State lawmakers are pushing to end a fishing practice that hauls in millions of dollars a year, puts swordfish on restaurant plates across Southern California, and is reported to kill more whales and dolphins than all other fishing practices combined.
The California Assembly and Senate have asked federal fishery managers to end the use of drift gillnets, which some call “curtains of death.” California remains the only state on the West Coast where drift gillnet fishing is legal. The Legislature has authority over remaining gillnet permits.
Recently lawmakers sent a letter to the Pacific Fishery Management Council and National Marine Fisheries Service, demanding a transition to alternative fishing methods.
Although the use of drift gillnets represents the smallest, and fishermen say the most regulated, fishing enterprises on the West Coast, demand for swordfish remains high. In 2013, 20 fishing boats hauled in more than 800,000 pounds of fish worth $2.7 million, according to state reports.
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