Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA)
The most important – and dare we say, our most favorite – law dedicated just to marine mammals. The MMPA is considered one of the U.S.’ landmark conservation laws – not just because it was one of the first to give protection to an entire class of species (all marine mammals, from porpoises to polar bears!), but because it also recognizes the importance of the ecosystem that supports marine mammals. The MMPA protects marine mammals against “take” (hunting, capturing, or killing) and harassment (like boaters getting too close to humpbacks or someone putting a harbor seal pup in a shopping bag – true story).
Some activities, like importing captive-held whales and dolphins or conducting seismic surveys, violate the protections granted by the MMPA so they need a “take” permit to occur. These permit applications are a place where input from expert groups like WDC and from the concerned public can give a voice to whales and dolphins. We have the opportunity to comment on those proposals, present additional scientific information and argue our case that no whales and dolphins are being harmed.
Overall, the MMPA has been incredibly successful at what it’s meant to do – protect marine mammals and the health and stability of their ecosystem. It’s viewed around the world as a standard for environmental protection, and many countries have their own versions of the MMPA.
When too many marine mammals of a population are dying because of human interactions, a Take Reduction Team is established under the MMPA. There is a lot to unload about these teams so learn more by clicking the TRT button!