Marine Mammals; Pinniped Removal Authority, 45730-45732 [2019-18751]

Download as PDF 45730 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 169 / Friday, August 30, 2019 / Notices sanctuary-wide regulations, update the individual marine zones and their associated regulations, and revise the sanctuary management plan. In preparing this DEIS, NOAA worked closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), a cooperating agency that manages the USFWS Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuge Complex areas that overlap portions of FKNMS. NOAA is seeking public comment on the DEIS, which is available at https:// floridakeys.noaa.gov/ or may be obtained by contacting the individual listed under the heading FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq. Dated: August 23, 2019. John Armor, Director, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. [FR Doc. 2019–18783 Filed 8–29–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–NK–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XW004 Marine Mammals; Pinniped Removal Authority National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; request for comments. AGENCY: On June 13, 2019, NMFS received an application from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, on behalf of their respective states; the Nez Perce Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation; and the Willamette Committee (hereafter called—‘‘eligible entities’’). The eligible entities are requesting authorization to intentionally take, by lethal methods, California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) and Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus: Eastern stock) that are located in the main stem of the Columbia River between river mile 112 and McNary Dam (river mile 292), or in any tributary to the Columbia River that includes spawning habitat of threatened or endangered salmon or steelhead (Onchorynchus spp.). This action is intended to reduce or eliminate sea lion predation on the fishery stocks that are jspears on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:43 Aug 29, 2019 Jkt 247001 listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Comments must be received by October 29, 2019. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2019–0073, by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal http:// www.regulations.gov. Go to https:// www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NOAANMFS-2019-0073, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Comments on the application should be addressed to: National Marine Fisheries Service, 1201 NE Lloyd Blvd., Suite 1100, Portland, OR 97232 ATTN: Protected Resources Division, NOAA– NMFS–2019–0073. Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to http:// www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publically accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields, if you wish to remain anonymous). DATES: Mr. Robert Anderson, NMFS, West Coast Region (503) 231–2226. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Electronic Access The application is available via the internet at the following address: http:// www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/ protected_species/marine_mammals/ authorized_stateshtml. Statutory Authority Section 120 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1361, et seq.) allows the Secretary of Commerce, acting through the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, and the West Coast Regional Administrator of NMFS, to authorize the intentional lethal taking of individually identifiable pinnipeds that are having a significant negative impact on the decline or recovery of salmonid fishery stocks which have been listed as threatened or endangered species under the ESA, are approaching threatened species or endangered species status (as those terms are defined in that Act), or PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 migrate through the Ballard Locks at Seattle, Washington. Section 120(b)(1) establishes the criteria whereby a state may apply to the Secretary requesting authorization for the intentional lethal taking of individually identifiable pinnipeds which are having a significant negative impact on the decline or recovery of salmonid fishery stocks. Section 120(b)(2) requires that any such application shall include a means of identifying the individual pinniped or pinnipeds, and shall include a detailed description of the problem interaction and expected benefits of the taking. Section 120(c)(1) requires the Secretary to determine whether an application has produced sufficient evidence to warrant establishing a Pinniped-Fishery Interaction Task Force (Task Force). On June 18, 2019, NMFS determined that the application received on June 13, 2019, contained sufficient evidence to warrant establishing a Task Force, which will be established after the closing of a public comment period. Public Law 115–329, the Endangered Salmon Predation Prevention Act of 2018, amended Public Law 103–238, the MMPA Amendments of 1994, by replacing section 120(f) California sea lions and Pacific harbor seals; investigation and report, with a new section 120(f) Temporary Marine Mammal Removal Authority on the Waters of the Columbia River or its Tributaries. The 2018 amendments to section 120(f) superseded the individually identifiable and significant