NMFS Publishes 12-Month Finding on Revising Critical Habitat Designation for Southern Resident Killer Whale

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has published its 12-month finding on a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity to revise the critical habitat designation for the Southern Resident killer whale (Orcinus orca) Distinct Population Segment under the Endangered Species Act. In November 2006 NMFS issued a final rule designating approximately 2,560 square miles (6,630 square km) of inland waters of Washington State as critical habitat for the Southern Resident killer whale DPS. CBD’s January 2014 petition requests that NMFS revise this critical habitat to include Pacific Ocean marine waters along the West Coast of the United States that constitute essential foraging and wintering areas for Southern Resident killer whales. Additionally, the petition requests that NMFS adopt as a primary constituent element for both currently designated critical habitat and the proposed revised critical habitat, protective in-water sound levels. NMFS has reviewed the public comments and best available information on Southern Resident killer whale habitat use. NMFS’ 12-month determination describes how the Service intends to proceed with the requested revision.

WCA Workshops

The World Cetacean Alliance (WCA) Workshops will be held on Monday 16 March – Tuesday 17 March 2015, in Brighton, UK, (immediately following WhaleFest 2015).

“The WCA Workshops: Four Global Programs to Protect Cetaceans”, will see cetacean experts and advocates from across the world gather to discuss and plan strategies for protecting whales, dolphins and porpoises through the WCA Partnership. Implementation of these Global Programs will be the top priority for the World Cetacean Alliance during 2015/16 and beyond.

NMFS Makes Captive Killer Whales Subject to ESA Listings

On January 25, 2013, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service received a petition submitted by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Foundation to remove the exclusion of captive animals from the endangered species listing of Southern Resident killer whale DPS, as well as, recognize the captive killer whale (Orcinus orca) ‘‘Lolita’’ as a protected member of the endangered Southern Resident killer whale Distinct Population Segment (DPS).

NMFS has completed a status review and published a proposed rule. NMFS has now amended the regulatory language of the Endangered Species Act listing of the DPS by removing the exclusion for captive members of the population.

Study Indicates No Harm to Danish Harbor Porpoise Populations from Ship and Wind Turbine Noise

Jacob Nabe-Nielsen, et al. recently published Effects of noise and by-catch on a Danish harbour porpoise population, doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2013.09.025 .This study includes the following :