CALL to ACTION

 

CLICK HERE TO TELL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN CONGRESS TO SUPPORT LEGISLATION TO END THE USE OF DRIFT GILLNETS IN WATERS OFF CALIFORNIA TO PROTECT WHALES, TURTLES, DOLPHINS AND OTHER ANIMALS.

VIEW OUR UPDATED FACT SHEET TO LEARN MORE ABOUT S.906, THE DRIFTNET MODERNIZATION AND BYCATCH REDUCATION ACT, WHICH IS CURRENTLY UNDER CONSIDERATION IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO THE CALIFORNIA STATE TRANSITION FUND TO COMPENSATE FISHERMEN WHO TURN IN THEIR NETS SO THEY CAN PURCHASE SUSTAINABLE GEAR TO CATCH DOMESTIC SEAFOOD WHILE SAFEGUARDING OCEAN WILDIFE. 100% OF DONATIONS RAISED WILL GO DIRECTLY TO ASSIST IN THE REMOVAL OF DRIFT GILLNETS TO SAVE COUNTLESS MARINE MAMMALS AND SEA TURTLES.

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 for surrendering their nets and permits. Oceana recently delivered $1 million to the state of California, matching the $1 million in state funds deposited by the California Ocean Protection Council. This means that all remaining state drift gillnet permits will be phased out, and fishermen have already begun turning in their nets. Fishermen participating in the transition program will be first in line for new federal permits to fish with deep-set buoy gear — cleaner fishing gear that successfully catches swordfish while avoiding deadly harm to marine mammals and sea turtles. This new, innovative gear was authorized by the Pacific Fishery Management Council last fall. To learn more about the legislation and transition program, click here.

To make a donation to continue to support the phase out of drift gillnets and incentivize the use of cleaner fishing gears, click here.

To let your Congressional representatives know you support federal legislation to end the use of drift gillnets in California click here.

SAVING OCEAN WILDLIFE WHILE FISHING SUSTAINABLY

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 entangling 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 (called bycatch) that are ultimately thrown back to the sea. 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. Much of this wasteful bycatch is tossed back into the ocean, 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 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 inflicts on our ocean’s diverse marine life, Oceana and our partners successfully lobbied 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 demonstrate that this fishing method is a responsible and economically viable 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 — called hard caps — 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 rule. Read the complaint here and the ruling here. In February 2020, in response to Oceana’s legal efforts, the government issued final regulations implementing hard caps to limit the deaths of sea turtles, dolphins and whales.  However, in the final rule, the government indicated its intent to weaken these protections in the future. 

COLLABORATIONS

Oceana and corporate sponsor Gray Whale Gin are working to ensure whales can safely make their migratory journeys without becoming entangled in deadly fishing nets. Together, we can make the ocean a safer place for whales. 

 

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.

INFOGRAPHICS

view the infographic here