[Federal Register: January 20, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 12)]
[Page 3067-3068]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
[I.D. 010799B]


Fish and Wildlife Service

Availability of an Annual Report on Implementation of the 
Conservation Plan for Atlantic Salmon in Seven Maine Rivers

AGENCIES: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic 
and Atmospheric Administration, Commerce; Fish and Wildlife Service 
(FWS), Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.


SUMMARY: The State of Maine has submitted to NMFS and FWS (the 
Services) the draft annual report on its 1998 implementation of the 
Atlantic Salmon Conservation Plan for Seven Maine Rivers (Conservation 

DATES: Written comments should be received on or before March 8, 1999.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Mary Colligan, NMFS, 
Protected Resources Division, One Blackburn Drive, Gloucester, MA 
01930. Written comments may also be sent by facsimile to (978) 281-

address (978-281-9116) or Paul Nickerson, FWS, Region 5, Endangered 
Species Division, 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley, MA 01035 (413-253-

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Services are soliciting comments from 
the public on the adequacy of the protective measures in place, 
implementation activities during 1998, and the effect of these 
protective measures on Atlantic salmon and their habitat. The Services 
are particularly interested in assistance in determining whether the 
protective measures in place, including the provisions of the 
Conservation Plan, remain adequate to protect the species in light of 
current knowledge. After public comments and comments from the Services 
are addressed by the State of Maine in the final annual report, the 
Services will update the 1995 Atlantic salmon status review. If that 
update indicates that the species is now in danger of extinction or 
likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future, the Services 
will promptly issue a proposed listing under the Endangered Species Act 

[[Page 3068]]

Availability of Documents

    Copies of the draft annual report on implementation of the 
Conservation Plan may be obtained from the individuals identified under 

Background Information

    On December 18, 1997, the Services withdrew a proposed rule to list 
a distinct population segment (DPS) of Atlantic salmon in seven Maine 
Rivers as ``threatened'' under the ESA (62 FR 66325). In reaching the 
determination, the Services considered the status of the Atlantic 
salmon in the seven Maine Rivers. This evaluation took into account the 
efforts being made to protect the species, the extent of implementation 
of the Conservation Plan, private and Federal efforts to restore the 
species, and international efforts to control ocean harvest through the 
North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization. The Services 
determined that ongoing actions, including those identified in the 
Conservation Plan, substantially reduced threats to the species and 
that these ongoing actions would rehabilitate the seven rivers DPS. 
Based on this analysis, the Services determined that the seven rivers 
DPS of Atlantic salmon was not likely to become endangered in the 
foreseeable future, and, therefore, listing under the ESA was not 
warranted. In addition, the Services renamed the seven rivers DPS the 
``Gulf of Maine DPS'' in recognition of the possibility that other 
populations of Atlantic salmon could be added to the DPS in the future. 
The Services stated that other populations of Atlantic salmon would be 
added if they were found to be naturally reproducing and to have 
historical river-specific characteristics. The area within which 
populations of Atlantic salmon would be most likely to meet the 
criteria for inclusion was identified as ranging from the Kennebec 
River north to, but not including, the St. Croix River.
    In the withdrawal notice, the Services committed to making the 
annual report on Conservation Plan implementation available for review 
to the public in order to keep interested parties informed and to 
provide an opportunity for review and comment. The NMFS retained the 
Gulf of Maine DPS of Atlantic salmon on its list of candidate species, 
and the Services committed to maintaining oversight over the species 
under the ESA. Specifically, the Services stated that the process for 
listing the Gulf of Maine DPS would be reinitiated if (1) an emergency 
which poses a significant risk to the well-being of the Gulf of Maine 
DPS is identified and not immediately and adequately addressed, (2) the 
biological status of the Gulf of Maine DPS is such that the DPS is in 
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its 
range, or (3) the biological status of the Gulf of Maine DPS is such 
that the DPS is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future 
throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Further, the 
notice stated that the circumstances described under (1), (2), and (3) 
could be the result of insufficient progress in implementation of the 
Conservation Plan; a failure to modify the Conservation Plan to address 
new threats or an increase in the severity of threats; a failure to 
modify the Conservation Plan, if necessary, to address threats facing 
any other populations added to the Gulf of Maine DPS in the future; or 
the inability of the State of Maine to address threats. The notice 
stated that a decision to reinitiate the listing process would be made 
shortly after the end of an annual reporting period.
    The annual review of the Conservation Plan is part of the Services' 
broader comprehensive review of the species' status relative to the 
ESA. In determining whether a species is threatened or endangered, the 
Services examine the effect of five factors on the species' status. 
These five factors are: (1) the present or threatened destruction, 
modification, or curtailment of habitat or range; (2) overutilization 
for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (3) 
disease or predation; (4) inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; 
or (5) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
    In order to assist the Services in their review, specific 
information is requested on how these threats may have changed in 
severity since December, 1997. The Services are requesting specific 
suggestions for appropriate modifications to the Conservation Plan and 
request that those suggestions be accompanied with justification as to 
how the proposed actions benefit Atlantic salmon. In addition to the 
draft annual report on the Conservation Plan, comments are requested on 
the adequacy of the other protective measures in place for Atlantic 
salmon and whether these measures remain adequate to protect the 
species in light of current knowledge. The principal other protective 
measures include the river-specific hatchery stocking program and the 
North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO) ocean harvest 
agreements. All comments received, including names and addresses, will 
become part of the administrative record and may be made available to 
the public.
    The Services will review all comments on the draft annual report 
submitted by the public and provide a summary of those, along with 
their own comments, to the State of Maine in early March, shortly after 
the close of the comment period. The Services have requested a final 
annual report from the State of Maine by March 31, 1999. By April 30, 
1999, the Services will update the 1995 Atlantic salmon status review. 
If that update indicates that the species is now in danger of 
extinction or likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future, 
the Services will promptly issue a proposed listing under the ESA.

    Dated: January 14, 1999.
Ann D. Terbush,
Acting Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    Dated: January 12, 1999.
Gerry A. Jackson,
Assistant Director - Ecological Services, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 99-1228 Filed 1-19-99; 8:45 am]