Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region
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Laws Protecting Sea Turtles

Credit: USFWS

Credit: USFWS

International Laws

Worldwide, there are more than 70 conservation laws and regulations that apply to sea turtles. Two of these are global in scope.
  • The Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of 1973: Restricts international trade of endangered and threatened species and their products. Over 145 countries have signed the agreement, however, a few Asian countries, including Japan, have taken exception to the inclusion of some species and continue to trade in large quantities of turtle products.
  • The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals of 1979: Addresses endangered species that travel from one government jurisdiction to another. This convention provides a framework on which to base future conservation agreements as well as a mechanism for governments to unilaterally conserve endangered migratory species.

Federal Laws

  • The Lacey Act of 1900: Restricts domestic trade of birds and other wildlife.
  • The Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973: Offers federal protection to help recover populations of endangered species.
  • International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), 1990's: Against the law for a vessel to dump plastic trash anywhere in navigable waters of the U.S. and restricts dumping of other garbage. Marinas and public and private terminals are required to provide waste reception facilities. To date, pollution from land-based sources such as sewage treatment plants and plastics manufacturers has not been addressed.

Florida State Laws

  • The Turtle Excluder Devise (TED) of 1989: Mandatory for commercial shrimpers to insert a frame with an escape door into their shrimp trawl nets to allow sea turtles and other non target species to escape from drowning. Mandatory year round in Florida, seasonally from Texas ? North Carolina.
  • Gear Specifications and Prohibited Gear of 1991: Reduced the length of commercial fishing gill nets to a maximum of 600 yards. Reduces the capture of sea turtles and other non target species such as dolphins, sharks, big fish, and whales.


Last updated: May 26, 2010
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