Human Interaction Investigations in Marine Mammals. Part 1. Criteria and Case Definitions for Cause of Death, Proximate or Contributing Cause of Death in Stranded Marine Mammals by Human Interaction

This project comprises a single task with three components to be completed in a year.

1. Dr Michael Moore to undertake a review of criteria necessary to diagnose human
interaction as the proximate or contributing cause of death in a stranded marine mammal.

2. This review will then be assessed and enhanced by a small workshop of invited
specialists.

3. The resulting document will then be submitted for peer-reviewed publication and
provided to NMFS.

Background

Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the National Marine Fisheries Service
(NMFS) must distinguish human-caused serious injuries from non-serious injuries to marine
mammals. MMPA section 117 directs NMFS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to prepare
stock assessment reports (SAR) for all stocks of marine mammals that occur in waters under the
jurisdiction of the United States. Among the types of information that must be included in each
of these reports, the agencies must enumerate human-caused mortalities and serious injuries by
source. The MMPA also states that a stock of marine mammals is to be labeled as a strategic
stock if, among other things, human-caused mortality and serious injuries exceed the stock’s
Potential Biological Removal (PBR) level. In addition the goals of the Marine Mammal Health
and Stranding Response Act of the MMPA requires the evaluation of the causes of mortality or
morbidity in marine mammals in the wild and evaluating the trends in the health of marine
mammal populations including the causes of morbidity and mortality.