For Immediate Release, February 26, 2021

Contacts: Rebekah Staub, Turtle Island Restoration Network, 

Sudarsha De Silva, Earthlanka,

Turtle Island Restoration Network Awards Funding to Combat Marine Debris

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. Turtle Island Restoration Network (TIRN) offered a second grant opportunity to nonprofit organizations around the world challenged by COVID-19 to support research and conservation projects relating to a massive and growing concern for ocean conservation: marine debris. 

The Marine Debris Prevention & Awareness Grant Contest awarded $5,000 to Earthlanka, a youth-based organization working on empowering youth to conserve the coasts and marine resources in Indian Ocean, for receiving the most public votes. Earthlanka will use the grant funds to collect debris in selected marine environments of Sri Lanka, which still does not have a marine debris management program. The funds will help continue marine debris collection activities every month in given locations, organize sessions with stakeholders such as fishermen to educate them on harmful impacts to reefs due to debris, implement school programs to protect the beaches from coastal waste, and protect breeding grounds of sea turtles and their hatchlings.

“Marine debris is injuring and killing marine life everywhere in the world. Turtle Island Restoration Network is thankful to all the groups around the world trying to solve and clean up this enormous problem. We are honored to partner with and celebrate the good work of organizations around the globe that share our concern,” said Todd Steiner, executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network.

“Sri Lanka is an island for marine life. We have five species of turtles visiting the coastal beaches to lay eggs. There have been many instances where turtles get stuck in debris in western, southern coastal belt quite potentially. We are happy to take this award to continually work on collecting marine debris in Sri Lanka,” said Sudarsha De Silva, founder and director of Earthlanka. “I must also thank everyone who supported us to win the award from every part of the world. I must thank everyone who voted for us and the efforts made by Global Youth Bio Diversity Network, Asia Pacific Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism, Alumini State universities in Sri Lanka, UNU EHS and University of Bonn, Sustainable Ocean Alliance, Shangri La resorts global, Leo Club Movement, Miss Scuba International, Parley, Marine Environment Protection Authority Sri Lanka, Movements in African Origin, Island Innovation Ambassadors, Child Health Is Planetary Health Network, social media groups such as Trinity College Batch of 2003, Nature Worio, Asian Marine Conservation Association, Global Goodwill Ambassadors, gudppl, pearl Protectors, and many more who got engage in voting through Imo, Instagram, Whatsapp, Facebook.”

TIRN created the grant contest program in April to support ocean conservation programs that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirty-five nonprofit organizations applied to be eligible to receive the Marine Debris Prevention & Awareness Grant and more than 18,000 individuals from around the world voted for the group they wanted to receive the funds. To learn more about the organizations nominated for the Marine Debris Prevention & Awareness Grant Contest, visit

Turtle Island Restoration Network is a leading advocate for the world’s oceans and marine wildlife whose mission is to inspire and mobilize people around the world to protect marine biodiversity and the oceans that sustain all life on Earth.

Earthlanka is a youth-based organization working on empowering youth to conserve the coasts and marine resources in Indian Ocean. In 2015 Earthlanka started their initiative Poseidon Army to engage, educate and activate youth for coastal, marine conservation. The youth have been involved in working on advocacy, education, research, mangrove conservation and coastal cleaning since 2015.