negative impact criteria, within the meaning of section 120(b)(1), by statutory exception. The 2018 Amendments also included additional eligible entities 1 not identified in section 120(b)(1), that may apply for authorization to intentionally take, by lethal methods, sea lions present within the geographic area (see Summary) established in section 120(f). For the purposes of this application, a sea lion or sea lions present within the geographic area (see Summary) established in section 120(f) are deemed to be individually 1 The Nez Perce Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation; and the section 120(f)(6)(D) Committee. The 120(f)(6)(D) Committee fulfills the requirements for an eligible entity under section 120(f)(6)(A)(iii) of the MMPA. Pursuant to this section of the statute, the Committee members include the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community, and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians of Oregon. E:\FR\FM\30AUN1.SGM 30AUN1 jspears on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 169 / Friday, August 30, 2019 / Notices identifiable and to be having a significant negative impact, within the meaning of section 120(b)(1), as defined by section 120(f)(7) and (8) (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1389(f)(7) and (8)). As such, and even though an application submitted under section 120(f) is still required to provide a detailed description of the problem interaction (or future potential interaction) and the expected benefits of the taking, an eligible entity is not required to include in their application a means of identifying the individual sea lion or sea lions, or demonstrate that the sea lion predation impacts are having a significant negative impact on the decline or recovery of the abovementioned at-risk fish stocks, within the meaning of section 120(b)(1). Section 120(f)(2)(C) requires the Secretary to establish procedures to coordinate issuance of permits [authorizations] under this subsection, including application procedures and timelines, delegation and revocation of permits to and between eligible entities, monitoring, periodic review, and geographic, seasonal take, and speciesspecific considerations. Therefore, in establishing the procedures pursuant to section 120(f)(2)(C), NMFS will continue to rely on existing timelines, procedures, considerations, and information requirements in sections 120(b), 120(c), 120(e), and 120(i), to assist the Task Force with its deliberations and recommendation, and for the Secretary to make a decision to approve or deny an application. Pursuant to section 120(f)(2)(C), on June 4, 2019, NMFS issued a Decision Memorandum establishing application requirements and program implementation procedures for prospective and approved authorizations issued to an eligible entity under section 120(f). The June 4, 2019, Decision Memorandum fulfilled the statutory requirement that the Secretary establish procedures to coordinate issuance of permits [authorizations] pursuant to section 120(f). Taken together, NMFS will consider existing section 120 procedures and the 120(f)(2)(C) procedures to fulfill the information requirements for applications submitted under section 120(f). Prospective authorizations apply only to sea lions that are not listed under the ESA, or designated as a depleted or strategic stock under the MMPA. California and Steller sea lions are not listed under the ESA nor are they designated as a depleted or strategic stock under the MMPA. Pursuant to section 120(f), an eligible entity may request authorization to lethally remove sea lions, and the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:43 Aug 29, 2019 Jkt 247001 Regional Administrator is required to: (1) Review the application to determine whether the applicant has produced sufficient evidence to warrant establishing a Task Force to address the situation described in the application; (2) publish a notice in the Federal Register requesting public comment on the application, if sufficient evidence has been produced; (3) establish and convene a Task Force; (4) consider any recommendations made by the Task Force in making a determination whether to approve or deny the application; and (5) if approved, immediately take steps to implement the intentional lethal taking, which shall be performed by agencies or qualified individuals described in section 120(c)(4), or by individuals employed by the eligible entities described in section 120(f)(6). Section 120(c)(2) requires the Task Force be composed of the following: (1) Employees of the Department of Commerce; (2) scientists who are knowledgeable about the pinniped interaction; (3) representatives of affected conservation and fishing community organizations; (4) Indian Treaty tribes; (5) the states; and (6) such other organizations as NMFS deems appropriate. The Task Force reviews the application, the factors contained in section 120(d), and public comments and, as required by section 120, recommends to NMFS whether to approve or deny the application. The Task Force is also required to submit with its recommendation a description of the specific pinniped individual or individuals; the proposed location, time, and method of such taking; criteria for evaluating the success of the action; the duration of the intentional lethal taking authority; and a suggestion for non-lethal