Draft 2016 Marine Mammal Stock Assessment Reports, 70097-70099 [2016-24404]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 196 / Tuesday, October 11, 2016 / Notices compliance with U.S. export control laws and regulations, including those administered by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security; • It has identified any matter pending before any bureau or office of the Department of Commerce; • It has identified any pending litigation (including any administrative proceedings) to which it is a party that involves the Department of Commerce; • It and its affiliates (1) have not and will not engage in the bribery of foreign officials in connection with its involvement in this Mission, and (2) maintain and enforce a policy that prohibits the bribery of foreign officials. Selection Criteria for Participation • Suitability of the company’s products or services to the market. Please note: this mission will not include nuclear power technologies given the imbalance of this sub-sector in UAE and Saudi Arabia. • Applicant’s potential for business in the target countries, including likelihood of exports resulting from the mission. • Consistency of the applicant’s goals and objectives with the stated scope of the mission. Balance of company size, sector or subsector, and location may also be considered during the review process. Referrals from political organizations and any documents containing references to partisan political activities (including political contributions) will be removed from an applicant’s submission and not considered during the selection process. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: International Trade Administration, Melissa Blackledge, Trade Promotion Programs, Washington, DC, Tel: (202) 482–1765, Email: melissa.blackledge@ trade.gov. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES U.S. Commercial Service Saudi Arabia, Douglas Wallace, U.S. Commercial Service, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Tel: + 966 +11– 488–3800, Email: douglas.wallace@trade.gov. U.S. Commercial Service United Arab Emirates, Dao M. Le, U.S. Commercial Service, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Tel: + 971 +2– 414–2665, Email: dao.le@ trade.gov. Frank Spector, Trade Missions Program. [FR Doc. 2016–24479 Filed 10–7–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–DR–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:12 Oct 07, 2016 Jkt 241001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XE783 Draft 2016 Marine Mammal Stock Assessment Reports National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS reviewed the Alaska, Atlantic, and Pacific regional marine mammal stock assessment reports (SARs) in accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act. SARs for marine mammals in the Alaska, Atlantic, and Pacific regions were revised according to new information. NMFS solicits public comments on the draft 2016 SARs. DATES: Comments must be received by January 9, 2017. ADDRESSES: The 2016 draft SARs are available in electronic form via the Internet at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ pr/sars/draft.htm. Copies of the Alaska Regional SARs may be requested from Marcia Muto, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way, NE BIN 15700, Seattle, WA 98115–0070. Copies of the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Regional SARs may be requested from Elizabeth Josephson, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, 166 Water St., Woods Hole, MA 02543. Copies of the Pacific Regional SARs may be requested from Jim Carretta, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, 8604 La Jolla Shores Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037–1508. You may submit comments, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2016–0101, by any of the following methods: Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20160101, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. Mail: Send comments or requests for copies of reports to: Chief, Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910–3226, Attn: Stock Assessments. Instructions: NMFS may not consider comments if they are sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period. All comments received are a part of the public record SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 70097 and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/ A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shannon Bettridge, Office of Protected Resources, 301–427–8402, Shannon.Bettridge@noaa.gov; Marcia Muto 206–526–4026, Marcia.Muto@ noaa.gov, regarding Alaska regional stock assessments; Elizabeth Josephson, 508–495–2362, Elizabeth.Josephson@ noaa.gov, regarding Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean regional stock assessments; or Jim Carretta, 858–546– 7171, Jim.Carretta@noaa.gov, regarding Pacific regional stock assessments. