[Federal Register: December 2, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 231)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 71529-71530]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AI81

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Status 
for the Dugong in the Republic of Palau

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; reopening of comment period.


SUMMARY: We, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), 
announce the re-opening of the comment period on the proposed listing 
of the population of dugong, Dugong dugon, in the Republic of Palau as 
endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. We are 
re-opening the comment period to request additional information and 
comments from the public regarding the proposed rule. Comments 
previously submitted need not be resubmitted as they will be 
incorporated into the public record as part of this comment period and 
will be fully considered in the final rule.

DATES: We will accept public comments until March 3, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Submit any comments, information, and questions by mail to 
the Chief, Division of Scientific Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 750, Arlington, Virginia 22203, or 
by fax, 703-358-2276, or by e-mail, Scientificauthority@fws.gov. 
Comments and supporting information will be available for public 
inspection, by appointment, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the above address. 
You may obtain copies of the proposed rule from the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Eleanora Babij at the above address, 
or by phone, 703-358-1708; fax, 703-358-2276; or e-mail, 



    The dugong, an aquatic, herbivorous mammal, is currently listed 
under the Endangered Species Act as endangered throughout its entire 
range, except in the Republic of Palau. It is classified as Vulnerable 
by The World Conservation Union (IUCN, 2000), and all populations of 
dugong are listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International 
Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The dugong 
has a large range that covers approximately 37 countries and 
territories. It is believed that Palauan waters support one of the most 
isolated populations of dugong in the world. The closest dugong 
populations are 800 km to the south and 850 km to the west. In both of 
these areas, dugongs are under threat from human exploitation, and it 
is unlikely that the Palauan population is supplemented by recruitment 
from either of these areas. Surveys have been conducted in these waters 
in 1978, 1983, and 1991. The number of dugongs sighted in the 1991 
survey was lower than in the previous two surveys, which suggests a 
reduction in the number of dugongs in Palauan waters. The major threat 
to this species in Palau is poaching (UNEP, 2002).
    Prior to the enactment of the Endangered Species Act, species were 
afforded protection through the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 
1969. Under this Act, the Service prepared two lists: a ``Native'' and 
``Foreign'' list. Originally, dugong was included in the ``Foreign'' 
list of protected species. When the Endangered Species Act became 
effective in 1973, it supplanted the Endangered Species Conservation 
Act of 1969. The ``Foreign'' and ``Native'' lists were combined to 
create one list of endangered and threatened species (39 FR 1171; 
January 4, 1974). When this happened, the dugong was listed as 
endangered throughout its entire range.
    When the lists were combined, the United Nations Trust Territory of 
the Pacific Islands (Republic of Palau) was under the jurisdiction of 
the United States. Section 4(b)(5) of the Endangered Species Act 
requires that notice of proposed regulations be given to affected 
States in which the species occurs. The U.S. population of dugong was 
included on the list without prior notice to the Republic of Palau. 
Therefore in 1988, the Service amended the Code of Federal Regulations 
to exclude the U.S. population from the listing. The Republic of Palau 
was then formally notified and the proposed rule was published in 1993 
to extend Endangered status to the dugong population in Palau (58 FR 
41688, August 5, 1993). This would then result in the species being 
classified as endangered throughout its entire range, as intended by 
the original listing. However, this rule was never finalized, and we 
are reopening the comment period to allow all interested parties to 
submit additional information and written comments to be considered by 
the Service. You may obtain a copy of the 1993 proposed rule by 
contacting the address listed in ADDRESSES.

Public Comments Solicited

    We will accept written comments and information during this re-
opened comment period from the public, other concerned governmental 
agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested 
party. Comments particularly are sought concerning:
    (1) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning 
any threat (or lack thereof) to the dugong in the Republic of Palau;
    (2) Additional information concerning the range, distribution, and 
population size of the dugong in the Republic of Palau;
    (3) Current planned activities in the Republic of Palau and their 
possible impacts on this species.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Any person commenting may request that we withhold 
their home address, which we will honor to the extent allowable by law. 
In some circumstances, we may also withhold a commenter's identity, as 
allowable by law. If you wish us to withhold your name or address, you 
must state this request prominently at the beginning of your comment. 
However, we will not consider anonymous comments. To the extent 
consistent with applicable law, we will make all submissions from 
organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying 
themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or 
businesses, available for public comment in their entirety. Comments 
and materials received will be available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours at the above address.

[[Page 71530]]

References Cited

UNEP (United Nations Environment Program). 2002. Dugong. Status Report 
and Action Plans for Countries and Territories. UNEP Early Warning and 
Assessment Report Series.
Hilton-Taylor, C. (Compiler) (2000). 2000 IUCN Red List of Threatened 
Species. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. Xviii + 61 pp.


    The primary author of this notice is Eleanora Babij, Division of 
Scientific Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (see ADDRESSES 


    The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973 
(16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: November 1, 2002.
Matt Hogan,
Acting Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 02-30297 Filed 11-29-02; 8:45 am]