performance of the DPS (nesting data from 1963-1999) and does not fully 
reflect ongoing and future threats to all life stages within the DPS. 
The stage-based deterministic modeling approach provided a wide range 
of results: in the case of the lowest anthropogenic mortality rates, 
the deterministic model suggests that the Southwest Indian Ocean DPS 
will grow slightly, but in the worst-case scenario, the model indicates 
that the population is likely to substantially decline in the future. 
These results are largely driven by mortality of juvenile loggerheads 
from fishery bycatch that occurs throughout the Southwest Indian Ocean 
(Factor E). This mortality is likely to continue and may increase with 
expected additional fishing effort from commercial and artisanal 
fisheries. Reduction of mortality would be difficult due to a lack of 
comprehensive information on fishing distribution and effort, 
limitations on implementing demonstrated effective conservation 
measures, geopolitical complexities, limitations on enforcement 
capacity, and lack of availability of comprehensive bycatch reduction 
technologies. Although there is uncertainty in anthropogenic 
mortalities, especially in the water, this DPS has likely benefitted 
from important conservation efforts at the nesting beaches. All 
principal nesting beaches, centered in South Africa, are within 
protected areas. In Mozambique, nesting beaches in the Maputo Special 
Reserve and in the Paradise Islands are also within protected areas. 
However, in spite of the actions identified in the Conservation Efforts 
section above, caution in the status of this DPS lies with its small, 
although increasing, population size, inadequate efforts to measure 
bycatch in the region, and missing vital rates data necessary for 
population assessments. While climate change may have adverse effects 
on all of the loggerhead sea turtle DPSs, it is not possible to predict 
exactly what those would be and the extent to which they would affect 
this DPS.
    We have considered the five factors described above in the Summary 
of Factors Affecting the Nine Loggerhead DPSs, efforts to protect the 
DPS, and the population size and trends of the DPS. Although the 
nesting population is small, increased nesting has been observed since 
the 1960s in Tongaland where the highest concentration of nesting 
occurs for this DPS, and this trend is believed to be representative of 
nesting trends for the entire DPS. However, fishery bycatch in neritic 
and oceanic fisheries remains of concern and is not yet fully 
addressed. As a result, we have determined that the Southwest Indian 
Ocean DPS of the loggerhead sea turtle is not currently in danger of 
extinction, but is likely to become so in the foreseeable future 
throughout all of its range. Therefore, we are listing it as 
threatened. In other words, we believe that an endangered status is not 
appropriate for this DPS because of the observed increase in the 
nesting population, the protected status of the primary nesting 
beaches, and the success of conservation efforts on the nesting 
beaches.

Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS

    The Services originally published a proposed rule (75 FR 12598; 
March 16, 2010) in which a Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS would be 
established and listed as endangered under the ESA. Subsequently, the 
Services determined that the Northwest Atlantic Ocean population 
warranted DPS designation, but that the proposed listing status of the 
Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS needed to be revisited prior to making a 
final determination. Nesting data available after the proposed rule was 
published, information provided by commenters on the proposed rule, and 
further discussions within the Services were taken into account to 
determine whether this DPS should be classified as threatened or 
endangered. A working group comprised of biologists and managers from 
NMFS and USFWS met in November 2010 to discuss these issues and begin 
working toward a final agreement on the listing status for both the 
Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS and the North Pacific Ocean DPS. 
Subsequent discussions and review of the full range of information 
available occurred over the months following the working group meeting, 
with the Services ultimately determining that it was more appropriate 
to list the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as threatened. The rationale 
for that decision is contained in the information presented in the 
previous sections, and is summarized below.
    The two primary lines of evidence upon which the Services 
ultimately determined that the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS should be 
listed as

[[Page 58946]]

