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Scientific name: Megaptera novaeangliae
Pacific Island names: koholā (Hawaiian), tafola (Samoan)
Stock Assessment / Estimated Breeding Population
For a current Stock Assessment Report (SAR), please visit: NOAA Fisheries - Office of Protected Resources - Marine Mammal SAR, Large Cetaceans, Central North Pacific Stock
- Listed as endangered under Endangered Species Act (ESA)
- Designated as "depleted" under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).
- Unlawful to approach a humpback whale in Hawaii within 100 yards (90 m), or operate an aircraft within 1000 feet (300 m).
- The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (HIHWNMS) also protects humpbacks whales in Hawaii and their habitat
Please see Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (HIHWNMS) website for details of Humpback whale natural history.
- Ship strikes
- Entanglement in marine debris
- Bycatch in commercial fisheries
- Anthropogenic noise
- Degraded water quality
Current Management Issues
Endangered Species Listing
- On April 21, 2015, NOAA Fisheries proposed to revise the ESA listing for the humpback whale to identify 14 Distinct Population Segments (DPS), list 2 as threatened and 2 as endangered, and identify 10 others as not warranted for listing (80 FR 22304).
Click here for more information including a map to see the distribution of the 14 identified humpback whale distinct population segments.
- On June 26, 2014, NOAA Fisheries made a positive 90-day finding (79 FR 36281), determining that the petitioned action may be warranted. Therefore, we are continuing our status review for the humpback whale to determine whether this population is a DPS and whether delisting is warranted.
- 90-day Finding (79 FR 36281)
- On February 26, 2014, a petition to identify the Central North Pacific population of humpback whales as a DPS and delist the DPS under the ESA was received from the State of Alaska.
- On August 29, 2013, NOAA Fisheries made a positive 90-day finding (78 FR 53391), determining that the petitioned action may be warranted and incorporated the consideration of the petitioned action into the ongoing status review commenced in 2009.
- On April 17, 2013, a petition to classify the North Pacific humpback whale population as a distinct population segment (DPS) and delist the DPS under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was received from the Hawaii Fishermen's Alliance for Conservation and Tradition, Inc.
- On August 12, 2009, NOAA Fisheries initiated a status review of the entire humpback whale global taxon to determine whether an endangered listing for the entire taxon is still appropriate.
Permits and Incidental Take
- Permit issued to authorize the incidental taking of individuals of the Central North Pacific humpback whales by the Hawaii-based longline fisheries.
- Taking of Threatened or Endangered Marine Mammals Incidental to Commercial Fishing Operations; Issuance of Permit Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 103 / Friday, May 28, 2010 (May 2010, pdf 63 kB)
- Final Negligible Impact Determination (May 2010, pdf 193 kB)
- Serious Injury determinations for cetaceans caught in Hawaii longline fisheries during 1994-2008 (May 2010, pdf 135 kB
- Assessment of the effects of incidental taking from commercial fishing on Central North Pacific whales.
- February 24, 2010, Federal Register notice on proposed issuance of permit (Feb 2010, pdf 70.69 kB)
- January 22, 2010, Draft Negligible Impact Determination (Feb 2010, pdf 199.76 kB)
- Developing strategies to reduce shipstrikes during humpback whale season (November through May).
- Developing strategies to reduce entanglements and assisting the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (HIHWNMS) when an entanglement does occur.
Important Phone Numbers
Marine Mammal Stranding/Entanglement Hotline: 1-888-256-9840