NOAA proposes endangered status for Hawaii population of false killer whales
75 Fed. Reg. 70169 (Wednesday, November 17, 2010) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
50 CFR Part 224 / Docket No. 0912161432–0453–02 / RIN 0648–XT37
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Proposed Endangered Status for the Hawaiian Insular False Killer Whale Distinct Population Segment
AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.
SUMMARY: We, the NMFS, have completed a comprehensive status review of the Hawaiian insular false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in response to a petition submitted by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to list the Hawaiian insular false killer whale as an endangered species. After reviewing the best scientific and commercial information available, we have determined that the Hawaiian insular false killer whale is a distinct population segment (DPS) that qualifies as a species under the ESA. Moreover, after evaluating threats facing the species, and considering efforts being made to protect the Hawaiian insular DPS, we have determined that the DPS is declining and is in danger of extinction throughout its range. We propose to list it as endangered under the ESA. Although we are not proposing to designate critical habitat at this time, we are soliciting information to inform the development of the final listing rule and designation of critical habitat in the event the DPS is listed. DATES: Comments on this proposal must be received by February 15, 2011. A public hearing will be held on Oahu, Hawaii, on Thursday, January 20, 2011, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the McCoy Pavilion at Ala Moana Park, 1201 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI 96814. NMFS will consider requests for additional public hearings if any person so requests by January 31, 2011. Notice of the location and time of any such additional hearing will be published in the Federal Register not less than 15 days before the hearing is held.
Regulation of the Hawaiian fishery will soon become another degree more difficult. As suggested by the photo above from the NOAA False Killer Whale Take Reduction Team, the species regularly interacts with the fishery, because in Hawaii they feed on large fish, including yellowfin tuna, skipjack tuna, albacore tuna, mahimahi, ono (or wahoo), threadfin jack, and broadbill swordfish, among others. Notably, false killer whales are cooperative hunters, and work together to capture dangerous and difficult-to-capture prey such as swordfish and large tuna. They frequently share prey, often passing intact prey back and forth among individuals prior to starting to consume it. See, marinemammalscience.org As noted in Islands Business, no other animal does this. Lions and wolves share too, but they have no choice: a deer or a zebra is far too big for one individual. For more amazing photos of false killer whales in action, visit hawaiioasis.org