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Stop Underwater Deaths — Make Fishing Safer for Marine Life

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Sponsor: The Animal Rescue Site

Join us in demanding ropeless fishing gear mandates to end the tragic entanglements of whales and sea turtles in California.


Off the coast of California, an urgent crisis unfolds beneath the waves. Each year, majestic whales and sea turtles, creatures vital to our marine ecosystem, fall victim to entanglements in fishing gear.

These incidents, often fatal, occur with alarming regularity and have sparked a significant outcry from conservationists and the public alike.

The Deadly Impact of Traditional Fishing Gear

Entanglements primarily arise from vertical buoy lines used in lucrative fisheries like the Dungeness crab industry. These lines, intended to mark traps on the ocean floor, inadvertently ensnare whales and turtles, leading to severe injuries or death. The impact on these species, many of which are already endangered, is devastating and unsustainable.

A Beacon of Hope: Ropeless Fishing Systems

California has begun to address this crisis through the promotion of innovative "pop-up" or ropeless fishing systems. These systems keep the buoy lines at the ocean floor, activating them only when necessary to bring traps to the surface1. This method significantly reduces the likelihood of marine life encountering and becoming entangled in the lines. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reports that adopting ropeless technology not only promises a safer environment for marine animals but also allows fishermen to maintain their livelihoods without the added risk of harming wildlife1.

State Support and Funding

The commitment to transitioning to safer fishing practices is further supported by significant state funding. The Ocean Protection Council (OPC) has authorized the disbursement of substantial funds to support initiatives that reduce entanglement risks, including the development of a ropeless fishing management portal and the expansion of a ropeless gear library2. These projects represent crucial steps toward modernizing California’s fishing industry and safeguarding our marine ecosystems.

Engaging the Community and the Industry

The path forward involves not just technological innovation but also close cooperation with the fishing communities. California has engaged directly with these communities, offering economic support and training to help integrate new methods into their practices. This approach ensures that the transition is not only about conservation but also about supporting local economies and sustainable livelihoods2.

The Call to Action

Despite these positive strides, more needs to be done. The time to act is now. We must ensure that ropeless fishing becomes not just an option but a mandatory practice for all fisheries applicable within California. Doing so will significantly diminish the risk of entanglements and set a precedent for conservation efforts worldwide.

We call on you to support this vital initiative. Sign our petition today to urge the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to mandate ropeless fishing gear. Together, we can turn the tide for our ocean’s giants and pave the way for a future where marine life and human industry thrive in harmony.

More on this issue:

  1. Dr. Francine Kershaw, NRDC (7 February 2022), "California Should Strengthen Commitment to Ropeless Fishing Systems."
  2. Katie Cieri, Ocean Protection Council (28 February 2024), "Consideration and Approval to Disburse Funds to Reduce the Risk of Whale and Sea Turtle Entanglement in Fishing Gear."
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The Petition:

To the Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife,

We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned about the increasing number of entanglements involving whales and sea turtles in California’s fishing gear, particularly those associated with the Dungeness crab fishery. These entanglements often result in severe injuries or death, significantly impacting our marine biodiversity.

Ropeless fishing gear offers a groundbreaking solution. By storing buoy lines on the ocean floor and activating them only when necessary, this technology drastically reduces the chances of marine life becoming entangled. This approach not only protects endangered and vulnerable species but also allows fishermen to continue their livelihoods without harming the ecosystem.

We urgently call on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to mandate the use of ropeless fishing gear across all applicable fisheries. Implementing this regulation is crucial to safeguarding our marine life and fostering a sustainable fishing industry.

Mandating ropeless fishing gear is an essential step toward a future where California's marine ecosystems thrive alongside robust commercial fisheries. By taking this action, we can ensure a better future for our ocean, its inhabitants, and our community.

Sincerely,

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Signatures: