Hammerhead in net, © Seawatch.org

Swordfishermen be warned!

We have written before about the devastation that drift gillnets can cause for marine mammals and other threatened and imperiled aquatic species like sea turtles, sharks and many fish, especially in coastal California. Drift gillnets are long horizontal fishing nets that can be a mile long and 200-ft tall. Commercial fishermen use the nets to sweep through the ocean and end up collecting not only intended species of fish, but an abundance of other unintended sea life, known as “bycatch.” Whales, dolphins, sharks, sea turtles and seals are just some of the species that get caught in the gillnets, entangled and very often suffocate and die as a result.

Green Sea Turtle, ©Adam VictorinoRight now, because of the high rate of bycatch that they cause, drift gill nets are banned elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest – in Oregon and Washington – as well as in parts of the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and Russia. Unfortunately, drift gillnets are still legal in California during certain times of the year.

But we have some promising news for the many species that are unnecessarily harmed by the use of gillnets. The Pacific Fishery Management Council set caps on the number of marine mammals that can be legally killed as bycatch by drift gillnet fishermen, and recently put swordfishermen on notice that they would be banned from the waters if they continue their negligent and harmful practices.

Defenders has been supporting multiple efforts to make California’s coastal waters safer for the many types of imperiled wildlife that rely on the ocean for survival. It is our goal to get drift gillnet fishing banned once and for all, and we will continue to work hard on advancing legislation that would require replacing the deadly gillnets with economically feasible fishing methods for the commercial fishing industry that are better for marine wildlife and will reduce bycatch.

34 Responses to “Swordfishermen be warned!”

  1. Martha Jaquith

    Get drift gillnet fishing banned once and for all, and work hard on advancing legislation that would require replacing the deadly gillnets with economically feasible fishing methods for the commercial fishing industry that are better for marine wildlife and will reduce bycatch. Thanks!

  2. Melinda Parke

    We have been fighting for the banning of gill nets for over 30 years and finally there;s hope for progress. Now we need to remove the abandoned nets from the ocean. They just drift around a murder wildlife and no one trakes responsibility.

  3. linda weir

    thanks to the internet the world is starting to watch activities destructive of our wildlife involving negligence and extreme cruelty. stop this netting and all other abuse of wildlife.

  4. Lisa

    Gill nets are awful. In our area, whales get entagled in them. Terrible for marine habitats – a no brainer. Can’t believe still allowed!

  5. Leslie Stanick

    Gill nets indiscriminately kill marine mammals as well as a wide variety of fish and other sea life which end up as dead, wasteful “bycatch”. These mega-nets must be banned, they are decimating marine life at an alarming rate. I urge California to ban the use of these huge drift nets once and for all.

  6. V W

    No heart!
    In humane!
    Greed!
    Disgusting!
    This is NOT your job, just DO your job!
    Thnxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  7. Charlotte R

    Unreal, unnecessary and cruel treatment of beautiful creatures

  8. Jaime Perez

    Please make sure these horrible gillnets are banned forever. No animal deserves to be caught up in one to die a slow death! This cruelty must stop.

  9. Gilda

    I will no longer eat swordfish even though it is my favorite fish because of destructive fishing practices and over fishing. Gill nets should be done away with in all oceans at all times. What’s the hold up, California? Is environmental protection only for “other” people?

  10. Sherry

    Please stop this action. There must be other methods that are safe for wildlife. If you keep using these nets there will not be any wildlife left in the ocean.

  11. Maurice

    Please stop the use of drift gillnets and greatly reduce the number of deaths of a great many creatures that are not intended for your harvest. Thank you!

  12. Diane Keilman

    Please stop this unnessary and cruel method of fishing. You are killing other species that you don’t even want to catch. What a waste of life.

  13. Barbara Hickman

    Why do you feel it necessary to endanger and kill these beautiful gifts. How would you like someone to attack your freedom in this way????

  14. Donna

    The lives of these sea creatures & all wild life is “PRECIOUS”! When they begin to disappear we can kiss human life good-by! Remember, God created them FIRST! It’s our responsibility to protect them!

  15. C Rising

    Please ban drift gillnets which kill sharks and turtles.
    Thanks!

  16. Leslie Rump

    I feel that these gilnets should have never been allowed or legal in the first place. They do more harm than good, because they catch too many fish, sea-mammals and other species that it is hard to understand that these kind of nets were allowed for “commercial fishing” in the first place. Everything is done, because of convenience. But think about future generations: they might not only not know the by-catch animals, because they were extinguished through greed by fishermen, but they also could be unable to eat the fish they catch now with gillnets: everything is overdone by humans…..!
    Please make these kind of nets illegal, once and for all!
    Thank you for the animals

  17. Heather

    I don’t wish to deprive anyone of their livelihood, but the truth is that there will be no fish to catch unless we humans start protecting this planet we live on.

  18. Elaine Bauer

    Greed and laziness are obscene human traits, personified by gillnet “fishing” practices. The slaughter must be stopped.

