Marine Mammals on the West Coast: Fisheries Interactions
The West Coast Region closely evaluates the impacts of fisheries activities on marine mammals and develops and implements measures to minimize effects.
NOAA Fisheries is responsible for managing the impacts of commercial and recreational fisheries on marine mammals under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act, and the Magnuson-Stevens Act. There are programs and policies in place to monitor the amount of marine mammal bycatch that occurs in fisheries and to minimize impacts to populations when conservation concerns may be warranted. These programs address fisheries and conservation issues that involve fishing operations and marine mammals throughout U.S. and international waters. NOAA Fisheries also studies and manages the impacts of fishing on the health and behavior of marine mammals through various regulatory and conservation actions.
Interactions between fisheries and marine mammals include:
- Incidental bycatch in fishing gear.
- Predation by marine mammals on fish that are being targeted or already captured during fisheries harvest operations (referred to as marine mammal depredation).
- Removal of preferred marine mammal fish forage and prey by fisheries harvest.
The bycatch of marine mammals can occur:
- During active fishing operations that involve mobile fishing gear.
- In fishing gear that is fixed in place.
- In fishing gear that has been lost, discarded, or is otherwise no longer being used for fisheries harvest (marine debris, otherwise known as derelict or ghost fishing gear).
To report a dead, injured, or stranded marine mammal:
- West Coast Region Stranding Hotline: 1-866-767-6114
- Regional Stranding Response Contacts
To report entangled marine mammals:
- Entanglement Reporting Hotline: 1-877-SOS-WHAL or 1-877-767-9425
- The U.S. Coast Guard: VHF Ch. 16
To report harassments and other violations to law enforcement:
NOAA Enforcement Hotline: 1-800-853-1964
To report derelict gear:
Derelict Gear Hotline: 1-855-542-3935
Obtaining a Marine Mammal Authorization Certificate
Please be advised: In recognition of logistical challenges with certificate issuance related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the MMAP certificate issued in 2020 remains in effect, valid through December 31, 2022, for vessel or gear owners participating in all Category I and II fisheries as of the final 2022 LOF. 2020 certificates may be retained or replacements downloaded below.
- Current List of Fisheries
- 2023 MMAP Certificate (PDF, 1 page)
- 2020 MMAP Certificate (PDF, 1 page)
- Bycatch in Commercial Fisheries
- Marine Mammal Authorization Program
- Biological Opinions
- Pinniped Removal
- Pinniped Branding: Frequently Asked Questions (PDF, 3 pages)
- 2017 Draft Negligible Impact Determination for Humpback & Sperm Whales
- 2017 MMPA NID (PDF, 57 pages)
- 2015 Amended Negligible Impact Determination for Humpback & Sperm Whales
- 2015 Federal Register Notice
- NOAA Tech Memo 528 (PDF, 15 pages)
- 2015 MMPA NID (PDF, 84 pages)
- Agreement On The International Dolphin Conservation Program
- Large Whale Entanglement Response Program
- California Dungeness Crab Fishing Best Practices: Ways to minimize entanglement risk (PDF, 2 pages)
- Oregon Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishing: Directive to minimize whale entanglement risk (PDF, 2 pages)
- Washington Best Practices Guide: Pot Fishing - Ways to minimize whale entanglement risk (PDF, 2 pages)
- SOS WHALe Brochure (PDF, 2 pages)
- Large Whale Entanglement Workshop Report (November 2013) (PDF, 58 pages)
- Assessing Potential Entanglement Risk for Large Whales on the West Coast
- Fixed Gear Guide (PDF, 48 pages)
- Co-Occurrence Maps (overlap between whales and fishing) (PDF, 98 pages)
- Watching For Marine Mammals
- West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network
- Deterring Pinnipeds: Q & A (PDF, 3 pages)
- Columbia River Pinniped Factsheet (PDF, 2 pages)
- Southern Resident Killer Whales and Fisheries
- Fishery Ecosystem Management Plan (PDF, 62 pages)
- Integrated Ecosystem Assessment for the California Current