[Federal Register: December 17, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 242)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 70185-70190]
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; Determination of 
Endangered Status for the Dugong (Dugong dugon) in the Republic of 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: We, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), 
determine endangered status for the population of dugong (Dugong dugon) 
in the Republic of Palau pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (Act). Currently, the dugong is listed under the Act 
as endangered throughout its entire range, except in the Republic of 
Palau. It is believed that Palauan waters support one of the most 
isolated populations of dugong in the world, and it is unlikely that 
this population is receiving any recruitment from other areas. The 
Palauan population is seriously threatened by poaching.

EFFECTIVE DATE: January 16, 2004.

ADDRESSES: The complete supporting file for this rule is available for 
public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the 
Division of Scientific Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 
N. Fairfax Drive, Room 750, Arlington, Virginia 22203.

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 (Dugong dugon) is the only extant species in the Family 
Dugongidae and is one of only four extant members of the mammalian 
Order Sirenia. It is the only herbivorous mammal that is strictly 
marine; other members of the Order Sirenia, including three species of 
manatees, all use fresh water to varying degrees (Marsh et al. 1995). 
It has a large range that spans the waters of at least 37 countries and 
includes tropical and subtropical coastal and inland waters from East 
Africa to the Solomon Islands (Marsh et al. 2002). Historically, the 
dugong's distribution is believed to be broadly coincident with the 
tropical Indo-Pacific distribution of its food plants, phanerogamous, 
or flowering, seagrasses of the families Potamogetonaceae and 
Hydrocharitaceae (Husar 1978). Currently, throughout much of its range, 
the dugong is represented by relict populations separated by large 
areas where its numbers have been greatly reduced or it is already 
extirpated (Marsh et al. 2002).
    It is thought that most dugong populations around isolated 
archipelagoes have always been small. This is mostly due to the fact 
that dugongs are largely restricted to a diet of rooted vascular 
macrophytes, such as seagrass, found only in protected inshore waters 
(Brownell et al. 1981). It has been suggested that dugongs select 
seagrasses that are lower seral or pioneer species, and species of 
genera such as Halophila and Halodule are favored in many areas. 
Dugongs optimize their diet by selecting species that are more 
digestible and have higher nutrients and/or species that can compensate 
for grazing. Dugongs generally frequent coastal waters that support 
extensive seagrass meadows (Marsh and Lawler 1998) where these food 
species can be found. Major concentrations of dugong tend to occur in 
wide, shallow, protected bays; wide, shallow mangrove channels; and in 
the lees of large inshore islands (Heinsohn et al. 1979). Shallow 
waters, such as tidal sandbanks (Marsh et al. 1984) and

[[Page 70186]]

