Protecting Whales and Sea Turtles & Ensuring Thriving Fisheries: Reducing the Risk of Entanglement in California Fishing Gear

Ocean Protection Council’s Strategy for Reducing the Risk of Entanglement in California Fishing Gear

California’s coastal waters include some of the most productive and diverse ecosystems in the world. To conserve this biodiversity and the coastal economies and communities that rely on a healthy ocean, Ocean Protection Council (OPC) is committed to protecting endangered and threatened whale and sea turtle species as well as supporting thriving commercial and recreational state-managed fisheries. The Strategy for Protecting Whales and Sea Turtles & Ensuring Thriving Fisheries: Reducing the Risk of Entanglement in California Fishing Gear (Strategy), approved by the OPC at its November 2019 meeting, outlines investment priorities to reduce the risk of entanglement in California fishing gear and is one component of a more comprehensive effort to protect whales and sea turtles in California. This is consistent with Target 3.3.5 of the Strategic Plan to Protect California’s Coast and Ocean (2020-2025).

The 2018-2019 Governor’s Budget included a $7.5 million General Fund appropriation to OPC to address whale and sea turtle entanglement in California fishing gear. To guide Council investments in projects that reduce whale and sea turtle entanglement while supporting thriving fisheries, the Strategy provides a comprehensive approach to minimize entanglement in fishing gear, protecting California’s marine ecosystems and recreational and commercial fisheries. The Strategy includes four components:

1. COLLABORATIVE PARTNERSHIPS

Advance collaborative, multi-stakeholder processes to identify and develop solutions to reduce the risk of entanglement in fishing gear.

2. BEST AVAILABLE SCIENCE

Develop improved data streams and collaborative research to provide comprehensive information on key factors of entanglement risk across state-managed fisheries in order to inform adaptive risk mitigation.

3. GEAR INNOVATION

Support innovative research and development of fishing gear modifications that would reduce entanglement risk while allowing for safe, efficient, enforceable and cost-effective harvesting operations with minimal adverse impacts to marine life.

4. ENTANGLEMENT RESPONSE & OUTREACH

Conduct outreach and improved entanglement monitoring, documentation, analysis and response efforts.

 

Strategy for Protecting Whales and Sea Turtles and Ensuring Thriving Fisheries: Reducing the Risk of Entanglement in California Fishing Gear 

 

Sea Lion and Seal Rescue and Rehabilitation & Drift Gillnet Transition Program

Of the Budget Act of 2018’s  $7.5 million General Fund appropriation to OPC to address whale and sea turtle entanglement, $1 million of the total amount was directed to support sea lion and seal stranding rescue and rehabilitation activities. At the October 25, 2018 OPC meeting, the Council approved disbursement of $1 million to the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center to fund California Marine Mammal Stranding Network member activities for sea lion and seal rescue and rehabilitation. Additionally, in September 2018, SB 1017 (Allen) was signed into law to phase out drift gillnets in the shark and swordfish fishery. Public Resources Code Section 35651 directs OPC to provide $1 million of the $7.5 million appropriation to fund the transition program established by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) pursuant to Fish and Game Code Section 8583. At the February 2020 OPC meeting, the Council approved disbursement of $1 million to Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, the CDFW-identified fiscal agent, who will administer the program.

Currently Funded Projects

  1. Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group
  2. California Disentanglement Trainings
  3. West Coast Entanglement Science Workshop
  4. California Entanglement Response Network Support
  5. California Drift Gillnet Transition Program Support
  6. Reducing the Risk of Entanglement in Fishing Gear Competitive Grant Program
  7. Gear Innovations Testing in the Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery
  8. Small Vessel Surveys
  9. Whale Abundance Data Assessment
  10. Solar Logger Pilot Project

Completed Projects

  • Sea Lion & Seal Rescue and Rehabilitation

General Fund for Whale and Sea Turtle Entanglement | Funding Opportunities

Resources

Visit the West Coast Entanglement Science Workshop webpage | August 25 – September 3, 2020

 

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