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Section 117 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) requires NMFS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to prepare stock assessments for each stock of marine mammals occurring in waters under the jurisdiction of the United States, including the Exclusive Economic Zone. These reports must contain information regarding the distribution and abundance of the stock, population growth rates and trends, estimates of annual human-caused mortality and serious injury (M/SI) from all sources, descriptions of the fisheries with which the stock interacts, and the status of the stock. Initial reports were completed in 1995. The MMPA requires NMFS and FWS to review the SARs at least annually for strategic stocks and stocks for which significant new information is available, and at least once every three years for non-strategic stocks. The term ‘‘strategic stock’’ means a marine mammal stock: (A) For which the level of direct humancaused mortality exceeds the potential biological removal level; (B) which, based on the best available scientific information, is declining and is likely to be listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) within the foreseeable future; or (C) which is listed as a threatened species or endangered species under the ESA. NMFS and the FWS are required to revise a SAR if the status of the stock has changed or can be more accurately determined. NMFS, in conjunction with the Alaska, Atlantic, and Pacific independent Scientific Review Groups E:\FR\FM\11OCN1.SGM 11OCN1 70098 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 196 / Tuesday, October 11, 2016 / Notices asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES (SRGs), reviewed the status of marine mammal stocks as required and revised reports in the Alaska, Atlantic, and Pacific regions to incorporate new information. NMFS solicits public comments on the draft 2016 SARs. Humpback Whales On September 8, 2016, NMFS published a final rule revising the listing status of humpback whales under the ESA (81 FR 62259). We divided the globally listed endangered species into 14 distinct population segments (DPSs), removed the species-level listing, and in its place, listed four DPSs as endangered and one DPS as threatened. Based on their current statuses, the remaining nine DPSs did not warrant listing. With regard to depleted determinations for species removed from the ESA, the ESA listing rule states, ‘‘The language and structure of the MMPA’s definition of depleted lead NMFS to the conclusion that a species or stock that is designated as depleted solely on the basis of its ESA listing status would cease to qualify as depleted under the terms of that definition if it is no longer listed. Therefore, a species or stock that is removed from the list of threatened and endangered species loses its depleted status when removed from the list . . . Humpback whales were considered to be depleted species-wide under the MMPA solely on the basis of the species’ ESA listing. Therefore, upon the effective date of the rule, humpback whales that are listed as threatened or endangered will retain depleted status under the MMPA and humpback whales that are not listed as threatened or endangered will lose depleted status under the MMPA. However, we note that the DPSs established in this final rule that occur in waters under the jurisdiction of the United States do not necessarily equate to the existing MMPA stocks for which Stock Assessment Reports (SARs) have been published in accordance with section 117 of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1386). Following publication of this rule, we will conduct a review of humpback whale stock delineations in waters under the jurisdiction of the United States to determine whether any stocks should be realigned in light of the ESA DPSs established herein. Until such time as the MMPA stock delineations are reviewed, because we cannot manage one portion of a stock as depleted and another portion as not depleted under the MMPA, we will treat existing MMPA stocks that fully or partially coincide with a listed DPS as depleted and stocks that do not fully or VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:12 Oct 07, 2016 Jkt 241001 partially coincide with a listed DPS as not depleted for management purposes. Therefore, in the interim, we will treat the Western North Pacific, Central North Pacific, and California/Oregon/ Washington stocks as depleted because they partially or fully coincide with ESA-listed DPSs, and we will treat the Gulf of Maine and American Samoa stocks as no longer depleted because they do not coincide with any ESAlisted DPS. Any changes in stock delineation or MMPA section 117 elements (such as Potential Biological Removal (PBR) or strategic status) will be reflected in future stock assessment reports, and the Scientific Review Groups and the public will be provided opportunity to review and comment.’’ In response to this revision to the humpback whale listing status, NMFS is currently evaluating the humpback whale stock delineations and whether we can align the stocks with the DPSs. This does not affect the stock delination for the current SARs, but will be reflected in future reports once the evaluation is complete. Alaska Reports In the Alaska region, SARs for 19 Alaska stocks (13 ‘‘strategic,’’ 6 ‘‘nonstrategic’’) were updated. All stocks were reviewed and the following stocks were revised for 2016: Steller sea lion, western U.S.; Steller sea lion, eastern U.S.; northern fur seal, eastern Pacific; bearded seal, Alaska; ringed seal, Alaska; beluga whale, Cook Inlet; killer whale, AT1 Transient; killer whale, eastern North Pacific Alaska resident; killer whale, eastern North Pacific Gulf of Alaska, Aleutian Islands, and Bering Sea Transient; harbor porpoise, Southeast Alaska; harbor porpoise, Gulf of Alaska; harbor porpoise, Bering Sea; sperm whale, North Pacific; humpback whale, Western North Pacific; humpback