Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To Delist the North Pacific Population of the Humpback Whale and Notice of Status Review, 53391-53397 [2013-21066]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 168 / Thursday, August 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: sroberts on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Background On August 20, 2012, we published a proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the jaguar (77 FR 50214). That proposal had a 60-day comment period, ending October 19, 2012. On July 1, 2013, we published a revised proposal that incorporated new information received since the August 20, 2012, proposal (78 FR 39237). That revised proposal had a comment period that ended August 9, 2013. In the July 1, 2013, revised proposed rule, we proposed to designate approximately 858,137 acres (ac) (347,277 hectares (ha)) as critical habitat in six units located in Pima, Santa Cruz, and Cochise Counties, Arizona, and Hidalgo County, New Mexico. In the July 1, 2013, revised proposed rule, we also noticed the availability of a draft economic analysis and draft environmental assessment for public comment. We received requests for a public hearing, and a public hearing was held in Sierra Vista, Arizona, on July 30, 2013. We are now reopening a comment period on the August 20, 2012, proposed rule, as revised on July 1, 2013. Finally, pursuant to a courtapproved settlement agreement, the Service agreed to deliver the final designation of critical habitat to the Federal Register no later than December 16, 2013. Information Requested We will accept written comments and information during this reopened comment period on our July 1, 2013, revised proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the jaguar (78 FR 39237), draft economic analysis, and draft environmental assessment. For more information on the specific information we are seeking, please see the July 1, 2013, revised proposed rule. You may submit your comments and materials concerning the proposed rules by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. If you submitted comments or information on the proposed rule (77 FR 50214; August 20, 2012) during the initial comment period from August 20, 2012, to October 19, 2012; or the revised proposed rule (78 FR 39237; July 1, 2013) during the second comment period from July 1, 2013, to August 9, 2013, please do not resubmit them. We have incorporated them into the public record, and we will fully consider them in the preparation of our final rule. Further, any comments and information received after the closing of the second comment period on August 9, 2013, will be incorporated into the record during VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:54 Aug 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 this comment period and will be fully considered. Our final determination concerning critical habitat will take into consideration all written comments and any additional information we receive during all three comment periods. On the basis of public comments and other relevant information, we may, during the development of our final determination on the proposed critical habitat designation, find that areas proposed are not essential, are appropriate for exclusion under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, or are not appropriate for exclusion. You may submit your comments and materials concerning the revised proposed rule, draft economic analysis, or draft environmental assessment by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We request that you send comments only by the methods described in the ADDRESSES section. If you submit a comment via http:// www.regulations.gov, your entire comment—including any personal identifying information—will be posted on the Web site. We will post all hardcopy comments on http:// www.regulations.gov as well. If you submit a hardcopy comment that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the top of your document that we withhold this information from public review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation we used in preparing the revised proposed rule, draft economic analysis, and draft environmental assessment, will be available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–R2–ES–2012–0042, or by appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Ecological Services Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). You may obtain copies of the original proposed rule, the revisions published on July 1, 2013, the draft economic analysis, and the draft environmental assessment on the Internet at http:// www.regulations.gov at Docket Number FWS–R2–ES–2012–0042, or by mail from the Arizona Ecological Services Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Authors The primary authors of this notice are the staff members of the Arizona Ecological Services Fish and Wildlife Office, Southwest Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 53391 Authority The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Dated: August 21, 2013. Stephen Guertin, Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2013–21168 Filed 8–28–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Parts 223 and 224 [Docket No. 130708594–3594–01] RIN 0648–XC751 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To Delist the North Pacific Population of the Humpback Whale and Notice of Status Review National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: 90-day petition finding, request for information, and initiation of status review. AGENCY: We, NMFS, announce a 90day finding on a petition to identify the North Pacific population of the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) as a Distinct Population Segment (DPS) and delist the DPS under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The humpback whale was listed as an endangered species in 1970 under the Endangered Species and Conservation Act of 1969, which was later superseded by the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). We find that the petition viewed in the context of information readily available in our files presents substantial scientific and commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. We are hereby initiating a status review of the North Pacific population of the humpback whale to determine whether the petitioned action is warranted. To ensure that the status review is comprehensive, we are soliciting scientific and commercial information pertaining to this population from any interested party. DATES: Scientific and commercial information pertinent to the petitioned action must be received by October 28, 2013. ADDRESSES: You may submit information or data, identified by SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\29AUP1.SGM 29AUP1 53392 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 168 / Thursday, August 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules ‘‘NOAA–NMFS–2013–0106,’’ by any one of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic information via the Federal eRulemaking Portal http:// www.regulations.gov. To submit information via the e-Rulemaking Portal, first click the ‘‘submit a comment’’ icon, then enter ‘‘NOAA– NMFS–2013–0106’’ in the keyword search. Locate the document you wish to provide information on from the resulting list and click on the ‘‘Submit a Comment’’ icon to the right of that line. • Mail or Hand-Delivery: Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 EastWest Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Instructions: All information received is a part of the public record and may be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without change. All personally identifiable information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted may be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept information from anonymous sources. Attachments to electronic submissions will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, Corel WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marta Nammack, NMFS, Office of Protected Resources, (301) 427–8469. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background On April 17, 2013, we received a petition from the Hawai’i Fishermen’s Alliance for Conservation and Tradition, Inc., to identify the North Pacific population of the humpback whale as a DPS and to delist it under the ESA. Copies of the petition are available upon request (see ADDRESSES, above). sroberts on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS ESA Statutory, Regulatory, and Policy Provisions and Evaluation Framework In accordance with section 4(b)(3)(A) of the ESA, to the maximum extent practicable, within 90 days of receipt of a petition to list a species as threatened or endangered, the Secretary of Commerce is required to make a finding on whether that petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted, and to promptly publish such finding in the Federal Register (16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(3)(A)). When we find that substantial scientific or commercial information in a petition indicates the petitioned action may be warranted, as VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:54 Aug 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 is the case here, we are required to promptly commence a review of the status of the species concerned, during which we will conduct a comprehensive review of the best available scientific and commercial information. In such cases, within 12 months of receipt of the petition, we conclude the review with a finding as to whether, in fact, the petitioned action is warranted. Because the finding at the 12-month stage is based on a comprehensive review of all best available information, as compared to the narrow scope of review at the 90day stage, which focuses on information set forth in the petition, this 90-day finding does not prejudge the outcome of the status review. Under the ESA, the term ‘‘species’’ means a species, a subspecies, or a DPS of a vertebrate species (16 U.S.C. 1532(16)). A joint policy issued by NMFS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Services) clarifies the Services’ interpretation of the phrase ‘‘Distinct Population Segment,’’ or DPS (61 FR 4722; February 7, 1996). The DPS Policy requires the consideration of two elements when evaluating whether a vertebrate population segment qualifies as a DPS under the ESA: Discreteness of the population segment in relation to the remainder of the species; and, if discrete, the significance of the population segment to the species. A species is ‘‘endangered’’ if it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, and ‘‘threatened’’ if it is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range (ESA sections 3(6) and 3(20), respectively, 16 U.S.C. 1532(6) and (20)). Pursuant to the ESA and our implementing regulations, we determine whether a species is threatened or endangered based on any one or a combination of the following section 4(a)(1) factors: (1) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of habitat or range; (2) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (3) disease or predation; (4) inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; and (5) any other natural or manmade factors affecting the species’ existence (16 U.S.C. 1533(a)(1), 50 CFR 424.11(c)). Under section 4(a)(1) of the ESA and the implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.11(d), a species shall be removed from the list if the Secretary of Commerce determines, based on the best scientific and commercial data available after conducting a review of the species’ status, that the species is no longer threatened or endangered because of one or a combination of the PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 section 4(a)(1) factors. A species may be delisted only if such data substantiate that it is neither endangered nor threatened for one or more of the following reasons: (1) Extinction. Unless all individuals of the listed species had been previously identified and located, and were later found to be extirpated from their previous range, a sufficient period of time must be allowed before delisting to indicate clearly that the species is extinct. (2) Recovery. The principal goal of the Services is to return listed species to a point at which protection under the ESA is no longer required. A species may be delisted on the basis of recovery only if the best scientific and commercial data available indicate that it is no longer endangered or threatened. (3) Original data for classification in error. Subsequent investigations may show