Report | March, 2013
End the Walls of Death: Replace devastating drift gillnets off California with cleaner fishing gear
In the Pacific Ocean off California, mile-long driftnets are used to capture swordfish and thresher sharks. But that’s not all they catch. When the nets are deployed in the evenings to soak overnight to ensnare their targeted catch, they also entangle large open ocean travelers, including whales, dolphins, seals, sea turtles, numerous shark species and many other ecologically and economically important fish. The nets inflict such devastation to marine life that they earned the name “Walls of Death.”
The drift gillnet fishery tosses 20–30% of its fish catch back into the ocean dead or damaged. In the 2010–2011 season, over 27 common molas, fondly called ocean sunfish, were discarded for every swordfish caught.