Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To Reclassify the West Indian Manatee From Endangered to Threatened, 37706-37710 [2014-15458]

Download as PDF wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 37706 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 127 / Wednesday, July 2, 2014 / Proposed Rules served, none of the 100 channel plans involves new pairwise interference of greater than 0.5 percent. For each of these 100 channel plans, staff examined cell-level data generated by the TVStudy software to determine the aggregate interference experienced by each station. The results show that across all simulations, on average approximately one percent of stations are predicted to receive new aggregate interference after channel reassignment above the one percent cap proposed by commenters, while the average new aggregate interference level was less than 0.2 percent, well below the de minimis constraint threshold adopted by the FCC. In none of the results did any station receive new aggregate interference above 2 percent. Details about the methodology as well as study results can be found in the appendix, available at https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_ public/attachmatch/DA-14-677A2.pdf. The analysis pertains only to constraints applied to prevent new interference under the approach adopted by the FCC, and does not consider any alternatives that stations may have, including the opportunity reassigned stations will have to request alternate channels or expanded facilities on their newly assigned channels. Similarly, the approach used in these studies does not factor in any postauction optimization, which will be run after the completion of bidding in the auction. Such optimization could consider additional factors, such as minimizing the number of channel reassignments or the estimated costs of repacking. To assist commenters in designing and running their own simulations, FCC staff is releasing information about how it conducted the analysis and performed interference calculations. The results are not exhaustive. The Incentive Auction Task Force invites parties to conduct their own simulations and interference analyses using these updated constraint files in conjunction with the publicly available TVStudy software. The Incentive Auction Task Force seeks comment from interested parties on the data and analyses in the document and its appendix. New constraint files and all current and subsequent releases relating to the Broadcast Incentive Auction will be posted to and available on the LEARN Web site at: https://www.fcc.gov/learn. Federal Communications Commission. Roger Sherman, Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. [FR Doc. 2014–15585 Filed 7–1–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712–01–P VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:15 Jul 01, 2014 Jkt 232001 DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2014–0024; 92220–1113–0000–C5] Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To Reclassify the West Indian Manatee From Endangered to Threatened Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of 90-day petition finding and initiation of status review. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service or USFWS), announce a 90-day finding on a petition to reclassify the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). Based on our review, we find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this notice, we are initiating a review of the status of the species to determine if reclassification is warranted. Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act also requires a status review of listed species at least once every 5 years. We are, therefore, electing to conduct the 5-year review simultaneously with the status review. To ensure that this status review is comprehensive, we are requesting scientific and commercial data and other information regarding the West Indian manatee, including its subspecies the Florida manatee and Antillean manatee. Based on the status review, we will issue a 12-month finding on the petition, which will address whether the petitioned action is warranted, as provided in section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act. DATES: We request that we receive information to consider for the status review on or before September 2, 2014. After this date, you must submit information directly to the North Florida Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Please note that if you are using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES), the deadline for submitting an electronic comment is 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on this date. We may not be able to address or incorporate information that we receive after this date. ADDRESSES: You may submit information by one of the following methods: SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 • Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: https:// www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2014– 0024, which is the docket number for this action. Then, in the Search panel on the left side of the screen under the Document Type heading, click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document. You may submit a comment by clicking on ‘‘Comment Now!’’ • U.S. mail or hand delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2014–0024; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Headquarters, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041– 3803. We will post all information received on https://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see the Request for Information section, below, for more details). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jay Herrington, Field Supervisor of the North Florida Ecological Services Field Office, by telephone at 904–731–3191, or by facsimile at 904–731–3045; or at the following address, 7915 Baymeadows Way, Suite 200, Jacksonville, FL 32256; or Edwin ˜ Muniz, Field Supervisor of the Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office, by telephone at 787–851–7297 (ext. 204), or by facsimile at 787–851– 7441; or at the following address, Road 301, Km. 5.1, 491, Boqueron, PR 00622. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), please call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Request for Information When we make a finding that a petition presents substantial information indicating that reclassifying a species may be warranted, we are required to promptly commence a review of the status of the species (status review). To ensure that the status review is complete and based on the best available scientific and commercial information, we request information from governmental agencies, Native American Tribes, the scientific community, industry, and any other interested parties concerning the status of the West Indian manatee throughout its entire range. We seek information on: (1) The species’ biology, including, but not limited to, distribution, abundance, population trends, demographics, and genetics. (2) The factors that are the basis for making delisting and downlisting determinations for a species under section 4(a) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), which are: E:\FR\FM\02JYP1.SGM 02JYP1 wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 127 / Wednesday, July 2, 2014 / Proposed Rules (a) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (b) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (c) Disease or predation; (d) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (e) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. (3) Habitat conditions, including, but not limited to, amount, distribution, and suitability. (4) Whether or not climate change is a threat to the species, what regional climate change models are available, and whether they are reliable and credible to use as step-down models for assessing the effect of climate change on the species and its habitat. (5) Past and ongoing conservation measures that have been implemented for the species, its habitat, or both. (6) Threat status and trends within the geographical range currently occupied by the species. (7) Any other new information, data, or corrections, including, but not limited to, taxonomic or nomenclatural changes, and improved analytical methods. Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as scientific references) to allow us to verify any scientific or commercial information you include. Submissions merely stating support for or opposition to the action under consideration without providing supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in making a determination. Section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that determinations as to whether any species is an endangered or threatened species must be made ‘‘solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.’’ You may submit your information concerning this status review by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. If you submit information via https://www.regulations.gov/, your entire submission—including any personal identifying information—will be posted on the Web site. If you submit a hardcopy that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the top of your document that we withhold this personal identifying information from public review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We will post all hardcopy submissions on https:// www.regulations.gov/. Information and supporting documentation that we received and used in preparing this finding is available for public inspection at http: //www.regulations.gov/, or by VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:15 Jul 01, 2014 Jkt 232001 appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, North Florida Ecological Services Field Office and Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Background Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(3)(A)) requires that we make a finding on whether a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. We are to base this finding on information provided in the petition, supporting information submitted with the petition, and information otherwise available in our files at the time the petition is received. To the maximum extent practicable, we are to make this finding within 90 days of our receipt of the petition, and publish our notice of the finding promptly in the Federal Register. Our standard for substantial scientific or commercial information is ‘‘that amount of information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the measure proposed in the petition may be warranted’’ (50 CFR 424.14(b)). If we find that substantial scientific or commercial information was presented, we are required to promptly commence a status review of the species, which we subsequently summarize in a 12-month finding. To make a 90-day finding, we do not conduct additional research, do not solicit information from parties outside the agency to help us in our evaluation, and do not subject the petition to rigorous critical review. Rather, we accept the petitioners’ sources and characterizations of the information presented if they appear based on accepted scientific principles (such as citing published and peer-reviewed articles, or studies done in accordance with valid methodologies), unless we have specific information to the contrary. Conclusive information indicating the species may meet the Act’s requirements for listing is not required to make a substantial 90-day finding. Petition History On December 14, 2012, we received a petition submitted on the same date from the Pacific Legal Foundation, on behalf of Save Crystal River, Inc., requesting that the West Indian manatee and subspecies thereof be reclassified from its current status as endangered to threatened based primarily on the analysis and recommendation contained in our April 2007 5-year review for the PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 37707 species. The petition clearly identified itself as such and included the requisite identification information for the petitioner, as required at 50 CFR 424.14(a). We advised the petitioner of the status of our response in letters dated February 14, 2013, August 14, 2013, and March 26, 2014. This finding summarizes the information included in the petition and information available to us at the time the petition was received. Previous Federal Actions We listed the Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris), a subspecies of the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), as endangered in 1967 (32 FR 4001) under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966 (Pub. L. 89–669; 80 Stat. 926). In 1970, we amended Appendix A to 50 CFR part 17 to include additional names to the list of foreign endangered species (35 FR 8491). This listing incorporated West Indian manatees into the list under the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969 (Pub. L. 91–135; 83 Stat. 275) and encompassed the species’ range in the Caribbean Sea and northern South America, thus including both Antillean (Trichechus manatus manatus) and Florida (Trichechus manatus latirostris) manatees. The West Indian manatee is currently listed as an endangered species under the Act, and is further protected as a depleted stock under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.). A 5-year review was completed on April 6, 2007, in which we recommended downlisting the species to threatened. Species Information West Indian manatees (Trichechus manatus) are massive, fusiform-shaped animals with skin that is uniformly dark grey, wrinkled, sparsely haired, and rubber-like. Manatees possess paddlelike forelimbs, no hind limbs, and a spatulate, horizontally flattened tail. Adults average about 3.0 m (9.8 ft) in length and 1,000 kg (2,200 lbs) in weight. Two subspecies of West Indian manatee are formally recognized: Antillean and Florida, Trichechus manatus manatus and Trichechus manatus latirostris, respectively (Hatt 1934, p. 538; Domning and Hayek 1986, ´ ´ p. 87; Garcıa-Rodrıguez et al. 1998, p. 1137; Vianna et al. 2006, p. 433; Tucker et al. 2012, p. 1504). In U.S. waters, Florida manatees are found in the southeastern United States, and Antillean manatees are found in Puerto Rico and possibly, but not confirmed Texas; a single sighting of a manatee in the U.S. Virgin Islands occurred in 1988 (Lefebvre et al. 2001, pp. 425–426; Domning and Hayek 1986, E:\FR\FM\02JYP1.SGM 02JYP1 wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 37708 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 127 / Wednesday, July 2, 2014 / Proposed Rules p. 186). Antillean manatees also occur throughout the Caribbean Sea, coastal regions of northern South America, eastern Central America, and Mexico. West Indian manatees are found in coastal and nearshore marine, estuarine, and freshwater areas. Typical habitats include tidal rivers and streams, mangrove swamps, salt marshes, grassbeds, and freshwater springs (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) 2005, pp. 95–361). Manatees favor areas that include foraging sites, sources of fresh drinking water, sheltered areas for resting, and travel corridors used to transit between preferred sites. Florida manatees require sources of warm water, where they shelter during cold weather periods (USFWS 2007, p. 12). Antillean manatees in Puerto Rico favor foraging and drinking water sites protected from severe wave action (Powell et al. 1981, pp. 642–644; Rathbun et al. 1985, p. 16; and Mignucci-Giannoni 1989, p. 170). Using information from the United Nations Environment Programme ´ (UNEP) (2010), Castelblanco-Martınez et al. (2012, p. 132) estimated a rangewide population size of 6,700 Antillean manatees. The most recent surveys for Antillean manatees in Puerto Rico have produced the highest unadjusted count for the species to date of 194 manatees from the December 2013 aerial survey (ATKINS 2014, p. 6). While there are no statistically robust estimates of Florida manatee population size, a FWC winter survey conducted in January 2011 produced an unadjusted count of 4,834 manatees for the Florida subspecies (FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) 2011). Deutsch et al. (2008, p. 4), projected an Antillean manatee population decline of over 20 percent for the next two generations of manatees, assuming a lack of effective conservation actions and ‘‘current and projected future anthropogenic threats.’’ While no trend analysis exists for Antillean manatees in Puerto Rico, the Service suggests that this population may be stable (USFWS 2007, p. 33). A demographic analysis for Florida manatees indicates that this population of manatees is likely increasing or stable throughout much of Florida (Runge et al. 2004, p. 316; Runge et al. 2007, p. 16). An adult survival rate analysis for the Florida manatee, through the winter of 2005—2006, identifies a rangewide survival rate of 96 percent (C.A. Langtimm, USGS, pers. comm., 2011). For more information on the biology and habitat needs of the West Indian manatee in United States waters, refer to the Florida Manatee Recovery Plan (USFWS 2001; available at https://www.regulations.gov and VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:15 Jul 01, 2014 Jkt 232001 https://www.fws.gov/northflorida/ Manatee/manatees.htm) and the Science Summary in Support of Manatee Protection Area Designation in Puerto Rico (Drew et al. 2012; available at https://www.basic.ncsu.edu/eda/ downloads/PR–MPA_Report_2012.pdf). Evaluation of Information for a 90-Day Finding on a Petition Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and its implementing regulations (50 CFR part 424) set forth the procedures for adding a species to or removing a species from, the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (List). A species may be determined to be an endangered or threatened species because of any of the five factors described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) Disease or predation; (D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. This analysis of threats is an evaluation of both the threats currently facing the species and the threats that are reasonably likely to affect the species in the foreseeable future following the delisting or reclassification and the removal or reduction of the Act’s protections. A species is an ‘‘endangered species’’ for purposes of the Act if it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range and is a ‘‘threatened species’’ if it is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. As discussed above, in making this 90-day finding we evaluated whether information regarding threats to the West Indian manatee, as presented in the petition and other information available in our files, is substantial, thereby indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. Our summary of this information is presented below. Information Provided in the Petition The petitioner requested the Service to reclassify the West Indian manatee, and subspecies thereof, including the Florida manatee and the Antillean manatee (in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), from endangered to threatened. The petition cites and relies on information and recommendations from our 5-Year Review of the West Indian Manatee (USFWS 2007), the PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 FWC’s Final Biological Status Review of the Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) (FWC 2006), and correspondence from the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission (MMC) to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (MMC 2011). Specifically, the petition asserts that our 5-year review of the West Indian Manatee (USFWS 2007) constitutes substantial information that indicates that a reclassification of the species is warranted. Our 5-year review recommended that the West Indian manatee be reclassified to threatened (USFWS 2007, p. 35). This review was based on the best available data at that time. The petition also asserts that FWC’s Final Biological Status Review of the Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) (FWC 2006) constitutes substantial information that indicates that a reclassification of the species is warranted. FWC’s status review concluded that, per then-current State of Florida listing criteria, the Florida manatee met State listing criteria as a threatened species and recommended that the State reclassify the subspecies as a threatened species (FWC 2006, p. 38). FWC’s recommendation did not address the Antillean manatee since it does not occur in Florida. The petition also asserts that correspondence from the MMC to the Service (MMC 2011) constitutes substantial information that indicates that a reclassification of the species is warranted. The MMC’s letter of September 21, 2011, acknowledged that significant progress toward recovery of the Florida manatee had been made over the past 30 years and that downlisting may be warranted (MMC 2011, p. 2). The letter did not address a reclassification of the Antillean manatee and also cited State of Florida aerial survey data from 2010 and 2011 wherein Statewide surveys tallied 5,076 and 4,834 Florida manatees, respectively (MMC 2011, p. 2). The MMC qualified its belief that reclassification of the Florida manatee may be warranted by recommending that (1) the Service incorporate into any reclassification proposal an assessment of the effects of the high cold-stress mortality that occurred in 2010 and 2011, and consider the possibility that such mortality will continue to occur at least as often in the foreseeable future; (2) regional networks of warm-water refuges be established; and (3) a longterm strategy to minimize watercraftrelated manatee deaths be in place (MMC 2011, pp. 2–3). E:\FR\FM\02JYP1.SGM 02JYP1 wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 127 / Wednesday, July 2, 2014 / Proposed Rules Summary of Information Provided in the Petition and Available in Service Files The 2007 5-year review for the West Indian manatee recommended reclassification of the species. The rationale for this recommendation was that the Florida manatees were exhibiting positive population growth rates on the Atlantic Coast and because the magnitude of the primary threats to the species was minimized or reduced (USFWS 2007, pp. 25–35). The threats analysis for the Florida manatee indicated that the most significant threats for this subspecies are collisions with boats, potential loss of warm-water habitat throughout the State of Florida, red tide, and a broad regulatory framework that is variable in its implementation and effectiveness. The 2007 5-year review also determined that the population of the Antillean manatee in Puerto Rico was at least stable, if not slightly increasing, and that the most notable threats to this population were collisions with watercraft and a broad regulatory framework that is variable in its implementation and effectiveness. The State of Florida did not act on its recommendation in its 2006 status review to reclassify the Florida manatee and, in 2010, adopted new listing criteria that precluded a reclassification of this subspecies. Information in Service files relevant to this petition includes: (1) FWC’s Manatee Rescue and Mortality Response database of information on manatee mortality between our 2007 5-year review and the time of the petition (https://www.myfwc.com/research/ manatee/rescue-mortality-response/ mortality-statistics); (2) a population viability analysis for the Antillean ´ manatee (Castelblanco-Martınez et al. 2012) that evaluated the potential effects of possible limiting factors, like habitat fragmentation and estimated times to extinction based on how these factors might change, to this subspecies; (3) a scientific paper on West Indian manatee genetics (Hunter et al. 2012) that shows Florida manatees are distinct from Antillean manatees in Puerto Rico; (4) a protection needs assessment and threats analysis for Antillean manatees that occur in Puerto Rico (Drew et al. 2012); and (5) reports that provide existing knowledge about the West Indian manatee subspecies and make recommendations for recovery actions where further data are needed (Deutsch et al. 2008; UNEP 2010; Marsh et al. 2011; Bossart et al. 2012). Historically, West Indian manatees were found in 42 countries; Deutsch et al. (2008, p. 14) assessed 37 of these VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:15 Jul 01, 2014 Jkt 232001 countries (not including the United States) and concluded that manatees are now found in 20 countries. This patchy distribution is likely due to habitat degradation and loss, hunting, incidental catch and accidental take, watercraft collisions, entanglement in fishing gear, pollution, natural disasters, and human disturbance (Deutsch et al. 2008, p. 14). In areas outside of the United