Marine Mammal Bycatch Working Group

Bycatch in marine fisheries is the leading source of human-caused mortality for marine mammals. Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), U.S. fisheries have been working for decades to reduce bycatch. To help stem further declines, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2016 issued the MMPA Import Provisions, which requires nations that export fish and fish products to the U.S. to adhere to bycatch standards comparable to those in the U.S. By January 2023, nations must apply for and receive a “comparability finding” for each of its fisheries to continue export activities. Many affected nations may not have sufficient data or the internal monitoring and regulatory capacity to track, evaluate, and reduce marine mammal mortality.

The Lenfest Ocean Program charged the Ocean Modeling Forum to convene an international team of experts to evaluate data sets and methods for determining bycatch rates for marine mammal populations. Under the leadership of co-chairs Dr. André Punt, University of Washington, Dr. Tessa Francis, University of Washington, and Dr. Rob Williams, Oceans Initiative, the Marine Mammal Bycatch Working Group produced a suite of products and tools that synthesize best practices for how to assess and manage marine mammal bycatch.

Working Group Members

  • André Punt, Co-Chair, University of Washington
  • Tessa Francis, Co-Chair, University of Washington Tacoma
  • Rob Williams, Co-Chair, Oceans Initiative
  • Philip Hammond, University of St. Andrews
  • Dennis Heinemann, Marine Mammal Commission
  • Kristy Long, NOAA Office of Protected Resources
  • Jeffrey Moore, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center
  • Randall Reeves, Okapi Wildlife Associates
  • Maritza Sepúlveda, Universidad de Valparaíso
  • Gudjon Mar Sigurdsson, Marine and Freshwater Research Institute
  • Margaret Siple, NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
  • Gisli Vikingsson, Marine and Freshwater Research Institute
  • Paul Wade, NOAA National Marine Mammal Laboratory
  • Alex Zerbini, NOAA National Marine Mammal Laboratory

Recent Work

Additional Links