estuaries, have also been reported as sites for calving.
    Dugongs do not appear to be well adapted to activity in rough seas, 
where the necessity to surface frequently to breathe may impose heavy 
energy costs (Anderson and Birtles 1978). Food requirements and energy 
demands combine to force dugongs to use inshore areas frequently, where 
they may be taken by hunters with even the smallest watercraft. It has 
been reported that animals subject to hunting pressure frequent deeper 
waters during the daytime (Brownell et al. 1981) and move toward the 
shore to feed at night. However, Nishiwaki and Marsh (1985) found that 
there is diurnal (daytime) inshore feeding in some areas.
    Dugongs are long-lived, with a low reproductive rate, long 
generation time, and a high investment in each offspring. Marsh (2002) 
has suggested that females do not bear their first calf until they are 
at least 10 and up to 17 years old. The gestation period is 13-15 
months, and the litter size is usually one. The calf suckles for 14-18 
months, and periods between successive calving range from 2.4 to 7 
years (Nowak 1991). Population simulations by Marsh (1995, 1999) have 
revealed that, even with the most optimistic combinations of life-
history parameters (low natural mortality and no human-induced 
mortality), a dugong population is unlikely to increase more than 5 
percent per year.
    In the Micronesian area, dugongs occur only in Palau, except for 
occasional sightings around Yap and Guam (Nishiwaki et al. 1979, as 
cited in Marsh et al. 1995). It is believed that Palauan waters support 
one of the most isolated populations of dugong in the world. The 
closest dugong populations are found in Papua Barat, 800 km to the 
south, and in the Philippines, 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 (Marsh et al. 1995). The dugong's close ties 
to the shore increase its chances of local extinction and may limit the 
chances of long-distance dispersal and recolonization or recruitment 
through immigration (Brownell et al. 1981).
    Full aerial surveys have been conducted in these waters around 
Palau in 1977-1978, 1983, and 1991. One survey was partially completed 
in 1998, but was halted because of the loss of the aircraft (The Nature 
Conservancy 2002). The numbers of individuals observed were 15 in 1977 
and 34 in 1978 (Brownell et al. 1981). Of these numbers, 13 percent of 
the specimens seen in 1977 were calves, whereas 24 percent were calves 
in 1978, indicating an apparent increase in the reproductive rate 
(Eldredge 1991). The population in Palau was resurveyed in 1983 by 
Rathbun et al. (1988), with the total number of individuals observed 
being 38, including three calves. A survey conducted in 1991 by Marsh 
et al. (1992) covered 55 percent of the waters inside the barrier 
reefs. Twenty-six dugongs were sighted, including four calves. This is 
a minimum count because some dugongs on the surface are missed by 
observers and others are not seen because they are too far below the 
water surface (Marsh and Lawler 1998). The number of dugongs sighted in 
the 1991 survey suggests a reduction in the number of dugongs in 
Palauan waters over the earlier estimates from the 1980s. After the 
1991 survey, the total dugong population for Palau was considered to be 
a few hundred animals at most (The Nature Conservancy 2002). While 
incomplete, the 1998 survey yielded more adults with calves than did 
the 1991 survey, indicating that the population was, at a minimum, 
still reproductively viable (ibid). The latest survey in this area was 
completed in March 2003. Although the final report is not yet complete, 
results from the overflight are 20 adults and 7 calves (Chris Swenson, 
Service, pers. com. 2003).

Previous Federal Action

    The dugong is currently listed under the Act as endangered 
throughout its entire range, except in the Republic of Palau. Prior to 
the enactment of the Act, species were afforded protection through the 
Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969. Under this 1969 Act, the 
Service prepared two lists: a ``Native'' list and a ``Foreign'' list. 
Originally, the dugong was included in the ``Foreign'' list of 
protected species and was listed on December 2, 1970 (35 FR 18320). 
When the 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). On this list, 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 (U.S.). Section 4(b)(5) of the 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 on August 5, 1993, we published a proposal to extend the 
endangered classification to the dugong population in Palau (58 FR 
41688) and opened a 60-day public comment period.
    The proposal was not finalized, however, because of budget 
limitations and subsequent litigation-driven listing priorities. 
Additionally, after three decades as part of the UN Trust Territory of 
the Pacific under U.S. administration, this westernmost cluster of the 
Caroline Islands opted for independence in 1978 rather than joining the 
Federated States of Micronesia. A Compact of Free Association with the 
United States was approved in 1986, but not ratified until 1993. It 
entered into force the following year when the islands gained 
independence (Central Intelligence Agency 2002). Finally, on December 
2, 2002 (67 FR 71529), we published a notice to reopen the comment 
period on our proposal to list the dugong as endangered in the Republic 
of Palau for 90 days to allow all interested parties to submit 
additional information and written comments for our consideration.
    All populations of the dugong are also listed in Appendix I of the 
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna 
and Flora (CITES). In addition, dugong are also listed as vulnerable to 
extinction in the IUCN Red List (The World Conservation Union [IUCN] 

Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    In the August 5, 1993, proposed rule (58 FR 41688), we requested 
all interested parties to submit factual reports or information that 
might contribute to the development of a final listing decision. We 
contacted appropriate Federal agencies, State agencies, county 
governments, scientific organizations, and other interested parties to 
request information and comments. We published a legal notice in the 
Pacific Daily News on August 16, 1993. The first public comment period 
was open for 60 days and closed on October 4, 1993. We re-opened a 
second comment period on December 2, 2002, for an additional 90 days, 
closing on March 3, 2003 (67 FR 71529). During this time, we contacted 
the government in the Republic of Palau for comment. The Ministry of 
State responded positively, indicating that Palau was fully committed 
to coordinating its efforts with the United States and other

[[Page 70187]]

countries in protecting the dugong population from becoming extinct. We 
did not receive any requests for a public hearing during either comment 
    We received 10 comment letters, including 1 letter from a peer-
reviewer. Nine of the comment letters supported the proposal, and one 
was opposed. Some additional information was provided and has been 
incorporated into the ``Summary of Factors'' of this final rule. 
Comments of a similar nature or point regarding the proposed rule have 
been grouped into issues and are discussed below.
    Issue 1: Two commenters questioned our ability to declare a species 
endangered in countries outside U.S. jurisdiction. One of these 
respondents believed that, if we declared a species endangered in 
another country, this would open the way for individuals in other 
countries to declare something endangered in the United States for 
political reasons and not for conservation purposes.
    Our Response: We have the jurisdiction to list foreign species 
under section 4 of the Act. In fact, the listing of foreign species 
predates the Act with the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969. 
Initial publication of the ``United States List of Endangered Foreign 
Fish and Wildlife'' appeared in the Federal Register on June 2, 1970 
(35 FR 8491). In addition, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 requires 
that foreign species (including subspecies and distinct vertebrate 
populations) be give the same consideration as native U.S. species with 
regard to addition to the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife 
and Plants.
    Individuals in other countries cannot list species under the U.S. 
Federal Endangered Species Act. The Fish and Wildlife Service in the 
Department of the Interior and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration-National Marine Fisheries Service in the Department of 
Commerce share responsibility for administration of the Act. These two 
agencies are the only ones that can list a species under the Act. 
However, members of the public may petition to have a foreign species 
listed, delisted, or reclassified under the Act, and the Service can 
initiate its own review process for foreign species.
    Conservation measures provided to foreign species listed as 
endangered or threatened under the Act include recognition and 
awareness of the species' status, international cooperation, 
requirements for Federal protection in the United States and its 
territories, and prohibitions against certain activities. Recognition 
through listing also encourages conservation measures by Federal, 
international, and private agencies, groups, and individuals.
    Issue 2: One respondent stated that, while the Palauan population 
of dugong should be listed as endangered, a more appropriate status for 
the Australian population of dugong would be ``vulnerable.''
    Our Response: The dugong, which included the Australian population, 
was part of a rulemaking involving foreign species that were listed as 
endangered on December 2, 1970 (35 FR 18319). The Australian population 
of dugongs is not currently the focus of this rulemaking. The Act 
requires that we conduct periodic reviews of listed species at least 
once every 5 years. On the basis of such a review, we make a 
determination of whether a species is listed appropriately or should be 
removed from the List (delisted) or reclassified (from endangered to 
threatened, or threatened to endangered). The status of dugong will be 
reviewed as part of this process and reclassified if needed. A 
classification of ``vulnerable'' does not exist under the Act.
    Issue 3: One respondent indicated that critical habitat should be 
designated for the dugong population in Palau and extended well beyond 
the areas delimited by the current distribution.
    Our Response: Although habitat loss can become a serious threat for 
the dugong, we do not designate critical habitat outside the United 
States or on the high seas. The Solicitor for the Department of 
Interior has noted that the provisions found in the Act do not involve 
the Secretary of State or consultations with foreign governments when 
it comes to matters involving critical habitat. In addition, there are 
obvious difficulties and constraints on U.S. entities operating in 
other countries to designate critical habitat. Therefore, we have 
adopted the position that critical habitat may not be determined in 
foreign countries.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 3 of the Act and regulations promulgated to implement the 
listing provisions of the Act (50 CFR part 424) set forth the 
procedures for adding species to the Federal List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife. After a thorough review and consideration of all 
information available, we determine that the population of dugong in 
the Republic of Palau should be classified as an endangered species. We 
may determine a species to be endangered or threatened due to one or 
more of the five factors described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act. These 
factors, and their application to the population of dugong (Dugong 
dugon) in the Republic of Palau, are as follows:

