Endangered and Threatened Species; Extension of Public Comment Period on Proposed Threatened Status for Distinct Population Segments of the Bearded Seal
We, NMFS, are extending the date by which public comments are due concerning the proposed rule to list the Beringia and Okhotsk Distinct Population Segments (DPSs) of the bearded seal (Erignathus barbatus) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). On December 10, 2010, we published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to list these DPSs as threatened. As part of that proposal, we announced a public comment period to end on February 8, 2011. Today we extend the public comment period to March 25, 2011.
Endangered and Threatened Species; Extension of Public Comment Period on Proposed Threatened Status for Subspecies of the Ringed Seal
We, NMFS, are extending the date by which public comments are due concerning the proposed rule to list the Arctic (Phoca hispida hispida), Okhotsk (Phoca hispida ochotensis), Baltic (Phoca hispida botnica), and Ladoga (Phoca hispida ladogensis) subspecies of the ringed seal as threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). On December 10, 2010, we published a proposed rule to list these subspecies as threatened. As part of that proposal, we announced a public comment period to end on February 8, 2011. Today we extend the public comment period to March 25, 2011.
Taking and Importing Marine Mammals: U.S. Navy Training in the Hawaii Range Complex; U.S. Navy Training in the Southern California Range Complex; and U.S. Navy's Atlantic Fleet Active Sonar Training
In January 2009, pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS issued three 5-year final regulations to govern the unintentional taking of marine mammals incidental to Navy training and associated activities conducted in the Hawaii Range Complex (HRC), the Southern California Range Complex (SOCAL Range Complex), and the Atlantic Fleet Active Sonar Training (AFAST) Study Area. These regulations, which allow for the issuance of ``Letters of Authorization'' (LOAs) for the incidental take of marine mammals during the specified activities and described timeframes, prescribe the permissible methods of taking and other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat, as well as requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking. These rules quantify the specific amounts of individual sound source use that will occur over the course of the 5-year rules, and indicate that marine mammal take may only be authorized in an LOA incidental to the source types and amounts described. Specifically, no language was initially included expressly allowing for deviation from those precise levels of source use if the total number of takes remain within the analyzed and authorized limits. Since the issuance of the 2009 rules, the Navy realized that their evolving training programs, which are linked to real world events, necessitate greater flexibility in the types and amounts of sound sources that they use. In response to this need, when the Navy requested incidental take authorizations for other areas (e.g., the Mariana Islands and the Northwest Training Range Complexes), NMFS included language explicitly allowing for greater flexibility. NMFS has, through this interim final rule, amended the HRC, SOCAL Range Complex, and AFAST regulations to explicitly allow for greater flexibility in the types and amount of sound sources that they use. NMFS has issued new LOAs for each of these actions, which supersede those issued in January 2011, and which authorize the Navy to take marine mammals incidental to their planned training in 2011, and reflect the greater flexibility addressed in this amendment. The take authorized in these LOAs does not exceed that analyzed and allowed by the original 2009 final rules.