TPP Agreement: Friend or Foe?

The Obama administration is championing the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), a trade agreement between the USA and 11 other nations broadly connected by the

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís Named No. 1 ‘Shark Enemy’ by International Conservation Organizations

Today Costa Rica’s President Luis Guillermo Solís was awarded the ‘Shark Enemy’ award by the conservation organization Sharkproject International. President Solís was nominated by the Sharkproject team and picked by a team of international jurors for this dishonor based on his anti-conservation policy record that seeks to roll back marine conservation efforts, most notably protection for endangered and threatened shark species. Earlier this year his administration stated it’s intent to ramp up efforts to export shark fins, even with the recent news that demand for fins abroad was plummeting.

California Drift Gillnet Fishery Fact Sheet

The California driftnet fishery for swordfish captures, harms and kills sperm whales, sea turtles, sharks, whales, dolphins and sea lions as bycatch. Only one in six animals caught by the fishery are swordfish. The fishery consists of just 20 boats, and is among the worst 20 percent of all fisheries globally.

GivingTuesday is Tuesday, December 1st

#GivingTuesday™ is a movement created to celebrate giving on the Tuesday following Cyber Monday. Join in by making a donation to Turtle Island on Dec. 1st!!

How to Track a Shark

Turtle Island interviewed shark scientist Dr. Alex Hearn to learn more about the art of tagging and tracking sharks in order to learn more about their migrations, birthing habitats and behavior.

Sharktober Presents: Unusual Sharks

In honor of Sharktober, lets talk about some sharks you might not hear about that often! These five strange sharks may change what comes to mind

One Step Closer to Ending Use of Drift Gillnets in California

This September, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC) issued a landmark ruling that will put in place stronger regulations for the California drift gillnet fishery for swordfish. These new policies come after years of advocacy by Turtle Island Restoration Network and our partners, and may finally set the course to phase out the use of mile-long drift gillnets in California for good.

Landmark New Rules to Protect California’s Whales, Dolphins and Sea turtles from the Drift Gillnet Fishery

The Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC) adopted a strict new rule for California’s drift gillnet fishery to protect nine vulnerable marine species. The rule will institute new “hard caps” that can automatically shut the fishery down if hard limits are reached in any two-year period, reflecting a new no-nonsense approach to dealing with ongoing damage to rare and threatened species, including sperm whales, humpback whales, fin whales, green sea turtles, leatherback sea turtles, loggerhead sea turtles, olive ridley sea turtles, pilot whales and bottle nosed dolphins. In addition, the PFMC also instituted new performance standards for discards.

Photography for a Change Transformation

After much consideration I ended up picking ‘Celeste Wave Break’ by Dana Bove, the show’s founder. I love how he captured this moment when the wave is about to crash down. It’s such a unique perspective that makes the ocean almost morph into a mountain for a split second.

Photography for a Change’s Roy Kimhi

Roy is one of the featured photographer’s in Photography for a Change’s incredible online show. As a quick recap for those of you who haven’t already heard, Photography for a Change, provides exquisite photographs of our natural environs.

Crowdsourcing to Spot Illegal Fishing Vessels at Cocos Island Marine Protected Area

DigitalGlobe’s crowdsourcing platform has formed a partnership with ocean and marine conservation non-profit Turtle Island Restoration Network,, to create the first crowdsourced digital patrol of the Cocos Island Marine Protected Area in order to defend one of the Pacific Ocean’s most vibrant marine life habitats. Located 340 miles off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Cocos Island is home to numerous rare and endangered marine species, and has been subject to illegal fishing practices in its difficult-to-monitor waters.

Help Track Down Illegal Fishing Boats Online

Turtle Island Restoration Network is proud to announce a new pilot program to find illegal fishing vessels within the Marine Protected Area surrounding Cocos Island, Costa Rica. Turtle Island teamed up with DigitalGlobe’s crowdsourcing platform,, to create one of the first crowd sourced, digital patrols of the marine hot-spot.

EVENT: Blue Mind Meet the Authors Reception & Book Talk on August 22nd, 2015

Join Turtle Island’s board and staff to meet the authors at an exclusive pre-event benefit reception and a reserved seat for the Book Talk will be included in your ticket price. Enjoy wine, beer and hearty hors d’oeuvres at the beautiful Dance Palace in West Marin. Learn more about our work and enjoy a silent auction. Your ticket purchase will support our work to protect sea turtles, dolphins, whales, sharks, salmon and our world’s oceans.

