MMPA Bulletin

Michael Williamson (mwilliamson@vmsvax.simmons.edu)
Mon, 17 Sep 1995 16:33:21

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Date: Sun, 17 Sep 1995 20:29:47 +0400
From: Michael Williamson <mwilliamson@VMSVAX.SIMMONS.EDU>
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MMPA Bulletin
 
NMFS Office of Protected Resources
 
June/July 1995
 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Proposed Marine Mammal Fishery Interactions Regulations Published
 
On June 16, 1995, NMFS published in the Federal Register proposed
regulations for a new regime to govern interactions between marine mammals
and commercial fisheries. The new regime will replace the Interim Exemption
for Commercial Fisheries with a long-term program to authorize fisheries
that incidentally seriously injure and kill marine mammals and, ultimately,
to reduce interactions to a level approaching a zero mortality and serious
injury rate. A proposed list of fisheries based on new classification
criteria is included in the proposed regulations. The following summarizes
the major changes.
 
Fishery classification criteria. The MMPA requires that commercial fisheries
be placed in one of three categories based on whether the fishery has a
frequent, occasional or remote likelihood of incidental serious injury and
mortality of marine mammals. Under the Interim Exemption, "frequent",
"occasional" and "remote likelihood" were defined in terms of the total
marine mammal take per vessel per 20 days. The proposed regulations define
"frequent", "occasional" and "remote likelihood" in terms of how many marine
mammals of a particular stock are incidentally taken relative to that marine
mammal stock's potential biological removal (PBR) level.
 
The proposed criteria are as follows:
 
Category I fishery: A commercial fishery that is, by itself, responsible for
the annual removal of 50% or more of any stock's PBR level.
 
Category II fishery: A commercial fishery that is, collectively with other
fisheries, responsible for the annual removal of more than 10% of any marine
mammal stock's PBR level and is by itself responsible for the annual removal
of between 1% and 50% exclusively, of the PBR level for any stock.
 
Category III fishery: A commercial fishery that is, collectively with other
fisheries, responsible for the annual removal of under 10% of any marine
mammal stock's PBR or more than 10% of any marine mammal stock's PBR but is,
by itself, responsible for less than or equal to 1% of that stock's PBR.
 
These criteria incorporate a stock-specific approach rather than a
rate-based approach. This approach would increase the ability of NMFS to
target management actions to those fisheries with the largest impact on
particular marine mammal stocks. It would also eliminate several on-going
difficulties associated with using a per-vessel rate of take. For example,
under the present system a small fishery could have the same per-vessel rate
of take as a large fishery, yet have less of an impact on a stock. In
addition, if marine mammal populations increase and fishing effort remains
constant, the per-vessel take rate may also increase, causing a fishery to
be arbitrarily placed into a higher category . The proposed approach would
allow NMFS to initiate more proactive management efforts for fisheries that
take species with low and/or declining populations.
 
Fisheries affected by the new criteria are highlighted on page 2 of this
Bulletin.
 
Data used to classify fisheries
 
Observer data extrapolated to estimate the total kill of marine mammals in a
particular fishery were used when possible. If observer data were not
available, several other data sources were tapped, such as fishers' logbook
data, fishers' reports, confirmed anecdotes, stranding information, and
analagous situations. Such data were not extrapolated, but were used as
minimum estimates of the annual number of stock-specific serious injuries
and mortalities in a fishery. Other data used included historical patterns
of marine mammal takes and the expected magnitude of takes resulting from
changes in fishing effort or fishing technology.
 
Reporting requirements
 
Under the Interim Exemption, fishers in Category I and II fisheries were
required to fill out daily logbooks and to submit the logbooks every year.
Under the proposed regulations, logbooks would no longer be required.
Instead, all fishers are required to report all marine mammal injuries and
deaths that occur incidental to a fishery to NMFS on a postage-paid form
within 48 hours of the end of a fishing trip. The reporting form is
currently under development and should be ready by January 1996.
 
