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Tue Mar 18 2014 (Updated 03/20/14)
Whales and Sea Turtles Win One: No Driftnet Expansion in California
Tue Mar 18 2014 (Updated 03/20/14)
Proposal to Allow High Bycatch Driftnets into Protected Sea Turtle Habitat Denied
In a victory for ocean wildlife, federal fishery managers in Sacramento on March 13 decided not to expand driftnet fishing into protected sea turtle habitat in the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary and along the California coast because it would significantly raise the risk of capture and drowning of endangered whales, sea turtles and dolphins.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council (the Council) called for immediate action to: 1) impose strong whale protections regulations on the driftnet fleet that expired in January 2014, and to 2) test lower bycatch fishing gears for catching swordfish. But the Council failed to take direct action to remove driftnets from the California coast, though the gear is banned in Oregon and Washington.

Not long ago, an estimated 16 endangered sperm whales died in the California driftnet fishery. Last season at least one gray whale and two short fin pilot whales perished in the driftnets, according to preliminary observer data.

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