States, habitat loss is considered to be one of the main threats to the ´ species (Castelblanco-Martınez et al. 2012, p. 129). The Florida manatee has not experienced any curtailment of its range throughout the southeastern United States. It has, however, experienced a shift in its winter distribution. Manatees are subtropical animals and require stable, long-term sources of warm water during cold weather (USFWS 2007, p. 16). Historically, manatees relied on the warm, temperate waters of south Florida and on natural warm-water springs scattered throughout their range as buffers to the lethal effects of cold winter temperatures (USFWS 2007, p. 16). Manatees have expanded their winter range to include industrial sites and associated warm-water discharges as refuges from the cold. Nearly twothirds of the manatee population winters at industrial warm-water sites, which are now made up almost entirely of power plants (FWC FWRI, unpub. synoptic aerial survey data, 2011). A significant threat to Florida manatee habitat is the loss of natural and manmade warm-water refugia (Laist and Reynolds 2005a, b). Power plant discharges used by large numbers of wintering manatees can be disrupted and flows at natural springs can be reduced due to human consumption of groundwater. The Service and State of Florida are coordinating with other agencies and industry to address possible warm-water loss. The Antillean manatee in Puerto Rico has not experienced a curtailment of its range throughout the island. Seagrass communities have been disrupted or eliminated in some areas due to marine construction and boating activities. These activities will continue to affect these areas. Human demands for potable water are expected to increase and will likely affect the availability of drinking water for manatees (USFWS 2007, p. 31). In Puerto Rico, manatee poaching activities have been reduced (USFWS 2007, p.33). The West Indian manatee outside of United States jurisdiction continues to be hunted for meat, oil, and other products despite being illegal (UNEP 2010, p. xiv). Hunting has likely PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 37709 caused localized extirpation from certain areas (UNEP 2010, p. 12). Florida and Antillean manatees are exposed to various disease processes and predators. Recently, a few Antillean manatee deaths in Puerto Rico have been attributed to toxoplasmosis (Bossart et al. 2012, p. 139), and the effect of this disease on the manatee population is poorly understood. A novel papillomavirus was discovered in Florida manatees; however, this disease was determined to be benign and not threatening to the Florida manatee population. A variety of parasites have been identified in manatees; however, none is known to cause death. Manatee predators include sharks and alligators. However, although bite marks and scars have been observed, only rare attacks have been described (Mon Sue et al. 1990, p. 239; D. Semeyn unpublished (in Marsh et al. 2010, p. 167). Protection for the West Indian manatee outside of areas under United States jurisdiction is largely afforded through the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) Protocol of the Cartegena Convention. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the Convention on Biological Diversity protect manatee habitat. Many countries have country-specific legislation protecting manatees and their habitat (Marsh et al. 2011, p. 376). Further protection is afforded under the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) (Marsh et al. 2011, p. 376). Within areas under United States jurisdiction, manatees are protected through a number of Federal, State, and Commonwealth laws. Primary Federal regulations include the Act and the MMPA. In Florida, manatees are protected under the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978, and through regulation; Florida Administrative Code 68A–27.000 provides protective measures for Florida’s fish and wildlife, including candidate and protected species. Additional measures exist to protect manatee habitat in Florida, including State and Federal regulations governing human activity in certain habitat areas where manatees congregate, and measures designed to protect spring flows used by wintering manatees. In Puerto Rico, protection and conservation of natural resources is primarily based on the 1952 Constitution of Puerto Rico. The Commonwealth’s New Wildlife Law of 1999 provides protections for endangered species. Other Commonwealth laws exist to protect habitat in coastal waters. States outside of Florida and the Commonwealth E:\FR\FM\02JYP1.SGM 02JYP1 37710 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 127 / Wednesday, July 2, 2014 / Proposed Rules provide additional protections for manatees through a variety of State laws and regulations (USFWS 2007, pp. 19, 32). Regulatory mechanisms that prohibit poaching throughout the manatee’s range are in place. However, they are regionally difficult to enforce, and poaching remains a significant concern (UNEP 2010, pp. 89–90). Florida manatee protection areas are marked and enforced (USFWS 2007, p.72), and efforts to mark areas in Puerto Rico are ongoing (USFWS 2007, p.36). wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Finding In our 90-day finding, we are required to review a petition to reclassify a species, along with the information available in our files, for whether it contains information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the action proposed in the petition is warranted. On the basis of the information presented, as summarized above, under section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act, we find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the requested action, the reclassification of the West Indian manatee to threatened, may be warranted. Therefore, we are initiating a status review to determine VerDate Mar<15>2010 14:15 Jul 01, 2014 Jkt 232001 whether the petitioned action is warranted. In our 12-month finding, we will evaluate, through a status review, each of the five listing factors closely to determine if the threats to the species have been reduced to the degree that the reclassification of the species is warranted. The ‘‘best scientific and commercial data’’ standard under the Act for the status review differs from the ‘‘substantial information’’ standard for a 90-day finding, under section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act and 50 CFR 424.14(b) of our regulations. Because the Act’s standards for 90-day and 12-month findings are different, as described above, this substantial 90-day finding does not necessarily mean that the 12-month finding will result in a warranted finding. 5-Year Review Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act requires that we conduct a review of listed species at least once every 5 years. Under section 4(c)(2)(B), we are then to determine, on the basis of such review, whether or not such species should be recommended for removal from the List (delisted), or reclassified from endangered to threatened, or from threatened to endangered. Our regulations at 50 CFR 424.21 require PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 that we publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing those species currently under review. This notice announces our active review of the status of the West Indian manatee. References Cited A complete list of references cited is available on the Internet at https:// www.regulations.gov and upon request from the North Florida Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Authors The primary authors of this notice include staff from the North Florida Ecological Services Field Office and Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Authority The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Dated: June 19, 2014 . Stephen Guertin, Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2014–15458 Filed 7–1–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P E:\FR\FM\02JYP1.SGM 02JYP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 127 (Wednesday, July 2, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 37706-37710]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-15458]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2014-0024; 92220-1113-0000-C5]