whale, Central North Pacific; fin whale, Northeast Pacific; right whale, Eastern North Pacific; bowhead whale, Western Arctic; narwhal, unidentified stock. Information on the remaining Alaska region stocks can be found in the final 2015 reports (Muto et al., 2016). Most revisions to the Alaska SARs included updates of abundance and/or M/SI estimates, including revised abundance estimates for both the western and eastern U.S. Steller sea lion stocks; northern fur seal, eastern Pacific; beluga whale, Cook Inlet; bearded seal, Alaska; ringed seal, Alaska; and fin whale, Northeast Pacific stocks. The following SARs include the abundance estimates from partial surveys as the Nmin, along with statements that the underestimated Nmins are not reliable; PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 thus they should not be used in certain management actions: Bearded seal, Alaska; ringed seal, Alaska; harbor porpoise, Southeast Alaska; and fin whale, Northeast Pacific. Additionally, Nmins determined under these circumstances will not be included in the summary tables, but will instead include a caveat placeholder which defers to the SAR text. Additionally, mortalities from permitted research activities were updated for western and eastern U.S. Steller sea lion stocks and the Alaska stock of ringed seals. Also reflected is a shift in genera classification for the ringed seal, from Phoca to Pusa. The eastern U.S. stock of Steller sea lion changed in status from ‘‘strategic’’ to ‘‘non-strategic.’’ This status change is consistent with the recent humpback whale ESA listing final rule (81 FR 62259; September 8, 2016), which states that in the case of a species or stock that achieved its depleted status solely on the basis of its ESA status, the species or stock would cease to qualify as depleted under the terms of the definition set forth in MMPA section 3(1), if the species or stock is no longer listed as threatened or endangered. NMFS took the opportunity during the public comment period related to that rule to clarify our interpretation that loss of depleted status is automatic at the time of a delisting if the sole basis for the species or stocks’ depleted status was an ESA listing. As a result, the eastern Steller sea lion is now considered to be not depleted and no longer qualifies as a strategic stock (as human-caused mortality or serious injury does not exceed PBR). The draft 2016 SAR reflects these changes and, accordingly, the PBR has been recalculated (using a recovery factor appropriate for a non-strategic stock) and increased from 1,645 to 2,498. Atlantic Reports In the Atlantic region (including the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and U.S. territories in the Caribbean), 18 reports for 44 stocks were updated. Of the updated stocks, 32 stocks are ‘‘strategic,’’ and 12 are ‘‘non-strategic.’’ All stocks were reviewed and reports for the following strategic stocks were revised for 2016: North Atlantic right whale, Western Atlantic; humpback whale, Gulf of Maine; fin whale, Western North Atlantic (WNA); sei whale, Nova Scotia; short-finned pilot whale, WNA; and 27 Gulf of Mexico bay, sound, and estuary common bottlenose dolphin stocks. Two stocks, the WNA stocks of short-finned and long-finned pilot whales, changed from ‘‘non-strategic’’ to ‘‘strategic’’ this year E:\FR\FM\11OCN1.SGM 11OCN1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 196 / Tuesday, October 11, 2016 / Notices because the mean annual human-caused mortality and serious injury exceeds PBR; the Gulf of Maine humpback whale stock has changed from ‘‘strategic’’ to ‘‘non-strategic.’’ Reports for the following non-strategic stocks were revised for 2016: Minke whale, Canadian east coast; Risso’s dolphin, WNA; Atlantic white-sided dolphin, WNA; short-beaked common dolphin, WNA; harbor porpoise, Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy; harbor seal, WNA; gray seal, WNA; rough-toothed dolphin, Northern Gulf of Mexico; pygmy sperm whale, WNA; dwarf sperm whale, WNA; and common bottlenose dolphin, WNA offshore. Information on the remaining Atlantic region stocks can be found in the final 2015 reports (Waring et al., 2016). Most revisions to the Atlantic SARs included updates of abundance and/or M/SI estimates. New abundance estimates are available for the North Atlantic right whale, Western Atlantic; minke whale, Canadian east stock; short-beaked common dolphin, WNA stock; and common bottlenose dolphin, Sarasota Bay, Little Sarasota Bay. The following common bottlenose dolphin, Gulf of Mexico bay, sound, and estuary stocks no longer have usable abundance and/or PBR estimates because the survey data on which they are based are more than eight years old and no longer considered unreliable (per NMFS Guidelines for Assessing Marine Mammal Stocks): Choctawhatchee Bay; St. Joseph Bay; St. Vincent Sound, Apalachicola Bay, St. George Sound; Waccasassa Bay, Withalacoochee Bay, Crystal Bay; St. Joseph Sound, Clearwater Harbor; Tampa Bay; Estero Bay; Chokoloskee Bay, Ten Thousand Islands, Gullivan Bay; Whitewater Bay; and Florida Keys (Bahia Honda to Key West). As a result of the humpback whale ESA listing rule (81 FR 62259; September 8, 2016), the Gulf of Maine stock of humpback whales is no longer considered ESA listed or depleted. In the previous SAR, the recovery factor was 0.1 because this stock was listed as an endangered species under the ESA. In the draft 2016 SAR, the recovery factor was revised to 0.5, the default value for stocks of unknown status relative to OSP. Values other than the defaults for any stock should usually not be used without the approval of the regional Scientific Review Group, and scientific justification for the change should be provided in the SAR. As the listing change occurred after the February 2016 SRG Meeting, NMFS has applied the default recovery factor of 0.5 to the draft 2016 SAR. As a result, the PBR increased from 2.7 to 13. Human- VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:12 Oct 07, 2016 Jkt 241001 caused mortality and serious injury is now below PBR, and the stock has changed from ‘‘strategic’’ to ‘‘nonstrategic.’’ The Atlantic SRG will discuss the recovery factor for this stock at its February 2017 meeting. Abundance estimates for the minke whale Canadian east stock and shortbeaked common dolphin WNA stock are substantially lower than what was reported in the 2015 SARs. This is because the new estimates exclude data from the 2007 Canadian Trans-North Atlantic Sighting Survey, as they were more than eight years old. Thus, the revised estimates for these stocks should not be interpreted as a decline in abundance of these stocks, as previous estimates are not directly comparable to the new estimates. Pacific Reports In the Pacific region (waters along the west coast of the United States, within waters surrounding the main and Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI), and within waters surrounding U.S. territories in the Western Pacific), SARs were revised for 23 stocks under NMFS jurisdiction (8 ‘‘strategic’’ and 15 ‘‘nonstrategic’’ stocks). All stocks were reviewed and reports for the following ‘‘strategic’’ stocks were revised for 2016: Hawaiian monk seal; killer whale, Eastern North Pacific Southern Resident; false killer whale, Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) Insular; false killer whale, Hawaii Pelagic; humpback whale, California/Oregon/Washington (CA/OR/WA); fin whale, CA/OR/WA; sei whale, Eastern North Pacific; and Guadalupe fur seal, Mexico to California. Reports for the following ‘‘non-strategic’’ stocks were revised for 2016: False killer whale, NWHI; harbor porpoise, Washington inland waters; Dall’s porpoise, CA/OR/WA; Pacific white-sided dolphin, CA/OR/WA; Risso’s dolphin, CA/OR/WA; common bottlenose dolphin, California Coastal; common bottlenose dolphin, CA/OR/ WA Offshore; striped dolphin, CA/OR/ WA; short-beaked common dolphin, CA/OR/WA; long-beaked common dolphin, California; Northern right whale dolphin, CA/OR/WA; shortfinned pilot whale, CA/OR/WA; pygmy sperm whale, CA/OR/WA; dwarf sperm whale, CA/OR/WA; and minke whale, CA/OR/WA. Information on the remaining Pacific region stocks can be found in the final 2015 reports (Carretta et al., 2016a). Several abundance estimates for Pacific stocks were changed in the draft 2016 reports following the application of a new approach for estimating the g(0) parameter, the probability of detecting an animal that is directly on PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 70099 the transect line, in different survey conditions (Beaufort sea state) (Barlow 2016). An analysis found that g(0) decreases as Beaufort sea state increases, even for visually conspicuous species. The following stocks reflect these abundance (and PBR) changes: Kogia spp.; Dall’s porpoise, CA/OR/WA; Northern right whale dolphin, CA/OR/ WA; Pacific white-sided dolphin, CA/ OR/WA; Risso’s dolphin, CA/OR/WA; striped dolphin, CA/OR/WA; shortbeaked common dolphin, CA/OR/WA; long-beaked common dolphin, CA/OR/ WA; short-finned pilot whale, CA/OR/ WA; fin whale, CA/OR/WA; and minke whale, CA/OR/WA. A new methodology was applied to bycatch estimated for some coastal Pacific stocks. Recent work shows that estimates of carcass recovery (0.25, 95 percent confidence interval = 0.20¥0.33) for an extremely-coastal dolphin population suggests that observed anthropogenic mortality values of dolphins in this region derived from strandings should be corrected to account for unobserved mortality (Carretta et al., 2016b). Therefore, within the draft SARs involving dolphins along the U.S. West Coast, human-related deaths and injuries counted from beach strandings are multiplied by a factor of four to account for the non-detection of most carcasses. This correction factor affected the M/SI for the following stocks: harbor porpoise, Washington inland waters; Risso’s dolphin, CA/OR/WA; striped dolphin, CA/OR/WA; short-beaked common dolphin, CA/OR/WA; longbeaked common dolphin, CA/OR/WA; bottlenose dolphin, California coastal; and bottlenose dolphin, CA/OR/WA offshore. Additional stocks with updated abundance and/or M/SI estimates include: Harbor porpoise, Washington inland waters; Guadalupe fur seal, Mexico to California; Hawaiian monk seal; killer whale, Eastern North Pacific Southern Resident; humpback whale, CA/OR/WA; sei whale, Eastern North Pacific; false killer whale, Hawaii pelagic; false killer whale, MHI Insular; and false killer whale, NWHI. Dated: October 4, 2016. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–24404 Filed 10–7–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\11OCN1.SGM 11OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 196 (Tuesday, October 11, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 70097-70099]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-24404]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XE783


