Alexandria, VA- September 17, 2019 – The American Sportfishing Association today issued the following statement on the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) unanimous vote to fully authorize deep-set buoy gear in the California swordfish fishery as an alternative to drift gillnets.

“As the advocate for the sportfishing industry, ASA has been working to eliminate the use of large mesh drift gillnets off California’s coast,” said ASA Pacific Fisheries Policy Director Danielle Cloutier. “This unanimous authorization of deep-set buoy gear, as an alternative to drift gillnets, is a huge win for the recreational fishing community and saltwater fisheries conservation. ASA thanks the Pacific Fishery Management Council for their efforts to make deep-set buoy gear a legally authorized gear type.”

Cloutier further noted, “As the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act continues to work its way through Congress, this decision by the Pacific Fishery Management Council will help the California swordfish fishery transition away from drift gillnets and towards gear which results in significantly less bycatch of recreationally important sportfish.”

In addition to Cloutier’s statement, long-time ASA member and AFTCO President and CEO, Bill Shedd, said “By gradually transitioning to deep-set buoy gear, the booming recreational involvement in this fishery will continue to thrive. This decision, along with proposed federal legislation on which I testified in favor of before a U.S. House of Representatives committee, will revolutionize the California swordfish fishery.”

Drift gillnets are nearly-invisible nets that contribute to an excessive amount of bycatch which impact recreationally important fish. ASA has been active in efforts to transition away from drift gillnets in California waters and toward deep-set buoy gear which has shown greater economic benefit.

In May,  Shedd testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife on behalf of the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act (H.R. 1979).