Gillnets – Frequently Asked Questions

Gillnet-300x180What are gillnets?
Gillnets dangle from the water’s surface and are either anchored in place or allowed to drift. As fish attempt to pass through, the netting gets caught in their gills and traps them.

Why are they bad?
Gillnet fishing is nonselective which means they often ensnare species other than those being targeted. For example, a net targeting salmon may also trap sea turtles, water fowl, marine mammals, and other fish including threatened species. Because of this, they are often referred to as “walls of death.”

What happens to non-targetted species that get caught in gillnets?
Normally, commercial fishermen discard the non-targeted “bycatch” as waste.

How do gillnets affect recreational fishermen?
Gillnets are nonselective so they unintentionally catch many species of sportfish.  Also, water with active gillnetting is frequently closed to recreational fishermen. Unattended, abandoned, or improperly marked gillnets can lurk just below the surface and snag on passing boats fouling props and causing engine damage.

What is the sportfishing industry’s position?
The sportfishing industry does not support destructive fishing gear or destructive fishing practices for recreational or commercial purposes. There are other techniques and products that rival the effectiveness of gill nets and do not harm untargeted species.


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