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e-CFR data is current as of July 9, 2020

Title 50Chapter IISubchapter CPart 219Subpart D → §219.35


Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries
PART 219—REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE TAKING AND IMPORTING OF MARINE MAMMALS
Subpart D—Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Northeast Fisheries Science Center Fisheries Research in the Atlantic Coast Region


§219.35   Mitigation requirements.

When conducting the activities identified in §219.31(a), the mitigation measures contained in any LOA issued under §216.106 of this chapter and §219.37 must be implemented. These mitigation measures shall include but are not limited to:

(a) General conditions:

(1) NEFSC shall take all necessary measures to coordinate and communicate in advance of each specific survey with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) or other relevant parties on non-NOAA platforms to ensure that all mitigation measures and monitoring requirements described herein, as well as the specific manner of implementation and relevant event-contingent decision-making processes, are clearly understood and agreed upon.

(2) NEFSC shall coordinate and conduct briefings at the outset of each survey and as necessary between the ship's crew (Commanding Officer/master or designee(s), contracted vessel owners, as appropriate) and scientific party or in order to explain responsibilities, communication procedures, marine mammal monitoring protocol, and operational procedures.

(3) NEFSC shall coordinate as necessary on a daily basis during survey cruises with OMAO personnel or other relevant personnel on non-NOAA platforms to ensure that requirements, procedures, and decision-making processes are understood and properly implemented.

(4) When deploying any type of sampling gear at sea, NEFSC shall at all times monitor for any unusual circumstances that may arise at a sampling site and use best professional judgment to avoid any potential risks to marine mammals during use of all research equipment.

(5) All vessels must comply with applicable and relevant take reduction plans, including any required use of acoustic deterrent devices.

(6) All vessels must comply with applicable speed restrictions.

(7) NEFSC shall implement handling and/or disentanglement protocols as specified in the guidance provided to NEFSC survey personnel.

(b) Trawl survey protocols:

(1) NEFSC shall conduct trawl operations as soon as is practicable upon arrival at the sampling station.

(2) NEFSC shall initiate marine mammal watches (visual observation) prior to sampling. Marine mammal watches shall be conducted by scanning the surrounding waters with the naked eye and binoculars (or monocular). During nighttime operations, visual observation shall be conducted using the naked eye and available vessel lighting.

(3) NEFSC shall implement the “move-on rule.” If a marine mammal is sighted around the vessel before setting the gear, NEFSC may decide to move the vessel away from the marine mammal to a different section of the sampling area if the animal appears to be at risk of interaction with the gear. If, after moving on, marine mammals are still visible from the vessel, NEFSC may decide to move again or to skip the station. NEFSC may use best professional judgment in making this decision.

(4) NEFSC shall maintain visual monitoring effort during the entire period of time that trawl gear is in the water (i.e., throughout gear deployment, fishing, and retrieval). If marine mammals are sighted before the gear is fully removed from the water, NEFSC shall take the most appropriate action to avoid marine mammal interaction. NEFSC may use best professional judgment in making this decision.

(5) If trawling operations have been suspended because of the presence of marine mammals, NEFSC may resume trawl operations when practicable only when the animals are believed to have departed the area. NEFSC may use best professional judgment in making this determination.

(6) NEFSC shall implement standard survey protocols to minimize potential for marine mammal interaction, including maximum tow durations at target depth and maximum tow distance, and shall carefully empty the trawl as quickly as possible upon retrieval. Trawl nets must be cleaned prior to deployment.

(c) Dredge survey protocols:

(1) NEFSC shall deploy dredge gear as soon as is practicable upon arrival at the sampling station.

(2) NEFSC shall initiate marine mammal watches (visual observation) prior to sampling. Marine mammal watches shall be conducted by scanning the surrounding waters with the naked eye and binoculars (or monocular). During nighttime operations, visual observation shall be conducted using the naked eye and available vessel lighting.

(3) NEFSC shall implement the “move-on rule.” If marine mammals are sighted around the vessel before setting the gear, the NEFSC may decide to move the vessel away from the marine mammal to a different section of the sampling area if the animal appears to be at risk of interaction with the gear. If, after moving on, marine mammals are still visible from the vessel, NEFSC may decide to move again or to skip the station. NEFSC may use best professional judgment in making this decision but may not elect to conduct dredge survey activity when animals remain near the vessel.

