Endangered Species; File No. 23861, 21413-21415 [2020-08092]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 75 / Friday, April 17, 2020 / Notices jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES than military readiness activities. The MMPA does not define small numbers and so, in practice, where estimated numbers are available, NMFS compares the number of individuals taken to the most appropriate estimation of abundance of the relevant species or stock in our determination of whether an authorization is limited to small numbers of marine mammals. Additionally, other qualitative factors may be considered in the analysis, such as the temporal or spatial scale of the activities. The number of takes for each species authorized to be taken as a result of this project is included in Table 7. Our analysis shows that less than one-third of the best available population abundance estimate of each stock could be taken by harassment. Furthermore, these percentages conservatively assume that all takes of killer whale will be accrued to a single stock, when multiple stocks are known to occur in the project area. For the Alaska stock of minke whale, a lack of an accepted stock abundance value did not allow for the calculation of an expected percentage of the population that will be affected. The most relevant estimate of partial stock abundance is 1,233 minke whales for a portion of the Gulf of Alaska (Zerbini et al. 2006). Given three takes by Level B harassment for the stock, comparison to the best estimate of stock abundance shows less than one percent of the stock is expected to be impacted. The number of animals authorized to be taken for these stocks is considered small relative to the relevant stock’s abundances even if each estimated taking occurred to a new individual, which is an unlikely scenario. Based on the analysis contained herein of the activity (including the mitigation and monitoring measures) and the anticipated take of marine mammals, NMFS finds that small numbers of marine mammals will be taken relative to the population size of the affected species or stocks. Unmitigable Adverse Impact Analysis and Determination In order to issue an IHA, NMFS must find that the specified activity will not have an ‘‘unmitigable adverse impact’’ on the subsistence uses of the affected marine mammal species or stocks by Alaskan Natives. NMFS has defined ‘‘unmitigable adverse impact’’ in 50 CFR 216.103 as an impact resulting from the specified activity: (1) That is likely to reduce the availability of the species to a level insufficient for a harvest to meet subsistence needs by: (i) Causing the marine mammals to abandon or avoid hunting areas; (ii) Directly displacing VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:19 Apr 16, 2020 Jkt 250001 subsistence users; or (iii) Placing physical barriers between the marine mammals and the subsistence hunters; and (2) That cannot be sufficiently mitigated by other measures to increase the availability of marine mammals to allow subsistence needs to be met. The project is in an area where subsistence hunting for harbor seals or sea lions could occur (Wolfe et al. 2013). Peak hunting season in southeast Alaska occurs during the month of November and again during March and April. During this time, seals are aggregated in shoal areas as they prey on forage species such as herring, making them easier to find and hunt (Wolfe et al. 2013). However, the project location is not preferred for hunting. There is littleto-no hunting documented in the vicinity and there are no harvest quotas for non-listed marine mammals. As such, the Old Sitka Dock North Dolphins Expansion Project is not expected to have impacts on the ability of hunters from southeast Alaska subsistence communities to harvest marine mammals. Additionally, HPMS contacted the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, but they did not raise any concerns regarding subsistence impacts. Therefore, NMFS has determined that there will not be an unmitigable adverse impact on subsistence uses from HPMS’s activities. Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA: 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that each Federal agency insure that any action it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat. To ensure ESA compliance for the issuance of IHAs, NMFS consults internally, in this case with the Alaska Region, Protected Resources Division Office, whenever we propose to authorize take for endangered or threatened species. Two marine mammal species, Mexico DPS humpback whales and Western DPS Steller sea lions, occur in the project area and are listed as threatened and endangered, respectively, under the ESA. The NMFS Alaska Regional Office Protected Resources Division issued a Biological Opinion under section 7 of the ESA, on the issuance of an IHA to HPMS under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA by the NMFS Permits and Conservation Division. The Biological Opinion concluded that the action is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of either species, and is not likely to destroy or adversely modify PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 21413 western DPS Steller sea lion critical habitat. As noted above, the proposed humpback whale