Creating a Kemp's Ridley Marine Reserve in Texas: The Missing Link In a
Proven Protection Strategy
Sea Turtle Restoration Project, P.O. Box 400, Forest Knolls, CA 94933; firstname.lastname@example.org, www.seaturtles.org
The Kemp's ridley is the most critically endangered sea turtle in the world. Less
than 2,000 nesting females remain of a population of at least 40,000 that once nested
annually in the Gulf of Mexico. Protection of nesting beaches and use of Turtle Excluder
Devices on shrimp vessels as required under the Endangered Species Act have failed to stop
these endangered sea turtles from drowning in shrimp nets and washing up dead on Texas
beaches in large numbers year after year during the shrimp season. Added protection is
urgently needed to assure the survival of Kemp's ridley sea turtles in the U.S. At the
primary Kemp's ridley's nesting beach in Rancho Nuevo, Mexico, beach protection and use of
Turtle Excluder Devices have been enhanced by the creation of a no commercial fishing zone
(marine reserve) along the coastiline. This three-tiered conservation strategy has
resulted in the slow increase of Kemp's ridley nesting population there.The Kemp's
ridley's only consistent U.S. nesting site is in the vicinity of Padre Island, Texas.
However, this is also the place where more dead adult Kemp's ridleys wash up dead than
anywhere else in the U.S. A Kemp's Ridley Marine Reserve along Padre Island, Texas,1 that
is permanently off-limits to commercial fishing would protect critical nesting, foraging
and migrating habitat for the Kemp's ridley in the U.S. By following Mexico's successes in
Texas by adding a marine reserve to existing conservation practices of beach protection
and use of Turtle Excluder Devices, we can help assure the Kemp's ridley recovery and also
provide benefits to other sea turtle species and marine life, the shrimp fishery, and the
communities along the coastline.
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