alternatives, if available and practicable, including a recommended course of action. Background On June 13, 2019, NMFS received an application pursuant to section 120(f) from the above-mentioned eligible entities. The eligible entities are requesting authorization to intentionally take, by lethal methods, California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) and Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus: Eastern stock) that are located in the mainstem of the Columbia River between river mile 112 and McNary Dam (river mile 292), or in any tributary to the Columbia River that includes spawning habitat of threatened or endangered salmon or steelhead (Onchorynchus spp.) to reduce or eliminate sea lion predation on the following fishery stocks that are listed PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 45731 as threatened or endangered under the ESA: Lower Columbia River Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha), Snake River Fall-run Chinook salmon, Snake River Spring/Summer-run Chinook salmon, Upper Columbia River Spring-run Chinook salmon, Upper Willamette River Chinook salmon, Lower Columbia River steelhead, Middle Columbia River steelhead (O. mykiss), Snake River Basin steelhead, Upper Columbia River steelhead, Upper Willamette River steelhead, Columbia River chum salmon (O. keta), Lower Columbia River coho salmon (O. kisutch), Snake River sockeye salmon (O. nerka), and Southern Distinct Population Segment of eulachon (Thaleichthys pacificus). According to the information in the application, sea lion predation, within the geographic area (see Summary) established in section 120(f), is having a significant negative impact on the recovery on the above-mentioned fishery stocks. Additionally, the application states that removal of sea lions is also intended to protect species of lamprey or sturgeon that may not be listed as endangered or threatened but are listed as a species of concern. On June 18, 2019, NMFS provided the above-mentioned eligible entities a letter acknowledging receipt of their application and a determination that the application produced sufficient evidence of the problem interaction to warrant establishing a Task Force. The application provides: Detailed information that documents sea lion population trends; a detailed description of the problem interaction, including estimates of the numbers of sea lions present within the geographic area (see Summary) established in section 120(f); numbers of salmonids consumed and the proportion of all salmonids that have been taken by sea lions at Bonneville Dam and Willamette Falls (a subarea of the geographic area (see Summary) established in section 120(f); past efforts to nonlethally deter sea lions; methods for capturing, handling and euthanizing sea lions; and a detailed description of the expected benefits of the taking of sea lions. The proposed action to address sea lion predation is part of a comprehensive salmon and steelhead recovery strategy. As reported in the application, significant actions to address the decline of salmon and steelhead stocks in the Columbia River basin have been underway for several decades, and are progressing each year as a result of the implementation of ESA recovery plans throughout the Columbia River basin. These actions include harvest reductions, hydroelectric system E:\FR\FM\30AUN1.SGM 30AUN1 45732 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 169 / Friday, August 30, 2019 / Notices jspears on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES mitigation, habitat restoration, predation management, and hatchery reforms. In considering whether the application should be approved or denied, the MMPA requires that the Task Force and NMFS consider: (1) Population trends, feeding habits, the location of the pinniped interaction, how and when the interaction occurs, and the number of animals involved; (2) past efforts to deter such pinnipeds, and whether the applicant has demonstrated that no feasible and prudent alternatives exist and that the applicant has taken all reasonable nonlethal steps without success; (3) the extent to which such pinnipeds are causing undue injury impact to, or imbalance with, other species in the ecosystem, including fish populations; and (4) the extent to which such pinnipeds are exhibiting behavior that presents an ongoing threat to public safety. Request for Comments and Other Information NMFS solicits public comments on the application and any additional information that should be considered by the Task Force in making its recommendation, or by NMFS in making its determination whether to approve or deny the application. NMFS is interested in receiving additional information related to the factors that must be considered in determining whether to approve or deny the application (see Background), and on the impact of sea lion predation within the geographic area (see Summary) established in section 120(f) on the above-mentioned fish stocks. NMFS requests that comments be specific. In particular, we request information regarding: (1) Observations of sea lion predation activity on salmonids and eulachon within the geographic area (see Summary) established in section 120(f); (2) information on areas where numbers of sea lions are concentrated within the geographic area (see Summary) established in section 120(f), including resting/haul