Endangered and Threatened Species:

 
CONTENT

Federal Register Volume 76, Number 184 (Thursday, September 22, 2011)

Rules and Regulations

Pages 58868-58952

From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]

FR Doc No: 2011-23960

Page 58867

Vol. 76

Thursday,

No. 184

September 22, 2011

Part II

Department of the Interior

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

Department of Commerce

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Parts 223 and 224

Endangered and Threatened Species; Determination of Nine Distinct

Population Segments of Loggerhead Sea Turtles as Endangered or

Threatened; Final Rule

Rules and Regulations

Page 58868

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Parts 223 and 224

Docket No. 100104003-1068-02

RIN 0648-AY49

Endangered and Threatened Species; Determination of Nine Distinct

Population Segments of Loggerhead Sea Turtles as Endangered or

Threatened

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and

Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce; United States Fish and

Wildlife Service (USFWS), Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.

SUMMARY: We (NMFS and USFWS; also collectively referred to as the

Services) have determined that the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) is composed of nine distinct population segments (DPSs) that constitute ``species'' that may be listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In this final rule, we are listing four DPSs as threatened and five as endangered under the ESA.

We will propose to designate critical habitat for the two loggerhead sea turtle DPSs occurring within the United States in a future rulemaking. We encourage interested parties to provide any information related to the identification of critical habitat and essential physical or biological features for this species, as well as economic or other relevant impacts of designation of critical habitat, to assist us with this effort.

DATES: This rule is effective on October 24, 2011.

ADDRESSES: This final rule and comments and materials received, as well as supporting documentation used in the preparation of this rule, are available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov and will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at: National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of Protected

Resources, 1315 East West Highway, Room 13657, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

You may submit information related to the identification of critical habitat for the loggerhead sea turtle by either of the following methods:

Mail: NMFS National Sea Turtle Coordinator, Attn:

Loggerhead Critical Habitat Information, Office of Protected Resources,

National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13657,

Silver Spring, MD 20910 or USFWS National Sea Turtle Coordinator, U.S.

Fish and Wildlife Service, 7915 Baymeadows Way, Suite 200,

Jacksonville, FL 32256.

Fax: To the attention of NMFS National Sea Turtle

Coordinator at 301-427-2522 or USFWS National Sea Turtle Coordinator at 904-731-3045.

Instructions: All information received will be a part of the public record. All personal identifying information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the public may be publicly accessible.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Barbara Schroeder, NMFS, at 301-427- 8402; Sandy MacPherson, USFWS, at 904-731-3336; Marta Nammack, NMFS, at 301-427-8403 or Lorna Patrick, USFWS, at 850-769-0552 ext. 229. Persons who use a Telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the

Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

We issued a final rule listing the loggerhead sea turtle as threatened throughout its worldwide range on July 28, 1978 (43 FR 32800). On July 12, 2007, we received a petition to list the ``North

Pacific populations of loggerhead sea turtle'' as an endangered species under the ESA. NMFS published a notice in the Federal Register on

November 16, 2007 (72 FR 64585), concluding that the petitioners

(Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle Island Restoration Network) presented substantial scientific information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. Also, on November 15, 2007, we received a petition to list the ``Western North Atlantic populations of loggerhead sea turtle'' as an endangered species under the ESA. NMFS published a notice in the Federal Register on March 5, 2008 (73 FR 11849), concluding that the petitioners (Center for Biological

Diversity and Oceana) presented substantial scientific information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted.

In early 2008, NMFS assembled a Loggerhead Biological Review Team

(BRT) to complete a status review of the loggerhead sea turtle. The BRT was composed of biologists from NMFS, USFWS, the Florida Fish and

Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the North Carolina Wildlife

Resources Commission. The BRT was charged with reviewing and evaluating all relevant scientific information relating to loggerhead population structure globally to determine if any population met the criteria to qualify as a DPS and, if so, to assess the extinction risk of each DPS.

The findings of the BRT, which are detailed in the ``Loggerhead Sea

Turtle (Caretta caretta) 2009 Status Review under the U.S. Endangered

Species Act'' (Conant et al., 2009; hereinafter referred to as the

Status Review), addressed DPS delineations, extinction risks to the species, and threats to the species. The Status Review underwent independent peer review by nine scientists with expertise in loggerhead sea turtle biology, genetics, and modeling. The Status Review is available electronically at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/statusreviews.htm.

On March 12, 2009, the petitioners (Center for Biological

Diversity, Turtle Island Restoration Network, and Oceana) sent a 60-day notice of intent to sue to the Services for failure to make 12-month findings on the petitions by the statutory deadlines (July 16, 2008, for the North Pacific petition and November 16, 2008, for the Northwest

Atlantic petition). On May 28, 2009, the petitioners filed a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief to compel the Services to complete the 12-month findings. On October 8, 2009, the petitioners and the Services reached a settlement in which the Services agreed to submit to the Federal Register a 12-month finding on the two petitions on or before February 19, 2010. On February 16, 2010, the United States

District Court for the Northern District of California modified the

February 19, 2010, deadline to March 8, 2010.

On March 16, 2010 (75 FR 12598), the Services published in the

Federal Register combined 12-month findings on the petitions to list the North Pacific populations and the Northwest Atlantic populations of the loggerhead sea turtle as DPSs with endangered status, along with a proposed rule to designate nine loggerhead sea turtle DPSs worldwide and to list two of the DPSs as threatened and seven as endangered. The

Federal Register notice also announced the opening of a 90-day public comment period on the proposed listing determination.

The Services subsequently received a request from the Maryland

Department of Natural Resources for a public hearing to be held in

Maryland. On June 2, 2010 (75 FR 30769), the Services published a notice in the Federal Register announcing our plans to hold

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a public hearing on the proposed actions on June 16, 2010. The Federal

Register notice also announced a re-opening of the public comment period for an additional 90 days. The June 16, 2010, public hearing was held at the Ocean Pines Public Library in Berlin, Maryland.

On March 22, 2011 (76 FR 15932), the Services published in the

Federal Register a notice announcing a 6-month extension of the deadline for a final listing decision to address substantial disagreement on the interpretation of data related to the status and trends for the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS of the loggerhead sea turtle and its relevance to the assessment of risk of extinction. At this time, we solicited new information or analyses from the public that would help clarify this issue. The public comment period was open for 20 days, and closed on April 11, 2011.

Policies for Delineating Species Under the ESA

Section 3 of the ESA defines ``species'' as including ``any subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature.'' The term ``distinct population segment'' is not recognized in the scientific literature, nor clarified in the ESA or its implementing regulations. Therefore, the Services adopted a joint policy for recognizing DPSs under the ESA (DPS Policy; 61 FR 4722) on

February 7, 1996. Congress has instructed the Secretary of the Interior or of Commerce to exercise this authority with regard to DPSs ``* * * sparingly and only when the biological evidence indicates such action is warranted.'' The DPS Policy requires the consideration of two elements when evaluating whether a vertebrate population segment qualifies as a DPS under the ESA: (1) The discreteness of the population segment in relation to the remainder of the species or subspecies to which it belongs; and (2) the significance of the population segment to the species or subspecies to which it belongs.

A population segment of a vertebrate species may be considered discrete if it satisfies either one of the following conditions: (1) It is markedly separated from other populations of the same taxon (an organism or group of organisms) as a consequence of physical, ecological, or behavioral factors. Quantitative measures of genetic or morphological discontinuity may provide evidence of this separation; or

(2) it is delimited by international governmental boundaries within which differences in control of exploitation, management of habitat, conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms exist that are significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the ESA (i.e., inadequate regulatory mechanisms).

If a population segment is found to be discrete under one or both of the above conditions, its biological and ecological significance to the taxon to which it belongs is evaluated. This consideration may include, but is not limited to: (1) Persistence of the discrete population segment in an ecological setting unusual or unique for the taxon; (2) evidence that loss of the discrete population segment would result in a significant gap in the range of a taxon; (3) evidence that the discrete population segment represents the only surviving natural occurrence of a taxon that may be more abundant elsewhere as an introduced population outside its historical range; or (4) evidence that the discrete population segment differs markedly from other population segments of the species in its genetic characteristics.

Listing Determinations Under the ESA

The ESA defines an endangered species as one that is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, and a threatened species as one that is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range

(sections 3(6) and 3(20), respectively). The statute requires us to determine whether any species is endangered or threatened because of any of the following five factors: (1) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (2) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (3) disease or predation; (4) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (5) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence (section 4(a)(1)(A-E)). We are to make this determination based solely on the best available scientific and commercial data after conducting a review of the status of the species and taking into account any efforts being made by States or foreign governments to protect the species.

Biology and Life History of Loggerhead Sea Turtles

A thorough account of loggerhead sea turtle biology and life history may be found in the Status Review, which is incorporated here by reference. The following is a summary of that information.

The loggerhead occurs throughout the temperate and tropical regions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans (Dodd, 1988). However, the majority of loggerhead nesting is at the western rims of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The most recent reviews show that only two loggerhead nesting aggregations have greater than 10,000 females nesting per year: Peninsular Florida, United States, and Masirah

Island, Oman (Baldwin et al., 2003; Ehrhart et al., 2003; Kamezaki et al., 2003; Limpus and Limpus, 2003a; Margaritoulis et al., 2003).

Nesting aggregations with 1,000 to 9,999 females nesting annually are

Georgia through North Carolina (United States), Quintana Roo and

Yucatan (Mexico), Brazil, Cape Verde Islands (Cape Verde), Western

Australia (Australia), and Japan. Smaller nesting aggregations with 100 to 999 nesting females annually occur in the Northern Gulf of Mexico

(United States), Dry Tortugas (United States), Cay Sal Bank (The

Bahamas), Tongaland (South Africa), Mozambique, Arabian Sea Coast

(Oman), Halaniyat Islands (Oman), Cyprus, Peloponnesus (Greece),

Zakynthos (Greece), Crete (Greece), Turkey, and Queensland (Australia).

In contrast to determining population size on nesting beaches, determining population size in the marine environment has been very localized. A summary of information on distribution and habitat by ocean basin follows.

Pacific Ocean

Loggerheads can be found throughout tropical to temperate waters in the Pacific; however, their breeding grounds include a restricted number of sites in the North Pacific and South Pacific. Within the

North Pacific, loggerhead nesting has been documented only in Japan

(Kamezaki et al., 2003), although low level nesting may occur outside of Japan in areas surrounding the South China Sea (Chan et al., 2007).

In the South Pacific, nesting beaches are restricted to eastern

Australia and New Caledonia and, to a much lesser extent, Vanuatu and

Tokelau (Limpus and Limpus, 2003a).

Based on tag-recapture studies from Japan, the East China Sea has been identified as the major habitat for post-nesting adult females

(Iwamoto et al., 1985; Kamezaki et al., 1997; Balazs, 2006), while satellite tracking indicates the Kuroshio Extension Bifurcation Region to be an important pelagic foraging area for juvenile loggerheads

(Polovina et al., 2006). Other important juvenile turtle foraging areas have been identified off the coast of Baja California Sur, Mexico

(Pitman, 1990; Peckham and Nichols, 2006; Peckham et al., 2007).

Nesting females tagged on the coast of eastern Australia have been recorded

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foraging in New Caledonia; Queensland, northern New South Wales, and

Northern Territory, Australia; Solomon Islands; Papua New Guinea; and

Indonesia (Limpus and Limpus, 2003a; Limpus, 2009). Foraging Pacific loggerheads originating from nesting beaches in Australia are known to migrate to Chile and Peru (Alfaro-Shigueto et al., 2004, 2008a; Donoso and Dutton, 2006; Boyle et al., 2009).

Indian Ocean

In the North Indian Ocean, Oman hosts the vast majority of loggerhead nesting. The majority of the nesting in Oman occurs on

Masirah Island, on the Al Halaniyat Islands, and on mainland beaches south of Masirah Island all the way to the Oman-Yemen border (IUCN--The

World Conservation Union, 1989a, 1989b; Salm, 1991; Salm and Salm, 1991). In addition, nesting probably occurs on the mainland of Yemen on the Arabian Sea coast, and nesting has been confirmed on Socotra, an island off the coast of Yemen (Pilcher and Saad, 2000). Limited information exists on the foraging habitats of North Indian Ocean loggerheads; however, foraging individuals have been reported off the southern coastline of Oman (Salm et al., 1993). Satellite telemetry studies of post-nesting migrations of loggerheads nesting on Masirah

Island, Oman, have revealed extensive use of the waters off the Arabian

Peninsula, with the majority of telemetered turtles traveling southwest, following the shoreline of southern Oman and Yemen, and circling well offshore in nearby oceanic waters (Environment Society of

Oman and Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Oman, unpublished data). A minority traveled north as far as the western Persian Gulf or followed the shoreline of southern Oman and Yemen as far west as the

Gulf of Aden and the Bab-el-Mandab.

The only verified nesting beaches for loggerheads on the Indian subcontinent are found in Sri Lanka. A small number of nesting females use the beaches of Sri Lanka every year (Deraniyagala, 1939; Kar and

Bhaskar, 1982; Dodd, 1988); however, there are no records indicating that Sri Lanka has ever been a major nesting area for loggerheads

(Kapurusinghe, 2006). No confirmed nesting occurs on the mainland of

India (Tripathy, 2005; Kapurusinghe, 2006). The Gulf of Mannar provides foraging habitat for juvenile and post-nesting adult turtles (Tripathy, 2005; Kapurusinghe, 2006).

In the East Indian Ocean, Western Australia hosts all known loggerhead nesting (Dodd, 1988). Nesting distributions in Western

Australia span from the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, including Dirk

Hartog Island, and northward through the Ningaloo Marine Park coast to the North West Cape, including the Muiron Islands (Baldwin et al., 2003). Nesting individuals from Dirk Hartog Island have been recorded foraging within Shark Bay and Exmouth Gulf (Baldwin et al., 2003), and satellite tracking of individuals from Ningaloo has demonstrated that female turtles can disperse as far east as Torres Strait in Queensland.

In the Southwest Indian Ocean, loggerhead nesting occurs on the southeastern coast of Africa, from the Paradise Islands in Mozambique southward to St. Lucia in South Africa, and on the south and southwestern coasts of Madagascar (Baldwin et al., 2003). Foraging habitats are only known for post-nesting females from Tongaland, South

Africa; tagging data show these loggerheads migrating eastward to

Madagascar, northward to Mozambique, Tanzania, and Kenya, and southward to Cape Agulhas at the southernmost point of Africa (Baldwin et al., 2003; Luschi et al., 2006).

Atlantic Ocean

In the Northwest Atlantic, the majority of loggerhead nesting is concentrated along the coasts of the United States from southern

Virginia through Alabama. Additional nesting beaches are found along the northern and western Gulf of Mexico, eastern Yucatan Peninsula, at

Cay Sal Bank in the eastern Bahamas (Addison and Morford, 1996;

Addison, 1997), on the southwestern coast of Cuba (F. Moncada-Gavilan, personal communication, cited in Ehrhart et al., 2003), and along the coasts of Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, and the eastern

Caribbean Islands. In the Southwest Atlantic, loggerheads nest in significant numbers only in Brazil. In the eastern Atlantic, the largest nesting population of loggerheads is in the Cape Verde Islands

(L.F. L[oacute]pez-Jurado, personal communication, cited in Ehrhart et al., 2003), and some nesting occurs along the West African coast

(Fretey, 2001).

As post-hatchlings, Northwest Atlantic loggerheads use the North

Atlantic Gyre and enter Northeast Atlantic waters (Carr, 1987). They are also found in the Mediterranean Sea (Carreras et al., 2006; Eckert et al., 2008). In these areas, they overlap with animals originating from the Northeast Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea (Laurent et al., 1993, 1998; Bolten et al., 1998; LaCasella et al., 2005; Carreras et al., 2006; Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2006, 2010; Revelles et al., 2007; Eckert et al., 2008). The oceanic juvenile stage in the

North Atlantic has been primarily studied in the waters around the

Azores and Madeira (Bolten, 2003). In Azorean waters, satellite telemetry data and flipper tag returns suggest a long period of residency (Bolten, 2003), whereas turtles appear to be moving through

Madeiran waters (Dellinger and Freitas, 2000). Preliminary genetic analyses indicate that juvenile loggerheads found in Moroccan waters are of western Atlantic origin (M. Tiwari, NMFS, and A. Bolten,

University of Florida, unpublished data). Other concentrations of oceanic juvenile turtles exist in the Atlantic (e.g., in the region of the Grand Banks off Newfoundland; Witzell, 2002). Genetic information indicates the Grand Banks are foraging grounds for a mixture of loggerheads from all the North Atlantic rookeries (Bowen et al., 2005;

LaCasella et al., 2005), and a large size range is represented (Watson et al., 2004, 2005).

After departing the oceanic zone, neritic juvenile loggerheads in the Northwest Atlantic inhabit continental shelf waters from Cape Cod

Bay, Massachusetts, south through Florida, The Bahamas, Cuba, and the

Gulf of Mexico (Musick and Limpus, 1997; Spotila et al., 1997; Hopkins-

Murphy et al., 2003) (neritic refers to the inshore marine environment from the surface to the sea floor where water depths do not exceed 200 meters).

Habitat preferences of Northwest Atlantic non-nesting adult loggerheads in the neritic zone differ from the juvenile stage in that relatively enclosed, shallow water estuarine habitats with limited ocean access are less frequently used. Areas such as Pamlico Sound,

North Carolina, and the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, in the United

States, regularly used by juvenile loggerheads, are only rarely frequented by adults (Ehrhart and Redfoot, 1995; Epperly et al., 2007).

In comparison, estuarine areas with more open ocean access, such as the

Chesapeake Bay in the U.S. mid-Atlantic, are also regularly used by juvenile loggerheads, as well as by adults primarily during warmer seasons (J. Musick, The Virginia Institute of Marine Science, personal communication, 2008). Shallow water habitats with large expanses of open ocean access, such as Florida Bay, provide year-round resident foraging areas for significant numbers of male and female adult loggerheads (Schroeder et al., 1998; Witherington et al., 2006a).

Offshore, adults inhabit continental shelf waters, from New York south through Florida, The Bahamas, Cuba, and the Gulf of Mexico (Schroeder et al., 2003; Hawkes et al.,

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2007; Foley et al., 2008). The southern edge of the Grand Bahama Bank is important habitat for loggerheads nesting on the Cay Sal Bank in The

Bahamas, but nesting females are also resident in the bights of

Eleuthera, Long Island, and Ragged Islands as well as Florida Bay in the United States, and the north coast of Cuba (A. Bolten and K.

Bjorndal, University of Florida, unpublished data). Moncada et al.

(2010) reported the recapture in Cuban waters of five adult female loggerheads originally flipper tagged in Quintana Roo, Mexico, indicating that Cuban shelf waters likely also provide foraging habitat for adult females that nest in Mexico.

In the Northeast Atlantic, satellite telemetry studies of post- nesting females from Cape Verde identified two distinct dispersal patterns; larger individuals migrated to benthic foraging areas off the northwest Africa coast and smaller individuals foraged primarily oceanically off the northwest Africa coast (Hawkes et al., 2006).

Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al. (2009) conducted a mixed stock analysis of juvenile loggerheads sampled from foraging areas in the

Canary Islands, Madeira, Azores, and Andalusia and concluded that while juvenile loggerheads from the Cape Verde population were distributed among these four sites, a large proportion of Cape Verde juvenile turtles appear to inhabit as yet unidentified foraging areas.

In the South Atlantic, recaptures of tagged juvenile turtles and nesting females have shown movement of animals up and down the coast of

South America (Almeida et al., 2000, 2007; Marcovaldi et al., 2000;

Laporta and Lopez, 2003). Juvenile loggerheads, presumably of Brazilian origin, have also been captured on the high seas of the South Atlantic

(Kotas et al., 2004; Pinedo and Polacheck, 2004) and off the coast of

Atlantic Africa (Petersen, 2005; Bal et al., 2007; Petersen et al., 2007) suggesting that loggerheads of the South Atlantic may undertake transoceanic developmental migrations (Bolten et al., 1998; Peckham et al., 2007). Marcovaldi et al. (2010) identified the northeastern coast of Brazil as important foraging habitat for post-nesting females from

Bahia, Brazil.

Mediterranean Sea

Loggerhead sea turtles are widely distributed in the Mediterranean

Sea. However, nesting is almost entirely confined to the eastern

Mediterranean basin, with the main nesting concentrations in Cyprus,

Greece, and Turkey (Margaritoulis et al., 2003; Casale and

Margaritoulis, 2010). Preliminary surveys in Libya suggested nesting activity comparable to Greece and Turkey, although a better quantification is needed (Laurent et al., 1999). Minimal to moderate nesting also occurs in other countries throughout the Mediterranean including Egypt, Israel, Italy (southern coasts and islands), Lebanon,

Syria, and Tunisia (Margaritoulis et al., 2003). Recently, isolated nesting events have been recorded in the western Mediterranean basin, namely in Spain, Corsica (France), and in the Tyrrhenian Sea (Italy)

(Tom[aacute]s et al., 2002; Delaugerre and Cesarini, 2004; Bentivegna et al., 2005).

Important neritic habitats have been suggested for the large continental shelves of: (1) Tunisia-Libya, (2) northern Adriatic Sea,

(3) Egypt, and (4) Spain (Margaritoulis, 1988; Argano et al., 1992;

Laurent and Lescure, 1994; Lazar et al., 2000; Gomez de Segura et al., 2006; Broderick et al., 2007; Casale et al., 2007a; Nada and Casale, 2008). At least the first three constitute shallow benthic habitats for adults (including post-nesting females). Some other neritic foraging areas include Amvrakikos Bay in western Greece, Lakonikos Bay in southern Greece, and southern Turkey. Oceanic foraging areas for small juvenile loggerheads have been identified in the south Adriatic Sea

(Casale et al., 2005a), Ionian Sea (Deflorio et al., 2005), Sicily

Strait (Casale et al., 2007a), and western Mediterranean (Spain) (e.g.,

Cami[ntilde]as et al., 2006). In addition, tagged juvenile loggerheads have been recorded crossing the Mediterranean from the eastern to the western basin and vice versa, as well as in the Eastern Atlantic

(Argano et al., 1992; Casale et al., 2007a).