(4) NEFSC shall maintain visual monitoring effort during the entire period of time that dredge gear is in the water (i.e., throughout gear deployment, fishing, and retrieval). If marine mammals are sighted before the gear is fully removed from the water, NEFSC shall take the most appropriate action to avoid marine mammal interaction. NEFSC may use best professional judgment in making this decision.

(5) If dredging operations have been suspended because of the presence of marine mammals, NEFSC may resume operations when practicable only when the animals are believed to have departed the area. NEFSC may use best professional judgment in making this determination.

(6) NEFSC shall carefully empty the dredge gear as quickly as possible upon retrieval to determine if marine mammals are present in the gear.

(d) Bottom and pelagic longline survey protocols:

(1) NEFSC shall deploy longline gear as soon as is practicable upon arrival at the sampling station.

(2) NEFSC shall initiate marine mammal watches (visual observation) no less than thirty minutes prior to both deployment and retrieval of the longline gear. Marine mammal watches shall be conducted by scanning the surrounding waters with the naked eye and binoculars (or monocular). During nighttime operations, visual observation shall be conducted using the naked eye and available vessel lighting.

(3) NEFSC shall implement the “move-on rule.” If marine mammals are sighted near the vessel 30 minutes before setting the gear, the NEFSC may decide to move the vessel away from the marine mammal to a different section of the sampling area if the animal appears to be at risk of interaction with the gear. If, after moving on, marine mammals are still visible from the vessel, NEFSC may decide to move again or to skip the station. NEFSC may use best professional judgment in making this decision but may not elect to conduct longline survey activity when animals remain near the vessel.

(4) For the Apex Predators Bottom Longline Coastal Shark Survey, if one or more marine mammals are observed within 1 nautical mile (nmi) of the planned location in the 30 minutes before gear deployment, NEFSC shall transit to a different section of the sampling area to maintain a minimum set distance of 1 nmi from the observed marine mammals. If, after moving on, marine mammals remain within 1 nmi, NEFSC may decide to move again or to skip the station. NEFSC may use best professional judgment in making this decision but may not elect to conduct pelagic longline survey activity when animals remain within the 1-nmi zone.

(5) NEFSC shall maintain visual monitoring effort during the entire period of gear deployment or retrieval. If marine mammals are sighted before the gear is fully deployed or retrieved, NEFSC shall take the most appropriate action to avoid marine mammal interaction. NEFSC may use best professional judgment in making this decision.

(6) If deployment or retrieval operations have been suspended because of the presence of marine mammals, NEFSC may resume such operations after there are no sightings of marine mammals for at least 15 minutes within the area or within the 1-nmi area for the Apex Predators Bottom Longline Coastal Shark Survey. NEFSC may use best professional judgment in making this decision.

(7) NEFSC shall implement standard survey protocols, including maximum soak durations and a prohibition on chumming.

(e) Gillnet survey protocols:

(1) The NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains shall deploy gillnet gear as soon as is practicable upon arrival at the sampling station.

(2) The NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains shall initiate marine mammal watches (visual observation) prior to both deployment and retrieval of the gillnet gear. When the vessel is on station during the soak, marine mammal watches shall be conducted during the soak by scanning the surrounding waters with the naked eye and binoculars (or monocular).

(3) The NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains shall implement the “move-on rule.” If marine mammals are sighted near the vessel before setting the gear, the NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains, may decide to move the vessel away from the marine mammal to a different section of the sampling area if the animal appears to be at risk of interaction with the gear. If, after moving on, marine mammals are still visible from the vessel, the NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains may decide to move again or to skip the station. The NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains may use best professional judgment in making this decision but may not elect to conduct the gillnet survey activity when animals remain near the vessel.

(4) If marine mammals are sighted near the vessel during the soak and are determined to be at risk of interacting with the gear, then the NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains shall carefully retrieve the gear as quickly as possible. The NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains may use best professional judgment in making this decision.

(5) The NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains shall implement standard survey protocols, including continuously monitoring the gillnet gear during soak time and removing debris with each pass as the net is reset into the water to minimize bycatch.