critical habitat has not yet been finalized. National Environmental Policy Act To comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 216–6A, NMFS must review our action (i.e., the issuance of an incidental harassment authorization) with respect to potential impacts on the human environment. This action is consistent with categories of activities identified in Categorical Exclusion B4 (incidental harassment authorizations with no anticipated serious injury or mortality) of the Companion Manual for NOAA Administrative Order 216–6A, which do not individually or cumulatively have the potential for significant impacts on the quality of the human environment and for which we have not identified any extraordinary circumstances that would preclude this categorical exclusion. Accordingly, NMFS has determined that the issuance of the IHA qualifies to be categorically excluded from further NEPA review. Authorization NMFS has issued an IHA to Halibut Point Marine Services LLC for the potential harassment of small numbers of seven marine mammal species incidental to the Old Sitka Dock North Dolphins Expansion project in Sitka, Alaska, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring and reporting requirements are conducted. Dated: April 13, 2020. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–08085 Filed 4–16–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XA107] Endangered Species; File No. 23861 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; receipt of application. AGENCY: Notice is hereby given that Midwest Biodiversity Institute (MBI) has applied in due form for a permit pursuant to the Endangered Species Act SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\17APN1.SGM 17APN1 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES 21414 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 75 / Friday, April 17, 2020 / Notices of 1973, as amended (ESA). The permit application is for the incidental take of ESA-listed shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum), Gulf of Main Distinct population segment (GOM DPS) Atlantic sturgeon, or the New York Bight (NYB DPS) of Atlantic sturgeon. (A. oxyrinchus) and the GOM DPS Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) associated with the otherwise lawful sampling of non-ESA listed fish in the Lower Kennebec River. The duration of the proposed permit is 10 years. NMFS is furnishing this notice in order to allow other agencies and the public an opportunity to review and comment on the application materials. All comments received will become part of the public record and will be available for review. An electronic copy of the revised application and proposed conservation plan may be obtained by contacting NMFS Office of Protected Resources (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT) or visiting https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/ incidental-take-permit-midwestbiodiversity-institute. DATES: Written comments must be received at the appropriate address or fax number (see ADDRESSES) on or before May 18, 2020. ADDRESSES: The application is available for download and review at https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/ incidental-take-permit-midwestbiodiversity-institute under the section heading ESA Section 10(a)(1)(B) Permits and Applications. The application is also available upon written request or by appointment in the following office: Endangered Species Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13752, Silver Spring, MD 20910; phone (301) 427–8402; fax (301) 713–4060. You may submit comments, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2020–0059, by any of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail; D=NOAA-NMFS-2020-0059 click the ‘‘Comment Now’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Fax: (301) 713–4060; Attn: Celeste Stout. • Mail: Submit written comments to Endangered Species Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13631, Silver Spring, MD 20910; Attn: Celeste Stout. Instructions: You must submit comments by one of the above methods to ensure that we receive, document, VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:19 Apr 16, 2020 Jkt 250001 and consider them. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on http://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. We will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Celeste Stout, Phone: (301) 427–8436 or Email: celeste.stout@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 9 of the ESA and Federal regulations prohibit the ‘taking’ of a species listed as endangered or threatened. The ESA defines ‘‘take’’ to mean harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. NMFS may issue permits, under limited circumstances to take listed species incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful activities. Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA provides for authorizing incidental take of listed species. NMFS regulations governing permits for threatened and endangered species are promulgated at 50 CFR 222.307. Background NMFS received a permit application from MBI on January 31, 2020. Based on our initial review of the application and conservation plan, we requested further information and clarification. On March 30, 2020, MBI submitted a revised and complete application for the take of ESA-listed shortnose sturgeon, Atlantic sturgeon and Atlantic salmon due to the sampling of non-ESA listed fish in the Lower Kennebec River. MBI proposes to continue an 18 yearlong (2002–19) systematic assessment of the fish assemblages at seven sites in an approximate 17.5 mile (28.2 km) reach of the Lower Kennebec River and three sites in a 6 mile (9.7 km) reach of the Sebasticook River. MBI will conduct boat electrofishing where electric current is generated by a Smith-Root Generator Powered Pulsator and transmitted into the water by an electrode array suspended from the bow of 16–18 foot long (25–29 km) jon boats or a 16 foot long inflatable Wing raft. NMFS determined that the application contained sufficient information for review and consideration under section PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA. MBI is requesting a total annual incidental take of four Atlantic salmon, four Atlantic sturgeon and five shortnose sturgeon for a permit duration of 10-years. Conservation Plan Section 10 of the ESA specifies that no permit may be issued unless an applicant submits an adequate conservation plan. The conservation plan prepared by MBI describes measures designed to minimize and mitigate the impacts of any incidental take of ESA-listed shortnose sturgeon, Atlantic sturgeon and Atlantic salmon. To avoid and minimize take of ESA listed species, MBI will: (1) Only sample during the late summer and early fall to avoid potential risk to early life stages and juveniles, as these life stages of shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon species are not present in the river during that time period. There is no risk to Atlantic salmon early life stages because spawning and rearing occurs in tributaries well outside of the proposed study area. (2) MBI will notify NOAA, Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) and Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife (IF&W) at least one week prior to any planned sampling activities. The notification will include a general schedule and inclusive dates of sampling. (3) All MBI and accompanying non-MBI personnel conducting the sampling will have received appropriate training in electrofishing and in the identification of listed species. At the start of each sampling day, each crewmember will receive instruction about the procedures to follow if a listed species is encountered. (4) The conduct of sampling and operation of the electrofishing gear will be done in a manner that minimizes the potential for injury or mortality of listed species. (4a) The electric current and the sampling activity will immediately cease upon an encounter with a listed species. Affected fish will not be netted, touched, or handled. Species identification and estimation of length will be made visually. To minimize effects to Atlantic salmon, sampling will not be conducted when ambient water temperature is >22°C (per Maine DMR specifications). (4b) Sampling activities will cease and the electric current will be shut off for a period of 5 minutes or until the individual fish is observed to have departed the area. The physical condition of the fish will be recorded, including their reaction to the electric field and whether they were able to leave the area under their own power. (5) Any encounter with a listed species will be promptly reported to the Office E:\FR\FM\17APN1.SGM 17APN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 75 / Friday, April 17, 2020 / Notices of Protected Recourses, Endangered Species Conservation Division. MBI considered and rejected other gear alternatives to conduct the sampling because the alternative means of sampling the study area are too resource intensive and cost-ineffective compared to the single gear of boatmounted pulsed direct current (DC) electrofishing. Other possible alternatives would require the direct handling of listed species and thus increase the risk of injury or mortality to the fish. MBI believes that combination of that risk and the comparative inefficiency and ineffectiveness of alternate fish collecting gear types makes boatmounted pulsed DC electrofishing the safest and most effective sampling method available. At present, the project is funded by MBI research and development funds, but MBI continues to seek external funding. This project has been ongoing for 18 years and is one of the longest running biological monitoring projects in New England and the only sustained effort that focuses on large river fish assemblages. National Environmental Policy Act Issuing an ESA section 10(a)(1)(B) permit constitutes a Federal action requiring NMFS to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) as implemented by 40 CFR parts 1500– 1508 and NOAA Administrative Order 216–6, Environmental Review Procedures for Implementing the National Policy Act (1999). An initial determination has been made, by NMFS, that the activity proposed is categorically excluded from the requirement to prepare an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with NOTICES Next Steps This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the ESA. NMFS will evaluate the application, associated documents, and comments received during the comment period to determine whether the application meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the ESA. If NMFS determines that the requirements are met, a permit will be issued for incidental takes of ESA-listed shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon and Atlantic salmon. The final NEPA and permit determinations will not be made until after the end of the comment period. NMFS will publish a record of its final action in the Federal Register. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:19 Apr 16, 2020 Jkt 250001 Dated: April 13, 2020. Angela Somma, Chief, Endangered Species Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–08092 Filed 4–16–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P COMMITTEE FOR PURCHASE FROM PEOPLE WHO ARE BLIND OR SEVERELY DISABLED Procurement List; Additions and Deletions Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled. ACTION: Additions to and Deletions from the Procurement List. AGENCY: This action adds products to the Procurement List that will be furnished by nonprofit agencies employing persons who are blind or have other severe disabilities, and deletes products and services from the Procurement List previously furnished by such agencies. DATES: Date added to and deleted from the Procurement List: May 17, 2020. ADDRESSES: Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled, 1401 S. Clark Street, Suite 715, Arlington, Virginia, 22202–4149. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael R. Jurkowski, Telephone: (703) 603–2117, Fax: (703) 603–0655, or email CMTEFedReg@AbilityOne.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice is published pursuant to 41 U.S.C. 8503 (a)(2) and 41 CFR 51–2.3. Its purpose is to provide interested persons an opportunity to submit comments on the proposed actions. SUMMARY: Additions On 9/6/2019 and 3/6/2020, the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled published notice of proposed additions to the Procurement List. This notice is published pursuant to 41 U.S.C. 8503 (a)(2) and 41 CFR 51–2.3. After consideration of the material presented to it concerning capability of qualified nonprofit agencies to provide the products and impact of the additions on the current or most recent contractors, the Committee has determined that the products listed below are suitable for procurement by the Federal Government under 41 U.S.C. 8501–8506 and 41 CFR 51–2.4. Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification I certify that the following action will not have a significant impact on a PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 21415 substantial number of small entities. The major factors considered for this certification were: 1. The action will not result in any additional reporting, recordkeeping or other compliance requirements for small entities other than the small organizations that will furnish the products to the Government. 2. The action will result in authorizing small entities to furnish the products to the Government. 3. There are no known regulatory alternatives which would accomplish the objectives of the Javits-WagnerO’Day Act (41 U.S.C. 8501–8506) in connection with the products proposed for addition to the Procurement List. End of Certification Accordingly, the following products are added to the Procurement List: Products NSNs—Product Names: 7490–00–NIB–0054—Scale, Shipping, Digital, 25 LB. Capacity, Black/Metallic Mandatory Source of Supply: Asso. for the Blind and Visually Impaired-Goodwill Industries of Greater Rochester, Inc., Rochester, NY Mandatory For: Total Government Requirement Contracting Activity: FEDERAL ACQUISITION SERVICE, GSA/FAS ADMIN SVCS ACQUISITION BR(2 NSNs—Product Names: 8405–01–683–2301—Shirt, Army Green Service Uniform, Men’s, Frch Plkt, S/S, Classic Fit, Heritage Tan, 16 T 8405–01–683–2308—Shirt, Army Green Service Uniform, Men’s, Frch Plkt, S/S, Classic Fit, Heritage Tan, 16 1/2 T 8405–01–683–2316—Shirt, Army Green Service Uniform, Men’s, Frch Plkt, S/S, Classic Fit, Heritage Tan, 17 T 8405–01–683–2330—Shirt, Army Green Service Uniform, Men’s, Frch Plkt, S/S, Classic Fit, Heritage Tan, 18 1/2 T 8405–01–683–2325—Shirt, Army Green Service Uniform, Men’s, Frch Plkt, S/S, Classic Fit, Heritage Tan, 18 T 8405–01–683–2335—Shirt, Army Green Service Uniform, Men’s, Frch Plkt, S/S, Classic Fit, Heritage Tan, 19 T 8405–01–683–2522—Shirt, Army Green Service Uniform, Men’s, Frch Plkt, S/S, Athletic Fit, Heritage Tan, 15 1/2 8405–01–683–2567—Shirt, Army Green Service Uniform, Men’s, Frch Plkt, S/S, Athletic Fit, Heritage Tan, 16 8405–01–683–2574—Shirt, Army Green Service Uniform, Men’s, Frch Plkt, S/S, Athletic Fit, Heritage Tan, 16 1/2 8405–01–683–2579—Shirt, Army Green Service Uniform, Men’s, Frch Plkt, S/S, Athletic Fit, Heritage Tan, 17 8405–01–683–2582—Shirt, Army Green Service Uniform, Men’s, Frch Plkt, S/S, Athletic Fit, Heritage Tan, 17 1/2 8405–01–683–2585—Shirt, Army Green Service Uniform, Men’s, Frch Plkt, S/S, Athletic Fit, Heritage Tan, 18 1/2 E:\FR\FM\17APN1.SGM 17APN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 75 (Friday, April 17, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 21413-21415]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-08092]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[RTID 0648-XA107]


