Pacific Islands Region False Killer Whale Take Reduction Team

The Team provides guidance on the development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of a Take Reduction Plan to reduce mortality and serious injury to false killer whales incidental to the Hawaiʻi pelagic longline fisheries.

False killer whale on a fishing line in the waters.

 

In January 2010, under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NOAA Fisheries established an advisory group in the Pacific Islands region to develop a plan for reducing mortalities and serious injuries of false killer whales in Hawaiʻi’s pelagic longline fisheries. Known as a Take Reduction Team (Team), the advisors include appointed representatives from federal and state agencies, the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, academic and scientific organizations, environmental groups, and the commercial fishing industry. The Team provides guidance on the development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of a Take Reduction Plan to reduce mortality and serious injury to false killer whales incidental to the Hawaii pelagic longline fisheries. The Team met four times within six months to develop a draft Plan by consensus and submitted the draft to us on July 19, 2010.

Learn more about the False Killer Whale Take Reduction Team.

The False Killer Whale Take Reduction Plan

The False Killer Whale Take Reduction Plan for the Pacific Islands region contains research recommendations, regulations for the Hawaiʻi-based deep-set and shallow-set pelagic longline fisheries, and best management practices. NOAA Fisheries published a final rule to implement the False Killer Whale Take Reduction Plan on November 29, 2012. The final rule includes:

  • Gear requirements (“weak” circle hooks and strong branch lines) in the deep-set longline fishery.
  • Establishment of a permanent Longline Fishing Prohibited Area around the main Hawaiian islands.
  • Regulations for a temporary closure of the “Southern Exclusion Zone” if a specified threshold level (or “trigger”) of observed false killer whale mortalities or serious injuries occurs inside the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone around Hawaiʻi within a single calendar year.
  • Training and certification for vessel owners and captains in marine mammal handling and release.
  • Requirements that captains supervise marine mammal handling and release and post placards on longline vessels.

We monitor the Plan's progress and ensure it meets the MMPA goal of reducing mortality and serious injury of false killer whales incidental to the commercial longline fisheries addressed by the Plan. If mortality and serious injury is not reduced to appropriate levels, as specified in the Plan we will reconvene the Team to modify or develop additional measures.

Key Documents

Related Actions

2019 Southern Exclusion Zone

On February 15, 2019, NOAA Fisheries announced a temporary rule to close the Southern Exclusion Zone to deep-set longline fishing on February 22, 2019.  The area will remain closed until it is reopened by the Assistant Administrator pursuant to established criteria described in the Plan regulations (50 CFR 229.37(e)(5)). The area was closed because the “trigger” for closure described in the Plan was reached. The trigger, in this case, was two observed false killer whale hookings within the U.S. exclusive economic zone around Hawaiʻi that resulted in mortalities or serious injuries.

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.

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.

2018 Southern Exclusion Zone

On July 17, 2018, NOAA Fisheries announced a temporary rule (83 FR 33848) to close the Southern Exclusion Zone to deep-set longline fishing from July 24 through December 31, 2018. The area was closed because the “trigger” for closure described in the Plan was reached. The trigger, in this case, was two observed false killer whale hookings within the U.S. exclusive economic zone around Hawaiʻi that resulted in serious injuries. Below are supporting documents.

NOAA Fisheries has determined that the Southern Exclusion Zone trigger for 2018 has been met, following four observed serious injuries to false killer whales in the deep-set fishery, one in February and three in June and July 2018.

Deep-set longline fishing is prohibited within the Southern Exclusion Zone from July 24, 2018 through December 31, 2018.  The area re-opened to deep-set longline fishing on January 1, 2019.

Last updated by Pacific Islands Regional Office on May 31, 2019

Take Reduction