Save Whales and Dolphins from Drowning in Nets

Fish and Wildlife Service worker on boat checking gill net full of fish_by US Fish and Wildlife Service

Target: Chair Lowman and Council Members, Pacific Fishery Management Council; Ms. Sobeck and Mr. Stelle, National Marine Fisheries Service

Goal: Remove drift gillnets that kill endangered and non-targeted marine animals from the waters off California.

Huge nets are entangling and killing many marine animals that are not targeted by the fishermen who use them, including dolphins and whales. Oceana recently released a public service announcement spreading awareness about the use of drift gillnets. The announcement featured Kate Mara, who was urging the public to give her and Oceana a hand in ensuring swordfish drift gillnets are removed from the waters. To protect whales and other marine wildlife off the United States’ West Coast, Kate Mara wants these nets removed and replaced with cleaner gears.

Striking ocean wildlife including sea lions, dolphins, sea turtles and whales all rely on waters off the US west coast. These creatures use the water to migrate, feed and breed.  Sadly, some these species are endangered, and they face a high risk of entrapment due to the use of these unselective fishing gears.

Drift gillnets are set up during the night in the waters off California with the intention of capturing swordfish and thresher sharks. However, the nets create risky traps for other marine life. It has been documented that around 60 different marine species have been severely injured or drowned because of these nets. Though the nets target swordfish, in the morning when they are pulled, they contain a high number of other marine animals. The nets entrap whales, sea turtles, seals, dolphins, some shark species and other economically important marine animals as bycatch.

Due to bycatch concerns, some states have prohibited the use of these nets, leaving California as the only state that permits their usage. To make sure whales, sea turtles, seals and other marine animals get maximum protection, please sign this petition to demand the removal of drift gillnets.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Chair Lowman and Council Members, Ms. Sobeck and Mr. Stelle,

Kate is working alongside Oceana to ensure drift gillnets are removed from the waters. These nets are meant for swordfish and thresher sharks but have a high bycatch rate and injure a high number of other marine animals, including whales. The nets entangle and kill several marine creatures every year, endangering sperm whales and sea turtles in addition to killing other non-targeted species.

To maintain the health and biodiversity of California’s marine ecosystem, drift gillnets should be banned and replaced with cleaner and better fishing gears. These nets are invisible, are a mile-wide and a hundred feet deep, therefore, able to catch marine animals indiscriminately. Due to the awe-inspiring nature of whales and their unnecessary suffering, Kate Mara is dedicated to ensuring these creatures are protected. Removing these nets should go a long way in protecting whales and other marine life. Do the right thing,and ban drift gillnets.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: U.S Fish and Wildlife Service

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1038 Signatures

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