NOAA Fisheries Closes Southern California Waters to Swordfish Drift Gillnet Fishery
El Niño Triggers Closure to Protect Endangered Loggerhead Sea Turtles
Press Release Date: June 1, 2016
Location: Monterey, CA
Effective today, NOAA Fisheries closed the Pacific Loggerhead Conservation Area—more than 25,000 square miles of southern California ocean waters—to drift gillnets targeting swordfish. The closure is intended to protect endangered Pacific loggerhead sea turtles from entanglement and drowning.
Closure of the Pacific Loggerhead Conservation Area is required by current El Niño conditions, or warmer than normal ocean waters, and it will remain in effect through August 31 or until El Niño conditions subside. Young loggerhead sea turtles and their preferred prey—pelagic red crabs—follow the warm water into areas offshore of Southern California. Once there, these young sea turtles are at risk from entanglement if drift gillnets are allowed to operate.
Geoff Shester, California Campaign Director for Oceana issued the following statement: “We commend NOAA Fisheries for doing the right thing to prevent endangered loggerhead sea turtles from being incidentally caught in drift gillnets. Southern California’s ocean waters are incredibly diverse and biologically rich, and we have a responsibility to protect this endangered species that migrates here when warm ocean conditions prevail. While swordfish drift gillnets should ultimately be phased out and replaced with cleaner fishing techniques, this closure offers temporary reprieve for endangered loggerhead sea turtles as they venture into Southern California waters.”
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization focused solely on ocean conservation. We run science-based campaigns and seek to win policy victories that can restore ocean biodiversity and ensure that the oceans are abundant and can feed hundreds of millions of people. Oceana victories have already helped to create policies that could increase fish populations in its countries by as much as 40 percent and that have protected more than 1 million square miles of ocean. We have campaign offices in the countries that control close to 40 percent of the world’s wild fish catch, including in North, South and Central America, Asia, and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org.