North Florida Ecological Services Office
Southeast Region

Federally listed Sea Turtles ESA Five-Year Reviews Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: August 28, 2007

Q1: What is a five-year review?

A1: A five-year review is an Endangered Species Act (ESA) mandated process which is conducted to ensure the listing classification of a species as either threatened or endangered is still accurate.  The five-year review is not a rulemaking in and of itself.  It provides analysis and a staff "recommendation," rather than a "determination" and as such is not a decision document.

Q2: Who is responsible for the reviews?

A2: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (Agencies) share jurisdiction for federally listed sea turtles and jointly conducted the review.

Q3: What species were considered for these reviews?

A3: Six (6) federally listed sea turtles: Olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea); Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii); Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea); Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas); Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata); and Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta). 

Q4:  What are the results of these reviews?

A4:  After review and analysis of the best scientific and commercially available information and data, the Agencies’ recommended the current listing classification for these six sea turtle species remain unchanged.

Q5:  What will happen as a result of these five-year reviews?

A5:  There are no specific federal actions to take as biologists recommended no change in the status for the six (6) listed sea turtle species. See the reviews themselves for recovery and conservation actions that biologists identified as high priority for these species.  We will continue to work with partners to pursue these actions.

Q6: What opportunities did the public have to participate in this review?

A6:  The Agencies announced the start of the five-year reviews in April 2005 and at that time solicited new information from researchers, federal and state agencies, groups and the general public.  All information received was considered as part of the review processes.

Q7:  What information was considered in these reviews?

A7:  For these reviews, biologists reviewed new information and data in the following categories:

  • species biology, including but not limited to, population trends, distribution, abundance, demographics, and genetics;
  • habitat conditions, including but not limited to, amount, distribution, and suitability;
  • conservation measures that have been implemented that benefit the species;
  • threat status and trends; and,
  • other new information, data, or corrections, including but not limited to, taxonomic or nomenclatural changes, identification of erroneous information contained in the listing, and improved analytical methods.

Q8:  How do the Agencies determine whether a species is endangered or threatened?

A8:  The ESA defines “endangered” as “... in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range…” whereas “threatened” is defined as “... likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range…”

Section 4(a)(1) of the ESA establishes that the Agencies determine whether a species is endangered or threatened based on one or more of the five following factors:

  • Factor 1: The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;
  • Factor 2: Over utilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
  • Factor 3: Disease or predation;
  • Factor 4: The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
  • Factor 5: Other natural or man-made factors affecting its continued existence.

Section 4(a)(1) of the ESA also requires that a determination be made on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.

Q9: In what context was this information reviewed and analyzed?

A9: The best scientific and commercially available data and information were reviewed within the context of the ESA’s five listing factors, taking into consideration the most current recovery plans for each species.  Biologists from both agencies looked at the status and trend of sea turtle populations, the ESA listing factors that categorize threats, and recovery plan actions or tasks.

Q10:  Will the public be given an opportunity to provide comments on the five-year reviews?

A10:  No, a five-year review is an internal staff analysis which makes a classification recommendation.  As such, it is not a decision document nor is it a proposal for change.  While the Agencies did seek information from citizens at the beginning of this process, the Agencies are not soliciting formal public comments on the reviews or recommendations.  See Q6 for details on public comment opportunities during the review process.

Q11:  Were these reviews and recommendations peer reviewed?

A11:  Yes, these reviews contained a “no change in status” recommendation and as such each completed a peer review process prior to being finalized.

Q12: Where can I get a copy of the sea turtle five-year reviews?

A12:  The five-year reviews are available online at http://www.fws.gov/northflorida or may be requested by email to seaturtle @ fws.gov or by regular mail to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Attn: Sea Turtle Five-year Reviews, 7915 Baymeadows Way, Suite 200, Jacksonville, FL 32256.  Please include your name and street mailing address in your request.  E-mail requests will receive an automated response confirming receipt of your request.

Q13:  How can I stay current or find out more information on the sea turtles and your conservation efforts?

A13:  The most current sea turtle information is available online at http://www.fws.gov/northflorida and http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/turtles/.

2007 Sea Turtle Five-Year Reviews

Sea Turtle Information

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Last updated: May 1, 2013