12-Month Finding on Petition to Identify Northwest Atlantic Leatherback Turtle as Distinct Population Segment
We, NMFS and USFWS, announce a 12-month finding on a petition to identify the Northwest Atlantic population of the leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) as a distinct population segment (DPS) and list it as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In response to the petition, we completed a comprehensive status review of the species, which also constitutes the 5-year review of the species, to determine potential DPSs following the Policy Regarding the Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate Population Segments Under the ESA and to perform extinction risk analyses. Based on the best scientific and commercial data available, including the Status Review Report, and after taking into account efforts made to protect the species, we conclude that seven populations would meet the discreteness and significance criteria for recognition as DPSs, including the Northwest Atlantic population. However, even if we were to list them separately, all seven DPSs would meet the definition for endangered species (i.e., they are in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of their range). The species is already listed as endangered throughout its range. We have determined that the listing of DPSs is not warranted, and therefore we do not propose any changes to the existing global listing.