CCA CAL Chairman Bill Shedd of AFTCO testified before Congress on the impact of drift gill nets on the population of sport fish in our waters.
Shedd testified in front of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife, which held a legislative hearing on many bills including the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act (H.R. 1979), which would align Federal Law with California State Law and modernize the swordfish fishery to phase our the use of drift gill nets.
Drift Gillnets are nearly-invisible nets, fifty yards deep and up to a mile long. The nets drift freely overnight in the ocean and catch valuable swordfish. But, drift gillnets also ensnare 70, or more, other species of ocean wildlife. This results in over half of the catch being discarded as unwanted waste, and approximately 20 percent of this is already dead upon release. Recognizing the indiscriminate nature of drift nets, the United Nations banned large-scale drift nets on the high seas twenty years ago. Federal waters off the coast of California are the only area in the U.S. where this gear is still allowed.
“There have been decades of effort trying to clean up the California swordfish fishery, yet it remains once of the most indiscriminate fisheries in the country,” said Shedd. “Passage of H.R. 1979 will greatly reduce unnecessary by catch, help produce a higher quality seafood product and even increase the number of recreational and commercial fishing jobs in the California swordfish fishery. This is an opportunity to take a sustainable replacement for drift gill nets and make the fishery bigger.”
Shedd’s full testimony to help phase out the use of drift gill nets in California’s swordfish fishery can be found here, courtesy of the American Sportfishing Association. Concerned anglers can take action here by contacting their members of Congress and ask them to support H.R. 1979.