NMFS Revises Critical Habitat for Hawaiian Monk Seal

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has issued a final rule to revise the critical habitat for the Hawaiian monk seal (Neomonachus schauinslandi) pursuant to the Endangered Species Act. Specific areas for designation include sixteen occupied areas within the range of the species: ten areas in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and six in the main Hawaiian Islands. These areas contain one or a combination of habitat types: Preferred pupping and nursing areas, significant haul-out areas, and/or marine foraging areas, that will support conservation for the species. Specific areas in the NWHI include all beach areas, sand spits and islets, including all beach crest vegetation to its deepest extent inland, lagoon waters, inner reef waters, and including marine habitat through the water’s edge, including the seafloor and all subsurface waters and marine habitat within 10 meters (m) of the seafloor, out to the 200-m depth contour line around the following 10 areas: Kure Atoll, Midway Islands, Pearl and Hermes Reef, Lisianski Island, Laysan Island, Maro Reef, Gardner Pinnacles, French Frigate Shoals, Necker Island, and Nihoa Island. Specific areas in the MHI include marine habitat from the 200-m depth contour line, including the seafloor and all subsurface waters and marine habitat within 10 m of the seafloor, through the water’s edge 5 m into the terrestrial environment from the shoreline between identified boundary points on the islands of: Kaula, Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Maui Nui (including Kahoolawe, Lanai, Maui, and Molokai), and Hawaii.

FWS Extends Comment Period on Polar Bear Conservation Management Plan

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has extended the comment period on its draft Polar Bear Conservation Management Plan for an additional 30 days. FWS is taking this action because it received a request from the State of Alaska for an extension of time to allow for public input. To ensure consideration of your comments in our preparation of the final plan, FWS must receive your comments and information by September 19, 2015.

Click here to read FWS’ Federal Register notice of this action.

Marine Policy Article on Saving the Chinese White Dolphin

The November 2015 issue of Marine Policy includes an article entitled “Saving the critically endangered Chinese white dolphin in Taiwan: Debate regarding the designation of an MPA,” Liu et al. This article’s abstract reads as follows:

Proposed Regulations for the Designation of Experimental Populations Under the Endangered Species Act

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed regulations to amend the Code of Federal Regulations to implement the Endangered Species Act regarding experimental populations. The CFR would be amended to establish definitions and procedures for: establishing and/or designating certain populations of species otherwise listed as endangered or threatened as experimental populations; determining whether experimental populations are ‘‘essential’’ or ‘‘nonessential;’’ and promulgating appropriate protective measures for experimental populations. NMFS seeks public comment on this proposal. Any comments must be received by NMFS no later than October 2, 2015.

Click here to read NMFS’ Federal Register notice of these proposed rules.