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4 dead as severe storms hit Houston, TX; Election Protection Program eases access to voting information; surge in solar installations eases energy costs for Missourians; IN makes a splash for Safe Boating Week.

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The Supreme Court rules funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is okay, election deniers hold key voting oversight positions in swing states, and North Carolina lawmakers vote to ban people from wearing masks in public.

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Americans are buying up rubber ducks ahead of Memorial Day, Nebraskans who want residential solar have a new lifeline, seven community colleges are working to provide students with a better experience, and Mississippi's "Big Muddy" gets restoration help.

CA bill aims to reduce marine mammal entanglements in set gillnets

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Thursday, March 14, 2024   

A new bill aims to reduce the number of sea lions, sharks, rays, skates and giant sea bass dying off the coast of Southern California in huge set gillnets the size of 20 football fields, weighted to the sea floor.

Right now, set gillnets are banned in most state waters and Assembly Bill 2220 would extend the ban to a 3-mile radius around the Channel Islands.

Caitlynn Birch, Pacific marine scientist for Oceana, said the bill also stops crews profiting from certain species accidentally caught in the nets.

"It will remove the exemption that allows set gill net fisheries to incidentally catch and sell great white sharks and giant sea bass, which are both protected species and not allowed to take commercially or recreationally for any other fisheries in California," Birch pointed out.

Opponents cited concerns about the effect on fishing crews' bottom line. About 30 fishermen still have active set gillnet permits in Southern California. The state has stopped issuing new permits and the bill would make existing permits nontransferable.

The bill would also give the California Department of Fish and Wildlife the authority to require independent monitors on fishing boats but would not make them mandatory. Right now it is up to fishing crews to self-report when they accidentally catch a protected species.

"Having the authority to place third-party observers on vessels would allow for the collection of unbiased data on specifically bycatch, which is being thrown overboard at sea and isn't otherwise able to be tracked," Birch explained.

Supporters contended more selective hook and line fishing methods have significantly less bycatch and typically yield higher prices for fish considered better quality seafood.

Disclosure: Oceana contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Environment, and Oceans. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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