Reproductive migrations have been confirmed by flipper tagging and satellite telemetry. Female loggerheads, after nesting in Greece, migrate primarily to the Gulf of Gab[egrave]s and the northern Adriatic

(Margaritoulis, 1988; Margaritoulis et al., 2003; Lazar et al., 2004;

Zbinden et al., 2008). Loggerheads nesting in Cyprus migrate to Egypt and Libya, exhibiting fidelity in following the same migration route during subsequent nesting seasons (Broderick et al., 2007). In addition, directed movements of juvenile loggerheads have been confirmed through flipper tagging (Argano et al., 1992; Casale et al., 2007a) and satellite tracking (Rees and Margaritoulis, 2009).

Overview of Information Used To Identify DPSs

In the Status Review, the BRT considered a vast array of information to assess whether there were any loggerhead population segments that satisfy the DPS criteria of both discreteness and significance. First, the BRT examined whether there were any loggerhead population segments that were discrete. Data relevant to the discreteness question included physical, ecological, behavioral, and genetic data. Given the physical separation of ocean basins by continents, the BRT evaluated these data by ocean basin (Pacific Ocean,

Indian Ocean, and Atlantic Ocean). This was not to preclude any larger or smaller DPS delineation, but to aid in data organization and assessment. The BRT then evaluated genetic information by ocean basin.

The genetic data consisted of results from studies using maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and biparentally inherited nuclear

DNA microsatellite markers. Next, tagging data (both flipper and

Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags) and telemetry data were reviewed. Additional information, such as potential differences in morphology, was also evaluated. Finally, the BRT considered whether the available information on loggerhead population segments was bounded by any oceanographic features (e.g., current systems) or geographic features (e.g., land masses).

In accordance with the DPS policy, the BRT also reviewed whether the population segments identified in the discreteness analysis were significant. If a population segment is considered discrete, its biological and ecological significance relative to the species or subspecies must then be considered. NMFS and USFWS must consider available scientific evidence of the discrete segment's importance to the taxon to which it belongs. Data relevant to the significance question include morphological, ecological, behavioral, and genetic data, as described above. The BRT considered the following factors, listed in the DPS policy, in determining whether the discrete population segments were significant: (a) Persistence of the discrete segment in an ecological setting unusual or unique for the taxon; (b) evidence that loss of the discrete segment would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon; (c) evidence that the discrete segment represents the only surviving natural occurrence of a taxon that may be more abundant elsewhere as an introduced population outside its historical range; and (d) evidence that the discrete segment differs markedly from other populations of the species in its genetic characteristics. A discrete population segment needs to satisfy only one of

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these criteria to be considered significant. As described below, the

BRT evaluated the available information and considered items (a), (b), and (d), as noted above, to be most applicable to loggerheads.

Discreteness Determination

As described in the Status Review, the loggerhead sea turtle is present in all tropical and temperate ocean basins, and has a life history that involves nesting on coastal beaches and foraging in neritic and oceanic habitats, as well as long-distance migrations between and within these areas. As with other globally distributed marine species, today's global loggerhead distribution has been shaped by a sequence of isolation events created by tectonic and oceanographic shifts over geologic time scales, the result of which is population substructuring in many areas (Bowen et al., 1994; Bowen, 2003).

Globally, loggerhead sea turtles comprise a mosaic of populations, each with unique nesting sites and in many cases possessing disparate demographic features (e.g., mean body size, age at first reproduction)

(Dodd, 1988). However, despite these differences, loggerheads from different nesting populations often mix in common foraging areas during certain life stages (Bolten and Witherington, 2003; Bowen and Karl, 2007), thus creating unique challenges when attempting to delineate distinct population segments for management or listing purposes.

Bowen et al. (1994) examined the mtDNA sequence diversity of loggerheads across their global distribution and found a separation of loggerheads in the Atlantic-Mediterranean basins from those in the

Indo-Pacific basins since the Pleistocene period. The divergence between these two primary lineages corresponds to approximately three million years (2 percent divergence per million years; Dutton et al., 1996; Encalada et al., 1996). Geography and climate appear to have shaped the evolution of these two matriarchal lineages with the onset of glacial cycles, the appearance of the Panama Isthmus creating a land barrier between the Atlantic and eastern Pacific, and upwelling of cold water off southern Africa creating an oceanographic barrier between the

Atlantic and Indian Oceans (Bowen, 2003). Recent warm temperatures during interglacial periods allowed bi-directional invasion by the temperate-adapted loggerheads into the respective basins (Bowen et al., 1994; J.S. Reece, Washington University, personal communication, 2008).

Today, it appears that loggerheads within a basin are effectively isolated from populations in the other basin, but some dispersal from the Tongaland rookery in the Indian Ocean into feeding and developmental habitat in the South Atlantic is possible via the Agulhas

Current (G.R. Hughes, unpublished data, cited in Bowen et al., 1994).

In the Pacific, extensive mtDNA studies show that the northern loggerhead populations are isolated from the southern Pacific populations, and that juvenile loggerheads from these distinct genetic populations do not disperse across the equator (Bowen et al., 1994, 1995; Hatase et al., 2002a; Dutton, 2007, unpublished data; Boyle et al., 2009).

Mitochondrial DNA data indicate that regional turtle rookeries within an ocean basin have been strongly isolated from one another over ecological timescales (Bowen et al., 1994; Bowen and Karl, 2007). These same data indicate strong female natal homing and suggest that each regional nesting population is an independent demographic unit (Bowen et al., 2004, 2005; Bowen and Karl, 2007). It is difficult to determine the precise boundaries of these demographically independent populations in regions, such as the eastern U.S. coast, where rookeries are close to each other and range along large areas of a continental coastline.

There appear to be varying levels of connectivity between proximate rookeries facilitated by imprecise natal homing and male mediated gene flow (Pearce, 2001; Bowen, 2003; Bowen et al., 2005). Regional genetic populations often are characterized by allelic frequency differences rather than fixed genetic differences (Bowen and Karl, 2007).

Through the evaluation of genetic data, tagging data, telemetry, and demography, the BRT determined that there are at least nine discrete population segments of loggerhead sea turtles globally. These discrete population segments are markedly separated from each other as a consequence of physical, ecological, behavioral, and oceanographic factors and, given the genetic evidence, the BRT concluded that each regional population identified is discrete from other populations of loggerheads. Information considered by the BRT in its delineation of discrete population segments is presented below by ocean basin.

Pacific Ocean

In the North Pacific Ocean, the primary loggerhead nesting areas are found along the southern Japanese coastline and Ryukyu Archipelago

(Kamezaki et al., 2003), although low level nesting may occur outside

Japan in areas surrounding the South China Sea (Chan et al., 2007).

Loggerhead sea turtles hatching on Japanese beaches undertake extensive developmental migrations using the Kuroshio and North Pacific Currents

(Balazs, 2006; Kobayashi et al., 2008), and some turtles reach the vicinity of Baja California in the eastern Pacific (Uchida and Teruya, 1988; Bowen et al., 1995; Peckham et al., 2007). After spending years foraging in the central and eastern Pacific, loggerheads return to their natal beaches for reproduction (Resendiz et al., 1998; Nichols et al., 2000) and remain in the western Pacific for the remainder of their life cycle (Iwamoto et al., 1985; Kamezaki et al., 1997; Sakamoto et al., 1997; Hatase et al., 2002c).

Despite these long-distance developmental movements of juvenile loggerheads in the North Pacific, current scientific evidence, based on genetic analysis, flipper tag recoveries, and satellite telemetry, indicates that individuals originating from Japan remain in the North

Pacific for their entire life cycle, never crossing the equator or mixing with individuals from the South Pacific (Bowen et al., 1995;

Hatase et al., 2002a; LeRoux and Dutton, 2006; Dutton, 2007, unpublished data; Boyle et al., 2009). This apparent, almost complete separation of two adjacent populations most likely results from: (1)

The presence of two distinct Northern and Southern Gyre (current flow) systems in the Pacific (Briggs, 1974), (2) near-passive movements of post-hatchlings in these gyres that initially move them farther away from areas of potential mixing among the two populations along the equator, and (3) the nest-site fidelity of adult turtles that prevents turtles from returning to non-natal nesting areas.

Pacific loggerheads are further partitioned evolutionarily from other loggerheads throughout the world based on additional analyses of mtDNA. The haplotypes (a haplotype refers to the genetic signature, coded in mtDNA, of an individual) from both North and South Pacific loggerheads are distinguished by a minimum genetic distance (d) equal to 0.017 from other conspecifics, which indicates isolation of approximately one million years (Bowen, 2003).

Within the Pacific, Bowen et al. (1995) used mtDNA to identify two genetically distinct nesting populations in the Pacific--a northern hemisphere population nesting in Japan and a southern hemisphere population nesting primarily in Australia. This study also suggested that some loggerheads sampled as bycatch in the North Pacific

Page 58873

might be from the Australian nesting population (Bowen et al., 1995).

However, more extensive mtDNA data from rookeries in Japan (Hatase et al., 2002a) taken together with preliminary results from microsatellite

(nuclear) analysis confirms that loggerheads inhabiting the North

Pacific actually originate from nesting beaches in Japan (Watanabe et al., 2011; P. Dutton, NMFS, unpublished data).

Although these studies indicate genetic distinctness between loggerheads nesting in Japan versus those nesting in Australia, Bowen et al. (1995) did identify individuals with the common Australian haplotype at foraging areas in the North Pacific, based on a few individuals sampled as bycatch in the North Pacific. Bowen et al.

(1995) indicated that this finding could be an artifact of sampling variance or that the Australian haplotype exists at low frequency in

Japanese nesting aggregates but escaped detection in their study. More recently, Hatase et al. (2002a) and Watanabe et al. (2011) detected this common Australian haplotype at very low frequency at Japanese nesting beaches. However, the presence of the common Australian haplotype does not preclude the genetic distinctiveness of Japanese and

Australian nesting populations, and is likely the result of rare gene flow events occurring over geologic time scales. Watanabe et al. (2011) found sub-structuring among the Japanese nesting sites based on mtDNA results, but homogeneity of nuclear DNA variation among the same

Japanese nesting sites, indicating connectivity through male-mediated gene flow. These results taken together are consistent with the previous evidence supporting the genetic distinctiveness of the northern (Japanese) stocks from the southern Pacific nesting stocks.

The discrete status of loggerheads in the North Pacific is further supported by results from flipper tagging in the North Pacific. Flipper tagging of loggerheads has been widespread throughout this region, occurring on adults nesting in Japan and bycaught in the coastal pound net fishery (Y. Matsuzawa, Sea Turtle Association of Japan, personal communication, 2006), juvenile turtles reared and released in Japan

(Uchida and Teruya, 1988; Hatase et al., 2002a), juvenile turtles foraging near Baja California, Mexico (Nichols, 2003; Seminoff et al., 2004), and juvenile and adult loggerheads captured in and tagged from commercial fisheries platforms in the North Pacific high seas (NMFS, unpublished data). To date, there have been at least three trans-

Pacific tag recoveries showing east-west and west-east movements

(Uchida and Teruya, 1988; Resendiz et al., 1998; W.J. Nichols,

California Academy of Sciences, and H. Peckham, Pro Peninsula, unpublished data) and several recoveries of adults in the western

Pacific (Iwamoto et al., 1985; Kamezaki et al., 1997). Tag returns show post-nesting females migrating into the East China Sea off South Korea,

China, and the Philippines, and the nearby coastal waters of Japan

(Iwamoto et al., 1985; Kamezaki et al., 1997, 2003). However, despite the more than 30,000 marked individuals, not a single tag recovery has been reported outside the North Pacific.

A lack of movements by loggerheads south across the equator has also been supported by extensive satellite telemetry. As with flipper tagging, satellite telemetry has been conducted widely in the North

Pacific, with satellite transmitters being placed on adult turtles departing nesting beaches (Sakamoto et al., 1997; Japan Fisheries

Resource Conservation Association, 1999; Hatase et al., 2002b, 2002c), on adult and juvenile turtles bycaught in pound nets off the coast of

Japan (Sea Turtle Association of Japan, unpublished data), on captive- reared juvenile turtles released in Japan (Balazs, 2006), on juvenile and adult turtles bycaught in the eastern and central North Pacific

(e.g., Kobayashi et al., 2008; Peckham, 2008), and on juvenile turtles foraging in the eastern Pacific (Nichols et al., 2000; Nichols, 2003;

Peckham et al., 2007; Peckham, 2008; J. Seminoff, NMFS, unpublished data). Aerial surveys and satellite telemetry studies, which have documented juvenile foraging areas in the eastern Pacific, near Baja

California, Mexico (Nichols, 2003; Seminoff et al., 2006; Peckham et al., 2007; H. Peckham, Pro Peninsula, unpublished data) and Peru

(Mangel et al., in press), similarly showed a complete lack of long distance north or south movements. Of the nearly 200 loggerheads tracked using satellite telemetry in the North Pacific, none have moved south of the equator.

Studies have demonstrated the strong association loggerheads show with oceanographic mesoscale features such as the Kuroshio Current

Bifurcation Region and the Transition Zone Chlorophyll Front (Polovina et al., 2000, 2001, 2004, 2006; Etnoyer et al., 2006; Kobayashi et al., 2008). The Kuroshio Extension Current, lying west of the international date line, serves as the dominant physical and biological habitat in the North Pacific and is highly productive, likely due to unique features such as eddies and meanders that concentrate prey and support food webs. Juvenile loggerheads originating from nesting beaches in

Japan exhibit high site fidelity to this area referred to as the

Kuroshio Extension Bifurcation Region (Polovina et al., 2006). Juvenile turtles also were found to correlate strongly with the Transition Zone

Chlorophyll Front, an area of surface chlorophyll a levels that also concentrates surface prey for loggerheads (Polovina et al., 2001;

Parker et al., 2005; Kobayashi et al., 2008). Kobayashi et al. (2008) demonstrated that loggerheads strongly track these zones even as they shift in location, suggesting that strong habitat specificity during the oceanic stage also contributes to the lack of mixing. In summary, loggerheads inhabiting the North Pacific Ocean are derived primarily, if not entirely, from Japanese beaches, with the possible exception of rare waifs over evolutionary time scales. Further, nesting colonies of

Japanese loggerheads are found to be genetically distinct based on mtDNA analyses, and when compared to much larger and more genetically diverse loggerhead populations in the Atlantic and Mediterranean,

Pacific loggerheads have likely experienced critical bottlenecks (in

Hatase et al., 2002a). This is the only known population of loggerheads to be found north of the equator in the Pacific Ocean, foraging in the eastern Pacific as far south as Baja California Sur, Mexico (Seminoff et al., 2004; Peckham et al., 2007) and in the western Pacific as far south as the Philippines (Limpus, 2009) and the mouth of Mekong River,

Vietnam (Sadoyama et al., 1996; Hamann et al., 2006).

In the South Pacific Ocean, loggerhead sea turtles nest primarily in Queensland, Australia, and, to a lesser extent, New Caledonia and

Vanuatu (Limpus and Limpus, 2003a; Limpus et al., 2006; Limpus, 2009).

Loggerheads from these rookeries undertake an oceanic developmental migration, traveling to habitats in the central and southeastern

Pacific Ocean where they may reside for several years prior to returning to the western Pacific for reproduction. Loggerheads in this early life history stage differ markedly from those originating from

Western Australia beaches in that they undertake long west-to-east migrations, likely using specific areas of the pelagic environment of the South Pacific Ocean. An unknown portion of these loggerheads forage off Chile and Peru, and genetic information from foraging areas in the southeastern Pacific confirms that the haplotype frequencies among juvenile turtles in these areas closely match those found at nesting

Page 58874

beaches in eastern Australia (Alfaro-Shigueto et al., 2004; Donoso and

Dutton, 2006, 2007; Boyle et al., 2009). Large juvenile and adult loggerheads generally remain in the western South Pacific, inhabiting neritic and oceanic foraging sites during non-nesting periods (Limpus et al., 1994; Limpus, 2009).

Loggerheads from Australia and New Caledonia apparently do not travel north of the equator. Flipper tag recoveries from nesting females have been found throughout the western Pacific, including the southern Great Barrier Reef and Moreton Bay off the coast of

Queensland, Australia, Indonesia (Irian Jaya), Papua New Guinea,

Solomon Islands, the Torres Strait, and the Gulf of Carpentaria

(Limpus, 2009). Of approximately 1,000 (adult and juvenile; male and female) loggerheads that have been tagged in eastern Australian feeding areas over approximately 25 years, only two have been recorded nesting outside of Australia; both traveled to New Caledonia (Limpus and

Limpus, 2003b; Limpus, 2009). Flipper tagging programs in Peru and

Chile tagged approximately 500 loggerheads from 1999 to 2006, none of which have been reported from outside of the southeastern Pacific

(Alfaro-Shigueto et al., 2008a; S. Kelez, Duke University Marine

Laboratory, unpublished data; M. Donoso, ONG Pacifico Laud--Chile, unpublished data). Limited satellite telemetry data from 12 turtles in the southeastern Pacific area show a similar trend (Mangel et al., in press).

The spatial separation between the North Pacific and South Pacific loggerhead populations has contributed to substantial differences in the genetic profiles of the nesting populations in these two regions.

Whereas the dominant mtDNA haplotypes among loggerheads nesting in

Japan are CCP2 and CCP3 (equivalent to B and C respectively in Bowen et al., 1995 and Hatase et al., 2002a; LeRoux et al., 2008; P. Dutton,

NMFS, unpublished data), loggerheads nesting in eastern Australia have a third haplotype (CCP1, previously A) which is dominant (98 percent of nesting females) (Bowen et al., 1994; FitzSimmons et al., 1996; Boyle et al., 2009). Further, preliminary genetic analysis using microsatellite markers (nuclear DNA) indicates genetic distinctiveness between nesting populations in the North versus South Pacific (P.

Dutton, NMFS, personal communication, 2008).

The separateness between nesting populations in eastern Australia

(in the South Pacific Ocean) and western Australia (in the East Indian

Ocean) is less clear, although these too are considered to be genetically distinct from one another (Limpus, 2009). For example, mtDNA haplotype CCP1, which is the overwhelmingly dominant haplotype among eastern Australia nesting females (98 percent), is also found in western Australia, although at much lower frequency (33 percent)

(FitzSimmons et al., 1996, 2003). The remaining haplotype for both regions was the CCP5 haplotype. Further, FitzSimmons (University of

Canberra, unpublished data) found significant differences in nuclear

DNA microsatellite loci from females nesting in these two regions.

Estimates of gene flow between eastern and western Australian populations were an order of magnitude less than gene flow within regions. These preliminary results based on nuclear DNA indicate that male-mediated gene flow between eastern and western Australia may be insignificant, which, when considered in light of the substantial disparity in mtDNA haplotype frequencies between these two regions, provides further evidence of population separation. It is also important to note that there is no nesting by loggerheads recorded by either scientists or indigenous peoples for the thousands of kilometers of sandy beaches between the rookeries of Queensland and Western

Australia (Chatto and Baker, 2008).

At present, there is no indication from genetic studies that the loggerhead sea turtles nesting in eastern Australia are distinct from those nesting in New Caledonia. Of 27 turtles sequenced from New

Caledonia, 93 percent carried the CCP1 haplotype and the remaining had the CCP5 haplotype; similar to eastern Australia (Boyle et al., 2009).

The South Pacific population of loggerheads occupies an ecological setting distinct from other loggerheads, including the North Pacific population; however, less is known about the ecosystem on which South

Pacific oceanic juvenile and adult loggerheads depend. Sea surface temperature and chlorophyll frontal zones in the South Pacific have been shown to dramatically affect the movements of green turtles,

Chelonia mydas (Seminoff et al., 2008) and leatherback turtles,

Dermochelys coriacea (Shillinger et al., 2008), and it is likely that loggerhead distributions are also affected by these mesoscale oceanographic features. However, unlike the North Pacific, there are no records of oceanic aggregations of loggerhead sea turtles.

Loggerheads in the South Pacific are substantially impacted by periodic environmental perturbations such as the El Ni[ntilde]o

Southern Oscillation (ENSO). This 3- to 6-year cycle within the coupled ocean-atmosphere system of the tropical Pacific brings increased surface water temperatures and lower primary productivity, both of which have profound biological consequences (Chavez et al., 1999; Saba et al., 2008). Loggerheads are presumably adversely impacted by the reduced food availability that often results from ENSO events, although data on this subject are lacking. Although ENSO may last for only short periods and thus not have a long-term effect on loggerheads in the region, recent studies by Chaloupka et al. (2008) suggested that long- term increases in sea surface temperature within the South Pacific may influence the ability of the Australian nesting population to recover from historical population declines.

Loggerheads originating from nesting beaches in the western South

Pacific are the only population of loggerheads to be found south of the equator in the Pacific Ocean. As post-hatchlings, they are generally swept south by the East Australian Current (Limpus et al., 1994), spend a large portion of time foraging in the oceanic South Pacific Ocean, and some migrate to the southeastern Pacific Ocean off the coasts of

Peru and Chile as juvenile turtles (Donoso et al., 2000; Alfaro-

Shigueto et al., 2004, 2008a; Boyle et al., 2009). As large juveniles and adults, the foraging range of these loggerheads encompasses the eastern Arafura Sea, Gulf of Carpentaria, Torres Strait, Gulf of Papua,

Coral Sea, and throughout the eastern coastline of Australia from north

Queensland south to southern New South Wales, including the Great

Barrier Reef, Hervey Bay, and Moreton Bay. The outer extent of this range includes the coastal waters off eastern Indonesia, northeastern

Papua New Guinea, northeastern Solomon Islands, and New Caledonia

(Limpus, 2009).

In summary, all loggerheads inhabiting the South Pacific Ocean are derived from beaches in eastern Australia and a lesser known number of beaches in southern New Caledonia, Vanuatu, and Tokelau (Limpus and

Limpus, 2003a; Limpus, 2009). Furthermore, nesting colonies of the

South Pacific population of loggerheads are found to be genetically distinct from loggerheads in the North Pacific and Indian Ocean.

Given the information presented above, the BRT concluded, and we concur, that two discrete population segments exist in the Pacific

Ocean: (1) North Pacific Ocean and (2) South Pacific Ocean. These two population segments are markedly separated from each other and from population

Page 58875

segments within the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean basins as a consequence of physical, ecological, behavioral, and oceanographic factors. Information supporting this conclusion includes genetic analysis, flipper tag recoveries, and satellite telemetry, which indicate that individuals originating from Japan remain in the North

Pacific for their entire life cycle, likely never crossing the equator or mixing with individuals from the South Pacific (Bowen et al., 1995;

Hatase et al., 2002a; LeRoux and Dutton, 2006; Dutton, 2007, unpublished data; Boyle et al., 2009). This apparent, almost complete separation most likely results from: (1) The presence of two distinct

Northern and Southern Gyre (current flow) systems in the Pacific

(Briggs, 1974), (2) near-passive movements of post-hatchlings in these gyres that initially move them farther away from areas of potential mixing along the equator, and (3) the nest-site fidelity of adult turtles that prevents turtles from returning to non-natal nesting areas. The separation of the Pacific Ocean population segments from population segments within the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean basins is believed to be the result of land barriers and oceanographic barriers. Based on mtDNA analysis, Bowen et al. (1994) found a separation of loggerheads in the Atlantic-Mediterranean basins from those in the Indo-Pacific basins since the Pleistocene period.

