SUMMARYThe Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972 was reauthorized by the Marine Mammal Protection Act Amendments of 1994 (Public Law 103-238) as signed by President Clinton on April 30, 1994. These Amendments reauthorize appropriations for the Marine Mammal Commission, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of the Interior -- the agencies responsible for implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act -- through fiscal year 1999. In addition, substantial changes were made to many of the Act's provisions, incorporating contributions from commercial fishers, conservation groups, public display institutions, scientific researchers, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Marine Mammal Commission, animal protection groups, and the Alaska Native community.
The most significant amendments involved establishing a new regime to govern the taking of marine mammals incidental to commercial fishing, replacing the Interim Exemption in place since 1988. Three new sections were added to the Act to address commercial fishing: the preparation of stock assessments for all marine mammal stocks in waters under U.S. jurisdiction; development and implementation of take reduction plans for stocks that may be reduced or are being maintained below their optimum sustainable population levels due to interactions with commercial fisheries; and studies of pinniped-fishery interactions.
Maintaining the original aspirations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Amendments continue to protect marine mammals, seeking to maintain stocks at, or recover stocks to, their optimum sustainable population levels. To achieve that goal, protection of essential habitats including rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance is emphasized by including specific "habitat" language in the bill.
Other major changes include a mechanism for authorizing importation of polar bear parts (other than internal organs) from Canada (provided the required findings are made); revised permit provisions for public display and scientific research; establishment of permits for purposes of photography; procedures for authorizing the intentional lethal taking of individually identifiable pinnipeds which are having a significant negative effect on salmonid fishery stocks; eliminated jurisdiction over the care and maintenance of captive marine mammals held for purposes of public display at registered or licensed facilities; and authority for providing grants to Alaska Native organizations for the purpose of developing co-management structures for marine mammal stocks taken for subsistence purposes.
This CRS Report summarizes provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act Amendments of 1994 and outlines this Act's implementation schedule for use by Members of Congress and their staff.
CONTENTSAMENDING THE MARINE MAMMAL PROTECTION ACT
Incidental Mortality During Commercial Fishing
-- Marine Mammal Stock Assessments
-- Take Reduction Plan
-- Authorization To Take Marine Mammals
-- On-Board Observer Coverage
-- Marine Mammal Mortality Goal
-- Emergency Regulatory Authority
-- Consultation with the Secretary of the Interior
Protection of Habitat
Marine Mammals in Captivity
Ecosystem Health and Stability Assessments
Cooperative Agreements with Alaska Natives
IMPLEMENTING THE 1994 AMENDMENTS
Deadlines for Action
Reports to Congress
MARINE MAMMAL PROTECTION ACT AMENDMENTS OF 1994(1)AMENDING THE MARINE MAMMAL PROTECTION ACT(2)
The 103d Congress amended the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972 to reflect the concerns of various interest groups, and revised the existing management regime to increase its effectiveness in protecting marine mammals. The major debate was over developing a new regime to govern interactions between marine mammals and commercial fishing operations, since a five-year interim exemption for marine mammal taking(3) by commercial fishing operations was expiring.(4)
The House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Subcommittee on Environment and Natural Resources held a hearing on general MMPA issues on April 20, 1993, with additional hearings on H.R. 2760 to reauthorize the MMPA on August 4, 1993, and on February 10, 1994. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (National Ocean Policy Study) held hearings on general MMPA issues on July 14 and 28, 1993, prior to the introduction of S. 1636 on November 8, 1993. The Senate Commerce Committee reported S. 1636 with amendments on January 25, 1994.(5) on March 9, 1994, the House Merchant Marine Subcommittee marked up H.R. 2760, including amendments providing for polar bear trophies to be imported from Canada and establishing a process whereby Federal permission might be granted to intentionally kill individually identifiable pinnipeds having a significant negative effect on certain salmonid fishery stocks, without first having to determine that the marine mammal stock was within its optimum sustainable population range.
Full Committee markup was held March 16, and the bill was reported on March 21.(6) on March 21, both the House and Senate passed MMPA reauthorization bills (H.R. 2760 and S. 1636, respectively). on March 22, the House amended and passed S. 1636, incorporating most of the changes reflected in H.R 2760. On March 24, the Senate agreed to the House-amended version of S. 1636 with a further amendment requiring a study after 2 years of the polar bear trophy imports for possible adverse effects and eliminating a controversial proposal to add "harm" to the Act's definition of "take" and to define "harm" to include some types of habitat modification. On April 26, 1994, the House and Senate adopted compromise language; President Clinton signed the measure into law as Pub.L. 103-238 on April 30, 1994.
NetPets® Main Page
The Fish Center