By Mike Shutak
Fishing, dredging, beach nourishment, beach use and other coastal activities may become more difficult if two federal agencies designate critical habitat areas for sea turtles in North Carolina: one on the coast and one in ocean waters.
Local governments, county governments, state agencies and congressmen are opposing the habitat designation on the coast – the earlier of the two proposals. The ocean critical habitat proposal was filed in the Federal Register just this Wednesday.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed on March 25 designating 739 miles of the U.S. Atlantic coast critical habitat for loggerhead sea turtles, a species listed under the Endangered Species Act as threatened (i.e. likely to become endangered) in the northwest Atlantic Ocean. This proposed area includes 96 miles of North Carolina’s coast.
Then Wednesday the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service also filed a proposal to give this same designation to areas in the waters of the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, including areas off North Carolina.
Critical habitat designation means activities or projects in the habitat that are federally funded, managed or permitted have to undergo additional scrutiny before being permitted. If threats to the habitat or the species using it were found, special management consideration would be required to get a permit.
In its proposal, Fish and Wildlife says it would examine proposed projects for 12 categories of threatening activities: More....