Monitoring of incidental mortalities and serious injuries
 
Under the Interim Exemption, NMFS could require vessels participating in
Category I fisheries to carry an observer. Under the new section 118, NMFS
may place observers on any Category I or II vessel. NMFS may also require
vessels in Category III fisheries to carry an observer if it can be shown
that the fishery is having an immediate and significant adverse impact to a
stock listed under the ESA and if emergency regulations have been published
by NMFS to mitigate this impact.
 
Takes of ESA-listed species
 
The 1994 MMPA amendments require fishers to obtain a separate authorization
to take marine mammals listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA if
the take can be determined to have no more than a "negligible impact" on the
stock. The proposed list of fisheries included with the proposed rule
contains a list of species that each fishery interacts with. NMFS
specifically requests comments on those fisheries that have takes of species
listed under the ESA and on the magnitude of the takes.
 
Comments on the proposed regulations and the authorization to take listed
species must be submitted to NMFS by July 31, 1995. Comments on the proposed
list of fisheries must be submitted by September 14, 1995. In addition, a
number of regional public hearings are scheduled throughout the end of June
and July. For more information, call Robyn Angliss at 301/713-2322.
 
Commercial Fisheries That Have Changed Categories Under the Proposed Fishery
 
Classification Criteria
 
Atlantic Ocean
 
Category II to Category I
 
Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico tuna, shark, swordfish longline
 
Category III to Category II
 
Atlantic mid-water trawl (includes squid and mackerel trawl fisheries)
 
North Carolina roe mullet stop net
 
North Carolina haul seine (new fishery)
 
Gulf of Maine, U.S. mid-Atlantic menhaden purse seine
 
Pacific Ocean
 
Category III to Category II
 
AK Southeast salmon purse seine
 
AK Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands groundfish trawl
 
AK pair trawl (new fishery)
 
OR swordfish/blue shark surface longline fishery (new fishery)
 
Category II to Category III
 
AK state waters sablefish longline/set line (includes Prince William Sound)
 
AK Prince William Sound set gillnet
 
CA/OR/WA salmon troll
 
In The Pipeline...
 
Bering Sea Ecosystem Workshop
 
The Bering Sea Ecosystem Workshop previously scheduled for June 14-15 in
Anchorage was postponed until September. The postponement came at the
request of Alaska Native groups who were unable to attend the June workshop
due to scheduling conflicts. An announcement will be made regarding the
September workshop as soon as the dates have been finalized.
 
Stock Assessment Reports
 
Drafts of final stock assessment reports (Atlantic, Pacific, Alaska) have
been completed and are undergoing final editorial revisions. The schedule
calls for their release to the public in July. Electronic versions will be
available immediately after the Federal Register notice of completion is
published and printed copies will be available when duplication is
completed. Electronic copies of these reports will be posted on the NMFS
home page on the World Wide Web (see page 4).
 
Request for Proposals to Facilitate Take Reduction Teams
 
NMFS has decided that expertise in professional environmental dispute
resolution is necessary to design and convene Take Reduction Teams and to
develop Take Reduction Plans (see MMPA Bulletin, April/May 1995). The
request for proposals for this activity was released on June 22, and
proposals will be accepted until July 14, 1995
 
Our twofold objective is to place a contract with an organization with a
background in professional environmental dispute resolution that would: 1)
facilitate the development of a series of Take Reduction Teams across the
country, each of which would focus on reducing bycatch of a "strategic"
stock(s) in regional commercial fisheries, and 2) facilitate the convening
of each of these teams over a six month period, resulting in the development
of Take Reduction Plans.
 
