NOAA 2003-004
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Gordon Helm
1/13/03
NOAA News Releases 2003
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NOAA FISHERIES SEEKS PUBLIC COMMENT ON PROPOSED 2003 LIST OF FISHERIES

NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) is seeking comment on proposed changes to its annual list of commercial fisheries that interact with marine mammals. The List of Fisheries (LOF) 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). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is an agency of the Commerce Department.

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 incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals.

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-related incidental mortality and serious injury for a particular stock, while Tier 2 considers fishery-specific incidental mortality and serious injury for a particular stock.

  • Tier 1 - If the total annual mortality and serious injury across all fisheries that interact with a stock is less than or equal to 10 percent of the PBR level of such a stock, then all fisheries interacting with that stock would be placed in Category III. Otherwise, these fisheries are subject to the next tier to determine their classification.
  • Tier 2 - Category III: Annual mortality and serious injury in a given fishery is less than or equal to one percent of the PBR level.
  • Tier 2 - Category II: Annual mortality and serious injury in a given fishery is greater than one percent, but less than 50 percent of the PBR level.
  • Tier 2 -Category I: Annual mortality and serious injury of a stock in a given fishery is greater than or equal to 50 percent of the PBR level.

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 Mid-Atlantic coastal gillnet fishery is proposed to be elevated to Category I from Category II (see explanation of tiers and categories, above).
  • The Alaska Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands groundfish trawl fishery and the Gulf of Mexico gillnet fishery are proposed to be elevated to Category II from Category III.
  • The California yellowtail, barracuda, white seabass, tuna drift gillnet fishery (mesh size greater than 3.5 inches and less than 14 inches) is being added to the LOF for the first time as a Category II fishery. The Atlantic mixed species trap/pot fishery, which combines the previously-listed Northeast trap/pot fishery, Mid-Atlantic mixed species trap/pot fishery, and U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Southeast U.S. Atlantic black sea bass trap/pot fisheries, as well as other trap/pot gear not included in other trap-pot fisheries, is being added to the LOF as a Category II fishery.
  • The California/Oregon thresher shark/swordfish drift gillnet fishery (greater than 14 inch mesh) is proposed to be reclassified as Category II (previously Category I). Additionally, the Alaska Cook Inlet salmon drift and set gillnet fisheries are proposed to be reclassified as Category III (both previously Category II).

Commercial fishers 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 fishers, 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 2003 List of Fisheries was published in the Federal Register on Jan. 10, 2003 (68 FR 1414) and is available for public comment until Feb. 10, 2003. Copies of the proposed rule are available online or by contacting Gale Heim, Office of Protected Resources, NOAA Fisheries, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, Md. 20910; (301) 713-2322, Ext. 132.

NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation’s living marine resources through scientific research, management, enforcement, and the conservation of marine mammals and other protected marine species and their habitat.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

For more information online:

NOAA - http://www.noaa.gov

NOAA Fisheries: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov

Proposed rule: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/prot_res/PR2/Fisheries_Interactions/list_of_fisheries.html