Atlantic Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species (AMAPPS)
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the US Navy are working to develop models and associated tools to provide seasonal, spatially-explicit density estimates incorporating habitat characteristics of marine mammals, turtles and seabirds in the western North Atlantic Ocean. Underlying these will be the collection of broad-scale data over multiple years on the seasonal distribution and abundance of these taxa using direct aerial and shipboard surveys conducted by scientists from NOAA Fisheries and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
The AMAPPS program will coordinate the data collection and analysis efforts of the NMFS Northeast and Southeast Fisheries Science Centers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of Migratory Birds to accomplish six primary objectives:
1, Collect broad-scale data over multiple years on the seasonal distribution and abundance of marine mammals (cetaceans and pinnipeds), marine turtles, and sea birds using direct aerial and shipboard surveys of coastal U.S. Atlantic Ocean waters;
2. Collect similar data at finer scales at several (~3) sites of particular interest to NOAA partners using visual and acoustic survey techniques;
3. Conduct tag telemetry studies within surveyed regions of marine turtles, pinnipeds and seabirds to develop corrections for availability bias in the abundance survey data and collect additional data on habitat use and life-history, residence time, and frequency of use;
4. Explore alternative platforms and technologies to improve population assessment studies;
5. Assess the population size of surveyed species at regional scales; and
6. Develop models and associated tools to translate these survey data into seasonal, spatially-explicit density estimates incorporating habitat characteristics.
Achieving these objectives will provide enhanced data to managers by addressing data gaps that are essential to supporting conservation initiatives mandated under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), and Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Quarterly collectection of distribution and abundance data via shipboard and aerial visual and acoustic surveys.
Tagging turtles, seals and seabirds to correct visual abundance data for animals not seen.
Modelling seasonal, spatially-explicit density estimates incorporating habitat characteristics.