Draft 2016 Marine Mammal Stock Assessment Reports

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

ACTION: Notice; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS reviewed the Alaska, Atlantic, and Pacific regional 
marine mammal stock assessment reports (SARs) in accordance with the 
Marine Mammal Protection Act. SARs for marine mammals in the Alaska, 
Atlantic, and Pacific regions were revised according to new 
information. NMFS solicits public comments on the draft 2016 SARs.

DATES: Comments must be received by January 9, 2017.

ADDRESSES: The 2016 draft SARs are available in electronic form via the 
Internet at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/draft.htm.
    Copies of the Alaska Regional SARs may be requested from Marcia 
Muto, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way, NE 
BIN 15700, Seattle, WA 98115-0070.
    Copies of the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Regional SARs 
may be requested from Elizabeth Josephson, Northeast Fisheries Science 
Center, 166 Water St., Woods Hole, MA 02543.
    Copies of the Pacific Regional SARs may be requested from Jim 
Carretta, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, 8604 La Jolla Shores 
Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037-1508.
    You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2016-0101, by any 
of the following methods:
    Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2016-0101, click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, 
complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
    Mail: Send comments or requests for copies of reports to: Chief, 
Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Conservation Division, Office of Protected 
Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, 
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3226, Attn: Stock Assessments.
    Instructions: NMFS may not consider comments if they are sent by 
any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after 
the end of the comment period. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shannon Bettridge, Office of Protected 
Resources, 301-427-8402, Shannon.Bettridge@noaa.gov; Marcia Muto 206-
526-4026, Marcia.Muto@noaa.gov, regarding Alaska regional stock 
assessments; Elizabeth Josephson, 508-495-2362, 
Elizabeth.Josephson@noaa.gov, regarding Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and 
Caribbean regional stock assessments; or Jim Carretta, 858-546-7171, 
Jim.Carretta@noaa.gov, regarding Pacific regional stock assessments.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Section 117 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) (16 U.S.C. 
1361 et seq.) requires NMFS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(FWS) to prepare stock assessments for each stock of marine mammals 
occurring in waters under the jurisdiction of the United States, 
including the Exclusive Economic Zone. These reports must contain 
information regarding the distribution and abundance of the stock, 
population growth rates and trends, estimates of annual human-caused 
mortality and serious injury (M/SI) from all sources, descriptions of 
the fisheries with which the stock interacts, and the status of the 
stock. Initial reports were completed in 1995.
    The MMPA requires NMFS and FWS to review the SARs at least annually 
for strategic stocks and stocks for which significant new information 
is available, and at least once every three years for non-strategic 
stocks. The term ``strategic stock'' means a marine mammal stock: (A) 
For which the level of direct human-caused mortality exceeds the 
potential biological removal level; (B) which, based on the best 
available scientific information, is declining and is likely to be 
listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) 
within the foreseeable future; or (C) which is listed as a threatened 
species or endangered species under the ESA. NMFS and the FWS are 
required to revise a SAR if the status of the stock has changed or can 
be more accurately determined. NMFS, in conjunction with the Alaska, 
Atlantic, and Pacific independent Scientific Review Groups

[[Page 70098]]

(SRGs), reviewed the status of marine mammal stocks as required and 
revised reports in the Alaska, Atlantic, and Pacific regions to 
incorporate new information.
    NMFS solicits public comments on the draft 2016 SARs.

