For Immediate Release

Cassie Burdyshaw
Advocacy & Policy Director
Turtle Island Restoration Network

Joanna McWilliams
Communications Director
Turtle Island Restoration Network

Pacific Fisheries Management Council Nominated for ‘Shark Enemy’ Award by Turtle Island and Host of Concerned Environmental Groups

December 19th (Olema, CA) – This week Turtle Island Restoration Network, a leading international marine conservation organization, and fellow environmentalists officially nominated  the Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC) for the ‘Shark Enemy’ award by the conservation organization Sharkproject International. The PFMC was nominated for this dishonor based on the council’s anti-shark-conservation policies, most notably their decisions to continue to allow the California drift gillnet fishery to target the common thesher shark, and harm, kill and further endanger thousands of sharks. In a ten-year period ending in 2014, this the fishery caught a staggering 26,217 sharks. For over a decade, the PFMC has failed  to reduce the fishery’s catastrophic bycatch of sharks to a reasonable level.

The PFMC continues to protect the drift gillnet fishery and defy scientific reason and public opinion. Despite the availability of more sustainable fishing alternatives, the Council has been adamant that drift gillnets must remain and that thousands of sharks must unnecessarily die.

“This award shows just how little attention the Pacific Fisheries Management Council pays to conservation and environmental concerns. Under their leadership, the California driftnet fishery is slaughtering thousands of sharks, and though the Council has the power to stop them – nothing is being done,” said Cassie Burdyshaw, advocacy and policy director of Turtle Island Restoration Network.

The “Shark Enemy” award, a rusted shark fin, is usually officially announced at the upcoming International Boat Show in Düsseldorf, Germany, an event that draws upwards of 300,000 visitors from around the world each year, and shines a spotlight on the recipient of the dishonor.

“Pacific Fisheries Management Council, driftnets are walls of death! Currently Californians are being forced to prop up a losing fishery that costs hundreds of thousands of lives, and the taxpayers more cash than the measly catch of swordfish could ever be worth. The driftnet is a ridiculous and futile practice that does way more harm than any sort of productivity. Do your job end it,” said Brock Cahill of Kurmalliance.

“It is time the Pacific Fisheries Management Council stops the use of driftnet fishing because your Council is allowing the killing of our marine wildlife such as sea turtles, whales, dolphins and more. End this cruelty now,” said Debbie Sherman of Save the Turtles, Inc.

The PFMC’s anti-shark policies come after major corporations (like American Airlines and UPS) announced that they will no longer ship shark fins or support the shark fin trade, and after a report showed demand for shark fins plummeting by 50-70 percent in China. The PFMC is a threat to shark and ocean conservation worldwide, and deserves to win this ‘Shark Enemy’ award.

Background of Sharkproject Award:

The idea of a “Positive Award” and a “Negative Award” was born in the spring of 2003 during a meeting of the Sharkproject’s executive committee. The names of the awards were selected by competition. Now, the Shark Guardian and the Shark Enemy award is given out each year to honor excellence in shark conservation and call out leaders who fail to protect shark species. Learn more about the awards and past winners online here.

Read the nomination letter by clicking here.

Read our series of reports and fact sheets on the deadly California driftnet fishery by clicking here.


Turtle Island Restoration Network is an international marine conservation organization headquartered in California whose 200,000+ members and online activists work to protect sea turtles and marine biodiversity in the United States and around the world. For 25 years, Turtle Island Restoration Network has mobilized people to preserve oceans, restore rivers and streams, and protect the marine wildlife – from sea turtles to sharks – that call these blue-green waters home.