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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; availability of joint state/tribal hatchery plans and request for comment.

SUMMARY:

Notice is hereby given that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe have submitted three Hatchery and Genetic Management Plans, to be considered jointly, to NMFS pursuant to the limitation on take prohibitions for actions conducted under Limit 6 of the 4(d) Rule for salmon and steelhead promulgated under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The plans specify the propagation of three species of salmon in the Dungeness River watershed of Washington State. 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 joint plan will appreciably reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery of ESA-listed Puget Sound Chinook salmon and Puget Sound steelhead.

This notice further advises the public of the availability for review of a draft Environmental Assessment of the effects of the NMFS determination on the subject joint plans.

DATES:

Comments must be received at the appropriate address or fax number (see ADDRESSES) no later than 5 p.m. Pacific time on March 23, 2015.

ADDRESSES:

Written comments on the proposed evaluation and pending determination should be addressed to the NMFS Sustainable Fisheries Division, 510 Desmond Dr., Suite 103, Lacey, WA 98503. Comments may be submitted by email. The mailbox address for providing email comments is: DungenessHatcheries.wcr@noaa.gov. Include in the subject line of the email comment the following identifier: Comments on Dungeness River hatchery programs. Comment may also be sent via facsimile (fax) to (360) 753-9517.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Tim Tynan at (360) 753-9579 or email: tim.tynan@noaa.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

ESA-Listed Species Covered in This Notice

Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha): Threatened, naturally produced and artificially propagated Puget Sound.

Steelhead (O. mykiss): Threatened, naturally produced and artificially propagated Puget Sound.

Chum salmon (O. keta): Threatened, naturally produced and artificially propagated Hood Canal summer-run.

Bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus): Threatened Puget Sound/Washington Coast.

The Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe and the WDFW have submitted to NMFS plans for three jointly operated hatchery programs in the Dungeness River basin. The plans were submitted in January 2013, pursuant to limit 6 of the 4(d) Rule for the listed Puget Sound Chinook salmon evolutionarily significant unit (ESU) and listed Puget Sound steelhead distinct population segment (DPS). The plans reflect refinements of existing plans provided previously and evaluated pursuant to the 4(d) Rule. The hatchery programs release ESA-listed Chinook salmon and non-listed coho and fall-run pink salmon into the Dungeness River watershed. All three programs release fish native to the Dungeness River basin. All of the programs are currently operating.

As required by the ESA 4(d) Rule (65 FR 42422, July 10, 2000, as updated in 70 FR 37160, June 28, 2005), the Secretary is seeking public comment on her pending determination as to whether the joint plans for hatchery programs in the Dungeness River would appreciably reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery of the ESA-listed Puget Sound salmon and steelhead.

Under section 4(d) of the ESA, the Secretary is required to adopt such regulations as she deems necessary and advisable for the conservation of species listed as threatened. NMFS has issued a final ESA 4(d) Rule for salmon and steelhead, adopting in Limit 6 regulations necessary and advisable to harmonize statutory conservation requirements with tribal rights and the Federal trust responsibility to tribes (50 CFR 223.209).

This 4(d) Rule applies the prohibitions enumerated in section 9(a)(1) of the ESA. NMFS did not find it necessary and advisable to apply the take prohibitions described in section 9(a)(1)(B) and 9(a)(1)(C) to artificial propagation activities if those activities are managed in accordance with a joint plan whose implementation has been determined by the Secretary to not appreciably reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery of the listed salmonids. As specified in limit 6 of the 4(d) Rule, before the Secretary makes a decision on the joint plan, the public must have an opportunity to review and comment on the pending determination.

Authority

Under section 4 of the ESA, the Secretary of Commerce is required to adopt such regulations as she deems necessary and advisable for the conservation of species listed as threatened. The ESA salmon and steelhead 4(d) Rule (65 FR 42422, July 10, 2000, as updated in 70 FR 37160, June 28, 2005) specifies categories of activities that contribute to the conservation of listed salmonids and sets out the criteria for such activities. Limit 6 of the updated 4(d) Rule (50 CFR 223.203(b)(6)) further provides that the prohibitions of paragraph (a) of the updated 4(d) Rule (50 CFR 223.203(a)) do not apply to activities associated with a joint state/tribal artificial propagation plan provided that the joint plan has been determined by NMFS to be in accordance with the salmon and steelhead 4(d) Rule (65 FR 42422, July 10, 2000, as updated in 70 FR 37160, June 28, 2005).

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Dated: February 13, 2015.

Angela Somma,

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

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[FR Doc. 2015-03499 Filed 2-19-15; 8:45 am]

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