Swordfish Large Mesh Drift Gillnet

What's New (June 2017) - Withdrawal of Proposed Rule: Protected Species Hard Caps for the California/Oregon Large-Mesh Drift Gillnet Fishery

The swordfish large mesh drift gillnet (DGN) fishery on the U.S. West Coast is co-managed by NOAA Fisheries, the Pacific Fishery Management Council, and the State of California. The majority of the drift gillnet fishing effort occurs from mid-August through January. The fishery operates under a limited entry permit system with mandatory gear requirements and time-area closures, including the Pacific Leatherback Conservation Area Closure (PLCA) which prohibits drift gillnet fishing from August 15 to November 15 in roughly 213,000 square miles within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The drift gillnet fishery primarily targets and harvests swordfish, but also harvests other commercially valuable species such as thresher and mako shark, and opah. Since the Pacific Leatherback Conservation Area Closure was enacted in 2001, the number of active participants in the fishery has declined from over 75 vessels in 2001 to approximately 30 in 2012. The vessels in the large mesh drift gillnet fishery landed approximately 110 metric tons of swordfish and 40 metric tons of thresher shark in 2012. From 2001 to 2012 the average annual ex-vessel value for the fishery was $1.7 million.

A drift gillnet is an unanchored panel of stretched mesh (14 inches or greater) suspended vertically in the water by floats along the top and weights along the bottom. Regulations require large mesh drift gillnets fishing off the west Coast to be equipped with acoustic pingers and extenders.