Geography and climate appear to have shaped the evolution of these two matriarchal lineages with the onset of glacial cycles, the appearance of the Panama Isthmus creating a land barrier between the Atlantic and eastern Pacific, and upwelling of cold water off southern Africa creating an oceanographic barrier between the Atlantic and Indian

Oceans (Bowen, 2003).

Indian Ocean

Similar to loggerheads in the Pacific and Atlantic, loggerheads in the Indian Ocean nest on coastal beaches, forage in neritic and oceanic habitats, and undertake long-distance migrations between and within these areas. The distribution of loggerheads in the Indian Ocean is limited by the Asian landmass to the north (approximately 30[deg] N. lat.); distributions east and west are not restricted by landmasses south of approximately 38[deg] S. latitude.

In the North Indian Ocean, Oman hosts the vast majority of loggerhead nesting. The largest nesting assemblage is at Masirah

Island, Oman, in the northern tropics at 21[deg] N. lat. (Baldwin et al., 2003). Other key nesting assemblages occur on the Al Halaniyat

Islands, Oman (17[deg] S. lat.) and on Oman's Persian Gulf mainland beaches south of Masirah Island to the Oman-Yemen border (17-20[deg] S. lat.) (IUCN--The World Conservation Union, 1989a, 1989b; Salm, 1991;

Salm and Salm, 1991; Baldwin et al., 2003). In addition, nesting probably occurs on the mainland of Yemen on the Arabian Sea coast, and nesting has been confirmed on Socotra, an island off the coast of Yemen

(Pilcher and Saad, 2000).

Outside of Oman, loggerhead nesting is rare in the North Indian

Ocean. The only verified nesting beaches for loggerheads on the Indian subcontinent are found in Sri Lanka (Deraniyagala, 1939; Kar and

Bhaskar, 1982; Dodd, 1988; Kapurusinghe, 2006). Reports of regular loggerhead nesting on the Indian mainland are likely misidentifications of olive ridleys (Lepidochelys olivacea) (Tripathy, 2005; Kapurusinghe, 2006). Although loggerheads have been reported nesting in low numbers in Myanmar, these data may not be reliable because of misidentification of species (Thorbjarnarson et al., 2000).

Limited information exists on foraging locations of North Indian

Ocean loggerheads. Foraging individuals have been reported off the southern coastline of Oman (Salm et al., 1993) and in the Gulf of

Mannar, between Sri Lanka and India (Tripathy, 2005; Kapurusinghe, 2006). Satellite telemetry studies of post-nesting migrations of loggerheads nesting on Masirah Island, Oman, have revealed extensive use of the waters off the Arabian Peninsula, with the majority of telemetered turtles (15 of 20) traveling southwest, following the shoreline of southern Oman and Yemen, and circling well offshore in nearby oceanic waters (Environment Society of Oman and Ministry of

Environment and Climate Change, Oman, unpublished data). A minority traveled north as far as the western Persian Gulf (3 of 20) or followed the shoreline of southern Oman and Yemen as far west as the Gulf of

Aden and the Bab-el-Mandab (2 of 20). These preliminary data from Oman suggest that post-nesting migrations and adult female foraging areas are restricted to the Northwest Indian Ocean (Environment Society of

Oman and Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Oman, unpublished data). No tag returns or satellite tracks indicated that loggerheads nesting in Oman traveled south of the equator.

In the East Indian Ocean, Western Australia hosts all known loggerhead nesting (Dodd, 1988). Nesting distributions in Western

Australia span from the Shark Bay World Heritage Area northward through the Ningaloo Marine Park coast to the North West Cape and to the nearby

Muiron Islands (Baldwin et al., 2003). Nesting individuals from Dirk

Hartog Island have been recorded foraging within Shark Bay and Exmouth

Gulf, while other adults range into the Gulf of Carpentaria (Baldwin et al., 2003) as far east as Torres Strait. At the eastern extent of this apparent range, there is likely overlap with loggerheads that nest on

Australia's Pacific coast (Limpus, 2009). However, despite extensive tagging and beach monitoring at principal nesting beaches on

Australia's Indian Ocean and Pacific coasts, no exchange of females between nesting beaches has been observed (Limpus, 2009).

Loggerhead nesting in the Southwest Indian Ocean includes the southeastern coast of Africa from the Paradise Islands in Mozambique southward to St. Lucia in South Africa, and on the south and southwestern coasts of Madagascar (Baldwin et al., 2003). Foraging habitats are only known for the Tongaland, South Africa, adult female loggerheads. Returns of flipper tags describe a range that extends eastward to Madagascar, northward to Mozambique, Tanzania, and Kenya, and southward to Cape Agulhas at the southernmost point of Africa

(Baldwin et al., 2003). Four post-nesting loggerheads satellite tracked by Luschi et al. (2006) migrated northward, hugging the Mozambique coast and remained in shallow shelf waters off Mozambique for more than 2 months. Only one post-nesting female from the Southwest Indian Ocean population (South Africa) has been documented migrating north of the equator (to southern Somalia) (Hughes and Bartholomew, 1996).

The available genetic information relates to connectivity and broad evolutionary relationships between ocean basins. There is a lack of genetic information on population structure among rookeries within the

Indian Ocean. Bowen et al. (1994) described mtDNA sequence diversity among eight loggerhead nesting assemblages and found one of two principal branches in the Indo-Pacific basins. Using additional published and unpublished data, Bowen (2003) estimated divergence between these two lineages to be approximately three million years.

Bowen pointed out evidence for more recent colonizations (12,000- 250,000 years ago) between the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic-

Mediterranean. For example, the sole mtDNA haplotype (among eight samples) identified by Bowen et al. (1994) at Masirah Island, Oman, is known from the Atlantic and suggests some exchange between oceans some 250,000 years ago. The other principal Indian Ocean haplotype reported by

Page 58876

Bowen et al. (1994) was seen in all loggerheads sampled (n = 15) from

Natal, South Africa. Encalada et al. (1998) reported that this haplotype was common throughout the North Atlantic and Mediterranean, thus suggesting a similar exchange between the Atlantic and Indian

Oceans as recently as 12,000 years ago (Bowen et al., 1994). Bowen

(2003) speculated that Indian-Atlantic Ocean exchanges took place via the temperate waters south of South Africa and became rare as the ocean shifted to cold temperate conditions in this region.

To estimate loggerhead gene flow in and out of the Indian Ocean,

J.S. Reece (Washington University, personal communication, 2008) examined 100 samples from Masirah Island, 249 from Atlantic rookeries

(from Encalada et al., 1998), and 311 from Pacific rookeries (from

Bowen et al., 1995 and Hatase et al., 2002a). Reece estimated that gene flow, expressed as number of effective migrants, or exchanges of breeding females between Indian Ocean rookeries and those from the

Atlantic or Pacific occurred at the rate of less than 0.1 migrant per generation. Reece estimated gene flow based on coalescence of combined mtDNA and nuclear DNA data to be approximately 0.5 migrants per generation. These unpublished results, while somewhat theoretical, may indicate that there is restricted gene flow into and out of the Indian

Ocean. The low level of gene flow most likely reflects the historical connectivity over geological timescales rather than any contemporary migration, and is consistent with Bowen et al.'s (1994) hypothesis that exchange occurred most recently over 12,000-3,000,000 years ago during the Pleistocene, and has been restricted over recent ecological timescales.

The discrete status of three loggerhead populations in the Indian

Ocean is primarily supported by observations of tag returns and satellite telemetry. The genetic information currently available based on mtDNA sequences does not allow for a comprehensive analysis of genetic population structure analysis for Indian Ocean rookeries, although Bowen et al. (1994) indicated the Oman and South African rookeries are genetically distinct, and, based on preliminary results, once sequencing studies are completed for these rookeries, it is likely that they will also be genetically distinct from the rookeries in

Western Australia (P. Dutton, NMFS, unpublished data; N. FitzSimmons,

University of Canberra, unpublished data; J. Reece, University of

California at Santa Cruz, unpublished data). Based on multiple lines of evidence, discrete status is supported for the North Indian Ocean,

Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean, and Southwest Indian Ocean loggerhead populations. Although there is not a sufficiently clear picture of gene flow between these regions, significant vicariant barriers likely exist between these three Indian Ocean populations that would prevent migration of individuals on a time scale relative to management and conservation efforts. These biogeographical barriers are the oceanographic phenomena associated with Indian Ocean equatorial waters, and the large expanse between continents in the South Indian Ocean without suitable benthic foraging habitat.

Given the information presented above, the BRT concluded, and we concur, that three discrete population segments exist in the Indian

Ocean: (1) North Indian Ocean, (2) Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean, and

(3) Southwest Indian Ocean. These three population segments are markedly separated from each other and from population segments within the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean basins as a consequence of physical, ecological, behavioral, and oceanographic factors.

Information supporting this conclusion is primarily based on observations of tag returns and satellite telemetry. The genetic information currently available based on mtDNA sequences does not allow for a comprehensive analysis of genetic population structure for Indian

Ocean rookeries; however, the Oman and South African rookeries are genetically distinct (Bowen et al., 1994), and, based on preliminary results, once sequencing studies are completed for these rookeries, it is likely that they will also be determined genetically distinct from the rookeries in Western Australia (P. Dutton, NMFS, unpublished data;

N. FitzSimmons, University of Canberra, unpublished data; J. Reece,

University of California at Santa Cruz, unpublished data). Furthermore, significant biogeographical barriers (i.e., oceanographic phenomena associated with Indian Ocean equatorial waters, and the large expanse between continents in the South Indian Ocean without suitable benthic foraging habitat) likely exist between these three Indian Ocean populations that would prevent migration of individuals on a time scale relative to management and conservation efforts. The separation of the

Indian Ocean population segments from population segments within the

Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean basins is believed to be the result of land barriers and oceanographic barriers. Based on mtDNA analysis,

Bowen et al. (1994) found a separation of loggerheads in the Atlantic-

Mediterranean basins from those in the Indo-Pacific basins since the

Pleistocene period. Geography and climate appear to have shaped the evolution of these two matriarchal lineages with the onset of glacial cycles, the appearance of the Panama Isthmus creating a land barrier between the Atlantic and eastern Pacific, and upwelling of cold water off southern Africa creating an oceanographic barrier between the

Atlantic and Indian Oceans (Bowen, 2003). In the East Indian Ocean, although there is possible overlap with loggerheads that nest on

Australia's Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean coasts, extensive tagging at the principal nesting beaches on both coasts has revealed no exchange of females between these nesting beaches (Limpus, 2009).

Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea

Within the Atlantic Ocean, loss and re-colonization of nesting beaches over evolutionary time scales has been influenced by climate, natal homing, and rare dispersal events (Encalada et al., 1998; Bowen and Karl, 2007). At times, temperate beaches were too cool to incubate eggs and embryonic development could have succeeded only on tropical beaches. Thus, the contemporary distribution of nesting is the product of colonization events from the tropical refugia during the last 12,000 years. Apparently, turtles from the Northwest Atlantic colonized the

Mediterranean and at least two matrilines were involved (Schroth et al., 1996); however, Mediterranean rookeries became isolated from the

Atlantic populations in the last 10,000 years following the end of the

Wisconsin glacial period (Encalada et al., 1998). A similar colonization event appears to have populated the Northeast Atlantic

(Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2010).

Nesting in the western South Atlantic occurs primarily along the mainland coast of Brazil from Sergipe south to Rio de Janeiro, with peak concentrations in northern Bahia, Esp[iacute]rito Santo, and northern Rio de Janeiro (Marcovaldi and Chaloupka, 2007). In the eastern South Atlantic, diffuse nesting may occur along the mainland coast of Africa (Fretey, 2001), with more than 200 loggerhead nests reported for Rio Longa beach in central Angola in 2005 (Brian, 2007).

However, other researchers have been unable to confirm nesting by loggerheads in the last decade anywhere along the south Atlantic coast of Africa, including Angola (Fretey, 2001; Weir et al., 2007). There is the possibility that reports of nesting loggerheads from Angola and

Namibia (M[aacute]rquez M., 1990;

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Brian, 2007) may have arisen from misidentified olive ridley turtles

(Brongersma, 1982; Fretey, 2001). At the current time, it is not possible to confirm that regular, if any, nesting of loggerheads occurs along the Atlantic coast of Africa, south of the equator.

Genetic surveys of loggerheads have revealed that the Brazilian rookeries have a unique mtDNA haplotype (Encalada et al., 1998; Pearce, 2001). The Brazilian mtDNA haplotype, relative to North Atlantic haplotypes, indicates isolation of South Atlantic loggerheads from

North Atlantic loggerheads on a scale of 250,000-500,000 years ago, and microsatellite DNA results show divergence on the same time scale

(Bowen, 2003). Brazil's unique haplotype has been found only in low numbers in foraging populations of juvenile loggerheads of the North

Atlantic (Bass et al., 2004). Other lines of evidence support a deep division between loggerheads from the South Atlantic and from the North

Atlantic, including: (1) A nesting season in Brazil that peaks in the austral summer around December-January (Marcovaldi and Laurent, 1996), as opposed to the April-September nesting season in the southeastern

United States in the northern hemisphere (Witherington et al., 2009); and (2) no observations of tagged loggerheads moving across the equator in the Atlantic, except a single case of a captive-reared animal that was released as a juvenile from Esp[iacute]rito Santo and was recaptured 3 years later in the Azores (Bolten et al., 1990). Post- nesting females from Esp[iacute]rito Santo, Brazil, moved either north or south along the coast, but remained between 10[deg] S. lat. and 30[deg] S. lat. (Marcovaldi et al., 2000; Lemke et al., 2006), while post-nesting females from Bahia, Brazil, all moved north (Marcovaldi et al., 2010).

Recaptures of tagged juvenile turtles and nesting females have shown movement of animals up and down the coast of South America

(Almeida et al., 2000, 2007; Marcovaldi et al., 2000; Laporta and

Lopez, 2003). Juvenile loggerheads, presumably of Brazilian origin, have also been captured on the high seas of the South Atlantic (Kotas et al., 2004; Pinedo and Polacheck, 2004) and off the coast of Atlantic

Africa (Petersen, 2005; Petersen et al., 2007; Weir et al., 2007) suggesting that, like their North Pacific, South Pacific, and Northwest

Atlantic counterparts, loggerheads of the South Atlantic may undertake transoceanic developmental migrations (Bowen et al., 1995; Bolten et al., 1998; Peckham et al., 2007; Boyle et al., 2009). Marcovaldi et al.

(2010) equipped 10 loggerheads nesting in Brazil with satellite transmitters to study their internesting and postnesting movements. At the conclusion of their nesting season, all 10 turtles migrated to the northern coast of Brazil to individual foraging areas on the continental shelf. Females were also tracked during a second postnesting migration back to their foraging areas, showing a strong fidelity to foraging grounds.

Within the Northwest Atlantic, the majority of nesting activity occurs from April through September, with a peak in June and July

(Williams-Walls et al., 1983; Dodd, 1988; Weishampel et al., 2006).

Nesting occurs within the Northwest Atlantic along the coasts of North

America, Central America, northern South America, the Antilles, and The

Bahamas, but is concentrated in the southeastern United States and on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico (Sternberg, 1981; Ehrhart, 1989;

Ehrhart et al., 2003; NMFS and USFWS, 2008). Five recovery units

(management subunits of a listed species that are geographically or otherwise identifiable and essential to the recovery of the species) have been identified based on genetic differences and a combination of geographic distribution of nesting densities and geographic separation

(NMFS and USFWS, 2008). These recovery units are: Northern Recovery

Unit (Florida/Georgia border through southern Virginia), Peninsular

Florida Recovery Unit (Florida/Georgia border through Pinellas County,

Florida), Dry Tortugas Recovery Unit (islands located west of Key West,

Florida), Northern Gulf of Mexico Recovery Unit (Franklin County,

Florida, through Texas), and Greater Caribbean Recovery Unit (Mexico through French Guiana, The Bahamas, Lesser Antilles, and Greater

Antilles) (NMFS and USFWS, 2008).

Loggerheads in the Northwest Atlantic have a complex population genetic structure. Based on mtDNA evidence, oceanic juveniles show no structure, neritic juveniles show moderate structure, and nesting colonies show strong structure (Bowen et al., 2005). In contrast, a study using microsatellite (nuclear DNA) markers showed no significant population structure among nesting populations (Bowen et al., 2005), indicating that while females exhibit strong philopatry, males may provide an avenue of gene flow between nesting colonies in this region.

Nevertheless, Bowen et al. (2005) argued that male-mediated gene flow within the Northwest Atlantic does not detract from the classification of breeding areas as independent populations (e.g., management/recovery units) because the production of progeny depends on female nesting success. All Northwest Atlantic recovery units are reproductively isolated from populations within the Northeast Atlantic, South

Atlantic, and Mediterranean Sea.

As oceanic juveniles, loggerheads from the Northwest Atlantic use the North Atlantic Gyre and often are associated with Sargassum communities (Carr, 1987). They also are found in the Mediterranean Sea.

In these areas, they overlap with animals originating from the

Northeast Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea (Laurent et al., 1993, 1998; Bolten et al., 1998; Bowen et al., 2005; LaCasella et al., 2005;

Carreras et al., 2006; Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2006;

Revelles et al., 2007). In the western Mediterranean, they tend to be associated with the waters off the northern African coast and the northeastern Balearic Archipelago, areas generally not inhabited by turtles of Mediterranean origin (Carreras et al., 2006; Revelles et al., 2007; Eckert et al., 2008). As larger neritic juveniles, they show more structure and tend to inhabit areas closer to their natal origins

(Bowen et al., 2004), but some do move to and from oceanic foraging grounds throughout this life stage (McClellan and Read, 2007; Mansfield et al., 2009; McClellan et al., 2010), and some continue to use the

Mediterranean Sea (Casale et al., 2008a; Eckert et al., 2008).

Adult populations are highly structured with no overlap in distribution among adult loggerheads from the Northwest Atlantic,

Northeast Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Mediterranean. Carapace epibionts suggest the adult females of different subpopulations use different foraging habitats (Caine, 1986). In the Northwest Atlantic, based on satellite telemetry studies and flipper tag returns, non- nesting adult females from the Northern Recovery Unit reside primarily off the east coast of the United States; movement into the Bahamas or the Gulf of Mexico is rare (Bell and Richardson, 1978; Williams and

Frick, 2001; Mansfield, 2006; Turtle Expert Working Group (TEWG), 2009). Adult females of the Peninsular Florida Recovery Unit are distributed throughout eastern Florida, The Bahamas, Greater Antilles, the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as along the Atlantic seaboard of the United States (Meylan, 1982; Meylan et al., 1983; Foley et al., 2008; TEWG, 2009). Adult females from the

Northern Gulf of Mexico Recovery Unit remained in the Gulf of Mexico, including off the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, based on satellite telemetry and flipper tag returns (Foley et al., 2008; TEWG, 2009;

Page 58878

M. Lamont, Florida Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, personal communication, 2009; M. Nicholas, National Park Service, personal communication, 2009).

Nesting in the Northeast Atlantic is concentrated in the Cape Verde

Archipelago, with some nesting occurring on most of the islands, and the highest concentration on the beaches of Boa Vista Island

(L[oacute]pez-Jurado et al., 2000; Varo Cruz et al., 2007; Loureiro, 2008; Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2010). On mainland Africa, there is minor nesting on the coasts of Mauritania to Senegal

(Brongersma, 1982; Arvy et al., 2000; Fretey, 2001). Earlier reports of loggerhead nesting in Morocco (Pasteur and Bons, 1960) have not been confirmed in recent years (Tiwari et al., 2001). Nesting has not been reported from Macaronesia (Azores, Madeira Archipelago, The Selvagens

Islands, and the Canary Islands), other than in the Cape Verde

Archipelago (Brongersma, 1982). In Cape Verde, nesting begins in mid-

June and extends into October (Cejudo et al., 2000), which is somewhat later than when nesting occurs in the Northwest Atlantic.

Based on an analysis of mtDNA of nesting females from Boa Vista

Island, the Cape Verde nesting assemblage is genetically distinct from other studied rookeries (Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2009, 2010). The results also indicate that despite the close proximity of the Mediterranean, the Boa Vista rookery is most closely related to the rookeries of the Northwest Atlantic.

The distribution of juvenile loggerheads from the Northeast

Atlantic is largely unknown but they have been found on the oceanic foraging grounds of the North Atlantic (A. Bolten, University of

Florida, personal communication, 2008, based on Bolten et al., 1998 and

LaCasella et al., 2005; Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2009; M.

Tiwari, NMFS, and A. Bolten, University of Florida, unpublished data) and in the western and central Mediterranean (A. Bolten, University of

Florida, personal communication, 2008, based on Carreras et al., 2006), along with small juvenile loggerheads from the Northwest Atlantic. The size of nesting females in the Northeast Atlantic is comparable to those in the Mediterranean (average 72-80 cm straight carapace length

(SCL); Margaritoulis et al., 2003) and smaller than those in the

Northwest Atlantic or the South Atlantic; 91 percent of the nesting turtles are less than 86.5 cm curved carapace length (CCL) (Hawkes et al., 2006) and nesting females average 77.1 cm SCL (Cejudo et al., 2000). Satellite-tagged, post-nesting females from Cape Verde foraged in coastal waters along northwest Africa or foraged oceanically, mostly between Cape Verde and the African shelf from Mauritania to Guinea

Bissau (Hawkes et al., 2006).

In the Mediterranean, nesting occurs throughout the central and eastern basins on the shores of Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Syria,

Lebanon, Israel, the Sinai, Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia (Sternberg, 1981;

Margaritoulis et al., 2003; SWOT, 2007; Casale and Margaritoulis, 2010). Sporadic nesting also has been reported in the western

Mediterranean on Corsica (Delaugerre and Cesarini, 2004), southwestern

Italy (Bentivegna et al., 2005), and on the Spanish Mediterranean coast

(Tom[aacute]s et al., 2003, 2008). Nesting in the Mediterranean is concentrated between June and early August (Margaritoulis et al., 2003;

Casale and Margaritoulis, 2010).

