Donate here directly to the state transition fund to help raise the required one million dollars to end drift gillnets once and for all.


Contact your Congressional Representative to support federal legislation to phase out drift gillnets. Sign the petition.


A new California state law will prohibit the use of deadly drift gillnets for good upon receipt of $1 million in non-state funds to provide fishermen with financial assistance to switch to cleaner fishing gears. In September 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 1017 that established a transition program whereby drift gillnet fishermen will be financially compensated to turn in their net and permit. The law dedicates $1 million in state funds and requires a $1 million non-state funding match that will be used to help fishermen convert to the use of deep-set buoy gear to catch swordfish. Switching to cleaner gear will prevent deadly interactions with marine mammals and sea turtles that occur with drift gillnets. Once the matching funds are raised, a four-year countdown starts to phase out this destructive gear. To learn more about the legislation and transition program, click here.

To donate directly to the transition fund to raise the necessary $1 million to phase out drift gillnets and incentivize the use of cleaner fishing gears, click here.

To bolster the new California law, Congressional lawmakers have introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to phase out federal drift gillnet permits. Add your name in support of these federal bills here

In the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast, mile-long drift gillnets are used to capture swordfish and thresher sharks. But that’s not all they catch. These nets are deployed at dusk and left to hang 200 feet below the ocean’s surface for up to 12 hours. At the same time the nets ensnare their targeted catch, they also entangle large open ocean travelers like whales, dolphins, sharks, and sea turtles.

In the morning, when the nets are pulled from the water onto the fishing boats, they hold exceptionally high numbers of dead and dying animals that are ultimately thrown back to the sea (called bycatch). A 2018 National Marine Fisheries Service study estimates that despite existing conservation measures, between 2001 and 2016 the California drift gillnet fishery captured 1,602 protected marine species including large whales, sea turtles, dolphins, seabirds, seals and sea lions. During this time the fishery has also captured tens of thousands of non-target fish including rare sharks, rays, marlin and ocean sunfish. Many of these animals are tossed back dead or dying.

A sample of disturbing photographs showing some of the species entangled and killed by swordfish drift gillnets off California can be viewed here. On average, more than half of the total catch (individuals, not weight) is tossed overboard. The nets inflict such devastation to marine life that they have earned the name “Walls of Death.”

With the havoc this fishing gear is inflicting on our ocean’s diverse marine life, Oceana and our partners have successfully convinced California decision makers to phase out and prohibit swordfish drift gillnets and replace them with cleaner gears that can selectively target swordfish such as deep-set buoy gear. Commercial and experimental deep-set buoy gear trials off California have demonstrated that this fishing method is a responsible and economically feasible alternative to using drift gillnets for catching swordfish.  Read the latest published study on the profitability and effectiveness of deep-set buoy gear here.

For more detailed information about the drift gillnet fishery click here.

In 2017, Oceana filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the National Marine Fisheries Service's withdrawal of a proposed rule to implement limits on the numbers of protected species that can be injured or killed by swordfish drift gillnets. In October 2018, the federal court ruled in favor of Oceana, requiring the government to finalize the original proposed rule or develop a revised rule. The government appealed the ruling, but subsequently dropped the appeal in April 2019, so the ruling stands. Read the complaint here and the ruling here

Kate Mara alongside Oceana is speaking up to save whales and get swordfish drift gillnets out of the water. Click here to hear from Kate.

view the infographic here 

view the infographic here 

 view the infographic here