November 2010 Biological Opinion on the Effects of the Alaska Groundfish Fisheries on Steller Sea Lions and Other Endangered Species; Public Meeting, 34350-34352 [2012-14151]

Download as PDF 34350 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 112 / Monday, June 11, 2012 / Notices Rich Turner, at phone number: (503) 736– 4737, or email: Rich.Turner@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: srobinson on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Species Covered in This Notice Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha): threatened, naturally produced and artificially propagated Lower Columbia River. Chum salmon (O. keta): threatened, naturally produced and artificially propagated Columbia River. Coho salmon (O. kisutch): threatened, naturally produced and artificially propagated Lower Columbia River. Steelhead (O. mykiss): threatened, naturally produced and artificially propagated Lower Columbia River. Pacific eulachon (Thaleichthys pacificus): threatened, naturally produced southern distinct population segment. ODFW has submitted to NMFS four HGMPs describing hatchery programs that release salmon and steelhead into the Sandy River in a manner that is intended to comply with requirements of the ESA under limit 5 of the 4(d) Rule. The programs are designed to meet mitigation responsibilities related to impacts from development in the Sandy River and Columbia River basins by providing hatchery fish to support fishing opportunities while minimizing potential risks to natural-origin spring Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and winter steelhead populations, consistent with Oregon’s Lower Columbia River Conservation and Recovery Plan for Oregon Populations of Salmon and Steelhead. As specified in the July 10, 2000, ESA 4(d) rule for salmon and steelhead (65 FR 42422) and updated June 28, 2005 (70 FR 37160), NMFS may approve an HGMP if it meets criteria set forth in 50 CFR 223.203(b)(5)(i)(A) through (K). Prior to final approval of an HGMP, NMFS must publish notification announcing its availability for public review and comment. NMFS received requests from the Native Fish Society and the Pacific Rivers Council to extend the public comment period. The comment period for the proposed policy was to end on June 8, 2012. NMFS is reopening the comment period until July 9, 2012, to allow for more opportunity for public comment (see DATES and ADDRESSES). Authority Under section 4 of the ESA, the Secretary of Commerce is required to adopt such regulations as he deems necessary and advisable for the conservation of species listed as threatened. The ESA salmon and VerDate Mar<15>2010 20:21 Jun 08, 2012 Jkt 226001 steelhead 4(d) rule (65 FR 42422, July 10, 2000, as updated in 70 FR 37160, June 28, 2005) specifies categories of activities that contribute to the conservation of listed salmonids and sets out the criteria for such activities. Limit 5 of the updated 4(d) rule (50 CFR 223.203(b)(5)) further provides that the prohibitions of paragraph (a) of the updated 4(d) rule (50 CFR 223.203(a)) do not apply to activities associated with artificial propagation programs provided that an HGMP has been approved by NMFS to be in accordance with the salmon and steelhead 4(d) rule (65 FR 42422, July 10, 2000, as updated in 70 FR 37160, June 28, 2005). Dated: June 6, 2012. Angela Somma, Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2012–14155 Filed 6–8–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XC066 November 2010 Biological Opinion on the Effects of the Alaska Groundfish Fisheries on Steller Sea Lions and Other Endangered Species; Public Meeting National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. AGENCY: Notice of public meeting; request for presentations. ACTION: NMFS will host a meeting to conduct a panel review by experts contracted through the Center for Independent Experts (CIE) related to NMFS’s November 2010 Biological Opinion on the effects of the Alaska groundfish fisheries on Steller sea lions and other endangered species (Final Biop). The meeting will provide an opportunity for the CIE reviewers to receive presentations from NMFS, the State of Alaska, the State of Washington, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, and the public concerning new and relevant scientific information that has become available since NMFS issued the Final Biop. NMFS requests that parties interested in presenting such information to the CIE reviewers submit a statement of interest including an abstract of the information to be presented. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 The meeting will be held August 1–2, 2012, from 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. Statements of interest and abstracts must be received by 5 p.m. Alaska Daylight Time on July 2, 2012, to be considered for presentation during the meeting on August 2, 2012. ADDRESSES: Send statements of interest in making a presentation and abstracts to Jon Kurland, Assistant Regional Administrator for Protected Resources, NMFS, by any one of the following methods: • Fax: 907–586–7012. • Mail: P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802. • Email: jon.kurland@noaa.gov • Hand delivery to the Federal Building: 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, Juneau, Alaska. The meeting will be held at NMFS Alaska Fisheries Science Center, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Building 4, Seattle, WA, 98115, in the Jim Traynor conference room. The CIE contract statement of work (SOW) and terms of reference (TORs) and documents subject to the CIE review are available on the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at www.alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/ protectedresources/stellers/esa/biop/ final/cie/review.htm. