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Marine Mammal Stranding Regulations Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
NMFS is considering proposing changes to its implementing regulations governing the taking of stranded marine mammals under section 109(h), section 112(c), and Title IV of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). NMFS published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) in the Federal Register(73 FR 5786; January 31, 2008) and are soliciting public review and comments to better inform the regulatory process. The comment period on the ANPR was extended (73 FR 16617, March 28, 2008) until April 30, 2008.
- Stranding Regulations ANPR [pdf] (73 FR 5786; January 31, 2008)
- Comment Period Extended [pdf] (73 FR 16617, March 28, 2008)
- MMPA Regulations: 50 CFR 216 [pdf]
A final rule was published (39 FR 1852, January 15, 1974, as amended at 56 FR 41307, August 20, 1991) establishing requirements for the taking of stranded marine mammals by State or local government officials in the course of their official duties. This includes the taking of live marine mammals, salvaging marine mammal specimens from dead animals, and transferring marine mammal specimens within and outside of the U.S. A final rule was published (61 FR 21933, May 10, 1996) establishing release requirements for rehabilitated marine mammals and procedures for the disposition of non-releasable rehabilitated marine mammals.
This ANPR solicits general input from the public on how NMFS could streamline, clarify, or change the requirements and procedures for responding to stranded marine mammal and for determining the disposition of marine mammals, which includes procedures for the placement of non-releasable animals and for authorizing the retention of releasable rehabilitated marine mammals for scientific research, enhancement, or public display. NMFS will also consider recommendations regarding changes to 50 CFR 216.22 and 216.27 prior to proposed rulemaking. These regulations are available at the links above and should be read in conjunction with the ANPR.
Specific recommended changes to the regulations include the following:
- Publishing the minimum requirements for stranding responders, as defined in the draft Policies and Best Practices for Marine Mammal Stranding Response, Rehabilitation, and Release (Policies and Best Practices)
- Changing the reporting requirements for government officials and employees to be the same as the reporting requirements for stranding network participants designated under MMPA section 112(c).
- Publishing regulatory requirements and/or standards for releasing rehabilitated marine mammals to the wild based on the draft Policies and Best Practices.
- Adding provisions for the placement of non-releasable marine mammals, including methods for making disposition decisions and informing facilities of the availability of non-releasable animals.
- Providing guidelines or regulations on public access to marine mammals undergoing rehabilitation.
The comment period closed on April 30, 2008.