threatened were population abundance and population trend. As detailed 
previously, the absolute magnitude of the population is calculated to 
be in the millions, with just mature adult individuals numbering over 
60,000. The adult population exceeds that of any other ESA-listed 
marine species in the Atlantic. While population abundance is 
important, population trend is also a vital component of the status of 
a species. For sea turtles in general, including the Northwest Atlantic 
Ocean DPS, there is currently a large gap in our knowledge of 
population trends. As a result, nesting trends are typically used as a 
proxy. Although using the most complete and consistent dataset (Florida 
Index Nesting Beach Survey data starting with 1989), the nesting trend 
for this DPS was determined to be declining through the 2007 nesting 
season. With the addition of nesting data available after the proposed 
rule was published (data through 2010), the nesting trend is slightly 
negative, but not statistically different from zero. Although not as 
complete and consistent as the nesting dataset, Epperly et al. (2007) 
and TEWG (2009) examined data from in-water research sites in the 
United States that they determined were suitable for trend analysis and 
concluded these data suggested a likely increasing juvenile population. 
Additionally, a revision of the SQE analysis conducted in the Status 
Review indicated that the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS had a lower risk 
of extinction with the addition of nesting data available after the 
proposed rule was published. Including nesting data through 2009, and 
redoing the analysis to use a range of adult female abundance estimates 
as QETs, it was determined that there was little risk (SQE <0.3) of the 
Peninsular Florida Recovery Unit (comprising over 80 percent of the 
Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS) reaching 1,000 or fewer females in 100 
years. This revised analysis was done by the same member of the BRT 
that performed the original SQE analysis.
    In addition to population abundance and trends, an understanding of 
the threats faced by the listed entity and effects of conservation 
efforts must be taken into consideration when making a determination on 
whether a species would be more appropriately classified as threatened 
or as endangered. As described previously, loggerhead sea turtles of 
the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS face a multitude of threats. The scope 
of these threats are examined, in the context of the DPS' population 
abundance and trends, and conservation efforts, to determine whether 
the DPS is in danger of extinction or likely to become so and therefore 
more appropriate to classify the DPS as threatened or as endangered. 
The primary threat to the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS was determined 
to be fisheries bycatch and mortality, although other anthropogenic 
impacts also play an important role. Although bycatch and bycatch 
mortality levels of Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS loggerheads in 
domestic and foreign fisheries remain high, and continued efforts are 
necessary to reduce those impacts, it is too early to determine if the 
bycatch and mortality reduction measures to date are adequate. Many of 
the most significant bycatch and bycatch mortality reduction efforts 
have occurred within the past generation of loggerhead sea turtles, and 
many fisheries have experienced effort reductions in recent years, and 
thus the benefits may not yet be observed on the nesting beaches. This 
does not, however, mean that the Services are to take a ``wait and 
see'' approach; continued efforts to reduce bycatch and bycatch 
mortality, as well as reduce other sources of anthropogenic impacts, 
are a priority of the Services. Because the majority of nesting of 
loggerhead sea turtles within the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS is on 
U.S. beaches, and a great number of large neritic juveniles and adults 
from this DPS spend a substantial portion of their time in U.S. waters, 
this provides us the opportunity to use U.S. regulatory mechanisms to 
afford a greater degree of protection to the Northwest Atlantic Ocean 
DPS compared to other loggerhead DPSs. While climate change may have 
adverse effects on all of the loggerhead sea turtle DPSs, it is not 
possible to predict exactly what those would be and the extent to which 
they would affect this DPS.
    We have considered the five factors described above in the Summary 
of Factors Affecting the Nine Loggerhead DPSs, efforts to protect the 
DPS, and the population size and trends of the DPS. Although this DPS 
faces significant threats from fishery bycatch, particularly bycatch 
mortality from gillnet, longline, and trawl fisheries throughout their 
range in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, as well as negative 
impacts to both its terrestrial and marine habitats, the nesting 
population is large and widespread, and the nesting population trend 
appears to be stabilizing. As a result, we have determined that the 
Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS of the loggerhead sea turtle is not 
currently in danger of extinction, but is likely to become so in the 
foreseeable future throughout all of its range. Therefore, we are 
listing it as threatened. In other words, we believe that an endangered 
status is not appropriate for this DPS because of the large size of the 
nesting population, the overall nesting population remains widespread, 
the trend for the nesting population appears to be stabilizing, and 
substantial conservation efforts are underway to address threats.

Northeast Atlantic Ocean DPS

    In the Northeast Atlantic Ocean, the Cape Verde Islands support the 
only large nesting population of loggerheads in the region. Nesting 
occurs at some level on most of the islands in the archipelago with the 
largest nesting numbers reported from the island of Boa Vista where 
studies have been ongoing since 1998. Due to limited data available, a 
population trend cannot currently be determined for the Cape Verde 
population; however, available information on the directed killing of 
nesting females suggests that this nesting population is under severe 
pressure and likely significantly reduced from historical levels. In 
addition, based on interviews with elders, a reduction in nesting from 
historical levels at Santiago Island has been reported. Elsewhere in 
the northeastern Atlantic, loggerhead nesting is non-existent or occurs 
at very low levels. The SQE approach described in the Status and Trends 
of the Nine Loggerhead DPSs section is based on nesting data. However, 
we had insufficient nest count data over an appropriate time series for 
this DPS and could not use this approach to evaluate extinction risk. 
The stage-based deterministic modeling approach indicated the Northeast 
Atlantic Ocean DPS is likely to decline in the future, even under the 
scenario of the lowest anthropogenic mortality rates. These results are 
largely driven by the ongoing directed lethal take of nesting females 
and eggs (Factor B), low hatching and emergence success (Factors A, B, 
and C), and mortality of juveniles and adults from fishery bycatch 
(Factor E) that occurs throughout the Northeast Atlantic Ocean. 
Currently, conservation efforts to protect nesting females are growing, 
and a reduction in this source of mortality is likely to continue in 
the near future. Although national and international governmental and 
non-governmental entities in the Northeast Atlantic are currently 
working toward reducing loggerhead bycatch, and some positive actions 
have been implemented, it is unlikely that this source of mortality can 
be sufficiently reduced across the range of the DPS in

