Endangered and Threatened Species; Recovery Plans, 1707-1709 [2019-00941]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 24 / Tuesday, February 5, 2019 / Notices This notice of initiation is being published in accordance with section 751(c) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.218(c). Dated: January 31, 2019. James Maeder, Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations performing the duties of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations. [FR Doc. 2019–01271 Filed 2–4–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–DS–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XG749 New England Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; public meeting. AGENCY: The New England Fishery Management Council (Council) is scheduling a public meeting of its Recreational Advisory Panel to consider actions affecting New England fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Recommendations from this group will be brought to the full Council for formal consideration and action, if appropriate. DATES: This meeting will be held on Friday, February 22, 2019 at 10 a.m. ADDRESSES: Meeting address: The meeting will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn, 100 Boardman Street, Boston, MA 02128; phone: (617) 567–6789. Council address: New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council; telephone: (978) 465–0492. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: Agenda The Recreational Advisory Panel will provide recommendations to the Groundfish Committee on fishing year 2019 recreational measures for Gulf of Maine cod and haddock, and Georges Bank cod. They plan to discuss public listening sessions for a possible limited access program for the recreational groundfish party/charter fishery. The panel will receive an overview of the Council’s priorities for 2019. Other business will be discussed as necessary. Although non-emergency issues not contained in this agenda may come VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:22 Feb 04, 2019 Jkt 247001 1707 before this group for discussion, those issues may not be the subject of formal action during these meetings. Action will be restricted to those issues specifically listed in this notice and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under section 305(c) of the MagnusonStevens Act, provided the public has been notified of the Council’s intent to take final action to address the emergency. site-specific management actions necessary to achieve the Proposed Plan’s goals, and estimates of the time and costs required to implement recovery actions. We are soliciting review and comment from the public and all interested parties on the Proposed Plan. The close of the comment period is being extended— from February 11, 2019, to March 28, 2019—to provide additional opportunity for public comment. Special Accommodations DATES: This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, at (978) 465–0492, at least 5 days prior to the meeting date. This meeting will be recorded. Consistent with 16 U.S.C. 1852, a copy of the recording is available upon request. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: January 31, 2019. Jennifer M. Wallace, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–01053 Filed 2–4–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XG573 Endangered and Threatened Species; Recovery Plans National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Commerce. ACTION: Notice of availability; extension of public comment period. AGENCY: We, NMFS, announce the extension of the comment period for the Proposed Endangered Species Act (ESA) Recovery Plan for Puget Sound Steelhead (Proposed Plan) published on December 13, 2018. The Proposed Plan addresses the Puget Sound steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) Distinct Population Segment (DPS), which was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on May 11, 2007 (72 FR 26722). The geographic area covered by the Proposed Plan is the Puget Sound basin, from the Elwha River (inclusive) eastward, including rivers in Hood Canal, South Sound, and North Sound. As required under the ESA, the Proposed Plan contains objective, measurable delisting criteria, SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 The deadline for receipt of comments on the Proposed Recovery Plan published on December 13, 2018 (83 FR 64110), is extended to close of business on March 28, 2019. You may submit comments on the Proposed Plan, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2018–0125, by either of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments on the Proposed Plan via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D= NOAA-NMFS-2018-0125. Click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Submit written comments on the Proposed Plan to David Price, National Marine Fisheries Service, 510 Desmond Dr. SE, Lacey, WA 98503. Instructions: Comments or information sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period may not be considered by NMFS. All comments and information 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). The Proposed Plan is available online at www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D= NOAA-NMFS-20180125 or upon request from the NMFS West Coast Region, Protected Resources Division (see ADDRESSES or FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). ADDRESSES: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David Price, Puget Sound Steelhead Recovery Coordinator, at (360) 753– 9598, david.price@noaa.gov; or Elizabeth Babcock, (206) 526–4505, elizabeth.babcock@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: E:\FR\FM\05FEN1.SGM 05FEN1 1708 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 24 / Tuesday, February 5, 2019 / Notices Extension of Comment Period On December 13, 2018 (83 FR 64110) we (NMFS) published in the Federal Register a request for public comment on the Proposed Endangered Species Act Recovery Plan for Puget Sound steelhead. The public comment period for this action is set to end on February 11, 2019. The comment period is being extended through March 28, 2019, to provide additional opportunity for public comment. Background We are responsible for developing and implementing recovery plans for Pacific salmon and steelhead listed under the ESA of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The ESA requires the development of recovery plans for each listed species unless such a plan would not promote its recovery. We believe it is