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on 
a Petition To Reclassify the West Indian Manatee From Endangered to 
Threatened

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of 90-day petition finding and initiation of status 
review.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service or USFWS), 
announce a 90-day finding on a petition to reclassify the West Indian 
manatee (Trichechus manatus) as threatened under the Endangered Species 
Act of 1973, as amended (Act). Based on our review, we find that the 
petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information 
indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. Therefore, with 
the publication of this notice, we are initiating a review of the 
status of the species to determine if reclassification is warranted. 
Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act also requires a status review of listed 
species at least once every 5 years. We are, therefore, electing to 
conduct the 5-year review simultaneously with the status review. To 
ensure that this status review is comprehensive, we are requesting 
scientific and commercial data and other information regarding the West 
Indian manatee, including its subspecies the Florida manatee and 
Antillean manatee. Based on the status review, we will issue a 12-month 
finding on the petition, which will address whether the petitioned 
action is warranted, as provided in section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act.

DATES: We request that we receive information to consider for the 
status review on or before September 2, 2014. After this date, you must 
submit information directly to the North Florida Ecological Services 
Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Please note that if 
you are using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES), the 
deadline for submitting an electronic comment is 11:59 p.m. Eastern 
Time on this date. We may not be able to address or incorporate 
information that we receive after this date.

ADDRESSES: You may submit information by one of the following methods:
     Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: 
https://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter Docket No. FWS-R4-
ES-2014-0024, which is the docket number for this action. Then, in the 
Search panel on the left side of the screen under the Document Type 
heading, click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document. You 
may submit a comment by clicking on ``Comment Now!''
     U.S. mail or hand delivery: Public Comments Processing, 
Attn: Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2014-0024; U.S. Fish & Wildlife 
Headquarters, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-
3803.
    We will post all information received on https://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any 
personal information you provide us (see the Request for Information 
section, below, for more details).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jay Herrington, Field Supervisor of 
the North Florida Ecological Services Field Office, by telephone at 
904-731-3191, or by facsimile at 904-731-3045; or at the following 
address, 7915 Baymeadows Way, Suite 200, Jacksonville, FL 32256; or 
Edwin Mu[ntilde]iz, Field Supervisor of the Caribbean Ecological 
Services Field Office, by telephone at 787-851-7297 (ext. 204), or by 
facsimile at 787-851-7441; or at the following address, Road 301, Km. 
5.1, 491, Boqueron, PR 00622. If you use a telecommunications device 
for the deaf (TDD), please call the Federal Information Relay Service 
(FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Request for Information

    When we make a finding that a petition presents substantial 
information indicating that reclassifying a species may be warranted, 
we are required to promptly commence a review of the status of the 
species (status review). To ensure that the status review is complete 
and based on the best available scientific and commercial information, 
we request information from governmental agencies, Native American 
Tribes, the scientific community, industry, and any other interested 
parties concerning the status of the West Indian manatee throughout its 
entire range. We seek information on:
    (1) The species' biology, including, but not limited to, 
distribution, abundance, population trends, demographics, and genetics.
    (2) The factors that are the basis for making delisting and 
downlisting determinations for a species under section 4(a) of the Act 
(16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), which are:

[[Page 37707]]

    (a) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range;
    (b) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    (c) Disease or predation;
    (d) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
    (e) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
existence.
    (3) Habitat conditions, including, but not limited to, amount, 
distribution, and suitability.
    (4) Whether or not climate change is a threat to the species, what 
regional climate change models are available, and whether they are 
reliable and credible to use as step-down models for assessing the 
effect of climate change on the species and its habitat.
    (5) Past and ongoing conservation measures that have been 
implemented for the species, its habitat, or both.
    (6) Threat status and trends within the geographical range 
currently occupied by the species.
    (7) Any other new information, data, or corrections, including, but 
not limited to, taxonomic or nomenclatural changes, and improved 
analytical methods.
    Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as 
scientific references) to allow us to verify any scientific or 
commercial information you include. Submissions merely stating support 
for or opposition to the action under consideration without providing 
supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in 
making a determination. Section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that 
determinations as to whether any species is an endangered or threatened 
species must be made ``solely on the basis of the best scientific and 
commercial data available.''
    You may submit your information concerning this status review by 
one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. If you submit 
information via https://www.regulations.gov/, your entire submission--
including any personal identifying information--will be posted on the 
Web site. If you submit a hardcopy that includes personal identifying 
information, you may request at the top of your document that we 
withhold this personal identifying information from public review. 
However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We will 
post all hardcopy submissions on https://www.regulations.gov/.
    Information and supporting documentation that we received and used 
in preparing this finding is available for public inspection at https://www.regulations.gov/, or by appointment, during normal business hours, 
at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, North Florida Ecological 
Services Field Office and Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office 
(see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Background

    Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(3)(A)) requires 
that we make a finding on whether a petition to list, delist, or 
reclassify a species presents substantial scientific or commercial 
information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. We 
are to base this finding on information provided in the petition, 
supporting information submitted with the petition, and information 
otherwise available in our files at the time the petition is received. 
To the maximum extent practicable, we are to make this finding within 
90 days of our receipt of the petition, and publish our notice of the 
finding promptly in the Federal Register.
    Our standard for substantial scientific or commercial information 
is ``that amount of information that would lead a reasonable person to 
believe that the measure proposed in the petition may be warranted'' 
(50 CFR 424.14(b)). If we find that substantial scientific or 
commercial information was presented, we are required to promptly 
commence a status review of the species, which we subsequently 
summarize in a 12-month finding.
    To make a 90-day finding, we do not conduct additional research, do 
not solicit information from parties outside the agency to help us in 
our evaluation, and do not subject the petition to rigorous critical 
review. Rather, we accept the petitioners' sources and 
characterizations of the information presented if they appear based on 
accepted scientific principles (such as citing published and peer-
reviewed articles, or studies done in accordance with valid 
methodologies), unless we have specific information to the contrary. 
Conclusive information indicating the species may meet the Act's 
requirements for listing is not required to make a substantial 90-day 
finding.

