Drift Net/ Gill Net

By: Faith Bergman, Jared Chin, and Allie Lushan

What are Drift/Gill Nets and where are they found?

Drift nets are made of nonbiodegradeable plastic or nylon and are lengthy, free-floating nets that are used to snatch fish by their gills, which can range between 25-50 feet long. They are used in commercial fishing and have weights at the bottom of the net and floats located at the top. These nets are found in pelagic, open waters in the ocean.
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How do Drift nets work?

The drift nets are thrown into the ocean and stay vertically in the water column, but are not anchored to the bottom. These nets are kept vertical in the water column by floats, which are attached to a rope that is on the top of the net as well as weights that are attached to another rope, which is along the bottom of the net. While the net hangs in the ocean, the fish get tangled, and cannot escape.

Types of Fish Harvested:

These nets collect salmon, cod, and sardines
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Harmful effects of Drift Netting:

They are not biodegradeable, which makes it harmful for these nets to stay in the water. The mesh is typically very small in these nets to only get the fish targeted, but sometimes other species are captured. When these other species get caught in a drift net, they are known as by-catch, and this can happen to whales, dolphins, seals, and turtles. Sometimes they are discovered by fisherman who throw them back into the water even if injured. Other times they can be left entangled by these nets and never found and are known as "ghost nets," which continue to float throughout the ocean and harm the marine environment.
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Ways of mitigating the effects of drift netting:

- using better targeted fishing effort

- using nets that are more visible

- using nets with bigger mesh

- using acoustic "pings" to ward off unwanted catch

Government Regulation

-CT: gill net less than 60 feet for personal use from marine waters only

- ME: no one can fish within 150 feet of any dam that has a fishway; unlawful to fish more than 2000 feet of bait gallant in territorial waters. Bait glints need to have less than 3.5 inches of mesh are throughout entire net and need to be clearly marked on each end with buoys that are at least 4 feet long.

- South and West of Cape Cod: illegal to use, set, maintain or fish with any gill nets between April 1st and November 15th

- Mass Bay: No gill netting May 15th- November 1st

- Drift net banned on high seas since 1991

Bycatch numbers

Victims of drift netting include sharks, whales, turtles, dolphins, and fish. More specifically sperm and fin whales, common dolphins and basking sharks, and swordfish and tuna. A study was conducted that showed only 15% of species caught by drift nets are intentionally caught and the other 85% are bycatch that fisherman will throw back into the ocean almost always after they have already died.

In 1990, 30,000 sharks were victims of drift netting and now 90,000 sea birds die each year due to drift netting especially in the Baltic Sea.

If banned by the government...

There is nothing to date that catches blue shrimp as effectively as the drift net. Fisherman will need to find a new method. They will most likely be unhappy because they look at drift netting as an extremely efficient and effective method to catch fish since once the fish are trapped in the net it is nearly impossible for them to escape. However, drift netting should be banned because many species that are victims of drift netting will be saved and free.

Is drift netting sustainable?

No, drift netting is NOT sustainable because the practice leads to bycatch of seabirds, marine mammals, and many non-targeted species.

Alternative seafood choices- Where would we find more information about this?

Look on the Monterey Bay website: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/conservation/research/seafood-watch

Instead of eating salmon, cod, and other species caught with this method, it is more sustainable to eat Abalone, Tuna, and Halibut. It is okay to eat Salmon, but do not eat Salmon from the Mediterranean Sea as it is caught with drift nets.


"Campaign." Oceana. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2015.

Shark picture: http://www.sharkinfo.ch/images/si/net1.jpg

Salmon picture: http://www.aleutianseast.org/vertical/Sites/%7BEBDABE05-9D39-4ED4-98D4-908383A7714A%7D/uploads/%7B4A6D1AE8-B3E6-4B11-A0BC-88A597E44965%7D.JPG

First picture: http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange2/current/lectures/fisheries/driftnet.gif


"Should the Use of Driftnets to Catch Fish Be Banned?" Should the Use of Driftnets to Catch Fish Be Banned? N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2015.

State Of Rhode Island And Providence Plantations, Department Of Environmental Management, Bureau Of Natural Resources, and Fish And Wildlife. RHODE ISLAND MARINE FISHERIES STATUTES AND REGULATIONS (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

Submitted To The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, Prepared By, Connecticut Department Of Energy And Environmental Protection, and Marine Fisheries Division. Connecticut River American Shad Sustainable Fishing Plan (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

"322 CMR 4.00." Energy and Environmental Affairs. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2015.

"Useful Resources in the Upper Kennebec River Valley/Jackman Region." Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife -. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2015.

"Drift Net Fishing." Animal Welfare Institute. AWI, n.d. Web. 5 Mar. 2015.

LaBudde, S. Stripmining the Seas. A Global Perspective on Drift Net Fisheries. Honolulu: Earthtrust, 1989.
"Drift Net - Ecological Damage Caused by Drift NetsNe." - Fishing, Target, Fish, and Catch. Net Industries, 1997. Web. 05 Mar. 2015.