that the best scientific or commercial data available when the species was listed, or the interpretation of such data, were in error (50 CFR 424.11(d)). ESA-implementing regulations issued jointly by the Services (50 CFR 424.14(b)) define ‘‘substantial information,’’ in the context of reviewing a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species, as the amount of information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the measure proposed in the petition may be warranted. In evaluating whether substantial information is contained in a petition, the Secretary must consider whether the petition (1) Clearly indicates the administrative measure recommended and gives the scientific and any common name of the species involved; (2) contains detailed narrative justification for the recommended measure, describing, based on available information, past and present numbers and distribution of the species involved and any threats faced by the species; (3) provides information regarding the status of the species over all or a significant portion of its range; and (4) is accompanied by the appropriate supporting documentation in the form of bibliographic references, reprints of pertinent publications, copies of reports or letters from authorities, and maps (50 CFR 424.14(b)(2)). Judicial decisions have clarified the appropriate scope and limitations of the Services’ review of petitions at the 90day finding stage, in making a determination that a petitioned action may be warranted. As a general matter, these decisions hold that a petition need not establish a strong likelihood or a high probability that the petitioned E:\FR\FM\29AUP1.SGM 29AUP1 sroberts on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 168 / Thursday, August 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules action is warranted to support a positive 90-day finding. To make a 90-day finding on a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species, we evaluate whether the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating the petitioned action may be warranted, including its references and the information readily available in our files. We do not conduct additional research, and we do not solicit information from parties outside the agency to help us in evaluating the petition. We will accept the petitioners’ sources and characterizations of the information presented if they appear to be based on accepted scientific principles, unless we have specific information in our files that indicates that the petition’s information is incorrect, unreliable, obsolete, or otherwise irrelevant to the requested action. Information that is susceptible to more than one interpretation or that is contradicted by other available information will not be disregarded at the 90-day finding stage, so long as it is reliable and a reasonable person would conclude it supports the petitioners’ assertions. In other words, conclusive information indicating that the species may meet the ESA’s requirements for delisting is not required to make a positive 90-day finding. In evaluating whether a petition to delist a population is warranted, first we evaluate whether the information presented in the petition, along with the information readily available in our files, indicates that the petitioned entity constitutes a ‘‘species’’ eligible for delisting under the ESA. If so, we then evaluate whether the information indicates that the species no longer faces an extinction risk that is cause for concern; this may be indicated in information expressly discussing the species’ status and trends, or in information describing impacts and threats to the species. We evaluate any information on specific demographic factors pertinent to evaluating extinction risk for the species (e.g., population abundance and trends, productivity, spatial structure, age structure, sex ratio, diversity, current and historical range, habitat integrity or fragmentation), and the potential contribution of identified demographic risks to extinction risk for the species. We then evaluate the potential links between these demographic risks and the causative impacts and threats identified in section 4(a)(1). VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:54 Aug 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 Distribution and Life History of the North Pacific Population of the Humpback Whale The following description of the distribution and life history of the North Pacific population of the humpback whale is from Fleming and Jackson (2011), Global Summary of the Humpback Whale, information that was recently compiled for NMFS’ 5-year review of the humpback whale and published as a NOAA Technical Memorandum. Humpback whales are large, globally distributed, baleen whales with long pectoral flippers, distinct ventral fluke patterning, dark dorsal coloration, a highly varied acoustic call (termed song) and a diverse repertoire of surface behavior (Fleming and Jackson, 2011). The mating system for humpback whales is generally thought to be male-dominance polygyny, also described as a ‘floating lek’ (Clapham, 1996). In this system, multiple males compete for individual females and exhibit competitive behavior. Humpback song is a long, complex vocalization (Payne and McVay, 1971) produced by males on the winter breeding grounds, and also, less commonly, on migration (Cato, 1991; Clapham and Mattila, 1990) and seasonally on feeding grounds (Clark and Clapham, 2004). Behavioral studies suggest that song is used to advertise for females, and/or to establish dominance ´ ´ among males (Darling and Berube, 2001; Darling et al., 2006; Tyack, 1981). In the Northern Hemisphere, sexual maturity has been estimated at 5–11 years of age and appears to vary both within and among populations (Clapham, 1992; Gabriele et al., 2007b; Robbins, 2007). Gestation is 11–12 months, and calves are born in subtropical waters (Matthews, 1937). In the Northern Hemisphere, humpback whales exhibit maternal fidelity to specific feeding regions (Baker et al., 1990; Martin et al., 1984). The sex ratio of adults is roughly 1:1 males:females. The average generation time for humpback whales (the average age of all reproductively active females at carrying capacity) has been estimated at 21.5 years, based on a compilation of some of the life history parameters reviewed above (Taylor et al., 2007). Estimated annual rates of population increase range from 0–4 percent to 12.5 percent for different times and areas throughout the range and in the Northern Hemisphere (Baker et al., 1992; Barlow and Clapham, 1997; Clapham et al., 2003a; Steiger and Calambokidis, 2000); however, it is generally accepted that any rate above 11.8 percent per year is biologically PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 53393 impossible for this species (Zerbini et al., 2010). Annual adult mortality rates between 0.049 and 0.037 have been estimated for the Gulf of Maine and the North Pacific Hawaiian Islands populations (Barlow and Clapham, 1997; Mizroch et al., 2004). Using associations of calves with identified mothers (newborn calves are not uniquely identifiable) on North Pacific breeding and feeding grounds, Gabriele (2001) estimated 6-month mortality to be 0.182 (95-percent confidence intervals (CI) 0.023–0.518). In the Northern Hemisphere, humpback whales summer in the biologically productive northern higher latitudes and most individuals travel south to sub-tropical and tropical waters in winter to mate and calve. Migratory routes and behavior are likely to be maternally directed (Baker et al., 1990; Martin et al., 1984). Feeding areas are often near or over the continental shelf and associated with cooler temperatures and oceanographic or topographic features that serve to aggregate prey. Feeding areas in the North Pacific Ocean range widely in latitude from California north into the Bering Sea. There are at least four known breeding areas in the North Pacific Ocean (with different subareas) including the western Pacific Ocean and waters off the Hawaiian Islands, Mexico, and Central America. Humpback whales take in large mouthfuls of prey during feeding rather than continuously filtering food, as may be observed in some other large baleen whales (Ingebrigtsen, 1929). Humpback whales have a diverse diet that appears to vary slightly across feeding aggregation areas. The species is known to feed on both small schooling fish and on euphausiids (krill). Feeding behavior is varied as well and frequently features novel capture methods involving the creation of bubble structures to trap and corral fish; bubble nets, clouds and curtains are often observed when humpback whales are feeding on schooling fish (Hain et al., 1982). Lobtailing and repeated underwater looping movements have also been observed or recorded during surface feeding events, and it may be that certain feeding behavior is spread through the population by cultural transmission (Friedlaender et al., 2009; Weinrich et al., 1992). Analysis of Petition and Information Readily Available in NMFS Files The petition contains information, much of it from Fleming and Jackson (2011), on the humpback whale, including its biology and ecology, geographic range and migratory E:\FR\FM\29AUP1.SGM 29AUP1 53394 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 168 / Thursday, August 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules sroberts on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS patterns, feeding ecology, reproduction, and genetics, including supporting information. The petitioner asserts that the North Pacific population of the humpback whale qualifies as a DPS under our DPS Policy and that it should be delisted if the best scientific and commercial information available substantiate that it is neither endangered nor threatened and protection under the ESA is no longer required. The petitioner notes that in determining whether a species should be delisted NMFS considers: (1) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (2) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (3) disease or predation; (4) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (5) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. The petitioner also asserts that the interim goal set forth in NMFS’ Final Recovery Plan for the Humpback Whale (NMFS, 1991) has been met and that the long-term goal has also likely been met. Below, we summarize our analysis and conclusions regarding the relevant information presented by the petitioner and in our files. Does the information in the petition and in our files support identification of the North Pacific population as a DPS? To support the assertion that the North Pacific population of the humpback whale should be identified as a DPS, the petitioner provides information indicating that the population is discrete from other humpback whale populations and significant to the global species. The petitioner states that the population is discrete from other humpback whale populations because it is spatially separated, genetically distinct, and morphologically different from other populations. The petitioner notes that humpback whales in the northern and southern hemispheres of the Pacific Ocean are separated spatially based on their seasonal migratory patterns. In the North Pacific Ocean, humpback whales feed in higher latitudes during the boreal summer and breed in lower latitudes north of the equator during the boreal winter. In the South Pacific, humpback whales feed in the Antarctic during the austral summer (boreal winter) and breed in lower latitudes south of the equator during the austral winter (boreal summer). Individual humpback whales in the Southern Hemisphere differ from those in the two Northern Hemisphere oceans in the timing and location of reproduction. Differing estimates of VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:54 Aug 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 testis weight from the breeding and feeding grounds (and no spermatozoa detected on feeding grounds (Symons and Weston, 1958)) indicate that there is seasonal variation in sperm production (Chittleborough, 1965; Omura, 1953), further supporting the asynchrony of seasonal mating between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere populations. Finally, ovulation is also seasonal (Chittleborough, 1957), suggesting that if individual whales travel between the hemispheres outside their usual estrus period, this seasonality may prohibit successful reproduction. The petitioner also notes that significant differences among the three principal oceanic populations in the North Pacific, North Atlantic, and Southern