Ban Drift Gillnets Now!

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Sponsor: The Rainforest Site

It's time California got on board with the rest of the fishing world and abandoned this practice.


Since the 1970s, fishermen off the California coast have been using a fishing technique that indiscriminately kills everything in its path — drift gillnets. These nets, which have only 14-inch openings, are a mile long and are dropped from boats 100 feet into the ocean [1]. Whatever swims into the nets are harvested and pulled to the surface. According to NOAA research, California fishermen throw back 60-80 percent [2] of what they catch with gillnets — that's because a lot of what they are catching is precious, threated, and endangered species.

Used by fisheries to catch swordfish, drift gillnets actually catch whales, sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, and other species of marine life [3]. And despite being banned nearly everywhere else, California still uses these huge nets in its fishing industry. It's something that has to stop now.

In the last 25 years, according to NOAA estimates [4], hundreds of endangered sea turtles, thousands of sea lions and dolphins, and tens of thousands of sharks have been killed by California drift gillnets. Leatherback turtles, one of the victims of drift gillnets, is already on the brink of extinction [5].

Biologist Todd Steiner said of drift gillnets, "everything that swims into it becomes its victim," calling them "invisible curtains of death [6]." To make matters worse, what fishing boats catch in the nets and don't keep is just tossed back into the ocean, injured or dead.

California's fishing industry must stop using drift gillnets in order to protect innocent, intelligent and precious marine mammals and endangered species. Sign the petition asking the Pacific Fishery Management Council and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to ban the use of these barbaric fishing nets. Our precious marine species must be protected before they are extinct!

MORE ABOUT THIS ISSUE

1. NOAA Fisheries. (2012, November 06). Gillnets: Fishing Gear and Risks to Protected Species. Retrieved September 06, 2017, from http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/interactions/gear/gillnet.htm

2. Mara, K., & Sharpless, A. (2015, May 20). Ocean Waters Off California Must Be Free of Drift Gillnets. Retrieved September 06, 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ocean-waters-off-california-must-be-free-of-drift-gillnets_b_7343418.html

3. Northridge, S. P. (1991). Driftnet fisheries and their impacts on non-target species : a world wide review. Retrieved September 06, 2017, from http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/T0502E/T0502E01.htm

4. Shaban, B., Villarreal, M., & Wagner, L. (2016, October 28). Whales, Dolphins, Sea Lions Killed in Fishing Nets off Coast. Retrieved September 06, 2017, from http://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/Whales-Dolphins-Sea-Lions-Among-Thousands-Entangled-and-Killed-in-Mile-Long-Fishing-Nets-off-California-Coast-398973191.html

5. Roach, J. (2003, February 24). Leatherback Turtles Near Extinction, Experts Say. Retrieved September 06, 2017, from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/02/0224_030224_seaturtles.html

6. Shaban, B., Villarreal, M., & Wagner, L. (2016, October 28). Whales, Dolphins, Sea Lions Killed in Fishing Nets off Coast. Retrieved September 06, 2017, from http://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/Whales-Dolphins-Sea-Lions-Among-Thousands-Entangled-and-Killed-in-Mile-Long-Fishing-Nets-off-California-Coast-398973191.html

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The Petition:

Pacific Fishery Management Council and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

The use of drift gillnets by California's fishing industry must come to an end. As the only state to allow this type of fishing technique, California is sorely behind the times – and much worse, its fisheries are injuring and killing thousands of innocent, intelligent, and endangered species of sea creatures and marine mammals.

California allows the use of drift gillnets — hundred-foot-long mesh nets — for catching swordfish which indiscriminately catch anything that floats or swims into its clutches. This includes sharks, dolphins, whales, sea lions, sea turtles and other species. The leatherback turtle is one victim of the drift gillnets and is already on the brink of extinction. Other protected sea life injured or killed by these nets each year are dolphins and whales.

NBC's coverage of the issue revealed that, "In 2011, NOAA released its first-ever national report detailing how often marine mammals are negatively impacted by fishing gear across the country. According to the report, California's drift gillnets kill and injure marine animals at a rate higher than any other type of fishing gear used along the west coast." The most dangerous method of fishing being used by one – and only one — state is still one state too many.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) conducts limited observations of fishing vessels and their practices. Yet from these observations NOAA estimates that in the last 25 years tens of thousands of innocent and endangered sea creatures have been caught by California's drift gillnets and tossed back into the ocean, many of them injured or dead.

Simply sweeping the ocean with drift gillnets and hoping to catch a few swordfish among the rest of the nets' victims is in no way fitting with a modern, civilized culture. Other states and even the United Nations have taken actions to either ban or limit the use of the nets. More targeted, humane methods of fishing like the use of harpoons must be established instead of using drift gillnets.

Whether unintentionally caught in the nets or casually disregarded as collateral damage in the efforts to catch swordfish, California's continued use of drift gillnets is archaic, uncivilized and unethical.

I ask that you immediately move to ban the use of drift gillnets by California's fishing industry and protect the innocent and endangered sea creatures they injure and kill annually. These species of marine mammals and sea life are too precious, intelligent and valued to be wiped out by a fishing industry that would rather take a lazy approach than an ethical one. Ban drift gillnets now before more sea life is killed.

Sincerely,

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