Take Reduction Team are proposed for the following fisheries/marine mammal
stock complexes:
 
Gulf of Maine Harbor Porpoise
 
Atlantic Offshore Cetaceans and Beaked Whales
 
Pacific Offshore Cetaceans and Beaked Whales
 
Atlantic Baleen Whales
 
Atlantic Coastal Bottlenose Dolphins
 
Alaska Marine Mammals/Eastern and Western Steller Sea Lions
 
Following the closing date for the request for proposals, NMFS' Office of
Protected Resources will review the proposals. It is anticipated that the
contract will be awarded approximately six weeks following the review of all
proposals received, and that the selection of individuals to participate on
all the Take Reduction Teams will be completed by approximately October 1,
1995.
 
NMFS would like to have draft Take Reduction Plans available for public
review by Spring, 1996.
 
For more information, call Michael Payne at 301/713-2322.
 
New Program Logo Being Developed
 
NMFS is in the process of developing a new logo for the fisheries
interaction program. Decals and exemption certificates issued to vessel
owners under the Interim Exemption displaying the logo to the left will not
be valid after January 1, 1996.
 
The new logo will be used on posters and other materials to inform fishers
and the public of the new authorization requirements and on decals issued to
registered fishers. Look for the new logo in the next few months...
 
New Guidelines Proposed for the Zero Mortality Raye Goal
 
The MMPA Amendments of 1994 call for a reduction in the incidental serious
injury and mortality of marine mammals in commercial fishing operations to
insignificant levels approaching a zero mortality and serious injury rate
within seven years, or by April, 2001. The proposed rule to implement
Section 118 of the MMPA proposes a series of biological objectives to
determine when the Zero Mortality Rate Goal (ZMRG) has been met.
 
Now that a definitive deadline has been imposed for attaining the ZMRG, the
fishing industry, other interested constituents, and the government must
develop objective standards to determine when the ZMRG has been reached, as
well as gauge any progress toward its attainment.
 
Developing specific objectives raises three fundamental questions: 1) what
does insignificant mean? 2) how close to zero do we need to approach? and 3)
what rate should we use as the measurement?
 
First, in determining what is insignificant, it is helpful to review what is
meant by significant. For example, a statistician may think in terms of
probabilities, whereas an economist may focus on the level of additional
effort versus output as significant in determining an optimum level of
efficiency.
 
On the other hand, many people may regard "a lot" of something as being
significant. NMFS has proposed that the ZMRG should address the biological
significance of levels of incidental mortality and serious injury to marine
mammal stocks.
 
The next step is to identify the level of loss that could be considered
biologically insignificant to a marine mammal stock. The MMPA gives us an
important starting point with the Potential Biological Removal level, or
PBR. The PBR is the maximum number of marine mammals that could be removed
from a stock (by other than natural causes) and still allow that stock to
reach and maintain its Optimum Sustainable Population (OSP). Therefore, NMFS
concluded that the removal of a small portion of a stock's PBR could be
considered insignificant to the stock's ability to reach and maintain OSP.
 
In December, 1992, NMFS proposed to Congress that a level of mortality or
serious injury that would delay recovery of a severely depleted stock of
marine mammals by no more than 10% could be considered biologically
insignificant. Modeling exercises confirmed that limiting incidental
removals to 10% of a stock's PBR would cause the population to delay
achieving OSP by no more than 10%. Therefore, NMFS proposed that if total
fishery-related mortality and serious injury is less than 10% of PBR for a
marine mammal stock, it will be determined as "insignificant" for that
stock. In addition, fisheries that interact with declining, depleted,
threatened, or endangered stocks of marine mammals will be examined more
closely to ensure that any incidental loss from these stocks is, indeed,
insignificant.
 
In cases where the total loss for a given stock exceeds 10% of PBR, some
fisheries may still contribute only a small (or insignificant) amount of
that loss. Therefore, NMFS proposes a second tier of consideration for
individual fisheries when total incidental loss exceeds 10%. A fishery
contributing removals of no more than 1% of a stock's PBR, even when total
loss due to all fisheries exceeds 10%, would be determined to have an
insignificant effect on that stock. It is important to note that the
proposal for ZMRG is the same as the criteria for determining Category III
fisheries in the proposed list of fisheries.
 