Oceans have been shown through mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and microsatellite analyses, suggesting that gene flow between oceans is minimal and migration between oceanic populations is limited to no more than a few females per generation (Baker et al., 1993, 1994; Valsechi et al., 1997). Of the 22 mtDNA haplotypes found in the world-wide survey of 230 individuals, only three were found in more than one ocean (Baker et al., 1994), and of these three, only one was found to be common to the North Pacific and Southern Oceans. No haplotype was common to all three oceanic populations. The petitioner asserts that, morphologically, individual humpback whales in the Southern Hemisphere differ from those in the two Northern Hemisphere oceans in the patterning and extent of ventral fluke and lateral pigmentation (Rosenbaum et al., 1995). There are significantly more darkcolored flukes in the North Pacific populations of humpback whales, and significantly more light-colored flukes in the Southern Ocean populations (Rosenbaum et al., 1995). The petitioner asserts that the North Pacific population of the humpback whale is significant to the taxon to which it belongs because: (1) There would be a significant gap in the species’ range if the North Pacific population were lost, as there are no other breeding populations in the northern hemisphere of the Pacific Ocean that migrate to higher latitudes of the North Pacific; and (2) the North Pacific population of the humpback whale has unique genetic traits. Migration between North Pacific, Southern Ocean, and North Atlantic populations of humpback whales is considered to be approximately one female per generation (Baker et al., 1994), making timely repopulation from the southern hemisphere unlikely if the PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 North Pacific population were extirpated from its range. The petition suggests that the genetic uniqueness of the North Pacific population further increases the importance of the population, as complete extirpation of the North Pacific population would eliminate those genetic traits and lineages from the worldwide population of humpback whales. The information presented by the petitioner is also in our files, with Fleming and Jackson (2011) providing some of the most updated information. The petition presents substantial information indicating that the North Pacific population of the humpback whale may qualify as a DPS. Does the information in the petition and in our files support the assertion that none of the ESA Section 4(a)(1) factors are contributing to the extinction risk of the North Pacific population of Humpback Whale? We must determine whether a species is an endangered species or a threatened species on the basis of any of the following factors: (1) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (2) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (3) disease or predation; (4) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (5) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. Here we evaluate the information provided in the petition and in our files with regard to these factors to determine whether it would lead a reasonable person to conclude that none of these factors are contributing to the extinction risk of the North Pacific population of humpback whale. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of Its Habitat or Range The petitioner states that we identified chemical pollution (including oil spills) and coastal development as two primary threats to humpback whale habitat in our 1991 recovery plan and notes that a recent assessment of humpback whales worldwide (Fleming and Jackson, 2011) identified pollution as a threat but did not identify coastal development as a threat. The petitioner notes that humpback whale populations throughout the Pacific Ocean have more than doubled since the recovery plan was completed, during which time coastal development has continued in both breeding and feeding habitats. According to Fleming and Jackson (2011), the highest levels of DDT were found in whales feeding off southern California, a highly urbanized region of E:\FR\FM\29AUP1.SGM 29AUP1 sroberts on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 168 / Thursday, August 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules the coast with substantial discharges (Elfes et al., 2010). The health effects of different doses of contaminants are currently unknown for humpback whales (Krahn et al., 2004). There is evidence of detrimental health effects from these compounds in other mammals, namely disease susceptibility, neurotoxicity, reproductive and immune system impairment (Reijnders, 1986; DeSwart et al., 1996; Eriksson et al., 1998). Contaminant levels have been suggested as a causative factor in lower reproductive rates found among humpback whales off southern California (Steiger and Calambokidis, 2000), but at present the threshold level for negative effects and transfer rates to calves are unknown for humpback whales. For humpback young of the year biopsy-sampled in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Metcalfe et al. (2004) found PCB levels similar to that of their mothers and other adult females, indicating that bioaccumulation can be rapid and that transplacental and lactational partitioning did little to reduce contaminant loads. According to the petition, however, the health effects of different contaminants are currently unknown for humpback whales (Fleming and Jackson, 2011), and Elfes (2010) suggests the levels found in humpback whales are unlikely to have a significant impact on their persistence as a population (Fleming and Jackson, 2011). The petition also notes that very little is known about the effects of oil or petroleum on cetaceans and especially on mysticetes (Fleming and Jackson, 2011), but that the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 did not significantly impact humpback whales in Prince William Sound (Dahlheim and Von Ziegesar, 1993). The petitioner adds that naturally occurring toxin poisoning can be the cause of whale stranding events and is particularly implicated when unusual mortality events occur, but that the threat is negligible to North Pacific humpback whales because the several documented cases of these events have all occurred on the U.S. East Coast. As noted in Fleming and Jackson (2011), however, but not in the petition, regional-level stranding networks and sampling protocols in Oceania and the United States, Canada, Bahamas, and Australia can provide the means for monitoring trends in humpback whale mortality events and their causes, but there is still a great need for better diagnostic testing of marine mammal tissue samples from these stranding events to determine the cause of death (Gulland, 2006). VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:54 Aug 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 Finally, the petitioner notes that while several possible impacts from global climate change have been suggested, including impacts to abundance and distribution of prey (Fleming and Jackson, 2011), there are no known adverse effects to humpback whales. On the basis of this information, the petitioner concludes that the North Pacific humpback whale population does not appear to be faced with any threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range. We find that the petition presents substantial information indicating that the North Pacific humpback whale population may not be at risk from destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or Educational Purposes The petitioner asserts that the North Pacific humpback whale population is not subject to commercial harvest. It acknowledges that tissue from 17 different humpback whales has been detected in Japanese market whale products (1993–2009) through genetic monitoring surveys, but states that these takes are likely to have negligible impact on the population. The petitioner notes that although whale watching operations have been documented on many humpback whale feeding grounds, breeding grounds, and migratory corridors (O’Connor et al., 2009), Weinrich and Corbelli (2009) concluded that calving rate and calf survival at age two were not negatively affected by whale watching activities. Senigaglia et al. (2012) concluded that the most common response of humpback whales to whale watch boats is increased swimming speed and that little evidence exists that whale watching activities have significant effects on interbreath intervals and blow rates. The petitioner adds that efforts to manage whale watching operations include limiting the number of whale watching vessels, limiting vessel approach distances to whales, specifying the manner of operating around whales, and establishing limits to the period of exposure of the whales. Also, in Hawaii and Alaska, Federal law prohibits approaching humpback whales closer than 100 yards (91.4 m) when on the water or disrupting behavior (50 CFR 224.103). Operating any aircraft within 1,000 feet (305 m) of humpback whales is also prohibited in Hawaii. On the basis of this information, the petitioner concludes that the North Pacific humpback whale population is PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 53395 not subject to overutilization for commercial or recreational purposes. We find that the petition presents substantial information indicating that the North Pacific humpback whale population may not be at risk from overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes. Disease and Predation The petitioner states that there is little published information on humpback whale disease, but that the humpback whale does carry a crustacean ectoparasite (the cyamid Cyamus hoopis). While the whale is the main source of nutrition for this parasite (Schell et al., 2000), there is little evidence that it contributes to whale mortality (Fleming and Jackson, 2011). The petitioner also asserts that predation of the North Pacific population of the humpback whale by the killer whale (Orcinus orca) occurs at or near the wintering grounds, but that it is unlikely to be significantly affecting the humpback whale’s recovery; attacks by large sharks and false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) are rare. The petitioner concludes that disease and predation are not significantly affecting the North Pacific humpback whale’s recovery. We find that the petition presents substantial information indicating that disease and predation may not be contributing to the North Pacific humpback whale’s extinction risk. Inadequacy of Regulatory Mechanisms The petitioner asserts that the humpback whale is protected by local, Federal, and international regulatory mechanisms. It is protected as indigenous wildlife under Hawaii Administrative Rule 13–124, which prohibits the capture, possession, injury, killing, destruction, sale, transport, or export of indigenous wildlife. All marine mammals are protected under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (MMPA), which prohibits, with certain exceptions, the ‘‘take’’ of marine mammals in U.S. waters and by U.S. citizens on the high seas, and the importation of marine mammals and marine mammal products into the United States. Because human-caused mortality and serious injury (M&SI) levels for the three North Pacific humpback whale stocks are below Potential Biological Removal (PBR) as calculated under the MMPA (Allen and Angliss, 2012; Caretta et al., 2011), no Take Reduction Team has been convened to date for these stocks to E:\FR\FM\29AUP1.SGM 29AUP1 53396 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 168 / Thursday, August 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules sroberts on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS develop a plan to reduce incidental take to sustainable levels. The Hawaii breeding population of the North Pacific humpback whale is protected by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, and five additional National Marine Sanctuaries are located within the North Pacific humpback whale range: Olympic Coast, Cordell Bank, Gulf of the Farallones, Monterey Bay, and Channel Islands. Additional protection for humpback whales and their habitat is provided by the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, which encompasses 139,797 square miles (∼36.2 hectares) of ocean around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Internationally, humpback whales are protected under the International Whaling Commission (IWC), established under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling of 1946 (ICRW). The IWC prohibited commercial whaling