[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 154 (Wednesday, August 12, 2009)]
[Page 40568]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-19336]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XQ74

Endangered and Threatened Species; Initiation of a Status Review 
for the Humpback Whale and Request for Information

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic 
andAtmospheric Administration, Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of initiation of a status review; request for 


SUMMARY: The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announces a 
status review of the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). A status review is a periodic 
undertaking conducted to ensure that the listing classification of a 
species is accurate. A status review is based on the best scientific 
and commercial data available at the time of the review; therefore, we 
are requesting submission of any such information on the all humpback 
whale populations in all waters worldwide that has become available 
since the last humpback whale status review in 1999. Based on the 
results of this review, we will make the requisite findings under the 

DATES: To allow us adequate time to conduct these reviews, we must 
receive your information no later than October 13, 2009. However, we 
will continue to accept new information about any listed species at any 

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by the code 0648-XQ74, 
addressed to Shannon Bettridge by any of the following methods:
    1. Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic comments via the 
Federal eRulemaking Portal http://www.regulations.gov.
    2. Facsimile (fax): 301-713-0376, Attn: Shannon Bettridge.
    3. Mail: Shannon Bettridge, National Marine Fisheries Service, 
Office of Protected Resources, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, 
MD 20910.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shannon Bettridge at the above 
address, or at 301-713-2322.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Under the ESA, a list of endangered and 
threatened wildlife and plant species must be maintained. The list is 
published at 50 CFR 17.11 (for animals) and 17.12 (for plants). Section 
4(c)(2)(A) of the ESA requires that we conduct a review of listed 
species at least once every five years. On the basis of such reviews 
under section 4(c)(2)(B), we determine whether a particular species 
should be removed from the list (delisted), or reclassified from 
endangered to threatened, or from threatened to endangered. Delisting a 
species must be supported by the best scientific and commercial data 
available, substantiating that the species is neither endangered nor 
threatened for one or more of the following reasons: (1) the species is 
considered extinct; (2) the species is considered to be recovered; and/
or (3) the original data available when the species was listed, or the 
interpretation of such data, were in error. Any change in Federal 
classification would require a separate rulemaking process. The 
regulations in 50 CFR 424.21 require that we publish a notice in the 
Federal Register announcing those species currently under active 
review. This notice announces active reviews of the humpback whale, 
currently listed globally as endangered.

Public Solicitation of New Information

    To ensure that the review is complete and based on the best 
available scientific and commercial information, we are soliciting new 
information from the public, relevant governmental agencies, tribes, 
the scientific community, industry, environmental entities, and any 
other interested parties concerning the status of the humpback whale.
    Status reviews consider the best scientific and commercial data and 
all new information that has become available since the listing 
determination or most recent status review. Categories of requested 
information include: (1) species biology including, but not limited to, 
population trends, distribution, abundance, demographics, and genetics; 
(2) habitat conditions including, but not limited to, amount, 
distribution, and suitability; (3) conservation measures that have been 
implemented that benefit the species; (4) status and trends of threats; 
and (5) other new information, data, or corrections including, but not 
limited to, taxonomic or nomenclatural changes, identification of 
erroneous information contained in the list, and improved analytical 
    Because these species are vertebrate species, we will also be 
considering application of the Distinct Population Segment (DPS) policy 
for vertebrate taxa. A DPS is defined in the February 7, 1996, Policy 
Regarding the Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate Population Segments 
(61 FR 4722). For a population to be listed under the ESA as a DPS, 
three elements are considered: (1) the discreteness of the population 
segment in relation to the remainder of the species to which it 
belongs; (2) the significance of the population segment to the species 
to which it belongs; and (3) the population segment=s conservation 
status in relation to the ESA=s standards for listing (i.e., is the 
population segment endangered or threatened?). DPSs of vertebrate 
species, as well as subspecies of all listed species, may be proposed 
for separate reclassification or for removal from the list.
    If you wish to provide information on the humpback whale in the 
northern and/or southern hemispheres for this status review, you may 
submit your information and materials to Shannon Bettridge (see 
ADDRESSES section).

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

    Dated: August 5, 2009.
James H. Lecky,
Office Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. E9-19336 Filed 8-11-09; 8:45 am]