[MARMAM] USDA APHIS proposed rule on care and maintenance conditions for captive marine mammals

Naomi Rose naomi at awionline.org
Thu Feb 25 13:42:35 PST 2016

Dear MARMAMers:

For those interested in the welfare of captive marine mammals, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has published a proposed rule to amend several provisions of the regulations governing the care and maintenance of captive marine mammals (see the Federal Register notice here: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-02-03/pdf/2016-01837.pdf). Revising the USDA care and maintenance regulations for captive marine mammals was first proposed in 1994. Some provisions were updated in 2001. The rest were the subject of an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) in 2002. This proposed rule is the outcome of the agency's consideration of comments received in response to that ANPR, as well as during a negotiated rulemaking panel process undertaken in 1995-1996.

The proposed rule was published on February 3 and the comment period is 60 days - the deadline for public comment is April 4.

I would like to highlight one element of the proposed rule in particular, which may be of interest to field researchers who have been examining ranging and dive behavior and fine-scale movement patterns of various species of marine mammals in recent years. On p. 5635 of the Federal Register notice, the agency writes:

"We are proposing to make a number of changes to § 3.104, as discussed in detail below. However, we are not proposing changes to the minimum space requirements (i.e., minimum horizontal dimension (MHD), depth, volume, and surface area) at this time. In light of the disparate recommendations by the ANPR commenters (2002) and the limited scientific data available on this issue, we do not have sufficient scientific or other supporting data to propose space requirements changes at this time. We would appreciate  any published literature, science-based data or other studies that would support changes in the space requirements for any marine mammals."

Please note the current space requirements for up to 2 bottlenose dolphins:
Minimum horizontal dimension (e.g., diameter of a circular tank, width of a rectangular/square tank, or narrowest width of an irregular shaped tank) = 24 ft or 7.32m
Minimum depth = 6 ft or 1.83m
(There are additional requirements for minimum surface area and minimum volume)

For up to 2 orcas, they are:
Minimum horizontal dimension = 48 ft or 14.64m
Minimum depth = 12 ft or 3.66m

For up to 2 polar bears, they are:
Minimum area of dry resting and social activity surface = 400 sq ft or 37.16 sq m
Minimum horizontal dimension of pool = 8 ft or 2.44 m
Minimum depth = 5 ft or 1.52 m

The current regulations can be found at https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2014-title9-vol1/pdf/CFR-2014-title9-vol1-part3-subpartE.pdf


Marine Mammal Scientist

900 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20003
naomi at awionline.org<mailto:naomi at awionline.org>
T: +1 202 446 2120 ~ F: +1 202 446 2131 ~ C: +1 240 401 4269

P  Please consider the animals and their habitat before printing.

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