Marine Mammal Research

  • Independent advisory team for marine mammal assessments – Phase IV

Lead PI: Paula Moreno (USM). Industry liaison: Greg DiDomenico & Mike Simpkins. The Marine Mammal Protection Act sets two goals for recovery of marine mammal stocks that are related to incidental mortality (M/SI) in fisheries: 1) reducing M/SI below the Potential Biological Removal (PBR) level within six months after implementation of a take reduction plan (TRP) and 2) reducing M/SI to insignificant levels within five years of the implementation of the TRP. M/SI rates are used to classify fisheries into categories: frequent, occasional, and remote. The ability to classify fisheries depends on the quality of the observer program and of setting PBR accurately. The analyses that developed the PBR formula did not consider the implications to the stock of classifying fisheries and imposing the above-mentioned goals. As a result, the risk to the stock under the current management system has not been fully evaluated. The existing MSE will be extended by including multiple fisheries, each with a different M/SI rate and a different level of observer coverage. The processes of assessing whether a stock is strategic, selecting which fisheries to focus conservation efforts on, and the consequences of those efforts in terms of reductions in M/SI will be included in the MSE. The outcomes of the MSE will be compared among schemes for allocating observer effort and classifying fisheries. The PBR (Potential Biological Removal) Tier System project developed by the SCeMFiS marine mammal team and funded by the Western Pacific Management Council involved a management strategy evaluation (MSE) of alternative approaches for calculating PBR.