Marine Protected Area for Cumberland?

November 20, 2014  |  Ear to the Sand

southeastern_us_sightings_mapGeorgia’s Cumberland Island National Seashore is part of the largest loggerhead sea turtle nesting site in the world. Over 25,000 endangered turtles nest in the Southeast United States, and Cumberland Island—with 18 miles of unbroken, undeveloped dunes—is the largest barrier island in the loggerhead’s nesting habitat.

Just offshore from Cumberland Island are the only endangered right whale calving grounds on the planet. Only 350 right whales remain, and they all return to the waters near Cumberland Island to give birth. Two-thirds of all remaining right whales have been sighted in this area.

Sadly, the U.S. Navy has begun construction of an undersea warfare training range in this same area. If the right whale calving grounds are lost, they have little chance of surviving as a species.

To protect whales and turtles along this section of coast, Wild Cumberland and a coalition of other groups are proposing a marine protected area. This zone would be off-limits to commercial fishing and would prohibit any future developments like the Navy’s underwater military testing site. The marine protected area would also help the recovery of overfished stocks and brown shrimp populations and ensure the persistence of healthy fisheries in the region.

Public support will be critical in establishing the reserve. Please sign the petition on our home page and spread the word.

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