Differentiating Serious and Non-Serious Injury of Marine Mammals: Report of the Serious Injury Technical Workshop
NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-OPR-39
10-13 September 2007, Seattle, Washington
The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) section 117 requires the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to prepare stock assessment reports (SAR) for all stocks of marine mammals that occur in waters under the jurisdiction of the United States. These reports summarize human-caused mortalities and serious injuries to marine mammals by source. In addition, MMPA section 118 requires commercial fisheries to reduce mortality and serious injury of marine mammals to insignificant levels approaching a zero mortality and serious injury rate. This charge requires that NMFS distinguish between injuries that are serious and those that are not serious. NMFS defined “serious injury” in regulations (50 CFR 229.2) as “any injury that will likely result in mortality.” However, the MMPA and its legislative history do not provide guidance on how severe an injury must be to qualify as “serious.” To promote national consistency for interpreting the regulatory definition of serious injury, NMFS convened a workshop in April 1997 to discuss available information related to the impact of injuries to marine mammals incidental to commercial fishing operations (Angliss and DeMaster, 1998).