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jon Kurland, 907–586–7638. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: DATES: Background NMFS contracted with the CIE to conduct a peer review of the November 2010 Biological Opinion on the Alaska groundfish fisheries (Final Biop), which NMFS prepared under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The CIE is a group affiliated with the University of Miami that provides independent peer reviews of the science upon which many of NMFS’s management decisions are based, including reviews of stock assessments for fish and marine mammals. The structure and operation of the CIE are designed to ensure the quality, relevance, and independence of the reviews. Independence is maintained by eliminating any role for NMFS in selecting or paying the reviewers or in approving the content of reviewers’ reports. Reviewers must adhere to a strict conflict of interest policy and the SOW and TORs contained in the review contract. The ESA requires each federal agency to insure than any action authorized, funded, or carried out by the agency is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any threatened or endangered species or adversely modify or destroy designated critical habitat. E:\FR\FM\11JNN1.SGM 11JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 112 / Monday, June 11, 2012 / Notices srobinson on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Action agencies must consult with NMFS or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding any action that may affect listed species. For fisheries managed under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, NMFS is the action agency and must complete the consultation internally, involving its Sustainable Fisheries Division (responsible for authorization of the fisheries) and Protected Resources Division (responsible for implementing the ESA). The subject of the CIE review is the scientific information used for, and analysis contained in, the Final Biop; and new scientific information relevant to Steller sea lions and fisheries since completion of the Final Biop. The review consists of two chapters: (1) A desk review of the Final Biop including information available to NMFS through September 3, 2010, and (2) a panel review of new information that became available subsequent to the Final Biop. NMFS expects to receive a final report from the CIE review on September 7, 2012. Terms of Reference The following TORs provide the parameters for the CIE review. The CIE reviewers must address each of the items specified in the TORs and must not address other issues than those specifically enumerated. Tasks specific to developing Chapter 1 (desk review of Final Biop): 1. Read the Final Biop (November 24, 2010) on the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries; and state waters parallel groundfish fisheries and related background documents (provided by NMFS) and the recovery plan (see ADDRESSES for a link to these documents). 2. Provide a scientific peer review and comment on the Final Biop, including scientific information available to NMFS through the end of the public comment period (September 3, 2010) for the Draft Biop, evaluate the scientific information and its interpretation that developed the rationale and the subsequent findings regarding factors potentially affecting Steller sea lion population status, vital rates, critical habitat, risk of extinction, and recovery including in particular the findings regarding the effects of fisheries on Steller sea lion population status, vital rates, and critical habitat. Address the following: a. Does the Final Biop thoroughly and accurately (i.e. using the best available scientific information) describe what is known about the status of the listed species? VerDate Mar<15>2010 20:21 Jun 08, 2012 Jkt 226001 b. Does the Final Biop thoroughly and accurately describe what is known about groundfish fishery practices and catch statistics under the current ongoing ‘‘status quo’’ action, as defined in the Final Biop? c. While the agency is directed to evaluate the effects of the action on listed species and critical habitat, does the Final Biop also adequately address alternative scientific explanations to the apparent population dynamics of the western distinct population segment (WDPS) of Steller sea lion, such as (but not limited to) predation, disease, ecosystem/carrying capacity, or emigration? d. Does the Final Biop thoroughly and accurately assess the effects (direct and indirect) of the action on the listed species and its critical habitat? e. Evaluate the scientific weight of the evidence presented in the Final Biop. Does the evidence provide strong, moderate or weak support for the discussion, findings and conclusions made in the document? 