out sites and locations where sea lions have been repeatedly observed taking salmonids and eulachon; and (3) dates when sea lions have been observed within the geographic area (see Summary) established in section 120(f). NMFS also solicits the names and affiliations of experts from the academic and scientific community, tribes, Federal and state agencies, and the private sector for consideration as potential Task Force members. A Task Force, established under section 120(c) must, to the maximum extent practicable, consist of an equitable VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:43 Aug 29, 2019 Jkt 247001 balance among representatives of resource users and non-users as outlined above. Nominations for Task Force membership must include sufficient background information (e.g., 1-page resume) on the candidate to allow us to judge their expertise and should indicate the prospective candidate’s willingness to serve without compensation. Dated: August 26, 2019. Catherine Marzin, Acting Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2019–18751 Filed 8–29–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XT014 Schedules for Atlantic Shark Identification Workshops and Safe Handling, Release, and Identification Workshops National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of public workshops. AGENCY: Free Atlantic Shark Identification Workshops and Safe Handling, Release, and Identification Workshops will be held in October, November, and December of 2019. Certain fishermen and shark dealers are required to attend a workshop to meet regulatory requirements and to maintain valid permits. Specifically, the Atlantic Shark Identification Workshop is mandatory for all federally permitted Atlantic shark dealers. The Safe Handling, Release, and Identification Workshop is mandatory for vessel owners and operators who use bottom longline, pelagic longline, or gillnet gear, and who have also been issued shark or swordfish limited access permits. Additional free workshops will be conducted during 2020 and will be announced in a future notice. DATES: The Atlantic Shark Identification Workshops will be held on October 10, November 14, and December 12, 2019. The Safe Handling, Release, and Identification Workshops will be held on October 16, October 18, November 4, November 19, December 6, and December 17, 2019. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for further details. ADDRESSES: The Atlantic Shark Identification Workshops will be held in Somerville, MA; Mount Pleasant, SC; SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 and Largo, FL. The Safe Handling, Release, and Identification Workshops will be held in Manahawkin, NJ; Port Saint Lucie, FL; Key Largo, FL; Kitty Hawk, NC; Kenner, LA; and Ronkonkoma, NY. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for further details on workshop locations. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rick Pearson by phone: (727) 824–5399. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The workshop schedules, registration information, and a list of frequently asked questions regarding the Atlantic Shark ID and Safe Handling, Release, and ID workshops are posted on the internet at: https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/atlantic-highlymigratory-species/atlantic-sharkidentification-workshops and https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/atlantic-highlymigratory-species/safe-handling-releaseand-identification-workshops. Atlantic Shark Identification Workshops Since January 1, 2008, Atlantic shark dealers have been prohibited from receiving, purchasing, trading, or bartering for Atlantic sharks unless a valid Atlantic Shark Identification Workshop certificate is on the premises of each business listed under the shark dealer permit that first receives Atlantic sharks (71 FR 58057; October 2, 2006). Dealers who attend and successfully complete a workshop are issued a certificate for each place of business that is permitted to receive sharks. These certificate(s) are valid for 3 years. Thus, certificates that were initially issued in 2016 will be expiring in 2019. Approximately 163 free Atlantic Shark Identification Workshops have been conducted since April 2008. Currently, permitted dealers may send a proxy to an Atlantic Shark Identification Workshop. However, if a dealer opts to send a proxy, the dealer must designate a proxy for each place of business covered by the dealer’s permit which first receives Atlantic sharks. Only one certificate will be issued to each proxy. A proxy must be a person who is currently employed by a place of business covered by the dealer’s permit; is a primary participant in the identification, weighing, and/or first receipt of fish as they are offloaded from a vessel; and who fills out dealer reports. Atlantic shark dealers are prohibited from renewing a Federal shark dealer permit unless a valid Atlantic Shark Identification Workshop certificate for each business location that first receives Atlantic sharks has been submitted with the permit renewal application. Additionally, trucks or E:\FR\FM\30AUN1.SGM 30AUN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 169 (Friday, August 30, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 45730-45732]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-18751]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XW004


