Off the West Coast, the primary method of catching swordfish results in the capture and injury or death of whales, dolphins and sea turtles - also known as bycatch.
Help send a message to the Pacific Fishery Management Council: It's time to change the way we catch swordfish.
After years of research and testing, deep-set buoy gear provides an innovative way to catch swordfish that is valuable to fishermen without the harmful bycatch.
At their June meeting, the Pacific Fishery Management Council has the opportunity to advance this gear beyond the experimental fishing phase so that it can be made available as an alternative to the destructive drift gillnets used today.
Deep-set buoy gear targets swordfish in cold, deep water during the day to avoid other sensitive species near the surface and produces a higher quality product that can demand more than double the price of a swordfish caught with a drift gillnet or longline.
Send a message now to decision-makers.
Subject: Reduce bycatch, authorize deep-set buoy gear
Dear Chair Pollard and Council Members:
I am writing to ask the Pacific Fishery Management Council to develop and adopt a range of alternatives for authorization of deep-set buoy gear and ensure the authorization process stays on track for final action in March of 2018. In doing so, the Council can move toward more selective and actively tended fishing gear in the West Coast swordfish fishery. The research is conclusive and demonstrates this gear is ready for approval.
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Specifically, authorization should give priority to active drift gillnet permit holders. This can include options for the existing fishing fleet to trade in their permits for one or more deep-set buoy gear permits which will incentivize fishermen to transition away from drift gillnets.
Deep-set buoy gear allows fishermen to target swordfish at depth during the day while avoiding interactions with other marine life closer to the surface. It has the support of thousands of Californians, conservation organizations, hundreds of businesses along the seafood supply chain and in the sportfishing community. Perhaps even more important, fishermen who have used the gear agree that deep-set buoy gear is a viable alternative. Swordfish caught with this gear provides a high quality product to the West Coast that can demand more than double the price of a swordfish caught in a drift gillnet.
Thank you for your work to promote our West Coast fisheries while ensuring protection for our ocean ecosystem.