In July 2011, CONCUR facilitated a meeting of the NMFS False Killer Whale Take Reduction Team (Team) to review a proposed rule intended to reduce false killer whale bycatch in the Hawaii-based longline fleet.
The three-day meeting, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, was focused primarily on briefing and seeking feedback from Team members on the proposed rule – a mix of regulatory and non-regulatory measures based heavily on the consensus-supported draft False Killer Whale Take Reduction Plan hammered out by the Team during a series of CONCUR-facilitated deliberations in 2010. There were, however, several deviations from the draft Plan in the Proposed Rule put forward by NMFS. The meeting marked the start of a three-month-long public comment period.
The proposed rule is intended to meet the requirements of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) through a series of actions. Proposed regulatory measures include gear requirements, longline prohibited areas, training and certification in marine mammal handling and release, captains’ supervision of marine mammal handling and release, and posting of NMFS-approved placards on longline vessels. Included in the rule is a paired set of “triggers and consequences” to build in accountability and adaptive management as the rule is implemented. NMFS is also proposing non-regulatory measures, including research and data collection recommendations.
The 19-member negotiating team includes commercial fishing interests, local and national conservation organizations, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, researchers, biologists, and staff of the Pacific Islands Fishery Management Council and the Marine Mammal Commission.
The proposed rule (the proposed False Killer Whale Take Reduction Plan), the recommendations submitted by the False Killer Whale Take Reduction Team (the Draft False Killer Whale Take Reduction Plan), references, and other background documents are available at www.regulations.gov, or the Take Reduction Team Web site: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/interactions/trt/falsekillerwhale.htm
CONCUR will be convening a series of workgroups in the coming months to continue fleshing out measures to implement the proposed rule.