California passes bill to ban controversial drift net fishing

California passes bill to ban controversial drift net fishing

California is set to officially ban commercial fishermen from using drift nets off its coasts.

The state legislature passed a bill Thursday that would make it ultimately unlawful for commercial fishers to use shark or swordfish drift gillnets, as well as troll lines and hand lines that are more than 900 feet in length, unless they are used as set lines.

The law will set up a transition program to phase out fishermen's use of shark or swordfish drift nets by offering incentives to those who voluntarily give up their previously received permit.

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The state would fund the transition by using $1 million in funds from its Ocean Protection Council for whale and sea turtle entanglement.

Drift nets are frequently linked to the deaths of sea turtles and marine mammals including whales and sea lions. Fishermen use them by hanging the nets like walls above the sea floor, indiscriminately catching whatever flows into them.

A video released by conservation groups in April showing visuals of the dead animals caught in the nets in part helped spur the senate bill.

In late April, California Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinTop Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Democrats warm to idea of studying reparations Hillicon Valley: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency plan | Trump vows to 'take a look' at Google's ties to China | Google denies working with China's military | Tech execs on defensive at antitrust hearing | Bill would bar business with Huawei MORE (D) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Biden's lead narrows in early voting states: poll New CBS poll shows Biden with 7-point lead in New Hampshire MORE (D), along with Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoAnyone for tennis? Washington Kastles Charity Classic returns this week The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment White House, Congress inch toward debt, budget deal MORE (R-W.Va.), introduced federal legislation that would ban the use of nets specifically along California's coast. 

“The use of drift nets to target swordfish harms too many endangered or protected marine animals and should be phased out,” Feinstein said in an emailed statement to the Orange County Register. “It’s unacceptable that a single California fishery that uses this type of drift net is killing more dolphins and porpoises than the rest of the West Coast combined.”

The California state bill now awaits Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) signature. He has until Sept 30. to sign it into law.