President Trump is vetoing a bill to ban driftnets off California

Swordfish off the coast
While commercial fishermen using driftnets target swordfish in federal waters off the coast of California, non-target species such as striped marlin (shown here) are also caught and killed by these nets. Senate Bill 906 would have stopped the use of these networks, but the president’s veto on New Year’s Day lowered the measure.
Courtesy NOAA / Richard Holt

President Donald Trump called into the new year by exercising his veto power to lower Senate Bill 906, Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act, which would have banned destructive driftnets from the last region in the country that still allows them – the federal seawater out for California.

A letter signed by Trump accompanying the veto tried to explain the reasons behind his action. “I return, without my approval, S. 906, Driftnet Modernization and Bicatch Reduction Act,” it read. “America’s fishermen have made great sacrifices to ensure that our nation’s deep sea fishing is a sustainable economic engine for coastal communities. Under my administration, the number of US fish stocks exposed to overfishing is at a historically low level.

“This achievement is the result of a transparent and collaborative regulatory process supported by Regional Fisheries Management Councils. At Council meetings, fishermen work with representatives of the federal and state governments to fulfill their statutory obligations under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. “

The Coastal Conservation Association of California had helped lead the final push for congressional adoption of S. 906, which was introduced more than two years ago in the upper house by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Shelley Moore Capito (RW). Va).) And Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Now elected Vice President. It was approved by the Senate in July 2020, and it passed the lower house last month.

“We are obviously deeply disappointed with this veto,” said Wayne Kotow, CEO of CCA Cal. “We will continue our efforts to get this legislation passed and have this type of gear removed from our waters. We are not against commercial fishing and actually understand how important it is to our supply chain and economy. What we are concerned about is a gear type that is detrimental to the overall resource. We all need to fish cleaner and with less expired bycatch. We try to use more modern methods that have proven to be cleaner. “

Read next: Federal legislation banning driftnets goes to the president’s desk

To help commercial fishermen replace lost income, the state of California has actively developed an alternative method of catching swordfish with deep-lying buoyancy gear that results in far less bycatch of marine mammals and non-target fish species. However, the Trump administration is not convinced that deep-seated bowing equipment is an economically viable alternative.

The Lame-and-President’s letter reads: “By bypassing S. 906, Congress has ignored the fact that the regional fisheries management process has had strong, bipartisan support since its inception. By forcing the West Coast driftnet fishery to use alternative gear that has not proved to be an economically viable substitute for nets, Congress is effectively ending fishing, and as a result, an estimated 30 fishing vessels, all operated by family-owned small businesses, will no longer be able to bring their bounty ashore. our nation has a trade deficit for seafood of nearly $ 17 billion, S. 906 will exacerbate this imbalance. “

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