Your monthly update from Turtle Island Restoration Network

January Newsletter

Thanks to our network, the marine wildlife that call our oceans home will start the new year with a renewed lifeline. We recently halted destructive longline fishing off California's coast, initiated a federal lawsuit to protect nesting sea turtle habitat, and petitioned for the listing of leatherbacks under the California ESA. We spent the past year advocating for long lasting, positive changes, and we're beginning to see the fruits of our labor. These efforts are propelling us into 2020 with hope and inspiration, and we are grateful to have you by our side!

Federal Court Rules California Longlines Unlawful

A federal district court ruled that the National Marine Fisheries Service failed to adequately analyze threats to critically endangered leatherback sea turtles when it allowed longline fishing off the coast of California. This means the Trump administration violated the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act in failing to consider the best available science on impacts to leatherbacks. The ruling responds to a lawsuit filed by Turtle Island Restoration Network after the fishing permit issued in April exempted vessels from the federal ban on longline gear off California.

Trump Administration Sued for Failing to Protect Green Sea Turtle Habitat

Turtle Island Restoration Network sued the federal government in January for failing to protect green sea turtle habitat, which faces threats from sea-level rise, plastic pollution and global warming. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks protections for green sea turtle nesting beaches that occur in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, as well as offshore oceanic habitat in the Southeast and on the West Coast.

Photo by Pete Winch

Petition Seeks Protections for Leatherbacks in Calif.

Turtle Island Restoration Network filed a petition with the Center for Biological Diversity in January to protect leatherback sea turtles under the California Endangered Species Act. The Pacific leatherback population has declined by 90 percent over the past 40 years, mostly because longline and drift gillnet fishing for tuna and swordfish entangles and drowns these large, ancient, soft-shelled turtles. Listing leatherbacks under the state’s Endangered Species Act would make them a state conservation priority. The state law would also provide a backstop to potentially weakened protections for leatherbacks under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Cost of Destructive U.S. Airbase Project in Japan Nearly Triples

Building a U.S. military base in Okinawan waters will cost 2.7 times as much as previously estimated, according to a new announcement from Japan’s Defense Ministry. Now slated to take years longer to complete than expected, the proposed U.S. airbase could also wipe out the Okinawa dugong, one of the Earth’s most endangered marine mammals. TIRN, our partner organizations, and residents of Okinawa have launched a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense for failing to comply with U.S. environmental laws requiring a thorough evaluation of the project’s threat to the critically endangered Okinawa dugong.

TIRN Named "Best Nonprofit Organization"

Turtle Island Restoration Network is thrilled to announce we were named Best Non-Profit Organization in’s 2019 Best of the Island Awards! Our office in Galveston, Texas protects and restores populations of endangered sea turtles and marine biodiversity on the Texas coast and throughout the Gulf of Mexico. We are so grateful for the ongoing support from our community and our members to engage Galveston and the upper Texas coast community in protecting iconic sea turtles and our coast’s natural heritage. Thank you for your enduring support!

Calif. Coho Salmon Spawning Numbers Plummet

As this year's spawning season for Marin County's coho salmon comes to an end, biologists are reporting some of the worst spawning numbers in nearly a quarter century. Only a total of 44 nests (called redds) were reported so far for Lagunitas Creek, San Geronimo Creek, Woodacre Creek and Arroyo Creek. This is despite above average rains that have allowed salmon to migrate upstream unencumbered, and excellent conditions for monitoring the population. 

Lawsuit Challenges Loopholes in Obama-era Rule Exempting Wetlands and Streams from Clean Water Act Protections

Conservation groups including Turtle Island Restoration Network filed a motion this week challenging exemptions for industries in the "waters of the United States" rule that could open the door to further pollution of wetlands, streams and other waterways. The rule, finalized in 2015 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, defines which waterways can be protected against being destroyed, degraded, or polluted without a permit under the Clean Water Act.

One of World's Largest Fish Declared Extinct

A new paper published in the Science of the Total Environment concludes that the Chinese paddlefish, one of the world's largest fish species, has gone extinct, primarily due to overfishing and dam construction. According to an article in National Geographic, the species gradually declined over the last century as a result of overfishing; in the 1970s, 25 tons of paddlefish were harvested per year on average.

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Turtle Island Restoration Network
PO Box 370, Forest Knolls, CA 94933