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Laws & Policies | Regulations and Policies | Interagency Policy on Information Standards under the ESA
[From The Federal Register for Friday, July 1, 1994 (Vol. 59), p. 34271]
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Fish and Wildlife Service
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Notice of Interagency Cooperative Policy on Information Standards Under the Endangered Species Act
AGENCIES: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior, and National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Notice of policy statement.
SUMMARY: The Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (hereafter referred to as Services) announce interagency policy to provide criteria, establish procedures, and provide guidance to ensure that decisions made by the Services under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as amended represent the best scientific and commercial data available. This policy is intended to complement the current public review processes prescribed by sections 4(b)(4)(6) and 10(a)(2)(B) of the Act and associated regulations in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 1994.
The Act requires the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce to determine whether any species is endangered or threatened (16 U.S.C. 1533). When making these determinations, the Secretary is directed to use the best scientific and commercial data available.
The Services receive and use information on the biology, ecology, distribution, abundance, status, and trends of species from a wide variety of sources as part of their responsibility to implement the Act. Some of this information is anecdotal, some of it is oral, and some of it is found in written documents. These documents include status surveys, biological assessments, and other unpublished material (that is, "gray literature") from State natural resource agencies and natural heritage programs, Tribal governments, other Federal agencies, consulting firms, contractors, and individuals associated with professional organizations and higher educational institutions. The Services also use published articles from juried professional journals. The reliability of the information contained in these sources can be as variable as the sources themselves. As part of their routine activities Service biologists are required to gather, review, and evaluate information from these sources prior to undertaking listing, recovery, consultation, and permitting actions.
To assure the quality of the biological, ecological, and other information that is used by the Services in their implementation of the Act, it is the policy of the Services:
a. To require biologists to evaluate all scientific and other information that will be used to (a) determine the status of candidate species; (b) support listing actions; (c) develop or implement recovery plans; (d) monitor species that have been removed from the list of threatened and endangered species; (e) to prepare biological opinions, incidental take statements, and biological assessments; and (f) issue scientific and incidental take permits. This review will be conducted to ensure that any information used by the Services to implement the Act is reliable, credible, and represents the best scientific and commercial data available.
b. To gather and impartially evaluate biological, ecological, and other information that disputes official positions, decisions, and actions proposed or taken by the Services during their implementation of the Act.
c. To require biologists to document their evaluation of information that supports or does not support a position being proposed as an official agency position on a status review, listing action, recovery plan or action, interagency consultation, or permitting action. These evaluations will rely on the best available comprehensive, technical information regarding the status and habitat requirements for a species throughout its range.
d. To the extent consistent with sections 4, 7, and 10 of the ESA, and to the extent consistent with the use of the best scientific and commercial data available, use primary and original sources of information as the basis for recommendations to (1) place a species on the list of candidate species, (2) promulgate a regulation to add a species to the list of threatened and endangered species, (3) to remove a species from the list of threatened and endangered species, (4) designate critical habitat, (5) revise the status of a species listed as threatened or endangered, (6) make a determination of whether a Federal action is likely to jeopardize a proposed, threatened, or endangered species or destroy or adversely modify critical habitat; and (7) issue a scientific or incidental take permit. These sources shall be retained as part of the administrative record supporting an action and shall be referenced in all official Federal Register notices and biological opinions prepared for an action.
e. To collect, evaluate, and complete all reviews of biological, cological, and other relevant information within the schedules established by the Act, appropriate regulations, and applicable policies.
f. To conduct management-level review of documents developed and drafted by Service biologists to verify and assure the quality of the science used to establish official positions, decisions, and actions taken by the Services during their implementation of the Act.
Scope of Policy
This policy applies Servicewide for all species of fish and wildlife and plants, as defined pursuant to section 3 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1532), and for listing, recovery, interagency consultation, management and scientific authorities, and permitting programs as outlined in, and to the extent consistent with, the provisions of sections 4(a)(c), 4(e)(g), 7(a)(c), 8A(c), and 10(a) of the Act, respectively.
The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544).
Dated: June 27, 1994.
Mollie H. Beattie,
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior.
Dated: June 24, 1994.
Rolland A. Schmitten,
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 94-16022 Filed 6-30-94; 8:45 am]
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