In 1989, under the tutelage of iconic environmental activist David Brower, biologist and Turtle Island founder Todd Steiner launched our first program, the Sea Turtle Restoration Project. Soon after, STRP led an international campaign to stop the commercial killing of sea turtles on the coast of Mexico. For nearly a decade, as a key initiative of Earth Island Institute, the Sea Turtle Restoration Project saved thousands of sea turtles and other marine species through hands-on conservation, policy change, and consumer change campaigns.
In 1997, Steiner founded Turtle Island Restoration Network, to continue STRP’s work as an independent project, and to serve as an incubator for other endangered species protection programs. For a complete history of STRP’s accomplishments, click here.
That same year, community members formed the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network to replace an aging dam that blocked endangered wild coho salmon in the Lagunitas Creek watershed in Marin County. from their natal streams. Volunteer teams began monitoring coho salmon runs, restoring local habitat, and generating public concern to protect California’s largest surviving run of endangered wild coho. For more information on SPAWN, click here.
In 2002, TIRN introduced the Got Mercury Campaign, which initiated the first lawsuit to warn consumers about mercury in fresh seafood under Proposition 65, California’s toxics-right-to-know law. TIRN established the first website to contain a comprehensive mercury-in-seafood calculator. This new tool empowered the public to gauge their own mercury exposure from tuna and swordfish. To test your mercury-in-seafood exposure and learn about the Campaign’s victories, click here.
Since 2007, STRP has continued to expand its activism on behalf of sea turtles by launching a research and conservation program in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, focusing on the Cocos Island Marine Preserve (Costa Rica). With bi-annual trips to tag sea turtles and sharks, STRP has put in place the scientific foundation for international conservation action, which will culminate in an multi-national conference of regional presidents (Ecuador, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia) and world-renowned scientists, activists, philanthropists and non-governmental organizations in 2013.