Harbor Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)
Did You Know?
· Their name is derived from the Latin word for pig (porcus) and are sometimes called "puffing pigs."
|Weight:||135-170 pounds (61-77 kg)|
|Length:||5-5.5 feet (1.5-1.7 m)|
|Appearance:||dark gray with white underside|
|Lifespan:||about 24 years|
|Diet:||herring, capelin, and cephalopods|
|Behavior:||non-social animals usually seen in groups of 2 to 5 animals;
when surfacing for air, they do not splash, but roll from beak to fluke and arch their backs
Harbor porpoises have a small, robust body with a short, blunt beak. Females are slightly larger than males.
They have a medium-sized triangular dorsal fin. Their back is dark gray while their belly and throat are white. They have a dark gray chin patch and also intermediate shades of gray along their sides.
Females reach sexual maturity at 3-4 years and may give birth every year for several years in a row. Gestation lasts for 10-11 months and lactation lasts for 8 to 12 months.
They feed on demersal and benthic species, mainly schooling fish and cephalopods.
Harbor Porpoise Range Map
(click for larger view PDF)
Harbor porpoises have a discontinuous distribution. In the North Atlantic, they range from West Greenland to Cape Hatteras, NC (but do not enter Hudson Bay), and from the Barents Sea to West Africa. In the North Pacific, they are found from Japan (34°N) north to the Chukchi Sea and from Monterey Bay, CA to the Beaufort Sea.
NMFS Stock Assessment Reports (SARs) include estimated population sizes for U.S. stocks.
- "bycatch" in fishing gear, specifically in gillnets and trawls as well as herring weirs (in Canada)
In 1996, NMFS convened two "take" reduction teams (TRT) to mitigate bycatch of harbor porpoises in gillnet fisheries: the Gulf of Maine Harbor Porpoise TRT and the Mid-Atlantic TRT. The Gulf of Maine TRT addresses gillnet fisheries in waters from Maine through Rhode Island and the Mid-Atlantic TRT addresses waters from the Connecticut/ New York border through the North Carolina/ South Carolina border. The teams submitted draft take reduction plans to NMFS, and we finalized the plans in 1998.
The Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Plan (HPTRP) requires commercial fishermen to use pingers in gillnets in designated times and areas. There are also times and areas where gillnet fishing activities are prohibited. The HPTRT continues to meet to monitor the progress of the take reduction plans in achieving the MMPA long-term goal of reducing harbor porpoise bycatch to a zero mortality and serious injury rate.
In July 2009, NMFS proposed to amend the regulations implementing the HPTRP [pdf] (74 FR 36058) 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. The rule was finalized in February 2010 (75 FR 7383).
|Final Rule to Implement Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Plan (HPTRP) Modifications
||75 FR 7383
75 FR 12698
|Proposed Changes to the Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Plan||74 FR 36058||07/21/2009|
|Status Review: Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy stock||66 FR 53195||10/19/2001|
|Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Plan||63 FR 66464||12/02/1998|
|Stock Assessment Reports||n/a||various|
- NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center Harbor Porpoise Information
- NMFS Alaska Fisheries Science Center Harbor Porpoise Information
- NMFS Take Reduction Planning
- Marine Mammal Commission Harbor Porpoise Information
- Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS-SEAMAP) Harbor Porpoise Species Profile
Updated: May 2, 2013