With some regularity, members of the animal rights/environmental extreme attempt to shut down our offshore drift gillnet fishery which targets swordfish. This is an ill-conceived “not in my backyard” rationale that appeals to bleeding hearts. In fact, the efforts fail to take into account or acknowledge that the effects of reducing CA swordfish supply is detrimental to the very objectives of these extremists of protecting sea turtles and marine mammals.
Our drift gillent fishery is highly regulated with high observer coverage. Not a single turtle death is evident via observer data, since fishery reforms and gear improvements were made in 1998. However, 3 turtles were entangled and released alive; with no scientific or mathematical basis, the activists extrapolate that 22 turtles have been killed.
NOAA and academic scientists confirm that:
1. CA swordfish is under exploited, meaning the populations of swordfish can be sustainably fished at a higher level to meet the very high demand for swordfish, whereas elsewhere in the world swordfish is overexploited.
2. Making fishery reforms are not nearly effective as protecting nesting beaches for reducing sea turtle declines. One estimate found that protecting just one turtle nesting beach in Indonesia would be 132 times more effective for helping turtle populations than a CA gillnet ban.
3. Studies show that an increase in swordfish imports may result in 500+ new sea turtle mortalities per year, because other countries do not have proper fisheries practices and enforcement compared to the US.
CFSB is working to educate environmentalists about the nuances of this issue so that local seafood supply is protected, global sea turtle populations are better served, and the fishing community can stop wasting valuable time and money fighting ill-conceived CA senate bills on the topic.
See the Swordfish Brief we created for lawmakers.