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FR Notice- Critical Habitat for the Threatened Indo-Pacific Corals (Nov. 27, 2020)

Federal Register Notices, Managed Fisheries, News and Updates, Protected Species

AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Proposed rule; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

We, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), propose to designate critical habitat for the seven threatened corals in U.S. waters in the Indo-Pacific (Acropora globiceps, Acropora jacquelineae, Acropora retusa, Acropora speciosa, Euphyllia paradivisa, Isopora crateriformis, and Seriatopora aculeata) pursuant to section 4 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Seventeen specific occupied areas containing physical features essential to the conservation of these coral species are being proposed for designation as critical habitat; these areas contain approximately 600 square kilometers (km2; 230 square miles) of marine habitat. We have considered positive and negative economic, national security, and other relevant impacts of the proposed designations, and we propose to exclude two areas from the critical habitat designations due to anticipated impacts on national security. We are soliciting comments from the public on all aspects of the proposal, including our identification of the geographical area and depths occupied by the species, the physical and biological feature essential to the coral species’ conservation and identification, areas not included and excluded, and consideration of impacts of the proposed action.

DATES:

Comments on this proposal must be received by January 26, 2021.

Public hearings: If requested, we will hold at least one public hearing on this proposed rule.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments, identified by the docket number NOAA-NMFS-2016-0131, by any 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-2016-0131 click the “Comment Now” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
  •  Mail: Lance Smith, Protected Resources Division, NMFS, Pacific Islands Regional Office, NOAA Inouye Regional Center, 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818.

Instructions: You must submit comments by one of the previously described methods to ensure that we receive, document, and consider them. 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. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information.

NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter “N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Lance Smith, NMFS, Pacific Islands Regional Office, 808-725-5131, lance.smith@noaa.gov; or, Celeste Stout, NMFS, Office of Protected Resources, 301-427-8436, celeste.stout@noaa.gov.

Click here for complete FR Notice.

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