Second, incidental losses must "approach a zero rate". Some have argued that
"zero means zero". Others have argued that incidental losses are accidental
and despite a fishery's best efforts, some marine mammals may still get
caught incidentally in their nets. NMFS proposes to control incidental loss
of marine mammals through regulation or restrictions only to the point that
these losses are biologically insignificant to marine mammal stocks.
However, NMFS would continue efforts with the fishing industry to design,
refine and use technologies and methods that are more "marine mammal
friendly".
 
Lastly, what rate should we use? Since the 1988 Amendments to the MMPA were
passed, NMFS has looked primarily at the number of marine mammals caught by
an individual vessel over a 20-day period. An alternative is the number of
marine mammals killed by a given fishery in a year.
 
Unfortunately, these rates are not directly related to biological
significance. In the first case, a fishery with a large number of vessels
would remove more marine mammals than a small fishery if the per-vessel
rates were the same. In the second case, the mortality of one right whale,
an endangered species, has more biological significance to a population than
the mortality of one California sea lion.
 
The proposed definition for attaining the ZMRG has been developed around the
biological significance of the magnitude of the incidental mortality and
serious injury of marine mammals of a particular stock. This approach is
biologically justifiable, and progress toward it would be based upon the
best available scientific information. NMFS looks forward to receiving your
comments on the ZMRG and other aspects of the proposed regulations. For more
information, call Tom Eagle at 301/713-2322.
 
Process to Take Marine Mammals by Harassment Simplified
 
On May 31, 1995, NMFS published a proposed rule to amend the small take
regulations (50 CFR Part 228) to implement an expedited process by which
U.S. citizens could apply for an authorization to incidentally (not
intentionally) take small numbers of marine mammals by harassment without
the need to issue specific regulations governing the taking of marine
mammals for each and every activity. Harassment in this context does not
include serious injuries or lethal removals. As authorized under the MMPA
Amendments of 1994, the rule specifies statutory time limits for NMFS'
review, publication, and public notice and comment on any applications for
an authorization that would be granted. The rule also details the
requirements for submission of a plan of cooperation as well as for
scientific peer review of an applicant's monitoring plans in cases involving
activities that may affect a species' or stock's availability for
subsistence.
 
If implemented, this rule would result in a more streamlined and
cost-effective method for obtaining small take by incidental harassment
authorizations, without lessening the MMPA's protection of species and
stocks of marine mammals. The comment period for this proposed rule was
originally scheduled to close on July 17, 1995, but has been extended until
October 13, 1995.
 
For more information, call Ken Hollingshead at 301/713-2055.
 
NMFS Documents and the MMPA Bulletin are On-Line
 
The Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Regulations to implement
Section 118 of the MMPA is available on the World Wide Web at
http://kingfish.ssp.nmfs.gov:80/home-page.html. Accessing the NMFS home page
will allow you to download a text-only ASCII version of the Environmental
Assessment. Final stock assessment reports may also be downloaded from the
NMFS home page when they become available.
 
As always, the MMPA Bulletin is also available as an ASCII file on the NMFS
home page. If you would like to use any of the Bulletin articles, just send
us a note indicating where any or all of the articles will be reproduced.
E-mail this information, or any questions you might have on access to the
NMFS Home Page, to: Thomas_McIntyre@ssp.nmfs.gov.
 
The MMPA Bulletin is published by the Office of Protected Resources,
National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD
20910, (301) 713-2319. Send comments and suggestions to the above address,
Attn: MMPA Bulletin, or fax to (301) 713-0376.
 
Office Director: William W. Fox, Jr.
 
