Kate Mara Sets Out to Save the Whales - Oceana

Kate Mara Sets Out to Save the Whales

Press Release Date: May 8, 2015

Location: Washington, DC


Anna Baxter | email: abaxter@oceana.org
Anna Baxter

WASHINGTON DC– Oceana released a new public service announcement (PSA) today to spread awareness about the threats of drift gillnet fishing gear to marine wildlife in advance of major decisions by West Coast policy makers coming this June. The PSA features actress and ocean activist, Kate Mara, urging the public to help her and Oceana get swordfish drift gillnets out of the water, and to replace them with cleaner gear types in order to protect iconic whales and other marine life that call waters off the U.S. West Coast home.

Kate Mara noted “whales are intelligent and social animals. They need better protections to keep them safe from becoming entangled, injured, and even killed in drift gillnets.”

Spectacular ocean wildlife — like whales, dolphins, sea lions, and sea turtles— rely on the nutrient-rich waters off the U.S. West Coast to feed, migrate, and breed. Unfortunately many of these species, such as sperm whales, fin whales, loggerhead sea turtles and leatherback sea turtles are threatened or endangered, and they face further risk of entrapment or death in unselective fishing gears like drift gillnets.

These mile long nets are set at night in ocean waters off California to target swordfish and thresher sharks, but create deadly traps for other wildlife that cannot break free from the mesh. Nearly 60 different species of marine life have been documented to drown or become critically injured in these nets. The swordfish is the target species, but the fishery throws back more marine life than it keeps—discarding on average 60 percent of all animals caught in its nets. 

Due to concerns about bycatch, Washington State prohibits drift gillnets and Oregon does not allow fishermen in the state to use them, leaving California as the only remaining West Coast state that allows the use of drift gillnets. California lawmakers have called for a transition to cleaner gears in order to ensure a vibrant, healthy, sustainable marine ecosystem and ocean-based economy for California waters into the future. In the meantime it is essential that meaningful hard caps are set for whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and fish species inadvertently captured by this fishery. If any limit is hit, the fishery would shut down for the remainder of the season.

To help ensure that whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and other marine animals get the protections they need, please go here and sign the petition.