Endangered and Threatened Species; Recovery Plans, 29919-29921 [E6-7969]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 100 / Wednesday, May 24, 2006 / Notices demonstrated. If known, identify the specific NIST staff who could serve as the NIST internal point of contact. 6. Proposed Foreign Participants Provide a representative list of the foreign organizations that might participate in the workshop, including a description of their function or business and their country of incorporation or origin. 7. U.S. Stakeholder Participants (e.g., Associations, Agencies, Users, Others) Provide a representative list of other U.S.-based organizations that are likely to participate in the workshop. 8. Principal Topics Provide a list of the suggested topics for the workshop. 9. Related Site Visits and Events Workshops can include visits to relevant business sites or events. Provide a list of suggested site visit locations, events or other areas of interest and discuss the relevance of each to the overall purpose of the proposed workshop’s goals. 10. Expected Outcomes/Measures of Success Include in this section a description of: a. The anticipated benefit of the workshop for trade and market access; b. The anticipated economic impacts (in dollars); c. The potential for future opportunities for collaboration and for trade as a result of the workshop; d. The measures of success; e. The desired results of the workshop and how the results will be measured. All recommendations must address each of the above ten points. Dated: May 17, 2006. Hratch G. Semerjian, Deputy Director. [FR Doc. E6–7937 Filed 5–23–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–13–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Institute of Standards and Technology National Institute of Standards and Technology, Department of Commerce. ACTION: Notice of public meeting. jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES AGENCY: SUMMARY: Pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act, 5 U.S.C. app. 2, notice is hereby given that the 17:08 May 23, 2006 Jkt 208001 The meeting will convene on June 13 at 8:45 a.m. and will adjourn on June 14, 2006, at 11 a.m. DATES: The meeting will be held in the Employees Lounge, Administration Building, at NIST, Gaithersburg, Maryland. All visitors to the NIST site will have to pre-register to be admitted. Please submit your name, time of arrival, e-mail address and phone number to Carolyn Peters no later than Thursday, June 8 and she will provide you with instructions for admittance. Mrs. Peter’s e-mail address is carolyn.peters@nist.gov and her phone number is (301) 975–5607. ADDRESSES: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology VerDate Aug<31>2005 Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology (VCAT), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), will meet Tuesday, June 13, from 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesday, June 14, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology is composed of fifteen members appointed by the Director of NIST who are eminent in such fields as business, research, new product development, engineering, labor, education, management consulting, environment, and international relations. The purpose of this meeting is to review and make recommendations regarding general policy for the Institute, its organization, its budget, and its programs within the framework of applicable national policies as set forth by the President and the Congress. The agenda will include updates on NIST’s activities, safety, strategic planning, and the NIST U.S. Measurement System project; a presentation on the vision for the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology; a presentation on the NIST reconnaissance of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita; a VCAT Panel on How to Maximize NIST Impact on U.S. Innovation; and selected laboratory tours. The agenda may change to accommodate Committee business. The final agenda will be posted on the NIST Web site at http://www.nist.gov/ director/vcat/agenda.htm. Carolyn Peters, Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899–1000, telephone number (301) 975–5607. Dated: May 18, 2006. William Jeffrey, Director. [FR Doc. E6–7953 Filed 5–23–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–13–P PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 29919 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [I.D. 051106A] Endangered and Threatened Species; Recovery Plans National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Commerce. ACTION: Notice of Availability; request for comments. AGENCY: SUMMARY: The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announces the availability for public review of the draft revised Recovery Plan (Plan) for the western and eastern distinct population segments (DPS) of Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus). NMFS is soliciting review and comment from the public and all interested parties on the Plan, and will consider all substantive comments received during the review period before submitting the Plan for final approval. DATES: Comments on the draft Plan must be received by close of business on July 24, 2006. ADDRESSES: Send comments to Kaja Brix, Assistant Regional Administrator, Protected Resources Division, Alaska Region, NMFS, Attn: Ellen Walsh. Comments may be submitted by: (1) Email: SSLRP@noaa.gov. include in the subject line the following document identifier: Sea Lion Recovery Plan. Email comments, with or without attachments, are limited to 5 megabytes; (2) Mail: P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802; (3) hand delivery to the Federal Building : 709 W. 9th Street, Juneau, AK; or (4) Fax: (907) 586 7012. Interested persons may obtain the Plan for review from the above address or online from the NMFS Alaska Region website: http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shane Capron, (907 271 6620), e-mail shane.capron@noaa.gov; or Kaja Brix, (907 586 7235), e-mail kaja.brix@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Recovery plans describe actions considered necessary for the conservation and recovery of species listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The ESA requires that recovery plans incorporate (1) Objective, measurable criteria that, when met, would result in a determination that the species is no longer threatened or E:\FR\FM\24MYN1.SGM 24MYN1 jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES 29920 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 100 / Wednesday, May 24, 2006 / Notices endangered; (2) site-specific management actions necessary to achieve the plan’s goals; and (3) estimates of the time required and costs to implement recovery actions. The ESA requires the development of recovery plans for listed species unless such a plan would not promote the recovery of a particular species. NMFS’ goal is to restore endangered and threatened Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) populations to the point where they are again