Turtle Island in D.C.

ast week I had the opportunity to visit our nation’s capital and speak about the importance of ocean and marine conservation with our legislators.

Feds Propose New Rules to Protect Whales, Dolphins in Other Countries

The National Marine Fisheries Service today proposed major regulations prohibiting the import of seafood into the United States from fisheries that kill whales and dolphins in excess of U.S. standards. Under the new rules, all fisheries worldwide will have to comply with essentially the same marine mammal protection requirements as U.S. fishermen or face an embargo from the lucrative U.S. seafood market.

Thoughts on J-Bay, Sharks & Surfing

Implying that our oceans somehow be ‘cleared’ of sharks is a dangerous notion. But it is not a novel one. It has been tried before and it is called culling. In Western Australia baited lines were attached to floating drums to catch sharks off popular beaches.

Meet Photography for a Change’s Ron Wooten

Ron is one of the featured photographer’s in Photography for a Change’s incredible online show. As a quick recap for those of you who haven’t already heard, Photography for a Change, provides exquisite photographs of our natural environs. This show features four photographers who have generously donated their images and prints to support Turtle Island Restoration Network.

Make Shark Week About Saving Sharks

The first time I saw an image of a finned shark I was appalled. The shark was sinking in clear beautiful blue water without it’s classic dorsal fin.

Drones & Submarines Assist Scientists At Cocos Island National Park, Costa Rica

During a recent scientific expedition to Cocos Island National Park (May 4-15, 2015), small two and three passenger submarines known as submersibles were used to deploy acoustic listening stations at 180 m (590 ft) depth, an inflatable boat was used to catch sharks and implant acoustic tracking tags, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, also known as drones) were used to patrol from above in search of marine wildlife below. The expedition was directed by Randall Arauz, Central American Director of the Turtle Island Restoration Network (Turtle Island), in collaboration with Costa Rica’s National System of Protected Areas (SINAC) and the Cocos Island Marine Conservation Area (ACMIC), and with the companies Alucia Productions II, Precision Integrated and Aeroval.

Photography for a Change Show to Benefit Turtle Island Restoration Network

Turtle Island Restoration Network is proud to announce that we are teaming up with Photography for a Change to offer you high quality, fine art prints from top, emerging photographers. For a limited time you can purchase these stunning prints that put you in an ocean state of mind, liven up your walls and help protect our world’s oceans and marine wildlife!

UN General Assembly Will Negotiate Treaty to Protect the High Seas

fter years of working through United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process, the 27 non-profits that make up the High Seas Alliance finally convinced the United Nations General Assembly to begin work on a treat to better protect the High Seas and its marine biodiversity through a legally-binding treaty. The U.N. member states adopted the historic resolution on Friday, June 19, marking the shift to a new era of increased ocean governance of the High Seas.

Turtle Island Joins Sea Party Coalition!

The Sea Party Coalition represents coastal and inland cities and towns, businesses, fishermen, surfers, divers, boaters and other concerned citizens regardless of political affiliation who support a healthy and vibrant coastal economy and oppose proposed new oil surveying and drilling along the Atlantic Coast and in the U.S. Arctic Ocean.

Fate of Sea Turtles & Sharks Land on Gulf of Mexico Governors Desks

The governors of two important Gulf of Mexico states – Texas and Louisiana – face pivotal decisions surrounding marine wildlife. In both states legislators have voted in favor of protecting ocean wildlife, now all eyes are on Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

El Niño Triggers Temporary Drift Gillnet Fishery Closure off Southern California

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has announced it will close southern California ocean waters to drift gillnets in order to protect endangered loggerhead sea turtles. This legally mandated closure went into effect June 1 according to regulation and is prompted by current El Niño conditions–warmer than normal ocean waters. The closure will stay in effect until August 31, 2015.

Ecuador Seizes 200,000 Shark Fins

Yesterday, the Ministry of Interior of Ecuador released a video showing Vice Minister Diego Fuentes explaining that 200,000 shark fins (which corresponds to roughly 40,000 sharks) had been seized in a series of operations. The Ecuador government arrested three people and confiscated several fire arms.

