NOAA 99-R113
Contact: Stephanie Dorezas


NOAA's Fisheries Service published the 1999 List of Fisheries, which categorizes each U.S. commercial fishery based on the number of marine mammals seriously wounded or killed during fishing operations. The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration made the announcement today, as required by the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Each fishery is placed into one of three categories according to the level of interaction with marine mammals. Category I consists of fisheries with frequent injuries and deaths of marine mammals. Fisheries in Category II have occasional interactions, and fisheries in Category III have seldom or no injuries and deaths of marine mammals.

Commercial fishermen who participate in fisheries placed in Category I or II must register in 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 Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) requires that all commercial fishermen submit a report to the Fisheries Service within 48 hours of the end of each fishing trip if a marine mammal is injured or killed incidental to fishing operations.

Changes for 1999 adds the Atlantic herring midwater trawl fishery to the list for the first time and places it in Category II. This fishery includes vessels using midwater trawls as pair trawls (one net towed by two vessels). This also affects the current Category III listing for the Gulf of Maine Mid-Atlantic coastal herring trawl fishery. The Fisheries Service determined that there is little difference between the boats' fishing or gear used in Maine waters and those fishing in other Atlantic waters. As a result, the new Category II listing for the Atlantic herring midwater trawl fishery also includes those currently operating in the Gulf of Maine, Mid-Atlantic coastal herring trawl fishery and removes them from last year's Category III. Fishermen participating in these fisheries will receive registration information from the agency's Northeast regional office in Gloucester, Mass.

Other 1999 changes included reclassifying the Gulf of Mexico menhaden purse seine fishery from Category III to Category II based on the observed bycatch of coastal bottlenose dolphins from 1992-1995. Fishermen participating in this fishery will be sent registration information from the Southeast regional office in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The 1999 list also clarifies and simplifies existing requirements. Administrative changes include updates to the list of species that interact with commercial fisheries and to the number of participants in some fisheries. In addition, minor changes in fishery descriptions include renaming the North Carolina haul seine fishery as the Mid-Atlantic haul seine fishery, renaming the Northeast multispecies sink gillnet fishery as the Northeast sink gillnet fishery, and modifying the name of several Alaska fisheries to include the target species.

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 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.

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 1 percent of the PBR level.

Tier 2 - Category II: Annual mortality and serious injury in a given fishery is greater than 1 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.

NOAA's Fisheries Service is the federal agency 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.

Editor's Note: The 1999 List of Fisheries can be found on the Internet at: or you can contact Cathy Eisele from the Office of Protected Resources at (301) 713-2322.