of North Pacific humpback whales in 1966, and an international moratorium on the whaling of all large whale species was established in 1982. Some nations have continued to hunt whales under Article VIII of the ICRW, which allows the killing of whales for scientific research purposes, but no humpback whales are currently declared as a target of scientific research takes. The current moratorium on commercial whaling will remain in place unless a 75-percent majority of IWC signatory members vote to lift it. We find that the petition presents substantial information indicating that the North Pacific population of the humpback whale may be sufficiently protected by state, Federal, and international regulatory mechanisms. Other Natural or Man-Made Factors As the petitioner points out, the NMFS recovery plan for the humpback whale identified several known and potential impacts to humpback whales, including collision with ships, entrapment and entanglement in fishing gear, and acoustic disturbance (NMFS, 1991). The petitioner notes that collisions with ships have been reported in both feeding and breeding areas of the North Pacific humpback whale range, adding that ship strikes may result in lifethreatening trauma or mortality for the whale, though the severity of injuries depends primarily on speed and size of the vessel. According to Fleming and Jackson (2011), humpback whales are the second most commonly reported species involved in vessel strikes after fin whales. Calves and juvenile whales VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:54 Aug 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 are thought to be more susceptible to vessel collisions (Wiley and Asmutis, 1995). The petitioner provides some information on vessel strike reports and attributes the increased number of ship strike reports in Hawaii and Alaska over the years to the increasing abundance of humpback whale populations and the increase in vessels operating in humpback whale habitat (Lammers et al., 2003). According to the petitioner, a large percentage of ship strikes in Hawaii and Alaska are non-fatal and primarily occur with pleasure crafts and commercial whale watching vessels (Douglas et al., 2008). The petitioner notes that the most recent stock assessment reports for the three North Pacific humpback whale stocks report a small number of ship strikes. For the California/Oregon/Washington stock, the average number of documented humpback whale deaths by ship strikes for 2004–2008 was 0.4 animals per year, with a PBR of 11.3 (Caretta et al., 2011) and for the Central North Pacific stock, the average number of M&SI from ship strikes for 2003–2007 was estimated at 1.6 animals per year, with a PBR of 61.2 (Allen and Angliss, 2012). However, the petitioner acknowledges that no estimate of ship strike mortality is reported for the Western North Pacific stock. The petitioner concludes that the available data on ship strikes in the North Pacific show that vessel strikes are not affecting the continued existence of humpback whales. The petition presents substantial information indicating that vessel strikes may not be affecting the continued existence of humpback whales in the North Pacific. Entanglement in fishing gear and other marine debris is a documented source of injury and mortality to cetaceans. Since 2002, the Hawaiian Islands Large Whale Entanglement Response Network has confirmed 112 reports of entangled large whales as true entanglement of large whales, with all but three reports involving humpback whales (Lyman, 2012). The petitioner notes that these reports have increased over time, corresponding to the increasing wintering population in Hawaiian waters. Though not noted in the petition, NMFS’ Alaska Region received over 170 reports of humpback whale entanglement (both confirmed and unconfirmed) in Alaska from 1990– 2011. According to the petitioner, the average number of humpback whales resulting in M&SI from commercial fisheries is 3.2 animals for the California/Oregon/Washington stock (Caretta et al., 2011) and 3.8 animals for the Central Pacific stock (Allen and Angliss, 2012), and these interaction PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 rates are below the stocks’ calculated PBRs, suggesting that fishery interactions do not affect the continued existence of these stocks. Again, limited information is available on entanglement and fishery interactions in the western Pacific (Allen and Angliss, 2012). We find that the petition presents substantial information indicating that fishery interactions may not be affecting the continued existence of these stocks. Acoustic disturbance is another threat to cetaceans, especially anthropogenic low-frequency sound produced by shipping, oil and gas development, defense related activities, and research activities. The petitioner asserts that available evidence suggests that anthropogenic noise does not threaten the continued existence of North Pacific humpback whales, pointing out that only one record is known in which two humpback whales were stranded with extensive damage to the temporal bones from a large-scale explosion (Fleming and Jackson, 2011). Impact of lowfrequency noise on variation of humpback whale songs appears to be minimal, though studies have shown that song length increased in response to low-frequency broadcasts (Miller et al., 2000; Fristrup et al., 2003). The petitioner concludes that the steady increase in the humpback whale population throughout the North Pacific indicates that these threats have not cumulatively curtailed the recovery and growth of the humpback whale population, and therefore, are not affecting its continued existence. We find that the petition presents substantial information indicating that these factors may not be contributing to the extinction risk of this population. Petition Finding Based on the above information and criteria specified in 50 CFR 424.14(b)(2), we find that the petitioners present substantial scientific and commercial information indicating that identifying the North Pacific population of humpback whale as a DPS and delisting this DPS may be warranted. Under section 4(b)(3)(A) of the ESA, an affirmative 90-day finding requires that we promptly commence a status review of the petitioned species (16 U.S.C. 1533 (b)(3)(A)). Information Solicited To ensure that the status review is based on the best available scientific and commercial data, we are soliciting information on the humpback whale, with a focus on the North Pacific population, in the following areas: (1) Historical and current population status and trends; (2) historical and current E:\FR\FM\29AUP1.SGM 29AUP1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 168 / Thursday, August 29, 2013 / Proposed Rules distribution; (3) migratory movements and behavior; (4) genetic population structure, as compared to other populations; (5) current or planned activities that may adversely impact humpback whales; and (6) ongoing efforts to conserve humpback whales. We request that all information and data be accompanied by supporting documentation such as (1) maps, bibliographic references, or reprints of pertinent publications; and (2) the submitter’s name, address, and any association, institution, or business that the person represents. References Cited A complete list of references is available upon request from the NMFS Office of Protected Resources (see ADDRESSES). Authority The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Dated: August 22, 2013. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, Performing the functions and duties of the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2013–21066 Filed 8–28–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 130426413–3719–01] RIN 0648–BD24 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Vessel Monitoring Systems National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes to modify the declaration requirements for vessels required to use Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) units in Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) fisheries. This proposed rule would require operators of vessels that have been issued HMS permits and are required to use VMS to use their VMS units to provide hourly position reports 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (24/7). The proposed rule would also allow the operators of such vessels sroberts on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:54 Aug 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 to make declarations out of the fishery when not retaining or fishing for HMS for specified periods of time encompassing two or more trips. These changes would make the current Atlantic HMS VMS requirements consistent with other VMS-monitored Atlantic fisheries and provide additional reporting flexibility for vessel operators by eliminating the requirement to hail-out two hours in advance of leaving port. Additionally, these changes will continue to provide NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) with information necessary to facilitate enforcement of HMS regulations. This rule would affect all commercial fishermen who fish for Atlantic HMS who are required to use VMS. DATES: Submit comments on or before September 30, 2013. We will hold an operator-assisted public hearing via conference call and webinar for this proposed rule on September 23, 2013, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., EDT. We will also discuss the proposed rule with the HMS Advisory Panel during the AP meeting the week of September 9, 2013; the details of that meeting were published in a separate Federal Register notice on July 23, 2013 (78 FR 44095). ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA–NMFS– 2013–0132, by any one of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D= NOAA-NMFS-2013-0132, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments to Margo Schulze-Haugen, NMFS/SF1, 1315 East West Highway, National Marine Fisheries Service, SSMC3, Silver Spring, MD 20910. • Fax: 301–713–1917, Phone: 301– 427–8503; Attn: Margo Schulze-Haugen. Instructions: Please include the identifier NOAA–NMFS–2013–0132 when submitting comments. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the close of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and generally will be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 53397 publicly accessible. We will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only. Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this proposed rule may be submitted to the Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Management Division by email to OIRA_ Submission@omb.eop.gov, or fax to 202–395–7285. Public Hearing and Webinar Information The call-in information for the public hearing is phone number 888–997– 8509; participant pass code 3166031. We will also provide a brief presentation via webinar. Participants can register for the webinar at https:// www1.gotomeeting.com/register/ 242124417. Following the registration process, participants will receive a confirmation email with webinar log-in information. Presentation materials and other supporting information will be posted on the HMS Web site at: http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Cliff Hutt or Karyl Brewster-Geisz by phone at 301–427–8503 or by fax at 301–713– 1917. Copies of this proposed rule and any related documents can be obtained by writing to the HMS Management Division, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910, visiting the HMS Web site at http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/, or by contacting Cliff Hutt. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Atlantic HMS fisheries are managed under the dual authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) and the Atlantic Tunas Conservation Act (ATCA). Under the MSA, management measures must be consistent with ten National Standards, and fisheries must be managed to maintain optimum yield, rebuild overfished fisheries, and prevent overfishing. Under ATCA, the Secretary of Commerce shall promulgate regulations, as necessary and appropriate, to implement measures adopted by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). The implementing regulations for Atlantic HMS are at 50 CFR part 635. Maintaining the VMS monitoring program ensures compliance with both E:\FR\FM\29AUP1.SGM 29AUP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 168 (Thursday, August 29, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 53391-53397]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-21066]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Parts 223 and 224