Fracas over Costa Rican shark-fin exports leads American Airlines to stop shipping fins

On December 24, an American Airlines plane carried 411 kilos (904 pounds) of dried hammerhead shark fins from Alajuela, Costa Rica, to Hong Kong, touching down partway through the journey in Miami. The shipment, valued at nearly $53,000, contained fins from around 411 animals, more than seven times the number on its export permit from the Costa Rican government. The fins came from two species of shark: smooth hammerheads (Sphyrna zygaena), which are classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN, and scalloped hammerheads (Sphyrna lewini), which are classified as Endangered by the IUCN and under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Stranded Whale Shark

A large whale shark became stranded on a beach near Manta, on the coast of Ecuador yesterday. It was first reported by local fishers, swimming close to the shoreline, but eventually became stranded on the beach. Although a team of over 50 volunteers attempted to return it to sea, the whale shark eventually died.

Mark & the Shark (Day 9)

Today is our last day of diving and we got up a little early to be sure to squeeze in three full dives, and have time to take photos and enjoy each others company in this paradise. I had the good fortunate of having a curious Galapagos Shark check me out on the first dive, and on the second the chance to swim amidst a school of large benitos. Mark even tagged a Galapagos! Beautiful everywhere you look.

Follow Our Feb. Cocos Island Expedition – Day by Day Trip Reports

Follow our Feb. Cocos Island Expedition in this series of blog posts. The expedition set out to track sea turtles and sharks in order to create a protected science-based swimway that will safeguard endangered marine wildlife during their migrations in the Eastern Tropical Pacific.

En Route to Cocos Island (Day 1)

I’m en route to Cocos Island, Costa Rica with Turtle Island Restoration Network. Our goal is to try and figure out where endangered sea turtles and sharks that visit the Island swim, and then try and create the world’s first international swimway to protect these underwater superhighways used by these animals during their migrations.

Q&A on Driftnets with Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael)

I have always believed we need to be good stewards of our environment for future generations. Our ocean and its marine wildlife is an integral component of that. The health of our ocean affects our air, food, and coastal communities. California’s health is directly tied to the health of the ocean.

Bigeye Tuna Remains on Hawaii’s Menu — But for How Long?

We should be leaders in fisheries management, not cheaters,” said Doug Karpa, of the California-based Turtle Island Restoration Network, noting that the U.S. is one of the few nations that ban the fishing in its own waters of overexploited stocks unless they are recovering.

Whale Sharks to be Tagged to Save Species

There are fears that the gentle giant, whose flesh is prized in countries such as China, India and the Philippines, is being slowly driven towards extinction. And so little is known about them that there is huge uncertainty about how their decline can be arrested.

Turtle Island Call for Action on Ocean Acidification.

Turtle Island signed on to an open letter addressed to Washington Governor Inslee’s commending him for his leadership on ocean acidification, and also addressed to the Department of Ecology asking that they follow suit and also take action on ocean acidification.


“It’s the most incredible underwater place I’ve ever been,” says Todd Steiner, executive director of the California-based Sea Turtle Restoration Project. “It’s a superhighway of giant animals — like the plains of Africa, only underwater.”

Nominate Turtle Island for Heart of Marin Awards

Have you sent in your nomination for the 22nd Annual CVNL Heart of Marin Awards? Please nominate Turtle Island Restoration Network for the ‘Achievement in Nonprofit Excellence’ award; And please nominate a dedicated SPAWN volunteer for ‘Volunteer of the Year.’

Banner Day for Shark Conservation!

This week, Turtle Island has been in Quito, Ecuador for the 11th meeting of the United Nation’s Conference of Parties of the Convention on

Turtle Island Attends Historic Convention on Migratory Species to Promote the Record Number of Protections Proposed for Sharks, Rays & Marine Mammals

Turtle Island Restoration Network’s Executive Director Todd Steiner and Conservation Science Director Alex Hearn are in Quito, Ecuador attending the 11th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) to lobby for the inclusion of several species needing greater protection including silky sharks, hammerhead shark, mobula ray’s and other marine species such as the polar bear.

