Driftnet fishing has been a major problem in California due to the killing of marine mammals and endangered species that occur with the use of driftnet technology. On March 13, 2014, federal fishery managers in Sacramento decided not to expand driftnet fishing into protected waters, where many endangered whales, sea turtles, and dolphins make their habitat.
Had the expansion succeeded, it would have raised the already significant risk of killing these marine animals. Every year, these fisheries are responsible for killing an average of 138 marine mammals, including dolphins, whales, and sea lions. In recent years, a driftnet also killed approximately 16 endangered sperm whales. Last season, at least one gray whale and two short fin pilot whales died by driftnets. In addition to the killing of endangered whales, many species of fish are caught and dumped overboard dead or dying every year.
Although the decision does not ban driftnets, it is a step in the right direction as it raises awareness and prevents further damage to marine wildlife. Oregon and Washington have already banned driftnets.
Source: Teri Shore, “Whales and Sea Turtles Win This One – No CA Driftnet Expansion.” Indybay, March 13, 2014. http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/03/13/18752533.php.
Student Researcher: Eddie Lee (San Francisco State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows (San Francisco State University)