What’s Happening With Gill Nets?

Excerpt From Oceana.org

The turtle pictured above, a critically endangered Kemp’s ridley, swallowed a large hook and was also struck by a boat.   Beasley [rehabber of Sea Turtle Hospital] spoke passionately against gillnets. “My colleagues in other states ask, ‘why do you get so many turtles?’ My answer? Gillnets,” she said. “It’s a sad thing. There’s a reason  other states have gotten rid of gillnets.” At 72, she said she’d love to see them outlawed in her lifetime.

from  NoMoreGillNets.org

“The use of gill nets catch and kill 65% of the non targeted species by-catch. Sea turtles, pelicans, ducks, and other sea birds along with numerous other kinds of fish are killed as by-catch in gill nets and dumped overboard. Why have other states disallowed in shore gill nets and have been very successful in doing so? North Carolina must take corrective action to eliminate this problem. Gill nets are unnecessary and have significantly reduced numerous fish species in the state.”

A local group calling itself The Angry Fisherman put out a press release saying:

“The only place in the world that allows gill nets in the turtle sanctuaries is North Carolina (Hammocks Beach State Park).  For every 10,000 Sea Turtles hatchlings 1 makes it back to lay eggs.  Almost any animal that swims into a gill net will drown if not removed in a timely manner. ”

The 2010 Lawsuit to Stop Gill Netting

following Article By Craig Holt from North Carolina Sportsman

The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center of Topsail Island expected to file a lawsuit sometime during January aimed at removing gill nets from North Carolina coastal waters.

The Beasley Center, which rehabilitates injured sea turtles and keeps monthly records of snared North Carolina turtles, contends gill nets have been harming these endangered and threatened animals for years in violation of Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

An update on legislation

The 2010 lawsuit on behalf of the turtle hospital resulted in conservationists making compromises with representatives that regulated the height of gill nets in order to allow animals the opportunity to swim past the net.  It did not result in a ban of the practice of gill net fishing.  It us unknown how much effect this has on reducing the mortality of bycatch of other sea animals or birds.  A recent study on modified gill nets showsthat some modifications on nets have no impact on the number of sharks unintentionally killed as bycatch.

A more recent article by Craig Holt cites the Coastal Fisheries Reform Group attempts at a total ban on the practice have been stalled by leglislative in action on the part of representatives.

“Our bill never got a fair hearing, and no vote was ever taken…With the legislature continuing in its meek course, paralyzed into inaction by the loud noise of commercial fisheries interests, CFRG plans to act. We have retired our effort toward compromise and are rededicated to the cause to eliminate all gill nets from the waters of North Carolina as a conservation measure to protect our marine fisheries and the other aquatic life in our sounds and estuaries.”

from North Carolina Sportsmen

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