Subject: NMFS Proposes Large Whale Take Reduction Plan (fwd)

Michael Williamson (pita@whale.simmons.edu)
Sun, 6 Apr 1997 10:22:48 -0400 (EDT)

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
J. Michael Williamson
   Principal Investigator-WhaleNet <http://whale.wheelock.edu>
   Associate Professor-Science
   Wheelock College, 200 The Riverway, Boston, MA 02215
voice: 617.734.5200, ext. 256
fax:    617.734.8666, or 617.566.7369
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 3 Apr 1997 14:19:26 -0500
From: Robyn Angliss <Robyn.Angliss@noaa.gov>
Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
     <MARMAM@UVVM.UVIC.CA>
To: MARMAM@UVVM.UVIC.CA
Subject: Long:  NMFS Proposes Large Whale Take Reduction Plan


      Note:  A fact sheet accompanies this press release; it will be forwarded
      with the subject heading "Long:  NMFS Proposed TRP Fact Sheet".

      ----------------------------------------------

      LARGE WHALE TAKE REDUCTION PLAN PROPOSED BY FISHERIES SERVICE
     Related action restricts some lobster gear in critical habitat off
     Mass.

        The National Marine Fisheries Service is seeking input on a

     proposed plan to reduce encounters between large whales and several

     fisheries in U.S. waters off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, the

     Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

     announced today.

        The fisheries service developed the proposed take reduction plan
     after receiving advice from a team of fishermen, specialists in marine
     mammal conservation, scientists, and federal and state managers. The
     team was established under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA)
     process and was asked to consider and report on ways to reduce takes
     of northern right, humpback, minke, and fin whales in four U.S.
     fisheries: the new England sink gillnet fishery, the lobster trap/pot
     fishery in the Gulf of Maine and mid-Atlantic, the coastal gillnet
     fisheries in the mid-Atlantic, and the shark net fishery in the
     southeastern U.S. Atlantic.

        Fisheries service officials believe that these measures, once
     implemented, will reduce the risk of large whale entanglement in the
     affected fisheries to levels that meet both 6-month and 5-year goals
     set by law for each marine mammal species.

        "The MMPA requires us to develop a plan to reduce serious injuries
     and mortalities of these animals without placing undo hardship on
     fishermen" said Hilda Diaz-Soltero, acting director of the fisheries
     service's Office of Protected Resources.

     The proposed plan applies the following measures to the gear and
     fisheries concerned:

     1) seasonal  time/area restrictions on setting the gear in the
     Northern right whale critical habitats of Cape Cod Bay, the Great
     South Channel, the Florida/Georgia coastal corridor, and possibly the
     Jeffrey's Ledge/Stellwagen Bank areas;

     2) requiring gear modifications, such as using breakaway buoys, weak
     vertical lines, or sinking line,  designed to allow whales to break
     through encountered gear or reduce the severity of an entanglement;

     3) improved response and assistance to entangled large whales;

     4) skipper workshops to increase awareness of fishing practices,
     responsibilities for marine mammals, and gear technology for take
     reduction.

        In related emergency actions, the fisheries service is imposing a
     seasonal restriction (from April 1 until May 15) on lobster pot gear
     in Cape Cod Bay right whale critical habitat.  This action is
     consistent with existing Massachusetts restrictions. Only certain pot
     gear types will be permitted during this period. The emergency action
     also prohibits the use of lobster pot gear in the Great South Channel
     right whale critical habitat from April 1 until June 30.  Both actions
     are taken under the MMPA to implement the reasonable and prudent
     alternatives described in a biological opinion issued for the lobster
     fishery.  These actions do not require public comment and are expected
     to affect fewer than 10 commercial fishermen.

        Comments on the proposed take reduction plan must be received by
     May 15, 1997.  Send comments to: Chief, Marine Mammal Division, Office
     of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315
     East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.  Copies of the draft
     Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team report and Environmental
     Assessment are available through the Office of Protected Resources, or
     by calling Sal Testaverde, Northeast Region-NMFS, 508-281-9368; Kathy
     Wang, Southeast Region-NMFS, 813-570-5312; or Michael Payne, Office of
     Protected Resources, 301-713-2322.

                                        ###

     NOTE: The National Marine Fisheries Service is a part of the National
     Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. All NOAA press releases, and
     links to other NOAA material, can be found on the Internet at
     http://www.noaa.gov/public-affairs .

     -------------------

     Posted by:

     Robyn Angliss
     Office of Protected Resources
     National Marine Fisheries Service
     1335 East West Hwy
     Silver Spring, MD  20910

     301/713-2322
     Robyn.Angliss@noaa.gov