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Stop Driftnet Fishing

VICTORY- After threat of legal action and five years of appeals, the California Fish and Game Commission and Fisheries Managers have agreed to stop this extremely harmful driftnet fishery off California.

The driftnet fishery is responsible for widespread destruction of marine wildlife including whales, seabirds and thousands of sharks and rays.

In 2015, Shark Stewards joined with the Turtle Island Restoration Network to begin the process to eliminate this extremely harmful fishery from state waters. Focusing on sharks, we are continuing to monitor the committed ban on the use of driftnets off California waters, and the proposed shallow set longlines to save seabirds, mammals, sea turtles and sharks. Targeting swordfish, thresher and mako sharks, driftnets are mile long walls of meshed netting set adrift in California ocean waters. They are extremely harmful, as notoriously high numbers of sea animals, including protected species, such as dolphins, sea lions, and seabirds, are caught, killed, and thrown away by the driftnet fishery.

Marine animals—including protected species, such as dolphins, sea lions, and seabirds—are routinely trapped and killed in the commercial fishing industry’s “driftnets.” For every swordfish caught by the driftnet fishery, an estimated seven other marine animals are entangled in nets and often injured or killed. And at least six endangered, threatened, or protected species are harmed by driftnets off the California coast.This loss of life is a massive threat to marine ecosystems

Driftnets are condemned by the United Nations and are already banned in many countries and US waters. The only driftnet fishery in the United States exists in federal waters off the coast of California.

Images and text Turtle Island Restoration Network

“Today marks the end of driftnets in US waters, a barbaric fishing technology that has largely operated in secret off our coasts for decades and unbeknownst to most Californians,”

Todd Steiner, Executive Director of Turtle Island Restoration Network, a partner fo Shark Stewards

The effort began with litigation in 2000 that lead to a 250,000 square mile closure to protect endangered sea turtles. Turtle Island and its partners released gruesome footage from driftnet vessels showcasing the continued need to address the ongoing harm to wildlife. The video, which included footage of a bloodied, dead dolphin, garnered millions of views and spurred thousands to call for legislative action under the #BanDeathNets campaign.

Images of sharks killed by these walls of death in Sharkwater Extinction helped us finally to end this fisheries responsible for killing tens of thousands of sharks.

David McGuire, Executive Director Shark Stewards

In September 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill (SB 1017) that will phase out the use of large-scale driftnets, marking the end of driftnets in US waters. Shark Stewards is providing comment to the Pacific Fisheries Management Council in San Diego in June of 2019 to eliminate this fishery from our coastline.