California’s Deadliest Catch – New Report Calls for End to Drift Gillnets

By September 1, 2013Sea Turtles

The drift gillnet fishery for swordfish and shark is California’s deadliest catch.

Our new exposé and call for action, California’s Deadliest Catchinvestigates the problems and history of the wasteful, high bycatch California swordfish and shark fishery and why the state of California needs to take pre-emptive action to end gillnetting along our coast.

We must stop whales, dolphins, sea turtles, sharks and thousands of fish from needlessly drowning in drift gillnets along the California coast — once and for all.

Download report here.

Few Californians realize that a high bycatch drift gillnet fishery that targets swordfish and thresher shark operates off the California coast with deadly consequences for ocean wildlife.

Most people are shocked to learn that mile-long invisible “curtains of death” are allowed to drift all night through the rich congregation of marine life that thrives off California’s shores. The CA drift gillnet fishery entangles, injures and kills the full spectrum of endangered and protected marine
wildlife that relies on the California Current: whales, dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, bluefin tuna, ocean sunfish, and dozens of other fish species, and sea birds.

Over the past decade, more than 1,300 whales, dolphins, and turtles drowned as bycatch after getting tangled in these large-mesh drift gillnets.

Over a hundred thousand giant ocean sunfish and ten thousand blue sharks were also caught and discarded during the last 10 years.

Even with a large area of U.S. West Coast waters off limits to California’s gillnets for three months of the year to protect critically endangered leatherbacks, two of these vulnerable sea turtles were seen  in the gillnet gear by CA gillnet fishing fleet observers in 2012 and 2009.

After more than a decade of successfully halting destructive fishing initiatives over and over again, Turtle Island Restoration Network (TIRN) is now mobilizing a grassroots campaign to phase out the deadly California drift gillnet fishery once and for all.