3. Reviewers shall evaluate the quality and completeness of the scientific and commercial information used in the Final Biop analysis, and identify if the Final Biop analysis is comprehensive or if there are relevant scientific or commercial data or information that were not used in the Final Biop analysis. 4. Reviewers are specifically asked to evaluate the scientific basis for the nutritional stress findings of the Final Biop. Reviewers shall evaluate and comment on the strength of the linkages among fish biomass estimates, fishery removals, Steller sea lion reproductive rates, and recovery of the WDPS. Does the Final Biop accurately evaluate the inter-relationships between Steller sea lion population status and trends, foraging ecology, and groundfish fisheries effects across broad geographic areas (ecosystems to highly localized regions) and temporal scales (years to seasons)? 5. Reviewers will determine if there is any additional literature, assessments, or analyses that should have been considered in the Final Biop (as of the end of the public comment period for the Draft Biop, September 3, 2010). 6. In making these evaluations, reviewers shall consider and address the following questions: a. Are the findings of the Final Biop contradicted by any scientific information available as of September 3, 2010 presented in, or omitted from, the Final Biop? b. As part of this consideration, reviewers shall also assess the scientific record to determine whether adequate PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 34351 consideration has been given to the likelihood that factors other than fishing are negatively affecting the population status, critical habitat or recovery of the WDPS including predation, changes in the ecosystem or carrying capacity, emigration, exposure to contaminants, or other factors. Tasks specific to Chapter 2 (panel review meeting): 1. Reviewers will convene as a Panel and will conduct a scientific peer review during the panel review meeting in Seattle. In addition to scientific presentations regarding the Final Biop analysis and related scientific information, the meeting will include presentations by experts from environmental organizations, the fishing industry, affected communities, and other agencies and institutions. The Panel will conduct the peer review in accordance with the TORs for Chapter 2 and consider all relevant scientific information available up to the date of the Panel meeting. Refer to Annex 3 of the CIE review contract for listing of report and background documents (see ADDRESSES). 2. Following the same TORs identified for Chapter 1 of the CIE review, the reviewers will reexamine the Final Biop, its scientific record and any new information available subsequent to the issuance of the Final Biop and may provide additional commentary on the findings they made in Chapter 1 based on scientific information that arises through the panel presentations. This re-visitation of Chapter 1 shall be part of Chapter 2 of the report. As part of this commentary the reviewers are tasked to reevaluate the scientific basis for the conclusions of the Final Biop, that fisheries are causing nutritional stress in Steller sea lions, which in turn is adversely impacting the survival and recovery of the WDPS of the Steller sea lion. The reviewers shall evaluate and comment on the strength of the relationship between fishery removals and recovery of the WDPS. 3. The Reasonable Prudent Alternative (RPA) presented in the Final Biop (Section 8.3.4 of the Final Biop) and as implemented through an Interim Final Rule (75 FR 77535, December 13, 2010) may present an opportunity for an adaptive management experiment to test the response of fisheries and Steller sea lions to the fisheries closures implemented by the interim final rule. Reviewers will be asked to (1) comment on the utility of this opportunity, (2) evaluate the metrics identified in the Final Biop (e.g., trends in Steller sea lion abundance, trends in biomass of Atka mackerel and other groundfish, E:\FR\FM\11JNN1.SGM 11JNN1 34352 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 112 / Monday, June 11, 2012 / Notices srobinson on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES etc.), and (3) suggest other metrics not described in the Final Biop that could be used to evaluate the efficacy of the action in ensuring the groundfish fisheries are not likely to adversely affect the survival and recovery of WDPS of the Steller sea lion. CIE Panel Review The CIE panel review will focus on Chapter 2 from the TORs. Persons or groups wishing to make a presentation to the CIE reviewers must submit a statement of interest with a brief (one page or less) abstract of the type of information to be presented. Presentations must address new scientific information germane to Steller sea lions and the groundfish fisheries that was not available before September 3, 2010. Persons or groups proposing to present information that does not fall within the TORs for the CIE review will not be invited to make presentations. Due to the limited time available for the panel review, NMFS encourages individuals or groups that may have similar perspectives on the pertinent scientific information to coordinate their proposed presentations into subject specific panels to present the information effectively and minimize redundancy. For example, a panel could be comprised