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WWF Applauds House Passage of Marine Turtle Conservation Legislation

Washington -- World Wildlife Fund (WWF) today commended passage of the Marine Turtle Conservation Act by the House of Representatives. The bill, H.R. 3378, will authorize up to $5 million a year for projects to conserve marine turtles and their nesting habitats in foreign countries. The Senate passed its version of the bill, S. 1210, in November.

"Passage of the Marine Turtle Conservation Act will support international conservation of threatened sea turtles outside of the U.S. to ensure that the successes of ongoing conservation efforts here are not lost when the animals leave our shores," said Brooks Yeager, vice president of WWF's Global Threats program. "The Act will advance conservation goals, build conservation partnerships and leverage significant resources from private and other sources and build goodwill abroad."

In addition to helping balance coastal ecosystems, marine turtles contribute to many coastal economies. Increasingly, communities are finding ways to benefit from turtles economically while conserving them. Marine turtle tourism brings nearly three times as much money as the sale of turtle products according to a recent economic study by WWF. The report shows that worldwide declines in sea turtle populations jeopardize jobs, tourism and coastal economies, especially in developing countries, two thirds of which have sea turtles.

"WWF has been working all over the world to protect sea turtles and their habitats for more than 40 years. We have learned that strategic investments and long-term commitments pay off," said Yeager. "It is crucial that we take every opportunity to ensure the survival of marine turtles. Six of the world's seven marine turtle species are endangered or critically endangered. Habitats key to their survival are being rapidly degraded."

"We applaud both Representative Gilchrest, who introduced the bill, and Representative Pombo, Chairman of the House Resources Committee, for their attention to this important issue. We hope, during this session, the House and Senate will advance the bill forward and send it to the White House to be signed into law," concluded Yeager.