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CONTENTS
Executive Summary
Introduction
Stock Assessments for 1999
Table 1
List of Appendices
Acknowledgments
References Cited
List of Stock Assessments for All Years

NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-NE-153

U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Marine Mammal Assessments -- 1999

Gordon T. Waring1, Debra L. Palka1, Phillip J. Clapham1, Steven Swartz2, Marjorie C. Rossman1, Timothy V.N. Cole1, Larry J. Hansen3, Kathryn D. Bisack1, Keith D. Mullin4, Randall S. Wells5, Daniel K. Odell6, and Neilo B. Barros6
1National Marine Fisheries Service, 166 Water St., Woods Hole, MA 02543; 2National Marine Fisheries Service, 75 Virginia Beach Dr., Miami, FL 33149; 3National Marine Fisheries Service, 219 Ft. Johnson Rd., Charleston, SC 29412; 4National Marine Fisheries Service, 3209 Frederic St., Pascagoula, MS 39567; 5Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy., Sarasota, FL 34236; 6Sea World, Inc., 7007 Sea World Dr., Orlando, FL 32821

Web version posted October 1999

Citation: Waring GT, Palka DL, Clapham PJ, Swart S, Rossman MC, Cole TVN, Hansen LJ, Bisack KD, Mullin DK, Wells RS, Odell DK, Barros NB. 2000. U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Marine Mammal Assessments -- 1999. US Dep Commer, NOAA Tech Memo NMFS NE 153; 187 p.

Information Quality Act Compliance: In accordance with section 515 of Public Law 106-554, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center completed both technical and policy reviews for this report. These predissemination reviews are on file at the NEFSC Editorial Office.

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Under the 1994 amendments of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) were required to generate stock assessment reports (SAR) for all marine mammal stocks in waters within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The first reports for the Atlantic (includes the Gulf of Mexico) were published in July 1995 (Blaylock et al. 1995). The MMPA requires NMFS and USFWS to review these reports annually for strategic stocks of marine mammals and at least every 3 years for stocks determined to be non-strategic. The second edition of the SARs (1996 assessments) was published in October 1997 and contained all the previous reports, but major revisions and updating were only completed for strategic stocks (Waring et al. 1997). Updated reports were identified by a 1997 date-stamp at the top right corner at the beginning of each report. The 3rd edition of the SARs (1998 assessments) only contained reports for Atlantic stocks, and updated reports were identified by a 1998 date-stamp (Waring et al. 1999). The current report contains only updated assessments for Atlantic strategic stocks, and for Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico stocks for which significant new information was available. These reports are identified by a 1999 date-stamp at the beginning of each report.

This report was prepared by staff of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC), and Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC). NMFS staff presented the reports at the November 1998 meeting of the Atlantic Scientific Review Group (ASRG), and subsequent revisions were based on their contributions and constructive criticism.

Table 1 contains a summary, by species, of the information included in the stock assessments, and also indicates those that have been revised since the 1998 publication. A total of 28 of the 60 Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico stock assessment reports were revised for 1999. Most proposed changes incorporate new information into mortality estimates. The revised SARs include 14 strategic and 14 non-strategic stocks. Information on human interactions (fishery and ship strikes) between the North Atlantic right whale, North Atlantic humpback whale, and Canadian east coast minke whale stocks were re-reviewed and updated. The Western North Atlantic stocks of Atlantic spotted dolphin, pantropical spotted dolphin, and dwarf sperm whale are now considered “nonstrategic” based on 5-year (1993-1997) annual estimates of incidental mortality in commercial fisheries. The Western North Atlantic stock of long-finned pilot whales was changed to “strategic” based on the annual incidental mortality estimate. Further, the stock definitions were changed for four Atlantic stocks (Sei whale, gray, harp and hooded seal) based on stock areas definitions used by international scientific organizations (i.e., IWC, ICES).

This is a working document and individual stock assessment reports will be updated as new information becomes available and as changes to marine mammal stocks and fisheries occur. The authors solicit any new information or comments which would improve future stock assessment reports.

INTRODUCTION

Section 117 of the 1994 amendments to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) requires that an annual stock assessment report (SAR) for each stock of marine mammals that occurs in waters under U.S. jurisdiction, be prepared by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), in consultation with regional Scientific Review Groups (SRG). The SRGs are a broad representation of marine mammal and fishery scientists and members of the commercial fishing industry mandated to review the marine mammal stock assessments and provide advice to the Assistant Administrator for NMFS. The reports are then made available on the Federal Register for public review and comment before final publication.

The MMPA requires that each SAR contain several items, including: (1) a description of the stock, including its geographic range; (2) a minimum population estimate, a maximum net productivity rate, and a description of current population trend, including a description of the information upon which these are based; (3) an estimate of the annual human-caused mortality and serious injury of the stock, and, for a strategic stock, other factors that may be causing a decline or impeding recovery of the stock, including effects on marine mammal habitat and prey; (4) a description of the commercial fisheries that interact with the stock, including the estimated number of vessels actively participating in the fishery and the level of incidental mortality and serious injury of the stock by each fishery on an annual basis; (5) a statement categorizing the stock as strategic or not, and why; and (6) an estimate of the potential biological removal (PBR) level for the stock, describing the information used to calculate it. The MMPA also requires that SARs be updated annually for stocks which are specified as strategic stocks, or for which significant new information is available, and once every three years for nonstrategic stocks.

