The 2010 Hawaiian Islands Cetacean and Ecosystem Assessment Survey, called HICEAS, is a marine mammal assessment survey of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Hawaiian waters out to a distance of approximately 200 nautical miles. This year’s survey is a collaborative cruise between the Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) and the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC). The survey will be from early August through early December aboard NOAA Ships McArthur II and Sette.
The primary goal of this expedition is to estimate the abundance and distribution of cetaceans within the Hawaiian EEZ using visual and acoustic methods. Concurrent with the abundance estimation, the expedition conducts an ecosystem assessment of the habitat in which the cetaceans are found.
The cetacean assessment survey is necessary to evaluate the status of the cetaceans within the EEZ of the Hawaiian Islands for Marine Mammal Stock Assessments as mandated by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act and the National Marine Sanctuaries Act. This survey provides new abundance estimates that allow NMFS to meet its MMPA mandate to write Stock Assessment Reports for US EEZ waters. Data on endangered large whales will contribute to ESA Status Reviews for those species. Identification of possible insular endemic populations of cetaceans will contribute to their conservation and preservation.