Victory | December 28, 2022
United States Protects Whales, Dolphins, Sea Turtles from Deadly Drift Gillnets
Following campaigning by Oceana and our allies, the United States will end the use of the large-mesh drift gillnets in its federal waters. These are mile-long, nearly invisible nets set overnight to capture swordfish. In the U.S., large mesh drift gillnets are currently only in use off the coast of California, where they entangle, injure, and kill thousands of other ocean animals each year including whales, dolphins, sea lions, endangered sea turtles, sharks, and other important fish species. This victory follows the completion of a multi-year voluntary transition program in California to compensate swordfish drift gillnet fishermen for turning in their permits and nets. The program, which was partially funded by Oceana, also incentivizes the use of more selective gear, such as deep-set buoy gear, to catch swordfish. As a result, roughly 50 miles of large-mesh drift gillnets have now been removed permanently from the ocean. The new law aligns state and federal policy to ban the use of this indiscriminate gear in all U.S. waters, and all remaining federal permits will be phased out over the next five years.