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Marine Mammal Take Reduction Teams

 


TRT Fact Sheet
TRT Fact Sheet
[pdf]

  Harbor Porpoise
Harbor Porpoise
(Phocoena phocoena)
Photo: NOAA


Teams

The Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team was established to develop a plan to reduce the incidental serious injury and mortality of right, humpback, fin, and minke whales in the South Atlantic shark gillnet fishery, the Gulf of Maine and Mid-Atlantic lobster trap/pot fishery, the Mid-Atlantic gillnet fishery, and the Gulf of Maine sink gillnet fishery. The team submitted a report to NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on February 1, 1997; however, the Team did not reach consensus on all aspects of the plan. NMFS developed a final Take Reduction Plan (Plan) and implementing regulations after considerable public input. An interim final rule was published in July 1997 and a final rule [pdf] [949 KB] was published February 16, 1999 (64 FR 7529), with an April 1, 1999, effective date. Since the initial Plan was implemented, NMFS has made numerous changes to the plan. NMFS held public scoping meetings in the summer of 2011 for developing a vertical line rule under the Plan (76 FR 34654). In July 2013, NMFS proposed to amend the regulations implementing the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan to revise the management measures for reducing the incidental mortality and serious injury to the North Atlantic right whale, humpback whale, and fin whale in commercial trap/ pot and gillnet fisheries, as well as minke whale. More information about the Atlantic Large Whale Team is available from our Northeast Regional Office website.

The Atlantic Offshore Cetacean Take Reduction Team was convened in May 1996 [pdf] to reduce the incidental serious injury and mortality of right whales, humpback whales, sperm whales, beaked whales, pilot whales, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, and spotted dolphins in the Atlantic pelagic driftnet, pelagic longline and pair trawl fisheries. The Team reached consensus on several strategies to reduce serious injuries and mortalities in each fishery and prepared a proposed Plan [pdf] [6.5 MB] in November 1996. Each of the three fisheries in the plan has had a major change since the team was originally convened. Two of the three fisheries covered by the draft Take Reduction Plan (Plan) no longer exist. The pair trawl fishery, which was inactive when the Team was convened, was included in the Plan so that conservation measures would be in place if the fishery was reauthorized. The pelagic driftnet fishery for swordfish was closed by a final rule [pdf] published on January 27, 1999 (64 FR 4055). Also, on May 28, 1999, a Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan [pdf] (64 FR 29089) prohibited the use of driftnet gear for targeting tuna in pelagic waters. Subsequently, the longline fishery has been substantially modified to reduce bycatch of other species (e.g., billfish and sea turtles). Since the nature of the fisheries that were included in the Plan has changed tremendously since 1996 when the Team was convened, NMFS disbanded the Team in August 2001.

The Atlantic Trawl Gear Take Reduction Team was established by NMFS to address incidental mortality and serious injury of long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas), short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus), common dolphins (Delphinus delphis), and white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus) in the Northeast bottom trawl, Northeast mid-water trawl (including pair trawl), mid-Atlantic mid-water trawl (including pair trawl), and mid-Atlantic bottom trawl fisheries. Under section 118 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the Team is charged with developing a Plan to reduce bycatch of these species to a level approaching a zero mortality and serious injury rate within 5 years of implementation of the plan. (For more information, please see the Federal Register notice announcing the Team [pdf]). More information about the Atlantic Trawl Gear Team is available on our Northeast Regional Office website.

The Bottlenose Dolphin Take Reduction Team was formed to reduce serious injuries and deaths of coastal bottlenose dolphins incidental to several east coast fisheries including: the North Carolina inshore gillnet, Southeast Atlantic gillnet, Southeastern U.S. shark gillnet, U.S. Mid-Atlantic coastal gillnet, Atlantic blue crab trap/pot, Mid-Atlantic haul/beach seine, North Carolina long haul seine, North Carolina roe mullet stop net, and Virginia pound net. In May 2002, the Team submitted a report to NMFS with consensus regulatory and non-regulatory recommendations based on management units of the coastal bottlenose dolphin stock. Throughout 2002, NMFS conducted additional field studies to gather data on bottlenose dolphin abundance, following the recommendation of the Team, the agency chose to await the results of those studies before finalizing the Plan. The Team met in April 2003 to consider the new abundance estimates, new PBR levels for each management unit, and refine their management recommendations. They submitted a second consensus report to NMFS in May 2003. NMFS published a proposed Plan [pdf] on November 10, 2004 (69 FR 65127). The final Plan [pdf] published on April 26, 2006 (71 FR 24776). The Team met again in June 2007 to discuss amendments to the plan. The team recommended amending the Plan to extend the seasonal night fishing restrictions for medium mesh gillnets in two management areas within North Carolina state waters. NMFS published a proposed rule to amend the Plan [pdf] on August 22, 2008 (73 FR 49634) and a final rule on December 19, 2008 (73 FR 77531). More information about the Bottlenose Dolphin Team is available on our website.

The False Killer Whale Take Reduction Team was established to address the incidental mortality and serious injury of the Hawaii Pelagic, Hawaii Insular, and Palmyra Atoll stocks of false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) in the Hawaii-based deep-set and shallow-set longline fisheries. NMFS charged the Team with developing a plan to reduce incidental mortality and serious injury of these stocks in the Hawaii-based longline fisheries to a level less than the "Potential Biological Removal (PBR)" level for each stock within 6 months of implementation of the plan and to a level approaching a zero mortality and serious injury rate within 5 years of implementation of the plan. The Team developed a draft Plan, as required in the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). NMFS published a proposed rule to implement the plan on July 18, 2011 (76 FR 42082) and a final rule on November 30, 2012 (77 FR 71260), effective December 31, 2012 (except gear requirements, which are effective February 27, 2013). More information about the False Killer Whale Team is available on our website.