Within the Mediterranean, a recent study of mtDNA and nuclear DNA in nesting assemblages from Greece to Israel indicated genetic structuring, philopatry by both females and males, and limited gene flow between assemblages (Carreras et al., 2007). Genetic differentiation based on mtDNA indicated that there are at least four independent nesting assemblages within the Mediterranean and usually they are characterized by a single haplotype: (1) Mainland Greece and the adjoining Ionian Islands, (2) eastern Turkey, (3) Israel, and (4)

Cyprus. There is no evidence of adult female exchange among these four assemblages (Carreras et al., 2006). In studies of the foraging grounds in the western and central Mediterranean, seven of the 17 distinct haplotypes detected had not yet been described, indicating that nesting beach data to describe the natal origins of juveniles exploiting the western Mediterranean Sea are incomplete (Carreras et al., 2006; Casale et al., 2008a). Gene flow among the Mediterranean rookeries estimated from nuclear DNA was significantly higher than that calculated from mtDNA, consistent with the scenario of female philopatry maintaining isolation between rookeries, offset by male-mediated gene flow.

Nevertheless, the nuclear data show there was a higher degree of substructuring among Mediterranean rookeries compared to those in the

Northwest Atlantic (Bowen et al., 2005; Carreras et al., 2007).

Small oceanic juveniles from the Mediterranean Sea use the eastern basin (defined as inclusive of the central Mediterranean, Ionian,

Adriatic, and Aegean Seas) and the western basin (defined as inclusive of the Tyrrhenian Sea) along the European coast (Laurent et al., 1998;

Margaritoulis et al., 2003; Carreras et al., 2006; Revelles et al., 2007). Carreras et al. (2006) believe this genetic structuring is explained by the pattern of sea surface currents and water masses, with a limited exchange of juvenile loggerheads between water masses. Larger juveniles also use the eastern Atlantic and the eastern Mediterranean, especially the Tunisia-Libya shelf and the Adriatic Sea (Laurent et al., 1993; Margaritoulis et al., 2003; Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2006; Revelles et al., 2007; Eckert et al., 2008). Adults appear to forage closer to the nesting beaches in the eastern basin; most tag recoveries from females nesting in Greece have occurred in the Adriatic

Sea and off Tunisia (Margaritoulis et al., 2003; Lazar et al., 2004).

Loggerheads nesting in the Mediterranean were significantly smaller than loggerheads nesting in the Northwest Atlantic and the South

Atlantic. Within the Mediterranean, carapace lengths ranged from 58 to 95 cm SCL (Margaritoulis et al., 2003). Greece's loggerheads averaged 77-80 cm SCL (Tiwari and Bjorndal, 2000; Margaritoulis et al., 2003), whereas Turkey's loggerheads averaged 72-73 cm SCL (Margaritoulis et al., 2003). The Greece turtles also produced larger clutches (relative to body size) than those produced by Florida or Brazil nesters (Tiwari and Bjorndal, 2000).

Given the information presented above, the BRT concluded, and we concur, that four discrete population segments exist in the Atlantic

Ocean/Mediterranean: (1) Northwest Atlantic Ocean, (2) Northeast

Atlantic Ocean, (3) South Atlantic Ocean, and (4) Mediterranean Sea.

These four population segments are markedly separated from each other and from population segments within the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean basins as a consequence of physical, ecological, behavioral, and oceanographic factors. Information supporting this conclusion includes genetic analysis, flipper tag recoveries, and satellite telemetry.

Genetic studies have shown that adult populations are highly structured with no overlap in distribution among adult loggerheads in these four population segments (Bowen et al., 1994; Encalada et al., 1998; Pearce, 2001; Carerras et al., 2007; Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2009, 2010). Although loggerheads from the Northwest Atlantic, Northeast

Atlantic, and Mediterranean Sea population segments may comingle on oceanic foraging grounds as juveniles, adults are apparently isolated from each other; they also differ demographically. Data from satellite telemetry studies and

Page 58879

flipper tag returns have shown that nesting females from the Northwest

Atlantic return to the same nesting areas; they reveal no evidence of movement of adults south of the equator or east of 40[deg] W. longitude. Similarly, there is no evidence of movement of Northeast

Atlantic adults south of the equator, west of 40[deg] W. long., or east of the Strait of Gibraltar, a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic

Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. Also, there is no evidence of movement of adult Mediterranean Sea loggerheads west of the Strait of Gibraltar.

With regard to South Atlantic loggerheads, there have been no observations of tagged loggerheads moving across the equator in the

Atlantic, except a single case of a captive-reared animal that was released as a juvenile from Esp[iacute]rito Santo and was recaptured 3 years later in the Azores (Bolten et al., 1990). The separation of the

Atlantic Ocean/Mediterranean Sea population segments from population segments within the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean basins is believed to be the result of land barriers and oceanographic barriers. Based on mtDNA analysis, Bowen et al. (1994) found a separation of loggerheads in the Atlantic-Mediterranean basins from those in the Indo-Pacific basins since the Pleistocene period. Geography and climate appear to have shaped the evolution of these two matriarchal lineages with the onset of glacial cycles, the appearance of the Panama Isthmus creating a land barrier between the Atlantic and eastern Pacific, and upwelling of cold water off southern Africa creating an oceanographic barrier between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans (Bowen, 2003).

Significance Determination

As stated in the preceding section, the BRT identified nine discrete population segments. As described below by ocean basin, the

BRT found that each of the nine discrete population segments is biologically and ecologically significant. They each represent a large portion of the species' range, sometimes encompassing an entire hemispheric ocean basin. The range of each discrete population segment occurs within a unique ecosystem that has significantly influenced each population in physiology, morphology, and genetics. The loss of any individual discrete population segment would result in a significant gap in the loggerhead's range. Each discrete population segment is genetically distinct, often identified by unique mtDNA haplotypes, and the BRT suggested that this geographic partitioning of genetic variation could also indicate adaptive differences; the loss of any one discrete population segment would represent a significant loss of genetic diversity. Therefore, the BRT concluded, and we concur, that these nine population segments are both discrete from other conspecific population segments and significant to the species to which they belong, Caretta caretta.

The geographic delineations given below for each discrete population segment were determined primarily based on nesting beach locations, genetic evidence, oceanographic features, thermal tolerance, fishery bycatch data, and information on loggerhead distribution and migrations from satellite telemetry and flipper tagging studies (see

Map of Loggerhead Sea Turtle DPS Boundaries). With rare exception, adults from discrete population segments remain within the delineated boundaries. In some cases, juvenile turtles from two or more discrete population segments may mix on foraging areas and, therefore, their distribution and migrations may extend beyond the geographic boundaries delineated below for each discrete population segment (e.g., juvenile turtles from the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, Northeast Atlantic Ocean, and Mediterranean Sea discrete population segments share foraging habitat in the western Mediterranean Sea).

GRAPHIC

TIFF OMITTED TR22SE11.007

Pacific Ocean

The BRT considered 60[deg] N. lat. and the equator as the north and south boundaries, respectively, of the North Pacific Ocean population segment based on oceanographic features, loggerhead sightings, thermal tolerance, fishery bycatch data, and information on loggerhead distribution from satellite telemetry and flipper tagging studies. The

BRT determined that the North Pacific Ocean discrete population segment is biologically and ecologically significant because the loss of this population segment would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon, and the population segment differs

Page 58880

markedly from other population segments of the species in its genetic characteristics. The North Pacific Ocean population segment encompasses an entire hemispheric ocean basin and its loss would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon. There is no evidence or reason to believe that female loggerheads from South Pacific nesting beaches would repopulate the North Pacific nesting beaches should those nesting assemblages be lost (Bowen et al., 1994; Bowen, 2003). Tagging studies show that the vast majority of nesting females return to the same nesting area. As summarized by Hatase et al. (2002a), of 2,219 tagged nesting females from Japan, only five females were subsequently documented nesting away (between 74 and 630 km) from where they were originally encountered. In addition, flipper tag and satellite telemetry research, as described in detail in the Discreteness

Determination section above, has shown no evidence of north-south movement of loggerheads across the equator. This discrete population segment is genetically unique (see Discreteness Determination section above) and the BRT indicated that these unique haplotypes could represent adaptive differences; thus, the loss of this discrete population segment would represent a significant loss of genetic diversity. Based on this information, the BRT concluded, and we concur, that the North Pacific Ocean population segment is significant to the taxon to which it belongs, and, therefore, that it satisfies the significance element of the DPS policy.

The BRT considered the equator and 60[deg] S. lat. as the north and south boundaries, respectively, and 67[deg] W. long. and 141[deg] E. long. as the east and west boundaries, respectively, of the South

Pacific Ocean population segment based on oceanographic features, loggerhead sightings, thermal tolerance, fishery bycatch data, and information on loggerhead distribution from satellite telemetry and flipper tagging studies. The BRT determined that the South Pacific

Ocean discrete population segment is biologically and ecologically significant because the loss of this population segment would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon, and the population segment differs markedly from other population segments of the species in its genetic characteristics. The South Pacific Ocean population segment encompasses an entire hemispheric ocean basin, and its loss would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon. The South

Pacific Ocean population is the only population of loggerheads found south of the equator in the Pacific Ocean and there is no evidence or reason to believe that female loggerheads from North Pacific nesting beaches would repopulate the South Pacific nesting beaches should those nesting assemblages be lost (Bowen et al., 1994; Bowen, 2003). In addition, flipper tag and satellite telemetry research, as described in detail in the Discreteness Determination section above, has shown no evidence of north-south movement of loggerheads across the equator. The

BRT also stated that it does not expect that recolonization from Indian

Ocean loggerheads would occur in eastern Australia within ecological time frames. Despite evidence of foraging in the Gulf of Carpentaria by adult loggerheads from the nesting populations in eastern Australia

(South Pacific Ocean population segment) and western Australia

(Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean population segment), the nesting females from these two regions are considered to be genetically distinct from one another (Limpus, 2009). In addition to a substantial disparity in mtDNA haplotype frequencies between these two populations, FitzSimmons

(University of Canberra, unpublished data) found significant differences in nuclear DNA microsatellite loci between females nesting in these two regions, indicating separation between the South Pacific

Ocean and the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean population segments. Long- term studies show a high degree of site fidelity by adult females in the South Pacific, with most females returning to the same beach within a nesting season and in successive nesting seasons (Limpus, 1985, 2009;

Limpus et al., 1994). This has been documented as characteristic of loggerheads from various rookeries throughout the world (Schroeder et al., 2003). This discrete population segment is genetically unique and the BRT indicated that these unique haplotypes could represent adaptive differences. Thus, the loss of this discrete population segment would represent a significant loss of genetic diversity. Based on this information, the BRT concluded, and we concur, that the South Pacific

Ocean population segment is significant to the taxon to which it belongs, and, therefore, that it satisfies the significance element of the DPS policy.

Indian Ocean

The BRT considered 30[deg] N. lat. and the equator as the north and south boundaries, respectively, of the North Indian Ocean population segment based on oceanographic features, loggerhead sightings, thermal tolerance, fishery bycatch data, and information on loggerhead distribution from satellite telemetry and flipper tagging studies. The

BRT determined that the North Indian Ocean discrete population segment is biologically and ecologically significant because the loss of this population segment would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon, and the population segment differs markedly from other population segments of the species in its genetic characteristics. The

North Indian Ocean population segment encompasses an entire hemispheric ocean basin, and its loss would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon. Genetic information currently available for Indian

Ocean populations indicates that the Oman rookery in the North Indian

Ocean and the South African rookery in the Southwest Indian Ocean are genetically distinct (Bowen et al., 1994), and, based on preliminary results, once sequencing studies are completed for these rookeries, it is likely that they will also be determined to be genetically distinct from the Western Australia rookeries in the Southeast Indo-Pacific

Ocean (P. Dutton, NMFS, unpublished data; N. FitzSimmons, University of

Canberra, unpublished data; J. Reece, University of California at Santa

Cruz, unpublished data). In addition, oceanographic phenomena associated with Indian Ocean equatorial waters exist between the North

Indian Ocean population segment and the two population segments in the

South Indian Ocean, which likely prevent migration of individuals across the equator on a time scale relative to management and conservation efforts (Conant et al., 2009). Therefore, there is no evidence or reason to believe that female loggerheads from the

Southwest Indian Ocean or Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean would repopulate the North Indian Ocean nesting beaches should those populations be lost

(Bowen et al., 1994; Bowen, 2003). Based on this information, the BRT concluded, and we concur, that the North Indian Ocean population segment is significant to the taxon to which it belongs, and, therefore, that it satisfies the significance element of the DPS policy.

The BRT considered the equator and 60[deg] S. lat. as the north and south boundaries, respectively, and 20[deg] E. long. at Cape Agulhas on the southern tip of Africa and 80[deg] E. long. as the east and west boundaries, respectively, of the Southwest Indian Ocean population segment based on oceanographic features, thermal tolerance, fishery bycatch data, and information on loggerhead distribution from satellite

Page 58881

telemetry and flipper tagging studies. The BRT determined that the

Southwest Indian Ocean discrete population segment is biologically and ecologically significant because the loss of this population segment would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon, and the population segment differs markedly from other population segments of the species in its genetic characteristics. The Southwest Indian Ocean population segment encompasses half of a hemispheric ocean basin, and its loss would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon.

Genetic information currently available for Indian Ocean populations indicates that the Oman rookery in the North Indian Ocean and the South

African rookery in the Southwest Indian Ocean are genetically distinct

(Bowen et al., 1994), and, based on preliminary results, once sequencing studies are completed for these rookeries, it is likely that they will also be determined to be genetically distinct from the

Western Australia rookeries in the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean (P.

Dutton, NMFS, unpublished data; N. FitzSimmons, University of Canberra, unpublished data; J. Reece, University of California at Santa Cruz, unpublished data). In addition, biogeographical barriers (i.e., oceanographic phenomena associated with Indian Ocean equatorial waters, and the large expanse between continents in the South Indian Ocean without suitable benthic foraging habitat) likely exist between the three Indian Ocean populations that would prevent migration of individuals between populations on a time scale relative to management and conservation efforts (Conant et al., 2009). Therefore, there is no evidence or reason to believe that female loggerheads from the North

Indian Ocean or Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean would repopulate the

Southwest Indian Ocean nesting beaches should those populations be lost

(Bowen et al., 1994; Bowen, 2003). There is also no evidence of movement of adult Southwest Indian Ocean loggerheads west of 20[deg] E. long. at Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point on the African continent, or east of 80[deg] E. long. within the Indian Ocean. Based on this information, the BRT concluded, and we concur, that the Southwest

Indian Ocean population segment is significant to the taxon to which it belongs, and, therefore, that it satisfies the significance element of the DPS policy.

The BRT considered the equator and 60[deg] S. lat. as the north and south boundaries, respectively, and 141[deg] E. long. and 80[deg] E. long. as the east and west boundaries, respectively, of the Southeast

Indo-Pacific Ocean population segment based on oceanographic features, thermal tolerance, fishery bycatch data, and information on loggerhead distribution from satellite telemetry and flipper tagging studies. The

BRT determined that the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean discrete population segment is biologically and ecologically significant because the loss of this population segment would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon, and the population segment differs markedly from other population segments of the species in its genetic characteristics. The Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean population segment encompasses half of a hemispheric ocean basin, and its loss would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon. Genetic information currently available for Indian Ocean populations indicates that the Oman rookery in the North Indian Ocean and the South African rookery in the Southwest Indian Ocean are genetically distinct (Bowen et al., 1994), and, based on preliminary results, once sequencing studies are completed for these rookeries, it is likely that they will also be determined to be genetically distinct from the Western

Australia rookeries in the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean (P. Dutton,

NMFS, unpublished data; N. FitzSimmons, University of Canberra, unpublished data; J. Reece, University of California at Santa Cruz, unpublished data). In addition, biogeographical barriers (i.e., oceanographic phenomena associated with Indian Ocean equatorial waters, and the large expanse between continents in the South Indian Ocean without suitable benthic foraging habitat) likely exist between the three Indian Ocean populations that would likely prevent migration of individuals between populations on a time scale relative to management and conservation efforts (Conant et al., 2009). Therefore, there is no evidence or reason to believe that female loggerheads from the North

Indian Ocean or Southwest Indian Ocean would repopulate the Southeast

Indo-Pacific Ocean nesting beaches should those populations be lost

(Bowen et al., 1994; Bowen, 2003). There is also no evidence of movement of adult Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean loggerheads west of 80[deg] E. long. within the Indian Ocean. Despite evidence of foraging in the Gulf of Carpentaria by adult loggerheads from the nesting populations in eastern Australia (South Pacific Ocean population segment) and western Australia (Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean population segment), the nesting females from these two regions are considered to be genetically distinct from one another (Limpus, 2009). In addition to a substantial disparity in mtDNA haplotype frequencies between these two regions, FitzSimmons (University of Canberra, unpublished data) found significant differences in nuclear DNA microsatellite loci from females nesting in these two regions, indicating separation between the

South Pacific Ocean population segment and the Southeast Indo-Pacific

Ocean population segment. Based on this information, the BRT concluded, and we concur, that the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean population segment is significant to the taxon to which it belongs, and, therefore, it satisfies the significance element of the DPS policy.

Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea

The BRT considered 60[deg] N. lat. and the equator as the north and south boundaries, respectively, and 40[deg] W. long. as the eastern boundary of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean population segment based on oceanographic features, loggerhead sightings, thermal tolerance, fishery bycatch data, and information on loggerhead distribution from satellite telemetry and flipper tagging studies. The BRT determined that the Northwest Atlantic Ocean discrete population segment is biologically and ecologically significant because the loss of this population segment would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon, and the population segment differs markedly from other population segments of the species in its genetic characteristics. The

Northwest Atlantic Ocean population segment encompasses half of a hemispheric ocean basin, and its loss would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon. Genetic studies have shown that adult populations are highly structured with no overlap in distribution among adult loggerheads from the Northwest Atlantic, Northeast Atlantic,

South Atlantic, and Mediterranean Sea (Bowen et al., 1994; Encalada et al., 1998; Pearce, 2001; Carerras et al., 2007; Monz[oacute]n-

Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2009, 2010). There is no evidence or reason to believe that female loggerheads from the Northeast Atlantic,

Mediterranean Sea, or South Atlantic nesting beaches would repopulate the Northwest Atlantic nesting beaches should these populations be lost

(Bowen et al., 1994; Bowen, 2003). Data from satellite telemetry studies and flipper tag returns, as described in detail in the

Discreteness Determination section above, have shown that the vast majority of nesting females from the Northwest Atlantic return to the same

Page 58882

nesting area; they reveal no evidence of movement of adults south of the equator or east of 40[deg] W. longitude. This discrete population segment is genetically distinct (see Discreteness Determination section above) possibly indicating adaptive differences as suggested by the

BRT; thus, the loss of this discrete population segment would represent a significant loss of genetic diversity. Based on this information, the

BRT concluded, and we concur, that the Northwest Atlantic Ocean population segment is significant to the taxon to which it belongs, and, therefore, that it satisfies the significance element of the DPS policy.

The BRT considered 60[deg] N. lat. and the equator as the north and south boundaries, respectively, and 40[deg] W. long. as the west boundary of the Northeast Atlantic Ocean population segment. The BRT considered the boundary between the Northeast Atlantic Ocean and

Mediterranean Sea population segments as 5[deg] 36' W. long. (Strait of

Gibraltar). These boundaries are based on oceanographic features, loggerhead sightings, thermal tolerance, fishery bycatch data, and information on loggerhead distribution from satellite telemetry and flipper tagging studies. The BRT determined that the Northeast Atlantic

Ocean discrete population segment is biologically and ecologically significant because the loss of this population segment would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon, and the population segment differs markedly from other population segments of the species in its genetic characteristics. The Northeast Atlantic Ocean population segment encompasses half of a hemispheric ocean basin, and its loss would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon. Genetic studies have shown that adult populations are highly structured with no overlap in distribution among adult loggerheads from the Northwest

Atlantic, Northeast Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Mediterranean Sea

(Bowen et al., 1994; Encalada et al., 1998; Pearce, 2001; Carerras et al., 2007; Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2009, 2010). There is no evidence or reason to believe that female loggerheads from the

Northwest Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea, or South Atlantic nesting beaches would repopulate the Northeast Atlantic nesting beaches should these populations be lost (Bowen et al., 1994; Bowen, 2003). There is also no evidence of movement of Northeast Atlantic adults west of 40[deg] W. long. or, in the vicinity of the Strait of Gibraltar (the boundary between the Northeast Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea population segments), no evidence of movement east of 5[deg] 36' W. longitude. This discrete population segment is genetically unique (see

Discreteness Determination section above) and the BRT indicated that these unique haplotypes could represent adaptive differences; thus, the loss of this discrete population segment would represent a significant loss of genetic diversity. Based on this information, the BRT concluded, and we concur, that the Northeast Atlantic Ocean population segment is significant to the taxon to which it belongs, and, therefore, that it satisfies the significance element of the DPS policy.

The BRT considered the Mediterranean Sea west to 5[deg]36' W. long.

(Strait of Gibraltar) as the boundary of the Mediterranean Sea population segment based on oceanographic features, loggerhead sightings, thermal tolerance, fishery bycatch data, and information on loggerhead distribution from satellite telemetry and flipper tagging studies. The BRT determined that the Mediterranean Sea discrete population segment is biologically and ecologically significant because the loss of this population segment would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon, and the population segment differs markedly from other population segments of the species in its genetic characteristics. The Mediterranean Sea population segment encompasses the entire Mediterranean Sea basin, and its loss would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon. Genetic studies have shown that adult populations are highly structured with no overlap in distribution among adult loggerheads from the Northwest Atlantic,

Northeast Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Mediterranean Sea (Bowen et al., 1994; Encalada et al., 1998; Pearce, 2001; Carerras et al., 2007;

Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2009, 2010). There is no evidence or reason to believe that female loggerheads from the Northwest

Atlantic, Northeast Atlantic, or South Atlantic nesting beaches would repopulate the Mediterranean Sea nesting beaches should these populations be lost (Bowen et al., 1994; Bowen, 2003). As previously described, adults from the Mediterranean Sea population segment appear to forage closer to the nesting beaches in the eastern basin, and most flipper tag recoveries from females nesting in Greece have occurred in the Adriatic Sea and off Tunisia (Margaritoulis et al., 2003; Lazar et al., 2004). There is no evidence of movement of adult Mediterranean Sea loggerheads west of the Strait of Gibraltar (5[deg]36' W. long.). This discrete population segment is genetically unique (see Discreteness

Determination section above) and the BRT indicated that these unique haplotypes could represent adaptive differences; thus, the loss of this discrete population segment would represent a significant loss of genetic diversity. Based on this information, the BRT concluded, and we concur, that the Mediterranean Sea population segment is significant to the taxon to which it belongs, and, therefore, that it satisfies the significance element of the DPS policy.

