Gov't Spends $495-K For False Killer Whale Team to Meet

By Eric Scheiner | August 26, 2013 | 2:22pm EDT

False Killer Whale Photo: NMFS Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center

( - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) False Killer Whale Take Reduction Team will be meeting once a year for the next five years at a cost to taxpayers of $495,000.

The government contract award for professional facilitation services to assist in convening the team for in-person and webinar meetings was announced on August 23rd.

Since its inception in January of 2010, the 18-member False Killer Whale Take Reduction Team has met nine times. Six of the meetings were three-day sessions at hotels and resorts in Hawaii. Two were teleconferences and one was a webinar.

The False Killer Whale is a member of the oceanic dolphin family. False Killer Whales are found worldwide, mainly in tropical and warm-temperate waters. According to NOAA, there are recognized “stocks” of False Killer Whales found around the Hawaiian Islands.

NOAA says the species is not endangered. “However, NOAA Fisheries listed the Main Hawaiian Islands Insular population of false killer whales as an endangered ‘distinct population segment’ based on an evaluation of risk to the population.”

Past meetings of the False Killer Whale Take Reduction Team have resulted in various regulatory measures, including:

Requiring a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) approved marine mammal handling and release informational placard to be posted onboard all Hawaii-based longline fishing vessels;

Requiring a NMFS-approved placard that instructs the vessel crew to notify the captain in the event of a marine mammal interaction be posted onboard all Hawaii-based longline vessels;

Establishing longline fishing exclusion zones; and requiring circle hooks to have no more than a 4.5mm wire diameter.

The contract states that the, “NMFS anticipates convening the team for one meeting each year for the next five years. The type (i.e., in-person, webinar, or teleconference) and number of meetings will depend on available funding and NMFS' and the take reduction program's priorities.”

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