Yesterday evening, the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted overwhelmingly not to move forward with further consideration of permitting a West Coast-based pelagic longline fishery on the high seas (beyond 200 miles from shore) at this time. Pelagic longlines are a harmful fishing method that has been prohibited off the West Coast for decades due to excessive bycatch of unintended species including marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds, marlins, and sharks. The federal agency NOAA Fisheries has been extensively pressuring the Council to expand the use of pelagic longlines inside and outside the West Coast Exclusive Economic Zone, and yesterday’s vote was a solid rejection by the Council of this misguided federal proposal.
The Council’s decision is a major win for the oceans that resulted from continued opposition expressed by Oceana and our partner conservation groups, birding and sport fishing communities, ecotourism operators, Members of Congress, and thousands of West Coast residents who weighed in. The state of California played a strong leadership role in achieving this outcome. Oceana has been fighting against permitting a longline fishery off the West Coast for over a decade to safeguard sea turtles, marlins, sharks, seabirds, marine mammals and other species while simultaneously advocating for permitting of cleaner fishing gears proven to be minimize bycatch.
Dr. Geoff Shester, California campaign director and senior scientist for Oceana issued the following statement in response:
“Pelagic longlines kill large numbers of marine species including sharks, marine mammals, marlins, albatrosses, and critically endangered leatherback sea turtles, and have been banned off California for nearly forty years. We’ve seen the devastating consequences this fishing gear has off Hawaii and the Pacific Fishery Management Council finally listened to the science and pleas from US residents. Based on the data in front of them, they could not support permitting a shallow-set pelagic longline fishery. We look forward to working with the Council and others to promote and expand the use of clean, responsible swordfish fishing methods such as the recently authorized deep-set buoy gear to increase domestic swordfish catch with minimal bycatch.
The state of California was instrumental in this decision and went to bat for marine life to ensure sharks and sea turtles can safely migrate to the waters off the West Coast to feed. We thank California Governor Newsom, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Fish and Game Commission, California Resources Agency and the Members of Congress who fought to protect our coast from destructive and wasteful pelagic longlines. This victory is a great example of what we can achieve when conservation and sportfishing communities come together to support healthy oceans and fishing opportunities.”
Click here to view Oceana's fact sheet for more information on pelagic longlines.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one third of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 200 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that one billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit https://usa.oceana.org/ to learn more.