[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 11 (Wednesday, January 16, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 3399-3401]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-00705]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XC062


Draft 2012 Marine Mammal Stock Assessment Reports

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and

[[Page 3400]]

Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Notification of availability; reopening of public comment 
period.

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SUMMARY: NMFS reviewed the Alaska, Atlantic, and Pacific regional 
marine mammal stock assessment reports (SARs) in accordance with the 
Marine Mammal Protection Act, and solicited public comment on draft 
2012 SARs. Subsequently, SARs for ten stocks of marine mammals in the 
Atlantic region have been updated with revised abundance estimates and 
some corrections to bycatch estimates. NMFS solicits public comments on 
revised draft 2012 SARs for these ten stocks.

DATES: Comments must be received by April 16, 2013.

ADDRESSES: The ten revised 2012 draft SARs and supporting documentation 
are available in electronic form via the Internet at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/draft.htm. Copies of the ten revised draft 
Atlantic SARs may be requested from Gordon Waring, Northeast Fisheries 
Science Center, 166 Water St., Woods Hole, MA 02543.
    You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2012-0119, by any 
of the following methods:
    Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via 
the Federal eRulemaking Portal. http://www.regulations.gov. Go to 
www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2012-0119, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
    Mail: Send comments or requests for copies of reports to: Chief, 
Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Conservation Division, Office of Protected 
Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, 
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3226, Attn: Stock Assessments.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS 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, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shannon Bettridge, Office of Protected 
Resources, 301-427-8402, Shannon.Bettridge@noaa.gov; or Gordon Waring, 
508-495-2311, Gordon.Waring@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Section 117 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) (16 U.S.C. 
1361 et seq.) requires NMFS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(FWS) to prepare stock assessments for each stock of marine mammals 
occurring in waters under the jurisdiction of the United States. These 
reports must contain information regarding the distribution and 
abundance of the stock, population growth rates and trends, estimates 
of annual human-caused mortality and serious injury from all sources, 
descriptions of the fisheries with which the stock interacts, and the 
status of the stock. Initial reports were completed in 1995.
    The MMPA requires NMFS and FWS to review the SARs at least annually 
for strategic stocks and stocks for which significant new information 
is available, and at least once every three years for non-strategic 
stocks. The term strategic stock means a marine mammal stock: (A) For 
which the level of direct human-caused mortality exceeds the potential 
biological removal level; (B) which, based on the best available 
scientific information, is declining and is likely to be listed as a 
threatened species under the Endangered Species Act within the 
foreseeable future; or (C) which is listed as a threatened species or 
endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. NMFS and the FWS 
are required to revise a SAR if the status of the stock has changed or 
can be more accurately determined. NMFS, in conjunction with the 
Alaska, Atlantic, and Pacific independent Scientific Review Groups 
(SRGs), reviewed the status of marine mammal stocks as required and 
revised reports in the Alaska, Atlantic, and Pacific regions to 
incorporate new information. NMFS solicited public comments on the 
draft 2012 SARs on August 7, 2012 (77 FR 47043); the 90-day public 
comment period closed on November 5, 2012.
    Subsequent to soliciting public comment on the draft 2012 SARs, 
NMFS revised the 2011 abundance estimates and the 2010 northeast sink 
gillnet serious injury and mortality estimates for several Atlantic 
marine mammal stocks after discovering errors based upon further review 
of the abundance estimation methods and upon receiving updated bycatch 
data. This new information prompted the agency to correct and revise 
the SARs for the following marine mammal stocks affected by these 
updates: fin whale, western North Atlantic stock; sei whale, Nova 
Scotia stock; minke whale Canadian east coast stock; sperm whale, North 
Atlantic stock; Cuvier's beaked whale, western North Atlantic stock; 
Gervais' beaked whale, western North Atlantic stock; Sowerby's beaked 
whale, western North Atlantic stock; Risso's dolphin, western North 
Atlantic stock; Atlantic white-sided dolphin, western North Atlantic 
stock; and harbor porpoise, Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy stock. NMFS 
solicits public comment on the revised draft 2012 SARs for these ten 
stocks.