Endangered Species; File No. 23861

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

ACTION: Notice; receipt of application.

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

SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given that Midwest Biodiversity Institute 
(MBI) has applied in due form for a permit pursuant to the Endangered 
Species Act

[[Page 21414]]

of 1973, as amended (ESA). The permit application is for the incidental 
take of ESA-listed shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum), Gulf of 
Main Distinct population segment (GOM DPS) Atlantic sturgeon, or the 
New York Bight (NYB DPS) of Atlantic sturgeon. (A. oxyrinchus) and the 
GOM DPS Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) associated with the otherwise 
lawful sampling of non-ESA listed fish in the Lower Kennebec River. The 
duration of the proposed permit is 10 years. NMFS is furnishing this 
notice in order to allow other agencies and the public an opportunity 
to review and comment on the application materials. All comments 
received will become part of the public record and will be available 
for review. An electronic copy of the revised application and proposed 
conservation plan may be obtained by contacting NMFS Office of 
Protected Resources (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT) or visiting 
https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/incidental-take-permit-midwest-biodiversity-institute.

DATES: Written comments must be received at the appropriate address or 
fax number (see ADDRESSES) on or before May 18, 2020.

ADDRESSES: The application is available for download and review at 
https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/incidental-take-permit-midwest-biodiversity-institute under the section heading ESA Section 
10(a)(1)(B) Permits and Applications. The application is also available 
upon written request or by appointment in the following office: 
Endangered Species Conservation Division, Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13752, Silver Spring, MD 
20910; phone (301) 427-8402; fax (301) 713-4060.
    You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2020-0059, by any 
of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2020-0059 click the ``Comment Now'' icon, 
complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
     Fax: (301) 713-4060; Attn: Celeste Stout.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Endangered Species 
Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-
West Highway, Room 13631, Silver Spring, MD 20910; Attn: Celeste Stout.
    Instructions: You must submit comments by one of the above methods 
to ensure that we receive, document, and consider them. Comments sent 
by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received 
after the end of the comment period may not be considered. All comments 
received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted 
for public viewing on http://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. We 
will accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if 
you wish to remain anonymous).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:  Celeste Stout, Phone: (301) 427-8436 
or Email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 9 of the ESA and Federal regulations 
prohibit the `taking' of a species listed as endangered or threatened. 
The ESA defines ``take'' to mean harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, 
wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any 
such conduct. NMFS may issue permits, under limited circumstances to 
take listed species incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise 
lawful activities. Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA provides for 
authorizing incidental take of listed species. NMFS regulations 
governing permits for threatened and endangered species are promulgated 
at 50 CFR 222.307.

Background

    NMFS received a permit application from MBI on January 31, 2020. 
Based on our initial review of the application and conservation plan, 
we requested further information and clarification. On March 30, 2020, 
MBI submitted a revised and complete application for the take of ESA-
listed shortnose sturgeon, Atlantic sturgeon and Atlantic salmon due to 
the sampling of non-ESA listed fish in the Lower Kennebec River. MBI 
proposes to continue an 18 yearlong (2002-19) systematic assessment of 
the fish assemblages at seven sites in an approximate 17.5 mile (28.2 
km) reach of the Lower Kennebec River and three sites in a 6 mile (9.7 
km) reach of the Sebasticook River. MBI will conduct boat 
electrofishing where electric current is generated by a Smith-Root 
Generator Powered Pulsator and transmitted into the water by an 
electrode array suspended from the bow of 16-18 foot long (25-29 km) 
jon boats or a 16 foot long inflatable Wing raft. NMFS determined that 
the application contained sufficient information for review and 
consideration under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA. MBI is requesting a 
total annual incidental take of four Atlantic salmon, four Atlantic 
sturgeon and five shortnose sturgeon for a permit duration of 10-years.

