[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 60 (Thursday, March 28, 2013)]
[Pages 19002-19004]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-07157]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2012-0081; FF04EF1000 123 FX.ES11130400000D2]

Marine Mammal Protection Act; Draft Revised Stock Assessment 
Reports for Two Stocks of West Indian Manatee

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.


SUMMARY: In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, 
as amended (MMPA), and its implementing regulations, we, the U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service (Service) have developed draft revised marine 
mammal stock assessment reports (SAR) for two West Indian manatee 
stocks: the Puerto Rico stock of Antillean manatees and the Florida 
manatee stock. We now make the SARs available for public review and 

DATES: Comments must be received by June 26, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Document Availability: You may view the draft revised stock 
assessment reports on http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-
R4-ES-2012-0081. You may also view them in Adobe Acrobat format at 
http://www.fws.gov/caribbean/es/manatee.html (Puerto Rico stock) or at 
http://www.fws.gov/northflorida/ (Florida stock). Alternatively, you 
may contact the Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Caribbean Ecological Services Office, P.O. Box 491, Boquer[oacute]n, PR 
00622; telephone: 787-851-7297 (Puerto Rico stock) or the Field 
Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, North Florida Ecological 
Services Office, 7915 Baymeadows Way, Suite 200, Jacksonville, FL 
32256-7517; telephone: 904-731-3336 (Florida stock).
    Written Comments: You may submit comments on the draft revised 
stock assessment reports by one of the following methods:
     U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, 
Attn: Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2012-0081; Division of Policy and Directives 
Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 
2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203; or
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. FWS-R4-
    Please indicate to which revised stock assessment report(s)--the 
Antillean manatee or Florida manatee--your comments apply. We will not 
accept email or faxes. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any 
personal information you provide us.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jan Zegarra, Caribbean Ecological 
Services Field Office, 787-851-7297, ext. 220 (telephone), for 
information about the draft revised SAR for the Puerto Rico stock of 
Antillean manatees, and Jim Valade, North Florida Ecological Services 
Office, 904-731-3116 (telephone), for information about the draft 
revised SAR for the Florida manatee. Persons who use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf may call the Federal Information 
Relay Service at 800-877-8339.



    We announce for review and comment the availability of draft 
revised marine mammal stock assessment reports (SAR) for the Puerto 
Rico stock of Antillean manatees (Trichechus manatus manatus) and the 
Florida manatee stock (Trichechus manatus latirostris).
    Under the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) and its implementing 
regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 50 CFR part 18, 
we regulate the taking, possession, transportation, purchasing, 
selling, offering for sale, exporting, and importing of marine mammals. 
One of the goals of the MMPA is to ensure that stocks of marine mammals 
occurring in waters under U.S. jurisdiction 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 under the MMPA 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'' (16 
U.S.C. 1362(3)(9)).
    To help accomplish the goal of maintaining marine mammal stocks at 
their OSPs, section 117 of the MMPA requires the Service and the 
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to prepare a SAR for each 
marine mammal stock that occurs in waters under U.S. jurisdiction. Each 
SAR must include:
    1. A description of the stock and its geographic range;
    2. A minimum population estimate, maximum net productivity rate, 
and current population trend;
    3. An estimate of human-caused mortality and serious injury;

[[Page 19003]]

    4. A description of commercial fishery interactions;
    5. A categorization of the status of the stock; and
    6. An estimate of the potential biological removal (PBR) level.
    The MMPA defines the PBR 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'' (16 
U.S.C. 1362(3)(20)). 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. This can be written as:

PBR = (Nmin)(\1/2\ of the Rmax)(Fr)