[Docket No. 130708594-3594-01]
RIN 0648-XC751


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; 90-Day Finding on a Petition 
To Delist the North Pacific Population of the Humpback Whale and Notice 
of Status Review

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

ACTION: 90-day petition finding, request for information, and 
initiation of status review.

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SUMMARY: We, NMFS, announce a 90-day finding on a petition to identify 
the North Pacific population of the humpback whale (Megaptera 
novaeangliae) as a Distinct Population Segment (DPS) and delist the DPS 
under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The humpback whale was listed 
as an endangered species in 1970 under the Endangered Species and 
Conservation Act of 1969, which was later superseded by the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). We find that the petition viewed 
in the context of information readily available in our files presents 
substantial scientific and commercial information indicating that the 
petitioned action may be warranted.
    We are hereby initiating a status review of the North Pacific 
population of the humpback whale to determine whether the petitioned 
action is warranted. To ensure that the status review is comprehensive, 
we are soliciting scientific and commercial information pertaining to 
this population from any interested party.

DATES: Scientific and commercial information pertinent to the 
petitioned action must be received by October 28, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may submit information or data, identified by

[[Page 53392]]

``NOAA-NMFS-2013-0106,'' by any one of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic information 
via the Federal eRulemaking Portal http://www.regulations.gov. To 
submit information via the e-Rulemaking Portal, first click the 
``submit a comment'' icon, then enter ``NOAA-NMFS-2013-0106'' in the 
keyword search. Locate the document you wish to provide information on 
from the resulting list and click on the ``Submit a Comment'' icon to 
the right of that line.
     Mail or Hand-Delivery: Office of Protected Resources, 
NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.
    Instructions: All information received is a part of the public 
record and may be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without change. 
All personally identifiable information (for example, name, address, 
etc.) voluntarily submitted may be publicly accessible. Do not submit 
confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected 
information. NMFS will accept information from anonymous sources. 
Attachments to electronic submissions will be accepted in Microsoft 
Word, Excel, Corel WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marta Nammack, NMFS, Office of 
Protected Resources, (301) 427-8469.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    On April 17, 2013, we received a petition from the Hawai'i 
Fishermen's Alliance for Conservation and Tradition, Inc., to identify 
the North Pacific population of the humpback whale as a DPS and to 
delist it under the ESA. Copies of the petition are available upon 
request (see ADDRESSES, above).

ESA Statutory, Regulatory, and Policy Provisions and Evaluation 
Framework

    In accordance with section 4(b)(3)(A) of the ESA, to the maximum 
extent practicable, within 90 days of receipt of a petition to list a 
species as threatened or endangered, the Secretary of Commerce is 
required to make a finding on whether that petition presents 
substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the 
petitioned action may be warranted, and to promptly publish such 
finding in the Federal Register (16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(3)(A)). When we find 
that substantial scientific or commercial information in a petition 
indicates the petitioned action may be warranted, as is the case here, 
we are required to promptly commence a review of the status of the 
species concerned, during which we will conduct a comprehensive review 
of the best available scientific and commercial information. In such 
cases, within 12 months of receipt of the petition, we conclude the 
review with a finding as to whether, in fact, the petitioned action is 
warranted. Because the finding at the 12-month stage is based on a 
comprehensive review of all best available information, as compared to 
the narrow scope of review at the 90-day stage, which focuses on 
information set forth in the petition, this 90-day finding does not 
prejudge the outcome of the status review.
    Under the ESA, the term ``species'' means a species, a subspecies, 
or a DPS of a vertebrate species (16 U.S.C. 1532(16)). A joint policy 
issued by NMFS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Services) 
clarifies the Services' interpretation of the phrase ``Distinct 
Population Segment,'' or DPS (61 FR 4722; February 7, 1996). The DPS 
Policy requires the consideration of two elements when evaluating 
whether a vertebrate population segment qualifies as a DPS under the 
ESA: Discreteness of the population segment in relation to the 
remainder of the species; and, if discrete, the significance of the 
population segment to the species.
    A species is ``endangered'' if it is in danger of extinction 
throughout all or a significant portion of its range, and 
``threatened'' if it is likely to become endangered within the 
foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range 
(ESA sections 3(6) and 3(20), respectively, 16 U.S.C. 1532(6) and 
(20)). Pursuant to the ESA and our implementing regulations, we 
determine whether a species is threatened or endangered based on any 
one or a combination of the following section 4(a)(1) factors: (1) The 
present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of 
habitat or range; (2) overutilization for commercial, recreational, 
scientific, or educational purposes; (3) disease or predation; (4) 
inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; and (5) any other natural 
or manmade factors affecting the species' existence (16 U.S.C. 
1533(a)(1), 50 CFR 424.11(c)).
    Under section 4(a)(1) of the ESA and the implementing regulations 
at 50 CFR 424.11(d), a species shall be removed from the list if the 
Secretary of Commerce determines, based on the best scientific and 
commercial data available after conducting a review of the species' 
status, that the species is no longer threatened or endangered because 
of one or a combination of the section 4(a)(1) factors. A species may 
be delisted only if such data substantiate that it is neither 
endangered nor threatened for one or more of the following reasons:
    (1) Extinction. Unless all individuals of the listed species had 
been previously identified and located, and were later found to be 
extirpated from their previous range, a sufficient period of time must 
be allowed before delisting to indicate clearly that the species is 
extinct.
    (2) Recovery. The principal goal of the Services is to return 
listed species to a point at which protection under the ESA is no 
longer required. A species may be delisted on the basis of recovery 
only if the best scientific and commercial data available indicate that 
it is no longer endangered or threatened.
    (3) Original data for classification in error. Subsequent 
investigations may show that the best scientific or commercial data 
available when the species was listed, or the interpretation of such 
data, were in error (50 CFR 424.11(d)).
    ESA-implementing regulations issued jointly by the Services (50 CFR 
424.14(b)) define ``substantial information,'' in the context of 
reviewing a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species, as the 
amount of information that would lead a reasonable person to believe 
that the measure proposed in the petition may be warranted. In 
evaluating whether substantial information is contained in a petition, 
the Secretary must consider whether the petition (1) Clearly indicates 
the administrative measure recommended and gives the scientific and any 
common name of the species involved; (2) contains detailed narrative 
justification for the recommended measure, describing, based on 
available information, past and present numbers and distribution of the 
species involved and any threats faced by the species; (3) provides 
information regarding the status of the species over all or a 
significant portion of its range; and (4) is accompanied by the 
appropriate supporting documentation in the form of bibliographic 
references, reprints of pertinent publications, copies of reports or 
letters from authorities, and maps (50 CFR 424.14(b)(2)).
    Judicial decisions have clarified the appropriate scope and 
limitations of the Services' review of petitions at the 90-day finding 
stage, in making a determination that a petitioned action may be 
warranted. As a general matter, these decisions hold that a petition 
need not establish a strong likelihood or a high probability that the 
petitioned