Petition History

    On December 14, 2012, we received a petition submitted on the same 
date from the Pacific Legal Foundation, on behalf of Save Crystal 
River, Inc., requesting that the West Indian manatee and subspecies 
thereof be reclassified from its current status as endangered to 
threatened based primarily on the analysis and recommendation contained 
in our April 2007 5-year review for the species. The petition clearly 
identified itself as such and included the requisite identification 
information for the petitioner, as required at 50 CFR 424.14(a). We 
advised the petitioner of the status of our response in letters dated 
February 14, 2013, August 14, 2013, and March 26, 2014. This finding 
summarizes the information included in the petition and information 
available to us at the time the petition was received.

Previous Federal Actions

    We listed the Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris), a 
subspecies of the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), as 
endangered in 1967 (32 FR 4001) under the Endangered Species 
Preservation Act of 1966 (Pub. L. 89-669; 80 Stat. 926). In 1970, we 
amended Appendix A to 50 CFR part 17 to include additional names to the 
list of foreign endangered species (35 FR 8491). This listing 
incorporated West Indian manatees into the list under the Endangered 
Species Conservation Act of 1969 (Pub. L. 91-135; 83 Stat. 275) and 
encompassed the species' range in the Caribbean Sea and northern South 
America, thus including both Antillean (Trichechus manatus manatus) and 
Florida (Trichechus manatus latirostris) manatees. The West Indian 
manatee is currently listed as an endangered species under the Act, and 
is further protected as a depleted stock under the Marine Mammal 
Protection Act (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.). A 5-year review was 
completed on April 6, 2007, in which we recommended downlisting the 
species to threatened.

Species Information

    West Indian manatees (Trichechus manatus) are massive, fusiform-
shaped animals with skin that is uniformly dark grey, wrinkled, 
sparsely haired, and rubber-like. Manatees possess paddle-like 
forelimbs, no hind limbs, and a spatulate, horizontally flattened tail. 
Adults average about 3.0 m (9.8 ft) in length and 1,000 kg (2,200 lbs) 
in weight. Two subspecies of West Indian manatee are formally 
recognized: Antillean and Florida, Trichechus manatus manatus and 
Trichechus manatus latirostris, respectively (Hatt 1934, p. 538; 
Domning and Hayek 1986, p. 87; Garc[iacute]a-Rodr[iacute]guez et al. 
1998, p. 1137; Vianna et al. 2006, p. 433; Tucker et al. 2012, p. 
1504).
    In U.S. waters, Florida manatees are found in the southeastern 
United States, and Antillean manatees are found in Puerto Rico and 
possibly, but not confirmed Texas; a single sighting of a manatee in 
the U.S. Virgin Islands occurred in 1988 (Lefebvre et al. 2001, pp. 
425-426; Domning and Hayek 1986,

[[Page 37708]]

p. 186). Antillean manatees also occur throughout the Caribbean Sea, 
coastal regions of northern South America, eastern Central America, and 
Mexico. West Indian manatees are found in coastal and nearshore marine, 
estuarine, and freshwater areas. Typical habitats include tidal rivers 
and streams, mangrove swamps, salt marshes, grassbeds, and freshwater 
springs (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) 2005, 
pp. 95-361). Manatees favor areas that include foraging sites, sources 
of fresh drinking water, sheltered areas for resting, and travel 
corridors used to transit between preferred sites. Florida manatees 
require sources of warm water, where they shelter during cold weather 
periods (USFWS 2007, p. 12). Antillean manatees in Puerto Rico favor 
foraging and drinking water sites protected from severe wave action 
(Powell et al. 1981, pp. 642-644; Rathbun et al. 1985, p. 16; and 
Mignucci-Giannoni 1989, p. 170).
    Using information from the United Nations Environment Programme 
(UNEP) (2010), Castelblanco-Mart[iacute]nez et al. (2012, p. 132) 
estimated a rangewide population size of 6,700 Antillean manatees. The 
most recent surveys for Antillean manatees in Puerto Rico have produced 
the highest unadjusted count for the species to date of 194 manatees 
from the December 2013 aerial survey (ATKINS 2014, p. 6). While there 
are no statistically robust estimates of Florida manatee population 
size, a FWC winter survey conducted in January 2011 produced an 
unadjusted count of 4,834 manatees for the Florida subspecies (FWC Fish 
and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) 2011).
    Deutsch et al. (2008, p. 4), projected an Antillean manatee 
population decline of over 20 percent for the next two generations of 
manatees, assuming a lack of effective conservation actions and 
``current and projected future anthropogenic threats.'' While no trend 
analysis exists for Antillean manatees in Puerto Rico, the Service 
suggests that this population may be stable (USFWS 2007, p. 33). A 
demographic analysis for Florida manatees indicates that this 
population of manatees is likely increasing or stable throughout much 
of Florida (Runge et al. 2004, p. 316; Runge et al. 2007, p. 16). An 
adult survival rate analysis for the Florida manatee, through the 
winter of 2005--2006, identifies a rangewide survival rate of 96 
percent (C.A. Langtimm, USGS, pers. comm., 2011). For more information 
on the biology and habitat needs of the West Indian manatee in United 
States waters, refer to the Florida Manatee Recovery Plan (USFWS 2001; 
available at https://www.regulations.gov and https://www.fws.gov/northflorida/Manatee/manatees.htm) and the Science Summary in Support 
of Manatee Protection Area Designation in Puerto Rico (Drew et al. 
2012; available at https://www.basic.ncsu.edu/eda/downloads/PR-MPA_Report_2012.pdf).

