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California bans giant ocean fishing nets blamed for killing sea turtles, whales

The nets — giant nylon curtains that can stretch one mile long and extend 100 feet underwater — entangle dozens of other marine species, including whales, dolphins, sea lions and sea turtles, fish and sharks.

PAUL ROGERS: ‘Ending years of controversy and debate, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new law phasing out the use of giant ocean fishing nets used to catch swordfish, but blamed for accidentally killing sea turtles, dolphins and other sea creatures. The bill, SB 1017 by state Sen. Ben Allen, D-Redondo Beach, requires the state to set up a program to buy back nets and fishing permits from commercial fishermen who work in the state’s drift gill net fishery.

The nets — giant nylon curtains that can stretch one mile long and extend 100 feet underwater — are used mostly by fishermen between San Diego and Big Sur. Although they are intended to catch swordfish, thresher shark and opah, studies have shown that they entangle dozens of other marine species, including whales, dolphins, sea lions and sea turtles, fish and sharks. Those animals, known as bycatch, are often thrown back overboard, injured or dead.

“There is no longer room in our oceans for any fishery that throws away more than it keeps,” said Susan Murray, deputy vice president for Oceana, an environmental group with offices in Monterey that pushed for the new law. Because of their impact on marine life, drift gill nets have been banned in other countries and states… Many other states already have banned them, including Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Hawaii.’ SOURCE…

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