Summary of Revisions to Atlantic Reports

    The following summarizes the revisions made to the original draft 
2012 SARs. The 2011 abundance estimate for fin whale, western North 
Atlantic stock, in the draft 2012 SAR (77 FR 47043, August 7, 2012) has 
changed from 3,628 (CV = 0.24) to 1,595 (CV = 0.33). This change does 
not affect the minimum population estimate (Nmin) or the potential 
biological removal level (PBR) calculation, as the 2007 estimate is 
still considered the best abundance estimate and is used to calculate 
Nmin and PBR.
    The abundance estimate for sei whale, Nova Scotia stock, in the 
draft 2012 SAR (77 FR 47043, August 7, 2012) has changed from 467 (CV = 
0.67) to 357 (CV = 0.52); Nmin changed from 279 to 236; and PBR changed 
from 0.6 to 0.5.
    The 2011 abundance estimate for minke whale, Canadian east coast 
stock, in the draft 2012 SAR (77 FR 47043, August 7, 2012) has changed 
from 7,817 (CV = 0.29) to 2,591 (CV = 0.81). This change does not 
affect Nmin or the PBR calculation, as the 2007 estimate is still 
considered the best abundance estimate and is used to calculate Nmin 
and PBR.
    The abundance estimate for sperm whale, North Atlantic stock, in 
the draft 2012 SAR (77 FR 47043, August 7, 2012) has changed from 1,584 
(CV = 0.40) to 1,593 (CV = 0.36); Nmin changed from 1,142 to 1,187; and 
PBR changed from 2.3 to 2.4.
    The abundance estimate for Cuvier's beaked whale, western North 
Atlantic stock, in the draft 2012 SAR (77 FR 47043, August 7, 2012) has 
changed from 5,611 (CV = 0.42) to 4,962 (CV = 0.37); Nmin changed from 
3,992 to 3,670; and PBR declined from 40 to 37.
    The abundance estimate for Gervais' beaked whale, western North 
Atlantic stock, in the draft 2012 SAR (77 FR 47043, August 7, 2012) has 
changed from 1,945 (CV = 1.0) to 1,847 (CV =

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0.96); Nmin changed from 966 to 935; and PBR changed from 9.7 to 9.4.
    The abundance estimate for Sowerby's beaked whale, western North 
Atlantic stock, in the draft 2012 SAR (77 FR 47043, August 7, 2012) has 
changed from 3,748 (CV = 0.86) to 3,653 (CV = 0.69); Nmin increased 
from 2,008 to 2,160; and PBR increased from 20 to 22.
    The abundance estimate for Risso's dolphin, western North Atlantic 
stock, in the draft 2012 SAR (77 FR 47043, August 7, 2012) has changed 
from 17,734 (CV = 0.42) to 15,197 (CV = 0.55); Nmin decreased from 
12,630 to 9,857; and PBR changed from 121 to 95.
    The abundance estimate for Atlantic white-sided dolphin, western 
North Atlantic stock, in the draft 2012 SAR (77 FR 47043, August 7, 
2012) has changed from 45,592 (CV = 0.54) to 48,819 (CV = 0.61); Nmin 
increased from 29,806 to 30,403; and PBR increased from 298 to 304. 
Total annual estimated average fishery-related mortality or serious 
injury to this stock during 2006-2010 changed from 213 to 212. Average 
annual estimated fishery-related mortality attributed to the Northeast 
sink gillnet fishery during 2006-2010 decreased from 39 to 38 white-
sided dolphins per year.
    The abundance estimate for harbor porpoise, Gulf of Maine/Bay of 
Fundy stock, in the draft 2012 SAR (77 FR 47043, August 7, 2012) has 
changed from 61,959 (CV = 0.32) to 79,833 (CV = 0.32); Nmin increased 
from 47,635 to 61,415; and PBR changed from 548 to 706. The total 
annual estimated average human-caused mortality changed from 840 to 835 
harbor porpoises per year; 791 attributed to U.S. fisheries (changed 
from 796). The average annual harbor porpoise mortality and serious 
injury attributed to the Northeast sink gillnet fishery from 2006 to 
2010 changed from 515 to 511 (CV = 0.17).
    The average annual harbor porpoise mortality and serious injury 
attributed to the mid-Atlantic gillnet fishery listed in the draft 2012 
SAR (77 FR 47043, August 7, 2012) from 2006 to 2010 has changed from 
276 to 275 (CV = 0.35).

    Dated: January 10, 2013.
Helen M. Golde,
Acting Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-00705 Filed 1-15-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P