The BRT considered the equator and 60[deg] S. lat. as the north and south boundaries, respectively, and 20[deg] E. long. at Cape Agulhas on the southern tip of Africa and 67[deg] W. long. as the east and west boundaries, respectively, of the South Atlantic Ocean population segment based on oceanographic features, loggerhead sightings, thermal tolerance, fishery bycatch data, and information on loggerhead distribution from satellite telemetry and flipper tagging studies. The

BRT determined that the South Atlantic Ocean discrete population segment is biologically and ecologically significant because the loss of this population segment would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon, and the population segment differs markedly from other population segments of the species in its genetic characteristics. The South Atlantic Ocean population segment encompasses an entire hemispheric ocean basin, and its loss would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon. Genetic studies have shown that adult populations are highly structured with no overlap in distribution among adult loggerheads from the Northwest Atlantic,

Northeast Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Mediterranean Sea (Bowen et al., 1994; Encalada et al., 1998; Pearce, 2001; Carerras et al., 2007;

Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2009, 2010). There is no evidence or reason to believe that female loggerheads from the Northwest

Atlantic, Northeast Atlantic, or Mediterranean Sea nesting beaches would repopulate the South Atlantic nesting beaches should these populations be lost (Bowen et al., 1994; Bowen, 2003). This discrete population segment is genetically unique (see Discreteness

Determination section above) and the BRT indicated that these unique haplotypes could represent adaptive differences; thus, the loss of this discrete population segment would represent a significant loss of genetic diversity. Based on this information, the BRT concluded, and we concur, that the

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South Atlantic Ocean population segment is significant to the taxon to which it belongs, and, therefore, that it satisfies the significance element of the DPS policy.

In summary, based on the information provided in the Discreteness

Determination and Significance Determination sections above, the BRT identified nine loggerhead DPSs distributed globally: (1) North Pacific

Ocean DPS, (2) South Pacific Ocean DPS, (3) North Indian Ocean DPS, (4)

Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS, (5) Southwest Indian Ocean DPS, (6)

Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS, (7) Northeast Atlantic Ocean DPS, (8)

Mediterranean Sea DPS, and (9) South Atlantic Ocean DPS. We concur with the findings and application of the DPS policy described by the BRT and herein delineate the nine DPSs identified by the BRT as DPSs (i.e., they are discrete and significant).

Significant Portion of the Range

We have determined that the range of each DPS contributes meaningfully to the conservation of the DPS and that populations that may contribute more or less to the conservation of each DPS throughout a portion of its range cannot be identified due to the highly migratory nature of the listed entity.

The loggerhead sea turtle is highly migratory and crosses multiple domestic and international geopolitical boundaries. Depending on the life stage, they may occur in oceanic waters or along the continental shelf of landmasses, or transit back and forth between oceanic and neritic habitats. Protection and management of both the terrestrial and marine environments is essential to recovering the listed entity.

Management measures implemented by any State, foreign nation, or political subdivision likely would only affect individual sea turtles during certain stages and seasons of the life cycle. Management measures implemented by any State, foreign nation, or political subdivision may also affect individuals from multiple DPSs because juvenile turtles from disparate DPSs can overlap on foraging grounds or migratory corridors (e.g., Northwest Atlantic, Northeast Atlantic, and

Mediterranean Sea DPSs). The term ``significant portion of its range'' is not defined by the statute. For the purposes of this rule, a portion of the species' (species or distinct population segment) range is

``significant'' if its contribution to the viability of the species is so important that without that portion the species would be in danger of extinction. The BRT was unable to identify any particular portion of the range of any of the DPSs that was more significant to the DPS than another portion of the same range because of the species' migratory nature, the varying threats that affect different life stages, and the varying benefits accruing from conservation efforts throughout the geographic range of each DPS. The next section describes our evaluation of the status of each DPS throughout its range.

Status and Trends of the Nine Loggerhead DPSs

Complete population abundance estimates do not exist for the nine

DPSs. Within the global range of the species, and within each DPS, the primary data available are collected on nesting beaches, either as counts of nests or counts of nesting females, or a combination of both

(either direct or extrapolated). Information on abundance and trends away from the nesting beaches is limited or non-existent, primarily because these data are, relative to nesting beach studies, logistically difficult and expensive to obtain. Therefore, the primary information source for directly evaluating status and trends of the nine DPSs is nesting beach data.

North Pacific Ocean DPS

In the North Pacific, loggerhead nesting is essentially restricted to Japan where monitoring of loggerhead nesting began in the 1950s on some beaches, and expanded to include most known nesting beaches since approximately 1990. Kamezaki et al. (2003) reviewed census data collected from most of the Japanese nesting beaches. Although most surveys were initiated in the 1980s and 1990s, some data collection efforts were initiated in the 1950s. Along the Japanese coast, nine major nesting beaches (greater than 100 nests per season) and six

``submajor'' beaches (10-100 nests per season) were identified. Census data from 12 of these 15 beaches provide composite information on longer-term trends in the Japanese nesting assemblage. Using information collected on these beaches, Kamezaki et al. (2003) concluded a substantial decline (50-90 percent) in the size of the annual loggerhead nesting population in Japan since the 1950s. Snover

(2008) combined nesting data from the Sea Turtle Association of Japan and data from Kamezaki et al. (2002) to analyze an 18-year time series of nesting data from 1990-2007. Nesting declined from an initial peak of approximately 6,638 nests in 1990-1991, followed by a steep decline to a low of 2,064 nests in 1997. During the past decade, nesting increased gradually to 5,167 nests in 2005, declined and then rose again to a high of just under 11,000 nests in 2008. Estimated nest numbers for 2009 were on the order of 7,000-8,000 nests. While nesting numbers have gradually increased in recent years and the number for 2009 was similar to the start of the time series in 1990, historical evidence from Kamouda Beach (census data dates back to the 1950s) indicates that there has been a substantial decline over the last half of the 20th century (Kamezaki et al., 2003) and that current nesting represents a fraction of historical nesting levels.

South Pacific Ocean DPS

In the South Pacific, loggerhead nesting is almost entirely restricted to eastern Australia (primarily Queensland) and New

Caledonia, and the population has been well studied. The size of the annual breeding population (females only) has been monitored at numerous rookeries in Australia since 1968 (Limpus and Limpus, 2003a), and these data constitute the primary measure of the current status of the DPS. The total nesting population for Queensland was approximately 3,500 females in the 1976-1977 nesting season (Limpus, 1985; Limpus and

Reimer, 1994). Little more than two decades later, Limpus and Limpus

(2003a) estimated this nesting population at less than 500 females in the 1999-2000 nesting season. There has been a marked decline in the number of females breeding annually since the mid-1970s, with an estimated 50 to 80 percent decline in the number of breeding females at various Australian rookeries up to 1990 (Limpus and Reimer, 1994) and a decline of approximately 86 percent from 1976-1999 (Limpus and Limpus, 2003a). However, since 2000, this long-term decline in the number of nesting females has reversed with increasing numbers of nesting females observed from 2000-2009 (Limpus, in press). More recent data for Mon

Repos have shown increased nesting; 2009 nesting numbers were similar to nesting numbers recorded in the 1990s (M. Hamann, James Cook

University, personal communication, 2010). However, comparable nesting surveys have not been conducted in New Caledonia. Information from a pilot study conducted in 2005 combined with oral history information collected suggest that there has been a decline in loggerhead nesting over recent decades (Limpus et al., 2006). Based on data from the pilot study, only 60 to 70 loggerheads nested on the four surveyed New

Caledonia beaches during the

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2004-2005 nesting season (Limpus et al., 2006).

Studies of eastern Australia loggerheads at their foraging areas provide some information on the status of non-breeding loggerheads of the South Pacific Ocean DPS. Chaloupka and Limpus (2001) determined that the resident loggerhead population on coral reefs of the southern

Great Barrier Reef declined at 3 percent per year from 1985 to the late 1990s. The observed decline occurred in spite of constant high annual survivorship measured at this foraging habitat and was hypothesized to result from recruitment failure from fox predation of eggs at mainland rookeries during the 1960s and pelagic juvenile mortality from incidental capture in longline fisheries since the 1970s (Chaloupka and

Limpus, 2001). Concurrently, a decline in new recruits was measured in these foraging areas (Limpus and Limpus, 2003a).

North Indian Ocean DPS

The North Indian Ocean hosts the largest nesting assemblage of loggerheads in the eastern hemisphere; the vast majority of these loggerheads nest in Oman (Baldwin et al., 2003). Nesting occurs in greatest density on Masirah Island; the number of emergences ranges from 27-102 per km nightly (Ross, 1998). Nesting densities have complicated the implementation of standardized nesting beach surveys, and more precise nesting data have only been collected since 2008.

Extrapolations resulting from partial surveys and tagging in 1977-1978 provided broad estimates of 19,000 to 60,000 females nesting annually at Masirah Island in 1977 and 28,000 to 35,000 in 1978. A more recent partial survey in 1991 provided an estimate of 23,000 nesting females at Masirah Island (Ross, 1979, 1998; Ross and Barwani, 1982; Baldwin, 1992). A reinterpretation of the 1977-1978 estimates, assuming 50 percent nesting success (as compared to 100 percent in the original estimates), resulted in an estimate of 20,000 to 40,000 females nesting annually (Baldwin et al., 2003). Reliable trends in nesting cannot be determined due to the lack of standardized surveys at Masirah Island prior to 2008. From 2008 through 2010, approximately 50,000, 67,600, and 62,400 nests, respectively, were estimated annually based on standardized daily surveys of the highest density nesting beaches and weekly surveys on all remaining island nesting beaches. Using an estimated clutch frequency of five nests per nesting female this would convert to 10,000, 13,520, and 12,480 nesting females annually (Conant et al., 2009). Even using the low end of the 1977-1978 estimates of 20,000 nesting females at Masirah, this suggests a significant decline in the size of the nesting population and is consistent with observations by long-term resident rangers that the population has declined substantially in the last three decades (E. Possardt, USFWS, personal communication, 2008).

In addition to the nesting beaches on Masirah Island, over 3,000 nests per year have been recorded in Oman on the Al-Halaniyat Islands and, along the Oman mainland of the Arabian Sea, approximately 2,000 nests are deposited annually (Salm, 1991; Salm et al., 1993). In Yemen, on Socotra Island, 50-100 loggerheads were estimated to have nested in 1999 (Pilcher and Saad, 2000). A time series of nesting data based on standardized surveys is not available to determine trends for these nesting sites.

Loggerhead nesting is rare elsewhere in the northern Indian Ocean and in some cases is complicated by inaccurate species identification

(Shanker, 2004; Tripathy, 2005). A small number of nesting females use the beaches of Sri Lanka every year; however, there are no records to suggest that Sri Lanka has ever been a major nesting area for loggerheads (Kapurusinghe, 2006). Loggerheads have been reported nesting in low numbers in Myanmar; however, these data may not be reliable because of misidentification of species (Thorbjarnarson et al., 2000).

Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS

In the eastern Indian Ocean, loggerhead nesting is restricted to

Western Australia (Dodd, 1988), and this nesting population is the largest in Australia (Wirsing et al., unpublished data, cited in

Natural Heritage Trust, 2005; Limpus, 2009).

Dirk Hartog Island hosts about 70-75 percent of nesting individuals in the eastern Indian Ocean (Baldwin et al., 2003). Surveys were conducted on the island for the duration of six nesting seasons between 1993/1994 and 1999/2000 (Baldwin et al., 2003) and continued until 2009 during which time 800-1,500 loggerheads were estimated to nest annually on Dirk Hartog Island beaches (Baldwin et al., 2003).

Fewer loggerheads (approximately 150-350 per season) are reported nesting on the Muiron Islands; however, more nesting loggerheads are reported here than on North West Cape (approximately 50-150 per season)

(Baldwin et al., 2003). Although data are insufficient to determine trends, historical information suggests the nesting population in the

Muiron Islands and North West Cape region was likely reduced from historical numbers, before recent beach monitoring programs began, as a result of bycatch in commercial fisheries (Nishemura and Nakahigashi, 1990; Poiner et al., 1990; Poiner and Harris, 1996).

Southwest Indian Ocean DPS

In the Southwest Indian Ocean, the highest concentration of nesting occurs on the coast of Tongaland, South Africa, where surveys and management practices were instituted in 1963 (Baldwin et al., 2003). A trend analysis of index nesting beach data from this region from 1965 to 2008 indicates an increasing nesting population between the first decade of surveys, which documented 500-800 nests annually, and the last 8 years, which documented 1,100-1,500 nests annually (Nel, 2008).

These data represent approximately 50 percent of all nesting within

South Africa and are believed to be representative of trends in the region. Loggerhead nesting occurs elsewhere in South Africa, but sampling is not consistent and no trend data are available. The total number of females nesting annually in South Africa is estimated between 500-2,000 turtles (Baldwin et al., 2003). In Mozambique, surveys have been instituted much more recently; likely less than 200 females nest annually and no trend data are available (Baldwin et al., 2003; Louro et al., 2006; Videira et al., 2008, 2010; Pereira et al., 2009).

Similarly, in Madagascar, loggerheads have been documented nesting in low numbers, but no trend data are available (Rakotonirina, 2001).

Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS

Nesting occurs within the Northwest Atlantic along the coasts of

North America, Central America, northern South America, the Antilles, and The Bahamas, but is concentrated in the southeastern U.S. and on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico (Sternberg, 1981; Ehrhart, 1989;

Ehrhart et al., 2003; NMFS and USFWS, 2008). Collectively, the

Northwest Atlantic Ocean hosts the most significant nesting assemblage of loggerheads in the western hemisphere and is one of the two largest loggerhead nesting assemblages in the world. NMFS and USFWS (2008),

Witherington et al. (2009), and TEWG (2009) provide comprehensive analyses of the status of the nesting assemblages within the Northwest

Atlantic Ocean DPS using standardized data collected over survey periods ranging from 10 to 23 years. The results of these analyses, using different analytical approaches, were consistent in their findings--there had been a significant, overall nesting decline

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within this DPS. However, with the addition of nesting data from 2008 through 2010, which was not available at the time those analyses were conducted, the final result for the trend line changes. Nesting in 2008 showed a substantial increase compared to the low of 2007, and nesting in 2010 reached the highest level seen since 2000 (Florida Fish and

Wildlife Conservation Commission Core Index Nesting Beach Database).

The most current nesting trend for the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS, from 1989-2010, is very slightly negative, but the rate of decline is not statistically different from zero. Additionally, the range from the statistical analysis of the nesting trend includes both negative and positive growth (NMFS, unpublished data).

NMFS and USFWS (2008) identified five recovery units (nesting subpopulations) in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean: The Northern (Florida/

Georgia border to southern Virginia); Peninsular Florida (Florida/

Georgia border south through Pinellas County, excluding the islands west of Key West, Florida); Dry Tortugas (islands west of Key West,

Florida); Northern Gulf of Mexico (Franklin County, Florida, west through Texas); and Greater Caribbean (Mexico through French Guiana,

The Bahamas, Lesser and Greater Antilles). At that time, declining trends in the annual number of nests were documented for all recovery units for which there were an adequate time series of nesting data.

The Peninsular Florida Recovery Unit represents approximately 87 percent of all nesting effort in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS

(Ehrhart et al., 2003). A significant declining trend had been documented for the Peninsular Florida Recovery Unit, where nesting declined 26 percent over the 20-year period from 1989-2008, and declined 41 percent over the period 1998-2008 (NMFS and USFWS, 2008;

Witherington et al., 2009). As explained previously, with the addition of nesting data through 2010, the nesting trend for the Peninsular

Florida Recovery Unit, and the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS, does not show a nesting decline statistically different from zero. The Northern

Recovery Unit is the second largest recovery unit within the DPS and was declining significantly at 1.3 percent annually from 1983 to 2007

(NMFS and USFWS, 2008). Currently, nesting for that recovery unit is showing possible signs of stabilizing. In 2008, nesting in Georgia reached what was a new record at that time (1,646 nests), with a downturn in 2009, followed by yet another record in 2010 (1,760 nests).

South Carolina had the two highest years of nesting in the 2000s in 2009 (2,183 nests) and 2010 (3,141 nests). The previous high for that 11-year span was 1,433 nests in 2003. North Carolina had 847 nests in 2010, which is above the average of 715. The Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina nesting data come from the seaturtle.org Sea Turtle

Nest Monitoring System which is populated with data input by the State agencies. The Greater Caribbean Recovery Unit is the third largest recovery unit within the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS, with the majority of nesting at Quintana Roo, Mexico. TEWG (2009) reported a greater than 5 percent annual decline in loggerhead nesting from 1995- 2006 at Quintana Roo. When nest counts up through 2010 are analyzed, however, the nesting trends from 1989 through 2010 are not significantly different from zero for all of the recovery units within the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS for which there are enough data to analyze (NMFS, unpublished data).

In an effort to evaluate loggerhead population status and trends beyond the nesting beach, NMFS and USFWS (2008) and TEWG (2009) reviewed data from in-water studies within the range of the Northwest

Atlantic Ocean DPS. NMFS and USFWS (2008), in the Recovery Plan for the

Northwest Atlantic Population of the Loggerhead Sea Turtle, summarized population trend data reported from nine in-water study sites where loggerheads were regularly captured and where efforts were made to provide local indices of abundance. These sites were located from Long

Island Sound, New York, to Florida Bay, Florida. The study periods for these nine sites varied. The earliest began in 1987, and the most recent were initiated in 2000. Results reported from four of the studies indicated no discernible trend, two studies reported declining trends, and two studies reported increasing trends. Trends at one study site, Mosquito Lagoon, Florida, indicated either a declining trend (all data, 1977-2005) or no trend (more recent data, 1995-2005), depending on whether all sample years were used or only the more recent, and likely more comparable sample years, were used. TEWG (2009) used raw data from six of the aforementioned nine in-water study sites to conduct trend analyses. Results from three of the four sites located in the southeastern United States showed an increasing trend in the abundance of loggerheads, one showed no discernible trend, and the two sites located in the northeastern United States showed a decreasing trend in abundance of loggerheads.

Crouse et al. (1987) and Crowder et al. (1994) presented models, using data available from what is now the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS, suggesting that adults (males and females) are approximately 0.3 percent of the total population. These models assume that the population is density independent and growing exponentially; however, in the case of sea turtles, it is unlikely that either of these assumptions is met. The most recent point estimate of the number of adult females in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS is 30,000 (Southeast

Fisheries Science Center, 2009); assuming a 1:1 adult sex ratio results in 60,000 adults. If those individuals represent 0.3 percent of the total population size, then the total population size would be on the order of 20 million individuals. The vast majority of these individuals would be in the youngest life stages, where natural mortality is very high. This is the life history strategy of sea turtles; many individuals must be produced to contribute to the breeding population and to keep the population from declining. The most important point to understand regarding these models and subsequent calculations is that their main assumptions--the population has a stable age distribution, anthropogenic mortality is constant, sex ratios are equal, and the environment is constant--are likely not met.

A recent aerial survey from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence provided insight into loggerhead abundance in continental shelf waters of the U.S. Atlantic coast. In a preliminary report (Northeast Fisheries Science Center, 2011), the most conservative estimate, in which only sightings that were positively identified as loggerhead sea turtles were used, was that about 588,000 juvenile and adult loggerheads were present in the survey area

(approximate inter-quartile range of 382,000-817,000 individuals). When a portion of the unidentified turtles were assigned as loggerheads, the estimate increased to 801,000 individuals (inter-quartile range of 521,000-1,111,000). The survey effort did not encompass waters south of

Cape Canaveral on the Atlantic Coast or in the Gulf of Mexico

(Northeast Fisheries Science Center, 2011).

Northeast Atlantic Ocean DPS

In the northeastern Atlantic, the Cape Verde Islands support the only large nesting population of loggerheads in the region (Fretey, 2001). Nesting occurs at some level on most of the islands in the archipelago with the largest nesting

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numbers reported from the island of Boa Vista where studies have been ongoing since 1998 (Lazar and Holcer, 1998; L[oacute]pez-Jurado et al., 2000; Fretey, 2001; Varo Cruz et al., 2007; Loureiro, 2008; M. Tiwari,

NMFS, personal communication, 2008). On Boa Vista Island, 833 and 1,917 nests were reported in 2001 and 2002 respectively from 3.1 km of beach

(Varo Cruz et al., 2007) and between 1998 and 2002 the local project had tagged 2,856 females (Varo Cruz et al., 2007). In 2005, 5,396 nests and 3,121 females were reported from 9 km of beach on Boa Vista Island

(L[oacute]pez-Jurado et al., 2007). More recently, 12,028 nests in 2008, 20,102 nests in 2009, and 9,174 nests in 2010 were reported from approximately 68 km of beach on Boa Vista Island (Cabo Verde Natura 2000, 2010). On Sal Island, 344 nests were reported in 2008, 1,037 nests in 2009, and 566 nests in 2010 (SOS Tartarugas, 2009; J. Cozens,

SOS Tartarugas, personal communication, 2011). From Santiago Island, 66 nests were reported from four beaches in 2007 and 53 nests from five beaches in 2008 (http://tartarugascaboverde.wordpress.com/santiago).

Due to limited data available, a population trend cannot currently be determined for the Cape Verde population; however, available information on the directed killing of nesting females suggests that this nesting population is under severe pressure and likely significantly reduced from historical levels (Marco et al., 2010).

Loureiro (2008) reported a reduction in nesting from historical levels at Santiago Island, based on interviews with elders. Elsewhere in the northeastern Atlantic, loggerhead nesting is non-existent or occurs at very low levels. In Morocco, anecdotal reports indicated high numbers of nesting turtles in southern Morocco (Pasteur and Bons, 1960), but a few recent surveys of the Atlantic coastline have suggested a dramatic decline (Tiwari et al., 2001, 2006). A few nests have been reported from Mauritania (Arvy et al., 2000) and Sierra Leone (E. Aruna,

Conservation Society of Sierra Leone, personal communication, 2008).

Some loggerhead nesting in Senegal and elsewhere along the coast of

West Africa has been reported; however, a more recent and reliable confirmation is needed (Fretey, 2001).