[[Page 53393]]

action is warranted to support a positive 90-day finding.
    To make a 90-day finding on a petition to list, delist, or 
reclassify a species, we evaluate whether the petition presents 
substantial scientific or commercial information indicating the 
petitioned action may be warranted, including its references and the 
information readily available in our files. We do not conduct 
additional research, and we do not solicit information from parties 
outside the agency to help us in evaluating the petition. We will 
accept the petitioners' sources and characterizations of the 
information presented if they appear to be based on accepted scientific 
principles, unless we have specific information in our files that 
indicates that the petition's information is incorrect, unreliable, 
obsolete, or otherwise irrelevant to the requested action. Information 
that is susceptible to more than one interpretation or that is 
contradicted by other available information will not be disregarded at 
the 90-day finding stage, so long as it is reliable and a reasonable 
person would conclude it supports the petitioners' assertions. In other 
words, conclusive information indicating that the species may meet the 
ESA's requirements for delisting is not required to make a positive 90-
day finding.
    In evaluating whether a petition to delist a population is 
warranted, first we evaluate whether the information presented in the 
petition, along with the information readily available in our files, 
indicates that the petitioned entity constitutes a ``species'' eligible 
for delisting under the ESA. If so, we then evaluate whether the 
information indicates that the species no longer faces an extinction 
risk that is cause for concern; this may be indicated in information 
expressly discussing the species' status and trends, or in information 
describing impacts and threats to the species. We evaluate any 
information on specific demographic factors pertinent to evaluating 
extinction risk for the species (e.g., population abundance and trends, 
productivity, spatial structure, age structure, sex ratio, diversity, 
current and historical range, habitat integrity or fragmentation), and 
the potential contribution of identified demographic risks to 
extinction risk for the species. We then evaluate the potential links 
between these demographic risks and the causative impacts and threats 
identified in section 4(a)(1).

Distribution and Life History of the North Pacific Population of the 
Humpback Whale

    The following description of the distribution and life history of 
the North Pacific population of the humpback whale is from Fleming and 
Jackson (2011), Global Summary of the Humpback Whale, information that 
was recently compiled for NMFS' 5-year review of the humpback whale and 
published as a NOAA Technical Memorandum. Humpback whales are large, 
globally distributed, baleen whales with long pectoral flippers, 
distinct ventral fluke patterning, dark dorsal coloration, a highly 
varied acoustic call (termed song) and a diverse repertoire of surface 
behavior (Fleming and Jackson, 2011). The mating system for humpback 
whales is generally thought to be male-dominance polygyny, also 
described as a `floating lek' (Clapham, 1996). In this system, multiple 
males compete for individual females and exhibit competitive behavior. 
Humpback song is a long, complex vocalization (Payne and McVay, 1971) 
produced by males on the winter breeding grounds, and also, less 
commonly, on migration (Cato, 1991; Clapham and Mattila, 1990) and 
seasonally on feeding grounds (Clark and Clapham, 2004). Behavioral 
studies suggest that song is used to advertise for females, and/or to 
establish dominance among males (Darling and B[eacute]rub[eacute], 
2001; Darling et al., 2006; Tyack, 1981).
    In the Northern Hemisphere, sexual maturity has been estimated at 
5-11 years of age and appears to vary both within and among populations 
(Clapham, 1992; Gabriele et al., 2007b; Robbins, 2007). Gestation is 
11-12 months, and calves are born in sub-tropical waters (Matthews, 
1937). In the Northern Hemisphere, humpback whales exhibit maternal 
fidelity to specific feeding regions (Baker et al., 1990; Martin et 
al., 1984). The sex ratio of adults is roughly 1:1 males:females. The 
average generation time for humpback whales (the average age of all 
reproductively active females at carrying capacity) has been estimated 
at 21.5 years, based on a compilation of some of the life history 
parameters reviewed above (Taylor et al., 2007). Estimated annual rates 
of population increase range from 0-4 percent to 12.5 percent for 
different times and areas throughout the range and in the Northern 
Hemisphere (Baker et al., 1992; Barlow and Clapham, 1997; Clapham et 
al., 2003a; Steiger and Calambokidis, 2000); however, it is generally 
accepted that any rate above 11.8 percent per year is biologically 
impossible for this species (Zerbini et al., 2010). Annual adult 
mortality rates between 0.049 and 0.037 have been estimated for the 
Gulf of Maine and the North Pacific Hawaiian Islands populations 
(Barlow and Clapham, 1997; Mizroch et al., 2004). Using associations of 
calves with identified mothers (newborn calves are not uniquely 
identifiable) on North Pacific breeding and feeding grounds, Gabriele 
(2001) estimated 6-month mortality to be 0.182 (95-percent confidence 
intervals (CI) 0.023-0.518).
    In the Northern Hemisphere, humpback whales summer in the 
biologically productive northern higher latitudes and most individuals 
travel south to sub-tropical and tropical waters in winter to mate and 
calve. Migratory routes and behavior are likely to be maternally 
directed (Baker et al., 1990; Martin et al., 1984). Feeding areas are 
often near or over the continental shelf and associated with cooler 
temperatures and oceanographic or topographic features that serve to 
aggregate prey. Feeding areas in the North Pacific Ocean range widely 
in latitude from California north into the Bering Sea. There are at 
least four known breeding areas in the North Pacific Ocean (with 
different subareas) including the western Pacific Ocean and waters off 
the Hawaiian Islands, Mexico, and Central America.
    Humpback whales take in large mouthfuls of prey during feeding 
rather than continuously filtering food, as may be observed in some 
other large baleen whales (Ingebrigtsen, 1929). Humpback whales have a 
diverse diet that appears to vary slightly across feeding aggregation 
areas. The species is known to feed on both small schooling fish and on 
euphausiids (krill). Feeding behavior is varied as well and frequently 
features novel capture methods involving the creation of bubble 
structures to trap and corral fish; bubble nets, clouds and curtains 
are often observed when humpback whales are feeding on schooling fish 
(Hain et al., 1982). Lobtailing and repeated underwater looping 
movements have also been observed or recorded during surface feeding 
events, and it may be that certain feeding behavior is spread through 
the population by cultural transmission (Friedlaender et al., 2009; 
Weinrich et al., 1992).

Analysis of Petition and Information Readily Available in NMFS Files

    The petition contains information, much of it from Fleming and 
Jackson (2011), on the humpback whale, including its biology and 
ecology, geographic range and migratory

[[Page 53394]]

patterns, feeding ecology, reproduction, and genetics, including 
supporting information. The petitioner asserts that the North Pacific 
population of the humpback whale qualifies as a DPS under our DPS 
Policy and that it should be delisted if the best scientific and 
commercial information available substantiate that it is neither 
endangered nor threatened and protection under the ESA is no longer 
required. The petitioner notes that in determining whether a species 
should be delisted NMFS considers: (1) The present or threatened 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (2) 
overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes; (3) disease or predation; (4) the inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms; or (5) other natural or manmade factors 
affecting its continued existence. The petitioner also asserts that the 
interim goal set forth in NMFS' Final Recovery Plan for the Humpback 
Whale (NMFS, 1991) has been met and that the long-term goal has also 
likely been met.
    Below, we summarize our analysis and conclusions regarding the 
relevant information presented by the petitioner and in our files.

Does the information in the petition and in our files support 
identification of the North Pacific population as a DPS?

