Taking and Importing of Marine Mammals
The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NMFS, (Assistant Administrator) has renewed the affirmative finding for the Government of Mexico under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). This affirmative finding will allow yellowfin tuna harvested in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean(ETP) in compliance with the International Dolphin Conservation Program (IDCP) by Mexican-flag purse seine vessels or purse seine vessels operating under Mexican jurisdiction to be imported into the United States. The affirmative finding was based on review of documentary evidence submitted by the Government of Mexico and obtained from the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) and the U.S. Department of State.
Taking and Importing of Marine Mammals
The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NMFS, (Assistant Administrator) has renewed the affirmative finding for the Government of Spain under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). This affirmative finding will allow yellowfin tuna harvested in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean (ETP) in compliance with the International Dolphin Conservation Program (IDCP) by Spanish-flag purse seine vessels or purse seine vessels operating under Spanish jurisdiction to be imported into the United States. The affirmative finding was based on review of documentary evidence submitted by the Government of Spain and obtained from the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) and the U.S. Department of State.
Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act Provisions; Application for Exempted Fishing Permits
This Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) application is a continuation of a collaborative project involving the University of New Hampshire (UNH), Durham, New Hampshire (NH); the Lobster Conservancy, Friendship, Maine; the New England Aquarium, Boston, Massachusetts; and the Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen's Association, Candia, NH. The EFP proposes to continue monitoring a total of 150 legal sized egg bearing female lobsters (berried lobsters) carrying early-stage eggs until the eggs mature and are released. Each berried lobster will be tagged and fitted with a small ambient temperature recording device (Tidbit temperature-loggers) and then the movement and egg-development stages of these tagged berried lobsters will be documented. When a tagged berried lobster is recaptured in commercial lobster gear, participating lobstermen will download thermal data from the attached Tidbit temperature-logger, and also preserve a maximum of 10 eggs from each tagged berried lobster to allow researchers to estimate the egg developmental stage and time to maturity. The tagged berried lobsters will then be released unharmed. The EFP would waive the prohibition on removal of eggs specified at 50 CFR 697.7(c)(1)(iv) for a maximum of 16 participating vessels and is limited to the 150 pre-tagged berried lobsters in this project. The Director, State, Federal and Constituent Programs Office, Northeast Region, NMFS (Office Director) has made a preliminary determination that the subject EFP application contains all the required information and warrants further consideration. The Office Director has also made a preliminary determination that the activities authorized under the EFPs would be consistent with the goals and objectives of Federal management of the American lobster resource. However, further review and consultation may be necessary before a final determination is made to issue EFPs. Therefore, NMFS announces that the Office Director proposes to issue EFPs that would allow a maximum of 16 Federally permitted commercial fishing vessels to participate in the continuation of a project designed to monitor the movement of berried lobsters in two inshore locations in the vicinity of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Friendship, Maine, and in two offshore locations along the northern edge of Georges Bank and in Corsair and Lydonia Canyons to the southeast of Georges Bank. This project would not involve the authorization of any additional trap gear, and all trap gear would conform to existing Federal lobster regulations. There would be no anticipated adverse effects on protected resources or habitat as a result of this research. Therefore, this document invites comments on the issuance of EFPs to allow a maximum of 16 commercial fishing vessels in possession of Federal lobster permits to remove a maximum of 10 eggs each time any one of the 150 tagged berried lobsters are captured during the course of normal fishing operations in the designated study areas.
Contracting Policy for Hydrographic Services
The NOAA National Ocean Service (NOS) has drafted an updated contracting policy for hydrographic services. NOAA seeks public comment on this policy in accordance with the Congressional request made during the FY 2005 appropriation process to develop a strategy for expanding mapping and charting contracting with private entities. NOAA will consider comments from the public before finalizing its contracting policy. The final policy will be published in May 2006.
NOAA Coral Ecosystem Research Plan Part II: Regional Priorities Draft
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) publishes this notice to announce the availability of the Draft NOAA Coral Ecosystem Research Plan Part II: Regional Priorities for public comment. The Draft NOAA Coral Ecosystem Research Plan is being developed by the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program to set priorities and guide NOAA-supported coral ecosystem research for fiscal years 2006 to 2010, including research conducted through extramural partners, grants, and contracts. The Draft NOAA Coral Ecosystem Research Plan covers all coral reef ecosystems under the jurisdiction of the United States and the Pacific Freely Associated States; and is written for a broad audience, including resource managers, scientists, policy makers, and the public.
Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the Explosive Removal of Offshore Structures in the Gulf of Mexico
NMFS has received a request from the Minerals Management Service (MMS), for authorization to ``take'' by harassment small numbers of marine mammals incidental to explosive severance activities at offshore oil and gas structures in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) outer continental shelf (OCS). By this document, NMFS is proposing regulations to govern that take. In order to issue Letters of Authorization (LOAs) and final regulations governing the take, NMFS must determine that the total taking will have a negligible impact on the affected species and stocks of marine mammals, will be at the lowest level practicable, and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses. NMFS invites comment on the application and the proposed rule.
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Threatened Status for Southern Distinct Population Segment of North American Green Sturgeon
Following completion of a comprehensive Endangered Species Act (ESA) Status Review and Update for the North American green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris; hereafter, ``green sturgeon''), we, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), published a Proposed Rule to list the Southern distinct population segment (DPS) of green sturgeon as threatened on April 6, 2005. After considering public comments on the Proposed Rule, we are issuing a Final Rule to list the Southern DPS as a threatened species. NMFS is currently considering issuance of protective regulations that may be necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of the species. With this document we are also soliciting information that may be relevant to our analysis of protective regulations and to the designation of critical habitat for the Southern DPS of green sturgeon. Details of our analyses, their outcome, and a request for public comment on our proposals will be published in subsequent Federal Register notices.