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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Turtle Power: Enviros Sue Government In S.F. Court For Alleged Failure To Shell Out For Leatherbacks

Posted By on Tue, Jun 2, 2009 at 7:30 AM

click to enlarge A group of environmental organizations are not 'happy together' about the government's foot-dragging
  • A group of environmental organizations are not 'happy together' about the government's foot-dragging
A trio (not a quartet) of environmental groups (not named after Renaissance painters) sued the U.S. government last week in San Francisco federal court, claiming the Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others have pulled their head into their shells when it comes to protecting the leatherback and loggerhead turtles.

Because these two species are knocking with both paws upon death's door, the plaintiffs in 2007 asked the government to do two things: Declare the local waters -- Northern California and Oregon -- to be "critical habitat" and upgrade the loggerheads from "threatened" to "endangered." The government is required to respond to such petitions within a year. It's now 2009 -- hence the lawsuit.

"Defendants' continuing failure to comply with the Endangered Species Act will result in irreparable harm to the Leatherback and Loggerhead sea turtles..." reads the suit, filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Oceana, Inc., and Turtle Island Restoration Network. "No monetary damages or other legal remedy can compensate Plaintiffs..." You ever try to buy off a turtle? Can't do it!

The suit notes that Loggerhead turtles of the north Pacific are among the "most imperiled" creatures of the sea. Fewere than 1,000 nesting females are believed to remain, with more and more each year menaced by "longline and gillnet fishing"; thousands of the creatures are believed to be killed every year by commercial fishing interests.

In a (turtle) shell, the environmental groups want a bevy of injunctions to curtail the myriad activities that threaten the turtles while the government gets on the ball and responds to the 2007 petition.

It all comes down to this sadly amusing note: In a case involving turtles, the government is accused of moving painfully slowly.

Read the full suit here.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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