Humpback Whales

    On September 8, 2016, NMFS published a final rule revising the 
listing status of humpback whales under the ESA (81 FR 62259). We 
divided the globally listed endangered species into 14 distinct 
population segments (DPSs), removed the species-level listing, and in 
its place, listed four DPSs as endangered and one DPS as threatened. 
Based on their current statuses, the remaining nine DPSs did not 
warrant listing.
    With regard to depleted determinations for species removed from the 
ESA, the ESA listing rule states, ``The language and structure of the 
MMPA's definition of depleted lead NMFS to the conclusion that a 
species or stock that is designated as depleted solely on the basis of 
its ESA listing status would cease to qualify as depleted under the 
terms of that definition if it is no longer listed. Therefore, a 
species or stock that is removed from the list of threatened and 
endangered species loses its depleted status when removed from the list 
. . . Humpback whales were considered to be depleted species-wide under 
the MMPA solely on the basis of the species' ESA listing. Therefore, 
upon the effective date of the rule, humpback whales that are listed as 
threatened or endangered will retain depleted status under the MMPA and 
humpback whales that are not listed as threatened or endangered will 
lose depleted status under the MMPA. However, we note that the DPSs 
established in this final rule that occur in waters under the 
jurisdiction of the United States do not necessarily equate to the 
existing MMPA stocks for which Stock Assessment Reports (SARs) have 
been published in accordance with section 117 of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 
1386). Following publication of this rule, we will conduct a review of 
humpback whale stock delineations in waters under the jurisdiction of 
the United States to determine whether any stocks should be realigned 
in light of the ESA DPSs established herein. Until such time as the 
MMPA stock delineations are reviewed, because we cannot manage one 
portion of a stock as depleted and another portion as not depleted 
under the MMPA, we will treat existing MMPA stocks that fully or 
partially coincide with a listed DPS as depleted and stocks that do not 
fully or partially coincide with a listed DPS as not depleted for 
management purposes. Therefore, in the interim, we will treat the 
Western North Pacific, Central North Pacific, and California/Oregon/
Washington stocks as depleted because they partially or fully coincide 
with ESA-listed DPSs, and we will treat the Gulf of Maine and American 
Samoa stocks as no longer depleted because they do not coincide with 
any ESA-listed DPS. Any changes in stock delineation or MMPA section 
117 elements (such as Potential Biological Removal (PBR) or strategic 
status) will be reflected in future stock assessment reports, and the 
Scientific Review Groups and the public will be provided opportunity to 
review and comment.''
    In response to this revision to the humpback whale listing status, 
NMFS is currently evaluating the humpback whale stock delineations and 
whether we can align the stocks with the DPSs. This does not affect the 
stock delination for the current SARs, but will be reflected in future 
reports once the evaluation is complete.

Alaska Reports

    In the Alaska region, SARs for 19 Alaska stocks (13 ``strategic,'' 
6 ``non-strategic'') were updated. All stocks were reviewed and the 
following stocks were revised for 2016: Steller sea lion, western U.S.; 
Steller sea lion, eastern U.S.; northern fur seal, eastern Pacific; 
bearded seal, Alaska; ringed seal, Alaska; beluga whale, Cook Inlet; 
killer whale, AT1 Transient; killer whale, eastern North Pacific Alaska 
resident; killer whale, eastern North Pacific Gulf of Alaska, Aleutian 
Islands, and Bering Sea Transient; harbor porpoise, Southeast Alaska; 
harbor porpoise, Gulf of Alaska; harbor porpoise, Bering Sea; sperm 
whale, North Pacific; humpback whale, Western North Pacific; humpback 
whale, Central North Pacific; fin whale, Northeast Pacific; right 
whale, Eastern North Pacific; bowhead whale, Western Arctic; narwhal, 
unidentified stock. Information on the remaining Alaska region stocks 
can be found in the final 2015 reports (Muto et al., 2016).
    Most revisions to the Alaska SARs included updates of abundance 
and/or M/SI estimates, including revised abundance estimates for both 
the western and eastern U.S. Steller sea lion stocks; northern fur 
seal, eastern Pacific; beluga whale, Cook Inlet; bearded seal, Alaska; 
ringed seal, Alaska; and fin whale, Northeast Pacific stocks. The 
following SARs include the abundance estimates from partial surveys as 
the Nmin, along with statements that the underestimated 
Nmins are not reliable; thus they should not be used in 
certain management actions: Bearded seal, Alaska; ringed seal, Alaska; 
harbor porpoise, Southeast Alaska; and fin whale, Northeast Pacific. 
Additionally, Nmins determined under these circumstances 
will not be included in the summary tables, but will instead include a 
caveat placeholder which defers to the SAR text. Additionally, 
mortalities from permitted research activities were updated for western 
and eastern U.S. Steller sea lion stocks and the Alaska stock of ringed 
seals. Also reflected is a shift in genera classification for the 
ringed seal, from Phoca to Pusa.
    The eastern U.S. stock of Steller sea lion changed in status from 
``strategic'' to ``non-strategic.'' This status change is consistent 
with the recent humpback whale ESA listing final rule (81 FR 62259; 
September 8, 2016), which states that in the case of a species or stock 
that achieved its depleted status solely on the basis of its ESA 
status, the species or stock would cease to qualify as depleted under 
the terms of the definition set forth in MMPA section 3(1), if the 
species or stock is no longer listed as threatened or endangered. NMFS 
took the opportunity during the public comment period related to that 
rule to clarify our interpretation that loss of depleted status is 
automatic at the time of a delisting if the sole basis for the species 
or stocks' depleted status was an ESA listing. As a result, the eastern 
Steller sea lion is now considered to be not depleted and no longer 
qualifies as a strategic stock (as human-caused mortality or serious 
injury does not exceed PBR). The draft 2016 SAR reflects these changes 
and, accordingly, the PBR has been recalculated (using a recovery 
factor appropriate for a non-strategic stock) and increased from 1,645 
to 2,498.

