El Niño forces closure of large-mesh drift gillnet fishery

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a temporary ruling of closure off the Southern California coast. The closure, which went into effect on June 1 and remains until Aug. 31, prohibits fishing with large-mesh drift gillnet (14-inch mesh or larger). NMFS and NOAA officials announced the closure due to El Niño conditions.

Closure of the large-mesh drift gillnet fishery would protect the loggerhead sea turtle, which is listed on the Endangered Species Act.

The closure covers the Southern California Bight.

“The most recent El Niño determination occurred on May 9, 2019, and regulations require that the closure period begin on June 1,” NMFS staff stated in the Federal Register notice of the closure.

Federal law prevents any fishing to occur with large-mesh drift gillnets between June 1 and Aug. 31 during El Niño-forecasted years; the prohibition specifically applies to U.S. waters of the Pacific Ocean, east of the 120-degree West meridian.

Anyone seeking additional information on the temporary closure should contact Chris Manning at the NMFS West Coast Region office; he can be reached at 562-980-4198 or chris.fanning@noaa.gov.

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