June 1, 2018

California: Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Supports Bills to Reduce Bycatch

By Soren Nelson, Pacific Southwest States Coordinator

On May 21, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) joined a diverse coalition of angling conservation groups, boating organizations and fishing clubs in expressing support for legislation at the state and federal level that would modernize commercial swordfish fishing standards in California.

Senate Bill 2773, also known as the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act, would phase out the use of large-mesh drift gillnets, bringing California in-line with national and international commercial swordfish fishing standards. The group submitted a letter of support to U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein, the bill’s primary sponsor. California State Senator Ben Allen introduced similar legislation earlier this year (SB 1017), for which the coalition has also expressed strong support.

Large-mesh drift gillnets are an outdated commercial fishing method that produce excessive bycatch and waste, including popular sportfish, marine mammals, and sea turtles. Over half of the catch in the California drift gillnet fishery is discarded as unwanted, prohibited, or protected species. In other U.S. and international fisheries, these gillnets have been replaced by methods like deep-set buoy gear that are efficient for the targeted species and produce virtually no bycatch.

Signatories of the letter include: American Sportfishing Association, Balboa Angling Club, BoatUS, California Sportfishing League, Center for Sportfishing Policy, Coastal Conservation Association California, Coastside Fishing Club, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Dana Angling Club, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, International Game Fish Association, Laguna Niguel Billfish Club, Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, National Marine Manufacturers Association, National Professional Anglers Association, Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, Recreational Fishing Alliance, Snook & Gamefish Foundation, The Billfish Foundation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Tuna Club of Avalon, and Wild Oceans.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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