[[Page 58947]]

the near future because of the lack of bycatch reduction in high seas 
fisheries operating within the range of this DPS, lack of bycatch 
reduction in coastal fisheries in Africa, the lack of comprehensive 
information on fishing distribution and effort, limitations on 
implementing demonstrated effective conservation measures, geopolitical 
complexities, limitations on enforcement capacity, and lack of 
availability of comprehensive bycatch reduction technologies. It is 
highly uncertain whether the actions identified in the Conservation 
Efforts section above will be fully implemented in the near future or 
that they will be sufficiently effective. While climate change may have 
adverse effects on all of the loggerhead sea turtle DPSs, it is not 
possible to predict exactly what those would be and the extent to which 
they would affect this DPS.
    We have considered the five factors described above in the Summary 
of Factors Affecting the Nine Loggerhead DPSs, efforts to protect the 
DPS, and the population size and trends of the DPS. In light of 
available information indicating significant directed killing of 
nesting females and eggs for consumption at the main nesting beaches, 
evidence indicating the nesting population is significantly reduced 
from historical levels, significant and unaddressed fishery bycatch, 
particularly bycatch in longline and trawl fisheries, and only limited 
efforts at conservation thus far, we have determined that the Northeast 
Atlantic Ocean DPS is in danger of extinction throughout all of its 
range. Therefore, we are listing it as endangered. In other words, we 
believe that a threatened status is not appropriate for this DPS 
because of the significance of the threats, particularly directed 
harvest and fishery bycatch, and evidence that the nesting population 
is significantly reduced from historical levels.

Mediterranean Sea DPS

    Nesting occurs throughout the central and eastern Mediterranean in 
Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the Sinai, 
Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. In addition, sporadic nesting has been 
reported from the western Mediterranean, but the vast majority of 
nesting (greater than 80 percent) occurs in Greece and Turkey. There is 
no discernible trend in nesting at the two longest monitoring projects 
in Greece, Laganas Bay and southern Kyparissia Bay. However, the 
nesting trend at Rethymno Beach, which hosts approximately 7 percent of 
all documented loggerhead nesting in the Mediterranean, shows a highly 
significant declining trend (1990-2004). In Turkey, intermittent 
nesting surveys have been conducted since the 1970s with more 
consistent surveys conducted on some beaches only since the 1990s, 
making it difficult to assess trends in nesting. A declining trend 
(1993-2004) has been reported at Fethiye Beach, which represents 
approximately 10 percent of loggerhead nesting in Turkey. The SQE 
approach described in the Status and Trends of the Nine Loggerhead DPSs 
section is based on nesting data; however, region-wide nesting data for 
this DPS were not available. Therefore, we could not use this approach 
to evaluate extinction risk. The stage-based deterministic modeling 
approach indicated the Mediterranean Sea DPS is likely to decline in 
the future, even under the scenario of the lowest anthropogenic 
mortality rates. These results are largely driven by mortality of 
juvenile and adult loggerheads from fishery bycatch that occurs 
throughout the Mediterranean Sea (Factor E), as well as anthropogenic 
threats to nesting beaches (Factor A) and eggs/hatchlings (Factors A, 
B, C, and E). Although conservation efforts to protect some nesting 
beaches are underway, more widespread and consistent protection is 
needed. Although national and international governmental and non-
governmental entities in the Mediterranean Sea are currently working 
toward reducing loggerhead bycatch, it is unlikely that this source of 
mortality can be sufficiently reduced across the range of the DPS in 
the near future because of the lack of bycatch reduction in commercial 
and artisanal fisheries operating within the range of this DPS, the 
lack of comprehensive information on fishing distribution and effort, 
limitations on implementing demonstrated effective conservation 
measures, geopolitical complexities, limitations on enforcement 
capacity, and lack of availability of comprehensive bycatch reduction 
technologies. It is highly uncertain whether the actions identified in 
the Conservation Efforts section above will be fully implemented in the 
near future or that they will be sufficiently effective. While climate 
change may have adverse effects on all of the loggerhead sea turtle 
DPSs, it is not possible to predict exactly what those would be and the 
extent to which they would affect this DPS.
    We have considered the five factors described above in the Summary 
of Factors Affecting the Nine Loggerhead DPSs, efforts to protect the 
DPS, and the population size and trends of the DPS. In light of the 
significant fishery bycatch that occurs throughout the Mediterranean 
Sea, particularly ongoing bycatch mortality from pelagic and bottom 
longline, set net, driftnet, and trawl fisheries, as well as ongoing 
threats to terrestrial and marine habitats, current illegal harvest of 
loggerheads in Egypt for human consumption, and only limited efforts at 
bycatch reduction thus far, we have determined that the Mediterranean 
Sea DPS is in danger of extinction throughout all of its range. 
Therefore, we are listing it as endangered. In other words, we believe 
that a threatened status is not appropriate for this DPS because of the 
significance of the threats, particularly fishery bycatch, and 
ineffective protection of loggerheads even with some conservation 
efforts in place.

