Bill To Eliminate Drift Gill Nets in California Advances in Senate

On September 5, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation favorably reported S. 2773, the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act. This bipartisan bill was introduced by Senators Diane Feinstein (CA), Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Member Shelley Moore Capito (WV) and Kamala Harris (CA) and cosponsored by CSC Member Senator Roger Wicker (MS) and Richard Blumenthal (CT).

This bill will begin phasing out large mesh drift gill nets - also known as driftnets - off the coast of California, and encourages the development of alternative fishing gear that is more effective at targeting swordfish while reducing bycatch.

The driftnet fishery sets invisible nets up to a mile long that ensnare not only valuable swordfish, but also other recreationally important fish, sea turtles, sharks and many other marine species. S. 2773 will not eliminate the commercial swordfish fishing in California, but instead seeks to transition the fishery to be more sustainable. Large mesh driftnets are an outdated, indiscriminate fishing gear that already has been eliminated in U.S. waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and off the coasts or Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean.

The California state legislature passed a similar bill to phase out driftnets last week.

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