Major Accomplishments

4Star 125x125Turtle Island Restoration Network is a leading advocate for the world’s oceans and marine wildlife. Turtle Island focuses on two main areas:

1) Protecting oceans and marine wildlife, and

2) Saving California’s endangered coho salmon.

Saving Species

  • Shut down a Mexican sea turtle slaughterhouse to save 50,000 sea turtles annually and convinced Mexico to end all legal slaughter of turtles. Convinced Mexico to join the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
  • Forced Japan to end its illegal trade in endangered sea turtle parts of luxury items.
  • Rescued 15,000 coho and steelhead trout from certain death since 1990.
  • Stopped BP from burning endangered Kemp’s ridleys, other sea turtles and marine wildlife during oil spill cleanup efforts in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Transformed a salmon-blocking dam into a series of salmon jump-pools with other nonprofits, businesses and individuals.
  • Mobilized the public to prevent a proposal to re-open the hunting of Hawaii’s iconic green sea turtle.
  • Began and supported nesting beach programs in Central America that prevented egg poaching resulting in more than 1 million additional sea turtle hatchlings.

Changing Laws and Policies

  • Compelled 20 nations to adopt rules that make shrimp nets safer for sea turtles by requiring Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs).
  • Closed down 250,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean to the Hawaii longline swordfish fishery and the California driftnet fishery to protect sea turtles and marine mammals.
  • Closed California longline fishery to prevent leatherback mortality.
  • Compelled first federal “hard caps” for incidental turtle capture. As a result, the Hawaii longline fishery must close for season after cap is reached.
  • Convinced then-Texas Governor George W. Bush to establish a 100-mile long time-area shrimping closure in South Texas near prime turtle nesting beaches.
  • Developed research on scalloped hammerhead sharks that contributed to their listing on the Endangered Species List.
  • Worked with a village in Papua New Guinea to pioneer a Conservation Deed as a method to establish its own locally-managed marine area.
  • Successfully defended against WTO attempt to undermine the Turtle-Shrimp TED law and was declared the “Symbol of Peaceful Protest” by the New York Times during WTO Seattle Protests.
  • Organized the first Leatherback Survival Conference bringing scientists and NGOs from around the Pacific to develop a survival strategy.
  • Organized more than 1,000 scientists and nearly 300 NGOs to call for United Nations moratorium on longline fishing to prevent the extinction of Pacific leatherback turtles resulting in numerous Sea Turtle Action Plans throughout the region.
  • Led the battle to compel Louisiana to allow State game wardens to enforce federal Turtle Excluder Device law.

Hands-on Conservation

  • Restored over 100,000 square feet of crucial creekside habitat for wild coho salmon through native plantings, bank stabilization, and floodplain restoration.
  • Tagged 150 sharks with acoustic telemetry and 72 green and two hawksbill turtles to collect data to win an international migratory swimway in the Pacific.
  • Grew more than 50,000 native plants in our two community-based nurseries to provide better habitat for endangered coho salmon.
  • Created a National Wildlife Refuge in Nicaragua to protect the most important olive ridley turtles nesting beach and built a biological field station.
  • Created 6 community-based nesting beach projects in Costa Rica.
  • Helped promote the use of TEDs by shrimp fishers worldwide by creating video with United Nations that was distributed globally by U.S. AID, bringing technicians from Latin America to train with TED inventor.
  • Began migration study and long-term monitoring program of sea turtles of Cocos Island National Park in 2009. Established green turtle migration route connecting Galapagos and Cocos and proposed and promoting Sea Turtle Swimway MPA connection corridor.
  • Since 2014 Turtle Island recruited volunteers (225 in 2016) to patrol the beaches on the Upper Texas Coast for nesting Kemp’s ridley sea turtles!

Public Education and Mobilization

  • Created Turtle-Safe® Certification Program, the first seafood certification program in the US.
  • Convinced Red Lobster to remove high-in-mercury swordfish from its menu.
  • Led the international movement to get justice for the murder of sea turtle conservationist, Jairo Mora Sandoval.
  • Compelled California supermarkets (and eventually throughout US) to post seafood mercury warning signs at seafood counters.
  • Opened the first Sea Turtle Action Center on the Upper Texas Coast.
  • Secured major media attention for endangered species on CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and other major outlets.
  • Reduced imports of swordfish into US caught by sea turtle-killing technology.
  • Authored successful State law to have Pacific Leatherback listed as California’s state marine reptile and be included in State curriculum.
  • Organized successful campaign to have State of Texas list Kemp’s ridley as Texas official State sea turtle.
  • Organized and funded the creation of sea turtle conservation organizations including PRETOMA in Costa Rica and Mas Kagin Tapani in Papua New Guinea and merged HEART (Help Endangered Animals- Ridley Turtles) into Turtle Island.
  • Produced several award-winning turtle documentaries including: Ancient Sea Turtles: The Last Voyage; Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs)- Safeguarding Shrimp Fisheries and Endangered Sea Turtles; Stranded- Ancient Sea Turtle Stranded in a Modern World; Last Journey for the Giant Leatherback; and The Heartbreak Turtle Today.