essential to have local support of recovery plans by those whose activities directly affect the listed species and whose continued commitment and leadership will be needed to implement the necessary recovery actions. We therefore support and participate in collaborative efforts to develop recovery plans that involve state, tribal, and federal entities, local communities, and other stakeholders. For the Proposed Plan for threatened Puget Sound steelhead, we worked collaboratively with state, tribal, and federal partners to produce a recovery plan that satisfies the ESA requirements. We have determined that this Proposed ESA Recovery Plan for Puget Sound Steelhead meets the statutory requirements for a recovery plan and we are proposing to adopt it as the ESA recovery plan for this threatened species. Section 4(f) of the ESA, as amended in 1988, requires that public notice and an opportunity for public review and comment be provided prior to final approval of a recovery plan. This notice solicits comments on the Proposed Plan. Development of the Proposed Plan The geographic area covered by the Proposed Plan is the Puget Sound basin, from the Elwha River (inclusive) eastward, including rivers in Hood Canal, South Sound, and North Sound. The area includes steelhead from six artificial propagation programs: The Green River Natural Program; White River Winter Steelhead Supplementation Program; Hood Canal Steelhead Supplementation Off-station Projects in the Dewatto, Skokomish, and Duckabush Rivers; and the Lower Elwha Fish Hatchery Wild Steelhead Recovery Program. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:22 Feb 04, 2019 Jkt 247001 For the purpose of recovery planning for the ESA-listed species of Pacific salmon and steelhead in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, NMFS designated five geographically based ‘‘recovery domains.’’ The Puget Sound steelhead DPS spawning range is in the Puget Sound domain. For each domain, NMFS appointed a team of scientists, nominated for their geographic and species expertise, to provide a solid scientific foundation for recovery plans. The Puget Sound Steelhead Technical Recovery Team included biologists from NMFS, other federal agencies, state agencies, tribal entities and governments, and academic institutions. A primary task for the Puget Sound Steelhead Technical Recovery Team was to recommend criteria for determining when each component population within a DPS or Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU) should be considered viable (i.e., when they are have a low risk of extinction over a 100-year period) and when ESUs or DPSs have a risk of extinction consistent with no longer needing the protections of the ESA. All NMFS’ technical recovery teams used the same biological principles for developing their recommendations; these principles are described in the NOAA technical memorandum, Viable Salmonid Populations and the Recovery of Evolutionarily Significant Units (McElhany et al. 2000). Viable salmonid populations (VSP) are defined in terms of four parameters: Abundance, productivity or growth rate, spatial structure, and diversity. We also collaborated with the state of Washington, tribes, other federal agencies, local governments, representatives of industry and environmental groups, other stakeholders, and the public to develop this Proposed Plan. The plan for the Puget Sound steelhead DPS was developed by NMFS in cooperation with a recovery team made up of experts from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, Nooksack Tribe, Seattle City Light, Long Live the Kings, Puget Sound Partnership, and NMFS’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center. These groups provided vital input during the planning process and their continued involvement during recovery plan implementation is critical to the success of our joint efforts to recover Puget Sound steelhead. Contents of Proposed Plan The Proposed Plan contains biological background and contextual information that includes description of the DPS, planning area, and context of the plan’s PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 development. It presents relevant information on DPS structure and guidelines for assessing salmonid population and DPS status. It provides background on the natural history of steelhead, population status, and threats to their sustainability. The Puget Sound steelhead DPS consists of three Major Population Groups (MPGs) and 32 Demographically Independent Populations (DIPs). NMFS based its decision to list the species in 2007 on findings by the Puget Sound Steelhead Biological Review Team (Biological Review Team) (Hard et al. 2007). The team’s findings identified the major risk factors facing Puget Sound steelhead to be: (1) Widespread declines in abundance and productivity for most natural steelhead populations in the DPS, including those in Skagit and Snohomish Rivers, previously considered strongholds for steelhead in the DPS; (2) the low abundance of several summer-run populations; and (3) the sharply diminishing abundance of some steelhead populations, especially in south Puget Sound, Hood Canal, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Continued releases of out-of-DPS hatchery fish from Skamania-derived summer run were a major concern for diversity in the DPS. In 2011, four years after the ESA-listing decision, a status assessment of the DPS by NMFS’ Biological Review Team found that the status of Puget Sound steelhead in terms of risk of extinction had not changed (NMFS 2016; 81 FR 33468). Scientists on the Biological Review Team identified degradation and fragmentation of freshwater habitat, with consequential effects on connectivity, as the primary limiting factors and threats facing the Puget Sound steelhead DPS. They determined that most of the steelhead populations within the DPS continued to show downward trends in estimated abundance, with a few sharp declines (Ford 2011). Most recently, a NMFS review (NMFS 2016) concluded that ‘‘The biological risks faced by the Puget Sound steelhead DPS have not substantively changed since the listing in 2007, or since the 2011 status review.’’ The Puget Sound Steelhead Technical Recovery Team concluded that the DPS was at very low viability, as were all three of its constituent MPGs and many of its 32 DIPs (Hard et al. 2015). The Proposed Plan presents NMFS’ proposed recovery goals, viability criteria, and listing factor criteria for making a delisting decision. The proposed viability criteria for the Puget Sound steelhead DPS are designed to improve the DPS so it ‘‘has a negligible E:\FR\FM\05FEN1.SGM 05FEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 24 / Tuesday, February 5, 2019 / Notices risk of extinction due to threats from demographic variation, local environmental variation, and genetic diversity changes over a 100-year time frame’’ based on the status of the MPGs, DIPs, and supporting ecosystems (McElhany et al. 2000). A self-sustaining viable population has a negligible risk of extinction due to reasonably foreseeable changes in circumstances affecting its abundance, productivity, spatial structure, and diversity characteristics and achieves these characteristics without dependence upon artificial propagation. The proposed viability criteria for Puget Sound steelhead require that all three MPGs be viable because the three MPGs differ substantially in key biological and habitat characteristics that contribute in distinct ways to the overall viability, diversity and spatial structure of the DPS. The proposed listing factor criteria are based on the five listing factors found in the ESA section 4(a)(1). Before NMFS can remove the DPS from protection under the ESA, the factors that led to ESA listing need to have been reduced or eliminated to the point where federal protection under the ESA is no longer needed, and there is reasonable certainty that the relevant regulatory mechanisms are adequate to protect Puget Sound steelhead viability. NMFS’ listing factor criteria for Puget Sound steelhead address pressures from freshwater habitat degradation, hatcheries, and other factors that led to the species’ listing and continue to affect their viability. The Proposed Plan also describes specific information on the following: Current status of Puget Sound steelhead; pressures (limiting factors) and threats throughout the life cycle that have contributed to the species’ decline; recovery strategies to address the threats based on the best available science; sitespecific actions with timelines; and a proposed adaptive management framework for focusing needed research and evaluations, and revising our recovery strategies and actions. The Proposed Plan also summarizes time and costs required to implement recovery actions. NMFS is particularly interested in comments on the proposed strategies and actions for steelhead recovery, and in gaining additional information regarding scale, scope, and costs of these actions. We are also interested in comments on establishing appropriate forums to coordinate implementation of the recovery plan. Public Comments Solicited We are soliciting written comments on the Proposed Plan. All substantive VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:22 Feb 04, 2019 Jkt 247001 comments received by the date specified above will be considered and incorporated, as appropriate, prior to our decision whether to approve the plan. While we invite comments on all aspects of the Proposed Plan, we are particularly interested in comments on developing specific scenarios to address the placeholder recovery scenario, comments on the cost of recovery actions for which we have not yet determined implementation costs, and comments on establishing an appropriate implementation forum for the plan. We will issue a news release announcing the adoption and availability of the final plan. We will post on the NMFS West Coast Region website (www.wcr.noaa.gov) a summary of, and responses to, the comments received, along with electronic copies of the final plan and its appendices. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq. Dated: January 30, 2019. Angela Somma, Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–00941 Filed 2–4–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XG746 North Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of public meeting. AGENCY: The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) Scallop Plan Team will meet on February 20, 2019 in Kodiak, AK. DATES: The meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 20, 2019, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Alaska Standard Time. ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Office, 351 Research Ct, Kodiak, AK 99615. Council address: North Pacific Fishery Management Council, 605 W. 4th Ave., Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501–2252; telephone: (907) 271–2809. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jim Armstrong, Council staff; telephone: (907) 271–2809. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 1709 Agenda Wednesday, February 20, 2019 The Council’s Scallop Plan Team will update the status of the Statewide Scallop Stocks and Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report, including catch specification recommendations for the 2019 fishing year. Additionally, there will be discussion of survey results and the scallop assessment program, survey plans for 2019, and a review and update of scallop research priorities. The agenda is subject to change and will be posted at http://www.npfmc.org/. Public Comment Public comment letters will be accepted and should be submitted either electronically via the eCommenting portal at: meetings.npfmc.org/Meeting/ Details/449 or through the mail: North Pacific Fishery Management Council, 605 W. 4th Ave., Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501–2252. Oral public testimony will be accepted at the discretion of the chair. Special Accommodations The meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Shannon Gleason at (907) 271–2809 at least 7 working days prior to the meeting date. Dated: January 31, 2019. Jennifer M. Wallace, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–01051 Filed 2–4–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XG673 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska; Central Gulf of Alaska Rockfish Program National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notification of standard prices and fee percentage. AGENCY: NMFS publishes the standard ex-vessel prices and fee percentage for cost recovery under the Central Gulf of Alaska Rockfish Program. This action is intended to provide participants in a rockfish cooperative with the standard SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\05FEN1.SGM 05FEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 24 (Tuesday, February 5, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 1707-1709]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-00941]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XG573