Atlantic Reports

    In the Atlantic region (including the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of 
Mexico, and U.S. territories in the Caribbean), 18 reports for 44 
stocks were updated. Of the updated stocks, 32 stocks are 
``strategic,'' and 12 are ``non-strategic.''
    All stocks were reviewed and reports for the following strategic 
stocks were revised for 2016: North Atlantic right whale, Western 
Atlantic; humpback whale, Gulf of Maine; fin whale, Western North 
Atlantic (WNA); sei whale, Nova Scotia; short-finned pilot whale, WNA; 
and 27 Gulf of Mexico bay, sound, and estuary common bottlenose dolphin 
stocks. Two stocks, the WNA stocks of short-finned and long-finned 
pilot whales, changed from ``non-strategic'' to ``strategic'' this year

[[Page 70099]]

because the mean annual human-caused mortality and serious injury 
exceeds PBR; the Gulf of Maine humpback whale stock has changed from 
``strategic'' to ``non-strategic.''
    Reports for the following non-strategic stocks were revised for 
2016: Minke whale, Canadian east coast; Risso's dolphin, WNA; Atlantic 
white-sided dolphin, WNA; short-beaked common dolphin, WNA; harbor 
porpoise, Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy; harbor seal, WNA; gray seal, WNA; 
rough-toothed dolphin, Northern Gulf of Mexico; pygmy sperm whale, WNA; 
dwarf sperm whale, WNA; and common bottlenose dolphin, WNA offshore. 
Information on the remaining Atlantic region stocks can be found in the 
final 2015 reports (Waring et al., 2016).
    Most revisions to the Atlantic SARs included updates of abundance 
and/or M/SI estimates. New abundance estimates are available for the 
North Atlantic right whale, Western Atlantic; minke whale, Canadian 
east stock; short-beaked common dolphin, WNA stock; and common 
bottlenose dolphin, Sarasota Bay, Little Sarasota Bay. The following 
common bottlenose dolphin, Gulf of Mexico bay, sound, and estuary 
stocks no longer have usable abundance and/or PBR estimates because the 
survey data on which they are based are more than eight years old and 
no longer considered unreliable (per NMFS Guidelines for Assessing 
Marine Mammal Stocks): Choctawhatchee Bay; St. Joseph Bay; St. Vincent 
Sound, Apalachicola Bay, St. George Sound; Waccasassa Bay, 
Withalacoochee Bay, Crystal Bay; St. Joseph Sound, Clearwater Harbor; 
Tampa Bay; Estero Bay; Chokoloskee Bay, Ten Thousand Islands, Gullivan 
Bay; Whitewater Bay; and Florida Keys (Bahia Honda to Key West).
    As a result of the humpback whale ESA listing rule (81 FR 62259; 
September 8, 2016), the Gulf of Maine stock of humpback whales is no 
longer considered ESA listed or depleted. In the previous SAR, the 
recovery factor was 0.1 because this stock was listed as an endangered 
species under the ESA. In the draft 2016 SAR, the recovery factor was 
revised to 0.5, the default value for stocks of unknown status relative 
to OSP. Values other than the defaults for any stock should usually not 
be used without the approval of the regional Scientific Review Group, 
and scientific justification for the change should be provided in the 
SAR. As the listing change occurred after the February 2016 SRG 
Meeting, NMFS has applied the default recovery factor of 0.5 to the 
draft 2016 SAR. As a result, the PBR increased from 2.7 to 13. Human-
caused mortality and serious injury is now below PBR, and the stock has 
changed from ``strategic'' to ``non-strategic.'' The Atlantic SRG will 
discuss the recovery factor for this stock at its February 2017 
meeting.
    Abundance estimates for the minke whale Canadian east stock and 
short-beaked common dolphin WNA stock are substantially lower than what 
was reported in the 2015 SARs. This is because the new estimates 
exclude data from the 2007 Canadian Trans-North Atlantic Sighting 
Survey, as they were more than eight years old. Thus, the revised 
estimates for these stocks should not be interpreted as a decline in 
abundance of these stocks, as previous estimates are not directly 
comparable to the new estimates.

