San Francisco Bay Area (September 27, 2018) – Today, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill (SB 1017) that will phase out the use of large-scale driftnets, also known as ‘walls of death,’ that are used to catch swordfish but also trap a myriad of ocean animals.

Turtle Island Restoration Network has led a coalition of concerned citizens and partner organizations working for nearly 20 years to stop the devastating impact of this driftnet fishery on sea turtles, whales, dolphins, and other ocean animals. This effort began with litigation in 2000 that led to a 250,000 square mile closure to protect endangered sea turtles.

“This is an historic victory for sea turtles, whales, sharks and dolphins. Today marks the end of driftnets in US waters, a barbaric and antiquated fishing technology that has largely operated in secrecy off our coasts for decades and unbeknownst to most Californians,” said Todd Steiner, a marine ecologist and Executive Director of Turtle Island Restoration Network.

SB 1017, authored by Senator Ben Allen, along with over 15 coauthors:

  • Phases out the use of swordfish drift gillnets over a four-year period following establishment of a transition program funded through public-private partnerships; and
  • Authorizes the implementation of a transition fund to help fishermen who will be required to stop using the nets.

“The legislation to phase out this harmful fishery will go a long way toward making the Pacific Ocean safer for ocean wildlife,” said Cassie Burdyshaw, Advocacy and Policy Director of Turtle Island Restoration Network.