  19. Judy Frazier

    Please stop using nets that endanger other aquatic animals. This was the tragedy that winter arose out of. He was a dolphin in Florida that due to the severe injury sustained to his tail it had to be amputated and he was fitted for a prosthetic tail. No dolphin was able to survive that host his tail. Winter was the first and only recorded survivor and lives at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium for the rest of his life. Please don’t harm, maime other sea life out of disregard for life. Please learn a lesson from what happened to Winter because other aquatic life would not survive as Winter did he was a miracle dolphin and is a great ambassador to handicapped individuals.

  20. L. L.

    Gillnets should be abolished worldwide forever! No doubt about it!
    But more is needed than outlawing the tools of over-fishing!!! Consider that HUMAN demand for more fish is a root cause of over-fishing!!!

    How about fighting against all those “cooking” shows on TV with their nutritionists pushing more and more FISH for a healthy diet!!! Personally I can’t stomach any cooking shows, but their popularity has exploded into a TV locust plague!

    Since the 1970’s the “healthy nutrition” industry prompted by the AMA has been touting FISH as “heart healthy”!!! All media nutritionists have urged people to eat fish much more frequently than previous generations’ old fashioned fish only on Friday tradition! Some nutritionists are urging eating MORE FISH almost daily instead of “red” meat as good for the human heart! (Good for saving cattle’s lives too) but BAD for the oceans!!!
    Sushi has become a nauseating FAD this century to the creation of “sushi bars” everywhere!! Even Pizza places are advertising sushi now-a-days!!! That human demand for fish has to be stopped to stop over-fishing PERIOD!!!

    Recent decades of health conscious humans DEMANDING MORE FISH for a “healthy” diet–plus the THREE billion more humans on the earth since the 70s–have tripled or quadrupled the demand CAUSING OVER FISHING!!! It can be brought down to the “supply and demand” problem. INSTEAD of increasing the supply to humans, humans must CUT DOWN on the DEMAND for FISH!!!!

    Why not complain to those cooking shows and their networks about their contributing to over fishing with their “fish for a healthy heart” mantra!!!!

    Humans must eliminate livestock from their diets to stop the animal cruelty of factory farming—and drastically reduce greenhouse gases. BUT they must STOP eating fish to protect the oceans!!! CUTTING the DEMAND for fish in the human diet will be the best thing–in addition to outlawing all forms of drift nets!!

  21. will

    Gillnets should be abolished worldwide forever! No doubt about it!
    But more is needed than outlawing the tools of over-fishing!!! Consider that HUMAN demand for more fish is a root cause of over-fishing!!!

    How about fighting against all those “cooking” shows on TV with their nutritionists pushing more and more FISH for a healthy diet!!! Personally I can’t stomach any cooking shows, but their popularity has exploded into a TV locust plague!

    Since the 1970’s the “healthy nutrition” industry prompted by the AMA has been touting FISH as “heart healthy”!!! All media nutritionists have urged people to eat fish much more frequently than previous generations’ old fashioned fish only on Friday tradition! Some nutritionists are urging eating MORE FISH almost daily instead of “red” meat as good for the human heart! (Good for saving cattle’s lives too) but BAD for the oceans!!!
    Sushi has become a nauseating FAD this century to the creation of “sushi bars” everywhere!! Even Pizza places are advertising sushi now-a-days!!! That human demand for fish has to be stopped to stop over-fishing PERIOD!!!

    Recent decades of health conscious humans DEMANDING MORE FISH for a “healthy” diet–plus the THREE billion more humans on the earth since the 70s–have tripled or quadrupled the demand CAUSING OVER FISHING!!! It can be brought down to the “supply and demand” problem. INSTEAD of increasing the supply to humans, humans must CUT DOWN on the DEMAND for FISH!!!!

    Why not complain to those cooking shows and their networks about their contributing to over fishing with their “fish for a healthy heart” mantra!!!!

    Humans must eliminate livestock from their diets to stop the animal cruelty of factory farming—and drastically reduce greenhouse gases. BUT they must STOP eating fish to protect the oceans!!! CUTTING the DEMAND for fish in the human diet will be the best thing–in addition to outlawing all forms of drift nets!!

  22. will

    I don’t wish to deprive anyone of their livelihood, but the truth is that there will be no fish to catch unless we humans start protecting this planet we live on.

  23. will

    Why do you feel it necessary to endanger and kill these beautiful gifts. How would you like someone to attack your freedom in this way????

  24. Netactivist

    I have strong doubts that a single person who has made any sort of comment on this subject could even come close to being capable of even describing how any sort of gill net is used, much less seen any, quote on quote, cruelty with a gill net with there own eyes. Any real fisherman, who makes more than just there livelihood from the ocean, has more respect and understanding for the very thing that puts food on his families table, and gives him joy to have been put on this earth, more than any so called animals rights activists that i’ve ever had the displeasure of coming into contact with anyway. Hope no ones too butthurt over reading this, just thought the argument was all one sided.
    P.S. To the moron who said we should stop eating to protect wildlife.. you start first, let me know how it works out.

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