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Notice

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Notice of Suspension of Trade in Threatened Beluga Sturgeon (Huso huso

Action

Notice.

Summary

We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), give notice that we are suspending import of and foreign commerce in beluga sturgeon (Huso huso) caviar and meat originating in the Caspian Sea littoral states of Azerbaijan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, and Turkmenistan effective immediately. This suspension includes shipments that have been exported directly from these countries, re-exported through an intermediary country, or transported as personal or household effects, and it prohibits foreign commerce in the course of a commercial activity. We are taking this action under the special rule that was promulgated to control the trade of threatened beluga sturgeon (Huso huso) (70 FR 10493; March 4, 2005). Interstate commerce in beluga sturgeon caviar or meat from the Caspian Sea basin that was legally imported into the United States before the trade suspension is not prohibited.

 

Table of Contents Back to Top

DATES: Back to Top

This notice is effective September 30, 2005.

ADDRESSES: Back to Top

Caspian Sea littoral states wishing to provide information that may allow us to lift this trade suspension may submit it by any one of several methods:

1. You may submit written information to Robert R. Gabel, Chief, Division of Scientific Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 750, Arlington, Virginia 22203.

2. You may hand-deliver written information to the Division of Scientific Authority, at the above address, or fax your comments to (703) 358-2276.

3. You may send information by electronic mail (e-mail) to ScientificAuthority@fws.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Back to Top

For further information pertaining to compliance with the special rule, contact Robert R. Gabel, Chief, Division of Scientific Authority, at the address above; telephone, (703) 358-1708; fax, (703) 358-2276. For further information on application procedures and requirements for threatened species permits, contact the Division of Management Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 700, Arlington, Virginia 22203; telephone, (703) 358-2104; fax, (703) 358-2281.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Back to Top

On April 21, 2004, we listed beluga sturgeon as threatened (69 FR 21425) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) (Act). We subsequently published a special rule concerning beluga sturgeon (70 FR 10493; March 4, 2005) under section 4(d) of the Act. The special rule, located at 50 CFR 17.44(y) of our regulations, promotes the conservation of the species by allowing the import, export or re-export, and interstate and foreign commerce of beluga sturgeon caviar and meat, without threatened species permits otherwise required under 50 CFR 17.32, from littoral states in the Caspian and Black Sea basins that demonstrate progress on measures to protect and recover the species. The special rule requires countries wishing to export beluga sturgeon caviar or meat to the United States under this exemption to provide, by September 6, 2005, copies of basin-wide cooperative management plans for beluga sturgeon agreed to by all littoral states in the Black Sea or Caspian Sea basin along with copies of national laws and regulations implementing the management plans.

Import of and foreign commerce in Caspian Sea beluga sturgeon suspended. We have not received a management plan or copies of national laws and regulations from any of the littoral states in the Caspian Sea basin. Azerbaijan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, and Turkmenistan have therefore failed to meet the conditions of the special rule. As a result, beluga sturgeon caviar (including products containing caviar, such as cosmetics) and meat from these countries are no longer eligible for the exemption from threatened species permits provided by the special rule. Therefore, you may not import or re-export, sell or offer for sale in foreign commerce, or deliver, receive, carry, transport, or ship in foreign commerce in the course of a commercial activity any beluga sturgeon caviar or meat from these Caspian Sea countries on or after the effective date of this Federal Register notice (see DATES section) without a threatened species permit. Beluga sturgeon caviar or meat originating in these countries that has been shipped on or after the effective date of this Federal Register notice (see DATES section) without a threatened species permit issued under 50 CFR 17.32 will be refused clearance upon arrival in the United States, including shipments that have been exported directly from the countries listed above in this paragraph, re-exported through an intermediary country, or transported as personal or household effects.

Threatened species permits may only be issued for beluga sturgeon from the Caspian Sea basin if we determine that the proposed import, re-export, or interstate or foreign commerce would meet the regulatory requirements in 50 CFR 17.32. Applicants must demonstrate that their proposed activities would provide for the conservation of the species.

Beluga sturgeon products legally imported before the trade suspension. Beluga sturgeon caviar or meat from Azerbaijan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, or Turkmenistan that was legally imported into the United States prior to the trade suspension will continue to be authorized for interstate commerce under the special rule without a threatened species permit. Due to the perishable nature of sturgeon caviar and meat, the exemption for interstate commerce in beluga sturgeon caviar and meat legally imported prior to the trade suspension will continue for a period of no more than 18 months after the date of issuance of the original Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) export permit, in accordance with the CITES resolution on the “Conservation of and trade in sturgeons and paddlefish” (Resolution Conf. 12.7 (Rev. CoP13)). Individuals should maintain accurate records to be able to demonstrate that their beluga sturgeon caviar and meat were legally imported prior to the trade suspension.

Conditions for lifting of the trade suspension. Under the special rule, if the littoral states fail to submit a basin-wide management plan for beluga sturgeon, or if we are unable to confirm that all littoral states in the basin are signatories to the plan, we will immediately suspend trade with all littoral states in the basin until we are satisfied that such a management plan exists. Likewise, under the special rule, if the littoral states fail to submit copies of national laws and regulations that implement the basin-wide management plan, we will immediately suspend trade with the given littoral states until we are satisfied that such laws and regulations are in effect. For us to consider lifting the trade suspension, the littoral states of the Caspian Sea basin must submit a basin-wide management plan for beluga sturgeon, agreed to by all littoral states in the basin. In addition, each littoral state wishing to export beluga sturgeon caviar and meat to the United States under the exemption provided by the special rule must submit copies of their national laws and regulations that implement the basin-wide plan. Information on how to submit such materials is located in the ADDRESSES section.

Black Sea basin. We are in the process of reviewing information received from littoral states in the Black Sea basin. In accordance with the special rule, trade may continue from the littoral states of the Black Sea that have declared export quotas for beluga sturgeon (i.e., Bulgaria, Romania, and Serbia and Montenegro), as required under CITES, while we complete our review.

Aquaculture facilities. The special rule allows aquaculture facilities outside the Caspian and Black Sea basins to obtain an exemption from threatened species permits otherwise required under 50 CFR 17.32 if they meet certain conditions. We have not yet received any requests for such an exemption. Under the special rule, there is no deadline for receipt of applications from aquaculture facilities seeking an exemption.

Authority: Back to Top

The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

Dated: September 22, 2005.

Craig Manson,

Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.

[FR Doc. 05-19580 Filed 9-29-05; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4310-55-P

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