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

    The most important dugong habitat in Palau is around Malakal 
Harbour and in the waters between Babelthuap Island and the barrier 
reef, especially to the west (Marsh et al. 2002). Dugongs typically 
graze in lagoons with relatively low seagrass biomass in waters more 
than 7 meters deep. They feed on virtually all species of seagrasses, 
and are seldom found far from seagrass beds (Anderson and Birtles 
1978). Impacts on, or destruction of, these seagrass beds may have 
future implications for the sustainability of dugong populations in 
Palauan waters. Palau is experiencing an increase in development. 
Seagrass ecosystems are very sensitive to human influence (Poiner and 
Peterken 1996).
    With no land-use plans in place, deteriorating water quality from 
activities such as land clearing and other non-point-source impacts are 
likely to be more serious threats than point-source impacts such as 
sewage discharge or anchor damage (Marsh et al. 2002). These activities 
cause increases in sedimentation and turbidity which, in turn, lead to 
degredation through smothering and lack of light (ibid.). Halophila 
ovalis, one of the preferred food species of dugongs, appears to be 
particularly sensitive to light reduction (Longstaff et al. 1999). 
Duration and frequency of light deprivation events are apparently the 
primary factors affecting the survival of this seagrass in environments 
that experience light deprivation (ibid.). Habitat destruction 
associated with increased development and water projects could become a 
serious threat (Marsh et al. 2002).

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    The most serious threat to the dugong population in Palau is from 
poaching activities. Although hunting is illegal, dugongs are still 
poached regularly in the Koror area and along the western coast of 
Babeldaob (Marsh et al. 2002). Hunting of dugong in this area is a 
deliberate act, not an opportunistic one. The meat of dugong is 
oftentimes obtained for special occasions, particularly festive 
occasions, rather than sold. The meat is often served to guests without 
their knowledge because

[[Page 70188]]

there is disapproval of killing dugongs among many people, especially 
women (Marsh et al. 1995). All of the hunters indicated that they 
preferred the meat of females and juveniles rather than that of adult 
males. If females and immature animals are preferentially taken, future 
recruitment will be reduced more significantly than if hunting targets 
males or takes animals at random.
    Although the main motive for hunting dugongs is for their meat, 
these animals are also killed for the creation of jewelry items made 
from the animals' ribs. In the past, atlas vertebrae from dugongs were 
obtained to make bracelets that were only worn by chiefs (Brownell et 
al. 1981). Although this traditional use has diminished in importance, 
Marsh et al. (1995) found jewelry that was locally crafted from dugong 
ribs on sale at four stores in Koror. At least two of the retailers 
knew this activity was illegal (ibid.).
    Traditionally dugongs were hunted from canoes with heavy spears 
(Rathbun et al. 1988). More recently, dugongs have been hunted mainly 
at night from small outboard-powered boats (35hp) with 
spears, firearms, or dynamite (Brownell et al. 1981). Most dugongs are 
harpooned after being chased (Marsh and Lawler 1998). The dugongs are 
ambushed from boats as they move with the tide onto or off the shallow 
seagrass beds where they feed at night (Brownell et al. 1988). 
Residents indicate that dugong movements are predictable and they are 
relatively easy prey. In 1992, 23 knowledgeable locals (including 5 
admitted dugong hunters) were interviewed by Marsh et al. (1995). These 
informants claimed that at least 13 dugongs had been killed in 1990. At 
least five dugongs were taken between December 1996 and December 1997. 
Marsh (2002) found that all hunters were aware that killing dugongs was 
illegal and that the motive for the hunting was that it is an exciting 
way to obtain meat.
    Marsh et al. (1995) considered that any deliberate exploitation of 
dugongs in Palau is unsustainable. Population modeling by Marsh (1986) 
has suggested that a sustainable level of exploitation of dugongs may 
be as low as 2 percent of females per year. This means that at least 
250 females would be needed to support an annual take of 5 females from 
Palauan waters. A population of this size is considered to be extremely 
unlikely given the low number of dugongs sighted during the aerial 
surveys, suggesting that documented levels of take are not sustainable 
and will lead to further declines of the species. Marsh (1994) 
considers that any deliberate exploitation of dugongs in Palau is 
unsustainable and the current small population found in Palau is 
unlikely to be able to sustain the current level of poaching (Marsh and 
Lawler 1998).