Movers & Shakers: Doug Karpa

Turtle Island Restoration Network, an international ocean and marine conservation organization headquartered in Marin, has hired Kentfield native Doug Karpa as a staff attorney.

Intern Spotlight: Meet Sara Gendel

Sara Gendel, a graduate student at Bard College in New York, joined the Turtle Island Restoration Network team this July as our newest conservation intern.

Shark Scientists Focus on Finding Out Where Threatened Sharks Swim at International Bogotá Conference

Shark scientists gathered last week at a conference organized by the Colombian Presidential Agency for International Cooperation to learn how to effectively track the migration patterns and behavior of threatened sharks species with specialized underwater acoustic tags,* as well as strengthen the Latin-American Migramar network of scientists studying marine migratory patterns in the Eastern Pacific.

Protecting Western Australia’s Seas from Natural Gas Development

Turtle Island Restoration Network strongly opposes the siting of any Liquefied Natural Gas processing hub or any other industrial development at James Price Point/Walmadany as such a development would permanently destroy wild and sacred lands along the pristine Kimberley coast and open the door to wide scale industrialization of the coastline.

Cocos Island Marine Protected Area Sky Patrol Project

Schools of hammerhead sharks, Silky, Galapagos and Tiger sharks, and gentle sea turtles abound in the waters surrounding Cocos Island National Marine Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cocos Island sits approximately 350 miles from the Costa Rican mainland and is surrounded by a 12-mile no-take Marine Protected Area.

Cocos Island Expedition Update from Graduate Student Elena Nalesso

Turtle Island Restoration Network is sponsoring graduate student Elena Nalesso in her efforts to better understand the sharks of the Cocos Islands. Elena is currently completing her thesis on the island’s sharks and recently returned from her first Cocos Island Expedition.

 Emergency Regulations Imposed to Protect Sperm Whales from California Fishery

Today the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced emergency actions designed to protect endangered sperm whales from being caught in the California swordfish/thresher shark drift gillnet fishery. The emergency rule, prompted by advocacy by conservation groups, goes into effect tomorrow. The overdue regulations came 20 days after the drift gillnet fishing season opened in offshore waters beyond 75 nautical miles.

Saving Sharks Starts with Knowing Where they Swim

Where do sharks go? This basic question is one that is rarely considered when creating protected ocean or marine reserves, yet it is one of the most critical ones to conservationists working to protect sharks in the Eastern Tropical Pacific.

Facts on Assembly Bill 2019

Replacing wasteful driftnets with cleaner gears will create a sustainable fishery by minimizing bycatch and ensuring long-term fishing opportunity.

California shark fin ban upheld by federal judge

A federal judge on Tuesday upheld California’s ban on possession or sale of shark fins, rejecting claims that the law discriminates against the Chinese community – where shark fin soup is a traditional delicacy – or interferes with federal management of ocean fishing.

San Francisco March for Sharks is On!

Support our Allies in Australia to stop the Western Australia shark “catch and kill” program and march from the Ferry Building to the Australian Embassy on 575 Market Street. Culling is an unscientific and indiscriminate method of managing sharks and protecting public safety. Other regions with high risk of human/white shark encounters- including Bay Area waters- have systems of information, alerts and temporary beach closures.


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Feds Clamp Down on Whale Kills in California’s Drift Gillnet Fishery

New Report Details Top 10 Reasons to End California’s Deadliest Catch – Swordfish

New federal emergency fishing regulations are forcing California’s drift gillnet fleet for swordfish and shark to stop fishing for the season if a single endangered sperm whale gets entangled in a net. All vessels that fish offshore will now be required to carry on-board observers at all times.

Swordfish Caught in Driftnets is California’s Deadliest Catch

The California drift gillnet fishery for swordfish and shark is the most dangerous fishery for whales and other marine mammals along the U.S. West Coast from California to Alaska. A new federal review of marine mammal bycatch in commercial fisheries found that the drift gillnet fleet is causing more harm to whales than ever

California White Sharks Receive Additional Protection

White sharks off California’s coast will receive additional protection beginning March 1, the date it becomes a candidate species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). In February 2013, the California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) determined that listing white shark as threatened or endangered may be warranted and designated the species as a candidate pursuant CESA.

