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Soundings Archive

OMB's Reviewing Proposed Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Plan Regulations
As of December 22, 2009, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of the United States Office of Management and Budget is reviewing proposed regulations to reduce the number of harbor porpoises taken in sink gillnet fisheries in the Gulf of Maine and Mid-Atlantic. These rules were proposed by the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service on July 21, 2009, available online at

OMB/OIRA is reviewing these proposed rules under Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Review and Planning. The currently effective text of this Order is available online at The harbor porpoise rules are being reviewed under the Order because, while they may not be economically significant, OMB/OIRA determined that they are significant for other reasons: e.g., they may seriously impact commercial fisherman in the Gulf of Maine and Mid-Atlantic.

NMFS states that it is proposing these new rules because the existing rules aren't sufficiently protective:

    "The Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Plan of 1999 implemented measures to reduce the incidental capture of harbor porpoises in sink gillnets to below the stock's Potential Biological Removal level (PBR). Measures included: management areas in which deterrent devices (pingers) are required on gillnets; gear modifications; and seasonal closures. Between 2001 and 2005, incidental takes of harbor porpoise showed an increasing trend, and currently takes exceed PBR. The proposed rule will implement measures developed through discussions with the Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Team, which was reconvened in 2007 when it was clear that existing measures were not sufficient to keep porpoise bycatch to below PBR."
  • Click here to read OMB/OIRA discussion of its Harbor Porpoise review under E.O. 12866

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