of several fishing industry representatives or several representatives of non-governmental organizations, with each participant addressing a different facet of the relevant information. NMFS will review the statements of interest, abstracts, and proposed panels and, in consultation with the CIE reviewers, will schedule the presentations so as to focus on the most relevant scientific information of interest to the reviewers. The amount of time available per presenter or panel will depend on the number of persons and groups wishing to make presentations. NMFS will contact the proposed presenters in advance of the meeting to specify the amount of time available and the approximate schedule. During the meeting presenters may provide additional written information to the CIE reviewers for consideration, but the CIE reviewers are not obligated under the contract to review documents beyond those identified in the SOW. More information on the CIE review, including the full SOW and TORs and all written materials for review identified in the SOW, is available on the NMFS Alaska Region Web site (see ADDRESSES). Arrangements for Foreign Nationals Individuals wishing to attend the meeting who are not citizens of the VerDate Mar<15>2010 20:21 Jun 08, 2012 Jkt 226001 United States must make prior arrangements to be permitted entrance to the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (see ADDRESSES). Requests for such arrangements should be directed to Jennifer Ferdinand by email at jennifer.ferdinand@noaa.gov by July 23, 2012. Special Accommodations These meetings are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Jennifer Ferdinand, (206) 526–4076, at least 5 working days prior to the meeting date. Dated: June 6, 2012. Helen Golde, Acting Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2012–14151 Filed 6–8–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XB139 On April 02, 2012 notice was published in the Federal Register (77 FR 19646) that a request for a permit to import marine mammal parts for scientific research had been submitted by the above-named applicant. The requested permit has been issued under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.), and the regulations governing the taking and importing of marine mammals (50 CFR part 216). The permit authorizes the import of fur, blood, and fat biopsies from up to 300 crabeater seals (Lobodon carcinophaga), 200 Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii), 50 Ross seals (Ommatophoca Rossii), and 25 leopard seals (Hydrurga leptonyx). No takes of live animals are authorized. The permit will expire June 01, 2017. In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), a final determination has been made that the activity proposed is categorically excluded from the requirement to prepare an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Marine Mammals; File No. 17178 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; issuance of permit. Dated: June 5, 2012. P. Michael Payne, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2012–14133 Filed 6–8–12; 8:45 am] AGENCY: Notice is hereby given that a permit has been issued to Virginia Institute of Marine Science [Responsible Party: Elizabeth Canuel, Ph.D.], P.O. Box 1346, Route 1208 Greate Road, Gloucester Point, VA 23062 to import marine mammal parts for scientific research. SUMMARY: The permit and related documents are available for review upon written request or by appointment in the following offices: Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13705, Silver Spring, MD 20910; phone (301)427–8401; fax (301)713–0376; Southwest Region, NMFS, 501 West Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802–4213; phone (562)980–4001; fax (562)980–4018; and Southeast Region, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, Saint Petersburg, Florida 33701; phone (727)824–5312; fax (727)824–5309. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Laura Morse or Amy Sloan, (301)427– 8401. ADDRESSES: PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 BILLING CODE 3510–22–P COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION Meeting of Technology Advisory Committee Commodity Futures Trading Commission (‘‘CFTC’’) ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: The CFTC announces that on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, the CFTC’s Technology Advisory Committee (‘‘TAC’’) will hold a public meeting at the CFTC’s Washington, DC headquarters, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The TAC will focus on updates from the TAC Subcommittee on Automated and High Frequency Trading (HFT), HFT strategies, and liquidity aggregation across designated contract markets (DCMs) and swap execution facilities (SEFs). DATES: The meeting will be held on June 20, 2012 from 10:0 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Members of the public who wish to submit written statements in connection with the meeting should submit them by June 19, 2012. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\11JNN1.SGM 11JNN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 112 (Monday, June 11, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 34350-34352]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-14151]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XC066


