FRISCO — Gillnet fishing in Mexico and coastal development in Florida is driving loggerhead sea turtles to the brink of extinction, according to conservation groups, who filed a lawsuit this week to try and get better protection for the turtles's critical habitat.
The groups acknowledge that conservation efforts in Florida have helped populations recover, but insist that the overall long-term threats require greater protection. The number of loggerhead sea turtles nesting along Florida beaches has grown in recent years, but these numbers have varied significantly over the past two decades.
North Pacific loggerheads, which nest in Japan and cross the Pacific to feed along the coasts of Southern California and Mexico, have declined by at least 80 percent over the past decade and were recently reclassified from threatened to endangered. It has been estimated that more than 1,000 loggerheads die each year as a result of gillnet fishing in Mexico, with more than 400 washing ashore dead last summer.
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