secure, self-sustaining members of their ecosystems and no longer need the protections of the ESA. NMFS will consider all substantive comments and information presented during the public comment period in the course of finalizing this Recovery Plan. The Steller sea lion was listed as a threatened species under the ESA on April 5, 1990 (55 FR 12645), due to substantial declines in the western portion of the range. In contrast, the eastern portion of the range (in southeastern Alaska and Canada) was increasing at 3 percent per year. Critical habitat was designated on August 27, 1993 (58 FR 45269), based on the location of terrestrial rookery and haulout sites, spatial extent of foraging trips, and availability of prey items. In 1997, the Steller sea lion population was split into a western distinct population segment (DPS) and an eastern DPS based on demographic and genetic dissimilarities (62 FR 30772). Due to the persistent decline, the western DPS was reclassified as endangered, while the increasing eastern DPS remained classified as threatened. Through the 1990s the western DPS continued to decline. However, the western population has shown as increase of approximately 3 percent per year between 2000 and 2004. This was the first recorded increase in the population since the 1970s. Based on recent counts, the western DPS is currently about 44,800 animals and may be increasing due to higher juvenile and adult survival. However, it remains unclear whether Steller sea lion reproduction has also improved and whether the observed 3 percent annual population growth will continue. The eastern DPS is currently between 45,000 and 51,000 animals, and has been increasing at 3 percent per year for 30 years. The first recovery plan was completed in December 1992 and covered the entire range of the threatened species. However, the recovery plan became obsolete after the split into two DPSs in 1997. Nearly all of the recovery actions contained in the plan had also been completed. NMFS assembled a new recovery team in 2001 to revise the first VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:08 May 23, 2006 Jkt 208001 plan. The recovery team completed the draft revision in March 2006 and forwarded the plan to NMFS with unanimous endorsement by the 17 team members who represented the fishing industry, Alaska Natives, fishery and marine mammal scientists, and environmental organizations. The Plan contains: (1) A comprehensive review of Steller sea lion ecology, (2) a review of previous conservation actions, (3) a threats assessment, (4) biological and recovery criteria for downlisting and delisting, (4) actions necessary for the recovery of the species (78 discrete actions for the western DPS), and (5) estimates of time and cost to recovery. The threats assessment concludes that the following threats are relatively minor: (1) Alaska Native subsistence harvest, (2) illegal shooting, (3) entanglement in marine debris, (4) disease, and (5) disturbance from vessel traffic and scientific research. Although much has been learned about Steller sea lions and the North Pacific ecosystem, considerable uncertainty remains about the magnitude and likelihood of the following potential threats (relative impacts in parenthesis): competition with fisheries (potentially high), environmental variability (potentially high), killer whale predation (potentially high), incidental take by fisheries (medium), and toxic substances (medium). In contrast, no threats were identified for the eastern DPS. Although several factors affecting the western DPS also affect the eastern DPS (e.g., environmental variability, killer whale predation, toxic substances, disturbance), these threats do not appear to be limiting recovery given the long term sustained growth of the population. However, concerns exist regarding global climate change and the potential for the southern part of the range (i.e., California) to be adversely affected. Future monitoring should target this southern portion of the range. The Plan identifies 78 substantive actions needed to achieve recovery of the western DPS by addressing the broad range of threats. The Plan highlights three actions (detailed below) that are especially important to the recovery program for the western DPS: 1. Maintain current fishery conservation measures: After a long term decline, the western DPS appears to be stabilizing. The first slowing of the decline began in the 1990s suggesting that the management measures implemented in the early 1990s may have been effective in reducing anthropogenic effects (e.g., shooting, harassment, and incidental take). The PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 apparent population stability observed in the last 6 years is correlated with comprehensive fishery management measures implemented since the late 1990s. The current suite of management actions (or their equivalent protection) should be maintained until substantive evidence demonstrates that these measures can be reduced without limiting recovery. 2. Design and implement an adaptive management program to evaluate fishery conservation measures: Due to the uncertainty in how fisheries affect Steller sea lions and their habitat, and the difficulty in extrapolating from individual scientific experiments, a properly designed adaptive management program should be implemented. This type of program has the potential to assess the relative impact of commercial fisheries and to better distinguish the impacts of other threats (including killer whale predation). This program will require a robust experimental design with replication at the proper temporal and spatial scales with the appropriate levels of commercial fishing as experimental treatments. It will be a challenge to construct an adaptive management plan that meets the requirements of the ESA, is statistically sufficient, and can be implemented by the commercial fisheries. Acknowledging these hurdles, a significant effort must be made to determine the feasibility of such a program. 