November 2010 Biological Opinion on the Effects of the Alaska 
Groundfish Fisheries on Steller Sea Lions and Other Endangered Species; 
Public Meeting

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of public meeting; request for presentations.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS will host a meeting to conduct a panel review by experts 
contracted through the Center for Independent Experts (CIE) related to 
NMFS's November 2010 Biological Opinion on the effects of the Alaska 
groundfish fisheries on Steller sea lions and other endangered species 
(Final Biop). The meeting will provide an opportunity for the CIE 
reviewers to receive presentations from NMFS, the State of Alaska, the 
State of Washington, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, and 
the public concerning new and relevant scientific information that has 
become available since NMFS issued the Final Biop. NMFS requests that 
parties interested in presenting such information to the CIE reviewers 
submit a statement of interest including an abstract of the information 
to be presented.

DATES: The meeting will be held August 1-2, 2012, from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 
Pacific Daylight Time. Statements of interest and abstracts must be 
received by 5 p.m. Alaska Daylight Time on July 2, 2012, to be 
considered for presentation during the meeting on August 2, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Send statements of interest in making a presentation and 
abstracts to Jon Kurland, Assistant Regional Administrator for 
Protected Resources, NMFS, by any one of the following methods:
     Fax: 907-586-7012.
     Mail: P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802.
     Email: jon.kurland@noaa.gov
     Hand delivery to the Federal Building: 709 West 9th 
Street, Room 420A, Juneau, Alaska.
    The meeting will be held at NMFS Alaska Fisheries Science Center, 
7600 Sand Point Way NE., Building 4, Seattle, WA, 98115, in the Jim 
Traynor conference room.
    The CIE contract statement of work (SOW) and terms of reference 
(TORs) and documents subject to the CIE review are available on the 
NMFS Alaska Region Web site at www.alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/protectedresources/stellers/esa/biop/final/cie/review.htm.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jon Kurland, 907-586-7638.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    NMFS contracted with the CIE to conduct a peer review of the 
November 2010 Biological Opinion on the Alaska groundfish fisheries 
(Final Biop), which NMFS prepared under Section 7 of the Endangered 
Species Act (ESA). The CIE is a group affiliated with the University of 
Miami that provides independent peer reviews of the science upon which 
many of NMFS's management decisions are based, including reviews of 
stock assessments for fish and marine mammals. The structure and 
operation of the CIE are designed to ensure the quality, relevance, and 
independence of the reviews. Independence is maintained by eliminating 
any role for NMFS in selecting or paying the reviewers or in approving 
the content of reviewers' reports. Reviewers must adhere to a strict 
conflict of interest policy and the SOW and TORs contained in the 
review contract.
    The ESA requires each federal agency to insure than any action 
authorized, funded, or carried out by the agency is not likely to 
jeopardize the continued existence of any threatened or endangered 
species or adversely modify or destroy designated critical habitat.

[[Page 34351]]

Action agencies must consult with NMFS or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service regarding any action that may affect listed species. For 
fisheries managed under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act, NMFS is the action agency and must complete the 
consultation internally, involving its Sustainable Fisheries Division 
(responsible for authorization of the fisheries) and Protected 
Resources Division (responsible for implementing the ESA).
    The subject of the CIE review is the scientific information used 
for, and analysis contained in, the Final Biop; and new scientific 
information relevant to Steller sea lions and fisheries since 
completion of the Final Biop. The review consists of two chapters: (1) 
A desk review of the Final Biop including information available to NMFS 
through September 3, 2010, and (2) a panel review of new information 
that became available subsequent to the Final Biop. NMFS expects to 
receive a final report from the CIE review on September 7, 2012.

