Sea Turtle Bycatch in the Gulf of Mexico Bottom Longline Fishery

Date Filed: 5/14/2009
Case Status: Active

Sea Turtle Conservancy et al. v. Locke

This case challenged the failure of the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) to comply with the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) and the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) in its authorization of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Fishery. Despite a recent history of high levels of capture, injury, and death to threatened and endangered sea turtles, the agency’s environmental analysis failed to account for the full extent of these impacts, failed to rely on the best available science, and failed to rationally explain NMFS’s conclusion allowing the Fishery to proceed. In addition, this case challenges NMFS’s refusal to reinitiate ESA consultation or supplement its NEPA analysis following the unprecedented 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which also significantly affected Gulf sea turtle populations.

On July 5, 2011, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida ruled that NMFS violated the ESA when it declined to reinitiate consultation on the Fishery following the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and that NMFS violated NEPA when it used an inappropriate “no action” alternative as the basis for its Environmental Impact Statement.  The parties have now briefed remedy for these violations and are awaiting a remedial order from the court.

Related Documents:

60 Day Notice Letter (7/22/2010)
Complaint (10/1/2010)
Comment Letter (3/26/2009)
60 Day Notice Letter (1/13/2009)
Complaint (4/15/2009)


Earthjustice, Center for Biological Diversity, Sea Turtle Conservancy, Gulf Restoration Network, Turtle Island Restoration Network