3. Continue population monitoring and research on the key threats potentially impeding sea lion recovery: Estimates of population abundance, trend, distribution, health, and essential habitat characteristics are fundamental to Steller sea lion management and recovery. Further, current information on the primary threats is insufficient to assess their impact on recovery. Focused research is needed on how these threats impact sea lion population growth and how they may be mitigated in order to facilitate recovery. In addition to studies on individual threats, the dynamics between threats needs to be better understood to assess the cumulative effects on sea lions. Criteria for reclassification of Steller sea lion are included in the Plan. In summary, the western DPS of Steller sea lion may be reclassified from endangered to threatened when all of the following have been met: (1) Counts of non-pups in the U.S. portion of the DPS have increased for 15 years (on average); (2) the population ecology and vital rates in the U.S. region are consistent with the observed trend; (3) the non-pup trends in at least 5 of the 7 sub-regions are consistent with the E:\FR\FM\24MYN1.SGM 24MYN1 jlentini on PROD1PC65 with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 100 / Wednesday, May 24, 2006 / Notices overall U.S. trend, and the population trend in any two adjacent sub-regions can not be declining significantly; and (4) all five listing factors are addressed. The western DPS of Steller sea lion may be delisted when all of the following conditions have been met: (1) Counts of non-pups in the U.S. portion of the DPS have increased at an average annual rate of 3 percent for 30 years (i.e., 3 generations); (2) the population ecology and vital rates in the U.S. region are consistent with the observed trend; (3) the non-pup trends in at least 5 of the 7 sub-regions are consistent with the overall U.S. trend; the population trend in any two adjacent sub-regions can not be declining significantly, and the population trend in any single subregion can not have declined by more than 50 percent; and (4) all five listing factors are addressed. The eastern DPS of Steller sea lion may be delisted when all of the following have been met: (1) The population has increased at an average rate of 3 percent per year for 30 years (i.e., 3 generations); (2) the population ecology and vital rates are consistent with the observed trend; and (4) all five listing factors are addressed. Time and cost for recovery actions are contained in the Plan. The recovery program for the western DPS will cost $93,840,000 for the first 5 fiscal years and $430,425,000 to full recovery assuming 30 years for recovery starting in 2000, and using year 5 costs as the cost for all future years. The recovery program for the eastern DPS will cost $150,000 for the first year and $1,050,000 total for 10 years of postdelisting monitoring. In accordance with the 1994 peer review policy, NMFS solicited peer review on the draft Plan. Reviews were requested from 5 scientists and managers with expertise in recovery planning, statistical analyses, fisheries, and marine mammals. The reviews of the Plan were generally favorable. In particular, the reviewers found the recovery criteria to be well reasoned and supported. In response to reviewer’s comments, changes were made to the plan to clarify the recovery criteria, add delisting criteria for the western DPS, and focus priorities and actions. NMFS anticipates that many of the recommendations made by the reviewers will be addressed in an implementation and research plan which NMFS intends to develop after the Plan is finalized. Reviewers’ comments and NMFS’ formal response to the comments will be provided in detail in the final recovery plan. VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:08 May 23, 2006 Jkt 208001 Public Comments Solicited NMFS solicits written comments on the draft Revised Recovery Plan. All substantive comments received by the date specified above will be considered prior to final approval of the Plan. NMFS seeks comments particularly in the following areas: (1) The threats assessment; (2) the biological and threats criteria for removing the Steller sea lion from the Federal list of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; (3) the recovery strategy and measures; and (4) estimates of time and cost to implement recovery actions. Authority The authority for this action is section 4(f) of the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). 29921 incorrect. The sentence, ‘‘There is no minimum cost sharing requirement, however, the amount of cost sharing will be considered in determining the level of CI commitment under NOAA’s standard evaluation of project costs’’ is corrected to read, ‘‘There is no minimum cost sharing requirement; however, the amount of cost sharing will be considered when determining the level of the CI’s commitment under NOAA’s standard evaluation criterion for overall qualifications of applicants.’’ All other requirements and information listed in the original notice remains the same. Classification Pre-Award Notification Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements Dated: May 18, 2006. Angela Somma, Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. E6–7969 Filed 5–23–06; 8:45 am] The Department of Commerce PreAward Notification Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements contained in the Federal Register notice of December 30, 2004 (69 FR 78389) are applicable to this solicitation. BILLING CODE 3510–22–S Limitation of Liability DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [Docket No. 060404095–6132–02] Northern Gulf of Mexico Cooperative Institute Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce. ACTION: Notice; correction. AGENCY: SUMMARY: The Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) published a notice in the Federal Register on April 10, 2006 announcing availability of funds to establish a Northern Gulf of Mexico (NGOM) Cooperative Institute (CI). That notice contained an error in the description of how proposals on cost-sharing would be evaluated. This notice corrects the error. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. John Cortinas, 1315 East West Highway, Room 11554, Silver Spring, Md. 20910 telephone 301–713–9397 x 206. Facsimile: (301) 713–0158; e-mail: John.Cortinas@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Correction In the Federal Register of April 10, 2006, in FR Volume 71, Number 68, on page 18084, the second sentence in the section on cost sharing requirements is PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Funding for years 2–5 of the Cooperative Institute is contingent upon the availability of appropriated funds. In no event will NOAA or the Department of Commerce be responsible for application preparation costs if these programs fail to receive funding or are cancelled because of other agency priorities. Publication of this announcement does not oblige NOAA to award any specific project or to obligate any available funds. Paperwork Reduction Act This notification involves collection of information requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act. The use of Standard Forms 424, 424A, 424B, and SF–LLL and CD–346 has been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) respectively under control numbers 0348–0043, 0348–0044, 0348–0040, and 0348–0046 and 0605– 0001. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirements of the PRA unless that collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control number. Executive Order 12866 It has been determined that this notice is not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. Executive Order 13132 (Federalism) It has been determined that this notice does not contain policies with E:\FR\FM\24MYN1.SGM 24MYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 100 (Wednesday, May 24, 2006)]
[Notices]
[Pages 29919-29921]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E6-7969]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[I.D. 051106A]