Terms of Reference

    The following TORs provide the parameters for the CIE review. The 
CIE reviewers must address each of the items specified in the TORs and 
must not address other issues than those specifically enumerated.
    Tasks specific to developing Chapter 1 (desk review of Final Biop):
    1. Read the Final Biop (November 24, 2010) on the Bering Sea and 
Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries; and state 
waters parallel groundfish fisheries and related background documents 
(provided by NMFS) and the recovery plan (see ADDRESSES for a link to 
these documents).
    2. Provide a scientific peer review and comment on the Final Biop, 
including scientific information available to NMFS through the end of 
the public comment period (September 3, 2010) for the Draft Biop, 
evaluate the scientific information and its interpretation that 
developed the rationale and the subsequent findings regarding factors 
potentially affecting Steller sea lion population status, vital rates, 
critical habitat, risk of extinction, and recovery including in 
particular the findings regarding the effects of fisheries on Steller 
sea lion population status, vital rates, and critical habitat. Address 
the following:
    a. Does the Final Biop thoroughly and accurately (i.e. using the 
best available scientific information) describe what is known about the 
status of the listed species?
    b. Does the Final Biop thoroughly and accurately describe what is 
known about groundfish fishery practices and catch statistics under the 
current ongoing ``status quo'' action, as defined in the Final Biop?
    c. While the agency is directed to evaluate the effects of the 
action on listed species and critical habitat, does the Final Biop also 
adequately address alternative scientific explanations to the apparent 
population dynamics of the western distinct population segment (WDPS) 
of Steller sea lion, such as (but not limited to) predation, disease, 
ecosystem/carrying capacity, or emigration?
    d. Does the Final Biop thoroughly and accurately assess the effects 
(direct and indirect) of the action on the listed species and its 
critical habitat?
    e. Evaluate the scientific weight of the evidence presented in the 
Final Biop. Does the evidence provide strong, moderate or weak support 
for the discussion, findings and conclusions made in the document?
    3. Reviewers shall evaluate the quality and completeness of the 
scientific and commercial information used in the Final Biop analysis, 
and identify if the Final Biop analysis is comprehensive or if there 
are relevant scientific or commercial data or information that were not 
used in the Final Biop analysis.
    4. Reviewers are specifically asked to evaluate the scientific 
basis for the nutritional stress findings of the Final Biop. Reviewers 
shall evaluate and comment on the strength of the linkages among fish 
biomass estimates, fishery removals, Steller sea lion reproductive 
rates, and recovery of the WDPS. Does the Final Biop accurately 
evaluate the inter-relationships between Steller sea lion population 
status and trends, foraging ecology, and groundfish fisheries effects 
across broad geographic areas (ecosystems to highly localized regions) 
and temporal scales (years to seasons)?
    5. Reviewers will determine if there is any additional literature, 
assessments, or analyses that should have been considered in the Final 
Biop (as of the end of the public comment period for the Draft Biop, 
September 3, 2010).
    6. In making these evaluations, reviewers shall consider and 
address the following questions:
    a. Are the findings of the Final Biop contradicted by any 
scientific information available as of September 3, 2010 presented in, 
or omitted from, the Final Biop?
    b. As part of this consideration, reviewers shall also assess the 
scientific record to determine whether adequate consideration has been 
given to the likelihood that factors other than fishing are negatively 
affecting the population status, critical habitat or recovery of the 
WDPS including predation, changes in the ecosystem or carrying 
capacity, emigration, exposure to contaminants, or other factors.
    Tasks specific to Chapter 2 (panel review meeting):
    1. Reviewers will convene as a Panel and will conduct a scientific 
peer review during the panel review meeting in Seattle. In addition to 
scientific presentations regarding the Final Biop analysis and related 
scientific information, the meeting will include presentations by 
experts from environmental organizations, the fishing industry, 
affected communities, and other agencies and institutions. The Panel 
will conduct the peer review in accordance with the TORs for Chapter 2 
and consider all relevant scientific information available up to the 
date of the Panel meeting. Refer to Annex 3 of the CIE review contract 
for listing of report and background documents (see ADDRESSES).
    2. Following the same TORs identified for Chapter 1 of the CIE 
review, the reviewers will reexamine the Final Biop, its scientific 
record and any new information available subsequent to the issuance of 
the Final Biop and may provide additional commentary on the findings 
they made in Chapter 1 based on scientific information that arises 
through the panel presentations. This re-visitation of Chapter 1 shall 
be part of Chapter 2 of the report. As part of this commentary the 
reviewers are tasked to reevaluate the scientific basis for the 
conclusions of the Final Biop, that fisheries are causing nutritional 
stress in Steller sea lions, which in turn is adversely impacting the 
survival and recovery of the WDPS of the Steller sea lion. The 
reviewers shall evaluate and comment on the strength of the 
relationship between fishery removals and recovery of the WDPS.
    3. The Reasonable Prudent Alternative (RPA) presented in the Final 
Biop (Section 8.3.4 of the Final Biop) and as implemented through an 
Interim Final Rule (75 FR 77535, December 13, 2010) may present an 
opportunity for an adaptive management experiment to test the response 
of fisheries and Steller sea lions to the fisheries closures 
implemented by the interim final rule. Reviewers will be asked to (1) 
comment on the utility of this opportunity, (2) evaluate the metrics 
identified in the Final Biop (e.g., trends in Steller sea lion 
abundance, trends in biomass of Atka mackerel and other groundfish,

