[Federal Register: February 6, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 25)]
[Page 6994-6996]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Marine Mammal Protection Act; Stock Assessment Reports

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of draft revised marine mammal stock 
assessment reports for three stocks of northern sea otters in Alaska; 
request for comments.


SUMMARY: In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), 
the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has developed draft revised 
marine mammal stock assessment reports for the three stocks of northern 
sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) in Alaska, which are available for 
public review and comment.

DATES: Comments must be received by May 6, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the draft revised stock assessment reports for 
northern sea otters in Alaska are available from the Marine Mammals 
Management Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1011 East Tudor 
Road, Anchorage, AK 99503 (800) 362-5148.
    If you wish to submit comments on the draft revised stock 
assessment reports for northern sea otters in Alaska, you may do so by 
either of the following methods:
    1. You may submit written comments to the Manager, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Marine Mammals Management Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 1011 East Tudor Road, Anchorage, AK 99503.
    2. You may hand-deliver written comments to our Marine Mammals 
Management Office at the above address during normal business hours 
from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or you may fax your 
comments to 907/786-3816.

[[Page 6995]]

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 
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 reports 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 
assessments, as appropriate. We will publish a notice of availability 
and summary of the final stock assessments, 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 Reports for Three U.S. Northern Sea Otter Stocks.
                                                                                                    Annual 5-year
                                                                                                   estimated human-
                                                                                       Serious     caused mortality
                     Stock                          Nmin     Rmax     Fr       PBR      injury -----------------------            Stock status
                                                                                                  Other   Subsistence
Northern sea otters (Southeast AK).............      9,136    0.20     1.0        914        0        0          322   Non-strategic
Northern sea otters (Southcentral AK)..........     12,774    0.20     1.0      1,277        0        0          346   Non-strategic
Northern sea otters (southwest AK).............     38,703    0.20    0.25        968        0      0.2           91   Strategic

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    Dated: January 29, 2008.
H. Dale Hall,
Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 08-498 Filed 2-5-08; 8:45 am]