We're nearing the end of Plastic Free July — a global movement to encourage individuals to reduce plastic waste and stop the habit of using single-use plastics. But that doesn't mean we're halting our efforts to prevent plastic from entering our oceans on both an individual and organizational level. Plastic waste is found in the stomachs of over 50% of the world’s sea turtles, ingested by more than 90% of seabirds, and is tangling and choking whales, sharks, and other marine animals. We’ve been sharing tips all month on what you can do to prevent plastics from entering our oceans and killing our sea turtles. What will you do to make every month plastic-free?
Senate Passes Bill to Protect Sharks, Sea Turtles, Whales, Dolphins from Drift Gillnets
We are one step closer to banning driftnets in the United States! The Senate unanimously passed the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act, a bipartisan bill to phase out harmful large mesh drift gillnets utilized in the federal waters off the coast of California, the only place the nets are still used in the United States. Large mesh driftnets, which are more than a mile long, are left in the ocean overnight to catch swordfish and thresher sharks. Other marine species including whales, dolphins, sea lions, sea turtles, fish, and sharks can also become entangled in the large mesh nets, injuring or killing them. Most of these animals, referred to as bycatch, are then discarded. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives. Please click here to urge your representatives to support this critical legislation to protect our oceans!
New Partners Help Protect Leatherback Nesting Beaches in Costa Rica and Papua New Guinea
Turtle Island Restoration Network is excited to announce we are working with two grassroots partner organizations in Costa Rica and Papua New Guinea who are doing cutting edge, community-driven conservation to save critically endangered leatherback sea turtles. With the help of our members we're sending cameras and weatherproof notebooks to Naranjo, Costa Rica to better understand jaguar behavior — jaguars have found nesting leatherbacks to be easy prey on these beaches. We're also providing cameras, laptops, microphones and digital recorders to Papua New Guinea to empower local communities to help protect beaches where leatherbacks nest through film, newsletters, posters and flyers.
TIRN Staff Strike with the Movement for Black Lives
On Juneteenth — the holiday celebrating the emancipation of slaves in the United States — Turtle Island Restoration Network staff went on strike in solidarity with our community at the Port of Oakland to demand the stop to police terror and the end to systemic racism. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union stopped work at all 29 ports on the West Coast for eight hours to commemorate Juneteenth. Following the death of George Floyd and the countless Black lives that have been lost to police brutality and systemic racism, the country has made clear that the institution of policing, founded in white supremacy, must be radically reimagined. The movement is demonstrating the power of the people with this shutdown, by uniting movements for social, economic, racial, and environmental justice who know that we must center the Movement for Black Lives in our fight for collective liberation.
Underwater photo of humpback whale with line wrapped around tail flukes. Photo by NOAA.
Groups Criticize Rule to Prevent Sea Turtle and Whale Entanglements in Crab Gear
After years of unnecessary deaths, California has finally proposed rules for the state's commercial Dungeness crab fishery that would lessen the entanglement risk for whales and sea turtles. In a letter to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, however, Turtle Island Restoration Network and other groups state that the rule doesn’t do enough to promote the use of ropeless crab traps. Whales and sea turtles are injured and killed after being entangled in thick ropes connected crab traps. Ropeless gear, also known as pop-up buoy gear, eliminates static vertical ropes in the water and uses remote-controlled buoys that release to the surface when fishermen are ready to retrieve the trap. The new rule includes testing for ropeless traps and allows them to be used after April 1 as the traditional season ends, but not before.
Volunteers Patrol Almost 10,000 Miles to Locate Sea Turtle Nests
The 2020 sea turtle nesting season on the upper Texas coast is a wrap! This year, despite starting late due to COVID-19, Turtle Island Restoration Network’s sea turtle patrol volunteers logged 1,963 hours this summer to cover a total of 9,581 miles of beach to locate sea turtle nests! Four loggerhead nests, 19 green nests, and 262 Kemp’s ridley nests have been confirmed in Texas. We are so grateful for our amazing volunteers who stayed flexible and dependable throughout the many challenges that came with planning a program during a pandemic. We also want to thank our partners, Texas A&M University and Padre Island National Seashore, for their cooperation and involvement.
Controversial Gas-Drilling Venture Abandoned Following Public Backlash
Sasol, the South African oil and gas giant, has abandoned a controversial gas-drilling venture on the doorstep of the Bazaruto tropical island paradise in Mozambique after a massive public backlash and adverse environmental impact studies. To prevent the vulnerable marine life that inhabits these waters — including hawksbill, green, loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles — from being severely damaged and killed due to oil and gas exploration, Turtle Island Restoration Network joined an opposition coalition and sent official comments to oppose the project. Sound waves from seismic surveying have the potential to adversely impact marine turtle behavior.
TIRN Asks Food Delivery Companies to “Hold The Single-Use Plastics, Please”
TIRN joined more than 120 environmental organizations in sending letters to seven national food delivery companies (Grubhub/Seamless, DoorDash/Caviar, UberEats/Postmates, and Delivery.com) asking that they change their default ordering process to one that does not automatically include utensils, napkins, condiments, and straws in order to reduce the tsunami of single-use plastic pollution entering our oceans, landfills and incinerators. Instead, customers would need to specifically request these single-use items when they place their order for delivery — “opting in” to receive the specific items they want — reducing costs to restaurants and taking an important step to protect our environment.
California Residents: Take Action Against Plastic!
California is on the forefront of reducing pollution from single-use packaging and products. Proposed landmark legislation, The California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, would establish a California-wide comprehensive framework to address the pollution generated by single-use packaging and products 75% by 2030. The bills set ambitious goals and direct CalRecycle to reduce waste from single-use packaging and the most problematic plastic disposable items, saving local governments millions of dollars in disposal costs and protecting our environment. Experts agree that upstream reduction of packaging and packaging waste is the most effective and least expensive way to protect human, wildlife, and environmental health. If you are a resident of California, please contact your representatives today and tell them to vote YES on this exciting legislation!