South Atlantic Ocean DPS

    In the South Atlantic nesting occurs primarily along the mainland 
coast of Brazil from Sergipe south to Rio de Janeiro. Prior to 1980, 
loggerhead nesting populations in Brazil were considered severely 
depleted. More recently, a long-term, sustained increasing trend in 
nesting abundance has been observed over a 16-year period from 1988 
through 2003 on 22 surveyed beaches containing more than 75 percent of 
all loggerhead nesting in Brazil. The SQE approach described in the 
Status and Trends of the Nine Loggerhead DPSs section suggested that, 
based on nest count data for the past 2 decades, the population is 
unlikely to decline in the future. These results are consistent with 
Marcovaldi and Chaloupka's (2007) nesting beach trend analyses. We note 
that the SQE approach is based on past performance of the DPS (nesting 
data) and does not fully reflect ongoing and future threats to all life 
stages within the DPS. The stage-based deterministic modeling approach 
indicated the South Atlantic Ocean DPS is likely to decline in the 
future, even under the scenario of the lowest anthropogenic mortality 
rates. This result is largely driven by mortality of juvenile 
loggerheads from fishery bycatch that occurs throughout the South 
Atlantic Ocean (Factor E). Although national and international 
governmental and non-governmental entities on both sides of the South 
Atlantic are currently working toward reducing loggerhead bycatch in 
the South Atlantic, it is unlikely that this source of mortality can be 
sufficiently reduced across the range of the DPS in the near future 
because of the diversity and magnitude of the commercial and artisanal 
fisheries operating in the South Atlantic, the lack of comprehensive

[[Page 58948]]

information on fishing distribution and effort, limitations on 
implementing demonstrated effective conservation measures, geopolitical 
complexities, limitations on enforcement capacity, and lack of 
availability of comprehensive bycatch reduction technologies. It is 
highly uncertain whether the actions identified in the Conservation 
Efforts section above will be fully implemented in the near future or 
that they will be sufficiently effective. While climate change may have 
adverse effects on all of the loggerhead sea turtle DPSs, it is not 
possible to predict exactly what those would be and the extent to which 
they would affect this DPS.
    We have considered the five factors described above in the Summary 
of Factors Affecting the Nine Loggerhead DPSs, efforts to protect the 
DPS, and the population size and trends of the DPS. Although the 
nesting population is small and is believed to be severely depleted 
from historical levels, trends observed since the 1980s have shown a 
more recent increase in nesting abundance, nesting beach protection in 
Brazil has been effective and successful, and many important nesting 
beaches have been placed in protected status. However, fishery bycatch 
is believed to be a significant threat to this DPS. Although efforts 
have been made to evaluate and assess levels of fishery bycatch, 
actions to reduce or eliminate bycatch mortality are lacking in most 
areas. As a result, we have determined that the South Atlantic Ocean 
DPS of the loggerhead sea turtle is not currently in danger of 
extinction, but is likely to become so in the foreseeable future 
throughout all of its range. Therefore, we are listing it as 
threatened. In other words, we believe that an endangered status is not 
appropriate for this DPS because of the increased trend in nesting 
abundance observed since the 1980s, the protected status of many of the 
important nesting beaches, and successful efforts to address threats on 
the nesting beaches.

Take Prohibitions

    The existing take prohibitions and exceptions contained in 50 CFR 
17.31, 17.42(b), 223.205, 223.206, and 223.207 remain in effect and 
continue to apply to those DPSs listed as threatened sea turtle 
species, which are the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean, Southwest Indian 
Ocean, Northwest Atlantic Ocean, and South Atlantic Ocean DPSs.

Critical Habitat

    Section 3(5)(A) of the ESA defines critical habitat as ``(i) the 
specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species, at 
the time it is listed * * * on which are found those physical or 
biological features (I) Essential to the conservation of the species 
and (II) which may require special management considerations or 
protection; and (ii) specific areas outside the geographical area 
occupied by the species at the time it is listed * * * upon a 
determination by the Secretaries of Commerce and Interior that such 
areas are essential for the conservation of the species.'' Section 3(3) 
of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1532(3)) also defines the terms ``conserve,'' 
``conserving,'' and ``conservation'' to mean ``to use and the use of 
all methods and procedures which are necessary to bring any endangered 
species or threatened species to the point at which the measures 
provided pursuant to this chapter are no longer necessary.''
    Section 4(a)(3) of the ESA requires that, to the extent prudent and 
determinable, critical habitat be designated concurrently with the 
listing of a species. Section 4(b)(2) provides that designation of 
critical habitat must be based on the best scientific data available. 
Once critical habitat is designated, section 7 of the ESA requires 
Federal agencies to ensure that they do not fund, authorize, or carry 
out any actions that are likely to destroy or adversely modify that 
habitat. This requirement is in addition to section 7's requirement 
that Federal agencies ensure their actions do not jeopardize the 
continued existence of the species.
    In determining what areas qualify as critical habitat, 50 CFR 
424.12(b) requires that the Services consider those physical or 
biological features that are essential to the conservation of a given 
species including space for individual and population growth and for 
normal behavior; food, water, air, light, minerals, or other 
nutritional or physiological requirements; cover or shelter; sites for 
breeding, reproduction, and rearing of offspring; and habitats that are 
protected from disturbance or are representative of the historical 
geographical and ecological distribution of a species. The regulations 
further direct the Services to ``focus on the principal biological or 
physical constituent elements * * * that are essential to the 
conservation of the species,'' and specify that the ``Known primary 
constituent elements shall be listed with the critical habitat 
description.'' The regulations identify primary constituent elements 
(PCEs) as including, but not limited to: ``roost sites, nesting 
grounds, spawning sites, feeding sites, seasonal wetland or dryland, 
water quality or quantity, host species or plant pollinator, geological 
formation, vegetation type, tide, and specific soil types.''
    The ESA also directs the Secretaries of Commerce and Interior to 
consider the economic, national security, and other relevant impacts of 
specifying any particular area as critical habitat, and under section 
4(b)(2) the Secretaries may exclude any area from such designation if 
the benefits of exclusion outweigh those of inclusion, provided that 
the exclusion will not result in the extinction of the species. In 
addition, the Secretaries may not designate as critical habitat any 
lands or other geographical areas owned or controlled by the Department 
of Defense, or designated for its use, that are subject to an 
integrated natural resources management plan under section 101 of the 
Sikes Act (16 U.S.C. 670a), if the Secretaries determine in writing 
that such a plan provides a benefit to the species for which critical 
habitat is proposed for designation (see section 318(a)(3) of the 
National Defense Authorization Act, Public Law 108-136). We also cannot 
designate critical habitat in foreign countries or other areas outside 
U.S. jurisdiction (50 CFR 424.12(h)).
    At this time, we lack the comprehensive data and information 
necessary to identify and describe physical and biological features of 
the marine and terrestrial habitats of the loggerhead sea turtle. 
Accordingly, we find designation of critical habitat to be ``not 
determinable'' at this time.