Mediterranean Sea DPS

Nesting occurs throughout the central and eastern Mediterranean in

Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia (Sternberg, 1981; Margaritoulis et al., 2003; SWOT, 2007;

Casale and Margaritoulis, 2010). In addition, sporadic nesting has been reported from the western Mediterranean (Spain and France), but the vast majority of nesting occurs in Greece and Turkey (Margaritoulis et al., 2003). The documented annual nesting of loggerheads in the

Mediterranean averages over 7,200 nests (Casale and Margaritoulis, 2010). There has been no discernible trend in nesting reported for the two longest monitoring projects in Greece, Laganas Bay (Margaritoulis, 2005) and southern Kyparissia Bay (Margaritoulis and Rees, 2001).

However, the nesting trend at Rethymno Beach, which hosts approximately 7 percent of all documented loggerhead nesting in the Mediterranean, showed a highly significant declining trend from 1990 through 2004

(Margaritoulis et al., 2009). In Turkey, intermittent nesting surveys have been conducted since the 1970s with more consistent surveys conducted on some beaches only since the 1990s, making it difficult to assess trends in nesting. Ilgaz et al. (2007) reported a declining trend at Fethiye Beach from 1993-2004, this beach represents approximately 10 percent of loggerhead nesting in Turkey (Margaritoulis et al., 2003).

South Atlantic Ocean DPS

In the South Atlantic, nesting occurs primarily along the mainland coast of Brazil from Sergipe south to Rio de Janeiro, with peak concentrations in northern Bahia, Esp[iacute]rito Santo, and northern

Rio de Janeiro with peak nesting along the coast of Bahia (Marcovaldi and Chaloupka, 2007). Prior to 1980, loggerhead nesting populations in

Brazil were considered severely depleted. Recently, Marcovaldi and

Chaloupka (2007) reported a long-term, sustained increasing trend in nesting abundance over a 16-year period from 1988 through 2003 on 22 surveyed beaches containing more than 75 percent of all loggerhead nesting in Brazil. A total of 4,837 nests were reported from these survey beaches for the 2003-2004 nesting season (Marcovaldi and

Chaloupka, 2007). Loggerhead nesting has continued to increase with approximately 6,800 nests recorded during the 2008-2009 nesting season

(dos Santos et al., 2011).

Summary of Comments

With the publication of the proposed listing determination for the nine loggerhead sea turtle DPSs on March 16, 2010 (75 FR 12598), we announced a 90-day comment period extending through June 14, 2010. On

June 2, 2010 (75 FR 30769), we extended the public comment period for an additional 90 days through September 13, 2010, and announced our intention to hold a public hearing to provide an additional opportunity and format to receive public input. The public hearing was held in

Berlin, Maryland, on June 16, 2010. On March 22, 2011 (76 FR 15932), we published in the Federal Register a notice announcing a 6-month extension of the deadline for a final listing decision to address substantial disagreement that existed on the interpretation of data related to the status and trends for the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS of the loggerhead sea turtle and its relevance to the assessment of risk of extinction. At this time, we announced an additional 20-day comment period for new information or analyses from the public that would help clarify this issue.

A joint NMFS/USFWS policy requires us to solicit independent expert review from at least three qualified specialists, concurrent with the public comment period (59 FR 34270; July 1, 1994). In December 2004, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a Final Information

Quality Bulletin for Peer Review establishing minimum peer review standards, a transparent process for public disclosure, and opportunities for public input. The OMB Peer Review Bulletin, implemented under the Information Quality Act (Public Law 106-554), is intended to provide public oversight on the quality of agency information, analyses, and regulatory activities, and applies to information disseminated on or after June 16, 2005. We solicited technical review of the proposed listing determination from six independent experts, and received reviews from all six of these experts. The independent expert review under the joint NMFS/USFWS peer review policy collectively satisfies the requirements of the OMB Peer

Review Bulletin and the joint NMFS/USFWS peer review policy. The peer reviewers provided additional information, clarifications, suggestions, and editorial comments to improve this final rule. Peer reviewer comments are addressed in the following summary and incorporated into this final rule as appropriate.

The Services received over 109,000 public comments on the proposed rule, of which over 104,000 were form letters sent as part of comment campaigns from environmental organizations. Approximately 5,000 unique individual comments received were generally supportive of the proposed rule. Comments were received from interested individuals, State and

Federal agencies, fishing groups, environmental

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organizations, industry groups, and peer reviewers with scientific expertise.

The Services received many comments outside the scope of this rulemaking. These included comments on agency guidance on listing species, prohibitions on take, exceptions to the ESA prohibition on take (e.g., incidental take permits under section 10, incidental take statements under section 7), the difference between ``take'' as defined by the ESA and mortality, actions that may be taken as a result of changes to the ESA listing for loggerheads, management measures implemented via subsequent rulemakings, the findings of a National

Research Council report on the assessment of sea turtle status and trends, and implementation of recovery plans. We do not respond to these comments in this final rule.

The summary of comments and our responses below are organized into six general categories: (1) Peer review comments; (2) comments on the identification of DPSs; (3) comments on the identification and consideration of specific threats; (4) comments on the status and trends and extinction risk assessments of the DPSs; (5) comments on the status determinations for the DPSs; and (6) other comments.

Peer Review Comments

Comment 1: Two of the six peer reviewers requested clearer definitions for Endangered Species Act terminology used in the proposed rule. For instance, the proposed rule stated ``The ESA defines an endangered species as one that is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, and a threatened species as one that is likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range * * *'' These two reviewers asked about the time frame for ``in danger of extinction'' and whether the term extinction is referring to quasi-extinction or absolute extinction. One of these reviewers also asked what is meant by a ``significant portion of its range'' and ``foreseeable future.''

Response: The ESA defines an endangered species as a species that is ``in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range,'' and a threatened species as a species that is ``likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.'' The legislative history of the ESA indicates Congress did not provide any quantitative measures for the Services to apply when determining whether a species is ``in danger of extinction.'' Rather, it left to the discretion of the

Services the task of giving meaning to the terms through the process of case-specific analyses that necessarily depend on the Services' expertise to make the highly fact-specific decisions to list species as endangered or threatened. Although Congress did not seek to make any single factor controlling when drawing the distinction, Congress acknowledged that ``there is a temporal element to the distinction between the categories.'' In Re Polar Bear Endangered Species Act

Listing and Sec. 4(d) Rule Litigation, Slip Opinion at 40 n. 24, 51, 51 n. 27. (D.D.C. June 30, 2011). Thus, in the context of the ESA, the

Services interpret an ``endangered species'' to be one that is presently at risk of extinction. A ``threatened species,'' on the other hand, is not currently at risk of extinction, but is likely to become so. In other words, a key statutory difference between a threatened and endangered species is the timing of when a species may be in danger of extinction, either now (endangered) or in the foreseeable future

(threatened).

The term ``significant portion of its range'' is not defined by the statute. For the purposes of this rule, a portion of the species'

(species, subspecies, or distinct population segment) range is

``significant'' if its contribution to the viability of the species is so important that, without that portion, the species would be in danger of extinction. The definition of a ``threatened species'' is a species that is ``likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future.'' USFWS uses the term foreseeable future as interpreted by the

U.S. Department of the Interior Office of the Solicitor (Bernhardt, 2009): ``In summary, the foreseeable future describes the extent to which the Secretary (of Interior) can, in making determinations about the future conservation status of the species, reasonably rely on predictions about the future. Those predictions can be in the form of extrapolation of population or threat trends, analysis of how threats will affect the status of the species, or events that will have a significant new impact on the species. The Secretary's ability to rely on predictions may significantly vary with the amount and substance of available data.''

Comment 2: Three of the six peer reviewers agreed with the designation of the nine proposed DPSs. Two reviewers agreed with eight of the proposed DPSs, but disagreed with the proposed North Indian

Ocean DPS and questioned the rationale for not breaking out this DPS into East and West components. One reviewer felt that the separation of the Indian Ocean into three DPSs was not sufficiently explained.

Another reviewer found the evidence compelling to conclude that the

North Pacific Ocean, South Pacific Ocean, and South Atlantic Ocean DPSs were discrete. However, he had questions about the discreteness of the

Indian Ocean DPSs, and the northern Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean

Sea DPSs. While he did not question the discreteness findings of these

DPSs, the full argument was not clear to him.

Response: Insufficient information was available to further separate the North Indian Ocean DPS into east and west segments. As for the comments indicating that sufficient information was not provided to justify the separation of some of the DPSs, the Services believe the information provided in the Discreteness Determination section of this final rule and the Discreteness Determination section of the Status

Review (Conant et al., 2009), which is incorporated into this final rule by reference, meets agency policy for identifying DPSs.

Comment 3: In most cases, the peer reviewers either agreed with or did not oppose the proposed listing status for the nine DPSs. However, one reviewer stated that while he does not oppose the proposed status for any of the DPSs, he does not believe the proposed status for each

DPS was adequately explained or justified. Another reviewer expressed similar concerns for the North Pacific Ocean DPS, South Pacific Ocean

DPS, North Indian Ocean DPS, Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS, and the

Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS and stated that the status determinations needed to be more explicitly justified. One reviewer expressed concern about the restricted use of nesting data for the South Pacific Ocean

DPS up until 1999 only and indicated that more recent data should be used. This reviewer indicated that the more recent data for Mon Repos, for example, have shown increased nesting with 2009 nesting levels back up to similar numbers as seen in the 1990s. Two reviewers did not believe sufficient data were presented to justify listing of the North

Indian Ocean DPS as endangered, particularly in light of the large size of the nesting population, although one of them indicated he did not feel strongly about this. These same two reviewers also questioned the proposed endangered status for the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS because the nesting population is protected, trends have been stable, and there do not appear to be major sources of mortality; however, one of the two reviewers indicated he did not feel strongly about this.

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Response: With regard to the North Indian Ocean DPS, threats are substantial as identified in the five-factor review, and conservation efforts are embryonic relative to the known and suspected threats impacting the population. Given the information suggesting declines in the nesting population, the emergence of gillnet fisheries in close proximity to the nesting beaches, and the embryonic stage of conservation efforts in the region, the Services believe an endangered status is justified. In the case of the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean

DPS, the nesting survey effort and methods have varied over the last 2 decades and currently there are no nesting population estimates available to suggest any positive trend in nesting populations.

However, some of the fisheries bycatch impacts have been resolved through requirement of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) in shrimp trawlers, and longline fishery effort has declined due to fish stock decreases and economic reasons. Although a new fisheries effort has emerged for portunid crabs and is posing new threats to loggerheads, and longline fishing effort for tuna and billfish is also subject to increase if and when economics and fish populations improve, we are unable to quantify these threats. As a result, based primarily on peer reviewer comments regarding current threats and conservation efforts, the Services now believe a threatened status for the Southeast Indo-

Pacific Ocean DPS is appropriate. With regard to the comment that the status determinations for several of the DPSs lacked sufficient justification, we have clarified the rationale for the status determinations in the Finding section in this final rule.

Comment 4: One peer reviewer commented that the information presented in the proposed rule appeared thorough, up-to-date, and convincing for the conclusions made, both with respect to DPS designation and listing status. However, he noted the Services could have readily arrived at these conclusions without the use of either the susceptibility to quasi-extinction (SQE) or the threat matrix analysis.

He also noted that the relative novelty and thin track records of both methods may draw criticism that distracts from the real substance of the analysis of the available data. Another reviewer noted weaknesses with the extinction risk assessments, but was pleased to see these quantitative risk assessments included in the proposed rule and appreciated that they were considered hand-in-hand with the threats analysis. Specifically, he stated that the SQE approach looked at the risk of declining to 30 percent of the current population size, but it was not clear over what time frame this decline was examined or what risk of decline warranted listing. He also noted that the SQE method was largely retrospective, as it used past empirical trends to forecast future trends. He thought the matrix method was better at exploring the potential risk posed by future trends, so it was more forward-looking than the SQE method, but it only looked at deterministic risk, not stochastic risk. A third reviewer agreed with the threat based assessments, but he thought details were lacking in the SQE analysis.

Specifically, he thought there should be more emphasis on the relationship between reduced population sizes and decreased resilience to cope with current and future impacts and felt this to be particularly relevant given the large time frames for maturity and the large spatial scales involved.

Response: The Services have clarified the text in the Extinction

Risk Assessments section to more clearly state that the SQE and threat matrix analyses were only used to provide some additional insights into the status of the nine DPSs, but that ultimately the conclusions and determinations made were based on an assessment of population sizes and trends, current and anticipated threats (i.e., five-factor analysis), and conservation efforts for each DPS.

Comment 5: One peer reviewer stated that the threats assessments were not as future-focused as he would have liked. He thought they tended to rely on current or past status and trends, but he believes the ESA is forward-looking and is concerned about the future status of the species. He recognized that some evidence was presented about future trends, such as development pressures on beaches in various areas of the world, progress toward enforcing existing legislation, reduction of bycatch, and potential climate change impacts, but he still thought the final assessments could be more future-focused.

Response: Section 4 of the ESA and its implementing regulations (50

CFR part 424) set forth the procedures for adding species to the

Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. A species may be determined to be endangered or threatened due to one or more of the five factors described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act. The

Services are required to use the best scientific and commercial information available at the time we are making our listing assessments. Thus, predicting potential future threats to a species is dependent on available data and the life history and ecology of the species, the nature of the threats, and the species' response to those threats. While the SQE analysis relied on nesting beach surveys and is retrospective, the threat matrix analyses look at the potential future directions given the known threats and loggerhead sea turtle biology.

Although the SQE and threat matrix analyses provided some additional insights into the status of the nine DPSs, ultimately the conclusions and determinations made were primarily based on an assessment of population sizes and trends, current and anticipated threats, and conservation efforts for each DPS.

Comment 6: One peer reviewer said that for some populations (e.g.,

Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS) there has been a great deal of study over the past few decades and there is a lot of information about many aspects of the life history of the population and its anthropogenic threats. For other populations, there are little data. As a result he was unclear how the quality of the empirical evidence affected the risk assessment and the status classification under the ESA. He questioned whether a more precautionary interpretation of the risk was taken when there was greater uncertainty or whether the greater amount of evidence in some places actually made it easier.

Response: We are to make status determinations based solely on the best available scientific and commercial data after conducting a review of the status of the species and taking into account any efforts being made by States or foreign governments to protect the species. In assessing the status of each identified DPS, we considered available information on status and trends, the five-factor analysis (see Summary of Factors Affecting the Nine Loggerhead DPSs section), and conservation efforts that have been implemented (see Conservation

Efforts section). We considered this information in light of the ESA definitions of endangered and threatened (see Listing Determinations

Under the ESA section).

Comment 7: One peer reviewer commented that the boundary of 139[deg] E. long. in the Gulf of Carpentaria separating the South

Pacific Ocean DPS and the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS was too far west. He stated that satellite tracking showed a female from Western

Australia moving into 141[deg] E. long. and indicated there are reasonable numbers of loggerheads foraging in the Torres Strait for which genetic analyses have not yet been conducted.

Response: Based on the information provided by this peer reviewer, the

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Services have revised the boundary separating the South Pacific Ocean

DPS and the Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS from 139[deg] E. long. to 141[deg] E. longitude.

Comments on the Identification of DPSs

Comment 8: Two commenters questioned the Services' application of the DPS policy. They noted that DPS designations should be used sparingly and only when biological evidence indicates that such action is warranted to meet Congressional intent. They stated that the separation must be marked, and DPS designations are only appropriate where scientific evidence is conclusive to justify such listing.

Response: The Services acknowledge in the Policies for Delineating

Species Under the ESA section of this final rule that Congress has instructed the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce to exercise the authority to designate DPSs ``* * * sparingly and only when the biological evidence indicates such action is warranted.'' As a result, the Services adopted a joint policy for recognizing DPSs under the ESA

(DPS Policy; 61 FR 4722) on February 7, 1996. This policy, described in the Policies for Delineating Species Under the ESA section, has been closely followed in determining loggerhead DPSs, and the Services believe it meets the Congressional intent.

Comment 9: One commenter did not believe additional benefits to the populations would occur if DPSs were designated (e.g., threatened turtles are already treated the same as endangered turtles under a 4(d) rule, critical habitat can be designated, and section 7 of the ESA applies). Another commenter believes the United States will diminish its role in international sea turtle conservation by only having an interest in the two DPSs (Northwest Atlantic Ocean and North Pacific

Ocean) that occur in the United States.

Response: The Services were petitioned to list the Northwest

Atlantic and North Pacific loggerhead sea turtle populations as DPSs and to change the listing status of turtles in those populations from threatened to endangered. The Services do not believe that identifying

DPSs for the loggerhead will diminish the United States' role in international sea turtle conservation. Both Services have strong international programs for sea turtles, including implementation of the

U.S. Marine Turtle Conservation Act of 2004, which was created to assist in the conservation of sea turtles and their nesting habitats in foreign countries.

Comment 10: The State of Florida supports the identification of nine DPSs. The States of Georgia and South Carolina support the designation of the Northwest Atlantic DPS. The State of Connecticut believes the listing of nine loggerhead DPSs is reasonable and will result in better targeted conservation for this species. The State of

Maryland believes it is premature to consider listing DPSs without full disclosure of loggerhead population status. Numerous conservation organizations and individuals, including all the individuals that sent form letters, support designation of the nine proposed DPSs. Three fishing groups do not support the identification of loggerhead DPSs.

Response: The Services have considered the best available information on loggerhead population status and have summarized this information in the Status and Trends of the Nine Loggerhead DPSs section of this final rule.

Comment 11: The State of Alaska provided information that only two loggerheads have been observed in Alaska in the past 50 years and requested that Alaska waters be excluded from the North Pacific Ocean

DPS.

Response: While the ESA authorizes the listing, delisting, or reclassification of a species, subspecies, or DPS of a vertebrate species, it does not authorize the exclusion of a subset or portion of a listed species, subspecies, or DPS from a listing decision. Although only two observations of loggerheads in Alaska waters have been reported, this indicates the species does at least occasionally occur there.

Comment 12: One commenter contended that the Services failed to conduct analyses (e.g., statistical analysis, gene flow, extent of DNA allele and haplotype differences, degree of DNA sequence divergence for mtDNA or nuclear DNA) necessary to determine if the data support a conclusion of marked separation with respect to genetics. The commenter noted that the proposed rule stated that it relied on genetic differences characterized by allele frequency differences rather than fixed genetic differences.

Response: The Services conducted a thorough review of the best available science and presented and discussed the body of published genetic studies in the scientific literature, including statistical analysis, gene flow, extent of DNA allele and haplotype differences, and degree of DNA sequence divergence for mtDNA and nuclear DNA. All of these studies consistently show evidence of deep evolutionary divergence between the proposed DPSs. Several of the DPSs are characterized by fixed genetic differences or endemic mtDNA haplotypes; however, fixation is not a requirement for marked genetic separation.

Comment 13: One commenter disagreed with the Services' determination that physical factors separate DPSs in different ocean basins, and further disagreed that water temperatures are a sufficient barrier to prevent turtles from moving between ocean basins. The commenter noted that dispersal from the Indian Ocean to the South

Atlantic is possible via the Agulhas current and cited Bowen and Karl

(2007), which documented at least two such transfers. The commenter disagreed with the rationale for dividing the Atlantic basin into North and South because a DNA haplotype unique to the Brazilian nesting assemblage has been found in foraging juveniles in the North Atlantic, therefore contradicting that loggerheads in the North and South

Atlantic are isolated from each other. The commenter also believes that loggerheads from the North Pacific and South Pacific mix during their trans-Pacific migrations, which results in gene flow across the equator. The commenter cited information presented in Hatase et al.

(2002a) that the Australian haplotype (South Pacific Ocean DPS) was present in loggerheads nesting in Japan (North Pacific Ocean DPS) and in Bowen and Karl (2007) that turtles caught off Baja California have 5 percent of the Australian haplotype.

Response: There is substantial genetic evidence that is consistent with satellite telemetry and other lines of evidence to support the division between Ocean basins and between the North and South Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The Services present a review of the available science and discuss the rationale in detail for each DPS, which are based on distribution of breeding populations (rookeries). The Services note that the distribution of and migration of juveniles may extend beyond the geographic boundaries of each DPS and that juveniles from different DPSs may share oceanic foraging habitat. The dispersal (in terms of expansion/exchange and establishment of breeding populations) between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans referred to by the commenter occurred on geological timescales, most recently during the Pleistocene 12,000-250,000 years ago. The separation between the North and South

Atlantic is believed to be even deeper according to the published scientific literature detailed by the Services. The earlier speculation by Bowen et al. (2005) of an Australian haplotype present in the North

Pacific (including Baja California foraging

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grounds) has been shown by more recent studies to be a sampling artifact (Bowen et al., 1994, 1995; Hatase et al., 2002a; Dutton, 2007, unpublished data; Boyle et al., 2009; Watanabe et al., 2011).

Comment 14: One commenter referred to the Status Review statement that unique DNA haplotypes could represent adaptive differences. The commenter contended that this is speculation with no supporting evidence and, therefore, that adaptation and selection should not be considered in the discreteness finding.

Response: Adaptation and selection were not explicitly used as criteria to evaluate discreteness, but are processes that are implicitly involved in the evolution of populations (e.g., the accumulation of geographically divergent genetic variation). The text has been revised to clarify this point.

Comment 15: One commenter believes the Services cannot limit genetic analysis to a subset of the DPS (adult females) because doing so would be listing below the DPS level and contrary to court findings and legislative history. The commenter cited various court cases including Modesto Irrigation District v. Gutierrez, Alsea Valley

Alliance v. Evans, and Rock Creek Alliance v. United States Fish and

Wildlife Service. The commenter believes that limiting genetic analyses to only mtDNA can yield misleading results because it only reflects female gene flow. Alternately, nuclear DNA reflects total gene flow.

Response: The Services followed the DPS Policy to determine the applicability of the policy for the loggerhead sea turtle. The DPS policy requires the consideration of two elements when evaluating whether a vertebrate population segment qualifies as a DPS under the

ESA: (1) The discreteness of the population segment in relation to the remainder of the species or subspecies to which it belongs; and (2) the significance of the population segment to the species or subspecies to which it belongs. The loggerhead sea turtle's global distribution and natal site fidelity and migratory nature are integral to this determination. While the Services relied on the genetic analysis results of mitochondrial DNA (matriarchal), nuclear DNA analysis results, where available, were used to determine discreteness and significance of the DPSs. The Services presented a detailed rationale for identifying breeding populations as the population units given the complex life history of sea turtles. The geographic structure of maternal lineages is an appropriate measure that has been used extensively to delineate populations of sea turtles whose life history is characterized by natal homing (both of adult males and females).

