[Federal Register: April 17, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 75)]
[Page 20931-20932]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R9-FHC-2008-N0084; 13410-1124-0000-K2]

Marine Mammal Protection Act; Stock Assessment Report

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of draft revised marine mammal stock 
assessment report for the northern sea otter stock in Washington State; 
request for comments.


SUMMARY: In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), 
the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has developed a draft revised 
marine mammal stock assessment report for the northern sea otter 
(Enhydra lutris kenyoni) stock in Washington State, which is available 
for public review and comment.

DATES: Comments must be received by July 16, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the draft revised stock assessment report for the 
northern sea otter in Washington State are available from the Manager, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Western Washington Fish and Wildlife 
Office, 510 Desmond Drive, SE., Suite 102, Lacey, WA 98503, (360) 753-
9440. It can also be viewed in Adobe Acrobat at http://www.fws.gov/
    If you wish to submit comments on the draft revised stock 
assessment report for the northern sea otter in Washington State, you 
may do so by any of the following methods:
    1. You may mail or hand-deliver (during normal business hours) 
written comments to the Manager, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Western Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, 510 Desmond Drive, SE., 
Suite 102, Lacey, WA 98503.
    2. You may fax your comments to (360) 753-9405.
    3. You may send comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: One of the goals of the MMPA is to ensure 
that stocks of marine mammals occurring in waters under the 
jurisdiction of the United States do not experience a level of human-
caused mortality and serious injury that is likely to cause the stock 
to be reduced below its optimum sustainable population level (OSP). OSP 
is defined as ``* * * the number of animals which will result in the 
maximum productivity of the population or the species, keeping in mind 
the carrying capacity of the habitat and the health of the ecosystem of 
which they form a constituent element.''
    To help accomplish the goal of maintaining marine mammal stocks at 
their OSPs, section 117 of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361-1407) requires the 
Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to prepare

[[Page 20932]]

stock assessment reports for each marine mammal stock that occurs in 
waters under the jurisdiction of the United States. These stock 
assessments are to be based on the best scientific information 
available and are, therefore, prepared in consultation with established 
regional scientific review groups. Each stock assessment must include: 
(1) A description of the stock and its geographic range; (2) minimum 
population estimate, maximum net productivity rate, and current 
population trend; (3) estimate of human-caused mortality and serious 
injury; (4) commercial fishery interactions; (5) status of the stock; 
and (6) potential biological removal level (PBR). The PBR is defined as 
`` * * * the maximum number of animals, not including natural 
mortalities, that may be removed from a marine mammal stock while 
allowing that stock to reach or maintain its OSP.'' The PBR is the 
product of the minimum population estimate of the stock (Nmin), one-
half the maximum theoretical or estimated net productivity rate of the 
stock at a small population size (Rmax); and a recovery factor (Fr) of 
between 0.1 and 1.0, which is intended to compensate for uncertainty 
and unknown estimation errors.
    Section 117 of the MMPA also requires the Service and the NMFS to 
review and revise the stock assessment reports: (A) At least annually 
for stocks that are specified as strategic stocks; (B) at least 
annually for stocks for which significant new information is available; 
and (C) at least once every 3 years for all other stocks.
    A strategic stock is defined in the MMPA as a marine mammal stock: 
(A) For which the level of direct human-caused mortality exceeds the 
potential biological removal level; (B) which, based on the best 
available scientific information, is declining and is likely to be 
listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), within the foreseeable 
future; or (C) which is listed as a threatened or endangered species 
under the Endangered Species Act, or is designated as depleted under 
the MMPA.
    A summary of the draft revised stock assessment report for northern 
sea otters in Washington State is presented in Table 1. The table lists 
the stock's Nmin, Rmax, Fr, PBR, 
annual estimated human-caused mortality and serious injury, and the 
status. After consideration of any public comments received, the 
Service will revise the stock assessment, as appropriate. We will 
publish a notice of availability and summary of the final stock 
assessment, including responses to the comments received.
    In accordance with the MMPA, a list of the sources of information 
or public reports upon which the assessment is based is included in 
this notice.

                     Table 1.--Summary of Draft Revised Stock Assessment Report for the Northern Sea Otter Stock in Washington State
                                                                             Annual estimated average human-caused
                 Stock                     Nmin     Rmax      Fr      PBR                  mortality                            Stock status
Northern sea otters (Washington State).      790     0.20      0.1        8  Unknown..............................  Non-Strategic.

List of References

COSEWIC 2007. COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the sea 
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Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. vii + 36 pp. (http://
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historical abundance of sea otters in California. Endangered Species 
Update 13(12):79-81.
Estes, J. A. 1990. Growth and equilibrium in sea otter populations. 
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Gearin, P.J., M. E. Gosho, J. Laake, and R. L. Delong. 1996. 
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involving sea otters (Enhydra lutris [L.] in Washington State 
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Lance, M.M., S.A. Richardson, and H. Allen. 2004. State of 
Washington sea otter recovery plan. WDFW, Olympia, WA. 91 pp.
Riedman, M. L., and J. A. Estes. 1990. The sea otter (Enhydra 
lutris): behavior, ecology, and natural history. U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C., Biological Report 90(14). 126 
Scheffer, V.B. 1940. The sea otter on the Washington coast. Pacific 
Northwest Quarterly, 3:370-388.
Taylor, B.L., M. Scott, J. Heyning, and J. Barlow. 2002. Suggested 
guidelines for recovery factors for endangered marine mammals. 
Unpublished report submitted to the Pacific Scientific Review Group. 
7 pp.
U.S. Department of Commerce (USDC). National Marine Fisheries 
Service 2003. Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardsi): Washington 
inland waters stock, stock assessment report. 6 pp.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2003. Final revised recovery plan 
for the southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis). Portland, 
Oregon. xi + 165 pp.
Watson, J.C. 2000. The effects of sea otters (Enhydra lutris) on 
abalone (Haliotis spp.) populations. Pages 123-132 In: Workshop on 
rebuilding abalone stocks in British Columbia. Ed. A. Campbell. 
Canadian Special Publication of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 130 
Wilson, D. E., M. A. Bogan, R. L. Brownell, Jr., A. M. Burdin, and 
M. K. Maminov. 1991. Geographic variation in sea otters, Enhydra 
lutris. J. Mammal. 72(1):22-36.

    Dated: April 11, 2008.
Pamela A. Matthes,
Acting Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
 [FR Doc. E8-8209 Filed 4-16-08; 8:45 am]