Public Comments Solicitied

    We request interested persons to submit information related to the 
identification of critical habitat and essential physical or biological 
features for this species, as well as economic or other relevant 
impacts of designation of critical habitat, for the U.S. marine and 
terrestrial habitats of loggerhead sea turtles occurring within the 
U.S. range of the North Pacific Ocean DPS and the Northwest Atlantic 
Ocean DPS. We solicit information from the public, other concerned 
governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other 
interested party. You may submit this information by any one of several 
methods (see ADDRESSES).

Peer Review

    In December 2004, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued 
a Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review, establishing 
minimum peer review standards, a transparent process for public 
disclosure of peer review planning, and opportunities for public 
participation. The OMB Bulletin, implemented under the Information

[[Page 58949]]

Quality Act (Pub. L. 106-554), is intended to enhance the quality and 
credibility of the Federal government's scientific information, and 
applies to influential or highly influential scientific information 
disseminated on or after June 16, 2005. We obtained independent peer 
review of the scientific information compiled in the 2009 Status Review 
(Conant et al., 2009) that supported the proposed rule (75 FR 12598; 
March 16, 2010) to list nine DPSs of the loggerhead sea turtle as 
endangered or threatened. The Status Review underwent independent peer 
review by nine scientists with expertise in loggerhead sea turtle 
biology, genetics, and modeling. We also solicited technical review of 
the proposed listing determination from six independent experts, and 
received reviews from all six of these experts.
    On July 1, 1994, the Services published a policy for peer review of 
scientific data (59 FR 34270). The intent of the peer review policy is 
to ensure that listings are based on the best scientific and commercial 
data available. We solicited the expert opinions of six qualified and 
independent specialists from the academic and scientific community. We 
have addressed their comments in the Summary of Comments section and 
incorporated them as appropriate in this final rule.

References

    A complete list of the references and all non-copyrighted 
publications cited in this final rule are available on the Internet at 
http://www.regulations.gov.

Classification

National Environmental Policy Act

    ESA listing decisions are exempt from the requirement to prepare an 
environmental assessment (EA) or environmental impact statement (EIS) 
under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (NOAA 
Administrative Order 216-6.03(e)(1); Pacific Legal Foundation v. 
Andrus, 675 F. 2d 825 (6th Cir. 1981)). Thus, we have determined that 
the final listing determinations for the nine loggerhead DPSs described 
in this notice are exempt from the requirements of NEPA.

Information Quality Act

    The Information Quality Act directed the Office of Management and 
Budget to issue government wide guidelines that ``provide policy and 
procedural guidance to federal agencies for ensuring and maximizing the 
quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information (including 
statistical information) disseminated by federal agencies.'' Compliance 
of this document with NOAA guidelines is evaluated below.
     Utility: The information disseminated is intended to 
describe a species' life history, population status, threats, and 
risks; management actions; and the effects of management actions. The 
information is intended to be useful to State and Federal agencies, 
non-governmental organizations, industry groups and other interested 
parties so they can understand the listing status of the species.
     Integrity: No confidential data were used in the analysis 
of the impacts associated with this document. All information 
considered in this document and used to analyze the proposed action, is 
considered public information.
     Objectivity: The NOAA Information Quality Guidelines 
require disseminated information to be presented in an accurate, clear, 
complete, and unbiased manner. This document was prepared with these 
objectives in mind. It was also reviewed by a variety of biologists, 
policy analysts, and attorneys from NMFS and USFWS.

