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Serious Injury Technical Workshop 2007

Workshop Home | Agenda | Terms of Reference

Meeting Objectives

  1. Review information obtained since 1997 workshop
    1. Types and frequencies of observed injuries
    2. Evidence of survival of marine mammals sustaining such injuries
  2. Discuss the use of, and needed changes to, existing guidance in making serious injury determinations
    1. Identify when information is insufficient to determine the severity of the injury
    2. Identify data needs for making serious injury determinations
    3. Review existing data sources for making serious injury determinations, and identify constraints
  3. Discuss potential implications of the workshop
collage: (clockwise from top left) killer whale, spotted seal, right whale, bottlenose dolphin

The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) section 118 requires commercial fisheries to reduce mortality and serious injury of marine mammals to insignificant levels approaching a zero mortality and serious injury rate. Thus, NMFS must distinguish between injuries that are serious and those that are not serious.

NMFS defined "serious injury" in regulations (50 CFR 229.2) as "any injury that will likely result in mortality." However, the MMPA and its legislative history do not provide guidance on how severe an injury must be to qualify as "serious."

Workshops: 1997 and 2007
NMFS convened a workshop in April 1997 to

  • promote national consistency for interpreting the regulatory definition of serious injury
  • discuss available information related to the impact of injuries to marine mammals incidental to commercial fishing operations (Angliss and DeMaster, 1998).

Since 1997, additional information has been collected on human-caused injuries to marine mammals and survival rates of certain individual and/or species of marine mammals.

For this reason, NMFS convened the Serious Injury Technical Workshop on September 10-13, 2007, with the primary objectives to:

  • review the recommendations and guidance from the 1997 workshop;
  • review new information obtained since the first workshop;
  • discuss the use of, and necessary changes to, existing guidance for distinguishing serious from non-serious injuries.

NMFS invited workshop participants based on their expertise in marine mammal serious injury issues, including managers, policy-makers, biologists, pathobiologists, and veterinarians.

Much of the 2007 workshop discussions focused on types of injuries commonly observed from encounters with vessels and fisheries (for example, blunt force trauma and hooking injuries) because these interactions have been examined to the greatest extent.

The 2007 workshop consisted of two sessions:

  1. an open session (Days 1-3) attended by over 65 federal and non-federal participants
    • to present a synthesis of new science and
    • to gather new information on injured marine mammals
    • to provide a scientific basis for recommendations by government officials in the closed session on Day 4
  2. a closed session (Day 4) attended by 36 federal participants
    • to draw on Days 1-3 presentations and discussions
    • to consider potential changes to the existing serious injury guidance and associated administrative approaches


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