Evaluation of Information for a 90-Day Finding on a Petition

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and its implementing 
regulations (50 CFR part 424) set forth the procedures for adding a 
species to or removing a species from, the Federal Lists of Endangered 
and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (List). A species may be determined 
to be an endangered or threatened species because of any of the five 
factors described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act:
    (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range;
    (B) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    (C) Disease or predation;
    (D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
    (E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
existence.
    This analysis of threats is an evaluation of both the threats 
currently facing the species and the threats that are reasonably likely 
to affect the species in the foreseeable future following the delisting 
or reclassification and the removal or reduction of the Act's 
protections. A species is an ``endangered species'' for purposes of the 
Act if it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant 
portion of its range and is a ``threatened species'' if it is likely to 
become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout 
all or a significant portion of its range.
    As discussed above, in making this 90-day finding we evaluated 
whether information regarding threats to the West Indian manatee, as 
presented in the petition and other information available in our files, 
is substantial, thereby indicating that the petitioned action may be 
warranted. Our summary of this information is presented below.

Information Provided in the Petition

    The petitioner requested the Service to reclassify the West Indian 
manatee, and subspecies thereof, including the Florida manatee and the 
Antillean manatee (in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), from 
endangered to threatened. The petition cites and relies on information 
and recommendations from our 5-Year Review of the West Indian Manatee 
(USFWS 2007), the FWC's Final Biological Status Review of the Florida 
manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) (FWC 2006), and correspondence 
from the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission (MMC) to the U.S Fish and 
Wildlife Service (MMC 2011). Specifically, the petition asserts that 
our 5-year review of the West Indian Manatee (USFWS 2007) constitutes 
substantial information that indicates that a reclassification of the 
species is warranted. Our 5-year review recommended that the West 
Indian manatee be reclassified to threatened (USFWS 2007, p. 35). This 
review was based on the best available data at that time.
    The petition also asserts that FWC's Final Biological Status Review 
of the Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) (FWC 2006) 
constitutes substantial information that indicates that a 
reclassification of the species is warranted. FWC's status review 
concluded that, per then-current State of Florida listing criteria, the 
Florida manatee met State listing criteria as a threatened species and 
recommended that the State reclassify the subspecies as a threatened 
species (FWC 2006, p. 38). FWC's recommendation did not address the 
Antillean manatee since it does not occur in Florida.
    The petition also asserts that correspondence from the MMC to the 
Service (MMC 2011) constitutes substantial information that indicates 
that a reclassification of the species is warranted. The MMC's letter 
of September 21, 2011, acknowledged that significant progress toward 
recovery of the Florida manatee had been made over the past 30 years 
and that downlisting may be warranted (MMC 2011, p. 2). The letter did 
not address a reclassification of the Antillean manatee and also cited 
State of Florida aerial survey data from 2010 and 2011 wherein 
Statewide surveys tallied 5,076 and 4,834 Florida manatees, 
respectively (MMC 2011, p. 2). The MMC qualified its belief that 
reclassification of the Florida manatee may be warranted by 
recommending that (1) the Service incorporate into any reclassification 
proposal an assessment of the effects of the high cold-stress mortality 
that occurred in 2010 and 2011, and consider the possibility that such 
mortality will continue to occur at least as often in the foreseeable 
future; (2) regional networks of warm-water refuges be established; and 
(3) a long-term strategy to minimize watercraft-related manatee deaths 
be in place (MMC 2011, pp. 2-3).

[[Page 37709]]

