California’s coastal waters include some of the most productive and diverse ecosystems in the world. To conserve this biodiversity and the coastal economies and communities that rely on a healthy ocean, OPC is committed to protecting endangered and threatened whale and sea turtle species as well as supporting thriving commercial and recreational state-managed fisheries. This strategy outlines investment priorities to reduce the risk of entanglement in California fishing gear and is one component of a more comprehensive effort to protect whales and sea turtles in California. This is consistent with Target 3.3.5 of OPC’s draft Strategic Priorities to Protect California’s Coast and Ocean for 2020-2025:
“3.3.5: Develop a statewide whale and sea turtle protection plan by 2022 with a Vision Zero target of zero mortality. As a component of this overall plan, develop and initiate a funding strategy to reduce the risk of entanglement in California fishing gear by 2020.
- Collaborate with the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group to reduce the risk of whale entanglement in California fishing gear; fund priority projects recommended by the Working Group to address data gaps and enhance results.
- Provide funding for the state’s drift gillnet transition program (consistent with SB 1017) and work towards the target of elimination of large mesh drift gillnets off the California coast by 2024.
- Support research and analysis of impacts of whale strikes from the shipping industry and other sources of whale and turtle mortality, including noise and marine debris from land-based sources.”
This investment strategy focuses on a comprehensive approach to reduce the risk of entanglement in California fishing gear through advancing collaborative partnerships, best available science, gear innovation, as well as response and outreach. The strategy aims to build on the success of the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group and could support other fixed-gear state-managed fisheries in addition to commercial and recreational Dungeness crab. This is the first critical component of California's Whale and Sea Turtle Protection Plan.