National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are responsible for developing Stock Assessment Reports (SARs) for each marine mammal stock that occurs in waters under the jurisdiction of the United States. Each stock assessment, as data availability allows, describes the stock’s geographic range, abundance estimates (including a minimum population estimate), current population trends, current and maximum net productivity rates, status with respect to optimum sustainable population levels and allowable removal levels, and estimates of all annual human-caused mortality and serious injury. This information is used, among other things, to evaluate the progress of U.S. commercial fisheries in reducing the incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals. Three regional scientific review groups advise NMFS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the status of marine mammal stocks, research needs for stocks, impacts to stocks, and methods to reduce mortality of marine mammals incidental to fishing operations within Alaskan waters, along the Pacific Coast (including Hawaii), and the Atlantic Coast (including the Gulf of Mexico).
NMFS also develops and implements recovery plans for cetaceans listed as “threatened” or “endangered” under the ESA. Recovery plans incorporate: 1) a description of site-specific management actions necessary to achieve recovery of the species; 2) objective, measurable criteria which, when met, would result in a determination that the species may be removed from the list; and 3) estimates of the time and costs required to achieve the plan’s goal. NMFS has published final recovery plans for endangered blue, humpback, North Atlantic right, North Pacific right, fin, sperm, sei, and Southern Resident killer whales. NMFS is in the process of updating the recovery plan for endangered blue whales, and developing recovery plans for endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales and Main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whales. All recovery plans can be found online at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/recovery/plans.htm.
National initiatives related to cetacean conservation.