    Section 117 of the MMPA requires the Service and NMFS to review the 
SARs (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. If our review of the status of a stock indicates that it 
has changed or may be more accurately determined, the SAR must be 
revised accordingly.
    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 
PBR 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.) [the ``ESA''], within the foreseeable future; or (c) 
which is listed as a threatened or endangered species under the ESA, or 
is designated as depleted under [the MMPA]'' (16 U.S.C. 1362(3)(19)).
    SARs for both the Puerto Rico stock of Antillean manatees and the 
Florida manatee were last revised on December 30, 2009. Both are 
classified as strategic stocks by virtue of their listing as an 
endangered species under the ESA. The Service reviewed the SARs in 2010 
and concluded that a revision of these SARs was not warranted at that 
time because the status of these stocks had not changed since 2009, nor 
could they be more accurately determined. Upon subsequent review in 
2011, the Service determined that revision was warranted for both 
stocks. These draft revised SARs have been written in consideration of 
the best scientific information available with advice from the Atlantic 
Scientific Review Group.
    The following table summarizes the information we are now making 
available in the draft revised stock assessment reports for the Puerto 
Rico stock of Antillean manatees and Florida manatees, which lists the 
stock's Nmin, Rmax, Fr, PBR, annual 
estimated human-caused mortality and serious injury, and status. After 
consideration of any public comments we receive, the Service will 
revise and finalize the SARs as appropriate for these stocks. We will 
publish a notice of availability and summary of the final SARs, 
including responses to submitted comments.

                                  Summary: Draft Revised Stock Assessment Reports for the Antillean and Florida Manatee
           West Indian manatee stocks                 Nmin         Rmax           Fr          PBR       human-caused              Stock status
                                                                                                        mortality (5-
                                                                                                       year  average)
Antillean manatees (Puerto Rico)................          178         0.04           0.1            0               3  Strategic.
Florida manatees................................        4,834         0.062          0.1           14              94  Strategic.

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.


    In accordance with section 117(b)(1) of the MMPA, we include in 
this notice a list of the sources of information or published reports 
upon which we based the draft revised SAR. The Service consulted 
technical reports, conference proceedings, refereed journal 
publications, and scientific studies prepared or issued by Federal 
agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and individuals with expertise 
in the fields of marine mammal biology and ecology, population 
dynamics, modeling, and commercial fishing practices.
    These agencies and organizations include: The Service, the U.S. 
Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 
the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, the 
Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Florida Fish and Wildlife 
Conservation Commission, Hubbs Sea World Research Institute, the Gulf 
and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, the Caribbean Stranding Network, and 
Mote Marine Laboratory. In addition, the Service consulted publications 
such as the Journal of Wildlife Management, Marine Mammal Science, 
Marine Pollution Bulletin, Marine Technology Society Journal, Wildlife 
Monographs, Gulf and Caribbean Research, Journal of Zoo and Wildlife 
Medicine, Molecular Ecology, and Molecular Ecology Notes, as well as 
other refereed journal literature, technical reports, and data sources 
in the development of these SARs.
    A complete list of citations to the scientific literature relied on 
for each of these SARs is available on the Federal eRulemaking portal 
(http://www.regulations.gov) under Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2012-0081. The 
list can also be viewed in Adobe Acrobat format at http://www.fws.gov/caribbean/es/manatee.html or at http://www.fws.gov/northflorida/.
    In the past the Service has published a complete list of citations 
to each technical report, scientific paper, and journal publication 
upon which the draft revised SAR is based at the end of the notice of 
availability. However, in order for the public to more easily 
understand how the agency has used and interpreted the sources relied 
upon in the draft revised SARs, the Service is making the complete list 
of literature citations available at the end of each of the draft 
revised SARs. In recognition that the public typically reviews our 
draft SARs, or any revision thereof, in conjunction with the list of 
supporting literature citations found at the end of draft SARs, the 
Service believes it is unnecessary to additionally publish the complete 
list of references in this notice

[[Page 19004]]

of availability. Instead, we are only including the complete list of 
references at the end of the draft revised SARs, which is available to 
the public through the Government's regulations portal and our own Web 
pages (see ADDRESSES section above).


    The authority for this action is the Marine Mammal Protection Act 
of 1972, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1361 et al.).

    Dated: March 14, 2013.
Stephen Guertin,
Deputy Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-07157 Filed 3-27-13; 8:45 am]