For Immediate Release
BP Oil Spill Operations Violating Endangered Species Act
Sea Turtle Conservationists Call for Wildlife Observers in All BP Oil Clean-up Operations to Prevent Harm to Endangered Sea Turtles in the Gulf of Mexico
FOREST KNOLLS, CA - Sea Turtle Restoration Project has notified BP and the U. S. government
the clean-up of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is harming
sea turtles in violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The
conservation group is calling for immediate compliance with the ESA and
wildlife observers during all clean-up operations to watch for and
the legal notice.
"We are calling on BP and Unified Command to get qualified observers at
every oil clean-up skimming and boom operation to assure that they are
harming sea turtles, because even operations that are done for the right
reason, can have detrimental impacts without proper protocols in place,"
said Todd Steiner, Executive Director of STRP, based in California and
Any harm to sea turtles without authorization - including any action
disrupts or impairs normal behavior - is illegal under the ESA. No such
authorization has been issued for BP oil clean-up operations in the
"The law is clear that any cleanup activity which may affect listed sea
turtles is subject to biological consultation with the wildlife experts
the National Marine Fisheries Service. The proper course of action is
to issue an ‘incidental take statement' setting forth appropriate
conditions on how cleanup workers interact with and handle any sea
encounter," said Deborah Sivas, Director of the Stanford
Environmental Law Clinic, which sent the notification to BP Oil and the
government on STRP's behalf.
In carrying out Gulf cleanup operations, all federal agencies have an
obligation under the ESA to ensure the protection and conservation of
turtles. More than 700 stranded, oiled and dead sea turtles have been
since the oil spill began four months ago, some of them in connection
skimming, oil burning and other cleanup operations.
The BP and the U.S. Coast Guard recently agreed to wildlife observers
measures to protect sea turtles from being incinerated during surface
burns. But they have not addressed skimming operations not associated
burning operations that are also are causing sea turtles harm.
Sea turtles use coastal marshes to forage and sandy beaches to nest, two
habitats where cleanup workers are deploying booms to minimize oil
Booms are likely to prevent sea turtles from entering and exiting these
critical foraging and nesting sites. While these cleanup operations are
for protecting vulnerable habitats, it is critical that trained
deployed along with skimmers and booms to ensure that sea turtles are
harmed by these activities.
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The Sea Turtle Restoration Project fights to protect endangered sea turtles in ways that make cultural and economic sense to the communities that share the beaches and waters with these gentle creatures. With offices in California, Texas, Papua New Guinea, and Costa Rica, STRP has been leading the international fight to protect sea turtle populations worldwide.