Administrative Procedure Act

    The Federal Administrative Procedure Act (APA) establishes 
procedural requirements applicable to informal rulemaking by Federal 
agencies. The purpose of the APA is to ensure public access to the 
Federal rulemaking process and to give the public notice and an 
opportunity to comment before the agency promulgates new regulations. 
These public notice and comment procedures have been completed in this 
rulemaking as further explained in the Background.

Coastal Zone Management Act

    Section 307(c)(1) of the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act of 
1972 requires that all Federal activities that affect any land or water 
use or natural resource of the coastal zone be consistent with approved 
State coastal zone management programs to the maximum extent 
practicable. NMFS and USFWS have determined that this action is 
consistent to the maximum extent practicable with the enforceable 
policies of approved Coastal Zone Management Programs of Maine, New 
Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New 
Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, 
Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, California, 
Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 
Letters documenting our determination, along with the proposed rule, 
were sent to the coastal zone management program offices of these 
States. A list of the specific State contacts and a copy of the letters 
are available upon request. A copy of the final rule will be sent to 
the coastal zone management programs in these States.

Executive Order 13132 Federalism

    Executive Order 13132 requires agencies to take into account any 
federalism impacts of regulations under development. It includes 
specific directives for consultation in situations where a regulation 
will preempt State law or impose substantial direct compliance costs on 
State and local governments (unless required by statute). Neither of 
those circumstances is applicable to this final rule. In keeping with 
the intent of the Administration and Congress to provide continuing and 
meaningful dialogue on issues of mutual State and Federal interest, the 
proposed rule was provided to each State in which the subject species 
occurs, and the State was invited to comment. We considered and 
incorporated their comments and recommendations into this final 
determination where applicable. We also provided responses to their 
comments in the Summary of Comments section.

Environmental Justice

    Executive Order 12898 requires that Federal actions address 
environmental justice in decision-making process. In particular, the 
environmental effects of the actions should not have a disproportionate 
effect on minority and low-income communities. The final listing 
determinations are not expected to have a disproportionate effect on 
minority or low-income communities because the implications of these 
listing actions do not adversely affect the human health of low-income, 
minority, or other populations or the environment in which these 
various populations live.

Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Flexibility Act, and Paperwork 
Reduction Act (PRA)

    As noted in the Conference Report on the 1982 amendments to the 
ESA, economic impacts shall not be considered when assessing the status 
of a species. Therefore, the economic analysis requirements of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act are not applicable to the listing process. 
In addition, this rule is exempt from review under Executive Order 
12866. This rule does not contain a collection-of-information 
requirement for the purposes of the PRA.

[[Page 58950]]

List of Subjects

50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

50 CFR Part 223

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

50 CFR Part 224

    Administrative practice and procedure, Endangered and threatened 
species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, 
Transportation.

    Dated: September 9, 2011.
Daniel M. Ashe,
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, FWS and NOAA amend 50 CFR 
parts 17, 223, and 224 as follows:

PART 17--ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS

0
1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544; 16 U.S.C. 
4201-4245; Pub. L. 99-625, 100 Stat. 3500; unless otherwise noted.

0
2. In Sec.  17.11(h) revise the entry for ``Sea turtle, loggerhead'', 
which is in alphabetical order under REPTILES, to read as follows:


Sec.  17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Species                                                    Vertebrate
--------------------------------------------------------                        population where                                  Critical     Special
                                                            Historic range       endangered or         Status      When listed    habitat       rules
           Common name                Scientific name                              threatened
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Sea turtle, loggerhead,            Caretta caretta.....  Mediterranean Sea    Mediterranean Sea    E                       794           NA           NA
 Mediterranean Sea.                                       Basin.               east of 5[deg]36'
                                                                               W. Long.
Sea turtle, loggerhead, North      Caretta caretta.....  North Indian Ocean   North Indian Ocean   E                       794           NA           NA
 Indian Ocean.                                            Basin.               north of the
                                                                               equator and south
                                                                               of 30[deg] N. Lat.
Sea turtle, loggerhead, North      Caretta caretta.....  North Pacific Ocean  North Pacific north  E                       794           NA           NA
 Pacific Ocean.                                           Basin.               of the equator and
                                                                               south of 60[deg]
                                                                               N. Lat.
Sea turtle, loggerhead, Northeast  Caretta caretta.....  Northeast Atlantic   Northeast Atlantic   E                       794           NA           NA
 Atlantic Ocean.                                          Ocean Basin.         Ocean north of the
                                                                               equator, south of
                                                                               60[deg] N. Lat.,
                                                                               and east of
                                                                               40[deg] W. Long.,
                                                                               except in the
                                                                               vicinity of the
                                                                               Strait of
                                                                               Gibraltar where
                                                                               the eastern
                                                                               boundary is
                                                                               5[deg]36' W. Long.
Sea turtle, loggerhead, Northwest  Caretta caretta.....  Northwest Atlantic   Northwest Atlantic   T                       794           NA           NA
 Atlantic Ocean.                                          Ocean Basin.         Ocean north of the
                                                                               equator, south of
                                                                               60[deg] N. Lat.,
                                                                               and west of
                                                                               40[deg] W. Long.
Sea turtle, loggerhead, South      Caretta caretta.....  South Atlantic       South Atlantic       T                       794           NA           NA
 Atlantic Ocean.                                          Ocean Basin.         Ocean south of the
                                                                               equator, north of
                                                                               60[deg] S. Lat.,
                                                                               west of 20[deg] E.
                                                                               Long., and east of
                                                                               67[deg] W. Long.
Sea turtle, loggerhead, South      Caretta caretta.....  South Pacific Ocean  South Pacific south  E                       794           NA           NA
 Pacific Ocean.                                           Basin.               of the equator,
                                                                               north of 60[deg]
                                                                               S. Lat., west of
                                                                               67[deg] W. Long.,
                                                                               and east of
                                                                               141[deg] E. Long.
Sea turtle, loggerhead, Southeast  Caretta caretta.....  Southeast Indian     Southeast Indian     T                       794           NA           NA
 Indo-Pacific Ocean.                                      Ocean Basin; South   Ocean south of the
                                                          Pacific Ocean        equator, north of
                                                          Basin as far east    60[deg] S. Lat.,
                                                          as 141[deg] E.       and east of
                                                          Long.                80[deg] E. Long.;
                                                                               South Pacific
                                                                               Ocean south of the
                                                                               equator, north of
                                                                               60[deg] S. Lat.,
                                                                               and west of
                                                                               141[deg] E. Long.
Sea turtle, loggerhead, Southwest  Caretta caretta.....  Southwest Indian     Southwest Indian     T                       794           NA           NA
 Indian Ocean.                                            Ocean Basin.         Ocean north of the
                                                                               equator, south of
                                                                               30[deg] N. Lat.,
                                                                               west of 20[deg] E.
                                                                               Long., and east of
                                                                               80[deg] E. Long.
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 58951]]

PART 223--THREATENED MARINE AND ANADROMOUS SPECIES

0
3. The authority citation for part 223 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1531-1543; subpart B, Sec.  223.201-202 
also issued under 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 5503(d) for 
Sec.  223.206(d)(9).

0
4. Amend the table in Sec.  223.102 by revising paragraph (b) to read 
as follows:


Sec.  223.102  Enumeration of threatened marine and anadromous species.

* * * * *

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                    Species \1\                                            Citation(s) for      Citation(s) for
----------------------------------------------------    Where listed           listing         critical habitat
          Common name              Scientific name                         determination(s)     designation(s)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
        (b) Sea Turtles
 
(1) Green sea turtle \2\.......  Chelonia mydas....  Wherever found,     43 FR 32800; Jul     63 FR 46693; Sep
                                                      except where        28, 1978.            2, 1998, 64 FR
                                                      listed as                                14052; Mar 23,
                                                      endangered under                         1999.
                                                      Sec.
                                                      224.101(c);
                                                      circumglobal in
                                                      tropical and
                                                      temperate seas
                                                      and oceans.
(2) Loggerhead sea turtle--      Caretta caretta...  Northwest Atlantic  [INSERT FR CITATION  NA.
 Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS                         Ocean north of      WHEN PUBLISHED AS
 \2\.                                                 the equator,        A FINAL RULE].
                                                      south of 60[deg]
                                                      N. Lat., and west
                                                      of 40[deg] W.
                                                      Long.
(3) Loggerhead sea turtle--      Caretta caretta...  South Atlantic      [INSERT FR CITATION  NA.
 South Atlantic Ocean DPS \2\.                        Ocean south of      WHEN PUBLISHED AS
                                                      the equator,        A FINAL RULE].
                                                      north of 60[deg]
                                                      S. Lat., west of
                                                      20[deg] E. Long.,
                                                      and east of
                                                      67[deg] W. Long.
(4) Loggerhead sea turtle--      Caretta caretta...  Southeast Indian    [INSERT FR CITATION  NA.
 Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean                         Ocean south of      WHEN PUBLISHED AS
 DPS \2\.                                             the equator,        A FINAL RULE].
                                                      north of 60[deg]
                                                      S. Lat., and east
                                                      of 80[deg] E.
                                                      Long.; South
                                                      Pacific Ocean
                                                      south of the
                                                      equator, north of
                                                      60[deg] S. Lat.,
                                                      and west of
                                                      141[deg] E. Long.
(5) Loggerhead sea turtle--      Caretta caretta...  Southwest Indian    [INSERT FR CITATION  NA.
 Southwest Indian Ocean DPS \2\.                      Ocean north of      WHEN PUBLISHED AS
                                                      the equator,        A FINAL RULE].
                                                      south of 30[deg]
                                                      N. Lat., west of
                                                      20[deg] E. Long.,
                                                      and east of
                                                      80[deg] E. Long.
(6) Olive ridley sea turtle \2\  Lepidochelys        Wherever found,     43 FR 32800; Jul     NA.
                                  olivacea.           except where        28, 1978.
                                                      listed as
                                                      endangered under
                                                      Sec.
                                                      224.101(c);
                                                      circumglobal in
                                                      tropical and
                                                      temperate seas.
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Species includes taxonomic species, subspecies, distinct population segments (DPSs) (for a policy statement,
  see 61 FR 4722, February 7, 1996), and evolutionarily significant units (ESUs) (for a policy statement, see 56
  FR 58612, November 20, 1991).
\2\ Jurisdiction for sea turtles by the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
  National Marine Fisheries Service, is limited to turtles while in the water.