C. Disease or Predation

    Dugongs are susceptible to a wide range of diseases. Some of these 
diseases are infectious or parasitic and include pneumonia, 
pancreatitis, and dermatitis. Wild dugongs support a range of 
parasites, including at least 19 species of trematodes and one species 
of nematode internally, and a barnacle and a copepod externally (Eros 
et al. 2000). Bryden et al. (1998) and Smith et al. (1978) found that 
dugongs may also carry a range of other diseases documented in marine 
mammals such as leptospirosis, lobomycosis, cryptococcosus, 
blastomycosis, caliciviruses, salmonellosis, morbillivirus, 
toxoplasmosis, tuberculosis, and hepatitis. Any outbreak of disease 
could have devastating effects on this isolated population.
    While it appears that people have had the most serious and long-
term impacts on dugong populations, sharks are probably the main 
natural enemy of dugongs. It has been reported that dugongs will defend 
themselves against sharks, however. Lekagul and McNeely (1977) found 
that individual dugongs will ``gang up'' on sharks in shallow waters 
and drive them off by butting them with their heads. Even so, a 
devastating attack was reported by Anderson and Prince (1985), during 
which 10 killer whales surrounded and killed approximately 40 dugongs.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Marsh and Lawler (1998) identified strengthening and enforcing laws 
to protect dugongs in Palau as the highest conservation priority in 
``Action Plan for the Management of the Dugong in Palau''. Until 
recently, Palauan legislation relevant to the dugong was found in the 
chapter entitled Protected Sea Life, subchapter iv, on dugongs. The 
first section of the law stated that ``no person shall kill, trap, 
capture, wound, possess, transport, restrain or otherwise have under 
his control any dugong or any part or product.'' A person found guilty 
of violating this section for the first time could face a jail term of 
not more than 6 months, or a fine of not more than $50.00, or both. For 
any subsequent offense, the convicted person would be imprisoned for 
not more than 1 year, or fined not more than $100.00, or both. If a 
dugong was accidentally caught in a fishing net or by any other fishing 
method and was still alive, it was required to be released immediately. 
If found dead, and this fact was affirmed by the chief executive 
officer of the state, the dead dugong would be released to the person 
who found it. Marsh et al. (1995) found that the hunters they 
interviewed were not willing to stop hunting while others were 
continuing to do so, especially when the punishment itself was of 
little consequence.
    In 1996 and 1997, the Palau Conservation Society began a Dugong 
Management and Education Program (Marsh et al. 2002). The dugong was 
used as a target species to raise awareness and establish pride in 
Palau's natural heritage. This effort was aimed, in part, at raising 
the understanding of the general public about the status of the dugong 
in Palau as well as trying to increase public support for tougher laws 
to protect dugongs. The effort seemed to be effective in changing 
attitudes. In 1998, although hunting activities continued, it was being 
conducted secretly, as opposed to occurring more openly as was found in 
1991 (Marsh et al. 2002).
    On October 31, 2002, a new law was passed in Palau to help protect 
the dugong. It sharply increased penalties and may be more effective in 
deterring poachers than the previous law. First-time offenders now face 
a $5,000 to $10,000 fine and a jail term of 3 months to 1 year. Each 
subsequent offense can result in a fine of $10,000 to $20,000 and a 
jail sentence of 6 months to 3 years. The government can seize the 
dugong or part of the dugong that was taken in violation of the law as 
well as any assets used in the taking of the dugong, including boats, 
cars, and nets. The new law also encourages citizens to protect dugongs 
by lodging complaints against violators. If the case is won, the 
citizen responsible for the complaint can receive any expenses incurred 
in the action and a reward of 50 percent of any fine actually collected 
from the violator. In addition, the new law calls for the establishment 
of educational programs for Palauan citizens and the general public 
about the dugong. Finally, there is a section that requires the 
completion of Environmental Impact Statements before any new 
development occurring in dugong habitat. This would allow the Ministry 
of Resources and Development or the Environmental Quality Protection 
Board to deny any construction permits or require appropriate 
mitigation if dugong habitats are adversely affected.
    As discussed, the Republic of Palau has significantly strengthened 
its legislation banning dugong hunting.

