Busy future for NOAA Fisheries includes ESA rules for killer whales, smalltooth sawfish, and green sturgeon
In today's Federal Register notices, NOAA Fisheries discussed its plans to consider three different Endangered Species Act rulemaking initiatives, including protective regulations expressly prohibiting take of killer whales and green sturgeon, and designation of critical habitat for the smalltooth sawfish.
Killer whales breaching in Alaskan waters, from wikipedia discussion of the orca
To find the abstracts of these announcements...
73 Federal Register 24665 (May 5, 2008)(CONSIDERATION OF PROTECTIVE REGULATIONS FOR KILLER WHALES IN THE NORTHWEST REGION UNDER THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT AND MARINE MAMMAL PROTECTION ACT)
Abstract: NMFS is considering whether to propose regulations to protect killer whales (Orcinus orca) in the Pacific Northwest. The Southern Resident killer whale distinct population segment (DPS) was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on November 18, 2005 (70 FR 69903). In the final rule announcing the listing, NMFS identified vessel effects, including direct interference and sound, as a potential contributing factor in the recent decline of this population. Both the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and the ESA prohibit take, including harassment, of killer whales, but these statutes do not prohibit specified acts. NMFS is now considering whether to propose regulations that would prohibit certain acts, under our general authorities under the ESA and MMPA and their implementing regulations. The Proposed Recovery Plan for Southern Resident killer whales (71 FR 69101, November 29, 2006) includes as a management action the evaluation of current guidelines and the need for regulations and/or protected areas. The scope of this action encompasses the activities of any person or conveyance that may result in the unauthorized taking of killer whales and/or that may cause detrimental individual-level and population-level impacts. NMFS requests comments on whether--and if so, what type of--conservation measures, regulations, and, if necessary, other measures would be appropriate to protect killer whales from the effects of these activities.
73 Federal Register 24665 (May 5, 2008(DESIGNATION OF CRITICAL HABITAT FOR THE ENDANGERED U.S. DISTINCT POPULATION SEGMENT (DPS) OF SMALLTOOTH SAWFISH)
Abstract: This action would designate critical habitat for the U.S. DPS of smalltooth sawfish, which was listed as endangered on April 1, 2003. The designation would be located in Florida, within the current geographic range of the species. Comments from the public on the proposal, including information on the economic impacts, national security, and other relevant documents, as well as the benefits to the species from the designation will be solicited during a 60-day comment period. A draft economic analysis and section 4(b)(2) report will be conducted in support of this proposed rule.
73 Federal Register 24665 (May 5, 2008) (RULEMAKING TO ESTABLISH TAKE PROHIBITIONS FOR THE THREATENED SOUTHERN DISTINCT POPULATION SEGMENT OF NORTH AMERICAN GREEN STURGEON)
Abstract: Under section 4(d) of the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Secretary of Commerce is required to adopt such regulations as he deems necessary and advisable for the conservation of species listed as threatened. This rulemaking would establish an ESA 4(d) rule
representing regulations that NMFS believes necessary and advisable to conserve the threatened Southern Distinct Population Segment of North American green sturgeon (Southern DPS of green sturgeon). The 4(d) rule would apply the prohibitions listed under ESA section 9(a)(1)(A) and 9(a)(1)(D) through 9(a)(1)(G) for the Southern DPS and apply ESA section 9(a)(1)(B) and (a)(1)(C) prohibitions (called the ``take prohibitions'') to specific activities that take Southern DPS fish or alter its habitat in a manner detrimental to the continued existence of the species. The 4(d) rule would include exceptions to the take prohibitions for activities conducted in a way that NMFS deems adequate to protect or conserve the Southern DPS.