Pelagic shark/swordfish drift gill net fishery: management information document

Bedford, Dennis (1985) Pelagic shark/swordfish drift gill net fishery: management information document. Long Beach, CA, California Department of Fish and Game, Marine Resources Region,

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Abstract

In 1977 a new fishery began to develop off the coast of southern California. Long gill nets, drifted near the surface in the deep offshore waters, were being used successfully in landing pelagic sharks, primarily threshers. Recent increases in the retail demand for fish had led wholesale buyers to look for new sources of fish protein. Shark meat looked promising to many buyers. Aided by the public's rekindled fascination for sharks, the timing seemed favorable for introducing sharks as food. Word spread that wholesalers were willing to pay a good price for sharks. This created what appeared to many commercial fishermen to be the beginning of a bonanza. The new shark fishery grew rapidly. The number of vessels engaged in offshore drift gill net operations grew from about 15 in 1977 to approximately 230 by 1984. Fishery biologists have expressed concern over the rapid expansion of the commercial shark fleet. Historically, shark fisheries have tended to decline after their initial success, due principally to slow growth and reproductive rates which seem to characterize sharks as a group. Perhaps the new thresher shark fishery might also be subject to a similar decline. Biologists were not the only ones who looked on the new industry with concern. Among sport fishermen and conservation groups, rumors of marlin, whales, and seals taken by the hundreds became commonplace. Concern spread among the traditional swordfish harpoon fleet that landings by drift gill nets might glut the swordfish markets, driving prices down to the point that harpooners could no longer compete. Some harpooners voiced fears that drift gill nets might even overfish the swordfish stocks, causing serious declines in the availability of fish. Some conservation groups sought to ban the use of all gill nets, feeling that gill nets are inherently indiscriminant in what they catch and that the benefits derived from their use is always over-shadowed by the waste of marine life resulting from their use. In September of 1980, the Legislature enacted Assembly Bill 2564 (Kapiloff), which directed the Department of Fish and Game to conduct a study of the drift gill net shark fishery. The purpose of the study was to determine what impact the use of drift gill nets might have on existing fisheries or upon other members of the local marine community such as whales, dolphins, and seals. The final report of that study "Pelagic Shark/Swordfish Drift Gill Net Fishery Management Information Document" was sent to the California Legislature in January 1983. In September 1982, the Legislature enacted Senate Bill 1573 (Beverly), directing the Department of Fish and Game to continue monitoring the drift gill net fishery. It also directed, that a further study be conducted on the status of the thresher shark and swordfish resources off California and on the effects of the fishery on other resources. A report on this study would be prepared and delivered to the Legislature on or before January 1, 1985. The study was conducted. This is the report on that work. (77pp.)

Item Type: Monograph or Serial Issue
Title: Pelagic shark/swordfish drift gill net fishery: management information document
Personal Creator/Author:
CreatorsEmail
Bedford, Dennis
Date: 1985
Publisher: California Department of Fish and Game, Marine Resources Region
Place of Publication: Long Beach, CA
Subjects: Management
Fisheries
Biology
Item ID: 242
Depositing User: Joan Parker
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2007 15:50
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2011 22:22
URI: http://aquaticcommons.org/id/eprint/242

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