Deputy Office Director: Patricia Montanio
 
Editors: Laurel Bryant and Vicki Cornish
 
---------------------------------2191925891471--

From: IN%"mwilliamson@VMSVAX.SIMMONS.EDU" "Michael Williamson"
Date: 17-SEP-1995 16:33:21
Description: MMPA Bulletin                                        

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Date: Sun, 17 Sep 1995 20:29:47 +0400
From: Michael Williamson <mwilliamson@VMSVAX.SIMMONS.EDU>
Subject: MMPA Bulletin
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---------------------------------2191925891471
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MMPA Bulletin
 
NMFS Office of Protected Resources
 
June/July 1995
 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Proposed Marine Mammal Fishery Interactions Regulations Published
 
On June 16, 1995, NMFS published in the Federal Register proposed
regulations for a new regime to govern interactions between marine mammals
and commercial fisheries. The new regime will replace the Interim Exemption
for Commercial Fisheries with a long-term program to authorize fisheries
that incidentally seriously injure and kill marine mammals and, ultimately,
to reduce interactions to a level approaching a zero mortality and serious
injury rate. A proposed list of fisheries based on new classification
criteria is included in the proposed regulations. The following summarizes
the major changes.
 
Fishery classification criteria. The MMPA requires that commercial fisheries
be placed in one of three categories based on whether the fishery has a
frequent, occasional or remote likelihood of incidental serious injury and
mortality of marine mammals. Under the Interim Exemption, "frequent",
"occasional" and "remote likelihood" were defined in terms of the total
marine mammal take per vessel per 20 days. The proposed regulations define
"frequent", "occasional" and "remote likelihood" in terms of how many marine
mammals of a particular stock are incidentally taken relative to that marine
mammal stock's potential biological removal (PBR) level.
 
The proposed criteria are as follows:
 
Category I fishery: A commercial fishery that is, by itself, responsible for
the annual removal of 50% or more of any stock's PBR level.
 
Category II fishery: A commercial fishery that is, collectively with other
fisheries, responsible for the annual removal of more than 10% of any marine
mammal stock's PBR level and is by itself responsible for the annual removal
of between 1% and 50% exclusively, of the PBR level for any stock.
 
Category III fishery: A commercial fishery that is, collectively with other
fisheries, responsible for the annual removal of under 10% of any marine
mammal stock's PBR or more than 10% of any marine mammal stock's PBR but is,
by itself, responsible for less than or equal to 1% of that stock's PBR.
 
These criteria incorporate a stock-specific approach rather than a
rate-based approach. This approach would increase the ability of NMFS to
target management actions to those fisheries with the largest impact on
particular marine mammal stocks. It would also eliminate several on-going
difficulties associated with using a per-vessel rate of take. For example,
under the present system a small fishery could have the same per-vessel rate
of take as a large fishery, yet have less of an impact on a stock. In
addition, if marine mammal populations increase and fishing effort remains
constant, the per-vessel take rate may also increase, causing a fishery to
be arbitrarily placed into a higher category . The proposed approach would
allow NMFS to initiate more proactive management efforts for fisheries that
take species with low and/or declining populations.
 
Fisheries affected by the new criteria are highlighted on page 2 of this
Bulletin.
 
Data used to classify fisheries
 
Observer data extrapolated to estimate the total kill of marine mammals in a
particular fishery were used when possible. If observer data were not
available, several other data sources were tapped, such as fishers' logbook
data, fishers' reports, confirmed anecdotes, stranding information, and
analagous situations. Such data were not extrapolated, but were used as
minimum estimates of the annual number of stock-specific serious injuries
and mortalities in a fishery. Other data used included historical patterns
of marine mammal takes and the expected magnitude of takes resulting from
changes in fishing effort or fishing technology.
 
Reporting requirements
 
Under the Interim Exemption, fishers in Category I and II fisheries were
required to fill out daily logbooks and to submit the logbooks every year.
Under the proposed regulations, logbooks would no longer be required.
Instead, all fishers are required to report all marine mammal injuries and
deaths that occur incidental to a fishery to NMFS on a postage-paid form
within 48 hours of the end of a fishing trip. The reporting form is
currently under development and should be ready by January 1996.
 
