NMFS’ 90-Day Finding on Petition to Delist Central North Pacific Population of Humpback Whales

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has published its 90- day finding on a petition to identify the Central North Pacific population of humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) as a Distinct Population Segment, and to delist the DPS under the Endangered Species Act.

NMFS finds find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted.

Therefore, NMFS is continuing its status review for the humpback whale to determine whether this population is a DPS and whether delisting is warranted.  NMFS requests that the public provide the Service with scientific and commercial information regarding this species by July 28, 2014.

NMFS Proposes Take Permit for Hawaii Deep-Set and Shallow-Set Longline Fisheries

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has published its intent to issue a permit for a period of three years authorizing the incidental, but not intentional, taking of three stocks of marine mammals listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act by the Hawaii deep- set and shallow-set longline fisheries.  NMFS proposes to issue this permit pursuant to the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act.

NMFS has made a preliminary determination that incidental taking from commercial fishing will have a negligible impact on the endangered humpback whale, Central North Pacific stock; sperm whale, Hawaii stock; and false killer whale, Main Hawaiian Islands insular stock.

Members of Congress Ask USDA to Revise Rules for Captive Marine Mammals

In a bipartisan letter sent to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Congressmen Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and 38 members of Congress called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to take immediate action to adopt long-overdue rules addressing the care of captive marine mammals.

“Sound, modern science should inform our regulations on marine mammal captivity,” said Rep. Huffman and Rep. Schiff in a joint statement. “Unfortunately, USDA has refused to act for nearly two decades, endangering humans and orcas alike. It’s unacceptable that our regulations protecting orcas and other marine mammals have not been updated to reflect the latest science. It is past time for USDA to address this issue.”

Ag Working on Revised Standards for Marine Mammals in Captivity

The U.S. Department of Agriculture  (“Ag”) regulates the humane handling, care, treatment, and transportation of certain marine mammals under the Animal Welfare Act. The present standards for these animals have been in effect since 1979 and amended in 1984.  Ag is conducting a rulemaking that addresses marine mammal standards on which consensus was not reached during negotiated rulemaking conducted between September 1995 and July 1966.  These proposed rulers are intended to ensure that the minimum standards for the humane handling, care, treatment, and transportation of marine mammals in captivity are based on current general, industry, and scientific knowledge and experience.  Click here to access OMB’s website for these proposed rules.