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Last updateTue, 30 May 2017 12am

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    Monday, May 29, 2017-11:48:42A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

Pacific fisheries center seeks to study marine species in the Pacific

HAGÅTÑA — The Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center or PIFSC is proposing to study dozens of endangered marine mammals in the Pacific waters.

The study area includes the Hawaii archipelago, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Kingman Reef, Palmyra Atoll, Johnston Atoll, Wake Atoll, Howland Island, Baker Island and Jarvis Island.

The PIFSC is seeking a five-year permit from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to authorize a scientific study targeting 34 cetacean species.

Target species include endangered or threatened species/stocks such as Blue (Balaenoptera musculus), fin (B. physalus), sei (B. borealis), humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae), North Pacific right (Eubalaena japonica), sperm (Physeter macrocephalus), and main Hawaiian Insular false killer (Pseudorca crassidens) whales.

The permit, if granted, would allow scientists to take the target species from the waters. The goal is to “monitor the abundance, stock structure, distribution, movement patterns, and ecological relationships of cetaceans occurring in United States and international waters of the Pacific Islands Region.”

“Research activities include aerial surveys with the use of manned and unmanned aircraft systems, vessel surveys, behavioral observations, photo-identification, acoustic recordings, biological sample collection, and dart and suction cup tagging/telemetry studies,” NOAA said in a notice posted on Federal Register on May 11.

NOAA said it has initially determined “that the activity proposed is categorically excluded from the requirement to prepare an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement.”