Marine Mammal Take Reduction Program
The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) section 118 specifies that NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) develop and implement take reduction plans (Plans) to assist in the recovery or prevent the depletion of strategic marine mammal stocks that interact with Category I and II fisheries.
A strategic stock is one which:
- is listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA),
- is declining and likely to be listed as threatened under the ESA,
- is listed as depleted under the MMPA, or
- has direct human-caused mortality which exceeds the stock's "Potential Biological Removal (PBR) level".
The immediate goal of take reduction plans is to reduce, within six months of its implementation, the incidental serious injury or mortality of marine mammals from commercial fishing to levels less than PBR.
The long-term goal is to reduce, within five years of its implementation, the incidental serious injury and mortality of marine mammals from commercial fishing operations to insignificant levels approaching a zero serious injury and mortality rate, taking into account the economics of the fishery, the availability of existing technology, and existing state or regional fishery management plans.
NMFS convenes take reduction teams (Teams) to develop such plans. Take reduction teams consist of a balance of representatives from the fishing industry, fishery management councils, state and Federal resource management agencies, the scientific community, and conservation organizations.
Once NMFS publishes a Federal Register notice to establish and convene a Team, the team has 6 months to develop a draft Plan. The MMPA states that a Plan must be developed by consensus and then submitted to NMFS. NMFS has 60 days to publish a draft Plan, including any proposed changes to the plan. The public then has an opportunity to review the plan and provide comments on the draft Plan and the proposed regulations for implementing the Plan. If a Team cannot reach consensus on a draft plan, the Team can document the range of possibilities considered and both majority and minority views. If a Team does not submit a draft Plan, NMFS has 8 months from the date the Team was formed to develop a proposed plan and implementing regulations. NMFS may use the Team's deliberations as the basis for a proposed plan. After the close of the comment period on a proposed Plan and implementing regulations, NMFS has 60 days to publish a final Plan and regulations to implement that Plan. After each Plan is finalized, the Team and NMFS meet periodically to monitor implementation of the plan.
- A review of the final stock assessment report for each marine mammal addressed by the Plan and any substantial new information;
- An estimate of the total number and, if possible, age and gender, of animals from the stock that is incidentally killed or seriously injured each year during the course of commercial fishing operations, by fishery;
- Recommended regulatory or voluntary measures for the reduction of incidental mortality and serious injury; and
- Recommended dates for achieving the specific objectives of the plan.
NMFS Office of Protected Resources
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
- GAO Report on Take Reduction Planning - Improvements Are Needed in the Federal Process Used to Protect Marine Mammals from Commercial Fishing [pdf] (December 2008)
- Development of a Process for the Long-term Monitoring of MMPA Category I and II Commercial Fisheries [pdf] [7.2 MB]
- Take Reduction Team Negotiation Process Evaluation [pdf] [4.9 MB]
- Serious Injury Technical Workshop (2007)
- Serious Injury Workshop Report (1997): Differentiating Serious and Non-Serious Injury of Marine Mammals Taken Incidental to Commercial Fishing Operations [pdf]
Updated: December 16, 2011