Report | August, 2018
Providing Domestically Caught U.S. West Coast Swordfish: How to Achieve Environmental Sustainability and Economic Profitability
Ocean waters off the U.S. West Coast boast an unparalleled diversity of wildlife. Yet, off California, in the heart of this biodiversity hotspot, mile-long drift gillnets used to target swordfish unselectively entangle, injure, and kill dolphins, sea turtles, sea lions, whales, sharks and other recreationally and commercially important fish. More than half of everything caught is tossed overboard, with many of the animals dead or dying. Due to these bycatch concerns, large drift gillnets are not used anywhere else in the U.S. and are banned in many places around the world, but they are still allowed off California. Clean, selective fishing methods are available—like deep-set buoy gear and harpoons—that profitably catch swordfish while drastically reducing interactions with non-target ocean wildlife. It is time to turn the tide in this fishery by phasing out large mesh drift gillnets off California while transitioning to cleaner fishing gears.
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