Overview of the Issue
Large mesh drift gillnets — which are a mile long, nearly invisible and set out overnight near the ocean’s surface to capture swordfish — are responsible for entangling, injuring and killing a wide range of marine life. This includes popular sportfish, whales, dolphins, sea lions, sea turtles, sharks and other important non-targeted fish species. It’s time large-mesh drift gillnets are eliminated.
The California-based swordfish drift gillnet fishery, which predominately fishes federal waters off California’s coast, is the last place in the U.S. where these deadly nets are allowed.
The Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act (S. 906/H.R. 1979) – would bring commercial swordfish fishing in California in line with other U.S. and international swordfish fisheries. If passed into law, it would phase out the use of indiscriminate mile-long large-mesh drift gillnets there by 2020 and allow fishermen to transition to more sustainable gear.
It’s time that California catches up with the rest of the country, and many other parts of the world, and recognizes that drift gillnets have no place in our marine waters.