Funding and Permitting
All in-water sea turtle research activities managed by the MRD have been federally funded. Historically, MRD in-water sea turtle research efforts were short-lived studies lasting for upwards to three years; however, since 2000, NMFS has annually funded the MRD to conduct directed sea turtle research in coastal waters off South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
Because sea turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act, these research activities must also be federally permitted through the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The federal Section 10(A)(1)(a) permitting process involves a rigorous internal and external review (to include public comment) of the proposed methods for capturing and handling sea turtles as well as potential sampling impacts on sensitive habitats, after which a five-year permit is issued. State natural resource agencies in Florida and Georgia require annual permit renewal. The current federal permit (#15566) for research activities conducted from 2016 through 2020 expires 15 April 2021. Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission Marine Turtle Permit (MTP #163) expires annually on 31 December, and Georgia Department of Natural Resources Scientific Collecting Permit (CN 21303) expires annually on 31 March.