Draft order on the establishment of a list of sea turtles protected in the country, and the conditions for their protection

France hosts in its waters on the French mainland and abroad six of the seven existing species of sea turtles: olive ridley turtle, leatherback turtle, loggerhead turtle, green turtle, Kemp’s turtle, hawksbill turtle. The first three are classified as “VU” (Vulnerable) globally by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which is responsible for compiling the red lists of endangered species. The green turtle is classified as endangered “EN” worldwide and endangered “CR” in Martinique. Finally, the Kemp’s tortoise and the hawk tortoise are classified as Critically Endangered “CR” globally. Overseas, populations of leatherback and olive ridley turtles, two species classified as “VU”, are declining in the Indian Ocean and Guyana.

In general, the main impacts on turtles are plastic entanglement and ingestion (in mainland France and abroad), accidental capture (in mainland France and abroad), and poaching at egg-laying sites (particularly in Guyana and Mayotte) . ).

Currently, all sea turtles are protected by a decree of October 14, 2005, establishing a list of sea turtles protected in the country and the conditions for their protection. However, the draft of this text dated 2005 contains a number of gaps that now need to be filled in accordance with the updating of the regulatory texts for the protection of species and, in particular, marine mammals.

Therefore, the Ministry of Ecological Transition is proposing a new sea turtle protection decree that would override the 2005 decree.

The draft of the new decree establishing the list of sea turtles protected in the country and the methods of their protection has been revised and updated in its structure and wording, so that its presentation is similar to the decree establishing the list of protected marine mammals. on the national territory and the conditions for their protection.

This draft new national decree for the protection of sea turtles includes, inter alia, the following new provisions:

Extending the application of the text to marine waters under sovereignty and jurisdiction, i.e. the exclusive economic zone, as a marine mammal protection decree (under the provisions of the biodiversity restoration law), while the current text only applies to the sea in territorial waters.

- Applicability of this decree to the Department of Mayotte and to the French Southern and Antarctic lands (for the Broken Islands).

- Legal protection of sea turtle habitats, complementary to protection of individuals, and mention of relevant types of habitats.

- Direct mention of light pollution as a factor of concern;

- Explicit reference to biological sampling as intentional deletion on the prohibited list.

- Adding an obligation to report incidental catches by fishing gear, as is currently the case for marine mammals.

Regarding the addition of the statement “including the Pacific form agassizii” for the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), the status debate of the East Pacific black turtle continues. The Department of Water and Biodiversity proposes here to agree with the opinion of Jacques Frete, French sea turtle expert (opinion based on the opinion of Peter S. H. Prichard (1999)), who argues that the reproductive isolation of this melanic form should be taken into account, and that this may be a new taxon. France only cares about Clipperton.

The National Committee for Nature Conservation (CNPN) gave a positive opinion on February 22, 2022 on this draft order.

The National Fisheries Committee (CNPMEM) on March 24, 2022 gave a positive opinion on this draft order.

In accordance with article L123-19-1 of the Environmental Code, this decree is subject to public comment within three weeks.


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