Monitoring of incidental mortalities and serious injuries
 
Under the Interim Exemption, NMFS could require vessels participating in
Category I fisheries to carry an observer. Under the new section 118, NMFS
may place observers on any Category I or II vessel. NMFS may also require
vessels in Category III fisheries to carry an observer if it can be shown
that the fishery is having an immediate and significant adverse impact to a
stock listed under the ESA and if emergency regulations have been published
by NMFS to mitigate this impact.
 
Takes of ESA-listed species
 
The 1994 MMPA amendments require fishers to obtain a separate authorization
to take marine mammals listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA if
the take can be determined to have no more than a "negligible impact" on the
stock. The proposed list of fisheries included with the proposed rule
contains a list of species that each fishery interacts with. NMFS
specifically requests comments on those fisheries that have takes of species
listed under the ESA and on the magnitude of the takes.
 
Comments on the proposed regulations and the authorization to take listed
species must be submitted to NMFS by July 31, 1995. Comments on the proposed
list of fisheries must be submitted by September 14, 1995. In addition, a
number of regional public hearings are scheduled throughout the end of June
and July. For more information, call Robyn Angliss at 301/713-2322.
 
Commercial Fisheries That Have Changed Categories Under the Proposed Fishery
 
Classification Criteria
 
Atlantic Ocean
 
Category II to Category I
 
Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico tuna, shark, swordfish longline
 
Category III to Category II
 
Atlantic mid-water trawl (includes squid and mackerel trawl fisheries)
 
North Carolina roe mullet stop net
 
North Carolina haul seine (new fishery)
 
Gulf of Maine, U.S. mid-Atlantic menhaden purse seine
 
Pacific Ocean
 
Category III to Category II
 
AK Southeast salmon purse seine
 
AK Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands groundfish trawl
 
AK pair trawl (new fishery)
 
OR swordfish/blue shark surface longline fishery (new fishery)
 
Category II to Category III
 
AK state waters sablefish longline/set line (includes Prince William Sound)
 
AK Prince William Sound set gillnet
 
CA/OR/WA salmon troll
 
In The Pipeline...
 
Bering Sea Ecosystem Workshop
 
The Bering Sea Ecosystem Workshop previously scheduled for June 14-15 in
Anchorage was postponed until September. The postponement came at the
request of Alaska Native groups who were unable to attend the June workshop
due to scheduling conflicts. An announcement will be made regarding the
September workshop as soon as the dates have been finalized.
 
Stock Assessment Reports
 
Drafts of final stock assessment reports (Atlantic, Pacific, Alaska) have
been completed and are undergoing final editorial revisions. The schedule
calls for their release to the public in July. Electronic versions will be
available immediately after the Federal Register notice of completion is
published and printed copies will be available when duplication is
completed. Electronic copies of these reports will be posted on the NMFS
home page on the World Wide Web (see page 4).
 
Request for Proposals to Facilitate Take Reduction Teams
 
NMFS has decided that expertise in professional environmental dispute
resolution is necessary to design and convene Take Reduction Teams and to
develop Take Reduction Plans (see MMPA Bulletin, April/May 1995). The
request for proposals for this activity was released on June 22, and
proposals will be accepted until July 14, 1995
 
Our twofold objective is to place a contract with an organization with a
background in professional environmental dispute resolution that would: 1)
facilitate the development of a series of Take Reduction Teams across the
country, each of which would focus on reducing bycatch of a "strategic"
stock(s) in regional commercial fisheries, and 2) facilitate the convening
of each of these teams over a six month period, resulting in the development
of Take Reduction Plans.
 
