Now, in response to footage from an undercover investigation exposing the marine animal deaths that these nets cause, lawmakers have proposed federal legislation to end their use off the American coasts entirely.
The video was originally filmed by The End Driftnets Coalition, which they are using to argue that the government should control drift net usage. In response to the shocking footage, Senators Dianne Feinstein, Kamala Harris and Shelley Moore Capito introduced the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act, which is intended to phase out the use of these nets from the U.S.
This is amazing news coming out of Congress but the work is just getting started. These nets are already banned in Oregon, Washington, the Atlantic Coast, Hawaii, Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, according to a press release from Feinstein’s website. That means California is the only place where fishing companies can bring their kills to land after hauling up drift nets. If the Act passes, companies will have to phase out using these nets by 2020, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, will have authority to help fishing companies switch to more sustainable methods. At the same time, California is considering SB-1017, which would make using driftnets more expensive by increasing permitting fees and mandating that each ship hires someone to document bycatch.
Disturbing new footage has given us a glimpse of the grimness behind the flashing industry. The footage reveals how marine animals-including dolphins, sea lions, sharks, and sea birds -are trapped and killed in the commercial fishing industry driftnet.
The footage shows animals being cut apart, pierced with hooks, caught in nets, and left to slowly suffocate aboard driftnet fishing boats off the coast of California.
The driftnet are used for catching swordfish but for every swordfish caught, an estimated seven other marine animals are entangled in nets and often injured or killed.
End Driftnets Coalition is a national alliance that comprises of Mercy For Animals, Turtle Island Restoration Network, SeaLegacy, and individuals that are working toward a society free of the driftnet industry and its devastating impacts on marine animals and the ocean ecosystem.
They are calling on the California legislature to pass the newly introduced bill SB1017 to transition California away from the use of large-scale driftnets. To get it passed, they need the help of the public to ensure this important bill becomes law. If you live in California, please contact your state legislators you want to protect marine animals from driftnets. If you live in another U.S. state, please send an email to your U.S. senator demanding federal action to end the use of cruel driftnets across the country.
Congress needs to hear the voice of the people to pass laws that end the cruelty that is occurring in the oceans on a daily basis.