California Driftnet Fishery Reports

California Driftnet Fishery Overview

Read our Overview report to learn the true cost of the California driftnet fishery for swordfish, and understand the basics.

The driftnet fishery in California consists of roughly 20 fishing vessels. The vessels set out nets the size of the Golden Gate Bridge to float overnight and indiscriminately catch whatever swims into their nets. The California driftnet fishery kills or injures approximately seven times more whales and dolphins than all other observed fisheries in California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska combined, and 13 times more than any other single observed fishery on the West Coast.

Sea Turtle Impacts

Read our ‘Sea Turtle Impacts’ report to get an in-depth look at how miles-long driftnets impact endangered leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles.

Endangered sea turtles are air-breathing animals, and when they become entangled in the nearly invisible monofilament line of mile-wide driftnets, they drown when they are unable to surface to breathe. Even if sea turtles escape entanglement, they can die after being forcibly submerged. Between 1990 and 2000, the California driftnet fishery killed an estimated 137 sea turtles.

The Economic Argument Against the California Driftnet Fishery

Read our Economic report to get an in-depth look at how California driftnets negatively impact taxpayers and our economy.

The California driftnet fishery has an overall negative impact on our economy because it costs more to manage the fishery than the wealth that is created from the fishery.

Taxpayers pay for observers and regulators for fisheries to protect public marine resources. Because driftnets are inherently destructive, tight regulation is necessary to ensure that the fleet complies with U.S. and California law and that the fishery does not devastate the public marine resources of the California coast. The cost of regulation would substantially decrease if the California swordfish fishery used more sustainable fishing gear instead of driftnets.

The catch from the California driftnet fishery peaked in the 1980s and has been steadily declining.1 According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the California driftnet fishery landed 135,000 pounds of swordfish in 2013, valued at $585,000.

Deadly Impact of the California Driftnet Fishery on Marine  Mammals

Read our Marine Mammals report.

Driftnets are deadly to whales, dolphins and porpoises because this fishing gear entangles and drowns these air-breathing mammals. Since most whales and dolphins, like humans, only produce a few offspring over their entire lives, most species are extremely vulnerable if they cannot maintain sustainable population sizes. For marine mammals, maintaining sustainable population sizes becomes difficult when faced with high levels of mortality from industrial fishing.

Click here to download the report.

Deadly Impact of the California Driftnet Fishery on Sharks

Read our Shark report.

Globally, shark species are facing steep declines in many populations. Indiscriminate industrial fishing has reduced the biomass of large predators such as tunas and sharks by up to 90 percent since the 1950s.Fully 15 percent of the catch in the driftnet fishery are sharks, many of them listed and protected under international treaties and agreements.
Click here to download the shark report.

 

CONTACT: If you are a member of the media, please contact Melissa Angel at melissa@seaturtles.org. If you are a scientist, researcher or fellow NGO interested in discussing the report please contact Peter Fugazzotto at peter@seaturtles.org.