[[Page 70189]]

Poaching, which is considered to be the most serious threat to dugongs 
in Palau, needs to be stopped if dugong are to survive in this area. 
However, the strengthening of any law must also be accompanied by 
effective enforcement. The effectiveness of this new law is unknown at 
this time.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

    Fishing and boating activities around dugong populations could have 
potential impacts on the species. In Palau, mortality of dugongs caused 
by collisions with speedboats has not been a major problem. However, 
this has the potential to become a problem in Malakal Harbor, which is 
an important dugong area (Marsh et al. 2002). Additionally, there is 
some circumstantial evidence that dugongs cease to use previously 
favored habitats when the volume of boat traffic becomes high (Marsh 
and Lawler 1998). In Palau, this boat traffic may be from recreational 
or fishing boats. In many other parts of the world, dugongs often drown 
in gill nets (Paterson 1990). In Palau, fishermen have the knowledge 
and gear to catch dugongs in this manner. However, they do not 
purposely use their fishing gear to catch dugongs because of the 
potential for damage to their nets (Marsh and Lawler 1998).


    In developing this rule, we have carefully assessed the best 
scientific and commercial information available regarding the past, 
present, and future threats facing this species. The dugong population 
in Palau is imperiled primarily by poaching activities. The current 
small population found in this area is unlikely to be able to sustain 
the current level of poaching. It is believed that Palauan waters 
support one of the most isolated populations of dugong in the world, 
and it is unlikely that this population is receiving any recruitment 
from other areas. Currently, the dugong is listed under the Act as 
endangered throughout its entire range, except in the Republic of 
Palau. This species is in danger of extinction ``throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range'' (section 3(6) of the Act), and 
because of the high potential that these threats could result in the 
extinction of the dugong in Palau, the preferred action is to list the 
population of dugong in the Republic of Palau as endangered. This 
action will result in the classification of the entire species of 
dugong as endangered, wherever it occurs.

