Wednesday, May 22, 2024

How Can Marine Mammals Be Safely Deterred From Interfering With Human Activities?


The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is seeking feedback on the “efficacy” of certain government guidelines for safely deterring marine mammals from interfering with a variety of human activities in coastal waters.

According to a notice published last Friday:

“A recent summary of a series of marine mammal deterrent workshops by NOAA Fisheries states, ‘under a recent proposed rule, NOAA Fisheries developed guidelines for deterring marine mammals under its jurisdiction, and recommended specific measures for species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The guidelines focus on how to safely use deterrents to avoid injuring or killing marine mammals. However, evaluation of the efficacy of each deterrent was beyond the scope of the rulemaking process, and available data on deterrent effectiveness is lacking.'”

As a result, the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MAFAC) Protected Resources Subcommittee was called on “to help NOAA Fisheries narrow down the scope for assessing the effectiveness of the marine mammal deterrents listed in the proposed guidelines and create a decision-making process to prioritize areas to begin characterizing the effectiveness. To achieve this, the Subcommittee plans to rank relative risk of expected losses from interactions with marine mammals by various user groups nationwide, which will identify where the biggest impacts of marine mammals are likely to be occurring.”

The information for the relative risk and expected loss analysis will come via a survey of five user groups:

  • commercial fishermen;
  • recreational fishermen;
  • tribal fishermen (inclusive of tribal nations and other coastal indigenous populations);
  • aquaculture operators; and
  • waterfront property managers (e.g. harbormasters and harbor facility assistants).

Written comments and recommendations should be submitted within 30 days of the notice’s publication on October 6th.

Check out the notice here.

John Liang
John Liang
John Liang is the News Editor at He first got the diving bug while in High School in Cairo, Egypt, where he earned his PADI Open Water Diver certification in the Red Sea off the Sinai Peninsula. Since then, John has dived in a volcanic lake in Guatemala, among white-tipped sharks off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and other places including a pool in Las Vegas helping to break the world record for the largest underwater press conference.