NOAA Fisheries has accepted a request from the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) to review the available scientific evidence and determine if current designated critical habitat for Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW), as guided by the Endangered Species Act, should be revised and expanded.
The CBD filed a petition with NOAA Fisheries on January 21. The petition seeks to expand the existing SRKW critical habitat in the inland waters of Washington (approximately 2500 square miles) to also include foraging and wintering areas along the West Coast of the United States. CBD also requested that NOAA Fisheries consider sound as an important feature of existing and expanded critical habitat areas.
NOAA Fisheries has one year from the date of the petition to gather additional scientific and commercial information to fully evaluate the petitioner’s request. The agency will publish the results of its analysis and may find the petition either “not warranted” or “warranted” with a determination on how to proceed (i.e., plans for developing a proposed rule).
Any person interested in submitting information, comments or data, may do so by June 24, 2014 by one of the following methods:
· Electronic Submission – Via the e-Rulemaking Portal using keyword “NOAA-NMFS-2014-0041” and clicking “Comment Now!” icon.
· Mail or hand-delivery: NMFS, West Coast Region, Protected Resources Division, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115 Attn: Lynne Barre, Seattle Branch Chief
For further information contact: Lynne Barre, NMFS West Coast Region, 206-526-4745; or Dwayne Meadows, NMFS Office of Protected Resources, 301-427-8403.
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