Comment 16: One commenter disagreed that genetic separation exists for loggerheads in the Atlantic. The commenter believes that the data suggest the proposed DPSs in the Atlantic (Northwest Atlantic,

Northeast Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Mediterranean) are not genetically distinct because they share mtDNA haplotypes and microsatellite DNA alleles. The commenter provided their own analysis of the Northwest Atlantic and South Atlantic that showed at least four migrants per generation between the Northwest Atlantic and South

Atlantic; the commenter contended that migration of 1 to 10 animals between population groups per generation is sufficient to prevent genetic differentiation. Another commenter noted scientific agreement that male mediated gene flow is common among loggerheads, which leads the commenter to conclude that loggerheads are not ``reproductively- isolated'' on a global scale. This commenter believes that exchanges between ocean basins have occurred, are occurring now, and will likely occur in the future, while even subpopulations have been shown as genetically distinct within regions. One commenter questioned the

Services' finding that the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS is reproductively isolated and therefore markedly separated based on male- mediated gene flow as well as nest site fidelity. The commenter cited studies that have documented individual adult females returning to nest at sites that were equal to or greater than distances between nesting colonies. This commenter further believes that by declaring female loggerheads are reproductively isolated because of ``unique'' nesting areas is to classify an entire species based on the characteristics of part of the proposed DPS (nesting adult females), which violates the

ESA.

Response: Male mediated gene flow is one hypothesis explaining lack of differentiation with nuclear markers that have been found between proximate rookeries that have otherwise shown structure based on mtDNA.

Follow up studies are necessary to further test the alternative hypothesis that the lack of differentiation was due to the lack of statistical power of the microsatellite markers used in early studies to resolve fine scale structure. These studies are ongoing and there is a suite of new microsatellite markers that has been developed to further this research. Published studies consistently indicate that gene flow between the DPSs identified by the Services occur over geological time scales and shared haplotypes are the result of shared common ancestry 12,000-3 million years ago and not ongoing radiation and colonization between DPSs.

Comment 17: One commenter questioned and disagreed with the

Services' finding that the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS is genetically separated from other DPSs, particularly the Northeast Atlantic Ocean and South Atlantic Ocean DPSs. As evidence of substantial mixing in the oceanic zone, the commenter cited data from bycaught loggerheads in the pelagic longline fishery operating off Atlantic Canada as well as fisheries off the Azores and Madeira. Relative to foraging grounds, another commenter believes that the documented mixing of males and females facilitates male mediated gene flow between different nesting assemblages and different ocean basins and results in mixing by male mediated gene flow. This commenter also believes that Northwest

Atlantic loggerheads are not a legitimate DPS because they do not have private microsatellite alleles, share microsatellite alleles with other loggerheads, and do not have monophyletic DNA haplotypes within regions.

Response: There is no evidence that mating occurs on the distant foraging grounds. Indeed the body of genetic, behavioral, and telemetry research over the last 25 years is consistent with a paradigm of migration by adults, both male and female, to coastal areas near natal beaches where mating takes place at the beginning of the nesting season. There is no evidence that mixing of immature turtles at high seas foraging areas where pelagic fisheries also interact facilitates male mediated gene flow. Bowen et al. (2005) also showed tendency toward natal homing by immature loggerheads in the Northwest Atlantic as they move into the nearshore neritic habitat.

Comment 18: One commenter provided an analysis comparing mtDNA haplotypes directly (i.e., not transforming them to Fst) for the proposed DPSs in the Northwest Atlantic and Mediterranean. The commenter concluded that actual genetic data show that the Northwest

Atlantic, Northeast Atlantic, and Mediterranean populations are genetically similar, with shared mtDNA haplotypes with similar frequencies in some nesting populations. The commenter believes these observations of genetic patterns within and between regions indicate the proposed DPSs

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(Northwest Atlantic, Northeast Atlantic, and Mediterranean) are not genetically distinct or markedly separated. The commenter noted that after the Services concluded genetic separation between the proposed

Northwest and Northeast Atlantic Ocean DPSs, the Services admitted that nesting females of the Boa Vista rookery in the Northeast Atlantic, despite their proximity to other Northeast Atlantic rookeries and to the Mediterranean, are ``most closely related to the rookeries of the

Northwest Atlantic.'' Thus, the commenter believes the Services' admit no marked genetic separation between these two proposed DPSs. The commenter further recalled that the proposed rule admitted loggerheads from the Northwest Atlantic colonized the Northeast Atlantic and

Mediterranean. Additionally, the commenter believes this same rationale applies to other DPSs. An Australian haplotype (South Pacific Ocean) is found in Japanese nesting populations (North Pacific Ocean) indicating comingling of these groups. Similarly, the proposed South Pacific Ocean

DPS (eastern Australia) does not appear to be markedly different from nesting assemblages in Western Australia in the proposed Southeast

Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS because the two groups share two mtDNA haplotypes. Turtles caught off Baja California included 95 percent of the haplotypes that are common to Japanese nesting areas and 5 percent of Australian haplotypes; the Status Review admitted gene flow between these populations. As noted by Bowen and Karl (2007) ``there appears to be sufficient leakage [of genes] between ocean basins to prevent long- term isolation and allopatric specification.''

Response: Standard population genetic analysis published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature indicates significant population structure. Recent studies (Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al., 2010) reinforce this and identify haplotypes that are common in the Northeast

Atlantic but absent in the Northwest Atlantic rookeries. Furthermore,

Monz[oacute]n-Arg[uuml]ello et al. (2010) show that haplotypes that were the same based on relatively short (~380bp) sequences were actually different when longer sequence fragments (~760bp) were analyzed. They identified four new variants of the base haplotype and showed fixed differences between a Northwest Atlantic rookery and

Northeast Atlantic rookery, suggesting that previous studies have underestimated the level of differentiation between these DPSs.

Research is currently underway using longer sequence data to comprehensively reanalyze Atlantic and Mediterranean rookery structure that is expected to provide greater power to detect differentiation.

Also, see the response to Comment 17.

Comment 19: One commenter believes there is an error in the proposed rule, which notes that loggerheads at Brazilian rookeries have a ``unique mtDNA haplotype * * *.'' but then notes the haplotype is not

``unique'' because it has been found ``in foraging populations of juvenile loggerheads of the North Atlantic * * *.'' The commenter believes that if the haplotype is found throughout the Atlantic it is not ``unique'' and instead indicates common recent ancestry and male mediated gene flow throughout the Atlantic basin. Additionally, the commenter believes that mtDNA obtained from 11 animals from one site in

Brazil is too small a sample and limited geographically to properly assess the presence of haplotypes in North and South Atlantic populations.

Response: The commenter has confused the presence of haplotype in juvenile foraging populations with absence of this haplotype in North

Atlantic rookeries. Furthermore the commenter overstates the frequency of occurrence of the Brazilian haplotype in the North Atlantic juvenile foraging aggregations, and since mtDNA is maternally inherited, the claim that this is evidence of male mediated gene flow is erroneous.

Comment 20: One commenter disagreed that there are ecological differences for adult females in the Atlantic basin because multiple populations mix on foraging grounds. The commenter also feels that ecological differences cannot be used as justification for delineating a Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS because foraging behavior of adult males and other life stages are not included. Therefore, DPS designation is based only on a subset of the population and not the entire DPS. To further illustrate this point, the commenter cited a 2001 Atlantic

Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan that noted adult females comprise only 1 percent of the total turtle population and a

National Research Council report that concluded adults comprise less than 5 percent of the non-hatchling population.

Response: See response to comment 15. Also, in general, adult females occupy neritic foraging habitat, and mixing of adults from different DPSs on foraging grounds is unlikely.

Comment 21: One commenter disagreed that behavioral differences

(i.e., nesting season) justify discreteness. The commenter noted that nesting occurs in the summer months in both the South Atlantic and the

Northwest Atlantic; the months that nesting occurs are not the same because of the earth's rotation and have nothing to do with turtle behavior. The commenter contended that the behavior patterns of turtles are the same in both regions, thus if nesting season is used as the justification, it argues against separating the Northwest Atlantic from the Northeast Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

Response: Marked differences in nesting season between northern and southern hemispheres is one of several characteristics that help support distinction. The Services do not use nesting season per se as a diagnostic criterion to justify DPS designation, but rather consider it as one of several supporting factors.

Comment 22: One commenter believes the Services reached conclusions on the discreteness factors without analysis or explanation.

Response: The Services disagree. The Discreteness Determination section of the proposed rule clearly presented the information we considered in determining the discreteness of populations.

Comment 23: One commenter noted that the proposed rule addressed size issues only in the Atlantic and neglected the other ocean basins.

Also with respect to size, the commenter did not agree that mean size of reproductive female loggerheads should be used to support splitting the Northwest Atlantic Ocean and South Atlantic Ocean DPSs because the proposed rule noted that SCL in Brazil is comparable to that in the

Northwest Atlantic. Further, the commenter does not believe that size differences are justification for separate DPSs as these differences could be attributed to various ages, sexes, nutrition, and water temperature, which would greatly affect growth rates and corresponding size.

Response: The Services did not use nesting female size per se as a diagnostic criterion to justify DPS designation, but rather considered it as one of several supporting factors.

Comment 24: One commenter does not believe the ``significance'' standard is met in the proposed rule. The commenter believes that being located in different geographic areas does not make each area unique for loggerheads such that each area is significant.

Response: The Services disagree with the comment. Each of the nine populations represents a large portion of the species' range and each represents a unique ecosystem that is significant to the taxon as a whole, influenced by

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local ecological and physical factors. The loss of any individual population would result in a significant gap in the loggerhead's range.

Each population segment is genetically unique, often identified by unique mtDNA haplotypes, and the loss of any one population segment would represent a significant loss of genetic diversity.

Comments on the Identification and Consideration of Specific Threats

Comment 25: Three commenters believe climate change should be determined as a significant threat to the persistence of all of the

DPSs. The commenters provided detailed information on sea level rise impacts on nesting beaches and nesting success, increasing sand temperatures resulting in skewed sex ratios and higher egg mortality, impacts of storm activity on nesting beaches and nesting success, warmer ocean temperatures and changes in circulation effects on all age classes, and ocean acidification impacts on nesting beaches and food resources. Another commenter believes that global climate change should not be considered in the listing decision for the North Pacific Ocean

DPS because its effects on loggerheads and the ecosystem are too complex and speculative, and they could adapt to changing conditions.

Response: The Services have identified climate change impacts as potentially having profound long-term impacts on nesting populations, but also continue to believe it is not possible to quantify the potential impacts at this time. Impacts from climate change, especially due to global warming, are likely to become more apparent in future years (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007). The global mean temperature has risen 0.76 degrees Celsius over the last 150 years, and the linear trend over the last 50 years is nearly twice that for the last 100 years (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007). One of the most certain consequences of climate change is sea level rise (Titus and Narayanan, 1995), which will result in increased erosion rates along nesting beaches. On undeveloped and unarmored beaches with no landward infrastructure, shoreline migration may have limited effects on the suitability of nesting habitat. Bruun (1962) hypothesized that during sea level rise a typical beach profile will maintain its configuration but will be translated landward and upward.

However, along developed coastlines, and especially in areas where erosion control structures have been constructed to limit shoreline movement, rising sea levels are likely to cause severe effects on nesting females and their eggs (Hawkes et al., 2009; Poloczanska et al., 2009).

Comment 26: One commenter believes that terrestrial threats documented in the proposed rule should be irrelevant because the North

Pacific Ocean DPS nesting beach counts have increased despite these threats during the same time period. While these threats may have some as yet unquantified impact on the population, they are most certainly not driving the population to extinction.

Response: The Services believe that increased impacts in the terrestrial zone, such as beach armoring and human traffic, serve to decrease nesting success, hatching success, and hatchling survivorship.

Thus, although terrestrial threats may not impact loggerheads through direct mortality, the indirect effects hamper the reproductive output of the population, on which the effects will be manifested for decades to come.

Comment 27: One commenter believes the listing factor analysis for the North Pacific Ocean DPS does not appropriately weigh the adequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms (e.g., regulatory measures that address egg harvest and drift netting).

Response: The Services believe that the illegal, unidentified, and unregulated industrial longline and driftnet fleets operating in the

North Pacific have a major adverse effect on loggerhead sea turtles.

Thus, the existing regulatory mechanisms are currently insufficient to address these fishing impacts. It is likely that the existing regulatory mechanisms mandating fishing strategies in U.S.-based fleets are approaching adequate, yet loggerheads remain vulnerable to impacts from foreign fleets.

Comment 28: One commenter believes the impacts of U.S. commercial fisheries on North Pacific loggerheads are extremely small and not currently (or foreseeably) a significant source of injury or mortality.

The commenter noted that peer-reviewed scientific literature demonstrated that severe restrictions placed on the shallow-set fishery ostensibly to protect turtles, actually resulted in substantially more takes on the high seas by foreign fleets filling market demand not being met by Hawaii-based longline fisheries. While foreign high seas fisheries interact with North Pacific loggerheads, the commenter noted the impact of this take is uncertain and unquantified. The commenter believes that known data demonstrate that the North Pacific population has increased and remained stable since the 1990s, which suggests that high seas bycatch is not driving the population to extinction; this is contrary to the language in the proposed rule on foreign high seas fisheries' effects on the population.

Response: The Services agree that efforts by Hawaii-based longline fisheries to minimize loggerhead takes have been substantial and effective. However, to focus on loggerhead population trends since 1990 only tells part of the story. Empirical data clearly show that by 1990 the annual nesting population was substantially reduced relative to historical levels. Thus, loggerheads in the North Pacific remain a depleted population that continues to be vulnerable to fisheries bycatch.

Comment 29: One commenter did not agree that bycatch in Japanese coastal pound net and other fisheries is causing population declines of the North Pacific Ocean DPS and requested detailed bycatch data/ information that supports the Services' conclusion.

Response: The loggerhead Status Review concludes that impacts from fisheries bycatch represent a substantial threat to loggerhead sea turtles. Coastal pound-net fisheries in Japan have been shown to present a problem to loggerhead sea turtles in Japan and, when taken in context of all the other fisheries impacts ongoing at present, it is clear that no single fishery (coastal pound nets included) constitutes the only threat to loggerheads.

Comment 30: One commenter noted that for listing Factor A (The

Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of its

Habitat or Range), the Status Review listed threats as low and very low for Northwest Atlantic loggerheads. The commenter believes that low or very low threats do not provide a legally sound basis to designate the

Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as endangered. The commenter believes the proposed rule is inadequate in its assessment of listing Factor A and does not believe this factor justifies an endangered finding. The commenter listed several threats for which effects were not quantified

(e.g., number of individuals or amount of habitat affected) or evaluated for impacts to Northwest Atlantic loggerheads: Nesting beach erosion, erosion control devices (beach armoring), beach washout, jetty construction, light pollution, vehicular traffic, fishing effects on loggerhead diet, sediment dredging for port navigation, and climate change effects on trophic changes. Further, the commenter noted that the proposed rule does not explain how impacts from armoring or dredging are offset by beach nourishment programs that increase loggerhead nesting. Another commenter also provided comments for listing

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Factor A and believes the discussion of trends in addressing these threats is missing in the proposed rule (e.g., artificial lighting in

Florida, beach driving in North Carolina, Magnuson-Stevens Fishery

Conservation and Management Act and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries

Commission management measures, etc.).

Response: For a number of reasons, discussed in the Finding section, the Services are listing the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as threatened. While a listing could proceed based on one of the five factors, determinations of any listing decision are generally based on an examination of all five factors and how they impact the entity in total and not by examining or relying on only one factor in isolation.

Habitat modification or destruction impacts are considered to the extent they are known based on the best available information.

Quantification of such impacts is typically very difficult as a result of lack of available information. Regarding armoring or dredging impacts being offset by beach nourishment programs, we cannot quantify what the trade-off in effects would be. However, while nourishment can provide nesting habitat where either it had been destroyed previously or to augment impacts from other coastal measures, it at best helps reduce the impacts, but does not provide new benefits to the turtles.

The Services agree that many efforts have been made to reduce threats on the nesting beaches. However, in many cases past policies have resulted in permanent detrimental impacts to nesting beaches. As coastal development increases, additional pressure on beach systems will occur, and are occurring now. In many areas breakwaters, jetties, seawalls, and other erosion control structures designed to protect public and private property continue to be permitted and built.

Additional residential and commercial properties near beaches also continue to be permitted and built. While measures (e.g., lighting ordinances, construction setbacks) to mitigate these pressures to some degree provide important protections, threats remain a serious concern.

Comment 31: One commenter noted that for listing Factor B

(Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or

Educational Purposes), the Status Review lists threats as low or very low for Northwest Atlantic loggerheads. The commenter believes that low or very low threats do not provide a legally sound basis to designate the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as endangered. The commenter also questioned how a harvest of close to zero threatens loggerheads with extinction in the Northwest Atlantic, citing the TEWG assessment of harvest in the Caribbean and the proposed rule.

Response: For a number of reasons, discussed in the Finding section, the Services are listing the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as threatened. While a listing could proceed based on one of the five factors, determinations of any listing decision are generally based on an examination of all five factors and how they impact the listed entity in total and not by examining or relying on only one factor in isolation.

Comment 32: One commenter noted that for listing Factor C (Disease or Predation), the Status Review lists threats as low or very low for

Northwest Atlantic loggerheads. The commenter believes that low or very low threats do not provide a legally sound basis to designate the

Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as endangered. The commenter also asserted the proposed rule does not claim that threat from disease and predation actually exists, only that it may be an issue for Northwest Atlantic loggerheads. Further, the commenter believes the Services failed to indicate the nature or extent of the threat or how many loggerheads may be affected.

Response: For a number of reasons, discussed in the Finding section, the Services are listing the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as threatened. While a listing could proceed based on one of the five factors, determinations of any listing decision are generally based on an examination of all five factors and how they impact the entity in total and not by examining or relying on only one factor in isolation.

There are little data to assess the extent of disease and predation threats, thus a more qualitative discussion on the factor is presented.

That some degree of disease and predation occurs is known, though it is not expected to be significant by itself. That is the reason it was considered to be a low to very low threat.

Comment 33: One commenter presented an argument that the declines in Northwest Atlantic loggerhead nesting can best be explained by an epizootic event that specifically impacted loggerheads, and not fishery interactions. The commenter also claimed that the epizootic ended some years ago and populations are in recovery.

Response: The Services do not find there is enough evidence to support the epizootic hypothesis at this time. While epizootic events may play a factor in the population trajectory, a much stronger case would need to be made. Witherington et al. (2009) published a very compelling analysis of loggerhead nesting trends and demonstrated that fisheries impacts appear to account for a significant proportion of the trend.

Comment 34: One commenter believes listing Factor D (Inadequacy of

Existing Regulatory Mechanisms) is not at issue and cannot be used to justify an endangered designation for the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS because the Status Review noted that it is ``not considered to be reducing survival rates directly.'' Additionally, the commenter believes the Services never discussed what mechanisms are believed to be inadequate nor identified any indirect impacts.

Response: For a number of reasons, discussed in the Finding section, the Services are listing the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as threatened. While a listing could proceed based on one of the five factors, determinations of any listing decision are generally based on an examination of all five factors and how they impact the entity in total and not by examining or relying on only one factor in isolation.

Our review of regulatory mechanisms for this DPS described below in the

Summary of Factors Affecting the Nine Loggerhead DPSs demonstrates that regulatory mechanisms are in place that should address direct and incidental take for this DPS. While the regulatory mechanisms contained within international instruments are inconsistent and likely insufficient, the mechanisms of existing national legislation and protection enacted under existing regulatory mechanisms, primarily the

ESA, Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and

State regulations, are much more adequate. However, it remains to be determined if national measures are being implemented effectively to fully address the needs of loggerheads as many of the most significant measures have come within the last generation of loggerheads, and thus the benefits may not yet be seen in the nesting trends. In addition, even with the existing regulatory mechanisms there is still a potential threat from both national and international fishery bycatch and coastal development, beachfront lighting, and coastal armoring and other erosion control structures on nesting beaches in the United States.

More work needs to be done under the existing national regulatory mechanisms, as well as continuing to advance the development and effectiveness of international instruments, to ensure the persistence of this DPS. Therefore, we have determined that the threat from the inadequacy of existing regulatory

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mechanisms is significant relative to the persistence of this DPS.

Comment 35: One commenter agrees with the Services that although regulatory mechanisms are in place that should address direct and incidental take in Northwest Atlantic loggerheads, these regulatory mechanisms are insufficient or are not being implemented effectively to address the needs of loggerheads.

Response: More work needs to be done under the existing national regulatory mechanisms, as well as continuing to advance the development and effectiveness of international instruments, to ensure the persistence of this DPS. See the response to Comment 34 for additional information.

Comment 36: One commenter believes that the Services' assessment of existing regulatory measures for loggerheads in the Northwest Atlantic

Ocean DPS was confounded by the Services' failure to implement existing mechanisms. The commenter believes it is difficult to argue that the existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate for the Northwest

Atlantic Ocean DPS. The commenter noted that many conservation measures have been enacted, but given the species' prolonged age to maturity, coupled with transitory dynamics, it is likely too early to begin measuring effects of past actions on nesting activity; this is further complicated by multiple measures, implemented at different times, affecting different life stages.

Response: The Services agree that nationally, significant measures have been enacted under existing regulatory mechanisms and that is not yet possible to determine whether the measures are sufficiently effective as many of the most significant measures have come within the last generation of loggerheads, and thus the benefits may not yet be seen in the nesting trends. However, we have determined that additional work needs to be done under the existing national regulatory mechanisms, as well as continuing to advance the development and effectiveness of international instruments, to ensure the persistence of this DPS.

Comment 37: One commenter is concerned about apparent low survival rates of adult females from the Peninsular Florida Recovery Unit within the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS, but suggested this is better addressed through more effective implementation of existing regulatory measures.

Response: The apparent low survival rate of adult females from the

Peninsular Florida Recovery Unit has also been a concern for the

Services. There is a need to continue researching the issue to better understand what the actual survival rates are for adult females and all age classes. The Services agree that continued, and more effective, implementation of measures under the existing regulatory mechanisms is needed.

Comment 38: One commenter disagreed that existing regulatory mechanisms have failed to adequately address threats to Northwest

Atlantic loggerheads from incidental take and that no mechanism has effectively eliminated or sufficiently reduced mortality from fishing.

