Washington, D.C. – The Senate today gave its final approval to the "Marine Turtle Conservation Act." The legislation authored by U.S. Sens. Jim Jeffords, I – Vt., and James Inhofe, R – Ok., 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. The bill now goes to the President for signature into law. "Marine turtles face extinction if we do not act quickly," said Jeffords the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. "This legislation will help to preserve this ancient and distinctive part of the world's biological diversity." "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," said Inhofe the Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. "The Marine Turtle Conservation Act will bolster important efforts toward the continued survival and recovery of this and other marine turtle species." Six of the seven recognized marine turtle species are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, and all seven species have been included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). Marine turtles are long-living, late-maturing, and highly migratory, and are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of human exploitation and habitat loss. In addition, for some species, illegal trade seriously threatens wild populations. The Marine Turtle Conservation Act is modeled after the successful Asian Elephant Conservation Act, the African Elephant Conservation Act, and the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act introduced by Jeffords in 2001. These acts have established programs within the Department of the Interior to assist in the conservation and preservation of these species around the world. More than 300 projects have been funded and generated millions of dollars in private matching funds from sponsors representing a diverse group of conservation organizations. The projects range from purchasing anti poaching equipment for wildlife rangers to implementing elephant conservation plans to aerial monitoring of the Northern white rhinoceros. The bill number is H.R. 3378.