Endangered and Threatened Species; Recovery Plans

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration, Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of Availability; request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announces the 
availability for public review of the draft revised Recovery Plan 
(Plan) for the western and eastern distinct population segments (DPS) 
of Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus). NMFS is soliciting review and 
comment from the public and all interested parties on the Plan, and 
will consider all substantive comments received during the review 
period before submitting the Plan for final approval.

DATES: Comments on the draft Plan must be received by close of business 
on July 24, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Send comments to Kaja Brix, Assistant Regional 
Administrator, Protected Resources Division, Alaska Region, NMFS, Attn: 
Ellen Walsh. Comments may be submitted by: (1) E-mail: SSLRP@noaa.gov. 
include in the subject line the following document identifier: Sea Lion 
Recovery Plan. E-mail comments, with or without attachments, are 
limited to 5 megabytes; (2) Mail: P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802; (3) 
hand delivery to the Federal Building : 709 W. 9th Street, Juneau, AK; 
or (4) Fax: (907) 586 7012. Interested persons may obtain the Plan for 
review from the above address or on-line from the NMFS Alaska Region 
website: http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shane Capron, (907 271 6620), e-mail 
shane.capron@noaa.gov; or Kaja Brix, (907 586 7235), e-mail 
kaja.brix@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Recovery plans describe actions considered necessary for the 
conservation and recovery of species listed under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973 (ESA), as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The ESA 
requires that recovery plans incorporate (1) Objective, measurable 
criteria that, when met, would result in a determination that the 
species is no longer threatened or

