NMFS Publishes Final 2017 SARS

As required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act., The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has published final 2017 marine mammal stock assessment reports  for the 75 stocks that were updated. Electronic copies of SARs are available on the internet as regional compilations at the following address: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/marine-mammal-stock-assessment-reports-region

 

NMFS Extends Opening Date of Subsistence Use Season for Eastern Pacific Stock of Northern Fur Seals

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has extended the opening date of the subsistence use season of the Eastern Pacific stock of northern fur seals (Callorhinusursinus) by opening the season on June 20, 2018, in response to a request from the Traditional Council of St. George Island, Tribal Government. The subsistence use regulations at 50 CFR 216.72(a) authorize the extension of the northern fur seal harvest earlier than the scheduled opening date of June 23. The opening of the season three days earlier is intended to provide meat for the community of St. George Island in response to the unavailability of food in the community store due to unforeseen flight cancellations and the complete consumption of fur seal meat from harvests in 2017.

Comment on Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Issuing Annual Catch Limits to the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has announced the availability of a draft environmental impact pursuant to the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act of This draft EIS assesses the impacts of issuing annual catch limits for the subsistence harvest of bowhead whales by Alaska Natives from 2019 onward. The official 60-day comment period for comments on the draft EIS began on June 1, 2018 and will end on July 31, 2018.

Click here for more detail and relevant links.

 

 

Article Argues Need for Better Enforcement of Marine Protected Areas’ Boundaries

Scientific American published an article entitled “Marine Protected Areas Are Important, but…they can’t do their job of protecting aquatic ecosystems if people fail to respect their boundaries”.

Click here to read this entire article.

 

“IAGC Denounces New Zealand Government’s Decision to End Oil and Gas Exploration”

On April 11, 2018, Nikki Martin, President of the International Association of Geophysical Contractors, today issued the following statement regarding the New Zealand Government’s announcement that it would end oil and gas exploration:

“The New Zealand government’s announcement to end oil and gas exploration demonstrates a lack of consideration for the nation’s energy future and the exploration industry’s long history of safely and successfully coexisting with the marine environment. In New Zealand and around the world seismic and exploration activities have been conducted extensively for over 50 years alongside stable and even thriving marine life populations. Contrary to the characterization that dependence on fossil fuels has held the nation back, access to safe, affordable oil and gas energy ensures citizens’ well-being,provides stable employment and lifts those in poverty.

Special Session on Passive Acoustic Density Estimation

A special session on “Passive Acoustic Density Estimation: Recent Advances and Outcomes for Terrestrial and Marine Species” is being held during the upcoming 176th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) on 5-9 November 2018 to be held in the beautiful city of Victoria, British Columbia Canada.   Abstracts are due the 29th of May, 2018.

In the past, similar sessions at ASA have included marine mammal biologists and bioacoustic researchers presenting their work on related to
science and conservation of marine mammals. The organizers encourage researchersworking on a wide range of taxonomic study subjects, including marine mammals, to present talks at this special session.

OMB Reviewing NOAA’s Critical Habitat Designation for the Hawaiian Insular False Killer Whale Distinct Population Segment

As of May 23, 2018, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget is reviewing these not-yet published final rules pursuant to OMB’s authority under Executive Order 12866.

Click here for OMB’s review website.

 

 

International Committee on Marine Mammal Protected Areas (ICMMPA) Conference (April 8–12, 2019, Greece)

The International Committee on Marine Mammal Protected Areas is a group of international experts dedicated to the protection of marine mammals and their habitats.  Conferences are held every other year. In 2019, ICMMPA is reaching a key milestone:  its 10th anniversary since its foundation and first conference.  The ICMMPA’s fifth conference will take place for the first time in Europe and specifically in the Mediterranean region. Hosting the ICMMPA5 in Greece will provide a unique opportunity to promote the protection of marine animals at the national, Mediterranean, and European level and advance practical solutions to common problems in marine conservation.

Final Rule To List the Taiwanese Humpback Dolphin as Endangered Under the Endangered Species Act

In response to a petition by Animal Welfare Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, and WildEarth Guardians, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has issued a final rule to list the Taiwanese humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensistaiwanensis) as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act NMFS is not designating critical habitat for this subspecies because the geographical areas occupied by these dolphins are entirely outside U.S. jurisdiction, and NMFS has not identified any unoccupied areas within U.S. jurisdiction that are currently essential to the conservation of the subspecies. This final rule is effective June 8, 2018.

Click here for more details and relevant links.

“Killer Whale Genetics Raise Inbreeding Questions”

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service recently posted an article expressing concern about the effects of inbreeding on the killer whale population in Puget Sound and the Salish Sea. The article reads in part as follows:

“A new genetic analysis of Southern Resident killer whales found that two male whales fathered more than half of the calves born since 1990 that scientists have samples from, a sign of inbreeding in the small killer whale population that frequents Washington’s Salish Sea and Puget Sound.”

Click here to read the rest of this article.