Endangered and Threatened Species; Proposed Delisting of Eastern DPS of Steller Sea Lions
Under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA), we, NMFS, issue this proposed rule to remove the eastern distinct population segment (DPS) of Steller sea lions from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. After receiving two petitions to delist this DPS, we completed a comprehensive review of the status of the eastern DPS of Steller Sea Lions. Based on the information presented in the draft Status Review, the factors for delisting in section 4 (a)(1) of the ESA, the objective recovery criteria in the 2008 Recovery Plan, and the continuing efforts to protect the species, we have determined, subject to further consideration following public comment, that this DPS has recovered and no longer meets the definition of a threatened species under the ESA: it is not in danger of extinction or likely to become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range within the foreseeable future. Thus, we find that the delisting of the DPS, as requested by the two petitions, is warranted. This rule also proposes technical changes that would recodify existing regulatory provisions and which are necessary to clarify that existing regulatory protections for the western distinct population segment of Steller sea lions will continue to apply. We seek public comments on this proposed action, the draft Status Review, and the draft Post- Delisting Monitoring Plan.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod by Catcher Vessels Using Trawl Gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the B season allowance of the 2012 Pacific cod total allowable catch allocated to trawl catcher vessels in the BSAI.
Groundfish Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska and Pacific Halibut Fisheries; Observer Program
NMFS proposes regulations to implement Amendment 86 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI) and Amendment 76 to the FMP for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA), (collectively referred to as the FMPs). If approved, Amendments 86 and 76 would add a funding and deployment system for observer coverage to the existing North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program (Observer Program) and amend existing observer coverage requirements for vessels and processing plants. The new funding and deployment system would allow NMFS to determine when and where to deploy observers according to management and conservation needs, with funds provided through a system of fees based on the ex- vessel value of groundfish and halibut in fisheries covered by the new system. This action is necessary to resolve data quality and cost equity concerns with the Observer Program's existing funding and deployment structure. This action is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), the FMPs, and other applicable law.