Washington, D.C. – President Bush has signed into law legislation authored by U.S. Sens. Jim Jeffords, I – Vt., and James Inhofe, R – OK., to protect marine turtles. The Marine Turtle Conservation Act authorizes $5 million to assist in the recovery and protection of marine turtles by supporting projects to conserve their nesting habitats in foreign countries, preventing the illegal trade in marine turtle parts and products, and addressing other threats. Jeffords, the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee said, ”Marine turtles are one of nature’s true endangered treasures. This law will help protect and preserve them throughout the world. If we do not act quickly, marine turtles will face extinction.” Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee said, ”Years ago, I personally helped to conserve the nests of highly endangered Kemp's Ridley sea turtles in Texas, an experience that left me with an appreciation of the vulnerability of marine turtle species. I am very pleased the President has signed the Marine Turtle Conservation Act which will bolster important efforts toward the continued survival and recovery of this and other marine turtle species." Marine turtles around the globe are in serious trouble. This is especially true for the giant leatherback turtles, which can grow to eight feet long and swim across ocean basins, feeding on jellyfish. In the Pacific, leatherback populations have declined by more than 90 percent in the last two decades. Six of the world's seven marine turtle species are endangered or critically endangered - as classified by the IUCN-World Conservation Union Red List - and are listed as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973. All seven are listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), meaning that international trade in their parts and products is prohibited.