Endangered and Threatened Species; Recovery Plans

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

ACTION: Notice of availability; extension of public comment period.

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

SUMMARY: We, NMFS, announce the extension of the comment period for the 
Proposed Endangered Species Act (ESA) Recovery Plan for Puget Sound 
Steelhead (Proposed Plan) published on December 13, 2018. The Proposed 
Plan addresses the Puget Sound steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) Distinct 
Population Segment (DPS), which was listed as threatened under the 
Endangered Species Act (ESA) on May 11, 2007 (72 FR 26722). The 
geographic area covered by the Proposed Plan is the Puget Sound basin, 
from the Elwha River (inclusive) eastward, including rivers in Hood 
Canal, South Sound, and North Sound. As required under the ESA, the 
Proposed Plan contains objective, measurable delisting criteria, site-
specific management actions necessary to achieve the Proposed Plan's 
goals, and estimates of the time and costs required to implement 
recovery actions. We are soliciting review and comment from the public 
and all interested parties on the Proposed Plan. The close of the 
comment period is being extended-- from February 11, 2019, to March 28, 
2019--to provide additional opportunity for public comment.

DATES: The deadline for receipt of comments on the Proposed Recovery 
Plan published on December 13, 2018 (83 FR 64110), is extended to close 
of business on March 28, 2019.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the Proposed Plan, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2018-0125, by either of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments on the Proposed Plan via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D= NOAA-NMFS-2018-0125. Click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments on the Proposed Plan to 
David Price, National Marine Fisheries Service, 510 Desmond Dr. SE, 
Lacey, WA 98503.
    Instructions: Comments or information sent by any other method, to 
any other address or individual, or received after the end of the 
comment period may not be considered by NMFS. All comments and 
information 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).
    The Proposed Plan is available online at www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D= NOAA-NMFS-2018-0125 or upon request from the NMFS 
West Coast Region, Protected Resources Division (see ADDRESSES or FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David Price, Puget Sound Steelhead 
Recovery Coordinator, at (360) 753-9598, david.price@noaa.gov; or 
Elizabeth Babcock, (206) 526-4505, elizabeth.babcock@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

[[Page 1708]]

Extension of Comment Period

    On December 13, 2018 (83 FR 64110) we (NMFS) published in the 
Federal Register a request for public comment on the Proposed 
Endangered Species Act Recovery Plan for Puget Sound steelhead. The 
public comment period for this action is set to end on February 11, 
2019. The comment period is being extended through March 28, 2019, to 
provide additional opportunity for public comment.

