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Florida Wildlife Commission plans to phase out permits for sea turtle rescue groups

The FWC notified several south Florida groups it plans to eliminate granting permits. It has not yet affected groups in north Florida

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — An environmental crisis is happening on our beaches, according to Casey Jones, founder of Sea Turtle Watch.

"We still got a long way to go," Jones told First Coast News

He is taking issue with the Florida Wildlife Commission's announcement to phase out permits for groups that keep watch over hatchlings.

"I'm all for people out there saving [sea turtles] if you can do it responsibly," Jones said.

FWC says the presence of volunteers, "…may deter females from emerging from the ocean onto the beach to nest or cause them to abandon nesting attempts."

The decision, for now, will restrict nest sitting for groups only in South Florida, but Jones believes it could have a future impact on the First Coast.

Credit: Contributed
Baby sea turtles

"It's definitely going to be heartbreaking to lose hatchlings because of the volunteers not being able to be out there on the beach," Jones explained.

He said the focus needs to be the bright lights that attract turtles to the land, which he claims, end with almost certain death.

He shared photos of turtles ending up in the swimming pools of beachside condos. Federal law prohibits anyone from moving them.

"If you fix the light pollution then hopefully you won't need the volunteers," he said. 

At least one of the rescue groups in south Florida plans a legal fight. Jones says his group has not been contacted by the state.