[[Page 34352]]

etc.), and (3) suggest other metrics not described in the Final Biop 
that could be used to evaluate the efficacy of the action in ensuring 
the groundfish fisheries are not likely to adversely affect the 
survival and recovery of WDPS of the Steller sea lion.

CIE Panel Review

    The CIE panel review will focus on Chapter 2 from the TORs. Persons 
or groups wishing to make a presentation to the CIE reviewers must 
submit a statement of interest with a brief (one page or less) abstract 
of the type of information to be presented. Presentations must address 
new scientific information germane to Steller sea lions and the 
groundfish fisheries that was not available before September 3, 2010. 
Persons or groups proposing to present information that does not fall 
within the TORs for the CIE review will not be invited to make 
presentations.
    Due to the limited time available for the panel review, NMFS 
encourages individuals or groups that may have similar perspectives on 
the pertinent scientific information to coordinate their proposed 
presentations into subject specific panels to present the information 
effectively and minimize redundancy. For example, a panel could be 
comprised of several fishing industry representatives or several 
representatives of non-governmental organizations, with each 
participant addressing a different facet of the relevant information.
    NMFS will review the statements of interest, abstracts, and 
proposed panels and, in consultation with the CIE reviewers, will 
schedule the presentations so as to focus on the most relevant 
scientific information of interest to the reviewers. The amount of time 
available per presenter or panel will depend on the number of persons 
and groups wishing to make presentations. NMFS will contact the 
proposed presenters in advance of the meeting to specify the amount of 
time available and the approximate schedule. During the meeting 
presenters may provide additional written information to the CIE 
reviewers for consideration, but the CIE reviewers are not obligated 
under the contract to review documents beyond those identified in the 
SOW.
    More information on the CIE review, including the full SOW and TORs 
and all written materials for review identified in the SOW, is 
available on the NMFS Alaska Region Web site (see ADDRESSES).

Arrangements for Foreign Nationals

    Individuals wishing to attend the meeting who are not citizens of 
the United States must make prior arrangements to be permitted entrance 
to the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (see ADDRESSES). Requests for 
such arrangements should be directed to Jennifer Ferdinand by email at 
jennifer.ferdinand@noaa.gov by July 23, 2012.

Special Accommodations

    These meetings are physically accessible to people with 
disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other 
auxiliary aids should be directed to Jennifer Ferdinand, (206) 526-
4076, at least 5 working days prior to the meeting date.

    Dated: June 6, 2012.
Helen Golde,
Acting Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-14151 Filed 6-8-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P