Background

    We are responsible for developing and implementing recovery plans 
for Pacific salmon and steelhead listed under the ESA of 1973, as 
amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The ESA requires the development of 
recovery plans for each listed species unless such a plan would not 
promote its recovery. We believe it is essential to have local support 
of recovery plans by those whose activities directly affect the listed 
species and whose continued commitment and leadership will be needed to 
implement the necessary recovery actions. We therefore support and 
participate in collaborative efforts to develop recovery plans that 
involve state, tribal, and federal entities, local communities, and 
other stakeholders. For the Proposed Plan for threatened Puget Sound 
steelhead, we worked collaboratively with state, tribal, and federal 
partners to produce a recovery plan that satisfies the ESA 
requirements. We have determined that this Proposed ESA Recovery Plan 
for Puget Sound Steelhead meets the statutory requirements for a 
recovery plan and we are proposing to adopt it as the ESA recovery plan 
for this threatened species. Section 4(f) of the ESA, as amended in 
1988, requires that public notice and an opportunity for public review 
and comment be provided prior to final approval of a recovery plan. 
This notice solicits comments on the Proposed Plan.

Development of the Proposed Plan

    The geographic area covered by the Proposed Plan is the Puget Sound 
basin, from the Elwha River (inclusive) eastward, including rivers in 
Hood Canal, South Sound, and North Sound. The area includes steelhead 
from six artificial propagation programs: The Green River Natural 
Program; White River Winter Steelhead Supplementation Program; Hood 
Canal Steelhead Supplementation Off-station Projects in the Dewatto, 
Skokomish, and Duckabush Rivers; and the Lower Elwha Fish Hatchery Wild 
Steelhead Recovery Program.
    For the purpose of recovery planning for the ESA-listed species of 
Pacific salmon and steelhead in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, NMFS 
designated five geographically based ``recovery domains.'' The Puget 
Sound steelhead DPS spawning range is in the Puget Sound domain. For 
each domain, NMFS appointed a team of scientists, nominated for their 
geographic and species expertise, to provide a solid scientific 
foundation for recovery plans. The Puget Sound Steelhead Technical 
Recovery Team included biologists from NMFS, other federal agencies, 
state agencies, tribal entities and governments, and academic 
institutions.
    A primary task for the Puget Sound Steelhead Technical Recovery 
Team was to recommend criteria for determining when each component 
population within a DPS or Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU) should 
be considered viable (i.e., when they are have a low risk of extinction 
over a 100-year period) and when ESUs or DPSs have a risk of extinction 
consistent with no longer needing the protections of the ESA. All NMFS' 
technical recovery teams used the same biological principles for 
developing their recommendations; these principles are described in the 
NOAA technical memorandum, Viable Salmonid Populations and the Recovery 
of Evolutionarily Significant Units (McElhany et al. 2000). Viable 
salmonid populations (VSP) are defined in terms of four parameters: 
Abundance, productivity or growth rate, spatial structure, and 
diversity.
    We also collaborated with the state of Washington, tribes, other 
federal agencies, local governments, representatives of industry and 
environmental groups, other stakeholders, and the public to develop 
this Proposed Plan. The plan for the Puget Sound steelhead DPS was 
developed by NMFS in cooperation with a recovery team made up of 
experts from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Northwest 
Indian Fisheries Commission, Nooksack Tribe, Seattle City Light, Long 
Live the Kings, Puget Sound Partnership, and NMFS' Northwest Fisheries 
Science Center. These groups provided vital input during the planning 
process and their continued involvement during recovery plan 
implementation is critical to the success of our joint efforts to 
recover Puget Sound steelhead.

