NMFS Regulation Allows Incidental Takings of Mammals During Russian River Estuary Management Activities


The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a part of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is proposing to allow the incidental taking of mammals during Russian River estuary management activities. The NMFS has received a request from the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) to authorize their taking of mammals as incidental to Russian River estuary management activities occurring in Sonoma County, CA over the course of the next five years. These management activities are aimed at enhancing the natural barrier beach at the mouth of the Russian River, which will help both minimize the chances of flooding the adjacent estuary and provide better habitat for juvenile salmonids. The effort to enhance this natural barrier beach will require increased human presence and the use of heavy machinery and SCWA anticipates incidental taking of marine mammals as a result. A “taking” in this circumstance is a disruption of natural habitat to the point it could injure or kill a marine mammal. The marine mammal the NMFS notes as being most at risk is the Harbor Seal populations that live around the river mouth. Comments on this NMFS regulation are due January 31, 2017, so comment now!