(6) The NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains shall ensure that surveys deploy acoustic pingers on gillnets in areas where required for commercial fisheries. NEFSC must ensure that the devices are operating properly before deploying the net.

(7) NEFSC shall ensure that cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains conducting gillnet surveys adhere to monitoring and mitigation requirements and shall include required protocols in all survey instructions, contracts, and agreements.

(8) For the COASTSPAN gillnet surveys, the NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains will actively monitor for potential bottlenose dolphin entanglements by hand-checking the gillnet every 20 minutes. In the unexpected case of a bottlenose dolphin entanglement, the NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains shall request and arrange for expedited genetic sampling for stock determination. The NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains shall also photograph the dorsal fin and submit the image to the NMFS Southeast Stranding Coordinator for identification/matching to bottlenose dolphins in the Mid-Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin Photo-identification Catalog.

(f) Pot and trap survey protocols:

(1) The NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains shall deploy pot gear as soon as is practicable upon arrival at the sampling station.

(2) The NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains shall initiate marine mammal watches (visual observation) no less than 30 minutes prior to both deployment and retrieval of the pot and trap gear. Marine mammal watches shall be conducted by scanning the surrounding waters with the naked eye and binoculars (or monocular). During nighttime operations, visual observation shall be conducted using the naked eye and available vessel lighting.

(3) The NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains shall implement the move-on rule. If marine mammals are sighted near the vessel before setting the gear, the NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains, as appropriate, may decide to move the vessel away from the marine mammal to a different section of the sampling area if the animal appears to be at risk of interaction with the gear. If, after moving on, marine mammals are still visible from the vessel, the NEFSC, and/or its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains may decide to move again or to skip the station. The NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains may use best professional judgment in making this decision but may not elect to conduct the pot and trap activity when animals remain near the vessel.

(4) If marine mammals are sighted near the vessel during the soak and are determined to be at risk of interacting with the gear, then the NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains shall carefully retrieve the gear as quickly as possible. The NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains may use best professional judgment in making this decision.

(5) The NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains shall ensure that surveys deploy gear fulfilling all Pot/Trap universal commercial gear configurations such as weak link requirements and marking requirements as specified by applicable take reduction plans as required for commercial pot/trap fisheries.

(6) The NEFSC shall ensure that its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains conducting pot and trap surveys adhere to monitoring and mitigation requirements and shall include required protocols in all survey instructions, contracts, and agreements.

(g) Fyke net gear protocols:

(1) NEFSC shall conduct fyke net gear deployment as soon as is practicable upon arrival at the sampling station.

(2) NEFSC shall visually survey the area prior to both deployment and retrieval of the fyke net gear. NEFSC shall conduct monitoring and retrieval of the gear every 12- to 24-hour soak period.

(3) If marine mammals are in close proximity (approximately 328 feet [100 meters]) of the setting location, NEFSC shall determine if the set location should be moved. NEFSC may use best professional judgment in making this decision.

(4) If marine mammals are observed to interact with the gear during the setting, NEFSC shall lift and remove the gear from the water.

(5) NEFSC must install and use a marine mammal excluder device at all times when the 2-meter fyke net is used.

(h) Beach seine gear protocols:

(1) NEFSC shall conduct beach seine deployment as soon as is practicable upon arrival at the sampling station.

(2) NEFSC shall visually survey the area prior to both deployment and retrieval of the seine net gear.

(3) If marine mammals are in close proximity of the seining location, NEFSC shall lift the net and remove it from the water. NEFSC may use best professional judgment in making this decision.

(i) Rotary screw trap gear protocols:

(1) NEFSC shall conduct rotary screw trap deployment as soon as is practicable upon arrival at the sampling station.

(2) NEFSC shall visually survey the area prior to both setting and retrieval of the rotary screw trap gear. If marine mammals are observed in the sampling area, NEFSC shall suspend or delay the sampling. NEFSC may use best professional judgment in making this decision.

(3) NEFSC shall tend to the trap on a daily basis to monitor for marine mammal interactions with the gear.

(4) If the rotary screw trap captures a marine mammal, NEFSC shall carefully release the animal as soon as possible.

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