The Gulf of Maine Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Team was formed to reduce the incidental serious injury and mortality of harbor porpoise in the Gulf of Maine groundfish sink gillnet fishery. The Team's draft plan, submitted to NMFS in August 1996, included closures that expand on those outlined in Amendment 7 of the Multispecies Fishery Management Plan and the use of acoustic deterrent devices (pingers) to further reduce harbor porpoise bycatch. NMFS published the proposed Plan and implementing regulations [pdf] on August 13, 1997 (62 FR 43302); the public comment period was extended to January 14, 1998 to allow the team to reconvene before publishing a final rule. The Team reconvened in December of 1997 and expressed concerns about the ability of the proposed Plan to sufficiently reduce bycatch. A revised proposed Plan [pdf] [648 KB] was published on September 11, 1998 (63 FR 48670) (along with a draft Plan for reducing harbor bycatch in the mid-Atlantic, see below). The final Plan and implementing regulations [pdf] were published December 2, 1998 (63 FR 66464) and became effective January 1, 1999. The final Plan relies primarily upon time-area closures and pingers to reduce serious injury and mortality of harbor porpoise below PBR. In July 2009, NMFS proposed to amend the regulations implementing the Plan (74 FR 36058). On February 19, 2010, NMFS published a final rule [pdf] amending the regulations implementing the Plan (75 FR 7383), effective March 22, 2010*, to address the increased incidental mortality and serious injury of the Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy stock of harbor porpoises in gillnet fisheries throughout the stock's U.S. range. *On March 17, 2010, NMFS announced it will delay implementation [pdf] (75 FR 12698) of new seasonal pinger requirements within the Stellwagen Bank and Southern New England Management Areas from March 22, 2010, to September 15, 2010. More information about the Harbor Porpoise Team is available on our Northeast Regional Office website.

The Mid-Atlantic Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Team was formed to reduce incidental serious injury and mortality of harbor porpoise in ocean gillnet fisheries of the Mid-Atlantic. Although the Team did not reach consensus at their final meeting, they did agree on several key elements, including gear modifications and net caps for the monkfish and dogfish fisheries, short-term closures for the monkfish fishery, and research recommendations for bottlenose dolphins. The Team submitted their report to NMFS in August 1997. NMFS published a proposed rule to implement the plan [pdf] [648 KB] on September 11, 1998 (63 FR 48670) and a final rule [pdf] on December 2, 1998 (63 FR 66464), which was effective January 1, 1999. The plan for the mid-Atlantic [pdf] was published in conjunction with the revised final rule for the Gulf of Maine Harbor Porpoise Plan on December 2, 1998 (63 FR 66464). In July 2009, NMFS proposed to amend the regulations implementing the Plan [pdf] (74 FR 36058). On February 19, 2010, NMFS published a final rule [pdf] amending the regulations implementing the Plan (75 FR 7383), effective March 22, 2010*, to address the increased incidental mortality and serious injury of the Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy stock of harbor porpoises in gillnet fisheries throughout the stock's U.S. range. *On March 17, 2010, NMFS announced it will delay implementation [pdf] (75 FR 12698) of new seasonal pinger requirements within the Stellwagen Bank and Southern New England Management Areas from March 22, 2010, to September 15, 2010. More information about the Harbor Porpoise Team is available on our Northeast Regional Office website.

The Mid-Atlantic Take Reduction Team was originally convened to develop a take reduction plan for harbor porpoises and coastal bottlenose dolphins. However, a plan to reduce fisheries interactions with harbor porpoise was given the highest priority because this stock was considered particularly vulnerable. Also, additional data needed to be collected and analyzed with respect to bottlenose dolphins. Therefore, the Mid-Atlantic Team became the Mid-Atlantic Harbor Porpoise Team. Since that time, NMFS has dedicated significant funding time to research Atlantic bottlenose dolphin stocks. Since 1995, NMFS has worked to develop better abundance estimates, identify and distinguish different stocks, and monitor interactions with commercial fisheries, including at-sea observer programs and stranding response efforts.

The Pacific Offshore Cetacean Take Reduction Team prepared a draft Plan in August 1996 to address incidental serious injury and mortality of beaked, pilot, pygmy sperm, sperm, and humpback whales in the California/Oregon swordfish drift gillnet fishery. The draft Plan required that the top of the nets be set at a minimum depth of 36 feet below the water surface, using pingers on all nets, the states of California and Oregon to reduce the number of "inactive" permittees, and vessel operators be required to attend educational workshops on marine mammals and the Plan. NMFS finalized the Plan [pdf] on October 3, 1997 (62 FR 51805). In June 1998, the Team determined that data regarding marine mammal bycatch in the 1997/1998 fishing season suggested the fishery had achieved its 6-month goal of reducing bycatch to below PBR. An interim final rule [pdf] was published on January 22, 1999 (64 FR 3431) modifying specifications for deploying pingers that allow for safer deployment (i.e., longer attachment lanyards.) More information about the Pacific Offshore Cetacean Team is available on our website.

The Pelagic Longline Take Reduction Team was established by NMFS to address the incidental mortality and serious injury of long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) and short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) in the mid-Atlantic region of the Atlantic pelagic longline fishery. Under section 118 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the Team is charged with developing a take reduction plan (Plan) to reduce bycatch of pilot whales in the Atlantic pelagic longline fishery to a level approaching a zero mortality and serious injury rate within 5 years of implementation of the plan. NMFS published a proposed rule to implement the plan on June 24, 2008 (73 FR 35623) and a final rule on May 19, 2009 (74 FR 23349), effective June 18, 2009. More information about the Pelagic Longline Team is available on our website.

More Info

Updated: April 17, 2014

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