Graphic video shows marine animals tangled in driftnets off California coast

EMBED </>More Videos

Animal protection groups released new video shot during an undercover investigation off the California coast to document the effects of commercial driftnet fishing. (KABC)

Animal protection groups released new video shot during an undercover investigation off the California coast to document the effects of commercial driftnet fishing.

"In one particularly disturbing instance, a shark is gasping for air while the animal's tail is sliced off. Minutes later, the shark remains alive and bleeding on the dock of the boat," said Lindsay Wolf of Mercy for Animals, the organization that shot some of the graphic video.

"Animals caught as bycatch include protected species such as dolphins, sea lions and sea birds. In fact, for every one swordfish trapped by the driftnet fishery, it is estimated that seven other animals also entangled in these nets," Wolf added.

National Geographic photojournalist Paul Nicklen shot some underwater footage of the large nets and the marine mammals tangled inside of them. "You're down there pushing through the tears, trying to roll footage," said Nicklen, adding he wanted to free the animals from the mile-long nets. "They're 100 feet deep and they're designed to kill anything in their path," he said.

Several organizations are also urging state legislators to pass SB 1017, a law that would transition California away from the use of large-scale driftnets.

"That's the problem, that we need stronger laws to help protect fish and other sea animals from this type of egregious abuse," Wolf said.

In 2017, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said its efforts helped reduce entanglements in the past 25 years. The agency told Eyewitness News in a statement:

"NOAA is aware of the video mentioned. It is our long-standing policy not to discuss ongoing or potential investigations, as doing so could compromise the integrity of the case. We take any potential violations in the West Coast drift gillnet fishery seriously and have worked diligently through the take reduction team process under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to ensure that the fishery is operating in accordance with the provisions of the law."
Related Topics:
pets-animalsanimalanimal newsCalifornia
(Copyright ©2018 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.)