Marine Mammals; Pinniped Removal Authority

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

ACTION: Notice; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: On June 13, 2019, NMFS received an application from the Oregon 
Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Washington Department of Fish and 
Wildlife, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, on behalf of their 
respective states; the Nez Perce Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the 
Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm 
Springs Reservation of Oregon, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the 
Yakama Nation; and the Willamette Committee (hereafter called--
``eligible entities''). The eligible entities are requesting 
authorization to intentionally take, by lethal methods, California sea 
lions (Zalophus californianus) and Steller sea lions (Eumetopias 
jubatus: Eastern stock) that are located in the main stem of the 
Columbia River between river mile 112 and McNary Dam (river mile 292), 
or in any tributary to the Columbia River that includes spawning 
habitat of threatened or endangered salmon or steelhead (Onchorynchus 
spp.). This action is intended to reduce or eliminate sea lion 
predation on the fishery stocks that are listed as threatened or 
endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

DATES: Comments must be received by October 29, 2019.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2019-0073, 
by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal http://www.regulations.gov. 
Go to https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NOAA-NMFS-2019-0073, click 
the ``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Comments on the application should be addressed to: 
National Marine Fisheries Service, 1201 NE Lloyd Blvd., Suite 1100, 
Portland, OR 97232 ATTN: Protected Resources Division, NOAA-NMFS-2019-
0073.
    Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record 
and will generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without 
change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, 
etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publically 
accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or 
otherwise sensitive or protected information.
    NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required 
fields, if you wish to remain anonymous).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Robert Anderson, NMFS, West Coast 
Region (503) 231-2226.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Electronic Access

    The application is available via the internet at the following 
address: http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/protected_species/marine_mammals/authorized_stateshtml.

Statutory Authority

    Section 120 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 
1361, et seq.) allows the Secretary of Commerce, acting through the 
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, and the West Coast Regional 
Administrator of NMFS, to authorize the intentional lethal taking of 
individually identifiable pinnipeds that are having a significant 
negative impact on the decline or recovery of salmonid fishery stocks 
which have been listed as threatened or endangered species under the 
ESA, are approaching threatened species or endangered species status 
(as those terms are defined in that Act), or migrate through the 
Ballard Locks at Seattle, Washington.
    Section 120(b)(1) establishes the criteria whereby a state may 
apply to the Secretary requesting authorization for the intentional 
lethal taking of individually identifiable pinnipeds which are having a 
significant negative impact on the decline or recovery of salmonid 
fishery stocks. Section 120(b)(2) requires that any such application 
shall include a means of identifying the individual pinniped or 
pinnipeds, and shall include a detailed description of the problem 
interaction and expected benefits of the taking.
    Section 120(c)(1) requires the Secretary to determine whether an 
application has produced sufficient evidence to warrant establishing a 
Pinniped-Fishery Interaction Task Force (Task Force). On June 18, 2019, 
NMFS determined that the application received on June 13, 2019, 
contained sufficient evidence to warrant establishing a Task Force, 
which will be established after the closing of a public comment period.
    Public Law 115-329, the Endangered Salmon Predation Prevention Act 
of 2018, amended Public Law 103-238, the MMPA Amendments of 1994, by 
replacing section 120(f) California sea lions and Pacific harbor seals; 
investigation and report, with a new section 120(f) Temporary Marine 
Mammal Removal Authority on the Waters of the Columbia River or its 
Tributaries.
    The 2018 amendments to section 120(f) superseded the individually 
identifiable and significant negative impact criteria, within the 
meaning of section 120(b)(1), by statutory exception. The 2018 
Amendments also included additional eligible entities \1\ not 
identified in section 120(b)(1), that may apply for authorization to 
intentionally take, by lethal methods, sea lions present within the 
geographic area (see Summary) established in section 120(f). For the 
purposes of this application, a sea lion or sea lions present within 
the geographic area (see Summary) established in section 120(f) are 
deemed to be individually

[[Page 45731]]

