California/Oregon Drift Gillnet Fishery

Program Coordinator: Lyle Enriquez

NMFS, Southwest Region
501 West Ocean Bvld.
Suite 4200
Long Beach, CA 90802-4213

(562) 980-4024

California/Oregon Drift Gillnet Fishery

Observer Program Mandate and Authority

Mission of the program
To document the incidental take of marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds, target and non-target fish species.

Fishery management
Federal and State (California Department of Fish & Game, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife).

Authority to place observers
Marine Mammal Protection Act, Category I Fishery. West Coast Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan.

Voluntary or mandatory

Funding source

Annual program costs

Program duration
July 1990 to present

Fishery Description

Target species
Swordfish and common thresher shark

Other commercially landed species
Mako shark, opah, and tunas (albacore, bluefin, yellowfin)

Blue shark and common mola

Incidental takes
Sperm whale, Humpback whale, Fin whale, short-finned pilot whale, Minke whale, short-beaked common dolphin, long-beaked common dolphin, Risso's dolphin, Dall's porpoise, Pacific white-sided dolphin, northern right whale dolphin.

California sea lion and northern elephant seal.

Sea turtles
Leatherback and loggerhead.


Gear type
Drift gillnet

Area of operation

Fleet size
Marine Mammal Authorization Certificates are held by 95 vessels, approximately 50 are active.

Size range of vessels
Vessels are 35-65 feet long

Annual catch of target species

Number of fishing days per year

Season of operation
The fishery is closed within 200 miles of the coast of California and Oregon from February 1 to April 30. From May 1 to August 14 the closure changes to 75 miles offshore. Most fishing occurs between August 15 and January 31, when closure restrictions are lifted. The majority of fishing effort takes place from October through December.

Observer Program Management

Brief overview of program structure

The Southwest Region - Long Beach Office is responsible for monitoring the California/Oregon drift gillnet fishery, California coastal pelagic purse seine fishery, the California HMS purse seine fishery, the California pelagic longline fishery, and the Pacific albacore fishery. Observer training is conducted in conjunction with Southwest Fisheries Science Center - La Jolla Laboratory, NOAA Fisheries enforcement, U.S. Coast Guard, and the fishing industry. The Southwest Fisheries Science Center receives the observer data to calculate estimates of incidental take rates of marine mammals in preparation of the Annual Stock Assessment Reports the regional management team uses observer data to help manage the pacific coast fisheries.

Service delivery type and function of each entity: NOAA Fisheries is responsible for observer training, debriefing, data entry, and data management. A NOAA Fisheriesapproved contractor is responsible for observer recruitment, monitoring vessel activity, observer deployment, logistics, insurance/benefits, and delivery of observer data to NOAA Fisheries. Vessel owners and operators are responsible for contacting the designated contractor to make arrangements for mandatory placement of NOAA Fisheries trained observers aboard their vessels.


Other participating agencies

Number of observers

Observers employed by

Average deployment length

Average observer retention rate
2.5 years

Observers unionized

Observer Coverage

Average number of fishing days

Unit and definition of fishing effort for purpose of estimating coverage
Unit and definition of fishing effort for purpose of estimating coverage: Drift gillnet vessels in this fleet make a single net-pull (e.g., set) each day, thus each day that a vessel makes a set is a sampling unit.

Percent observer coverage