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Human Impacts

NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Office of Protected Resources cooperates with partners to conserve and recover protected marine species by minimizing human impacts. Below are some examples.

Fisheries Interactions (Bycatch)

The Office of Protected Resources' Fisheries Interactions program works to implement section 118 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and regulations governing the incidental capture of marine mammals in commercial fisheries. The Office works with NMFS' regional offices through take reduction planning to reduce marine mammal bycatch in commercial fisheries. Additionally, the Office works to reduce bycatch of marine turtles by implementing management measures such as time/area closures, modifications to fishing gear and practices, and safe sea turtle handling practices.

Ocean Sound/ Acoustics

Intense underwater sound can harass or harm marine mammals. Human sources of sound include military activities, vessel operations, petrochemical and geophysical exploration, marine construction, and research activities. NMFS experts review proposed underwater activities and develop solutions to minimize the potential impacts to marine mammals.

Ship Strikes

Many species of marine mammals are injured by ship strikes. The problem is greatest for the critically endangered Northern right whale, one of the most commonly struck species. The Office of Protected Resources, in cooperation with the U.S. Coast Guard, works to minimize ship strikes by relaying information about recent whale locations to mariners. In addition, large ships are required to report when they enter areas with a high risk of a ship strike.

Viewing Wildlife

Viewing marine animals can be educational and enriching when conducted responsibly. However, without certain precautions, these activities can put both the animals and the viewers at risk. The Office of Protected Resources promotes responsible wildlife viewing through posters, pamphlets, and workshops.

Safely Deterring Marine Mammals

Human-marine mammal interactions are usually considered from the perspective of the impact of human activity on marine mammal populations or individuals. However, marine mammals may have an effect on human activities or property. As a result of such conflict, Congress included a provision for deterring marine mammals in MMPA section 101 to allow certain people to use safe, non-lethal methods to deter marine mammals to protect private or public property. NMFS, in collaboration with other Federal and state officials, has prepared information for deterring marine mammals, which is available on page at NMFS' Northwest Regional Office and NMFS' Southwest Regional Office.

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