PART 224--ENDANGERED MARINE AND ANADROMOUS SPECIES

0
5. The authority citation for part 224 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1531-1543 and 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.

0
6. Amend Sec.  224.101 by revising paragraph (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  224.101   Enumeration of endangered marine and anadromous 
species.

* * * * *
    (c) Sea turtles. The following table lists the common and 
scientific names of endangered sea turtles, the locations where they 
are listed, and the citations for the listings and critical habitat 
designations. Jurisdiction for sea turtles by the Department of 
Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National 
Marine Fisheries Service, is limited to turtles while in the water.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                     Species\1\                                            Citation(s) for      Citation(s) for
----------------------------------------------------    Where listed           listing         critical habitat
          Common name              Scientific name                         determination(s)     designation(s)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
 (1) Green sea turtle..........  Chelonia mydas....  Breeding colony     43 FR 32800; Jul     NA.
                                                      populations in      28, 1978.
                                                      Florida and on
                                                      the Pacific coast
                                                      of Mexico.
 (2) Hawksbill sea turtle......  Eretmochelys        Wherever found;     35 FR 8491; Jun 2,   47 FR 27295; Jun
                                  imbricata.          tropical seas.      1970.                24, 1982, 63 FR
                                                                                               46693; Sep 2,
                                                                                               1998, 64 FR
                                                                                               14052; Mar 23,
                                                                                               1999.
 (3) Kemp's ridley sea turtle..  Lepidochelys        Wherever found;     35 FR 18319; Dec 2,  NA.
                                  kempii.             tropical and        1970.
                                                      temperate seas in
                                                      Atlantic Basin,
                                                      incl. Gulf of
                                                      Mexico.

[[Page 58952]]

 
 (4) Leatherback sea turtle....  Dermochelys         Wherever found;     35 FR 8491; Jun 2,   43 FR 43688; Sep
                                  coriacea.           tropical,           1970.                26, 1978, 44 FR
                                                      temperate, and                           17710; Mar 23,
                                                      subpolar seas.                           1979, 64 FR
                                                                                               14052; Mar 23,
                                                                                               1999.
 (5) Loggerhead sea turtle--     Caretta caretta...  Mediterranean Sea    [INSERT FR          NA.
 Mediterranean Sea DPS.                               east of 5[deg]36'   CITATION WHEN
                                                      W Long.             PUBLISHED AS A
                                                                          FINAL RULE].
 (6) Loggerhead sea turtle--     Caretta caretta...  North Indian Ocean   [INSERT FR          NA.
 North Indian Ocean DPS.                              north of the        CITATION WHEN
                                                      equator and south   PUBLISHED AS A
                                                      of 30[deg] N. Lat.  FINAL RULE].
 (7) Loggerhead sea turtle--     Caretta caretta...  North Pacific        [INSERT FR          NA.
 North Pacific Ocean DPS.                             north of the        CITATION WHEN
                                                      equator and south   PUBLISHED AS A
                                                      of 60[deg] N. Lat.  FINAL RULE].
 (8) Loggerhead sea turtle--     Caretta caretta...  Northeast Atlantic   [INSERT FR          NA.
 Northeast Atlantic Ocean DPS.                        Ocean north of      CITATION WHEN
                                                      the equator,        PUBLISHED AS A
                                                      south of 60[deg]    FINAL RULE].
                                                      N. Lat., and east
                                                      of 40[deg] W.
                                                      Long., except in
                                                      the vicinity of
                                                      the Strait of
                                                      Gibraltar where
                                                      the eastern
                                                      boundary is
                                                      5[deg]36' W. Long.
 (9) Loggerhead sea turtle--     Caretta caretta...  South Pacific        [INSERT FR          NA.
 South Pacific Ocean DPS.                             south of the        CITATION WHEN
                                                      equator, north of   PUBLISHED AS A
                                                      60[deg] S. Lat.,    FINAL RULE].
                                                      west of 67[deg]
                                                      W. Long., and
                                                      east of 141[deg]
                                                      E. Long.
 (10) Sea turtle, olive ridley.  Lepidochelys        Breeding colony     43 FR 32800; Jul     NA.
                                  olivacea.           populations on      28, 1978.
                                                      the Pacific coast
                                                      of Mexico.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Species includes taxonomic species, subspecies, distinct population segments (DPSs) (for a policy statement,
  see 61 FR 4722, February 7, 1996), and evolutionarily significant units (ESUs) (for a policy statement, see 56
  FR 58612, November 20, 1991).

* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2011-23960 Filed 9-16-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P