For Immediate Release

Joanna Nasar
Communications Director
Turtle Island Restoration Network
Cell: (415) 488-7711

San Jose, Costa Rica (Feb. 24, 2016) – Turtle Island Restoration Network’s International Director Randall Arauz has been named as a PEW Marine Conservation Fellow. Arauz is one of five distinguished scientists and conservationists from around the world named as a 2016 Pew Marine Conservation Fellow. Arauz plans to use his fellowship to strengthen the sustainability of marine protected areas, and to foster shark conservation in Central America.

The prestigious PEW Marine Conservation Fellowships aim to support research to improve ocean conservation and management. A committee of marine specialist awarded fellowships and proposals were reviewed based on their strength. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation. Since 1996, the program has recognized 132 marine experts in 32 countries. Recipients receive US$150,000 each for a three-year project designed to address ocean conservation challenges.

“This fellowship will allow Turtle Island Restoration Network to continue and expand our work to ensure that shark populations in Costa Rica are able to rebound, and provide Randall the freedom to pursue new ideas to better enforce marine protected areas,” said Todd Steiner, executive director of Turtle Island. “We consider this fellowship a great honor,” he added.

In 1997, Arauz founded the grassroots non-profit, PRETOMA (Sea Turtle Restoration Program Association) in Costa Rica and ever since he has been fighting to protect Costa Rican sharks, sea turtles and marine areas. Today, Arauz is the International Director of Turtle Island Restoration Network, where he hopes to use his fellowship to better enforce no-take areas in Costa Rica, possibly with the aide of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) to track illegal fishing, and work to ensure that shark conservation policies are based on best available science and enforced.

“Turtle Island’s international and U.S. reach will provide me with the grounding to launch new efforts in Latin America, and gain greater credibility in international policy arenas,” said Arauz. “Turtle Island’s nimble and cutting-edge approach fits perfectly with my agenda to transform protections for sea turtles, sharks, and other marine species,” he added.

Arauz has a rich history with Turtle Island. He first joined the staff in 1994 as Turtle Island’s Central America Director before eventually founding a sister non-profit organization in Costa Rica called PRETOMA that focused on grassroots activism, sea turtle conservation, and better fisheries management.

During a joint PRETOMA-Turtle Island undercover operation to document the impact of longline fishing on sea turtles, video footage surfaced of fishers finning sharks, and in 2001 Arauz initiated a campaign against this abominable practice that had domestic, regional, and global impacts. He has been honored for his work internationally, including receiving the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, the Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Development, and Whitley Gold Award.

He serves on several official Costa Rican councils, such as the Cocos Island Regional Management Council, and the National Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Scientific Council, and has participated as an official delegate at international conventions, such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the Convention on Migratory Species. He was also the first director of the Leatherback National Park.


Turtle Island Restoration Network works to mobilize people and communities around the world to protect marine wildlife, the oceans and the inland waterways that sustain them. Join us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. SeaTurtles.Org