Subject: Bycatch:Cooperative Proposal to Reduce MM Bycatch in Driftnets (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Wed, 19 Feb 1997 12:19:55 -0500 (EST)

J. Michael Williamson
   Principal Investigator-WhaleNet <>
   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: Tue, 18 Feb 1997 18:07:44 -0500
From: Vicki Cornish <>
Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
To: Multiple recipients of list MARMAM <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET>
Subject: Cooperative Proposal to Reduce MM Bycatch in Driftnets


     The National Marine Fisheries Service is seeking public comment on a
     cooperative plan that is expected to significantly reduce injuries and
     deaths to marine mammals from commercial shark and swordfish
     driftnets, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric
     Administration announced today.

     The proposed plan would reduce the bycatch and mortality of several
     marine mammal stocks, including pilot, sperm, and the rare beaked
     whales, that incidentally occur when fishing for swordfish and
     thresher shark with driftnet gear off California and Oregon.  The
     draft plan, designed by a team of experts from the fishing industry,
     environmental groups, and scientists, was submitted by the Pacific
     Offshore Cetacean Take Reduction Team to meet requirements of the
     Marine Mammal Protection Act.

     "This cooperative team was formed to ensure everyone had an
     opportunity to participate in reducing marine mammal interactions with
     commercial fishing gear as mandated by federal law," said Rolland
     Schmitten, fisheries service director.  "The plan is a great example
     of teamwork and cooperation."

     "I am excited to be part of a process that allows fishermen to be
     involved in determining the outcome of a take reduction plan," said
     Tony West, head of the California Gillnetters Association and member
     of the team.  "Fishermen are much more informed about how to identify
     areas of marine mammal activity and how to avoid interacting with

     "We were able to reach consensus in a group of people that represented
     opposite sides of the issue," said Hannah Bernard, director of
     education for the Hawaii Wildlife Fund and also a team member.
     "There isn't any question that this type of team effort is going to
     become more common as a way to seek solutions to our environmental

     Four primary strategies are being proposed to reduce bycatch in the

        Establish a fleetwide fishing depth requirement of six fathoms.
     Lowering nets has already significantly reduced incidental bycatch of
     cetaceans in this fishery. The proposed rule would require vessel
     operators to set their nets a minimum of six fathoms below the

        Conduct mandatory workshops to provide skippers with information on
     how the take reduction plan was developed and how to avoid marine
     mammal entanglement.  These fisheries service workshops also would
     solicit feedback from fishermen on how to reduce marine mammal

        Require all fishery vessels to use pingers to deter marine mammals
     from their nets.  Preliminary results from a 1996 pinger experiment in
     the fishery show that the cetacean entanglement rate is almost four
     times less for nets using pingers than for those nets that do not.
     Pingers are high-frequency acoustic devices that may keep marine
     mammals from becoming entangled in fishing nets.

        Further limit the potential expansion of fishing effort in
     California and Oregon.  This proposal would not affect those driftnet
     fishermen that annually land well beyond established minimum landing
     requirements.  The fisheries service is seeking comment on two
     recommendations, one to cease reissuing driftnet permits that have
     been allowed to lapse, and the other to institute a permit buy-back
     program to purchase permits from those fishermen who only land the
     minimum number of fish required to maintain their permits.

     Comments on the draft plan must be received by March 31, 1997.  Send
     comments to Chief, Marine Mammal Division, Office of Protected
     Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway,
     Silver Spring, MD 20910-3226.  Copies of the Federal Register notice,
     draft plan, and Environmental Assessment are available upon request
     from Irma Lagomarsino, Southwest Region, NMFS, 501 W. Ocean Blvd.,
     Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802-4213; or from Victoria Cornish,
     Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver
     Spring, MD 20910-3226.

     Submitted by:

     Vicki Cornish
     NMFS Office of Protected Resources
     1315 East-West Highway
     Silver Spring, MD 20910-3226
     phone: (301) 713-2322