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Welfare bill to reduce bycatch passed by California Senate

The California State Senate has passed a welfare bill that would deter the use of driftnets in commercial fishing.

Driftnets trap, injure and kill species that are not the target of commercial fisheries, leading activist groups to label them ‘death nets’. The bycatch can include everything from other fish species to endangered and protected animals, and as such, animal welfare groups work hard to discourage and prevent their use.

The news comes just weeks after Mercy for Animals released footage of the nets in use, and the horrific deaths that sea animals suffer when caught in them. The nets span an area of over a mile, and reach to a depth of 100 feet, trapping sharks, sea lions, dolphins, rays and seabirds, amongst others. It is suggested that for every swordfish – the targeted species – seven other animals are drowned and killed.

The bill, SB 1017, was passed in a unanimous 33-0 vote, and will now make its way to the California State Assembly. Rather than an outright ban, it will encourage fishermen to use “the most sustainable fishing gear available to harvest seafood off the California coast.”

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