Monster Nets Campaign Aims to Save Dolphins, Marine Wildlife from Deadly Gillnets

Monster Nets Campaign Aims to Save Dolphins, Marine Wildlife from Deadly Gillnets


Right now, mile-wide nets — commonly known as gillnets — indiscriminately kill some of our country’s rarest and most beloved marine animals. 1 And this week Environmental Action is launching a new campaign to retire these “monster nets” for good.

Gillnets are designed to ensnare swordfish and other prized catches. Far too often they also unintentionally trap imperiled dolphins, sea turtles, and whales. 2

Lifesaving protections from gillnets reversed

Recognizing the importance of saving these species, in 2015 former President Barack Obama’s administration proposed suspending drift gillnet fishing for swordfish if too many endangered animals are caught and killed in these monster nets.

Unfortunately, President Donald Trump has just cancelled this modest, life-saving proposal, condemning dozens of some of the most threatened and endangered creatures on the planet. 3

Gillnets threaten dolphins, sea turtles, and whales

Humpback whales and leatherback turtles are now so rare in these waters that experts say the loss of even one life may could spell trouble for their species’ survival. 4

Consider this:

  • Bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, and right whale dolphins have all been ensnared in these monster nets.5
  • Gill nets have been “a major source of mortality” for imperiled sea turtle species.6
  • From May 1, 2008 to January 31, 2009 more than 4,800 fish were returned to the sea dead or dying, including more than a thousand sharks of various species, tunas, and others fishes.7

According to the Trump administration, gill net deaths have declined so much in recent years that the proposed rule is unnecessary. But the loss of even one endangered leatherback turtle, and humpback or sperm whale is too much when so few remain.8

How you can help retire gillnets for good

The current administration seems unwilling to retire these mile-wide monster nets, so we’re taking our efforts to the states. In the days, weeks, and months ahead, we will mobilize thousands of nature-loving people along the west coast in support of state-level laws to ban on these massive, indiscriminate death traps.

We’re just getting this campaign off the ground and need your support. Please consider chipping in whatever you can today to help kickstart our campaign to save dolphins and other wildlife by retiring gillnets for good.

We should be finding ways to carefully and sustainably harvest only what we need from the ocean. Yet the Trump administration’s decision reflects an outdated and misguided mindset — that consuming more swordfish is worth depleting dozens of other species.

Gillnets are a dead-end approach for us and for life in our oceans — and we must oppose it.


[1] “Trump administration cancels proposed limits on marine mammals and sea turtles trapped in fishing nets,” The Los Angeles Times, June 12, 2017.

[2] “Gillnets: Fishing Gear and Risks to Protected Species,” National Marine Fisheries Service, retrieved online July 10, 2017.

[3] The Los Angeles Times, Ibid.

[4] The Los Angeles Times, Ibid.

[5] National Marine Fisheries Service, Ibid.

[6] National Marine Fisheries Service, Ibid.

[7] “Facts about Drift Gillnet Bycatch,” Oceana. Retrieved online July 10, 2017.

[8] The Los Angeles Times, Ibid.