Critical Habitat Designation For Leatherback Sea Turtles Along the U.S. West Coast
We, the NOAA Fisheries, issue a final rule to revise the current critical habitat for the leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) by designating additional areas within the Pacific Ocean. This designation includes approximately 16,910 square miles (43,798 square km) stretching along the California coast from Point Arena to Point Arguello east of the 3,000 meter depth contour; and 25,004 square miles (64,760 square km) stretching from Cape Flattery, Washington to Cape Blanco, Oregon east of the 2,000 meter depth contour. The designated areas comprise approximately 41,914 square miles (108,558 square km) of marine habitat and include waters from the ocean surface down to a maximum depth of 262 feet (80 m). Other Pacific waters within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) were evaluated based on the geographical area occupied by the species, but we determined that they were not eligible for designation, as they do not contain the feature identified as essential to the conservation of the species. The total estimated annualized economic impact associated with this designation is estimated to range between $188,000 and $9.1 million U.S. dollars.