Senators Act to Get Deadly Driftnets Out of U.S. Waters

Three senators are taking action to ban driftnets following an investigation that exposed the toll they’re taking on marine life just miles off the coast of California.

Just weeks ago, Mercy For Animals, SeaLegacy, Sharkwater and the Turtle Island Restoration Network released a disturbing undercover footage exposing how many species are regularly trapped, injured and killed in driftnets that are used by California’s driftnet fishing industry targeting swordfish and thresher sharks.

These nets, which have otherwise become known as ‘walls of death’ and ‘ death nets,’ can span more than a mile long, and hang 100 feet deep. Unsurprisingly, they’re taking a serious toll on marine life that goes far beyond the species they target. Dozens of others have become victims, who are entangled, injured, killed and discarded as bycatch, from dolphins, rays, sea turtles, sharks and whales to seabirds, sea lions and other nontarget fish—including protected species.

“If a dolphin, whale, turtle, swordfish, thresher shark, or mako shark swims into that net, they’re going to die. It’s out of sight, out of mind. Ocean wildlife and endangered species are continually harmed or killed by this dangerous fishery and it’s time to end the slaughter,” Paul Nicklen, co-founder and expedition lead for SeaLegacy, said at the time.

Sadly, the coalition behind the investigation estimates that for every swordfish caught in a driftnet, seven other animals are drowned and killed.

While these nets have been banned in other parts of the world, on the east coast of the U.S., and off the coasts of Washington and Oregon, they remain deadly and indiscriminate killers off the coast of California.

Now members of Congress are taking action to end their use there. Senators Dianne Feinstein, Shelley Moore Capito and Kamala Harris have since introduced the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act (S.2773), which would phase out the use of these nets by 2020, in addition to authorizing National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop a program that would help fisheries transition to other methods.

“The use of driftnets to target swordfish harms too many endangered or protected marine animals and should be phased out,” said Senator Feinstein. “It’s unacceptable that a single California fishery that uses this type of driftnet is killing more dolphins and porpoises than the rest of the West Coast combined. Our bipartisan bill will remove harmful large mesh driftnets from our oceans and encourage more sustainable fishing methods.”

Hopefully this legislation will be passed to protect marine life from driftnets, and the attention the investigation has drawn to cruelty and waste within this industry will inspire more people to leave seafood off of their plates. The species being targeted by this industry are no less deserving of our consideration, or protection.

TAKE ACTION!

You can help by signing and sharing the petition urging members of Congress to end the cruel and wasteful use of driftnets in U.S. waters by passing the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

59 comments

Debbie B
Past Member 9 days ago

wait theres drift nets in the ocean oh right there is not all those video people show others there just computer graphic imagery aka (CGI) its fake dont be fooled people and senators

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson9 days ago

Thanks.

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Ruth G
Ruth G10 days ago

THIS SHOCKING CARNAGE OF WILDLIFE HAS TO STOP! ALL IT NEEDS IS FOR SUSTAINABLE FISHING METHODS TO BE ADOPTED!! CUT OUT THESE MASSIVE DEATH TRAPS ! THEN STOCKS WILL STOP DECLINING .ULTIMATELY HUMANS NEED TO STOP MULTIPLYING THEREBY REQUIRING MORE & MORE FOOD!

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Nicole H
Nicole H10 days ago

@ Alea C : Even if all people who COULD afford to go vegan should NOT eat any fish, it would not solve the problem. Really, vegans think ALL WORLD PROBLEMS WILL VANISH when we all stop eating eggs, fish, meat of any kind.
DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA how many extremely poor fishermen living along the coasts of Asia, Africa, South America, etc.. NO certainly NOT, because you would not write such stupidities. For BILLIONS of people FISH is the ONLY and SOLE source of proteins they have available. Due to this gill net problems, fishermen often return home in the eve, with just 2 small / medium fishes for a family of 7, 8 or more people, incl. their parents, grandparents etc.. They have no service homes in these countries to drop off their elderly people over there !! And you dare to call these people "FISHER-SCUM".... SHAME ON YOU !!!

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Nicole H
Nicole H10 days ago

When they ban gill-nets by the " e n d " of 2020, this is more than 2.5 years still to go. I wonder - if this bill will be passed - why it must always take so much time before it is applicable. Thousands & thousands of fish will still be killed and for some species, already threatened, this will be TOO LATE !
Once again, I plead that Authorities from all countries, lying by the seaside should be organized in ONE single Commission or Organization. Then, such decisions could be made for the WHOLE WORLD... Now it's going as fast as a snail. By the time all countries involved have banned these gill-nets, will we be in 2040 ? or even later ?? Fish do NOT stay in ONE location. Many of them swim along the coasts from the North to the South Pole, just following their prey. Of course, each country who will ban these nets is a step in the good direction, but WE MUST MOVE A LOT FASTER . And having a very animal loving POTUS, this will NOT help the fishes !!

P.S. : Did you see they have a nice by-product : shark fins. They are cut off, and sharks thrown back in the seas.... MAGNIFICENT !! (for the fishermen)

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Terri S
Terri S10 days ago

Please ban these horrible death traps!!!!!!!!

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Mark Donner
Mark Donner10 days ago

Politicians getting kickbacks from corporate crooks. Those California congressmen as well as the commercial wacko corporations should be jailed for life. Destroying the oceans should be punished with the maximum penalty possible.

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Winn A
Winn A10 days ago

Thanks

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Winn A
Winn A10 days ago

Noted

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Arlene C
Arlene C10 days ago

Merci @lici@

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