News

NOAA Fisheries is using today’s modern technology to improve marine mammal conservation. They do so through the launch of 2 different smart phone apps.

See & Id Dolphins & Whales

The Dolphin & Whale 911 app was produced to enhance the accurate and timely reporting of stranded marine mammals in the Southearstern U.S. NOAA Fisheries has noticed over the years there is a general lack of awareness on how to report stranded marine mammals, which leads to delayed and inaccurate responses, compromising the animal’s chance of survival or limiting the amount of data that can be gathered from the already dead animals. NOAA Fisheries aims to facilitate the public’s response by providing valuable information on smartphones, including a colourful species identification guide, who to call in case of encountering a stranded marine mammal and what to do in first instance.

Specifically, the app allows you to

  1. report dead, injured or entangled marine mammals by connecting you to the nearest stranding response hotline.
  2. send a picture of the marine mammal along with GPS coordinates to the marine mammal stranding network.
  3. identify the species by providing an electronic field guide of marine mammals found in the Southeast U.S.
  4. help stranded marine mammals by providing a list of “do’s” & “don’ts” and tips on what to do.

This week the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Office of Protected Resources announced the publication of a new Technical Memorandum entitled National Standards for Protected Species Observer and Data Management Program: A model using geological and geophysical surveys. http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/publications/techmemos.htm.  

The document outlines recommendations for the development of national standards for Protected Species Observers (PSOs).  The report also provides recommendations for a national Data Management Program (PSO program). The improvements and suggestions for national standards in the US arose from a series of workshops that included representatives from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), NMFS, PSOs and the Geological and Geophysical Industry. The recommendations outlined in the report include those specific to the NMFS and the BSEE and these are listed as the following:

The third International Conference on "The Effects of Noise on Aquatic Life" brought together scientists, regulators, environmentalists and industry. The very latest scientific research was presented and current regulatory issues were discussed. Following its predecessors in Nyborg, 2007 and Cork, 2010, Aquatic Noise 2013 was a key event in shaping how aquatic noise pollution will be managed in the future.

The MMOA was represented by Phil Johnston who gave a short presentation on the MMO/PAM’s role in implementing mitigation in the field. An MMOA poster was also displayed and leaflets distributed, all raising awareness of the importance of the MMO/PAM role.

greenlandmmo terrycrossThere is growing international interest in natural resources within the Arctic Circle and in recent years oil exploration in Greenland waters has increased. Greenland is believed to have some of the world’s largest remaining oil resources, however the waters surrounding Greenland are also home to a number of sensitive marine mammal and seabird species, some of which are also key subsistence resources for Greenlanders. Such species include narwhal, bowhead and beluga whales, walrus and the iconic polar bear as well as Little auks and Brünnich’s’ guillemot. It is therefore no surprise that throughout the 2012 season, oil exploration within the Arctic Circle received a lot of attention from environmental NGO’s.

In Greenland, the Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum (BMP) recognize that knowledge of marine mammal and seabird species distribution and abundance is scarce and that these species are also sensitive to offshore industry activities. As a result the BMP have put in place a number of requirements regarding monitoring and mitigation for marine mammal and seabird species. Due to the need for more information surrounding temporal and spatial distribution of marine mammals and seabirds within Greenland waters (particularly for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) work, necessary for the management and planning of offshore industry activities), the BMP has made it mandatory for seismic vessels operating in Greenland to collect seabird and marine mammal observation data. The data is collated into databases by the Danish Centre for Environment and Energy (DCE) and is available for future EIA-work by exploration companies that wish to apply to operate in Greenland waters.

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