Today the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) unanimously passed a resolution expressing its support for a state led effort to work with stakeholders to clean up California’s swordfish drift gillnet fishery. The resolution supports a delay in federalizing state drift gillnet permits to allow time for this effort to unfold, including further development of new gear types for targeting swordfish that are environmentally and economically sustainable. Federal fishery managers have proposed federalization of the permits to reduce state management authority over the fishery.
The Commission passed today’s resolution in response to the National Marine Fisheries Service’s decision in June to withdraw a proposed rule that would have established strict limits on the number of whales, sea turtles, and dolphins that could be injured or killed in mile-long drift gillnets that target swordfish off California. The federal decision to withdraw the rule rejects a years-long stakeholder-driven process that reflected dedicated and thoughtful involvement by California’s wildlife managers and staff as well as state leaders and the public who weighed in on protecting the ocean’s most iconic and endangered marine animals.
In the resolution passed today, the Commission states it “strongly disagrees with the withdrawal of the hard cap rule.” The Commission states the primary purpose of the hard cap rule was “to create transparency, accountability measures, and incentives for best practices within the fishery.” In July, Oceana filed a lawsuit challenging the National Marine Fisheries Service’s decision to withdraw the rule.
Geoff Shester, Oceana’s California campaign director and senior scientist, released the following statement in response to today’s resolution.
“Oceana applauds today’s action by the California Fish and Game Commission to voice its support for safeguarding marine wildlife and promoting vibrant fisheries by moving towards cleaner fishing gears. Oceana supports the Commission’s resolution, which sends a clear message to federal fishery managers that California is committed to ensuring that fisheries operating off its coast are sustainable. While federal fishery managers clearly sidestepped their obligation to protect public resources and provide for clean, sustainable fisheries, the Fish and Game Commission’s action today highlights California’s environmental responsibility and leadership. Oceana strongly supports the state’s efforts to convene stakeholders to discuss and advance an environmentally and economically sustainable swordfish fishery in California.”
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one third of the world’s wild fish catch. With nearly 200 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that one billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. To learn more about Oceana’s work in the United States, please visit www.usa.oceana.org.