Following enactment of the 1994 amendments, the NMFS and FWS held a series of workshops to develop guidelines for preparing the SARs. The first set of stock assessments for the Atlantic Coast (including the Gulf of Mexico) were published in July 1995 in the NOAA Technical Memorandum series (Blaylock et al. 1995). In April 1996, the NMFS held a workshop to review proposed additions and revisions to the guidelines for preparing SARs (Wade and Angliss 1997). Guidelines developed at the workshop were followed in preparing the 1996 (Waring et al. 1997) and 1998 (Waring et al. 1999) SARs. A 1997 SAR was not produced.

In this document, major revisions and updating of the SARs were only completed for Atlantic Coast strategic stocks and Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico stocks for which significant new information were available. These are identified by the 1999 date-stamp at the top right corner at the beginning of each report. The stock definitions were changed for four Atlantic stocks (Sei whale, gray, harp and hooded seal) based on stock areas definitions used by international scientific organizations (i.e., IWC, ICES).

Further, the status of three western North Atlantic stocks (Atlantic spotted dolphin, pantropical spotted dolphin, and dwarf sperm whale) were changed to non-strategic because the 5-year (1993-1997) mean annual mortalities in fishing operations were below PBR.

Stock Assessments for 1999

NORTH ATLANTIC RIGHT WHALE (Eubalaena glacialis): Western North Atlantic Stock
HUMPBACK WHALE (Megaptera novaeangliae): North Atlantic Stock
FIN WHALE (Balaenoptera physalus): Western North Atlantic Stock
SEI WHALE (Balaenoptera borealis): Nova Scotia Stock
BLUE WHALE (Balaenoptera musculus): Western North Atlantic Stock
MINKE WHALE (Balaenoptera acutorostrata): Canadian East Coast Stock
SPERM WHALE (Physeter macrocephalus): North Atlantic Stock
DWARF SPERM WHALE (Kogia simus): Western North Atlantic Stock
PYGMY SPERM WHALE (Kogia breviceps): Western North Atlantic Stock
CUVIER'S BEAKED WHALE (Ziphius cavirostris): Western North Atlantic Stock
MESOPLODON BEAKED WHALES (Mesoplodon spp.): Western North Atlantic Stock
RISSO'S DOLPHIN (Grampus griseus): Western North Atlantic Stock
LONG-FINNED PILOT WHALE (Globicephala melas): Western North Atlantic Stock
SHORT-FINNED PILOT WHALE (Globicephala macrorhynchus): Western North Atlantic Stock
WHITE-SIDED DOLPHIN (Lagenorhynchus acutus): Western North Atlantic Stock
COMMON DOLPHIN (Delphinus delphis): Western North Atlantic Stock
ATLANTIC SPOTTED DOLPHIN (Stenella frontalis): Western North Atlantic Stock
PANTROPICAL SPOTTED DOLPHIN (Stenella attenuata): Western North Atlantic Stock
BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN (Tursiops truncatus): Western North Atlantic Offshore Stock
BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN (Tursiops truncatus): Western North Atlantic Coastal Stock
HARBOR PORPOISE (Phocoena phocoena): Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy Stock
HARBOR SEAL (Phoca vitulina): Western North Atlantic Stock
GRAY SEAL (Halichoerus grypus): Western North Atlantic Stock
HARP SEAL (Phoca groenlandica): Western North Atlantic Stock
HOODED SEAL (Cystophora cristata): Western North Atlantic Stock
BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN (Tursiops truncatus): Gulf of Mexico Bay, Sound, and Estuarine Stocks
DWARF SPERM WHALE (Kogia simus): Northern Gulf of Mexico Stock
PYGMY SPERM WHALE (Kogia breviceps): Northern Gulf of Mexico Stock

Tables

Table 1. A summary of Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico marine mammal stock assessment reports for stocks of marine mammals under NMFS authority that occupy waters under U.S. jurisdiction.

Appendices

Appendix I. Observer comments relating to condition of marine mammals observed caught in 1994-1997 by US pelagic longline vessels operating in the Atlantic. Listing includes unique trip identifier (TRIP #), date of capture, species taken, latitude (Lat), longitude (Lon), and comments.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The authors wish to thank and acknowledge Janeen Quintal for her technical assistance throughout the preparation of this report. The authors also wish to acknowledge contributions by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) Sea Sampling Investigation, Dana Hartley and Kim Thounhurst (Northeast Regional Office, NER), and Blair Mase, (Southeast Fisheries Science Center, SEFSC). Also, we acknowledge advice and comments provided by: Richard Merrick and Fred Serchuk (NEFSC), Cynthia Yeung (SEFSC), Doug Beach (NER), Kathy Wang (Southeast Regional Office), and the Atlantic Scientific Review Group which included among its members: Donald Baltz, Solange Brault, Joseph DeAlteris, James Gilbert, Robert Kenney, James Mead, and Andrew Read. We also thank Paul Wade, NMFS Office of Protected Species, for his comments and guidance at the SRG review meeting.

REFERENCES

Blaylock, R. A., J. W. Hain, L. J. Hansen, D. L. Palka, and G. T. Waring. 1995. U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico marine mammal stock assessments. NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SEFSC-363, 211 pp.

Wade, P. R. and R. P. Angliss. 1997. Guidelines for assessing marine mammal stocks: Report of the GAMMS workshop April 3-5, 1996, Seattle, Washington. NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-OPR-12, 93 pp.

Waring, G. T., D. L. Palka, K. D. Mullin, J. H. W. Hain, L. J. Hansen, and K. D. Bisack. 1997. U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico marine mammal stock assessments. NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-NE-114, 250 pp.

Waring, G. T., D. L. Palka, P, J. Clapham, S. Swartz, M. Rossman, T.V.N. Cole, K. D. Bisack, and L. J. Hansen. 1999. U.S. Atlantic marine mammal stock assessments-1998. NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-NE-116, 182 pp.

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