Turtle Island Restoration Network submitted a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request in order to obtain these photographs showing the deadly impact of driftnets on California’s endangered marine wildlife. In answer to this request, the National Marine Fisheries Service observer program provided us with these photographs, which were taken by federal observers on board driftnet vessels when “bycatch” was brought on board. Bycatch is a fisheries term used to describe when any non-target species, in this case any animal that is not a swordfish or thresher shark, is caught or killed by a fishery. The Agency keeps the locations and vessels names confidential, and the white squares on photo are to cover up vessel id numbers.
Turtle Island Restoration Network believes in the public’s right to know, and though these images are disturbing they show visually the true cost of continuing to allow driftnet fishing off our California coast.