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Notice

Taking and Importing of Marine Mammals

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION:

Notice of affirmative finding renewal.

SUMMARY:

The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NMFS, (Assistant Administrator) renewed the affirmative finding for the Government of Mexico under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) on April 19, 2001. The renewal of Mexico’s affirmative finding allows for the continued importation into the United States of yellowfin tuna and yellowfin tuna products harvested in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean (ETP) after March 3, 1999, by Mexican-flag purse seine vessels or vessels operating with greater than 400 short tons (362.8 metric tons (mt)) carrying capacity under Mexican jurisdiction. The affirmative finding renewal was based on review of documentary evidence submitted by the Government of Mexico and obtained from the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) and the Department of State. This finding remains in effect through March 31, 2002.

DATES:

Effective April 1, 2001, through March 31, 2002.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Regional Administrator, Southwest Region, NMFS, 501 West Ocean Boulevard, Suite 4200, Long Beach, California, 90802-4213; Phone 562-980-4000; Fax 562-980-4018.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The MMPA, 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq., as amended by the International Dolphin Conservation Program Act (IDCPA) (Pub. L. No. 105-42, 111 Stat. 1122 (1997)), allows the entry into the United States of yellowfin tuna harvested by purse seine vessels in the ETP under certain conditions. If requested by the harvesting nation, the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NMFS (Assistant Administrator), will determine whether to make an affirmative finding based upon documentary evidence provided by the government of the harvesting nation, the IATTC, or the Department of State. A finding will remain valid for 1 year (April 1 through March 31) or for such other period as the Assistant Administrator may determine. An affirmative finding applies to tuna and tuna products that were harvested in the ETP by purse seine vessels of the nation and applies to any tuna harvested in the ETP purse seine fishery after March 3, 1999, the effective date of the IDCPA.

The affirmative finding process requires that the harvesting nation meet several conditions related to compliance with the International Dolphin Conservation Program (IDCP). A nation may opt to provide information regarding compliance with the IDCP directly to NMFS on an annual basis or to authorize the IATTC to release the information to NMFS in years when NMFS will review and consider whether to issue an affirmative finding determination without an application from the harvesting nation.

An affirmative finding will be terminated, in consultation with the Secretary of State, if the Assistant Administrator determines that the requirements of 50 CFR 216.24(f)(9) are no longer being met or that a nation is consistently failing to take enforcement actions on violations which diminish the effectiveness of the IDCP. Every 5 years, the government of the harvesting nation must request an affirmative finding and submit the required documentary evidence directly to the Assistant Administrator.

As a part of the annual review process set forth in 50 CFR 216.24 (f)(9), the Assistant Administrator considered documentary evidence submitted by the Government of Mexico and obtained from the IATTC and the Department of State and determined that the requirements under the MMPA to receive an affirmative finding have been met for the purposes of renewing an affirmative finding.

After consultation with the Department of State, NMFS renewed the Government of Mexico’s affirmative finding allowing the continued importation into the United States of yellowfin tuna and products derived from yellowfin tuna harvested in the ETP by Mexican-flag purse seine vessels or vessels under Mexican jurisdiction greater than 400 short tons (362.8 mt) carrying capacity after March 3, 1999. This renewal will remain in effect for 1 year (April 1, 2001, through March 31, 2002).

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In the subsequent years 2002 through 2004, the Assistant Administrator will determine on an annual basis whether the Government of Mexico is meeting the requirements under section 101 (a)(2)(B) and (C) of the MMPA. If necessary, additional documentary evidence may be requested from the Government of Mexico to determine whether the affirmative finding criteria are being met. If the affirmative finding for the Government of Mexico is renewed after NMFS’s annual review in the years 2002 to 2004, the Government of Mexico must submit a new application in early 2005 for an affirmative finding to be effective for the period April 1, 2005, through March 31, 2006, and subsequent years.

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Dated: April 19, 2001.

William T. Hogarth,

Assistant Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.

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[FR Doc. 01-10542 Filed 4-26-01; 8:45 am]

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