Take Reduction Team are proposed for the following fisheries/marine mammal
stock complexes:
 
Gulf of Maine Harbor Porpoise
 
Atlantic Offshore Cetaceans and Beaked Whales
 
Pacific Offshore Cetaceans and Beaked Whales
 
Atlantic Baleen Whales
 
Atlantic Coastal Bottlenose Dolphins
 
Alaska Marine Mammals/Eastern and Western Steller Sea Lions
 
Following the closing date for the request for proposals, NMFS' Office of
Protected Resources will review the proposals. It is anticipated that the
contract will be awarded approximately six weeks following the review of all
proposals received, and that the selection of individuals to participate on
all the Take Reduction Teams will be completed by approximately October 1,
1995.
 
NMFS would like to have draft Take Reduction Plans available for public
review by Spring, 1996.
 
For more information, call Michael Payne at 301/713-2322.
 
New Program Logo Being Developed
 
NMFS is in the process of developing a new logo for the fisheries
interaction program. Decals and exemption certificates issued to vessel
owners under the Interim Exemption displaying the logo to the left will not
be valid after January 1, 1996.
 
The new logo will be used on posters and other materials to inform fishers
and the public of the new authorization requirements and on decals issued to
registered fishers. Look for the new logo in the next few months...
 
New Guidelines Proposed for the Zero Mortality Raye Goal
 
The MMPA Amendments of 1994 call for a reduction in the incidental serious
injury and mortality of marine mammals in commercial fishing operations to
insignificant levels approaching a zero mortality and serious injury rate
within seven years, or by April, 2001. The proposed rule to implement
Section 118 of the MMPA proposes a series of biological objectives to
determine when the Zero Mortality Rate Goal (ZMRG) has been met.
 
Now that a definitive deadline has been imposed for attaining the ZMRG, the
fishing industry, other interested constituents, and the government must
develop objective standards to determine when the ZMRG has been reached, as
well as gauge any progress toward its attainment.
 
Developing specific objectives raises three fundamental questions: 1) what
does insignificant mean? 2) how close to zero do we need to approach? and 3)
what rate should we use as the measurement?
 
First, in determining what is insignificant, it is helpful to review what is
meant by significant. For example, a statistician may think in terms of
probabilities, whereas an economist may focus on the level of additional
effort versus output as significant in determining an optimum level of
efficiency.
 
On the other hand, many people may regard "a lot" of something as being
significant. NMFS has proposed that the ZMRG should address the biological
significance of levels of incidental mortality and serious injury to marine
mammal stocks.
 
The next step is to identify the level of loss that could be considered
biologically insignificant to a marine mammal stock. The MMPA gives us an
important starting point with the Potential Biological Removal level, or
PBR. The PBR is the maximum number of marine mammals that could be removed
from a stock (by other than natural causes) and still allow that stock to
reach and maintain its Optimum Sustainable Population (OSP). Therefore, NMFS
concluded that the removal of a small portion of a stock's PBR could be
considered insignificant to the stock's ability to reach and maintain OSP.
 
In December, 1992, NMFS proposed to Congress that a level of mortality or
serious injury that would delay recovery of a severely depleted stock of
marine mammals by no more than 10% could be considered biologically
insignificant. Modeling exercises confirmed that limiting incidental
removals to 10% of a stock's PBR would cause the population to delay
achieving OSP by no more than 10%. Therefore, NMFS proposed that if total
fishery-related mortality and serious injury is less than 10% of PBR for a
marine mammal stock, it will be determined as "insignificant" for that
stock. In addition, fisheries that interact with declining, depleted,
threatened, or endangered stocks of marine mammals will be examined more
closely to ensure that any incidental loss from these stocks is, indeed,
insignificant.
 
In cases where the total loss for a given stock exceeds 10% of PBR, some
fisheries may still contribute only a small (or insignificant) amount of
that loss. Therefore, NMFS proposes a second tier of consideration for
individual fisheries when total incidental loss exceeds 10%. A fishery
contributing removals of no more than 1% of a stock's PBR, even when total
loss due to all fisheries exceeds 10%, would be determined to have an
insignificant effect on that stock. It is important to note that the
proposal for ZMRG is the same as the criteria for determining Category III
fisheries in the proposed list of fisheries.
 
