The Endangered Species Act defines five factors that may qualify a species for listing. Recovery plans allow for detailed examination of these five factors, and dynamic recovery plans such as this one create an opportunity for those details to be regularly updated.

Five factors, relative importance

The ESA requires only a yes/no determination of whether each factor is a threat to a species. But knowing the relative importance of each factor can be very useful for determining how resources are allocated. The microapp below is an illustration of how relative importance could be solicited and communicated. Beyond showing the “current” threats, this could be extended to showing both the past and expected future threats. The categories could also be refined, e.g., Factor E could separate climate change from other factors to provide a more refined picture of the threat landscape.


Threats table

This table, from the 1999 East Pacific green sea turtle recovery plan, is stored in a Google Sheet (here). Using a web-based recovery plan, this table and much larger ones are easily searched and sorted, neither of which is possible with paper-based recovery plans.

US West Coast
Am. Samoa
Direct take
Natural disasters P
Disease/parasites P
Algae/seagrass/reef degradation P
Environmental contaminants P
Debris (entangle/ingest) 1
Fisheries (incidental) – domestic waters 3
Fisheries (incidental) – international ?
Predation ?
Boat collisions 1
Marina/dock development
Dynamite fishing
Oil exploration/development
Power plant entrapment
Construction blasting


Threats descriptions

This section presents a brief overview of threats to East Pacific green turtles, followed by summaries of major threats in each U.S.-affiliated area. A third section then presents more detailed information specific to each area where this species occurs. “Threats” to sea turtles are broadly defined as any factor that jeopardizes the survival of turtles or impedes population recovery. These threat categories are presented, but it is readily apparent that not all are equally important and that threats in one area may not be relevant in another. Consequently, each political jurisdiction was evaluated separately based on information received from the Pacific Sea Turtle Recovery Team and Technical Advisors. (see Table 1).

Pacific Synopsis

Lack of knowledge concerning the abundance and distribution of Chelonia in the northeastern Pacific constitutes a threat, particularly since important foraging grounds have not been specifically identified. Forage areas most likely exist in bays and inlets along the coast of Baja California (Mexico) and southern California (United States), however, these vital areas cannot be given adequate protection until they have been identified. The breeding population origins and migratory habits of East Pacific green turtles frequenting waters off the west coast of the United States are unknown. Threats to migrating turtles are, therefore, also unknown. This information is important for effective management.

Regional Summaries

U.S. West Coast

Primary turtle threats:

  • debris
  • boat collisions
  • incidental capture

The primary threats to the species in U.S. waters include incidental capture by coastal fisheries, boat impacts and water pollution.

Other U.S. Areas

Primary turtle threats:

  • N/A

This regional population does not extend to other U.S. jurisdictions.