Injury determinations for humpback whales and other cetaceans reported to the Pacific Islands Region Marine Mammal Response Network during 2007-2011
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Injury determinations for humpback whales and other cetaceans reported to the Pacific Islands Region Marine Mammal Response Network during 2007-2011

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    "The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) requires the National Marine Fishery Service (NMFS) to prepare Stock Assessment Reports (SAR) for marine mammal stocks occurring in U.S. waters. Along with information on stock abundance and status, the SAR should include an estimate of the annual human- caused mortality and serious injury by source. The definition of a serious injury, as used by NMFS, is any injury that is more likely than not to result in mortality (NMFS Policy Directive PD 02-238). The process for distinguishing serious from non-serious injuries pursuant to the MMPA was recently revised (77 Federal Register 3233 (23 January 2012), NMFS 2012). Estimates of human-caused mortality and serious injury (M&SI) are compiled and averaged over five-year periods for inclusion in the SAR. The current SAR year (2013) requires estimates of M&SI from 2007 to 2011. Previously, determinations of injury severity (i.e., serious or non-serious) for injured cetaceans in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone of the Hawaiian Islands (Hawaiian EEZ) have only been made for cetaceans observed interacting with the Hawaii pelagic longline fishery (e.g., Forney 2010). However, reports of injured and dead cetaceans are received each year by the Pacific Islands Region Marine Mammal Response Network (PIR-MMRN), which is coordinated by the Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO), and the Hawaiian Islands Entanglement Response Network (HIERN), which is coordinated by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and works closely with and is a part of the larger PIR-MMRN. Most of the injury reports involve humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) that are entangled in fishing or other gear or have been struck by a vessel, but occasionally reports of other species are received. While response efforts are mobilized as appropriate for reported cetaceans, injury determinations have not been made or accounted for in estimates of M&SI for the affected stocks. To address this gap, the present report provides a summary of injury determinations for cetaceans in and around the Hawaiian EEZ reported injured by human-causes to the PIR-MMRN and HIERN during 2007-2011. As these reports are opportunistic and not a part of a quantifiable and directed sampling scheme, resulting determinations of serious injury cannot be used to estimate undocumented M&SI of the same type. However, these serious injury determinations can serve as minimum estimates of M&SI by source and should be included in the relevant SAR. Most cetacean species that occur in the Hawaiian EEZ are recognized as Hawaiian stocks, with differentiation as pelagic and island-associated stocks for some species. However, humpback whales that overwinter in the Hawaiian EEZ are part of the central North Pacific stock. Whereas Hawaiian stocks of cetaceans are researched and managed by the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) and PIRO, respectively, the central North Pacific stock of humpback whales is under the purview of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) and the Alaska Regional Office. Therefore, in terms of SAR preparation, the determinations contained herein are directed at AFSC for humpback whales and at PIFSC for all other cetaceans"--Introduction.
  • Content Notes:
    Amanda L. Bradford and Ed Lyman.

    "Issued 2 April 2013."

    System requirements: Adobe Acrobat Reader.

    Includes bibliographical references (page 3).

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