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Industry body backs move to close last US driftnet fishery


The US sportfishing industry is backing efforts to bring an end to the last remaining driftnet fishery in the US.

The Californian fishery ranks among the most destructive in the nation, says the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). The mile-long, large mesh nets still being used in California waters indiscriminately catch anything in their path. Less than half the catch is non-marketable and is discarded back into the sea as dead waste.

But legislation calling for the protection of the state’s swordfish fishery by aligning state and federal policy was this week reintroduced in the form of the Driftnet Modernisation and Bycatch Reduction Act

The legislation received unanimous support from the Senate in the last Congress and passed the House by a large margin, but the ill-fated Trump administration opted to block the measure in early January.

Now it has been reintroduced by Senators Diane Feinstein (D-California) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia) following decades of effort and investment to reduce the bycatch and prevent violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

“Our industry owes a great deal of gratitude to Senators Feinstein and Capito for their tenacious leadership on this issue,” said Danielle Cloutier, ASA’s Pacific Fisheries Policy Director. “The sportfishing industry is more committed than ever to ensuring this legislation is enacted. Our diverse coalition remains steadfast as we work to advance the Driftnet Modernisation and Bycatch Reduction Act into law.”

The bill also seeks to authorise the transfer of the Alaska hailibut quota from the commercial fishing sector to the charter fishing sector. The proposal again has the support of the ASA.

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