The decision does not immediately imposes the caps, but requires NOAA Fisheries to either revive the regulations or come up with any potential revisions with the Pacific Fishery Management Council.
Two years ago, NOAA Fisheries proposed rule to reduce the amount of bycatch in the driftnet fishery. According to the proposal, the fishery could face serious problems if four bottlenose dolphins or short-fin pilot whales were injured or died, because of being caught in a net over a two-year period.
Problems could also occur if two fin, humpback, or sperm whales; or two leatherbacks, loggerhead, olive ridley, or green sea turtles were injured or died in the same period as well.
Despite making this proposal however, in 2017 NOAA decided not to proceed with it, something that led to a lawsuit from Oceana.
According to NGOs, this ruling protects whales, sea turtles, and dolphins, showing the importance of the Pacific Fishery Management Council in West Coast fisheries.
Currently, California’s swordfish driftnet fishery is controversial because the gear often traps animals other than what are targeted. As a matter of fact, the number of marine mammals that were killed in the fishery surpass those that got killed by the other Pacific and Alaska fisheries combined.