identifiable and to be having a significant negative impact, within the 
meaning of section 120(b)(1), as defined by section 120(f)(7) and (8) 
(MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1389(f)(7) and (8)). As such, and even though an 
application submitted under section 120(f) is still required to provide 
a detailed description of the problem interaction (or future potential 
interaction) and the expected benefits of the taking, an eligible 
entity is not required to include in their application a means of 
identifying the individual sea lion or sea lions, or demonstrate that 
the sea lion predation impacts are having a significant negative impact 
on the decline or recovery of the above-mentioned at-risk fish stocks, 
within the meaning of section 120(b)(1).
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    \1\ The Nez Perce Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla 
Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs 
Reservation of Oregon, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the 
Yakama Nation; and the section 120(f)(6)(D) Committee. The 
120(f)(6)(D) Committee fulfills the requirements for an eligible 
entity under section 120(f)(6)(A)(iii) of the MMPA. Pursuant to this 
section of the statute, the Committee members include the Oregon 
Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Confederated Tribes of the 
Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm 
Springs Reservation of Oregon, the Confederated Tribes of the Grand 
Ronde Community, and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians 
of Oregon.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Section 120(f)(2)(C) requires the Secretary to establish procedures 
to coordinate issuance of permits [authorizations] under this 
subsection, including application procedures and timelines, delegation 
and revocation of permits to and between eligible entities, monitoring, 
periodic review, and geographic, seasonal take, and species-specific 
considerations. Therefore, in establishing the procedures pursuant to 
section 120(f)(2)(C), NMFS will continue to rely on existing timelines, 
procedures, considerations, and information requirements in sections 
120(b), 120(c), 120(e), and 120(i), to assist the Task Force with its 
deliberations and recommendation, and for the Secretary to make a 
decision to approve or deny an application.
    Pursuant to section 120(f)(2)(C), on June 4, 2019, NMFS issued a 
Decision Memorandum establishing application requirements and program 
implementation procedures for prospective and approved authorizations 
issued to an eligible entity under section 120(f). The June 4, 2019, 
Decision Memorandum fulfilled the statutory requirement that the 
Secretary establish procedures to coordinate issuance of permits 
[authorizations] pursuant to section 120(f). Taken together, NMFS will 
consider existing section 120 procedures and the 120(f)(2)(C) 
procedures to fulfill the information requirements for applications 
submitted under section 120(f).
    Prospective authorizations apply only to sea lions that are not 
listed under the ESA, or designated as a depleted or strategic stock 
under the MMPA. California and Steller sea lions are not listed under 
the ESA nor are they designated as a depleted or strategic stock under 
the MMPA.
    Pursuant to section 120(f), an eligible entity may request 
authorization to lethally remove sea lions, and the Regional 
Administrator is required to: (1) Review the application to determine 
whether the applicant has produced sufficient evidence to warrant 
establishing a Task Force to address the situation described in the 
application; (2) publish a notice in the Federal Register requesting 
public comment on the application, if sufficient evidence has been 
produced; (3) establish and convene a Task Force; (4) consider any 
recommendations made by the Task Force in making a determination 
whether to approve or deny the application; and (5) if approved, 
immediately take steps to implement the intentional lethal taking, 
which shall be performed by agencies or qualified individuals described 
in section 120(c)(4), or by individuals employed by the eligible 
entities described in section 120(f)(6).
    Section 120(c)(2) requires the Task Force be composed of the 
following: (1) Employees of the Department of Commerce; (2) scientists 
who are knowledgeable about the pinniped interaction; (3) 
representatives of affected conservation and fishing community 
organizations; (4) Indian Treaty tribes; (5) the states; and (6) such 
other organizations as NMFS deems appropriate. The Task Force reviews 
the application, the factors contained in section 120(d), and public 
comments and, as required by section 120, recommends to NMFS whether to 
approve or deny the application. The Task Force is also required to 
submit with its recommendation a description of the specific pinniped 
individual or individuals; the proposed location, time, and method of 
such taking; criteria for evaluating the success of the action; the 
duration of the intentional lethal taking authority; and a suggestion 
for non-lethal alternatives, if available and practicable, including a 
recommended course of action.

