The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service proposes to list the Maui’s dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori maui) as endangered and the South Island Hector’s dolphin (C. hectori hectori) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). NMFS believes the Maui’s dolphin faces serious demographic risks due to critically low abundance, a low population growth rate, a restricted range, low genetic diversity, and ongoing threats such as bycatch in commercial and recreational gillnets. NMFS believes the Maui’s dolphin is currently in danger of extinction throughout its range and, therefore, meets the definition of an endangered species. The relatively more abundant and more widely distributed South Island Hector’s dolphin has experienced large historical declines and is expected to continue to slowly decline due to bycatch and other lesser threats, such as disease and impacts associated with tourism. NMFS believes that this subspecies is not currently in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, but is likely to become so within the foreseeable future; and therefore, it meets the definition of a threatened species.
Both subspecies occur only in New Zealand. NMFS is authorized to designate critical habitat within U.S. jurisdiction only, and is not aware of any areas within U.S jurisdiction that may meet the definition of critical habitat under the ESA. Therefore, NMFS is not proposing to designate critical habitat.
NMFS solicits public comments on its status review report and proposal to list these two subspecies. Comments on this proposed rule must be received by November 18, 2016. Public hearing requests must be made by November 3, 2016.