The phasing out of large mesh drift gillnets in federal waters and the potential authorization of deep-set buoy gear (DSBG) as a more sustainable fisheries alternative are 2 positive changes on the horizon.
Large-mesh drift gillnets are currently set to be completely removed from California’s waters (< 3 miles from shore) as of January 31, 2024, a passed December 2022 bill now prohibits the use of large mesh gillnets in federal waters (3 – 200 miles offshore) off the U.S. West Coast.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (PFMC) proposed Amendment 6 to its Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) would authorize deep-set buoy gear (DSBG) as an alternative to gillnets and harpoons targeting swordfish off California and Oregon. A Limited Entry Program is proposed when fishing DSBG within the Southern California Bite (SCB) and an Open Access Permit system when fishing outside that region. TBF’s support of DSBG will be reflected in its comments to the PFMC.