A complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service have violated the Endangered Species Act by not responding within 12 months to lawsuits asking for the protections.
Lawyers for Oceana and other groups say the delay is hurting waning populations of leatherbacks and loggerheads off the U.S. coasts.
The petitions ask that loggerheads be upgraded from threatened to endangered. Leatherbacks are already listed as endangered.
The groups also want a critical habitat established off the Oregon and California coasts, where the turtles feed.