Summary of Information Provided in the Petition and Available in 
Service Files

    The 2007 5-year review for the West Indian manatee recommended 
reclassification of the species. The rationale for this recommendation 
was that the Florida manatees were exhibiting positive population 
growth rates on the Atlantic Coast and because the magnitude of the 
primary threats to the species was minimized or reduced (USFWS 2007, 
pp. 25-35). The threats analysis for the Florida manatee indicated that 
the most significant threats for this subspecies are collisions with 
boats, potential loss of warm-water habitat throughout the State of 
Florida, red tide, and a broad regulatory framework that is variable in 
its implementation and effectiveness. The 2007 5-year review also 
determined that the population of the Antillean manatee in Puerto Rico 
was at least stable, if not slightly increasing, and that the most 
notable threats to this population were collisions with watercraft and 
a broad regulatory framework that is variable in its implementation and 
effectiveness. The State of Florida did not act on its recommendation 
in its 2006 status review to reclassify the Florida manatee and, in 
2010, adopted new listing criteria that precluded a reclassification of 
this subspecies.
    Information in Service files relevant to this petition includes: 
(1) FWC's Manatee Rescue and Mortality Response database of information 
on manatee mortality between our 2007 5-year review and the time of the 
petition (https://www.myfwc.com/research/manatee/rescue-mortality-response/mortality-statistics); (2) a population viability analysis for 
the Antillean manatee (Castelblanco-Mart[iacute]nez et al. 2012) that 
evaluated the potential effects of possible limiting factors, like 
habitat fragmentation and estimated times to extinction based on how 
these factors might change, to this subspecies; (3) a scientific paper 
on West Indian manatee genetics (Hunter et al. 2012) that shows Florida 
manatees are distinct from Antillean manatees in Puerto Rico; (4) a 
protection needs assessment and threats analysis for Antillean manatees 
that occur in Puerto Rico (Drew et al. 2012); and (5) reports that 
provide existing knowledge about the West Indian manatee subspecies and 
make recommendations for recovery actions where further data are needed 
(Deutsch et al. 2008; UNEP 2010; Marsh et al. 2011; Bossart et al. 
2012).
    Historically, West Indian manatees were found in 42 countries; 
Deutsch et al. (2008, p. 14) assessed 37 of these countries (not 
including the United States) and concluded that manatees are now found 
in 20 countries. This patchy distribution is likely due to habitat 
degradation and loss, hunting, incidental catch and accidental take, 
watercraft collisions, entanglement in fishing gear, pollution, natural 
disasters, and human disturbance (Deutsch et al. 2008, p. 14). In areas 
outside of the United States, habitat loss is considered to be one of 
the main threats to the species (Castelblanco-Mart[iacute]nez et al. 
2012, p. 129).
    The Florida manatee has not experienced any curtailment of its 
range throughout the southeastern United States. It has, however, 
experienced a shift in its winter distribution. Manatees are 
subtropical animals and require stable, long-term sources of warm water 
during cold weather (USFWS 2007, p. 16). Historically, manatees relied 
on the warm, temperate waters of south Florida and on natural warm-
water springs scattered throughout their range as buffers to the lethal 
effects of cold winter temperatures (USFWS 2007, p. 16). Manatees have 
expanded their winter range to include industrial sites and associated 
warm-water discharges as refuges from the cold. Nearly two-thirds of 
the manatee population winters at industrial warm-water sites, which 
are now made up almost entirely of power plants (FWC FWRI, unpub. 
synoptic aerial survey data, 2011). A significant threat to Florida 
manatee habitat is the loss of natural and manmade warm-water refugia 
(Laist and Reynolds 2005a, b). Power plant discharges used by large 
numbers of wintering manatees can be disrupted and flows at natural 
springs can be reduced due to human consumption of groundwater. The 
Service and State of Florida are coordinating with other agencies and 
industry to address possible warm-water loss.
    The Antillean manatee in Puerto Rico has not experienced a 
curtailment of its range throughout the island. Seagrass communities 
have been disrupted or eliminated in some areas due to marine 
construction and boating activities. These activities will continue to 
affect these areas. Human demands for potable water are expected to 
increase and will likely affect the availability of drinking water for 
manatees (USFWS 2007, p. 31).
    In Puerto Rico, manatee poaching activities have been reduced 
(USFWS 2007, p.33). The West Indian manatee outside of United States 
jurisdiction continues to be hunted for meat, oil, and other products 
despite being illegal (UNEP 2010, p. xiv). Hunting has likely caused 
localized extirpation from certain areas (UNEP 2010, p. 12).
    Florida and Antillean manatees are exposed to various disease 
processes and predators. Recently, a few Antillean manatee deaths in 
Puerto Rico have been attributed to toxoplasmosis (Bossart et al. 2012, 
p. 139), and the effect of this disease on the manatee population is 
poorly understood. A novel papillomavirus was discovered in Florida 
manatees; however, this disease was determined to be benign and not 
threatening to the Florida manatee population. A variety of parasites 
have been identified in manatees; however, none is known to cause 
death. Manatee predators include sharks and alligators. However, 
although bite marks and scars have been observed, only rare attacks 
have been described (Mon Sue et al. 1990, p. 239; D. Semeyn unpublished 
(in Marsh et al. 2010, p. 167).
    Protection for the West Indian manatee outside of areas under 
United States jurisdiction is largely afforded through the Specially 
Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) Protocol of the Cartegena 
Convention. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the Convention on 
Biological Diversity protect manatee habitat. Many countries have 
country-specific legislation protecting manatees and their habitat 
(Marsh et al. 2011, p. 376). Further protection is afforded under the 
1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild 
Fauna and Flora (CITES) (Marsh et al. 2011, p. 376).
    Within areas under United States jurisdiction, manatees are 
protected through a number of Federal, State, and Commonwealth laws. 
Primary Federal regulations include the Act and the MMPA. In Florida, 
manatees are protected under the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978, 
and through regulation; Florida Administrative Code 68A-27.000 provides 
protective measures for Florida's fish and wildlife, including 
candidate and protected species. Additional measures exist to protect 
manatee habitat in Florida, including State and Federal regulations 
governing human activity in certain habitat areas where manatees 
congregate, and measures designed to protect spring flows used by 
wintering manatees. In Puerto Rico, protection and conservation of 
natural resources is primarily based on the 1952 Constitution of Puerto 
Rico. The Commonwealth's New Wildlife Law of 1999 provides protections 
for endangered species. Other Commonwealth laws exist to protect 
habitat in coastal waters. States outside of Florida and the 
Commonwealth

[[Page 37710]]

provide additional protections for manatees through a variety of State 
laws and regulations (USFWS 2007, pp. 19, 32).
    Regulatory mechanisms that prohibit poaching throughout the 
manatee's range are in place. However, they are regionally difficult to 
enforce, and poaching remains a significant concern (UNEP 2010, pp. 89-
90). Florida manatee protection areas are marked and enforced (USFWS 
2007, p.72), and efforts to mark areas in Puerto Rico are ongoing 
(USFWS 2007, p.36).

Finding

    In our 90-day finding, we are required to review a petition to 
reclassify a species, along with the information available in our 
files, for whether it contains information that would lead a reasonable 
person to believe that the action proposed in the petition is 
warranted. On the basis of the information presented, as summarized 
above, under section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act, we find that the petition 
presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating 
that the requested action, the reclassification of the West Indian 
manatee to threatened, may be warranted. Therefore, we are initiating a 
status review to determine whether the petitioned action is warranted. 
In our 12-month finding, we will evaluate, through a status review, 
each of the five listing factors closely to determine if the threats to 
the species have been reduced to the degree that the reclassification 
of the species is warranted. The ``best scientific and commercial 
data'' standard under the Act for the status review differs from the 
``substantial information'' standard for a 90-day finding, under 
section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act and 50 CFR 424.14(b) of our regulations. 
Because the Act's standards for 90-day and 12-month findings are 
different, as described above, this substantial 90-day finding does not 
necessarily mean that the 12-month finding will result in a warranted 
finding.

5-Year Review

    Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act requires that we conduct a review of 
listed species at least once every 5 years. Under section 4(c)(2)(B), 
we are then to determine, on the basis of such review, whether or not 
such species should be recommended for removal from the List 
(delisted), or reclassified from endangered to threatened, or from 
threatened to endangered. Our regulations at 50 CFR 424.21 require that 
we publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing those species 
currently under review. This notice announces our active review of the 
status of the West Indian manatee.

References Cited

    A complete list of references cited is available on the Internet at 
https://www.regulations.gov and upon request from the North Florida 
Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Authors

    The primary authors of this notice include staff from the North 
Florida Ecological Services Field Office and Caribbean Ecological 
Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Authority

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

    Dated: June 19, 2014 .
 Stephen Guertin,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-15458 Filed 7-1-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P