The Secretary shall design and implement an information management system capable of processing and analyzing reports received from the programs established under subsections (c), (d), (e), and (f), and other relevant sources, including Federal and State enforcement authorities, marine mammal stranding networks, and the marine mammal researchers. The information shall be made accessible to the public on a continuing basis, but in any case no later than six months after it is received, subject to the provisions of subsection (j).
When carrying out the Secretary’s responsibilities under subsections (b), (d), (e), (f), and (h) of this section, the Secretary shall, to the maximum extent practicable, utilize the services and programs of State agencies, Federal agencies (including programs established by Regional Fishery Management Councils), marine fisheries commissions, universities, and private entities, on a reimbursable basis or otherwise. The Secretary is authorized to enter into contracts and agreements to carry out his or her responsibilities and shall establish appropriate guidelines to ensure that other programs used or contracted for will meet the same standards as a program established by the Secretary. A person contracting with the Secretary to provide observer services under subsection (e) of this section must provide evidence of financial responsibility in an amount and form prescribed by the Secretary to compensate employees (or their survivors) adequately for any illness, disability, injury, or death from service on a vessel.
The Secretary, in consultation with any other Federal agency to the extent that such agency may be affected, shall prescribe such regulations as necessary and appropriate to carry out the purposes of this section.
The Secretary shall consult with the Secretary of the Interior prior to taking actions or making determinations under this section that affect or relate to species or population stocks of marine mammals for which the Secretary of the Interior is responsible under this subchapter.
For the purposes of this section, the owner of fixed or other commercial fishing gear that is deployed with or without the use of a vessel shall be deemed to be an owner of a vessel engaged in the fishery in which that gear is deployed.