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the Act include recognition of conservation status, 
requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain 
practices. Recognition through listing encourages and results in 
conservation actions by Federal, State, and private agencies and 
groups, and individuals. The protection required of Federal agencies 
and the prohibitions against take and harm are discussed, in part, 
    Section 7(a) of the Act, as amended, and as implemented by 
regulations at 50 CFR part 402, requires Federal agencies to evaluate 
their actions that are to be conducted within the United States or upon 
the high seas, with respect to any species that is proposed to be 
listed or is listed as endangered or threatened and with respect to its 
proposed or designated critical habitat, if any is being designated. 
Because the dugong is not native to the United States, no critical 
habitat is being proposed for designation with this rule. Regulations 
implementing the interagency cooperation provision of the Act are 
codified at 50 CFR part 402. Section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires 
Federal agencies to ensure that activities they authorize, fund, or 
carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a 
listed species or to destroy or adversely modify its critical habitat. 
If a proposed Federal action may affect a listed species, the 
responsible Federal agency must enter into formal consultation with the 
Service. Currently, with respect to the dugong, no Federal activities 
are known that would require conferral or consultation.
    Section 8(a) of the Act authorizes the provision of limited 
financial assistance for the development and management of programs 
that the Secretary of the Interior determines to be necessary or useful 
for the conservation of endangered species in foreign countries. 
Sections 8(b) and 8(c) of the Act authorize the Secretary to encourage 
conservation programs for foreign endangered species, and to provide 
assistance for such programs, in the form of personnel and the training 
of personnel.
    The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of 
general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to all endangered 
wildlife. As such, these prohibitions are applicable to the population 
of dugong in Palau. These prohibitions, in part, make it illegal for 
any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to ``take'' 
(includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, 
capture, or to attempt any of these) within the United States or upon 
the high seas; import or export; deliver, receive, carry, transport, or 
ship in interstate commerce in the course of commercial activity; or 
sell or offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce any endangered 
wildlife species. It also is illegal to possess, sell, deliver, carry, 
transport, or ship any such wildlife that has been taken in violation 
of the Act. Certain exceptions apply to agents of the Service and State 
conservation agencies.
    Permits may be issued to carry out otherwise prohibited activities 
involving endangered wildlife species under certain circumstances. 
Regulations governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 17.22. With regard 
to endangered wildlife, a permit may be issued for the following 
purposes: for scientific purposes, to enhance the propagation or 
survival of the species, and for incidental take in connection with 
otherwise lawful activities.

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have determined that Environmental Assessments and Environmental 
Impact Statements, as defined under the authority of the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, need not be prepared in connection 
with regulations adopted pursuant to section 4(a) of the Act. A notice 
outlining our reasons for this determination was published in the 
Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

References Cited

Anderson, P., and A. Birtles. 1978. Behavior and ecology of the 
dugong, Dugong dugon (Sirenia): observations in Shoalwater and 
Cleveland Bays, Queensland. Australian Wildlife Resources 5:1-23.
Anderson, P. K., and R. I. T. Prince. 1985. Predation on dugongs: 
attacks by killer whales. Journal of Mammology 66:554-556.
Brownell, R.L., P. K. Anderson, R. P. Owen, and K. Ralls. 1981. The 
status of dugongs at Palau, an isolated island group. In H. Marsh 
(ed.): The Dugong: Proceedings of a Seminar/Workshop held at James 
Cook University 8-13 May 1979. Department of Zoology, James Cook 
University of North Queensland, Townsville, Australia. Pp. 11-23.
Brownell, R. L., J. Engbring, K. Ralls, and G. B. Rathbun. 1988. 
Status of dugongs in waters around Palau. Marine Mammal Science 
Bryden, M., H. Marsh, and P. Shaughnessy. 1998. Dugongs, Whales, 
Dolphins and Seals. A Guide to the Sea Mammals of Australasia. Allen 
and Unwin: St. Leonards NSW.
Central Intelligence Agency. 2002. The World Factbook. On-line at: 

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    The primary author of this notice is Eleanora Babij, Division of 
Scientific Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (see ADDRESSES 
section; telephone 703/358-1708).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

    Accordingly, 50 CFR chapter I is amended as follows:


1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544; 16 U.S.C. 
4201-4245; Pub. L. 99-625, 100 Stat. 3500; unless otherwise noted.

2. Amend Sec.  17.11(h) by revising the following entry under Mammals 
in the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife:

Sec.  17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

                        Species                                                    Vertebrate
--------------------------------------------------------                        population where                       When       Critical     Special
                                                            Historic range       endangered or         Status         listed      habitat       rules
           Common name                Scientific name                              threatened

                                                                      * * * * * * *
Dugong...........................  Dugong dugon........  East Africa to       Entire.............  E                     4,740           NA          NA.
                                                          southern Japan,
                                                          including Palau.

                                                                      * * * * * * *

    Dated: October 16, 2003.
Marshall P. Jones, Jr.,
Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 03-31126 Filed 12-16-03; 8:45 am]