|Leatherback photo (C) Doug Perrine/Seapics.com|
A drift gillnet fisherman was caught offshore of California in a closed area during a closed time with an illegal, over-sized gillnet violating the laws our advocacy created to protect endangered leatherback sea turtles. The gillnet was over 6,000 feet long, 900 feet over the maximum length allowed.
These massive nets capture and kill all marine life and are a primary threat to the leatherback sea turtles that use California's ocean as an essential feeding ground. Click here to learn more about our actions to end this fishery.
The Sea Turtle Restoration Project is attending the Pacific Fisheries Management Council meeting today to speak against this deadly fishery and just learned of the illegal gillnetter from an officer testifying to the Council. Our advocacy successes resulted in the Leatherback Conservation Area which closes the fishery mid-August through November where leatherbacks are most abundant. Over a dozen leatherbacks have been spotted already this year in California.
Read part of our testimony below, and click here to download the entire public testimony shared with the Council.
Drift nets have been called invisible “curtains of death,” because they indiscriminately kill all species that get tangled in their web. Lost nets, called ghost nets, can continue to kill marine wildlife for years after being lost at sea. For these and other reasons, this fishery has virtually been eliminated in Oregon and Washington, and drift-net fishing technology has been banned on the high seas by the United Nations.
In California, this fishery has had continuous problems with bycatch of threatened, endangered and protected species including dolphins, whales and sea turtles. The fishery has been burdened with pingers, net depth and size modifications, and time-are closures; each required regulatory change sometimes succeeding in reducing the pressure on one protected species, only to shift the pressure onto a different protected species. Most recently, due to the serious impact this fishery is placing on critically endangered leatherback turtle that are feeding off the Central California coast on jellyfish right now, the fishery has been excluded from a 250,000 square-mile area during summer and fall.