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ESAblawg is an educational effort by Keith W. Rizzardi. Correspondence with this site does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Photos or links may be copyrighted (but used with permission, or as fair use). ESA blawg is published with a Creative Commons License.

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florida gators... never threatened!

If you ain't a Gator, you should be! Alligators (and endangered crocs) are important indicator species atop their food chains, with sensitivity to pollution and pesticides akin to humans. See ESA blawg. Gator blood could be our pharmaceutical future, too. See ESA musing.

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Follow the truth.

"This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." -- Thomas Jefferson to William Roscoe, December 27, 1820.

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Thanks, Kevin.

KEVIN S. PETTITT helped found this blawg. A D.C.-based IT consultant specializing in Lotus Notes & Domino, he also maintains Lotus Guru blog.

« FWS begins 2010 with ESA bang: listing Galapagos Petrel, Heinroth’s Shearwater, proposed listing of twelve foreign birds (but withdrawal of Cook's petrel listing) | Main| NOAA may list Atlantic Sturgeon »

NOAA proposes revised critical habitat for leatherback sea turtle and may list false killer whales

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75 Fed. Reg. 319 (Tuesday, January 2010) / Proposed Rule
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration / 50 CFR Part 226
Endangered and Threatened Species: Proposed Rule To Revise the Critical Habitat Designation for the Endangered Leatherback Sea Turtle
AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

SUMMARY: We, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), propose revising the current critical habitat for the leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) by designating additional areas within the Pacific Ocean. Specific areas proposed for designation include two adjacent marine areas totaling approximately 46,100 square miles (119,400 square km) stretching along the California coast from Point Arena to Point Vincente; and one 24,500 square mile (63,455 square km) marine area stretching from Cape Flattery, Washington to the Umpqua River (Winchester Bay), Oregon east of a line approximating the 2,000 meter depth contour. The areas proposed for designation comprise approximately 70,600 square miles (182,854 square km) of marine habitat. Other Pacific waters within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) were evaluated based on the geographical area occupied by the species, but it was decided to exclude those areas from the critical habitat designation because the potential costs outweighed the benefits of critical habitat designation and exclusion would not result in the extinction of the species. We are soliciting comments from the public on all aspects of the proposal, including information on the economic, national security, and other relevant impacts. We will consider additional information received prior to making a final designation.

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Leatherback sea turtles have the most extensive range of any living reptile and have been reported circumglobally throughout the oceans of the world. Leatherbacks can forage in the cold temperate regions of the oceans, occurring at latitudes as high as 71° N. and 47° S.; however, nesting is confined to tropical and subtropical latitudes.  Photo from deepseawaters.com

***

75 Fed. Reg. 316 (Tuesday, January 5, 2010) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration / 50 CFR Parts 223 and 224
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; 90–Day Finding on a Petition to List the Insular Population of Hawaiian False Killer Whales as an Endangered Species
AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce.
ACTION: 90–day petition finding; request for information.

SUMMARY: We, NMFS, announce a 90–day finding for a petition to list the insular population of Hawaiian false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. Therefore, we have initiated a status review of the insular population of Hawaiian false killer whales to determine if listing under the ESA is warranted. To ensure this status review is comprehensive, we solicit scientific and commercial information regarding this species (see below).  DATES: Information and comments on the subject action must be received by February 4, 2010.

EXCERPT: On October 1, 2009, NOAA received a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) requesting that the Secretary list the insular population of Hawaiian false killer whales as an endangered species under the ESA and designate critical habitat concurrent with listing...  NRDC provided information to suggest that the insular population of Hawaiian false killer whales may have been and may continue to be threatened by habitat modification (mortality and serious injury from fishing gear, overfishing and prey reductions, increased levels of toxic chemicals, ocean acidification, and noiseproducing activities), inadequate regulatory mechanisms, risk factors such as its high trophic level, low population density, slow growth and large calving interval, and small geographic range, and the synergistic and cumulative effects of these threats.

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NRDC states that, from 1994–2005, false killer whales were killed or seriously injured at a rate of 0.81 per 1,000 sets in the Hawaii-based deep-set longline fishery. According to NOAA, between 1994 and 2007, at least 24 false killer whales were observed as hooked or entangled in the same fishery.  By comparison, NOAA's final 2008 and draft 2009 SARs on the Hawaii Insular Stock of false killer whales confirms the low population size estimates for this population.  NOAA's draft 2009 Stock Assessment Report (SAR )also cites evidence suggesting that this stock/population has declined in size over the past 2 decades.  A ccording to NOAA's draft SAR, high incidence of fin disfigurements in this stock indicates that interactions with unidentified line fisheries may be of concern, and the stock range includes an area where some longline fishing operations take place seasonally.  False killer whale with mahimahi. Photo by Dan McSweeney available at HawaiiOasis.org (along with other excellent pics)