Notice of Intent to Conduct Public Scoping Meetings and Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement on the Activities of the National Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announces its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to analyze the environmental impacts of the national administration of the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (MMHSRP). Publication of this notice begins the official scoping process that will help identify alternatives and determine the scope of environmental issues to be addressed in the EIS. This notice requests public participation in the scoping process, provides information on how to participate, and identifies a set of preliminary alternatives to serve as a starting point for discussions.
Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement on Impacts of Research on Steller Sea Lions and Northern Fur Seals Throughout Their Range in the United States
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announces its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to analyze the environmental impacts of administering grants and issuing permits associated with research on endangered and threatened Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) and depleted northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus). Publication of this notice begins the official scoping process that will help identify alternatives and determine the scope of environmental issues to be addressed in the EIS. This notice requests public participation in the scoping process and provides information on how to participate. The purpose of conducting research on threatened and endangered Steller sea lions is to promote the recovery of the species' populations such that the protections of the Endangered Species Act (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) are no longer needed. Consistent with the purpose of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.), the purpose of conducting research on northern fur seals is to contribute to the basic knowledge of marine mammal biology or ecology and to identify, evaluate, or resolve conservation problems for this depleted species. Research on Steller sea lions and northern fur seals considered in this EIS is funded and permitted by NMFS, which are both federal actions requiring National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) compliance. The need for these actions is to facilitate research to: (1) Prevent harm and avoid jeopardy or disadvantage to the species; (2) promote recovery; (3) identify factors limiting the population; (4) identify reasonable actions to minimize impacts of human-induced activities; (5) implement conservation and management measures; and (6) make data and results available in a timely manner for management of the species. As part of this action, NMFS is developing measures that will improve efficiency and avoid unnecessary redundancy in Steller sea lion and northern fur seal research, utilize best management practices, facilitate adaptive management, and standardize research protocols.
Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meetings and Hearings
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) has begun its annual preseason management process for the 2006 ocean salmon fisheries. This document announces the availability of Council documents as well as the dates and locations of Council meetings and public hearings comprising the Council's complete schedule of events for determining the annual proposed and final modifications to ocean salmon fishery management measures. The agendas for the March and April Council meetings will be published in subsequent Federal Register documents prior to the actual meetings.
Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meetings/Workshop
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold a public workshop to review and critique its groundfish stock assessment process in 2005.
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Fishery; 2006 and 2007 Fishing Quotas for Ocean Quahogs
NMFS is specifying the final quotas for the ocean quahog fishery for 2006 and 2007. Specifications for the Atlantic surfclam and Maine ocean quahog fishery, which remain unchanged from the 2005-2007 multi-year quota specifications, are reprinted here for clarity. Regulations governing these fisheries require NMFS to publish the revised allowable harvest levels of ocean quahogs from the Exclusive Economic Zone for the 2006 and 2007 fishing years.
Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Herring Fishery; Total Allowable Catch Harvested for Management Area 1B
NMFS announces that 95 percent of the Atlantic herring total allowable catch (TAC) allocated to Management Area 1B (Area 1B) for fishing year 2005 is projected to be harvested by December 23, 2005. Therefore, effective 0001 hours, December 23, 2005, federally permitted vessels may not fish for, catch, possess, transfer or land more than 2,000 lb (907.2 kg) of Atlantic herring in or from Area 1B per trip or calendar day until January 1, 2006 when the 2006 TAC becomes available, except for transiting purposes as described in this document. Regulations governing the Atlantic herring fishery require publication of this notification to advise vessel and dealer permit holders that 95 percent of the Atlantic herring TAC allocated to Area 1B has been harvested, and no TAC is available for the directed fishery for Atlantic herring harvested from Area 1B.
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Extension of Emergency Fishery Closure Due to the Presence of the Toxin That Causes Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning
The regulations contained in the temporary rule, emergency action, published on October 18, 2005, at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which are scheduled to expire on December 31, 2005, are extended through June 30, 2006. In the October 18, 2005, action, NMFS reinstated and corrected the temporary regulations published on September 9, 2005, which reopened a portion of Federal waters of the Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank, and southern New England that it had previously closed from June 14 through September 30, 2005, to the harvest for human consumption of certain bivalve molluscan shellfish due to the presence in those waters of the toxin that causes Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP). The FDA has determined that there is insufficient analytical data to support the scheduled reopening of the entire area to all bivalve molluscan shellfish fishing on January 1, 2006.