FWS proposes critical habitat revisions and public hearing for Alabama sturgeon; NOAA declines petition to list the ribbon seal
73 Fed. Reg. 79770 / Vol. 73, No. 250 / Tuesday, December 30, 2008 / Proposed Rules / DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service / 50 CFR Part 17 / Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of Critical Habitat for the Alabama Sturgeon (Scaphirhyncus suttkusi); Revised proposed rule; reopening of comment period, notice of availability of draft economic analysis, announcement of public hearing, and amended required determinations.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the reopening of the public comment period and the scheduling of a public hearing on the proposed revised designation of critical habitat for the Alabama sturgeon (Scaphirhyncus suttkusi) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We also announce the availability for public comment of a draft economic analysis (DEA) and an amended required determinations section of the proposal. We also seek comment on our proposal to change the first primary constituent element (PCE) from its original description because we have determined that the original wording failed to indicate that the flow needs of the species are relative to the season of the year. We are reopening the comment period to allow all interested parties an opportunity to comment simultaneously on the revised proposed rule, the associated DEA, and the amended required determinations section. If you submitted comments previously, you do not need to resubmit them because we have already incorporated them into the public record and will fully consider them in preparation of the final rule. DATES: Written Comments: We will consider comments received on or before January 29, 2009. Public Hearings: We announce a public hearing to be held on January 28, 2009, at the Nettles Auditorium at Alabama Southern Community College, 2800 South Alabama Avenue, Monroeville, AL 36460.
* * *
73 Fed. Reg. 79822 / Vol. 73, No. 250 / Tuesday, December 30, 2008 / DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration / Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; Notice of 12–Month Finding on a Petition to List the Ribbon Seal as a Threatened or Endangered Species; Status review; notice of finding.
SUMMARY: We, NMFS, announce a 12– month finding on a petition to list the ribbon seal (Histriophoca fasciata) as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 as amended (ESA). After a formal review of the best available scientific and commercial information, we find that listing of the ribbon seal is not warranted at this time. Although the ribbon seal population abundance is likely to decline gradually for the foreseeable future, primarily from slight but chronic impacts on reproduction and survival caused by reduced frequency of years with sea ice of suitable extent, quality, and duration of persistence, it is not in danger of extinction or likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. DATES: The finding announced in this notice was made on December 30, 2008.
The ribbon seal is a strikingly marked member of the family Phocidae that primarily inhabits the Sea of Okhotsk, and the Bering and Chukchi Seas. This species is strongly associated with the sea ice during its whelping, mating, and pelage molt periods, from mid March through June. Most of the rest of the year is spent at sea; the species is rarely observed on land. The rates of survival and reproduction are not well known, but ribbon seals can live 20 to 30 years. Caption from NOAA Federal Register notice, photo from wikipedia. See also prior ESA blawg.
EXCERPT: In contrast to harp seals (Pagophilus groenlandicus), which are their closest relatives, ribbon seals are much less closely tied to traditional geographic locations for important life history functions such as whelping and molting. In years of low ice it is likely that ribbon seals will adjust, at least in part, by shifting their breeding locations in response to the position of the ice edge, as they have likely done in the past in response to interannual variability... There has not been, however, any study that would verify whether vital rates of reproduction or survival have been affected by these interannual variations in ice extent and breeding. Whelping, nursing of pups, and maturation of weaned pups could conceivably be impacted in years when the ice does not extend as far south as it has typically in the past, because the breeding areas would be farther from the continental shelf break, a zone that seems to be a preferred foraging area during spring. If these conditions occur more frequently, as is anticipated from projections of future climate and sea ice conditions, reproduction and survival of young could be impacted.