Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
Notice of availability of draft revised marine mammal stock assessment reports for Pacific walrus, polar bear, and sea otter in Alaska; request for comments.
In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has developed draft revised marine mammal stock assessment reports for Pacific walrus, polar bear, and sea otter in Alaska which are available for public review and comment.
Comments must be received by June 26, 2002.
Copies of the draft revised stock assessment reports are available from the Marine Mammals Management Office, 1011 East Tudor Road, Anchorage, AK 99503, (800) 362-5148. They can also be viewed in Adobe Acrobat format at http://www.r7.fws.gov/mmm/SAR.
Comments on the draft revised stock assessment reports should be sent to: Supervisor, Marine Mammals Management Office, 1011 East Tudor Road, Anchorage, AK 99503 by conventional mail, or firstname.lastname@example.org by electronic mail.End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
Section 117 of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361-1407) requires the FWS 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. Section 117 of the MMPA also requires the FWS and the NMFS to review and revise the stock assessment reports (a) at least annually for stocks which are specified as strategic stocks; (b) at least annually for stocks for which significant new information is available; and (c) at least once every three years for all other stocks. Stock assessment reports for Pacific walrus, polar bar, and sea otters in Alaska were last published in 1998.
Previous stock assessments covered a single stock of Pacific walrus, two stocks of polar bears (Bering/Chukchi seas and southern Beaufort sea), and a single stock of sea otters in Alaska. There are no changes in stock identification for Pacific walrus and polar bear, however three stocks of sea otters (southwest Alaska, southcentral Alaska, and southeast Alaska) have been identified.
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 within the foreseeable future; or (C) which is listed as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, or is designated as depleted under the MMPA.
With the exception of the southwest Alaska stock of sea otters, all stocks remain classified as non-strategic in these draft reports. Based on the best available scientific information, sea otter numbers across southwest Alaska are declining. In April 2000, an aerial survey of sea otters in the Aleutian Islands indicated the population had declined by 70% during the period from 19922000. In August 2000 FWS designated the northern sea otter in the Aleutian Islands as a candidate species under the Endangered Species Act. Additional surveys in 2000 and 2001 along the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak archipelago also showed population declines in these areas. As a result, the southwest Alaska stock is classified as strategic in the draft report and is under review for possible listing under the Endangered Species Act.
A summary of the draft revised stock assessment reports is presented in Table 1. The table lists each marine mammal stock, estimated abundance (NEST), minimum abundance estimate (NMIN), maximum theoretical growth rate (RMAX), recovery factor (FR), Potential Biological Removal (PBR), annual Start Printed Page 14960estimated average human-caused mortality, and the status of each stock. 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.
|Species||Stock||NEST||NMIN||RMAX||FR||PBR||Mortality causes (5 yr. average)||Stock/Status|
|Polar Bear||Alaska Chukchi/Bering Seas||0.06||0.5||45 (Alaska) - (Russia)||0||0 (Alaska) - (Russia)||Non-strategic.|
|Polar Bear||Alaska Southern Beaufort Sea||2,272||1,971||0.06||1.0||88||34 (Alaska) 20 (Canada)||0||<1 (Alaska) 0 (Canada)||Non-strategic.|
|Sea Otter||Southeast Alaska||8,807||8,709||0.20||1.0||871||301||0||0||Non-strategic.|
|Sea Otter||Southcentral Alaska||21,749||19,508||0.20||1.0||1,951||297||0||0||Non-strategic.|
|Sea Otter||Southwest Alaska||23,967||21,518||0.20||0.5||1,076||97||<1||0||Strategic.|
|Dash (-) indicates unknown value.|
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Dated: January 29, 2002.
David B. Allen,
[Marine Mammal Protection Act; Stock Assessment Reports]
[FR Doc. 02-7436 Filed 3-27-02; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-M