Driftnets are walls of netting that float in the ocean. They are extremely harmful, as notoriously high numbers of sea animals, including protected species, such as dolphins, sea lions, and seabirds, are caught, killed, and thrown away by the driftnet fishery. These animals are referred to as “bycatch.”
Marine animals—including protected species, such as dolphins, sea lions, and seabirds—are routinely trapped and killed in the commercial fishing industry’s “driftnets.” For every swordfish caught by the driftnet fishery, an estimated seven other marine animals are entangled in nets and often injured or killed. And at least six endangered, threatened, or protected species are harmed by driftnets off the California coast.
This loss of life is a massive threat to marine ecosystems.
Driftnets are already banned in many countries, and only one driftnet fishery for swordfish remains in the United States—in federal waters off the coast of California.
What We’re Doing
For nearly 20 years, TIRN has led a coalition of concerned citizens and partner organizations to stop the devastating impact of this driftnet fishery on sea turtles, whales, dolphins, and other ocean animals.
The effort began with litigation in 2000 that lead to a 250,000 square mile closure to protect endangered sea turtles. Most recently, Turtle Island and its partners released gruesome footage from driftnet vessels showcasing the continued need to address the ongoing harm to wildlife. The video, which included footage of a bloodied, dead dolphin, garnered millions of views and spurred thousands to call for legislative action under the #BanDeathNets campaign.
In September 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill (SB 1017) that will phase out the use of large-scale driftnets, marking the end of driftnets in US waters.