Atlantic Trawl Take Reduction Team
In 2006, the team was formed to address the incidental mortality and serious injury of long-finned pilot whales, short-finned pilot whales, common dolphins, and white-sided dolphins incidental to the Mid-Atlantic mid-water trawl fishery, as well as other trawl fisheries.
We convened the Atlantic Trawl Gear Take Reduction Team in 2006 to address the incidental mortality and serious injury of long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas), short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus), common dolphins (Delphinus delphis), and white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus) incidental to the Mid-Atlantic mid-water trawl fishery, as well as other trawl fisheries. Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the immediate goal of a take reduction plan is to reduce, within six months of implementation, the incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals to levels less than the stock’s Potential Biological Removal (PBR) level. The long term goal is to reduce within five years of implementation, the mortality and serious injury of marine mammals to insignificant levels approaching a zero mortality and serious injury rate (known as the zero mortality rate goal or ZMRG), defined as 10% of the PBR level. PBR and ZMRG are listed in the stock assessment report for each marine mammal addressed by the plan.
Team meetings were held in September 2006 and April 2007 to evaluate bycatch of long-finned pilot whales, short-finned pilot whales, common dolphins, and white-sided dolphins in trawl fisheries. Subsequently, the estimates of annual human-caused serious injury and mortality to these stocks was determined to be below their respective PBR levels and the creation of a regulatory take reduction plan under the MMPA requirements was not warranted.
September 19-22, 2006
April 25-26, 2007
Working with the Team we finalized the non-regulatory Atlantic Trawl Gear Take Reduction Strategy in December 2008. The Strategy provides recommendations for compiling additional data on fishery interactions with long- and short-finned pilot whales, white-sided dolphins, and common dolphins, conducting education and outreach on these fishery interactions, and establishing research priorities for these species. The Strategy also includes voluntary mitigation measures for trawl fishermen intended to reduce fishery interactions with these marine mammal.
The Team identified the following measures that may be employed by fishing vessels to reduce the risk of marine mammal take in areas with documented elevated interactions:
- reducing the numbers of turns made by the fishing vessel and tow times while fishing at night; and
- increasing radio communications between vessels about the presence and/or incidental capture of a marine mammal to alert other fishermen of the potential for additional interactions in the area.
Final Strategy (PDF, 54 pages)
Outreach Guide (PDF, 2 pages)
In 2012, we developed a monitoring strategy to accompany the voluntary measures. This monitoring strategy focuses on reviewing biological metrics such as annual population abundance estimates, annual human-caused serious injury and mortality estimates, and the calculated PBR levels for long-finned pilot whales, short-finned pilot whales, common dolphins, and white-sided dolphins to determine if the creation of take reduction plan regulations is warranted.
Monitoring Strategy (PDF, 6 pages)
In April 2003, we signed a settlement agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity requiring us to convene a team to address takes of pilot whales and common dolphins in the Atlantic Squid, Mackerel, and Butterfish fisheries (currently known as the Mid-Atlantic mid-water trawl fishery) by September 30, 2006. The settlement agreement also required that we conduct abundance surveys and observer programs for the fishery in order to obtain at least two successive years of updated marine mammal injury and mortality estimates for common dolphins and pilot whales prior to convening the take reduction team. The team consisted of fishing industry representatives, environmentalists, marine mammal experts, state and federal officials, and other interested parties.