Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1017 into law last week which will ban the use of commercial driftnets—large-scale fishing nets mainly used to catch swordfish—for three nautical miles off of the coast of California. The law imposes a four-year transition period before driftnets (which entrap seven marine animals per every swordfish caught) become illegal in the state. The bill was authored by Senator Ben Allen and supported by organizations Turtle Island Restoration Network, Mercy For Animals (MFA), SeaLegacy, and Sharkwater—which jointly released an undercover investigation in April depicting the devastation caused by driftnets that often span more than a mile across the ocean, trapping sea life whom suffocate to death. “We applaud Governor Brown for taking action against California’s driftnet fishery, in which countless dolphins, stingrays, sharks, and other sea animals are brutally entangled and slaughtered,” MFA vice president of investigations Lindsay Wolf said. California Senators Kamala Harris, Dianne Feinstein, and Shelley Moore Capito recently introduced Senate bill 2773 and House bill 5638—measures that would strengthen existing state laws by extending the ban to 200 nautical miles from shore—to end the authorization of driftnets on a federal level.
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