Sacramento – Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) announced today he will author legislation to protect California’s marine wildlife by ending the use of deadly drift gillnets off our coast. The legislation, Senate Bill (SB) 1114, will end the most harmful fishing practice on the West Coast by transitioning California’s swordfish industry away from drift gillnets to more sustainable fishing technology. The announcement coincides with the 11th annual “Ocean Day California” in which environmental advocates gather in Sacramento to urge decision-makers to adopt policies that protect and preserve the marine environment.
“We have a moral imperative to protect whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and other marine life from senseless injury and death in harmful drift gillnets. It’s time for the swordfish industry to transition to a proven, safer alternative,” said Senator Allen.
Senator Allen’s legislation lays out a transition plan to phase out the use of these mile-long nets to a new, more environmentally responsible fishing method using deep-set buoy gear. The legislation would authorize the use of this more sustainable technology while at the same time phasing out the use of drift gillnets by existing permit holders, and prohibiting the issuance of any new permits for use of gillnets. Current driftnet fisherman with permits would be given incentives to become earlier adopters of the new fishing gear.
"This new legislation halts the process of essentially strip mining our ocean with mega nets in order to ineffectively catch one type of high-in-mercury fish,” said Doug Karpa, legal program director at Turtle Island Restoration Network. “Sen. Allen understands what is at stake, and has proposed a solution that will protect our wildlife and taxpayer resources,” she added.
More information about the proposed legislation can be found here.
Colleen Beamish Joanna Nasar
Office of Senator Ben Allen Turtle Island Restoration Network