Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) Reauthorization

By Sheril Kirshenbaum

MEMORANDUM

From:  Sheril Kirshenbaum

Cc:

Date:

Re:  Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) Reauthorization

Marine Mammal Protection Act Reauthorization

Background

  • Congress passed the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 which prohibits, with certain exceptions, the take of marine mammals in U.S. waters and by U.S. citizens on the high seas, and the importation of marine mammals and marine mammal products into the U.S.
  • NOAA has worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Marine Mammal Commission, Department of Defense, and others to develop a legislative proposal on behalf of the Administration to reauthorize the MMPA.
  • MMPA was amended in 1994 to provide exceptions to the take prohibitions, prepare stock assessments, and study fishery interactions.

Status

NOAA and the Bush Administration

June 16, 2005, NOAA released Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) reauthorization bill.

Includes Amendments that would

  • Clarify the harassment definition
  • Strengthen marine mammal bycatch reduction initiatives
  • Enhance the enforcement capabilities of the Act.

House

July 17, 2006, the House passed H.R. 4075, to reauthorize MMPA containing some of the proposed amendments in the Administration’s MMPA reauthorization bill.  The bill would increase the amounts of allowable fines and penalties collected for violations under the Act and include provisions requiring recreational fisheries that cause incidental mortality or serious injury to marine mammals to be included in the take reduction plan process.

Bill does not include several proposed Administration amendments, including the proposed changes to the harassment definition and Alaska Native co-management agreement program.

Senate

December 6, 2006, the Senate passed polar bear treaty provisions that were included in the House-passed MMPA reauthorization bill, H.R. 4075.  MMPA reauthorization will commence this Congress.

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