Frequently Asked Questions about the 2019 Southern Exclusion Zone Closure
Temporary closure of the Southern Exclusion Zone effective February 22, 2019.
What is the Southern Exclusion Zone?
The Southern Exclusion Zone is a management area created by the False Killer Whale Take Reduction Plan. The area will be closed to deep-set longline fishing if the fishery reaches a certain level of observed false killer whale bycatch in a given year. Closure of the Southern Exclusion Zone is an important conservation measure to reduce further impacts to false killer whales.
Where is the Southern Exclusion Zone located?
The Southern Exclusion Zone is the portion of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around Hawai‘i bounded by 165° 00′ W. longitude on the west, 154° 30′ W. longitude on the east, the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and the Main Hawaiian Islands Longline Fishing Prohibited Area on the north, and the EEZ boundary on the south. The map below displays the area and its coordinate boundaries.
What is the Southern Exclusion Zone trigger?
Regulations specify that the Southern Exclusion Zone will be closed to deep-set longline fishing if, in a given year, the fishery has two observed false killer whale interactions in U.S. waters around Hawai‘i (i.e., Hawai‘i EEZ) that NOAA Fisheries scientists determine are deaths or resulted in “serious injuries.” A serious injury is an injury that will more likely than not lead to the animal’s death. The deep-set longline fishery has 20% observer coverage.
Why is the Southern Exclusion Zone being closed now?
NOAA Fisheries has determined that the Southern Exclusion Zone trigger for 2018 has been met, following one observed mortality and one observed serious injuries to false killer whales in the deep-set fishery in January 2019.
When is the Southern Exclusion Zone in effect?
Deep-set longline fishing is prohibited within the Southern Exclusion Zone beginning February 22, 2019. The area will remain closed until certain preset criteria have been met; (1) after consideration of the Team’s recommendations and evaluation of all relevant circumstances, it is determined that reopening of the SEZ is warranted; (2) in the 2-year period following SEZ closure, there are zero observed false killer whale M&SI in the EEZ; (3) in the 2-year period following the SEZ closure, the fishery reduces its total M&SI rate by an amount equal to or greater than the rate required to reduce M&SI within the EEZ to below the pelagic stock’s potential biological removal; or (4) the average estimated level of false killer whale M&SI in within the EEZ for the 5 most recent years is below the pelagic stock’s potential biological removal.
Is shallow-set longline fishing prohibited within the Southern Exclusion Zone?
No. The closure applies only to deep-set fishing.