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California’s Fishery Management Rejects Proposal to Expand the Use of Drift Gillnets off California Coast

California’s Fishery Management Rejects Proposal to Expand the Use of Drift Gillnets off California Coast


Last month the Pacific Fishery Management Council (the voting body tasked with managing fisheries 3 to 200 miles off of the Washington, Oregon, and California coasts) voted to cease consideration of a proposal to expand the use of drift gillnets off the California coast. The council also requested an extension of the emergency regulations implemented last year to protect endangered sperm whales from these deadly drift gillnets. This regulation states that if a single sperm whale is found dead or injured, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will ban the use of these nets. It also requires the presence of independent observers on all drift gillnet vessels operating in waters deeper than 6,500 feet where sperm whales are most often observed. Another part of enforcing such a rule requires vessel monitoring systems that track the locations of all drift gillnet vessels off the west coast of the United States. Fishing with drift gillnets is currently banned in state waters (0 to 3 miles offshore). The federal waters off California are the only place on the West Coast that drift gillnets can still be used to catch swordfish and sharks.

According to NOAA’s observer data from May 2007 to January 2012, an average of only 15.6% of drift gillnet fishing had been actually been observed.  Observers noted that the average bycatch [the incidental capture of non-target species] was approximately 63% of the total catch. For example, for every two swordfish the fishermen catch to sell, on average one blue shark, 15 ocean sunfish, and a long list of other marine wildlife are thrown overboard dead or injured, including endangered species such as the sperm whale and leatherback sea turtle.

Click here to see California drift gillnet aftermath photos.


Oceana News Articles:

September3, 2013 Article:

Emergency Rules Implemented to Protect Endangered Sperm Whales from California Drift Gillnets

March 13, 2014 Article:

Fishery Management Council Rejects Proposal to Expand Drift Gillnets

Other Sources:

          Sport Fishing News Article

 [CS1]Should this be at the beginning of the second paragraph?  Otherwise, the reader doesn’t know what the target species are.



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