The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has published for comment a draft national Procedural Directive clarifying the process for eligible permit applicants to obtain releasable marine mammals for public display purposes under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Releasable marine mammals are those that were successfully rehabilitated by the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program’s network of stranding centers and have been determined by the rehabilitation facility’s attending veterinarian to be candidates for return to the wild. NMFS will no longer grant permits for the specific purpose of retaining releasable marine mammals for public display. Instead, applicants will now need to apply for a permit to take (collect) animals from the wild pursuant to the MMPA. Non-releasable animals, on the other hand, may still be obtained through NMFS’ administrative procedures.
NMFS must receive any comments must by December 15, 2017.