Update on the National Marine Fisheries Service Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program
Janet E. Whaley; Teri K. Rowles
In 1992, the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Act (MMHSRA) was enacted and became Title IV of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.1 To implement the Act, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has instituted the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (MMHSRP).2 The program is mandated by the MMHSRA to carry out three elements: Marine Mammal Stranding Networks, Response to Unusual Mortality Events, and the National Marine Mammal Tissue Bank. The program is guided at the national level from NMFS headquarters in Silver Spring, MD and carried out by the five NMFS regions.
Although NMFS provides regulatory authority over all cetaceans and most species of pinnipeds, building partnerships is vital for the success of the MMHSRP. NMFS relies primarily on voluntary participants of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, marine mammal researchers (national and international), other Federal and State agencies to respond to strandings, obtain data, and for implementing other aspects of the MMHSRP. It is the goal of NMFS and MMHSRP to use these data to better protect and manage marine mammal stocks and to assure animal welfare of marine mammals in rehabilitation status.
This year, several new activities are being developed and implemented. During this presentation, a brief description of the following will be given: Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Act of 2000/Stranding Grants Program, National Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program Database, NMFS Guidelines for Release of Stranded Marine Mammals to the Wild, and NMFS Guidelines for Marine Mammal Rehabilitation Facilities. An update on unusual marine mammal mortalities will also be covered.
1. February 1995, The Marine Mammal Protection Act Reauthorization and NMFS Annual Reports website: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/prot_res/overview/mm.html
2. NOAA-NMFS Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program website: http://www.nmfs.noaa. gov/prot_res/PR2/Health_and_Stranding_Response_Program/mmhsrp.html