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Marine Mammal Authorization Program (MMAP)

The Marine Mammal Authorization Program (MMAP) allows commercial fishers to lawfully "incidentally take" a marine mammal in a commercial fishery.

Do I need an authorization?

If you own a commercial vessel or non-vessel gear engaging in a Category I or II fishery, you must obtain a marine mammal authorization from NOAA Fisheries, or our designated agent, in order to lawfully incidentally take a marine mammal in a commercial fishery.

How do I know if I am in a category I or II fishery?

We publish, and annually review and revise, our list of Category I, II, and III fisheries, which you can find on our website and in the Federal Register. Consequently, the requirement to register with NOAA Fisheries may change from one year to the next.

All commercial fisheries, as required under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), must be categorized based on the relative frequency of incidental mortalities and serious injuries of marine mammals in the fishery:

How do I obtain a marine mammal authorization?

If you have a state and/or Federal fishery license:

If you do not have a state or Federal fishery license:

How do I report a mortality/injury of a marine mammal incurred during the course of fishing operations?

Send MMAP mortality/ injury reporting form [pdf] to NOAA Fisheries by mail or fax (301-713-0376) within 48 hours of the end of a fishing trip in which the mortality or serious injury occurred, or, for non-vessel fisheries, within 48 hours of the occurrence. Forms are postage-paid and are available at major ports and marinas. We also supply them to all Category I and II vessel owners. You must, regardless of your category of fishery, report all incidental mortalities and injuries of marine mammals that have occurred as a result of commercial fishing operations.

If you do not report within 48 hours, you may be subject to suspension, revocation, or denial of a marine mammal authorization.

How do I know if I've injured a marine mammal?

We have defined a marine mammal injury as a wound or other physical harm. Signs of injury may include:

Can I deter marine mammals from fishing gear and catch?

While you are strictly prohibited from intentionally lethally taking marine mammals in the course of commercial fishing operations, intentional lethal take is authorized if imminently necessary in self-defense or to save the life of another person. If a marine mammal is killed in self-defense or to save the life of another person, a report must be filed with NOAA Fisheries within 48 hours of the end of the fishing trip or, for non-vessel fisheries, within 48 hours of the mortality.

Which fisheries carry observers?

NOAA Fisheries places observers on any Category I or II vessel. The observer programs help us:

Fishing industry representatives will be notified and public meetings will be held whenever possible to provide advance notification to a fishery that observers will be required. Vessels that are notified of their requirement to carry an observer must comply with regulations regarding:

You may wish to consider liability insurance to protect themselves if an accident occurs and an observer is ill, disabled, injured, or killed in the course of service.


For more information on the MMAP, or to obtain hard copies of the mortality/injury reporting form [pdf], contact the office nearest you:

HQ- Washington, DC area
NMFS Office of Protected Resources
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Alaska Region
P.O. Box 21668
709 West 9th Street
Juneau, AK 99802

Greater Atlantic Region
55 Great Republic Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930-2298

Pacific Islands Region
1845 Wasp Blvd., Building 176
Honolulu, HI 98618

Southeast Region
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

West Coast Region - CA Office
501 West Ocean Blvd. Suite 4200
Long Beach, CA 90802

West Coast Region - WA Office
7600 Sand Point Way, NE
Seattle, WA 98115

More Information

Updated: October 3, 2014