Contents of Proposed Plan

    The Proposed Plan contains biological background and contextual 
information that includes description of the DPS, planning area, and 
context of the plan's development. It presents relevant information on 
DPS structure and guidelines for assessing salmonid population and DPS 
status. It provides background on the natural history of steelhead, 
population status, and threats to their sustainability.
    The Puget Sound steelhead DPS consists of three Major Population 
Groups (MPGs) and 32 Demographically Independent Populations (DIPs). 
NMFS based its decision to list the species in 2007 on findings by the 
Puget Sound Steelhead Biological Review Team (Biological Review Team) 
(Hard et al. 2007). The team's findings identified the major risk 
factors facing Puget Sound steelhead to be: (1) Widespread declines in 
abundance and productivity for most natural steelhead populations in 
the DPS, including those in Skagit and Snohomish Rivers, previously 
considered strongholds for steelhead in the DPS; (2) the low abundance 
of several summer-run populations; and (3) the sharply diminishing 
abundance of some steelhead populations, especially in south Puget 
Sound, Hood Canal, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Continued releases 
of out-of-DPS hatchery fish from Skamania-derived summer run were a 
major concern for diversity in the DPS. In 2011, four years after the 
ESA-listing decision, a status assessment of the DPS by NMFS' 
Biological Review Team found that the status of Puget Sound steelhead 
in terms of risk of extinction had not changed (NMFS 2016; 81 FR 
33468). Scientists on the Biological Review Team identified degradation 
and fragmentation of freshwater habitat, with consequential effects on 
connectivity, as the primary limiting factors and threats facing the 
Puget Sound steelhead DPS. They determined that most of the steelhead 
populations within the DPS continued to show downward trends in 
estimated abundance, with a few sharp declines (Ford 2011). Most 
recently, a NMFS review (NMFS 2016) concluded that ``The biological 
risks faced by the Puget Sound steelhead DPS have not substantively 
changed since the listing in 2007, or since the 2011 status review.'' 
The Puget Sound Steelhead Technical Recovery Team concluded that the 
DPS was at very low viability, as were all three of its constituent 
MPGs and many of its 32 DIPs (Hard et al. 2015).
    The Proposed Plan presents NMFS' proposed recovery goals, viability 
criteria, and listing factor criteria for making a delisting decision. 
The proposed viability criteria for the Puget Sound steelhead DPS are 
designed to improve the DPS so it ``has a negligible

[[Page 1709]]

risk of extinction due to threats from demographic variation, local 
environmental variation, and genetic diversity changes over a 100-year 
time frame'' based on the status of the MPGs, DIPs, and supporting 
ecosystems (McElhany et al. 2000). A self-sustaining viable population 
has a negligible risk of extinction due to reasonably foreseeable 
changes in circumstances affecting its abundance, productivity, spatial 
structure, and diversity characteristics and achieves these 
characteristics without dependence upon artificial propagation. The 
proposed viability criteria for Puget Sound steelhead require that all 
three MPGs be viable because the three MPGs differ substantially in key 
biological and habitat characteristics that contribute in distinct ways 
to the overall viability, diversity and spatial structure of the DPS.
    The proposed listing factor criteria are based on the five listing 
factors found in the ESA section 4(a)(1). Before NMFS can remove the 
DPS from protection under the ESA, the factors that led to ESA listing 
need to have been reduced or eliminated to the point where federal 
protection under the ESA is no longer needed, and there is reasonable 
certainty that the relevant regulatory mechanisms are adequate to 
protect Puget Sound steelhead viability. NMFS' listing factor criteria 
for Puget Sound steelhead address pressures from freshwater habitat 
degradation, hatcheries, and other factors that led to the species' 
listing and continue to affect their viability.
    The Proposed Plan also describes specific information on the 
following: Current status of Puget Sound steelhead; pressures (limiting 
factors) and threats throughout the life cycle that have contributed to 
the species' decline; recovery strategies to address the threats based 
on the best available science; site-specific actions with timelines; 
and a proposed adaptive management framework for focusing needed 
research and evaluations, and revising our recovery strategies and 
actions. The Proposed Plan also summarizes time and costs required to 
implement recovery actions. NMFS is particularly interested in comments 
on the proposed strategies and actions for steelhead recovery, and in 
gaining additional information regarding scale, scope, and costs of 
these actions. We are also interested in comments on establishing 
appropriate forums to coordinate implementation of the recovery plan.

Public Comments Solicited

    We are soliciting written comments on the Proposed Plan. All 
substantive comments received by the date specified above will be 
considered and incorporated, as appropriate, prior to our decision 
whether to approve the plan. While we invite comments on all aspects of 
the Proposed Plan, we are particularly interested in comments on 
developing specific scenarios to address the placeholder recovery 
scenario, comments on the cost of recovery actions for which we have 
not yet determined implementation costs, and comments on establishing 
an appropriate implementation forum for the plan. We will issue a news 
release announcing the adoption and availability of the final plan. We 
will post on the NMFS West Coast Region website (www.wcr.noaa.gov) a 
summary of, and responses to, the comments received, along with 
electronic copies of the final plan and its appendices.

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.

    Dated: January 30, 2019.
Angela Somma,
Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-00941 Filed 2-4-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P