“The Trump administration has declared war on whales, dolphins and turtles off the coast of California,” Todd Steiner, director of the California-based Turtle Island Restoration Network, told the LA Times.
Entangled Marine Mammals
“The situation is completely out of control,” says Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho, a cetacean expert at the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change in Ensenada, Mexico, and member of the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita, an international advisory group to the Mexican government. “Of course, there’s a risk in capturing the vaquitas. But it’s clear now that they will be killed [in gillnets] anyway.”
Entanglements have surpassed ship strikes as a leading danger to right whales in recent years. Forty-four percent of diagnosed right whale deaths were due to ship strikes and 35 percent were due to entanglements from 1970 to 2009, the study said. From 2010 to 2015, 15 percent of diagnosed deaths were due to ship strikes and 85 percent were due to entanglements, it said.
Crab fishermen have taken the lead on this issue and many are already taking part in a limited basis pilot project that was initiated two years ago. Approximately 1,500 lost crab pots have been collected in that program. SB 1287 will build upon the successful pilot project by advancing a statewide solution to the growing problem.
“We now have the best, most comprehensive assessment of trash and plastic waste on some of our most iconic marine wildlife,” said Nicholas Mallos, Director of the Trash Free Seas Program at Ocean Conservancy.