Last week Turtle Island Restoration Network released a new report uncovering the problems with the California driftnet fishery, and laying out the case for phasing out this destructive fishery.
For those who want a quick overview of why this fishery has to be kicked out of California’s waters, here are the top five reasons to phase out the driftnet fishery.
1. It is Banned on High Seas
The jury is already out on driftnets. In fact, the jury has been out for a long time. The United Nations has already banned this destructive gear on the high seas. A host of countries no longer permit this method. California is the last state in the U.S. to allow driftnets.
2. An Alarming Number of Marine Mammals are Caught in Mile-Long Nets
California’s driftnet fishery catches and kills 13 times more marine mammals than any other single observed fishery on the U.S. West Coast. We’re talking about killing 16 endangered sperm whales and a total of 885 marine mammals in the last decade.
3. Target Catch, Swordfish, is Rife with Toxic Mercury
California driftnets catch swordfish and put them on dinner plates. This is not a good thing. The U.S. FDA and EPA warn women of childbearing age and children to never eat swordfish because it is so laden with toxic mercury. (Calculate the mercury in our seafood with our ‘Got Mercury’ calculator).
4. Decades of Increasing Regulations Haven’t Made the Fisheries Safer
This fishery has been regulated for almost 40 years, and still almost two-thirds of the animals caught in the nearly invisible nets are discarded. The bycatch of high-priority protected sea turtles and whales is as high today as it was in the 1990s. And on top of the only one in eight fish caught are even swordfish.
5. Net Drag on the Economy
This fishery of a mere 20-odd vessels is no boon to the California economy. The recent annual revenue of only $750,000 is dwarfed by enforcement and management costs of $1.3 million to $2.7 million per year. And California taxpayers are footing this bill to prop up a fishery for expensive, high-in-mercury fish.
Wondering what you can do to help? Here are three simple suggestions:
- Sign our petition and add your voice to thousands of other so we can convince regulators to start taking the steps to phase out the fishery
- Join us on March 13th in Sacramento, California for a rally to call for the phase out of the fishery. RSVP by email Cassie at CBurdyshaw@seaturtles.org.
- Make a tax-deductible donation today so we can continue to be on the front line to protect sea turtles, whales, sharks and dolphins. Your donation will make the difference.