    To support the assertion that the North Pacific population of the 
humpback whale should be identified as a DPS, the petitioner provides 
information indicating that the population is discrete from other 
humpback whale populations and significant to the global species.
    The petitioner states that the population is discrete from other 
humpback whale populations because it is spatially separated, 
genetically distinct, and morphologically different from other 
populations. The petitioner notes that humpback whales in the northern 
and southern hemispheres of the Pacific Ocean are separated spatially 
based on their seasonal migratory patterns. In the North Pacific Ocean, 
humpback whales feed in higher latitudes during the boreal summer and 
breed in lower latitudes north of the equator during the boreal winter. 
In the South Pacific, humpback whales feed in the Antarctic during the 
austral summer (boreal winter) and breed in lower latitudes south of 
the equator during the austral winter (boreal summer). Individual 
humpback whales in the Southern Hemisphere differ from those in the two 
Northern Hemisphere oceans in the timing and location of reproduction. 
Differing estimates of testis weight from the breeding and feeding 
grounds (and no spermatozoa detected on feeding grounds (Symons and 
Weston, 1958)) indicate that there is seasonal variation in sperm 
production (Chittleborough, 1965; Omura, 1953), further supporting the 
asynchrony of seasonal mating between the Northern and Southern 
Hemisphere populations. Finally, ovulation is also seasonal 
(Chittleborough, 1957), suggesting that if individual whales travel 
between the hemispheres outside their usual estrus period, this 
seasonality may prohibit successful reproduction.
    The petitioner also notes that significant differences among the 
three principal oceanic populations in the North Pacific, North 
Atlantic, and Southern Oceans have been shown through mitochondrial DNA 
(mtDNA) and microsatellite analyses, suggesting that gene flow between 
oceans is minimal and migration between oceanic populations is limited 
to no more than a few females per generation (Baker et al., 1993, 1994; 
Valsechi et al., 1997). Of the 22 mtDNA haplotypes found in the world-
wide survey of 230 individuals, only three were found in more than one 
ocean (Baker et al., 1994), and of these three, only one was found to 
be common to the North Pacific and Southern Oceans. No haplotype was 
common to all three oceanic populations.
    The petitioner asserts that, morphologically, individual humpback 
whales in the Southern Hemisphere differ from those in the two Northern 
Hemisphere oceans in the patterning and extent of ventral fluke and 
lateral pigmentation (Rosenbaum et al., 1995). There are significantly 
more dark-colored flukes in the North Pacific populations of humpback 
whales, and significantly more light-colored flukes in the Southern 
Ocean populations (Rosenbaum et al., 1995).
    The petitioner asserts that the North Pacific population of the 
humpback whale is significant to the taxon to which it belongs because: 
(1) There would be a significant gap in the species' range if the North 
Pacific population were lost, as there are no other breeding 
populations in the northern hemisphere of the Pacific Ocean that 
migrate to higher latitudes of the North Pacific; and (2) the North 
Pacific population of the humpback whale has unique genetic traits. 
Migration between North Pacific, Southern Ocean, and North Atlantic 
populations of humpback whales is considered to be approximately one 
female per generation (Baker et al., 1994), making timely repopulation 
from the southern hemisphere unlikely if the North Pacific population 
were extirpated from its range. The petition suggests that the genetic 
uniqueness of the North Pacific population further increases the 
importance of the population, as complete extirpation of the North 
Pacific population would eliminate those genetic traits and lineages 
from the worldwide population of humpback whales. The information 
presented by the petitioner is also in our files, with Fleming and 
Jackson (2011) providing some of the most updated information. The 
petition presents substantial information indicating that the North 
Pacific population of the humpback whale may qualify as a DPS.

Does the information in the petition and in our files support the 
assertion that none of the ESA Section 4(a)(1) factors are contributing 
to the extinction risk of the North Pacific population of Humpback 
Whale?

    We must determine whether a species is an endangered species or a 
threatened species on the basis of any of the following factors: (1) 
The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of 
its habitat or range; (2) overutilization for commercial, recreational, 
scientific, or educational purposes; (3) disease or predation; (4) the 
inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (5) other natural or 
manmade factors affecting its continued existence. Here we evaluate the 
information provided in the petition and in our files with regard to 
these factors to determine whether it would lead a reasonable person to 
conclude that none of these factors are contributing to the extinction 
risk of the North Pacific population of humpback whale.

The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of 
Its Habitat or Range

    The petitioner states that we identified chemical pollution 
(including oil spills) and coastal development as two primary threats 
to humpback whale habitat in our 1991 recovery plan and notes that a 
recent assessment of humpback whales worldwide (Fleming and Jackson, 
2011) identified pollution as a threat but did not identify coastal 
development as a threat. The petitioner notes that humpback whale 
populations throughout the Pacific Ocean have more than doubled since 
the recovery plan was completed, during which time coastal development 
has continued in both breeding and feeding habitats. According to 
Fleming and Jackson (2011), the highest levels of DDT were found in 
whales feeding off southern California, a highly urbanized region of

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the coast with substantial discharges (Elfes et al., 2010). The health 
effects of different doses of contaminants are currently unknown for 
humpback whales (Krahn et al., 2004). There is evidence of detrimental 
health effects from these compounds in other mammals, namely disease 
susceptibility, neurotoxicity, reproductive and immune system 
impairment (Reijnders, 1986; DeSwart et al., 1996; Eriksson et al., 
1998). Contaminant levels have been suggested as a causative factor in 
lower reproductive rates found among humpback whales off southern 
California (Steiger and Calambokidis, 2000), but at present the 
threshold level for negative effects and transfer rates to calves are 
unknown for humpback whales. For humpback young of the year biopsy-
sampled in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Metcalfe et al. (2004) found PCB 
levels similar to that of their mothers and other adult females, 
indicating that bioaccumulation can be rapid and that transplacental 
and lactational partitioning did little to reduce contaminant loads. 
According to the petition, however, the health effects of different 
contaminants are currently unknown for humpback whales (Fleming and 
Jackson, 2011), and Elfes (2010) suggests the levels found in humpback 
whales are unlikely to have a significant impact on their persistence 
as a population (Fleming and Jackson, 2011).
    The petition also notes that very little is known about the effects 
of oil or petroleum on cetaceans and especially on mysticetes (Fleming 
and Jackson, 2011), but that the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 did not 
significantly impact humpback whales in Prince William Sound (Dahlheim 
and Von Ziegesar, 1993). The petitioner adds that naturally occurring 
toxin poisoning can be the cause of whale stranding events and is 
particularly implicated when unusual mortality events occur, but that 
the threat is negligible to North Pacific humpback whales because the 
several documented cases of these events have all occurred on the U.S. 
East Coast. As noted in Fleming and Jackson (2011), however, but not in 
the petition, regional-level stranding networks and sampling protocols 
in Oceania and the United States, Canada, Bahamas, and Australia can 
provide the means for monitoring trends in humpback whale mortality 
events and their causes, but there is still a great need for better 
diagnostic testing of marine mammal tissue samples from these stranding 
events to determine the cause of death (Gulland, 2006).
    Finally, the petitioner notes that while several possible impacts 
from global climate change have been suggested, including impacts to 
abundance and distribution of prey (Fleming and Jackson, 2011), there 
are no known adverse effects to humpback whales.
    On the basis of this information, the petitioner concludes that the 
North Pacific humpback whale population does not appear to be faced 
with any threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its 
habitat or range. We find that the petition presents substantial 
information indicating that the North Pacific humpback whale population 
may not be at risk from destruction, modification, or curtailment of 
its habitat or range.

Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    The petitioner asserts that the North Pacific humpback whale 
population is not subject to commercial harvest. It acknowledges that 
tissue from 17 different humpback whales has been detected in Japanese 
market whale products (1993-2009) through genetic monitoring surveys, 
but states that these takes are likely to have negligible impact on the 
population.
    The petitioner notes that although whale watching operations have 
been documented on many humpback whale feeding grounds, breeding 
grounds, and migratory corridors (O'Connor et al., 2009), Weinrich and 
Corbelli (2009) concluded that calving rate and calf survival at age 
two were not negatively affected by whale watching activities. 
Senigaglia et al. (2012) concluded that the most common response of 
humpback whales to whale watch boats is increased swimming speed and 
that little evidence exists that whale watching activities have 
significant effects on interbreath intervals and blow rates. The 
petitioner adds that efforts to manage whale watching operations 
include limiting the number of whale watching vessels, limiting vessel 
approach distances to whales, specifying the manner of operating around 
whales, and establishing limits to the period of exposure of the 
whales. Also, in Hawaii and Alaska, Federal law prohibits approaching 
humpback whales closer than 100 yards (91.4 m) when on the water or 
disrupting behavior (50 CFR 224.103). Operating any aircraft within 
1,000 feet (305 m) of humpback whales is also prohibited in Hawaii.
    On the basis of this information, the petitioner concludes that the 
North Pacific humpback whale population is not subject to 
overutilization for commercial or recreational purposes. We find that 
the petition presents substantial information indicating that the North 
Pacific humpback whale population may not be at risk from 
overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes.

