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 FeinsteinFeinstein says she thinks Biden will run after meeting with him Trump judicial nominee Neomi Rao seeks to clarify past remarks on date rape Bottom Line MORE (D) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSenate Dems introduce bill to prevent Trump from using disaster funds to build wall Klobuchar, O'Rourke visit Wisconsin as 2020 race heats up Sherrod Brown pushes for Medicare buy-in proposal in place of 'Medicare for all' MORE (D), along with Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoDems slam EPA plan for fighting drinking water contaminants GOP senator: Border deal is 'a very good compromise' Push to include contractor back pay in funding deal hits GOP roadblock 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.