Monday October 9, 2023

Public News Service

A new analysis by Oceana found crews in the California set gillnet fishery have severely underreported the number of seals and sea lions caught and killed or injured over the past 20 years.

Researchers estimate fishing crews are reporting marine mammal bycatch just 6% of the time.

Caitlynn Birch, Pacific marine scientist for Oceana, said it proves the need for government observers onboard the boats.

“It’s well known by fishery managers that self-reporting is unreliable,” Birch asserted. “However, there’s no enforcement. If there’s no third-party, federal fishery observer out there, they’re not going to say that they killed a sea lion?”

The National Marine Fisheries Service stopped posting observers on fishing boats around 2017. The Marine Resource Committee of the California Fish and Game Commission meets Nov. 16 to consider a suite of measures to protect wildlife, including a new observer program.

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