Protection of Sea Turtles
The Animal Welfare Institute and its co-plaintiffs brought claims pursuant to the Endangered Species Act and other laws against BP for burning critically endangered sea turtles as part of its clean-up efforts in the Gulf of Mexico following the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The animal welfare and conservation groups subsequently amended their complaint to include the U.S. Coast Guard as a defendant for directing BP’s containment activities.
On July 2, 2010, the parties reached an interim agreement stipulating that BP and the U.S. Coast Guard would institute standard protocols for sea turtle observation and rescue in the Gulf of Mexico in order to minimize any adverse impacts of containment activities on sea turtles. The following day, an emergency meeting was held with representatives of the parties and scientists to discuss the methods being employed by the U.S. Coast Guard and how such methods could be altered to enhance the protection of sea turtles. On July 4, 2010, the U.S. Coast Guard released its Best Management Practices for sea turtles and marine mammals related to in-situ burning operations for the Deepwater Horizon response.