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Notice

Endangered and Threatened Species; Take of Anadromous Fish

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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Notice of availability and request for comment.

SUMMARY:

This notice advises the public that the Nez Perce Indian Tribe has submitted a Tribal resource management plan (Tribal Plan) to NMFS pursuant to the limitation on take prohibitions for actions conducted under Tribal Plans promulgated under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Tribal Plan specifies the management of recreational, ceremonial, and subsistence fisheries in 2004 in the Imnaha River subbasin in the State of Oregon that potentially affect Snake River spring/summer chinook salmon listed as threatened under the ESA. This document serves to notify the public of the availability for comment of the proposed evaluation of the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) as to whether implementation of the Tribal Plan will appreciably reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery of Snake River salmon and steelhead, and the availability for public comment of a draft environmental assessment on the proposed action.

DATES:

Written comments on the Secretary's pending determination and the draft assessment must be received at the appropriate address or fax number (see ADDRESSES) no later than 5 p.m. Pacific daylight time on July 6, 2004.

ADDRESSES:

Written comments and requests for copies of the Proposed Evaluation and Pending Determination document and the draft Environmental Assessment should be addressed to Herb Pollard, Sustainable Fisheries Division, 10215 W. Emerald St. Suite 180, Boise, ID 83704. Comments may also be sent via fax to (208) 378-5699. The documents are also available on the Internet at www.nwr.noaa.gov. Comments on this draft EA may be submitted by e-mail. The mailbox address for providing e-mail comments is Imnaha04.nwr@noaa.gov. Include in the subject line the following document identifier: “Imnaha 2004 chinook”. Comments may also be submitted electronically through the Federal e-Rulemaking portal: www.regulations.gov. Comments received will also be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours by calling (208) 378-5614.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Herb Pollard at phone number: (208) 378-5614, or e-mail: herbert.pollard@noaa.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

This notice is relevant to the Imnaha River subbasin population of the Snake River Spring/Summer Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and Snake River steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) Evolutionarily Significant Units (ESU).

Background

The Nez Perce Tribe has submitted to NMFS a Tribal Plan for recreational, ceremonial, and subsistence fisheries in 2004 potentially affecting threatened Snake River spring/summer chinook salmon in the Imnaha River basin. The Tribal Plan includes recreational fisheries specified by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife that take place in the same waters and in the same time frame as the tribal ceremonial and subsistence fisheries. The Nez Perce Tribe and the State of Oregon have co-manager responsibilities for spring chinook salmon within the Imnaha River sub-basin and manage this salmon population under cooperative agreements. The objective of the Tribal Plan is to harvest spring chinook salmon in a manner that does not appreciably reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery of the ESU. Impact levels on the listed spring chinook populations in the ESU are specified in the Tribal Plan. Analysis of the predicted return of naturally and hatchery-produced spring chinook salmon to the Imnaha River basin in 2004 and the proposed harvest levels indicate that all hatchery brood stock and supplemental spawning and natural spawning escapement needs will be met after the proposed fisheries. A variety of monitoring and evaluation tasks to be conducted by the co-managers is specified in the Tribal Plan to assess the abundance of spring chinook and to determine fishery effort and catch of spring chinook. A comprehensive review of the Tribal Plan to evaluate whether the fisheries and listed spring chinook populations are performing as expected will be done within and at the end of the proposed 2004 season.

As required by the ESA 4(d) rule for Tribal Plans (65 FR 42481, July 10, 2000 [50 CFR 223.209]), the Secretary is seeking public comment on his pending determination as to whether the Tribal Plan for Imnaha River chinook salmon would appreciably reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery of the threatened Snake River spring/summer chinook salmon ESU.

Authority

Under section 4 of the ESA, the Secretary is required to adopt such regulations as he deems necessary and advisable for the conservation of the species listed as threatened. The ESA Tribal 4(d) Rule (65 FR 42481, July 10, 2000 [50 CFR 223.209]) states that the ESA section 9 take prohibitions will not apply to Tribal Plans that will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of Start Printed Page 34135survival and recovery for the listed species.

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Dated: June 14, 2004.

Phil Williams,

Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.

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[FR Doc. 04-13801 Filed 6-17-04; 8:45 am]

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