Historic Illinois Legislation Protects Sharks

Governor Pat Quinn Signed House Bill 4119 into Law Today, Making Illinois the First Inland State to Ban Shark Fins. Illinois is now the fourth State in the continental U.S. and the second largest to ban the sale, trade, possession, and distribution of shark fins. Illinois provides one of the largest markets for shark fins in the United States, and this law represents a significant step towards reducing pressure on rapidly declining shark populations.

Illinois State Senator Champions Shark Fin Bill with Support from Shark Stewards

Illinois State Senator Champions Shark Fin Bill with Support from Shark Stewards. Situated on the largest body of fresh surface water on the planet, Chicago has no sharks swimming in its waters, but this has not deterred Illinois citizens from advocating on their behalf. House Bill 4119, sponsored by Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), would ban the sale, trade, distribution or possession of shark fins. The bill, which recently passed in the Illinois House with an 81-33 vote, is moving through the legislative process with new leadership from the Illinois Senate Senator Antonio Muñoz. The proposed law just passed through the Illinois Senate Environment Committee, bringing it closer to the Governor’s signature.

Shark Stewards Launches Shark Protection Campaign in Chicago

Shark Stewards, a non-profit shark conservation organization based in California, announced the launch of its new Chicago-based chapter to support shark conservation in Illinois. Dedicated to conserving ocean health through the protection of sharks, Shark Stewards’ newest chapter will focus on engaging citizens and supporting legislation to ban the trade, sale, and consumption of shark fin in the state of Illinois.

Shark Stewards Launches Shark Protection Campaign in Texas

Shark Stewards, a non-profit shark conservation organization based in San Francisco, announced today that it is launching a new chapter to support ocean conservation efforts in Texas. Shark Stewards is dedicated to conserving ocean health through the protection of sharks. The local chapter of Shark Stewards will be leading the shark campaign to engage citizens by raising awareness and introducing legislation to ban the trade, sale, and consumption of shark fin in the state of Texas.

1,007 Scientists Call For UN Moratorium on Longline Fishing

New York – May 31, 2005 – On the eve of a critical United Nations meeting to discuss actions to protect the world’s oceans from overfishing, a letter signed by more than 1,000 international scientists calling for decisive action has been delivered to the international body. Recent scientific reports have linked industrial fishing, such as longlining, to the decline of sea turtles and other marine species, and have offered marine protected areas as a potential solution. During the UN meeting which begins June 10, Costa Rica will be proposing a plan of action that offers sustainable use marine protected areas as a part of a comprehensive solution for the world’s oceans.

Longline Fishing Pillaging the Pacific Says New Report

On Monday, June 6th, the new report Striplining the Pacific: The Case for A United Nations Moratorium on High Seas Industrial Longline Fishing will be released at the United Nations Law of the Sea meeting June 6-10th. The new book length report echoes the sentiment of Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin’s call on May 1st to end the “pillage” and “rape” of the ocean at an international fisheries conference this week.

Longline Moratorium Campaign Gaining Momentum

Forest Knolls, CA – On the eve of a key United Nations meeting relating to the oceans, a growing number of international scientists and non-governmental organizations are actively lobbying their country delegates to address the problem of industrial longline fishing in the Pacific. The scientists and NGOs are also joined in their efforts by members of the New Zealand, Irish and EU parliaments. The lobbying effort echoes the call of more than 800 international scientists and 230 NGOs who are also asking for a moratorium on industrial longline fishing in order to protect endangered leatherback sea turtles, albatross, sharks and other species caught and killed as bycatch by industrial longliners.

New Report: Longlines Annually Capture and Kill 4.4 Million Sharks, Billfish, Seabirds, Sea Turtles and Mammals in the Pacific

Although there have been recent efforts to “mitigate” the devastating impact of industrial pelagic longlines on sea turtles, the problem is not limited to these species. Pelagic longlines are literally wiping out the lions and tigers of the ocean—sharks, billfish and tunas. Industrial longline fishing results in an extensive catch of non-targeted species as “bycatch” creating a global marine biodiversity crisis.

President of Costa Rica Urged to Save Sharks from Overfishing

An open letter to the President of Costa Rica, Dr. Abel Pacheco, urging the protection of sharks and other endangered marine species from overfishing by foreign fleets, was published in today’s edition of La Nación, Costa Rica’s largest newspaper.