Cal­i­for­nia Law­mak­ers Move to End Use of Gill Nets

Saltwater Sportsman - - Tod / Casts + Blasts -

The Cal­i­for­nia leg­is­la­ture ap­proved a bill to end com­mer­cial drift gill-net fish­ing and sent it to Gov. Jerry Brown for his sig­na­ture.

Se­nate Bill 1017 phases out the use of mile-long nets that drift in the open ocean, com­pen­sates drift gill-net fish­er­men, and en­cour­ages a tran­si­tion to in­no­va­tive new fish­ing gear.

Drift gill nets, 50 yards deep and up to a mile long, are nearly in­vis­i­ble and drift freely overnight in the ocean, en­snar­ing far more ma­rine species than the fish tar­geted. Ap­prox­i­mately half the catch ends up be­ing dis­carded as un­wanted, pro­hib­ited or pro­tected species.

Rec­og­niz­ing the in­dis­crim­i­nate na­ture of drift nets, the United Na­tions banned large-scale drift nets on the high seas 20 years ago. The U.S. pro­hibits drift nets of any size in the East Coast fish­eries, and the Euro­pean Union dis­al­lowed drift-net­ting among its 27-mem­ber states in 2002.

Wild Oceans, the In­ter­na­tional Game Fish As­so­ci­a­tion, the Coastal Con­ser­va­tion As­so­ci­a­tion of Cal­i­for­nia, and the Amer­i­can Sport­fish­ing As­so­ci­a­tion rec­og­nized Sen. Ben Allen, D-santa Mon­ica, for in­tro­duc­ing the bill. They have been work­ing to­gether to pro­mote a tran­si­tion away from drift nets to safer, more se­lec­tive fish­ing meth­ods.

If Brown signs SB 1017 into law, Cal­i­for­nia will de­velop a tran­si­tion pro­gram that will phase out drift gill-net fish­ing over a four-year pe­riod. Fish­er­men will be re­quired to sur­ren­der their nets to en­sure the gear is not used else­where, and the state will com­pen­sate them a fair mar­ket value for their per­mits.

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