[[Page 29920]]

endangered; (2) site-specific management actions necessary to achieve 
the plan's goals; and (3) estimates of the time required and costs to 
implement recovery actions. The ESA requires the development of 
recovery plans for listed species unless such a plan would not promote 
the recovery of a particular species. NMFS' goal is to restore 
endangered and threatened Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) 
populations to the point where they are again secure, self-sustaining 
members of their ecosystems and no longer need the protections of the 
ESA. NMFS will consider all substantive comments and information 
presented during the public comment period in the course of finalizing 
this Recovery Plan.
    The Steller sea lion was listed as a threatened species under the 
ESA on April 5, 1990 (55 FR 12645), due to substantial declines in the 
western portion of the range. In contrast, the eastern portion of the 
range (in southeastern Alaska and Canada) was increasing at 3 percent 
per year. Critical habitat was designated on August 27, 1993 (58 FR 
45269), based on the location of terrestrial rookery and haulout sites, 
spatial extent of foraging trips, and availability of prey items. In 
1997, the Steller sea lion population was split into a western distinct 
population segment (DPS) and an eastern DPS based on demographic and 
genetic dissimilarities (62 FR 30772). Due to the persistent decline, 
the western DPS was reclassified as endangered, while the increasing 
eastern DPS remained classified as threatened. Through the 1990s the 
western DPS continued to decline. However, the western population has 
shown as increase of approximately 3 percent per year between 2000 and 
2004. This was the first recorded increase in the population since the 
1970s. Based on recent counts, the western DPS is currently about 
44,800 animals and may be increasing due to higher juvenile and adult 
survival. However, it remains unclear whether Steller sea lion 
reproduction has also improved and whether the observed 3 percent 
annual population growth will continue. The eastern DPS is currently 
between 45,000 and 51,000 animals, and has been increasing at 3 percent 
per year for 30 years.
    The first recovery plan was completed in December 1992 and covered 
the entire range of the threatened species. However, the recovery plan 
became obsolete after the split into two DPSs in 1997. Nearly all of 
the recovery actions contained in the plan had also been completed. 
NMFS assembled a new recovery team in 2001 to revise the first plan. 
The recovery team completed the draft revision in March 2006 and 
forwarded the plan to NMFS with unanimous endorsement by the 17 team 
members who represented the fishing industry, Alaska Natives, fishery 
and marine mammal scientists, and environmental organizations.
    The Plan contains: (1) A comprehensive review of Steller sea lion 
ecology, (2) a review of previous conservation actions, (3) a threats 
assessment, (4) biological and recovery criteria for downlisting and 
delisting, (4) actions necessary for the recovery of the species (78 
discrete actions for the western DPS), and (5) estimates of time and 
cost to recovery.
    The threats assessment concludes that the following threats are 
relatively minor: (1) Alaska Native subsistence harvest, (2) illegal 
shooting, (3) entanglement in marine debris, (4) disease, and (5) 
disturbance from vessel traffic and scientific research. Although much 
has been learned about Steller sea lions and the North Pacific 
ecosystem, considerable uncertainty remains about the magnitude and 
likelihood of the following potential threats (relative impacts in 
parenthesis): competition with fisheries (potentially high), 
environmental variability (potentially high), killer whale predation 
(potentially high), incidental take by fisheries (medium), and toxic 
substances (medium).
    In contrast, no threats were identified for the eastern DPS. 
Although several factors affecting the western DPS also affect the 
eastern DPS (e.g., environmental variability, killer whale predation, 
toxic substances, disturbance), these threats do not appear to be 
limiting recovery given the long term sustained growth of the 
population. However, concerns exist regarding global climate change and 
the potential for the southern part of the range (i.e., California) to 
be adversely affected. Future monitoring should target this southern 
portion of the range.
    The Plan identifies 78 substantive actions needed to achieve 
recovery of the western DPS by addressing the broad range of threats. 
The Plan highlights three actions (detailed below) that are especially 
important to the recovery program for the western DPS:
    1. Maintain current fishery conservation measures: After a long 
term decline, the western DPS appears to be stabilizing. The first 
slowing of the decline began in the 1990s suggesting that the 
management measures implemented in the early 1990s may have been 
effective in reducing anthropogenic effects (e.g., shooting, 
harassment, and incidental take). The apparent population stability 
observed in the last 6 years is correlated with comprehensive fishery 
management measures implemented since the late 1990s. The current suite 
of management actions (or their equivalent protection) should be 
maintained until substantive evidence demonstrates that these measures 
can be reduced without limiting recovery.
    2. Design and implement an adaptive management program to evaluate 
fishery conservation measures: Due to the uncertainty in how fisheries 
affect Steller sea lions and their habitat, and the difficulty in 
extrapolating from individual scientific experiments, a properly 
designed adaptive management program should be implemented. This type 
of program has the potential to assess the relative impact of 
commercial fisheries and to better distinguish the impacts of other 
threats (including killer whale predation). This program will require a 
robust experimental design with replication at the proper temporal and 
spatial scales with the appropriate levels of commercial fishing as 
experimental treatments. It will be a challenge to construct an 
adaptive management plan that meets the requirements of the ESA, is 
statistically sufficient, and can be implemented by the commercial 
fisheries. Acknowledging these hurdles, a significant effort must be 
made to determine the feasibility of such a program.
    3. Continue population monitoring and research on the key threats 
potentially impeding sea lion recovery: Estimates of population 
abundance, trend, distribution, health, and essential habitat 
characteristics are fundamental to Steller sea lion management and 
recovery. Further, current information on the primary threats is 
insufficient to assess their impact on recovery. Focused research is 
needed on how these threats impact sea lion population growth and how 
they may be mitigated in order to facilitate recovery. In addition to 
studies on individual threats, the dynamics between threats needs to be 
better understood to assess the cumulative effects on sea lions.
    Criteria for reclassification of Steller sea lion are included in 
the Plan. In summary, the western DPS of Steller sea lion may be 
reclassified from endangered to threatened when all of the following 
have been met: (1) Counts of non-pups in the U.S. portion of the DPS 
have increased for 15 years (on average); (2) the population ecology 
and vital rates in the U.S. region are consistent with the observed 
trend; (3) the non-pup trends in at least 5 of the 7 sub-regions are 
consistent with the