Second, incidental losses must "approach a zero rate". Some have argued that
"zero means zero". Others have argued that incidental losses are accidental
and despite a fishery's best efforts, some marine mammals may still get
caught incidentally in their nets. NMFS proposes to control incidental loss
of marine mammals through regulation or restrictions only to the point that
these losses are biologically insignificant to marine mammal stocks.
However, NMFS would continue efforts with the fishing industry to design,
refine and use technologies and methods that are more "marine mammal
friendly".
 
Lastly, what rate should we use? Since the 1988 Amendments to the MMPA were
passed, NMFS has looked primarily at the number of marine mammals caught by
an individual vessel over a 20-day period. An alternative is the number of
marine mammals killed by a given fishery in a year.
 
Unfortunately, these rates are not directly related to biological
significance. In the first case, a fishery with a large number of vessels
would remove more marine mammals than a small fishery if the per-vessel
rates were the same. In the second case, the mortality of one right whale,
an endangered species, has more biological significance to a population than
the mortality of one California sea lion.
 
The proposed definition for attaining the ZMRG has been developed around the
biological significance of the magnitude of the incidental mortality and
serious injury of marine mammals of a particular stock. This approach is
biologically justifiable, and progress toward it would be based upon the
best available scientific information. NMFS looks forward to receiving your
comments on the ZMRG and other aspects of the proposed regulations. For more
information, call Tom Eagle at 301/713-2322.
 
Process to Take Marine Mammals by Harassment Simplified
 
On May 31, 1995, NMFS published a proposed rule to amend the small take
regulations (50 CFR Part 228) to implement an expedited process by which
U.S. citizens could apply for an authorization to incidentally (not
intentionally) take small numbers of marine mammals by harassment without
the need to issue specific regulations governing the taking of marine
mammals for each and every activity. Harassment in this context does not
include serious injuries or lethal removals. As authorized under the MMPA
Amendments of 1994, the rule specifies statutory time limits for NMFS'
review, publication, and public notice and comment on any applications for
an authorization that would be granted. The rule also details the
requirements for submission of a plan of cooperation as well as for
scientific peer review of an applicant's monitoring plans in cases involving
activities that may affect a species' or stock's availability for
subsistence.
 
If implemented, this rule would result in a more streamlined and
cost-effective method for obtaining small take by incidental harassment
authorizations, without lessening the MMPA's protection of species and
stocks of marine mammals. The comment period for this proposed rule was
originally scheduled to close on July 17, 1995, but has been extended until
October 13, 1995.
 
For more information, call Ken Hollingshead at 301/713-2055.
 
NMFS Documents and the MMPA Bulletin are On-Line
 
The Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Regulations to implement
Section 118 of the MMPA is available on the World Wide Web at
http://kingfish.ssp.nmfs.gov:80/home-page.html. Accessing the NMFS home page
will allow you to download a text-only ASCII version of the Environmental
Assessment. Final stock assessment reports may also be downloaded from the
NMFS home page when they become available.
 
As always, the MMPA Bulletin is also available as an ASCII file on the NMFS
home page. If you would like to use any of the Bulletin articles, just send
us a note indicating where any or all of the articles will be reproduced.
E-mail this information, or any questions you might have on access to the
NMFS Home Page, to: Thomas_McIntyre@ssp.nmfs.gov.
 
The MMPA Bulletin is published by the Office of Protected Resources,
National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD
20910, (301) 713-2319. Send comments and suggestions to the above address,
Attn: MMPA Bulletin, or fax to (301) 713-0376.
 
Office Director: William W. Fox, Jr.
 
Deputy Office Director: Patricia Montanio
 
Editors: Laurel Bryant and Vicki Cornish
 
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