News! Deborah A. Sivas Named Stanford’s Inaugural Luke W. Cole Professor at Enviromental Law Clinic
Director and Managing Attorney Debbie Sivas of the Environmental Law Clinic at Stanford Law School has won key legal victories to protect endangered sea turtles as a founding board member of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project. Among them, Sivas of Palo Alto, and her students have successfully litigated cases to stop high seas swordfish longlining along the West Coast and to win a sea turtle conservation zone along the California and Oregon coasts. Next is a probable lawsuit against the U. S. government to protect endangered sea turtles that die in overseas shrimp fleets.

News! On October 30, Stanford Law School announced the appointment of Sivas as the inaugural Luke W. Cole Professor of Environmental Law and Director of the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic. Read the story.

“Laws to prevent sea turtles from slipping into extinction have not been adequately enforced,” said Sivas. “So we’ve found legal angles to make sure that endangered sea turtles get the protections they need and deserve.”

Sivas joined the board of Sea Turtle Restoration Project (STRP) in 1997 at the invitation of biologist and ocean activist Todd Steiner, who has been fighting to stop the slide of sea turtles to extinction for 20 years. Sivas is helping mark the Sea Turtle Restoration Network’s two-decade milestone at Dave Brower Center in Berkeley on Saturday, November 14. See details below. Read more at

“Debbie’s legal expertise has helped us save thousands of sea turtles from drowning on fishing lines and made Sea Turtle Restoration Project a force to reckon with,” said Steiner.

Sivas’ legal work with Steiner dates back to early in their environmental careers. Sivas filed the precedent-setting international shrimp-turtle case in 1992 in the Court of International Trade that gained international protections for sea turtles in shrimp fleets. Even before that, Sivas was one of the primary  lawyers on the Marine Mammal Protection Act lawsuits that forced protection of dolphins in tuna nets and the resulting dolphin-safe tuna label.

In addition to the West Coast legal wins to protect sea turtles, Sivas and the Stanford Law Clinic drafted a petition to uplist the Northern and Florida Panhandle populations of the Atlantic loggerhead sea turtle as distinct population segments and has litigated the first round of this matter. Under Ms. Sivas direction, clinic students also have prepared a similar petition to list Pacific leatherback sea turtles as a distinct population. Currently, the clinic is evaluating the possibility of bringing follow-on litigation over ongoing international shrimp-turtle issues.

In addition to the legal wins, STRP’s successes have included closing a sea turtle slaughterhouse in Mexico, compelling 20 nations to use turtle-saving gear in their shrimp fleets; creating policy reform that instituted a 200,000 square mile Leatherback Conservation Area (LCA) along the California and Oregon coasts; and closing harmful longline fisheries in Hawaii and along the West Coast. Read more at

Big Splash – the Sea Turtle Restoration Project’s 20th Anniversary Bash, will be held 7 to 11 pm, Saturday, November 14, 2009, at David Brower Center, 2150 Allston way, Berkeley CA 94704. Tickets $85-$100; student/activist discount; RSVP at Music by Blue Turtle Seduction [hear them at], food and drink and silent auction. Info 415-663-8590, ext. 105.