Pacific Reports

    In the Pacific region (waters along the west coast of the United 
States, within waters surrounding the main and Northwestern Hawaiian 
Islands (NWHI), and within waters surrounding U.S. territories in the 
Western Pacific), SARs were revised for 23 stocks under NMFS 
jurisdiction (8 ``strategic'' and 15 ``non-strategic'' stocks). All 
stocks were reviewed and reports for the following ``strategic'' stocks 
were revised for 2016: Hawaiian monk seal; killer whale, Eastern North 
Pacific Southern Resident; false killer whale, Main Hawaiian Islands 
(MHI) Insular; false killer whale, Hawaii Pelagic; humpback whale, 
California/Oregon/Washington (CA/OR/WA); fin whale, CA/OR/WA; sei 
whale, Eastern North Pacific; and Guadalupe fur seal, Mexico to 
California. Reports for the following ``non-strategic'' stocks were 
revised for 2016: False killer whale, NWHI; harbor porpoise, Washington 
inland waters; Dall's porpoise, CA/OR/WA; Pacific white-sided dolphin, 
CA/OR/WA; Risso's dolphin, CA/OR/WA; common bottlenose dolphin, 
California Coastal; common bottlenose dolphin, CA/OR/WA Offshore; 
striped dolphin, CA/OR/WA; short-beaked common dolphin, CA/OR/WA; long-
beaked common dolphin, California; Northern right whale dolphin, CA/OR/
WA; short-finned pilot whale, CA/OR/WA; pygmy sperm whale, CA/OR/WA; 
dwarf sperm whale, CA/OR/WA; and minke whale, CA/OR/WA. Information on 
the remaining Pacific region stocks can be found in the final 2015 
reports (Carretta et al., 2016a).
    Several abundance estimates for Pacific stocks were changed in the 
draft 2016 reports following the application of a new approach for 
estimating the g(0) parameter, the probability of detecting an animal 
that is directly on the transect line, in different survey conditions 
(Beaufort sea state) (Barlow 2016). An analysis found that g(0) 
decreases as Beaufort sea state increases, even for visually 
conspicuous species. The following stocks reflect these abundance (and 
PBR) changes: Kogia spp.; Dall's porpoise, CA/OR/WA; Northern right 
whale dolphin, CA/OR/WA; Pacific white-sided dolphin, CA/OR/WA; Risso's 
dolphin, CA/OR/WA; striped dolphin, CA/OR/WA; short-beaked common 
dolphin, CA/OR/WA; long-beaked common dolphin, CA/OR/WA; short-finned 
pilot whale, CA/OR/WA; fin whale, CA/OR/WA; and minke whale, CA/OR/WA.
    A new methodology was applied to bycatch estimated for some coastal 
Pacific stocks. Recent work shows that estimates of carcass recovery 
(0.25, 95 percent confidence interval = 0.20-0.33) for an extremely-
coastal dolphin population suggests that observed anthropogenic 
mortality values of dolphins in this region derived from strandings 
should be corrected to account for unobserved mortality (Carretta et 
al., 2016b). Therefore, within the draft SARs involving dolphins along 
the U.S. West Coast, human-related deaths and injuries counted from 
beach strandings are multiplied by a factor of four to account for the 
non-detection of most carcasses. This correction factor affected the M/
SI for the following stocks: harbor porpoise, Washington inland waters; 
Risso's dolphin, CA/OR/WA; striped dolphin, CA/OR/WA; short-beaked 
common dolphin, CA/OR/WA; long-beaked common dolphin, CA/OR/WA; 
bottlenose dolphin, California coastal; and bottlenose dolphin, CA/OR/
WA offshore.
    Additional stocks with updated abundance and/or M/SI estimates 
include: Harbor porpoise, Washington inland waters; Guadalupe fur seal, 
Mexico to California; Hawaiian monk seal; killer whale, Eastern North 
Pacific Southern Resident; humpback whale, CA/OR/WA; sei whale, Eastern 
North Pacific; false killer whale, Hawaii pelagic; false killer whale, 
MHI Insular; and false killer whale, NWHI.

    Dated: October 4, 2016.
Donna S. Wieting,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-24404 Filed 10-7-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P