Whales and Abandoned Nets

National Public Radio has published an article on the problem of marine mammals’ entanglement in abandoned fishing nets.

The article is available here.

NMFS Proposes ESA Listing for Two Dolphins

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service proposes to list the Maui’s dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori maui) as endangered and the South Island Hector’s dolphin (C. hectori hectori) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). NMFS believes the Maui’s dolphin faces serious demographic risks due to critically low abundance, a low population growth rate, a restricted range, low genetic diversity, and ongoing threats such as bycatch in commercial and recreational gillnets. NMFS believes the Maui’s dolphin is currently in danger of extinction throughout its range and, therefore, meets the definition of an endangered species. The relatively more abundant and more widely distributed South Island Hector’s dolphin has experienced large historical declines and is expected to continue to slowly decline due to bycatch and other lesser threats, such as disease and impacts associated with tourism. NMFS believes that this subspecies is not currently in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, but is likely to become so within the foreseeable future; and therefore, it meets the definition of a threatened species.

NGOs and Oil Industry Work Together to Save Western Gray Whales

The Japan Times published the following article on its website,

“HONOLULU – A decade ago, there were just 115 western gray whales left in the world, and their feeding grounds near Sakhalin Island, off the east coast of Russia and north of Japan, were being drilled for oil.

These massive whales faced a host of deadly threats, from underwater noise to collisions with ships and entanglements in fishing gear, and were listed as critically endangered in 2003.

Soon after, a deal was struck, whereby loans to Russia’s Sakhalin Energy were restricted unless the oil company paid for a panel of marine scientists to advise its offshore operations.

NMFS Changes ESA Listing for Humpback Whale

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has decided to revise the listing status of the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) under the Endangered Species Act. NMFS has decided to divide the globally listed endangered species into 14 distinct population segments, remove the current species-level listing, and in its place list four DPSs as endangered and one DPS as threatened. Based on their current statuses, the remaining nine DPSs do not warrant listing. At this time, NMFS finds that critical habitat is not determinable for the three listed DPSs that occur in U.S. waters (Western North Pacific, Mexico, Central America). NMFS will consider designating critical habitat for these three DPSs in a separate rulemaking.

NMFS Seeks Comment on 5-Year Review of Mediterranean Monk Seal ESA Listing

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has begun a 5-year review of the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) under the U.S. Endangered Species Act .  The purpose of this review is to ensure that the listing classification of the species is accurate. The 5-year review has to be based on the best scientific and commercial data available at the time of the review. Therefore, NMFS requests submission of any such information on Mediterranean monk seals that has become available since their original listing as endangered in June 1970. Any information has to be received no later than October 31, 2016. However, NMFS will continue to accept new information about any listed species at any time.