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FR Notice – 12-Month Finding on a Petition To List Giant and Reef Manta Rays as Threatened or Endangered Under the Endangered Species Act 1/12/2017

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Proposed rule; 12-month petition finding; request for comments.

SUMMARY: We, NMFS, announce a 12- month finding on a petition to list the giant manta ray (Manta birostris) and reef manta ray (Manta alfredi) as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We have completed a comprehensive status review of both species in response to this petition. Based on the best scientific and commercial information available, including the status review report(Miller and Klimovich 2016), and after taking into account efforts being made to protect these species, we have determined that the giant manta ray (M. birostris) is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout a significant portion of its range. Therefore, we propose to list the giant manta ray as a threatened species under the ESA. Any protective regulations determined to be necessary and advisable for the conservation of the proposed threatened giant manta ray under ESA section 4(d) would be proposed in a subsequent Federal Register announcement. Should the proposed listing be finalized, we would also designate critical habitat for the species, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable. We solicit information to assist this proposed listing determination, the development of proposed protective regulations, and designation of critical habitat in the
event the proposed threatened listing for the giant manta ray is finalized. Additionally, we have determined that the reef manta ray (M. alfredi) is not currently in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range and is not likely to become so within the foreseeable future. Therefore, we find that the reef manta ray does not warrant listing under the ESA at this time.
DATES: Comments on the proposed rule to list the giant manta ray must be received by March 13, 2017. Public hearing requests must be made by February 27, 2017.
ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2016–0014, by either
of the following methods:

  • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2016-0014. Click the ‘‘Comment Now’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
  • Mail: Submit written comments to
    Maggie Miller,
    NMFS Office of Protected Resources (F/PR3),
    1315 East West Highway,
    Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA.

Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will
generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personally identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). You can find the petition, status review report, Federal Register notices, and the list of references electronically on our Web site at www.fisheries.noaa.gov/pr/species/fish/ manta-ray.html.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Maggie Miller, NMFS, Office of Protected Resources, (301) 427–8403.

Click here for complete FR Notice