FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Gordon Helm
NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service is seeking comment on proposed changes to its annual list of commercial fisheries that interact with marine mammals. The List of Fisheries categorizes each U.S. commercial fishery based on the level of interaction each fishery has with marine mammals. The annual list is required by the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).
Each fishery is placed into one of three categories according to whether it has a frequent (Category I), occasional (Category II), or remote (Category III) likelihood of known incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals.
After reviewing marine mammal stock assessment reports and other new information (e.g., observer data, marine mammal stranding data), NOAA Fisheries is proposing several classification and administrative changes.
The Atlantic Squid, Mackerel, Butterfish Trawl fishery and the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Gillnet fishery are proposed to be elevated to Category I from Category II (see explanation of tiers and categories, below).
The following commercial fisheries are proposed to be elevated to Category II from Category III: Atlantic Blue Crab Trap/Pot; Gulf of Mexico Blue Crab Trap/Pot; Gulf of Mexico Gillnet; Hawaii Swordfish, Tuna, Billfish, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, Oceanic Sharks Longline/Set Line; North Carolina Inshore Gillnet; and Southeast Atlantic Gillnet fishery.
The following commercial fisheries are proposed to be added for the first time to Category II: California Longline; Mid-Atlantic Pound Net; North Carolina Long Haul Seine; Northeast Drift Gillnet; and Northeast Trap/Pot fishery.
The annual List of Fisheries classifies fisheries based on a two-tiered, stock-specific approach that first addresses the total impact of all fisheries on each marine mammal stock and then addresses the impact of individual fisheries on each stock. The annual rate of marine mammals seriously injured or killed incidental to commercial fisheries is compared to the Potential Biological Removal (PBR) level for each stock. The PBR level is defined in the MMPA as the maximum number of animals that may be removed from a marine mammal stock while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable population. Tier 1 considers the cumulative fishery mortality and serious injury for a particular stock, while Tier 2 considers fishery-specific mortality and serious injury for a particular stock.
Commercial fishermen who participate in fisheries placed in Category I or II must register with the Marine Mammal Assessment Program and submit a $25 fee unless registration has been integrated with a pre-existing state or federal registration program. The MMPA requires that all commercial fishermen regardless of category submit a report to NOAA Fisheries within 48 hours of the end of each fishing trip if a marine mammal is injured or killed incidental to fishing operations.
The proposed 2001 List Of Fisheries was
published in the Federal Register on January 22, 2001 (66 FR
6545) and is available for public comment until March 8, 2001.
Copies of the proposed rule can be found on the Internet at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/prot_res/PR2/Fisheries_Interactions/list_of_fisheries.html
or by contacting Gale Heim, Office
of Protected Resources, NOAA Fisheries, 1315 East-West Highway,
Silver Spring, MD 20910. (301) 713-2322, ext. 132