Background

    On June 13, 2019, NMFS received an application pursuant to section 
120(f) from the above-mentioned eligible entities. The eligible 
entities are requesting authorization to intentionally take, by lethal 
methods, California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) and Steller sea 
lions (Eumetopias jubatus: Eastern stock) that are located in the 
mainstem of the Columbia River between river mile 112 and McNary Dam 
(river mile 292), or in any tributary to the Columbia River that 
includes spawning habitat of threatened or endangered salmon or 
steelhead (Onchorynchus spp.) to reduce or eliminate sea lion predation 
on the following fishery stocks that are listed as threatened or 
endangered under the ESA: Lower Columbia River Chinook salmon (O. 
tshawytscha), Snake River Fall-run Chinook salmon, Snake River Spring/
Summer-run Chinook salmon, Upper Columbia River Spring-run Chinook 
salmon, Upper Willamette River Chinook salmon, Lower Columbia River 
steelhead, Middle Columbia River steelhead (O. mykiss), Snake River 
Basin steelhead, Upper Columbia River steelhead, Upper Willamette River 
steelhead, Columbia River chum salmon (O. keta), Lower Columbia River 
coho salmon (O. kisutch), Snake River sockeye salmon (O. nerka), and 
Southern Distinct Population Segment of eulachon (Thaleichthys 
pacificus).
    According to the information in the application, sea lion 
predation, within the geographic area (see Summary) established in 
section 120(f), is having a significant negative impact on the recovery 
on the above-mentioned fishery stocks. Additionally, the application 
states that removal of sea lions is also intended to protect species of 
lamprey or sturgeon that may not be listed as endangered or threatened 
but are listed as a species of concern.
    On June 18, 2019, NMFS provided the above-mentioned eligible 
entities a letter acknowledging receipt of their application and a 
determination that the application produced sufficient evidence of the 
problem interaction to warrant establishing a Task Force. The 
application provides: Detailed information that documents sea lion 
population trends; a detailed description of the problem interaction, 
including estimates of the numbers of sea lions present within the 
geographic area (see Summary) established in section 120(f); numbers of 
salmonids consumed and the proportion of all salmonids that have been 
taken by sea lions at Bonneville Dam and Willamette Falls (a subarea of 
the geographic area (see Summary) established in section 120(f); past 
efforts to nonlethally deter sea lions; methods for capturing, handling 
and euthanizing sea lions; and a detailed description of the expected 
benefits of the taking of sea lions.
    The proposed action to address sea lion predation is part of a 
comprehensive salmon and steelhead recovery strategy. As reported in 
the application, significant actions to address the decline of salmon 
and steelhead stocks in the Columbia River basin have been underway for 
several decades, and are progressing each year as a result of the 
implementation of ESA recovery plans throughout the Columbia River 
basin. These actions include harvest reductions, hydroelectric system

[[Page 45732]]

mitigation, habitat restoration, predation management, and hatchery 
reforms.
    In considering whether the application should be approved or 
denied, the MMPA requires that the Task Force and NMFS consider: (1) 
Population trends, feeding habits, the location of the pinniped 
interaction, how and when the interaction occurs, and the number of 
animals involved; (2) past efforts to deter such pinnipeds, and whether 
the applicant has demonstrated that no feasible and prudent 
alternatives exist and that the applicant has taken all reasonable 
nonlethal steps without success; (3) the extent to which such pinnipeds 
are causing undue injury impact to, or imbalance with, other species in 
the ecosystem, including fish populations; and (4) the extent to which 
such pinnipeds are exhibiting behavior that presents an ongoing threat 
to public safety.

Request for Comments and Other Information

    NMFS solicits public comments on the application and any additional 
information that should be considered by the Task Force in making its 
recommendation, or by NMFS in making its determination whether to 
approve or deny the application. NMFS is interested in receiving 
additional information related to the factors that must be considered 
in determining whether to approve or deny the application (see 
Background), and on the impact of sea lion predation within the 
geographic area (see Summary) established in section 120(f) on the 
above-mentioned fish stocks.
    NMFS requests that comments be specific. In particular, we request 
information regarding: (1) Observations of sea lion predation activity 
on salmonids and eulachon within the geographic area (see Summary) 
established in section 120(f); (2) information on areas where numbers 
of sea lions are concentrated within the geographic area (see Summary) 
established in section 120(f), including resting/haul out sites and 
locations where sea lions have been repeatedly observed taking 
salmonids and eulachon; and (3) dates when sea lions have been observed 
within the geographic area (see Summary) established in section 120(f).
    NMFS also solicits the names and affiliations of experts from the 
academic and scientific community, tribes, Federal and state agencies, 
and the private sector for consideration as potential Task Force 
members. A Task Force, established under section 120(c) must, to the 
maximum extent practicable, consist of an equitable balance among 
representatives of resource users and non-users as outlined above. 
Nominations for Task Force membership must include sufficient 
background information (e.g., 1-page resume) on the candidate to allow 
us to judge their expertise and should indicate the prospective 
candidate's willingness to serve without compensation.

    Dated: August 26, 2019.
Catherine Marzin,
Acting Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-18751 Filed 8-29-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P