Incidental Take Permit to Take Sperm Whales in the California Thresher Shark/Swordfish Drift Gillnet Fishery (>14 inch mesh) and Washington/Oregon/California Sablefish Pot Fishery
We, NOAA Fisheries, are proposing to issue a permit for a period of three years to authorize the incidental, but not intentional, take of two stocks of marine mammals listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), by the California (CA) thresher shark/swordfish drift gillnet fishery (>14 inch mesh) and the Washington (WA)/Oregon (OR)/CA sablefish pot fishery. In accordance with the MMPA, NMFS issues this permit provided that it can make the determination that: The incidental take will have a negligible impact on the affected stocks; a recovery plan for all affected stocks of threatened or endangered marine mammals has been developed or is being developed; and as required by the MMPA, a take reduction plan and monitoring program have been implemented, and vessels in the CA thresher shark/swordfish drift gillnet fishery (>14 inch mesh) and the WA/OR/CA sablefish pot fisheries are registered. We have made a preliminary determination that incidental taking from commercial fishing will have a negligible impact on the ESA-listed humpback whale (CA/OR/WA stock) and sperm whale (CA/OR/WA stock). Recovery plans have been completed for humpback and sperm whales. We solicit public comments on the draft negligible impact determination (NID) and on the proposal to issue a permit to vessels that operate in these fisheries for the taking of affected endangered stocks of marine mammals.