Focusing on sharks, Shark Stewards helped lead the phase out drift-nets in California waters to save sharks, seabirds, mammals, sea turtles and other life killed for swordfish. Now, federal fishery managers are proposing to open a fishery that is responsible for killing millions of sharks, seabirds and sea turtles globally. This month the Pacific Fisheries Management Council will be considering opening a longline fishery in Federal waters outside of the EEZ allowing landings in California. These fishing lines stretch up to 60 miles long with thousands of baited hooks mostly killing non-targeted sharks in the name of swordfish.

Call it what it is – a shark fishery.

Fed Ex

White sharks and other species that feed in California National Marine Sanctuaries and annually migrate west will have to bypass this gauntlet of baited hooks. Targeting swordfish, catch will include endangered leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles, Laysan and black-footed albatrosses and the most common animal caught: the sharks. Protected species like great white sharks, endangered species like mako sharks and the most common shark in the shark fin trade, blue sharks, will be captured and discarded dead.

Tests conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in West Coast waters between 2011 through 2013 on deep-set longlines demonstrated that this gear captured 41 blue sharks for every swordfish. Blue sharks have been identified to be the most common large shark traded in the Hong Kong shark fin trade.

41 sharks are killed for every swordfish.

This proposed fishery would also undermine the successful cooperation between fishermen, fisheries managers and shark advocates like Shark Stewards efforts to transition the swordfish fleet away from the extremely harmful drift gillnets off the California coastline.

Shark Stewards has submitted written comments opposing this proposed longline fishery and will be attending the hearings in Orange County November 20 to fight this proposed action. Please join us to comment or donate to support this critical work to save threatened sharks.

Join Shark Stewards and Pew Charitable Trusts fighting this fishery off our Pacific waters.

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What is Bycatch by Jim Toomey.
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