The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announces that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) recently issued a Biological Opinion on the effects of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI) and Gulf of Alaska (GOA) groundfish hook-and-line fisheries on the endangered short-tailed albatross, according to Steven Pennoyer, Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS. USFWS anticipates up to 4 short-tailed albatrosses could be taken during the 2-year period of 1999 and 2000 as a result of vessels longer than or equal to 26 ft length overall operating in the groundfish hook-and-line fisheries in the BSAI and GOA. If the anticipated level of incidental take is exceeded, NMFS must immediately reinitiate formal consultation with the USFWS and review the need for possible modifications of the reasonable and prudent measures established to minimize the impacts of the incidental take.
Conscientious and consistent use of the required seabird avoidance measures is the best way to avoid the endangered short- tailed albatross and other seabird species. Regulations for these measures are found at 50 CFR Part 679.24(e) and 50 CFR Part 679.42(b)(2).
Given the concern for this endangered species, NMFS asks that:
- When a short-tailed albatross is observed following a fishing vessel, every effort should be made to minimize the possibility of the bird becoming entangled with the gear.
- All mortalities or potential mortalities of short-tailed albatrosses, and all observations of short-tailed albatrosses should be reported to the USFWS (see contact information in #5 below).
- Every reasonable effort should be made to save injured short-tailed albatrosses. Report injured birds to NMFS or the USFWS. Contact the USFWS (see #5 below) for further advice on care of the injured bird.
- Every effort should be made to recover any dead short-tailed albatrosses. Specimens should be frozen immediately, with identification tags attached directly to the carcass, and a duplicate identification tag attached to the bag or container holding the carcass. Identification tags should include species, date of mortality, name of vessel, location (latitude and longitude) of mortality, observer or skipper name, and any band number if the specimen has a leg band.
- Short-tailed albatross specimens should be surrendered as soon as possible to a NMFS or USFWS office. You should inform the NMFS or USFWS representative that the specimen must remain frozen and should be shipped as soon as possible to Greg Balogh, Ecological Services Anchorage Field Office, USFWS, 605 West 4th Avenue, Room G-62, Anchorage, AK 99501. Contact phone numbers for the Anchorage Field Office are 1) 800-272-4174, 2) 907-271-2778 (Greg Balogh), 3) 907-271-2787 (Ann Rappoport), or 907-271-2888 (front desk). Other USFWS contact numbers are: 907-586-7242 and 907-789-5265.
This information bulletin provides information about NMFS's requirements under the Endangered Species Act. Contact Kim Rivera, Protected Resources Division, NMFS, if you have any questions; 907-586-7424, or 907-586-7235.