Hawksbill sea turtles are in danger of extinction and are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Capturing and killing hawksbill sea turtles for their valuable shell, which is used to make hairclips, combs, jewelry, decorative art and even cowboy boots, is a major threat to the recovery of the species.
While the legal international trade of hawksbill shells ceased in 1994, Cuba has recently pushed to reopen the market. A number of countries still allow the killing of hawksbill sea turtles, including the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Although the killing of hawksbills and the poaching of their eggs is illegal in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, hawksbill products are still readily available for sale.
The killing of hawksbill sea turtles still occurs throughout the world for traditional, medicinal and subsistence level use. In the Pacific, intentional killing of sea turtles is a major issue in American Samoa, Guam, Palau, the Northern Mariana Islands, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.