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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.

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ACTION:

Notice; affirmative finding renewal.

SUMMARY:

The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NMFS, (Assistant Administrator) has renewed the affirmative finding for the Republic of El Salvador under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). This affirmative finding will allow yellowfin tuna harvested in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean (ETP) in compliance with the International Dolphin Conservation Program (IDCP) by purse seine fishing vessels flying the flag of El Salvador or purse seine fishing vessels operating under the jurisdiction of El Salvador to be imported into the United States. The affirmative finding was based on review of documentary evidence submitted by the Republic of El Salvador and obtained from the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) and the U.S. Department of State.

DATES:

The renewal is effective from April 1, 2006, through March 31, 2007.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Rodney McInnis, Regional Administrator, Southwest Region, NMFS, 501 West Ocean Boulevard, Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 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., 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 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.

The affirmative finding process requires that the harvesting nation is meeting its obligations under the IDCP and obligations of membership in the IATTC. 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. On an annual basis, NMFS will review the affirmative finding and determine whether the harvesting nation continues to meet the requirements. A nation may provide information related to compliance with IDCP and IATTC measures directly to NMFS on an annual basis or may authorize the IATTC to release the information to NMFS to annually renew 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) are no longer being met or that a nation is consistently failing to take enforcement actions on violations, thereby diminishing the effectiveness of the IDCP.

As a part of the affirmative finding process set forth in 50 CFR 216.24(f), the Assistant Administrator considered documentary evidence submitted by the Republic of El Salvador or obtained from the IATTC and the Department of State and has determined that El Salvador has met the MMPA's requirements to receive an annual affirmative finding renewal.

After consultation with the Department of State, the Assistant Administrator issued the Republic of El Salvador's annual affirmative finding renewal, allowing the continued importation into the United States of yellowfin tuna and products derived from yellowfin tuna harvested in the ETP by El Salvadorian-flag purse seine vessels or purse seine vessels operating under El Salvadorian jurisdiction. El Salvador's affirmative finding will remain valid through March 31, 2007, subject to subsequent annual reviews by NMFS.

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Dated: July 14, 2006.

Samuel D. Rauch, III,

Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.

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[FR Doc. E6-11553 Filed 7-19-06; 8:45 am]

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