Proposed Rule to Designate Critical Habitat for Green Sea Turtles
We, NOAA Fisheries, are proposing to designate new areas of critical habitat and modify existing critical habitat for threatened and endangered distinct population segments (DPSs) of the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), in areas under U.S. jurisdiction, pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973. We are proposing to designate marine critical habitat in nearshore waters (from the mean high water line to 20 meters depth) off the coasts of Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, California, Hawaiʻi, Guam, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and the Pacific Remote Island Areas. It also includes nearshore waters (from the mean high water line to 10 kilometers offshore) between San Diego Bay and Mexico. Proposed marine critical habitat also includes Sargassum habitat (from 10 meters depth to the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone) in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. We are also proposing to modify designated critical habitat in the coastal waters surrounding Culebra Island, Puerto Rico; however, this critical habitat designation remains in effect during this rulemaking process.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife is concurrently proposing to designate terrestrial critical habitat for five distinct population segments of the green sea turtle. NOAA Fisheries and U.S. Fish and Wildlife are jointly hosting virtual and in-person public hearings to receive comments on these proposed designations.
Please provide public comments on the proposed rule by October 17, 2023. You may submit comments:
- Online at https://www.regulations.gov, search for docket NOAA-NMFS-2023-0087;
- Orally at public hearings; or
- Via mail at: Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East West Highway (SSMC3), Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, Attn: Green Turtle Critical Habitat Proposed Rule