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

Title 50Chapter IISubchapter CPart 219Subpart D → §219.36


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


§219.36   Requirements for monitoring and reporting.

(a) Visual monitoring program:

(1) Marine mammal visual monitoring shall occur: prior to deployment of beam, mid-water, and bottom trawl, bottom and pelagic longline, gillnet, fyke net, beach seine, pot, trap, and rotary screw trap gear; throughout deployment of gear and active fishing of all research gears; and throughout retrieval of all research gear.

(2) Marine mammal watches shall be conducted by watch-standers (those navigating the vessel and/or other crew) at all times when the vessel is being operated.

(3) NEFSC shall monitor any potential disturbance of pinnipeds on ledges, paying particular attention to the distance at which different species of pinniped are disturbed. Disturbance shall be recorded according to a three-point scale of response (i.e., 1 = alert; 2 = movement; 3 = flight) to disturbance.

(b) The NEFSC shall continue to conduct a local census of pinniped haulout areas prior to conducting any fisheries research in the Penobscot River estuary to better understand the local abundance of animals. The NEFSC's census reports will now include an accounting of disturbance based on the three-point scale of response severity metrics.

(c) Training:

(1) NEFSC must conduct annual training for all chief scientists and other personnel (including its cooperating institutions, contracted vessels, or commercially-hired captains) who may be responsible for conducting dedicated marine mammal visual observations to explain mitigation measures and monitoring and reporting requirements, mitigation and monitoring protocols, marine mammal identification, completion of datasheets, and use of equipment. NEFSC may determine the agenda for these trainings.

(2) NEFSC shall also dedicate a portion of training to discussion of best professional judgment, including use in any incidents of marine mammal interaction and instructive examples where use of best professional judgment was determined to be successful or unsuccessful.

(3) NEFSC shall coordinate with NMFS' Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) regarding surveys conducted in the southern portion of the Atlantic coast region, such that training and guidance related to handling procedures and data collection is consistent.

(d) Handling procedures and data collection:

(1) NEFSC must develop and implement standardized marine mammal handling, disentanglement, and data collection procedures. These standard procedures will be subject to approval by NMFS Office of Protected Resources (OPR).

(2) When practicable, for any marine mammal interaction involving the release of a live animal, NEFSC shall collect necessary data to facilitate a serious injury determination.

(3) NEFSC shall provide its relevant personnel with standard guidance and training regarding handling of marine mammals, including how to identify different species, bring/or not bring an individual aboard a vessel, assess the level of consciousness, remove fishing gear, return an individual to water, and log activities pertaining to the interaction.

(4) NEFSC shall record such data on standardized forms, which will be subject to approval by OPR. The data shall be collected at a sufficient level of detail (e.g., circumstances leading to the interaction, extent of injury, condition upon release) to facilitate serious injury determinations under the MMPA.

(e) Reporting:

(1) NEFSC shall report all incidents of marine mammal interaction to NMFS' Protected Species Incidental Take database within 48 hours of occurrence.

(2) NEFSC shall provide written reports to OPR upon request following any marine mammal interaction (animal captured or entangled in research gear). In the event of a marine mammal interaction, these reports shall include details of survey effort, full descriptions of any observations of the animals, the context (vessel and conditions), decisions made and rationale for decisions made in vessel and gear handling.

(3) Annual reporting:

(i) The period of reporting will be one year beginning at the date of issuance of the LOA. NEFSC shall submit an annual summary report to OPR not later than ninety days following the end of the reporting period.

(ii) These reports shall contain, at minimum, the following:

(A) Annual line-kilometers surveyed during which the EK60, ME70, DSM300 (or equivalent sources) were predominant and associated pro-rated estimates of actual take;

(B) Summary information regarding use of the following: All trawl gear, all longline gear, all gillnet gear, all dredge gear, fyke net gear, beach seine net gear, and rotary screw trap gear (including number of sets, hook hours, tows, and tending frequency specific to each gear type);

(C) Accounts of all incidents of marine mammal interactions, including circumstances of the event and descriptions of any mitigation procedures implemented or not implemented and why;

(D) Summary information from the pinniped haulout censuses in the and summary information related to any disturbance of pinnipeds, including event-specific total counts of animals present, counts of reactions according to a three-point scale of response severity (1 = alert; 2 = movement; 3 = flight), and distance of closest approach;

(E) A written evaluation of the effectiveness of NEFSC mitigation strategies in reducing the number of marine mammal interactions with survey gear, including best professional judgment and suggestions for changes to the mitigation strategies, if any;

(F) Final outcome of serious injury determinations for all incidents of marine mammal interactions where the animal(s) were released alive; and

(G) A summary of all relevant training provided by the NEFSC and any coordination with the Southeast Fishery Science Center, the Greater Atlantic Regional Office, and the Southeast Regional Office, NMFS.

(f) Reporting of injured or dead marine mammals:

(1) In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly causes the take of a large whale (i.e., entanglement or ship strike) or if the NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions observe a carcass entangled in gear or struck by any vessel, the NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions must immediately report the incident to 866-755-6622 in the Northeast region (VA-ME) and 877-WHALE-HELP in the Southeast region (FL-NC). If personnel are unable to call these numbers, personnel must contact the United States Coast Guard (USCG). For active entanglements, NEFSC personnel and/or its cooperating institutions are not allowed to remove any gear until they receive a temporary authorization from NMFS.

(2) In the unanticipated event that the activity defined in §219.31(a) clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a prohibited manner, NEFSC and/or its cooperating institution personnel engaged in the research activity shall immediately cease such activity until such time as an appropriate decision regarding activity continuation can be made by the NEFSC Director (or designee). For large whales, the NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions must first contact the hotline numbers or the USCG as outlined in paragraph (f)(1) of this section. The NEFSC must also report the incident immediately to OPR, the Greater Atlantic Regional Stranding Coordinator, and the Southeast Regional Stranding Coordinator, NMFS. OPR will review the circumstances of the prohibited take and work with NEFSC to determine what measures are necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. The report must include the following information:

(i) Time, date, and location (latitude/longitude) of the incident;

(ii) Description of the incident;

(iii) Environmental conditions (including wind speed and direction, Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility);

(iv) Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 hours preceding the incident;

(v) Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved;

(vi) Status of all sound source use in the 24 hours preceding the incident;

(vii) Water depth;

(viii) Fate of the animal(s); and

(ix) Photographs or video footage of the animal(s).

(3) In the event that NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions discover an injured or dead marine mammal and determines that the cause of the injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (e.g., in less than a moderate state of decomposition), NEFSC shall immediately report the incident to OPR, the Greater Atlantic Regional Stranding Coordinator, and the Southeast Regional Stranding Coordinator, NMFS. For large whales, the NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions must first contact the hotline numbers or the USCG as outlined in paragraph (f)(1) of this section. The report must include the same information identified in paragraph (f)(2) of this section. Activities may continue while OPR reviews the circumstances of the incident. OPR will work with NEFSC to determine whether additional mitigation measures or modifications to the activities are appropriate.

(4) In the event that NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions discover an injured or dead marine mammal and determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the activities defined in §219.31(a) (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, scavenger damage), NEFSC shall report the incident to OPR, the Greater Atlantic Regional Stranding Coordinator, and the Southeast Regional Stranding Coordinator, NMFS within 24 hours of the discovery. For large whales, the NEFSC and/or its cooperating institutions must first contact the hotline numbers or the USCG as outlined in paragraph (f)(1) of this section. NEFSC shall provide photographs or video footage or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to OPR, the Greater Atlantic Regional Stranding Coordinator, and the Southeast Regional Stranding Coordinator, NMFS.

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