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.

Modernizing the California Swordfish Fishery

Danielle Cloutier, Pacific Fisheries Policy director, discusses the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act.

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What ASA is Doing

Together with our partners, ASA is working with House Natural Resource staff to advocate for passage of this legislation before the end of 2020.

Through Keep America Fishing, supporters were informed about the issue and thousands of emails were generated to key legislative targets over the duration of the campaign.

After being approved by the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act (S. 906). Unfortunately, the bill was vetoed in the last days of the previous administration.

On February 8, 2021, Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) reintroduced the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act. Count on ASA and Keep America Fishing to keep you up to date on the status of this important legislation.

What You Can Do

Download the Advocacy Checklist and learn how you can get involved with the issues that affect our industry.

Sign up to receive updates from Keep America Fishing.

For more information, contact ASA Pacific Fisheries Policy Director Danielle Cloutier.