Conservation Plan

    Section 10 of the ESA specifies that no permit may be issued unless 
an applicant submits an adequate conservation plan. The conservation 
plan prepared by MBI describes measures designed to minimize and 
mitigate the impacts of any incidental take of ESA-listed shortnose 
sturgeon, Atlantic sturgeon and Atlantic salmon. To avoid and minimize 
take of ESA listed species, MBI will: (1) Only sample during the late 
summer and early fall to avoid potential risk to early life stages and 
juveniles, as these life stages of shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon 
species are not present in the river during that time period. There is 
no risk to Atlantic salmon early life stages because spawning and 
rearing occurs in tributaries well outside of the proposed study area. 
(2) MBI will notify NOAA, Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) 
and Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife (IF&W) at least one 
week prior to any planned sampling activities. The notification will 
include a general schedule and inclusive dates of sampling. (3) All MBI 
and accompanying non-MBI personnel conducting the sampling will have 
received appropriate training in electrofishing and in the 
identification of listed species. At the start of each sampling day, 
each crewmember will receive instruction about the procedures to follow 
if a listed species is encountered. (4) The conduct of sampling and 
operation of the electrofishing gear will be done in a manner that 
minimizes the potential for injury or mortality of listed species. (4a) 
The electric current and the sampling activity will immediately cease 
upon an encounter with a listed species. Affected fish will not be 
netted, touched, or handled. Species identification and estimation of 
length will be made visually. To minimize effects to Atlantic salmon, 
sampling will not be conducted when ambient water temperature is 
>22[deg]C (per Maine DMR specifications). (4b) Sampling activities will 
cease and the electric current will be shut off for a period of 5 
minutes or until the individual fish is observed to have departed the 
area. The physical condition of the fish will be recorded, including 
their reaction to the electric field and whether they were able to 
leave the area under their own power. (5) Any encounter with a listed 
species will be promptly reported to the Office

[[Page 21415]]

of Protected Recourses, Endangered Species Conservation Division.
    MBI considered and rejected other gear alternatives to conduct the 
sampling because the alternative means of sampling the study area are 
too resource intensive and cost-ineffective compared to the single gear 
of boat-mounted pulsed direct current (DC) electrofishing. Other 
possible alternatives would require the direct handling of listed 
species and thus increase the risk of injury or mortality to the fish. 
MBI believes that combination of that risk and the comparative 
inefficiency and ineffectiveness of alternate fish collecting gear 
types makes boat-mounted pulsed DC electrofishing the safest and most 
effective sampling method available.
    At present, the project is funded by MBI research and development 
funds, but MBI continues to seek external funding. This project has 
been ongoing for 18 years and is one of the longest running biological 
monitoring projects in New England and the only sustained effort that 
focuses on large river fish assemblages.

National Environmental Policy Act

    Issuing an ESA section 10(a)(1)(B) permit constitutes a Federal 
action requiring NMFS to comply with the National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) as implemented by 40 CFR parts 1500-
1508 and NOAA Administrative Order 216-6, Environmental Review 
Procedures for Implementing the National Policy Act (1999). An initial 
determination has been made, by NMFS, that the activity proposed is 
categorically excluded from the requirement to prepare an environmental 
assessment or environmental impact statement.

Next Steps

    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the ESA. NMFS 
will evaluate the application, associated documents, and comments 
received during the comment period to determine whether the application 
meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the ESA. If NMFS determines 
that the requirements are met, a permit will be issued for incidental 
takes of ESA-listed shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon and Atlantic 
salmon. The final NEPA and permit determinations will not be made until 
after the end of the comment period. NMFS will publish a record of its 
final action in the Federal Register.

    Dated: April 13, 2020.
Angela Somma,
Chief, Endangered Species Conservation Division, Office of Protected 
Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-08092 Filed 4-16-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P