Disease and Predation

    The petitioner states that there is little published information on 
humpback whale disease, but that the humpback whale does carry a 
crustacean ectoparasite (the cyamid Cyamus hoopis). While the whale is 
the main source of nutrition for this parasite (Schell et al., 2000), 
there is little evidence that it contributes to whale mortality 
(Fleming and Jackson, 2011). The petitioner also asserts that predation 
of the North Pacific population of the humpback whale by the killer 
whale (Orcinus orca) occurs at or near the wintering grounds, but that 
it is unlikely to be significantly affecting the humpback whale's 
recovery; attacks by large sharks and false killer whales (Pseudorca 
crassidens) are rare. The petitioner concludes that disease and 
predation are not significantly affecting the North Pacific humpback 
whale's recovery. We find that the petition presents substantial 
information indicating that disease and predation may not be 
contributing to the North Pacific humpback whale's extinction risk.

Inadequacy of Regulatory Mechanisms

    The petitioner asserts that the humpback whale is protected by 
local, Federal, and international regulatory mechanisms. It is 
protected as indigenous wildlife under Hawaii Administrative Rule 13-
124, which prohibits the capture, possession, injury, killing, 
destruction, sale, transport, or export of indigenous wildlife. All 
marine mammals are protected under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection 
Act of 1972 (MMPA), which prohibits, with certain exceptions, the 
``take'' of marine mammals in U.S. waters and by U.S. citizens on the 
high seas, and the importation of marine mammals and marine mammal 
products into the United States. Because human-caused mortality and 
serious injury (M&SI) levels for the three North Pacific humpback whale 
stocks are below Potential Biological Removal (PBR) as calculated under 
the MMPA (Allen and Angliss, 2012; Caretta et al., 2011), no Take 
Reduction Team has been convened to date for these stocks to

[[Page 53396]]

develop a plan to reduce incidental take to sustainable levels.
    The Hawaii breeding population of the North Pacific humpback whale 
is protected by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine 
Sanctuary, and five additional National Marine Sanctuaries are located 
within the North Pacific humpback whale range: Olympic Coast, Cordell 
Bank, Gulf of the Farallones, Monterey Bay, and Channel Islands. 
Additional protection for humpback whales and their habitat is provided 
by the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, which encompasses 
139,797 square miles (~36.2 hectares) of ocean around the Northwestern 
Hawaiian Islands.
    Internationally, humpback whales are protected under the 
International Whaling Commission (IWC), established under the 
International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling of 1946 (ICRW). 
The IWC prohibited commercial whaling of North Pacific humpback whales 
in 1966, and an international moratorium on the whaling of all large 
whale species was established in 1982. Some nations have continued to 
hunt whales under Article VIII of the ICRW, which allows the killing of 
whales for scientific research purposes, but no humpback whales are 
currently declared as a target of scientific research takes. The 
current moratorium on commercial whaling will remain in place unless a 
75-percent majority of IWC signatory members vote to lift it.
    We find that the petition presents substantial information 
indicating that the North Pacific population of the humpback whale may 
be sufficiently protected by state, Federal, and international 
regulatory mechanisms.

Other Natural or Man-Made Factors

    As the petitioner points out, the NMFS recovery plan for the 
humpback whale identified several known and potential impacts to 
humpback whales, including collision with ships, entrapment and 
entanglement in fishing gear, and acoustic disturbance (NMFS, 1991).
    The petitioner notes that collisions with ships have been reported 
in both feeding and breeding areas of the North Pacific humpback whale 
range, adding that ship strikes may result in life-threatening trauma 
or mortality for the whale, though the severity of injuries depends 
primarily on speed and size of the vessel. According to Fleming and 
Jackson (2011), humpback whales are the second most commonly reported 
species involved in vessel strikes after fin whales. Calves and 
juvenile whales are thought to be more susceptible to vessel collisions 
(Wiley and Asmutis, 1995). The petitioner provides some information on 
vessel strike reports and attributes the increased number of ship 
strike reports in Hawaii and Alaska over the years to the increasing 
abundance of humpback whale populations and the increase in vessels 
operating in humpback whale habitat (Lammers et al., 2003). According 
to the petitioner, a large percentage of ship strikes in Hawaii and 
Alaska are non-fatal and primarily occur with pleasure crafts and 
commercial whale watching vessels (Douglas et al., 2008). The 
petitioner notes that the most recent stock assessment reports for the 
three North Pacific humpback whale stocks report a small number of ship 
strikes. For the California/Oregon/Washington stock, the average number 
of documented humpback whale deaths by ship strikes for 2004-2008 was 
0.4 animals per year, with a PBR of 11.3 (Caretta et al., 2011) and for 
the Central North Pacific stock, the average number of M&SI from ship 
strikes for 2003-2007 was estimated at 1.6 animals per year, with a PBR 
of 61.2 (Allen and Angliss, 2012). However, the petitioner acknowledges 
that no estimate of ship strike mortality is reported for the Western 
North Pacific stock. The petitioner concludes that the available data 
on ship strikes in the North Pacific show that vessel strikes are not 
affecting the continued existence of humpback whales. The petition 
presents substantial information indicating that vessel strikes may not 
be affecting the continued existence of humpback whales in the North 
Pacific.
    Entanglement in fishing gear and other marine debris is a 
documented source of injury and mortality to cetaceans. Since 2002, the 
Hawaiian Islands Large Whale Entanglement Response Network has 
confirmed 112 reports of entangled large whales as true entanglement of 
large whales, with all but three reports involving humpback whales 
(Lyman, 2012). The petitioner notes that these reports have increased 
over time, corresponding to the increasing wintering population in 
Hawaiian waters. Though not noted in the petition, NMFS' Alaska Region 
received over 170 reports of humpback whale entanglement (both 
confirmed and unconfirmed) in Alaska from 1990-2011. According to the 
petitioner, the average number of humpback whales resulting in M&SI 
from commercial fisheries is 3.2 animals for the California/Oregon/
Washington stock (Caretta et al., 2011) and 3.8 animals for the Central 
Pacific stock (Allen and Angliss, 2012), and these interaction rates 
are below the stocks' calculated PBRs, suggesting that fishery 
interactions do not affect the continued existence of these stocks. 
Again, limited information is available on entanglement and fishery 
interactions in the western Pacific (Allen and Angliss, 2012). We find 
that the petition presents substantial information indicating that 
fishery interactions may not be affecting the continued existence of 
these stocks.
    Acoustic disturbance is another threat to cetaceans, especially 
anthropogenic low-frequency sound produced by shipping, oil and gas 
development, defense related activities, and research activities. The 
petitioner asserts that available evidence suggests that anthropogenic 
noise does not threaten the continued existence of North Pacific 
humpback whales, pointing out that only one record is known in which 
two humpback whales were stranded with extensive damage to the temporal 
bones from a large-scale explosion (Fleming and Jackson, 2011). Impact 
of low-frequency noise on variation of humpback whale songs appears to 
be minimal, though studies have shown that song length increased in 
response to low-frequency broadcasts (Miller et al., 2000; Fristrup et 
al., 2003).
    The petitioner concludes that the steady increase in the humpback 
whale population throughout the North Pacific indicates that these 
threats have not cumulatively curtailed the recovery and growth of the 
humpback whale population, and therefore, are not affecting its 
continued existence. We find that the petition presents substantial 
information indicating that these factors may not be contributing to 
the extinction risk of this population.

Petition Finding

    Based on the above information and criteria specified in 50 CFR 
424.14(b)(2), we find that the petitioners present substantial 
scientific and commercial information indicating that identifying the 
North Pacific population of humpback whale as a DPS and delisting this 
DPS may be warranted. Under section 4(b)(3)(A) of the ESA, an 
affirmative 90-day finding requires that we promptly commence a status 
review of the petitioned species (16 U.S.C. 1533 (b)(3)(A)).

Information Solicited

    To ensure that the status review is based on the best available 
scientific and commercial data, we are soliciting information on the 
humpback whale, with a focus on the North Pacific population, in the 
following areas: (1) Historical and current population status and 
trends; (2) historical and current

[[Page 53397]]

distribution; (3) migratory movements and behavior; (4) genetic 
population structure, as compared to other populations; (5) current or 
planned activities that may adversely impact humpback whales; and (6) 
ongoing efforts to conserve humpback whales. We request that all 
information and data be accompanied by supporting documentation such as 
(1) maps, bibliographic references, or reprints of pertinent 
publications; and (2) the submitter's name, address, and any 
association, institution, or business that the person represents.

References Cited

    A complete list of references is available upon request from the 
NMFS Office of Protected Resources (see ADDRESSES).

Authority

    The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: August 22, 2013.
Alan D. Risenhoover,
Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, Performing the functions and 
duties of the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-21066 Filed 8-28-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P