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Soundings Archive

NMFS Cites OMB's Peer Review Bulletin in Listing Spotted Seas under the ESA
On October 22, 2010, the U. S. National Marine Fisheries Service published Federal Register notice of NMFS' final determination to list the southern distinct population segment of the spotted seal as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Because the southern DPS occurs outside the United States, no critical habitat is proposed for designation. NMFS' final rule is effective November 22, 2010. The final rule, status review, and other materials supporting the final rule can be found on NMFS' Web site at http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/.

NMFS' spotted seal Listing is in response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity. CBD's petition is based primarily on a concern about threats to the seal's habitat from climate warming and loss of sea ice. CBD requested that critical habitat be designated for spotted seals concurrent with listing under the ESA. NMFS solicited public comment on and initiated independent peer review of the proposed Listing.

With regard to peer review, NMFS' Federal Register notice explains:

    "A joint NMFS/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service policy requires us to solicit independent expert review from at least three qualified specialists (59 FR 34270; July 1, 1994). Further, in December 2004, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review establishing minimum peer review standards, a transparent process for public disclosure of peer review planning, and opportunities for public participation. The OMB Bulletin, implemented under the Information Quality Act (Pub. L. 106-554), is intended to enhance the quality and credibility of the Federal Government's scientific information, and applies to influential or highly influential scientific information disseminated on or after June 16, 2005. Pursuant to our 1994 policy and the OMB Bulletin, we solicited four independent specialists with expertise in marine mammalogy and with specific knowledge of spotted seals to review our proposed listing determination. We received comments from all four peer reviewers. Three of these reviewers were supportive of our conclusions, and the fourth reviewer had comments and questions regarding certain aspects of the proposed listing."
  • Click here to read NMFS' Federal Register notice
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