[[Page 29921]]

overall U.S. trend, and the population trend in any two adjacent sub-
regions can not be declining significantly; and (4) all five listing 
factors are addressed.
    The western DPS of Steller sea lion may be delisted when all of the 
following conditions have been met: (1) Counts of non-pups in the U.S. 
portion of the DPS have increased at an average annual rate of 3 
percent for 30 years (i.e., 3 generations); (2) the population ecology 
and vital rates in the U.S. region are consistent with the observed 
trend; (3) the non-pup trends in at least 5 of the 7 sub-regions are 
consistent with the overall U.S. trend; the population trend in any two 
adjacent sub-regions can not be declining significantly, and the 
population trend in any single sub-region can not have declined by more 
than 50 percent; and (4) all five listing factors are addressed.
    The eastern DPS of Steller sea lion may be delisted when all of the 
following have been met: (1) The population has increased at an average 
rate of 3 percent per year for 30 years (i.e., 3 generations); (2) the 
population ecology and vital rates are consistent with the observed 
trend; and (4) all five listing factors are addressed.
    Time and cost for recovery actions are contained in the Plan. The 
recovery program for the western DPS will cost $93,840,000 for the 
first 5 fiscal years and $430,425,000 to full recovery assuming 30 
years for recovery starting in 2000, and using year 5 costs as the cost 
for all future years. The recovery program for the eastern DPS will 
cost $150,000 for the first year and $1,050,000 total for 10 years of 
post-delisting monitoring.
    In accordance with the 1994 peer review policy, NMFS solicited peer 
review on the draft Plan. Reviews were requested from 5 scientists and 
managers with expertise in recovery planning, statistical analyses, 
fisheries, and marine mammals. The reviews of the Plan were generally 
favorable. In particular, the reviewers found the recovery criteria to 
be well reasoned and supported. In response to reviewer's comments, 
changes were made to the plan to clarify the recovery criteria, add 
delisting criteria for the western DPS, and focus priorities and 
actions. NMFS anticipates that many of the recommendations made by the 
reviewers will be addressed in an implementation and research plan 
which NMFS intends to develop after the Plan is finalized. Reviewers' 
comments and NMFS' formal response to the comments will be provided in 
detail in the final recovery plan.

Public Comments Solicited

    NMFS solicits written comments on the draft Revised Recovery Plan. 
All substantive comments received by the date specified above will be 
considered prior to final approval of the Plan. NMFS seeks comments 
particularly in the following areas: (1) The threats assessment; (2) 
the biological and threats criteria for removing the Steller sea lion 
from the Federal list of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 
(3) the recovery strategy and measures; and (4) estimates of time and 
cost to implement recovery actions.

Authority

    The authority for this action is section 4(f) of the Endangered 
Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: May 18, 2006.
Angela Somma,
Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. E6-7969 Filed 5-23-06; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S