NMFS Publishes Final Rules Amending Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has published final rules amend regulations implementing the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan. This action will change the minimum number of traps per trawl to allow fishing with a single trap in certain Massachusetts and Rhode Island state waters; and modifies the requirement to use one endline on trawls within certain areas in Massachusetts state waters. Also, this rule creates a 1⁄4 mile buffer in waters surrounding certain islands in Maine to allow fishing with a single trap. In addition, this rule includes additional gear marking requirements for those waters allowing single traps as well as two new high use areas for humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) and North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis).

National Academy of Sciences Reviewing Cumulative Effects of Anthropogenic Stressors on Marine Mammals

The Ocean Studies Board, of The U.S. National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council, is performing an Assessment of the Cumulative Effects of Anthropogenic Stressors on Marine Mammals. The assessment committee will conduct a workshop and review the present scientific understanding of cumulative effects of anthropogenic stressors on marine mammals with a focus on anthropogenic sound. The committee will assess current methodologies used for evaluating cumulative effects and identify new approaches that could improve these assessments. The committee will examine theoretical and field methods used to assess the effect of anthropogenic stressors for:

Marine Mammal Commission’s Annual Report

The U.S. Marine Mammal Commission has published its Annual Report for 2014. Listed below are a few highlights of this Report:

  • Offshore Energy: In response to a request by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for comments on planned oil and gas lease sales off Alaska, we mapped and provided recommendations on environmentally sensitive areas in the Arctic and in Cook Inlet aimed at minimizing the impacts of offshore energy exploration and development on marine mammal populations and subsistence communities that depend on them.

NOAA Responds to Comments and Publishes RESTORE Act Science Plan

The National Ocean Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced the availability of response to comments and release of the final science plan for the NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program. The final science plan for the NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program will be available here.

Section 1604 of the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012, establishes the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Science, Observation, Monitoring, and Technology Program to be administered by NOAA and to carry out research, observation, and monitoring to support the long-term sustainability of the ecosystem, fish stocks, fish habitat, and the recreational, commercial, and charter fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexico. The Final Science Plan for the NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program lays out the path forward for the program.