The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has issue a final rule designating the Sakhalin Bay-Nikolaya Bay-Amur River Stock of beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) as a depleted stock of marine mammals pursuant to the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act. This action is being taken as a result of a status review conducted by NMFS in response to a petition to designate a group of beluga whales in the western Sea of Okhotsk as a depleted stock. The biological evidence indicates that the group is a population stock as defined by the MMPA, and the stock is depleted as defined by the MMPA.
The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has received a request from the NMFS Alaska Fisheries Science Center for authorization to take small numbers of marine mammals incidental to conducting fisheries research, over the course of five years from the date of issuance. Pursuant to regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act, NMFS is announcing receipt of the AFSC’s request for the development and implementation of regulations governing the incidental taking of marine mammals. NMFS invites the public to provide information, suggestions, and comments on the AFSC’s application and request. Comments and information must be received by NMFS no later than November 17, 2016.
The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service reviewed the Alaska, Atlantic, and Pacific regional marine mammal stock assessment reports in accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act. SARs for marine mammals in the Alaska, Atlantic, and Pacific regions were revised according to new information. NMFS solicits public comments on the draft 2016 SARs. NMFS must receive any comments by January 9, 2017.
The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has issued an incidental harassment authorization to the U.S. Air Force 86 Fighter Weapons Squadron to incidentally harass marine mammals during Long Range Strike Weapons System Evaluation Program activities in the Barking Sands Underwater Range Extension area of the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii. This authorization was issued under NMFS’ regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Agency. It is effective from October 1, 2016, through November 30, 2016.