By Tim Devaney - 07/09/14 05:36 PM EDT
Ocean conservation groups are cheering the largest ever critical habit for threatened loggerhead sea turtles designated by federal authorities Wednesday to protect these turtles from accidental collisions with fishing boats.
"While migrating thousands of miles in the course of their lifetimes, loggerheads face persistent threats from fishing gear, pollution and climate change," Amanda Keledjian, a marine scientist at Oceana, said in a statement. "This critical habitat designation is essential for the future survival and recover of sea turtles in the U.S. and will ensure that populations are more resilient in the future."
This comes after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on Wednesday announced new protections for loggerhead sea turtles, designating as a critical habitat 685 miles of beaches and 200,000 square miles of water along the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
The rules will primarily effect turtles swimming along the souther east coast in states from North Carolina down through Mississippi.
The protections go into effect in 30 days.