Driftnets are banned in many nations. Why not in California?
Scientists compare the waters off of California's coast to Africa’s Serengeti Plain for its richness of life. Most of the Pacific Ocean’s top predators thrive there. Unfortunately, that also means they are in danger of being Bycatch of commercial fisheries. The swordfish driftnet fishery in the federal waters off the coast of California entangles a high number of sea animals, including protected species, such as dolphins, sea lions, and seabirds. Banning the use of driftnets does not mean the end to the swordfish industry. It simply means that fishermen will have to change to fishing gear practices that result in less Bycatch. Those methods already exist.
Currently, for every swordfish caught by the driftnet fishery,
an estimated SEVEN other marine animals are entangled in nets and often injured or killed.
In the last ten years, an estimated 26,000 sharks were caught by this deadly fishery, with nearly 10,000 simply being tossed overboard. Get more facts about species that are being caught on this Turtle Island Restoration Network Fact Sheet
On the U.S. West Coast, the State of Washington banned driftnets in 2001 and Oregon abandoned its driftnet fishery program in 2009. Californian's should be appalled that our State is continuing to allow this practice. Proposed regulations on the driftnet fishery off the coast of California were halted by the Trump administration in the summer of 2017. These proposed regulations would have temporarily shut down the driftnet fishery for a period of two years if too many whales, dolphins, or sea turtles were caught in the nets during a fishing season. This has made it urgently necessary to create legislation.
A coalition of groups called "THE END DRIFTNETS COALITION" has taken on that challenge. It is a National alliance that is comprised of Mercy For Animals, Turtle Island Restoration Network, SeaLegacy, and many compassionate individuals. Shark Allies is striving to support the Coalition in any way we can. This is a tremendously important measure.
The bills introduced in the California Legislature have come a long ways. The next important vote will take place mid August.
It is important that all of us take action now!