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Permits Would Allow|Humpback Injury

WASHINGTON (CN) - The National Marine Fisheries Service plans to issue three-year permits for the incidental take of endangered humpback whales by the Hawaii-based longline fisheries.

The permits would allow only non-lethal takes by fishing vessels using longline gear but would allow taking by serious injury or death by vessels using short-set lines. Since 1994 there have been no incidental deaths of humpbacks by longline fishing vessels and the last serious injury was caused in 2006, according to the agency.

The agency states that it does not expect any humpback deaths during the term of the permits and that the harassment suffered by the humpback is of negligible impact to the species as a whole.

The total deaths and serious injury of humpbacks incidental to commercial fishing operations is estimated to be 5.4 whales per year from 2003-2007, with vessel strikes taking about 1.6 whales per year during the same period.

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