The Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to clean up California’s swordfish drift gillnet fishery by considering placing the first ever “hard caps” on the numbers of several protected species that can be injured or killed in the fishery. These species include fin, humpback, and sperm whales and leatherback, loggerhead, Olive ridley, and green sea turtles. The Council will make a final decision on hard caps in the fall for implementation in next year’s fishing season. The Council also set a target to require 100 percent monitoring so that all catch and bycatch is counted on every trip no later than the summer of 2016. Additionally, federal fisheries managers will consider bycatch reduction alternatives for all other marine mammals, sharks, and fish species that are discarded in the fishery.Read Press Release
Following campaigning by Oceana, great white sharks off the California coast have been awarded ‘candidacy’ status under the California Endangered Species Act, which means the state will consider an array of possible management measures that can be put into place to reduce bycatch of white sharks. Possible measures include time and area closures of the fisheries where white sharks are caught, modifications to fishing gear, and strict limits on how many of the sharks may be captured incidentally as bycatch. The Department of Fish and Wildlife will now embark on a one-year in-depth status review of the population. Once the review is complete, the Commission will vote on whether or not to officially list white sharks as threatened or endangered.Read Press Release
After campaigning by Oceana, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced new regulations for the Atlantic scallop fishery that will require Turtle Deflector Devices (TDDs) in areas and during times when sea turtles are known to be present.
The scallop fishery has long been a threat to sea turtles, who get caught up and drowned in the heavy equipment. TDDs are expected to reduce sea turtle mortality by at least 56 percent when compared to former dredges that force them into heavy chain bags where they were dragged and often drowned.Read Press Release
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of Oceana in a suit that will require commercial fisheries from North Carolina to the Canadian border to monitor and report the amount of bycatch, or untargeted marine life, they discard. The decision is a triumph against one of the biggest problems facing our oceans today. Tons of fish are wasted and thousands of marine mammals, sea turtles, sharks and sea birds are injured or killed every year as bycatch.Read Press Release
In response to two petitions submitted in 2007 by Oceana, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Turtle Island Restoration Network, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service issued a proposed rule to change the status of North Pacific and Northwest Atlantic loggerhead sea turtles from “threatened” to “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act.
The government also proposed listing loggerhead sea turtles around the globe as nine separate populations, each with its own threatened or endangered status.Read Press Release
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council took its final step in an effort to protect threatened sea turtles from the bottom longline sector of the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery. Specifically, the Council voted to close all bottom longline fishing shoreward of 35 fathoms (approximately 210 feet) from June to August, a time when large numbers of loggerheads were caught in previous years, and to restrict longline fishing of all vessels that have a history of catching at least 40,000 lbs of reef fish each year.Read Press Release
After Oceana’s advocacy work, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) put in place an emergency closure of the eastern Gulf of Mexico to bottom longline fishing gear from the reef fish fishery to protect sea turtles. The closure included all waters shallower than 50 fathoms for a period of six months. NMFS took this action after the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council voted (10-7) to ask them to do so. Oceana was instrumental in pushing both the Agency and the Council to take these actions to protect sea turtles.
The federal Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to maintain a standing prohibition on a West Coast-based high seas longline fishery. The vote will prevent the opening of a new swordfish fishery that would threaten migrating loggerhead sea turtles and other marine wildlife on the high seas of the north Pacific Ocean.
The world’s largest fishery took the first step toward reducing wasteful king salmon bycatch. After pressure from Oceana and its allies, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council moved forward on capping salmon bycatch in the Alaska pollock fishery.