For decades, the U.S. government has fostered practices to estimate and reduce marine mammal bycatch in U.S. fisheries. Now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) Import Provisions, a new rule requiring nations that export fish and fish products to the U.S. to adhere to bycatch standards comparable to those of the U.S. Many of the affected nations may not have sufficient data or the internal monitoring and regulatory capacity to track, evaluate, and reduce marine mammal mortality.
Recognizing this, the Lenfest Ocean Program has charged a team of scientists led by Dr. André Punt of the University of Washington (UW) and as part of the UW’s Ocean Modeling Forum with developing scientific tools to evaluate data sets and methods for determining bycatch rates for marine mammal populations. The expert working group will also produce user-friendly software that nations can tailor to their needs and evaluate potential management strategies.