[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 181 (Tuesday, September 18, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 57554-57555]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-23001]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Parts 223 and 224

RIN 0648-XT37


Endangered and Threatened Species; Reopening of Public Comment 
Period on Proposed Endangered Status for the Hawaiian Insular False 
Killer Whale Distinct Population Segment

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Reopening of comment period; notice of availability of new 
information.

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SUMMARY: We, NMFS, announce the availability of new information that 
may identify a previously unrecognized population of false killer 
whales in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). This new 
information may be relevant to the final determination of whether the 
Hawaiian insular false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) is a 
distinct population segment (DPS) that qualifies for listing under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). We intend to take 
this new information into consideration as we make our final listing 
determination on the Hawaiian insular false killer whale. We are 
reopening the public comment period on the November 17, 2010, proposed 
rule to list the Hawaiian insular false killer whale DPS as endangered 
throughout its range under the ESA. We are reopening the comment period 
for an additional 15 days for the limited purpose of allowing 
interested parties to comment on the new information listed below and 
whether it affects the determination that the insular false killer 
whale is a DPS that is eligible for ESA listing. Please note that 
comments previously submitted should not be resubmitted.

DATES: We will accept public comments on the new information until 
October 3, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by NOAA-NMFS-2009-0272 by 
any one of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail or hand-delivery: Submit written comments to 
Regulatory Branch Chief, Protected Resources Division, National Marine 
Fisheries Service, Pacific Islands Regional Office, 1601 Kapiolani 
Blvd., Suite 1110, Honolulu, HI, 96814, Attn: Hawaiian insular false 
killer whale proposed listing.
    Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record 
and will generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without 
change. Comments will be posted for public viewing after the comment 
period has closed. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, 
name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be 
publicly accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or 
otherwise sensitive or protected information. We will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in 
Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only. The 
petition, status review report, and other reference materials regarding 
the proposed listing determination can be obtained via the NMFS Pacific 
Islands Regional Office Web site: http://www.fpir.noaa.gov/PRD/prd_false_killer_whale.html or by submitting a request to the Regulatory 
Branch Chief, Protected Resources Division, National Marine Fisheries 
Service, Pacific Islands Regional Office, 1601 Kapiolani Blvd., Suite 
1110, Honolulu, HI 96814, Attn: Hawaiian insular false killer whale 
proposed listing.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Krista Graham, NMFS, Pacific Islands 
Regional Office, 808-944-2238; Lance Smith, NMFS, Pacific Islands 
Regional Office, 808-944-2258; or Dwayne Meadows, NMFS, Office of 
Protected Resources, Silver Spring, MD, 301-427-8403.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On November 17, 2010 (75 FR 70169), we 
published a proposed rule to list the Hawaiian insular false killer 
whale DPS (Pseudorca crassidens) as endangered throughout its range 
under the ESA. The document announced a 90-day public comment period on 
the proposed rule, which closed on February 15, 2011. We also held a 
public hearing during the proposed rule's public comment period, as 
announced in the November 17, 2011, Federal Register (75 FR 70169).
    NMFS has received new information about a previously unrecognized 
NWHI population of false killer whales, as well as updated satellite 
tagging information of the insular population. In August 2012, the 
false killer whale biological review team was reconvened to consider 
this new information. All of this information may be relevant to the 
final determination of whether the Hawaiian insular false killer whale 
is a DPS that qualifies for listing as endangered under the ESA. These 
reports and journal articles are:
    (1) Preliminary Results from Photo-identification and Satellite-
tagging of False Killer Whales off the Island of Kauai, by Robin Baird 
(2012).
    (2) Photo-identification and Satellite Tagging of False Killer 
Whales Provides Evidence of an Island-associated Population in the 
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, by Robin Baird et al. (2012).
    (3) Range and Primary Habitats of Hawaiian Insular False Killer 
Whales: Informing Determination of Critical Habitat, by Robin Baird et 
al. (2012).
    (4) Line-transect Abundance Estimates of False Killer Whales in the 
Pelagic Region of the Hawaiian Exclusive Economic Zone and in the 
Insular Waters of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, by Amanda Bradford 
et al. (2012).
    (5) Genetic Differentiation of Hawaii Insular False Killer Whales: 
Analyses Updated with New Samples from the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, 
by Susan Chivers et al. (2011).
    (6) Population Structure and Mechanisms of Gene Flow within Island-
associated False Killer Whales around the Hawaiian Archipelago, by 
Karen Martien et al. (2011).
    We are notifying the public of the availability of these reports 
and our intent to consider them in making our final listing 
determination. We also are reopening the comment period for 15 days to 
provide the public the opportunity to provide comments or information 
on this new information. We are asking for public comments on this new 
information and a review of the extent to which they add to the 
knowledge base for making the final decision. This comment period is 
open only for comments on the documents listed above as they relate to 
the DPS and listing determination of the Hawaiian insular false killer 
whale. Comments submitted during the prior comment period have been 
incorporated into the public record and will be fully considered during 
preparation of our final determination. The issuance of a

[[Page 57555]]

final decision is currently the subject of litigation in Natural 
Resources Defense Council v. Bryson et al., Case No. 12-00826 (D.D.C. 
2012).

Obtaining Copies of the New Information

    You may obtain copies of any of the documents:
     By mail from Regulatory Branch Chief, Protected Resources 
Division, National Marine Fisheries Service, Pacific Islands Regional 
Office, 1601 Kapiolani Blvd., Suite 1110, Honolulu, HI, 96814, Attn: 
Hawaiian insular false killer whale proposed listing; or
     By visiting the NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office Web 
site at http://www.fpir.noaa.gov/PRD/prd_false_killer_whale.html.
    Copies of the documents are also available for public inspection, 
by appointment during normal business hours, at the NMFS Pacific 
Islands Regional Office (see ADDRESSES).

Public Comments Solicited

    Comments and information submitted during the initial comment 
period on the November 17, 2010 (75 FR 70169), proposed rule should not 
be resubmitted, as this comment period is open only for comments on the 
reports listed above. Our final determination of whether the Hawaiian 
insular false killer whale DPS qualifies as threatened or endangered 
under the ESA will take into consideration all comments and information 
we receive during both comment periods.

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.

    Dated: September 12, 2012.
Helen M. Golde,
Acting Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-23001 Filed 9-17-12; 8:45 am]
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