Contact: Chris Smith


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently assessed a recreational fisherman with an $800 civil penalty for illegally taking a sea turtle. The penalty was assessed against Thomas Schaub of Dover, Fla., for taking a green sea turtle on Aug. 19, 1999. Although the turtle was dead when Schaub took it from the water off of Marathon, Fla., doing so still constituted a violation of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Schaub has paid the $800 penalty.

"The public must understand that endangered and threatened sea turtles cannot be taken, even if they are already dead," said Senior Enforcement Attorney Karen Antrim Raine of NOAA's Office of General Counsel, who prosecuted the case. "All six species of sea turtles found in United States' waters-- green, hawksbill, leatherback, loggerhead, Kemp's ridley and olive ridley--are protected under the Endangered Species Act."

The Endangered Species Act defines a "take" as harassing, harming, pursuing, hunting, shooting, wounding, killing, trapping, capturing, collecting or attempting to engage in any such conduct. The Act prohibits the taking of endangered and threatened sea turtles and any part, product, egg, offspring, or the dead body or parts.

"If citizens find a dead, sick, or injured sea turtle in the state of Florida, either stranded on a beach or floating in the water, they should they should never attempt to handle it. Instead, they should notify the Florida Marine Patrol at 1-800-DIAL-FMP or contact the Florida Fish Wildlife Conservation Commission's turtle stranding staff by pager at 1-800-241-4653 then enter the identification number 274-4867," said Special Agent John Barylsky of NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement who headed the investigation which led to the charge against Schaub.

According to the FWCC's Bureau of Protected Species Management, people reporting a sighting of a dead, sick or injured sea turtle should be prepared to answer the following questions:

1. What is the exact location of the animal?
2. Is the turtle alive or dead?
3. What is the approximate size of the turtle?
4. Is the turtle marked with spray paint? (This indicates that the turtle has been documented.)
5. What is the location of the closest access point to the turtle?

NOAA Fisheries urges citizens to report fishery violations during weekly business hours of 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 a.m. Eastern, to its Southeast Region Law Enforcement Division at (727) 570-5344, or after hours and weekends at its National Enforcement Hotline at (800) 853-1964.

The National Marine Fisheries Service is the principal steward of the nation's living marine resources, regulating the nation's commercial and recreational fisheries and managing species under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act throughout federal waters which extend 200 miles from the coastline. An agency of the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA Fisheries also protects marine and anadromous species under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.