Similarly, another commenter stated that the claims that NMFS faces

``limitations on implementing demonstrated effective conservation measures'' and that domestic ``regulatory mechanisms are insufficient or are not being implemented effectively to address the needs of loggerheads'' of the Northwest Atlantic is contrary to the commenters' beliefs. This commenter noted that while no regulatory measure is perfect, the mechanisms in the United States (and increasingly internationally) are strong and subject to constant improvement and enforcement. The law virtually assures that identified gaps in protection are filled. Further, this commenter states that the current system for enforcing sea turtle protective measures is comprehensive and effective and took issue with the Services' characterization of

``limitations on enforcement capacity.'' However, several commenters disagreed that NMFS has an adequate number of officers to enforce existing regulations.

Response: The Services agree that substantial measures have been taken to reduce sea turtle mortality from fishery bycatch, and NMFS is committed to reducing bycatch and bycatch mortality further. However, in many fisheries high interaction levels and mortalities still occur, both nationally and internationally. While the Federal law does require that gaps in protection under U.S. jurisdiction are addressed, many gaps remain, and many of the measures enacted provide benefits to the species, but impacts still remain significant. NMFS disagrees with the assertion that there are not substantial limitations on enforcement capacity, as the geographic scope and variety of fisheries, inshore, coastal, and on the high seas that are known to, or potentially, impact sea turtles make effective enforcement difficult with limited resources at both the State and Federal levels.

Comment 39: One commenter questioned what the Services meant by

``lack of availability of comprehensive bycatch reduction technologies'' under Factor D (Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory

Mechanisms) for the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS.

Response: While TEDs stand as the model for sea turtle bycatch reduction technology, many gear types do not lend themselves to technological fixes that can reach a similarly high level of effectiveness when properly used. Even for some trawl fisheries, further development is needed to devise TED designs that effectively exclude sea turtles while maintaining sufficient target catch. Longline measures such as circle hooks and release gear requirements are valuable, but partial, solutions. Take levels in longline fisheries, both pelagic and bottom, can still result in significant impacts. For many other gear types, effective technological solutions are not so readily available, and much work remains to determine what gear changes, if any, will result in significant reductions in interactions and mortalities.

Comment 40: One commenter believes that ``limitations on implementing demonstrated conservation measures'' is a fallacious rationale to justify a change in status. The commenters again cited longline and shrimp trawl as well as scallop dredge gear modifications as leading to increasing protection for sea turtles at all life stages.

Response: While important measures have been enacted to address sea turtle interactions in some fisheries, there are still substantial levels of interactions in those and other fisheries. Limitations in applicability, resources, and industry acceptance and compliance in many cases present very real limitations on implementing demonstrated conservation measures in an effective manner.

Comment 41: One commenter noted that Federal negligence to design and execute appropriate loggerhead recovery efforts is a routinely overlooked threat to loggerhead survival. However, the commenter believes these failures can simply be corrected by harmonizing the conservation recommendations of ESA mandates with permitted incidental take. The commenter suggested better integration of three integral agency actions--mandatory species recovery plans, ESA section 7

Biological Consultations, and incidental take (both Incidental Take

Permits for State and private actions and Incidental Take Statements for Federal agency actions)--to facilitate the recovery of the loggerhead sea turtle. Specifically, the commenter stated the belief that crucial

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recommendations in recovery plans are routinely ignored during section 7 consultations and incidental take authorizations and urged NMFS to reassess its internal recovery management strategy (e.g., reinitiating section 7 consultation when necessary not just when authorized take limits are exceeded) to meet the recovery needs of loggerheads.

Response: Although the commenter is referring to actions taken subsequent to the listing, the Services point out that the ``three integral agency actions'' cited by the commenter are and will continue to be integrated. The ``ESA section 7 biological consultations'' and incidental take are both part of the same action for a Federal agency action. Incidental take is authorized by section 7 Biological Opinions, which are formal ESA consultations that occur when take is anticipated from a Federal action. Section 10(a)(1)(B) provides a mechanism when an action is being undertaken by a non-Federal entity that results in incidental take of a species; section 10(a)(1)(A) provides a mechanism for exempting directed take for scientific purposes. Recovery plans are important tools in the species conservation and recovery and provide recommendations at a broader scale and are used as guidelines but are not regulatory. Reasonable and Prudent Measures and Terms and

Conditions, in Biological Opinions are project specific and are intended to minimize the effects of the incidental take on a species.

Reinitiation of section 7 consultations takes place when: The amount or extent of take specified in the incidental take statement is exceeded; new information reveals effects of the action that may affect listed species or critical habitat in a manner or to an extent not previously considered; the identified action is subsequently modified in a manner that causes an effect to the listed species or critical habitat that was not considered in the biological opinion; and a new species is listed or critical habitat designated that may be affected by the identified action.

Comment 42: One commenter believes that permitting incidental take in the face of uncertainties in baseline loggerhead life history parameters and population estimates suggests existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate. Specifically, the commenter stated the belief that data for both sexes of loggerheads at all life stages

(growth rate, size, dispersal, etc.) are either nonexistent or inadequate, significantly curtailing their value for modeling.

Response: The Services agree that there remain substantial gaps in knowledge regarding loggerhead life history parameters; however, the

ESA requires us to use the best scientific data available when making a listing determination. Although significant measures have been enacted nationally under existing regulatory mechanisms, it is not yet possible to determine whether the measures are sufficiently effective as many of the most significant measures have come within the last generation of loggerheads, and thus the benefits may not yet be seen in the nesting trends. We have determined that additional work needs to be done under the existing national regulatory mechanisms, as well as continuing to advance the development and effectiveness of international instruments, to ensure the persistence of this DPS.

Comment 43: One commenter questioned the analysis of loggerhead survival rates in the Status Review. The commenter noted that the natural survival rate for neritic adults (i.e., large prebreeding and breeding males and females) is stated to be 95 percent in all DPSs. The

Status Review also stated that anthropogenic mortalities for neritic juveniles and adults in the proposed Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS are between 13 percent and 50 percent of the 95 percent of loggerheads left after natural mortality is subtracted. In other words, using the high end of the anthropogenic mortality estimate in the Status Review, approximately 52.5 percent of the proposed Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS neritic juvenile and adult population dies annually. The TEWG estimated the neritic juvenile and adult population of the proposed Northwest

Atlantic Ocean DPS to be 230,000. Given that, the Status Review asserted that 120,750 neritic juveniles and adults from this population die annually, almost entirely because of anthropogenic mortality. Yet the Status Review admitted that the largest source of mortality in the proposed Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS, fishery bycatch, totals only 3,743 turtles annually.

Response: The Status Review document prepared by the BRT was only one of many sources of information considered by the Services to make the listing status determination. The mortality estimate used for that particular threat analysis was based upon a majority opinion of experts comprising the BRT, but it was not a consensus opinion. Another study estimated that total annual mortality (natural and anthropogenic) for the neritic juveniles was 17 percent, with a range of 11-26 percent

(Braun-McNeill et al., 2007). However, another preliminary study determined that adult female survivorship from the Northwest Atlantic

Ocean DPS may be a significant concern. That study estimated annual survivorship of adult females to be as low as 0.41 (0.20-0.65, 95 percent confidence intervals), and at best 0.60 (0.40-0.78, 95 percent confidence intervals) (NMFS, unpublished data). Additional research to better understand survival rates for the various life stages is a high priority for the Services.

Comment 44: One commenter believes the justification for listing the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as endangered by evaluating other natural or manmade factors is missing. The commenter noted several threats for which effects were not quantified adequately or inappropriately assessed, such as vessel strikes, changing weather

(e.g., hurricanes and cold stun events), habitat change, saltwater cooling, and bycatch. Specific to bycatch in the shrimp fishery, the commenter provided a population calculation for Northwest Atlantic loggerheads based on annual bycatch in all fisheries and questioned how take of 0.17 percent of the population is likely to result in an endangered listing.

Response: The Services disagree that an evaluation of other natural or manmade factors was missing. In many cases, there are substantial data limitations that prevent in-depth, quantitative analysis of threats, including those listed by the commenter. The five-factor analysis for listing determinations is based on consideration of all of the factors, using the best data available.

Comment 45: The State of Florida referenced the Witherington et al.

(2009) analysis of the Index Nesting Beach Survey data set that concluded the causal factor that best fit the nesting decline was fisheries bycatch. The State judged the magnitude, timing, and ongoing nature of fisheries threats to be consistent with the steep decline in nesting following 1998. The State believes the full scope of threats and impacts remain poorly understood as evidenced by the recent discovery of unexpectedly high mortality rates of sea turtles in the

Gulf of Mexico reef fish bottom longline fishery. The State does not believe the threat posed by fisheries bycatch is likely to abate significantly in the foreseeable future.

Response: Inclusion of nesting data up through 2010 results in the nesting trend line being slightly negative, but not significantly different from zero. The Services agree that fisheries bycatch is one factor that best fits the nesting decline seen in the past. However, various fishery bycatch reduction measures have occurred within the last generation time for loggerhead sea

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turtles, and the benefits of those actions may only now be starting to become evident on the nesting beaches. The agencies are committed to reducing fisheries bycatch further.

Comment 46: The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries and the

State of South Carolina suggested that instead of reclassifying

Northwest Atlantic loggerheads as endangered, existing measures (e.g.,

TEDs, circle hooks, time/area closures) should be broadened or modified to apply to problem gears or areas. Additionally, the North Carolina

Division of Marine Fisheries believes that annual catch limits and accountability measures under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act will result in lower harvest levels, reduced fishing effort, closed areas, and shorter seasons, all of which will decrease potential for sea turtle bycatch.

Response: A variety of conservation measures for fisheries and non- fishery activities have been enacted in many areas, including in the

Northwest Atlantic, and many within the past generation of loggerhead sea turtles. Additionally, many fisheries, especially the shrimp trawl fisheries in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, have experienced substantial declines, thus potentially reducing impacts to sea turtles. The benefits of those fishery reductions, if permanent, combined with conservation actions, if sufficiently effective, may only now, or may soon, begin to become evident on the nesting beaches. The agencies are committed to reducing fisheries bycatch further regardless of the listing status.

Comment 47: Two commenters noted that loggerheads are at risk from fisheries using longlines, trawls, gillnets, hooks and lines, dredges, and assorted other types of gear, citing mortality estimates in the 2008 Recovery Plan for Northwest Atlantic loggerheads. Additionally, the commenters noted that an unknown number of animals also sustain serious and moderate injuries in other fisheries. The commenters referenced Wallace et al. (2008), which concluded that turtles killed in U.S. waters are larger and more valuable to the population; therefore, the failure of NMFS to reduce fishery interactions is significantly undermining the survival of Northwest Atlantic loggerheads. Further, the commenters noted the 2008 Biological Opinion on the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery, which states that the population ``is likely to continue to decline until large mortality reductions in all fisheries and other sources of mortality (including impacts outside U.S. jurisdiction) are achieved.''

Response: The Services agree that fishery bycatch is a significant threat to sea turtles, including Northwest Atlantic loggerheads, and that substantial gaps remain in our understanding of take and mortality levels for many fisheries. Various fishery bycatch reduction measures have occurred within the most recent generation of loggerhead sea turtles, including technological measures, time/area closures, and effort reductions. Additionally, some U.S. fisheries that incidentally capture loggerhead turtles have experienced effort declines within that time. The benefits of those actions may only now be starting to become evident on the nesting beaches. NMFS is committed to reducing fisheries bycatch further to conserve loggerhead sea turtles, regardless of the listing status of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS.

Comment 48: Three commenters referenced recent data showing 1,451 loggerhead mortalities in the Southeast U.S. and Gulf of Mexico shrimp trawl fleets, indicating this fishery is the leading cause of mortality for Northwest Atlantic loggerheads.

Response: The Services agree that taking measures to limit sea turtle interactions with fisheries, including the U.S. shrimp trawl fishery, is a top priority for sea turtle conservation. NMFS is currently working on a new consultation for the shrimp trawl fishery, a rule to require TEDs in certain mid-Atlantic trawl fisheries, and a rule to require TEDs in skimmer trawl fisheries. NMFS continues to work with the coastal States to improve TED enforcement.

Comment 49: Two commenters highlighted the bycatch of hundreds of loggerheads in the Gulf of Mexico reef fish bottom longline fishery, citing NMFS 2005 and 2009 biological opinions. The commenters noted the particularly lethal nature of takes in this fishery because turtles become hooked while too deep and cannot reach the surface to breathe.

Additionally, the commenters stated that gillnet interactions represent the greatest unknown for turtles because there is no estimate of the total numbers of interactions occurring or the mortality sustained by loggerheads in gillnets as observer coverage in many fisheries is so low and State fisheries are often not observed or regulated. The commenters further noted that as observer coverage increases, actual take levels and authorizations are regularly revised upward. However, another commenter disagreed with the Services' statement that

``gillnets, longlines, and trawl gear collectively result in tens of thousands of Northwest Atlantic loggerhead deaths annually throughout their range'' especially with regard to the pelagic longline fleet.

Additionally, yet another commenter stated that measures, particularly shrimp TEDs, modifications to longline gear and practices, and gillnet reductions, have progressively reduced the threat facing juvenile and adult loggerheads by orders of magnitudes and weigh strongly against a change in listing status.

Response: NMFS has enacted various efforts over the years to reduce bycatch and mortality rates in domestic fisheries, and has engaged other nations bilaterally and through larger international organizations in efforts to reduce sea turtle bycatch overseas. Such efforts continue to be a top priority for the agency. This includes reductions in take, and mortality rates, for the Gulf of Mexico reef fish bottom longline fishery enacted in 2009. However, the effect of those measures are yet to be determined as many of the most significant measures have come within the last generation of loggerheads, and thus the benefits may not yet be seen in the nesting trends. The Services are committed to enacting additional measures to reduce anthropogenic impacts. NMFS also continues to undertake efforts to increase the understanding of interaction levels and impacts of the many Federal and

State fisheries through means such as the 2007 ESA Sea Turtle Observer

Rule (72 FR 43176; August 3, 2007).

The level of take authorized under the ESA is based upon an analysis of the anticipated take from the proposed action. Upward revisions of take occur when new data indicate that take levels are higher than previously anticipated. That new expected take level is then analyzed to determine if it would jeopardize the continued existence of the species, and often additional terms and conditions are required as part of the new biological opinion that could result in additional or different limitations or gear restrictions for the fishing industry.

Comment 50: The State of Maryland provided information on loggerhead strandings documented from May to November from 1991-2009 along the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Coast. Of the 378 dead loggerhead strandings, less than 3 percent of strandings with evidence of human interaction exhibited signs of fishery interaction. The Maryland

Department of Natural Resources conducts fishery-dependent and independent surveys each year and rarely finds turtles associated with either of these surveys.

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Response: The Services are aware that there is variability, both geographically and temporally, in the instances of fishery interactions with loggerheads in coastal waters. Evidence of human interaction in stranded turtles is difficult to ascertain, especially if the examination is limited to externally observable anomalies. Bycatch mortality due to drowning is not apparent through external examination, and turtles captured in gear, such as trawls or gillnets, are most often removed from the gear and, as such, do not strand with gear attached. This makes it difficult to use the referenced stranding data to ascertain rates of fisheries interactions. The Services believe that fisheries bycatch is the leading source of anthropogenic mortality in

U.S. waters.

Comment 51: Five commenters cited information on the threat of direct and indirect effects of oil, as well as the actions to contain, remove, and disperse oil, on sea turtles. Two of these commenters noted that while the preamble of the proposed rule discusses the threat posed by oil spills, it was published prior to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, three of the commenters noted that the total number of loggerhead sea turtles harmed by the spill is likely higher than observed numbers. Another commenter provided information on the impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spills on loggerheads.

Response: The full scope and effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon

(Mississippi Canyon 252) oil well blowout and uncontrolled oil release on sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico, including Northwest Atlantic

Ocean DPS loggerheads, is not yet determined.

Comment 52: Three commenters believe that plastic ingestion poses immediate threats and risks to Northwest Atlantic loggerheads. The commenters provided detailed information to support this.

Response: The Services agree that plastic ingestion is a threat to

Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS loggerheads as well as other DPSs and species. Discussion of this threat was added to the ``Other Manmade and

Natural Impacts'' section under the analysis for Factor E (Other

Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting its Continued Existence) in the five-factor analysis.

Comment 53: One commenter questioned why ``geopolitical complexities'' contribute to a listing determination given that all populations are within the U.S. and subject to the Convention on

International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora

(CITES), the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic

Tunas (ICCAT), etc.

Response: Although the majority of Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS nesting is within the United States, and a significant portion of adult and sub-adult stages are spent in U.S. waters, the wide-ranging habits of the species still results in significant exposure to pressures outside of U.S. jurisdiction. The existence of various international conventions (e.g., CITES) and organizations (e.g., ICCAT) are valuable tools, as pointed out by the commenter. However, advances made in reducing bycatch in foreign nations via these instruments are still limited, in need of strengthening and expansion, and in many cases tenuous as a result of political uncertainties.

Comments on the Status and Trends and Extinction Risk Assessments of the DPSs

Comment 54: One commenter believes that neither of the methodologies used in the 2009 Status Review provided the necessary

``convincing evidence'' of near-term extinction of loggerheads, either globally or in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS. The commenter believes that neither of the two models employed were geared toward the legally relevant factors, and thus do nothing to further the inquiry as to the imminence of loggerhead extinction. The commenter believes that the models used do not meet the ESA standard that the Services use the best available scientific and commercial data. Thus, as a legal matter, the commenter believes that a change in listing status is not warranted by the best scientific and commercial data available. Another commenter believes that models are an inappropriate tool to measure fluctuating population trends and predict extinction.

Response: The Services have clarified the text in the Extinction

Risk Assessments section to more clearly state that the SQE and threat matrix analyses were only used to provide some additional insights into the status of the nine DPSs, but that ultimately the conclusions and determinations made were primarily based on an assessment of population sizes and trends, current and anticipated threats, and conservation efforts for each DPS. However, for a number of reasons, discussed in the Finding section, the Services are listing the Northwest Atlantic

Ocean DPS as threatened.

Comment 55: Given the species' life history, one commenter expressed concern that any positive trends in the adult segment of the

Northwest Atlantic population as a result of conservation efforts over the last 15 years would not be apparent until 2020 and beyond. The

North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries also stated that conservation measures (e.g., TEDs) from the 1980s should have positive effects on the segment of the population that is just now becoming sexually mature; therefore, it would be prudent to allow enough time to evaluate whether those conservation measures have worked before taking further action. Similarly, a third commenter stated that the most recent and effective management measures have and will continue to have beneficial impacts that will not be seen on beaches for decades.

Response: The Services agree that the effects of most conservation measures will not be apparent for many years given the loggerhead's prolonged age to maturity. Although individual conservation measures should have a positive effect on a population, in many cases it would be difficult to clearly determine the effect of any individual conservation activity due to the many different conservation efforts being undertaken simultaneously. Collectively, however, conservation efforts should result in a positive effect on a population as long as the key threats have been sufficiently targeted. For a number of reasons, discussed in the Finding section, the Services are listing the

Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as threatened. However, the Services do not believe it would be prudent to wait to see the results of conservation efforts that have been implemented before taking any additional actions to protect the species given the species life history. Further, under the ESA, the Services are required to make determinations based on the best available scientific and commercial data, and not wait to determine whether measures already implemented are effective at ameliorating threats.

Comment 56: The Services received several comments relative to in- water abundance and population size. One commenter questioned why the

Status Review did not consider existing in-water survey data, which show an increase in loggerhead populations, as reported in the 2009

TEWG Report. Another commenter noted that both Epperly et al. (2007) and the SEAMAP survey show an increase in juvenile loggerheads. Both of these commenters stated that the Services should not proceed until a major survey of in-water abundance is undertaken, and that the Services should wait to make a final decision until additional data were available.

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Response: It would not be appropriate for the Services to wait for additional in-water data to become available before proceeding with this final rule. Under the ESA, the Services must base each listing determination solely on the best available scientific and commercial data after conducting a review of the status of the species and taking into account any efforts being made by States or foreign governments to protect the species. The Services were petitioned to list the North

Pacific and Northwest Atlantic populations as DPSs under the ESA. The

Services must respond to petitions within statutory deadlines. We do not have the latitude to defer listing decisions until additional information becomes available.

Although the Services did consider available data from in-water studies within the range of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS in its assessment of population status, extrapolation of these localized in- water trends to the broader population, and relating localized trends at neritic sites to population trends at nesting beaches, is a problem of scale and requires the integration of many representative foraging grounds throughout the population range (Bjorndal et al., 2005). NMFS and USFWS (2008) summarized trend data available from nine in-water sampling programs along the U.S. Atlantic coast. Four studies indicated no discernible trend, two studies reported declining trends, and two studies reported increasing trends. Trends at one study site indicated either a declining trend or no trend depending on whether all sample years were used or only the more recent, and likely more comparable, sample years were used. TEWG (2009) used raw data from six of the aforementioned nine in-water study sites to conduct trend analyses and found three with positive trends, two with a negative trend, and one with no trend. The TEWG did not provide a shared agreement about the weighting of these data, nor did they establish how representative these programs were of the larger population. As a result, caution must be exercised in evaluating results from all of the above referenced studies, given the relative short-term duration of most of the studies, noted difficulties in comparisons of trend data across disparate sampling periods, changes in sampling methodologies and equipment, small study areas, and uncontrolled variables such as weather, sea- state, migration patterns, and possible shifts in loggerhead distributions.

Comment 57: One commenter referenced Northeast Fisheries Science

Center (2011) (Preliminary Summer 2010 Regional Abundance Estimate of

Loggerhead Turtles (Caretta caretta) in Northwestern Atlantic Ocean

Continental Shelf Waters) and suggested that the Services incorporate this new information into the final rule.

Response: The Services agree and have incorporated this information into the Status and Trends of the Nine Loggerhead DPSs section of this final rule.

Comment 58: One commenter stated that the Status Review never assessed the status of the proposed Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as a whole; rather the analysis focused solely on specific indices. Thus, the commenter stated the opinion that no finding was ever made as to whether the proposed DPS is in danger of extinction. The commenter also stated there was no analysis of the timeframe in which extinction is likely to occur, which is the primary factor distinguishing a threatened from an endangered species under the ESA. Therefore, the commenter recommends that the appropriate response would be to find that there is not sufficient evidence to justify reclassifying

Northwest Atlantic loggerheads as endangered.

Response: Both modeling approaches assessed the Northwest Atlantic

Ocean DPS as a whole; the indices used were based on the population.

The commenter is correct in saying that the models did not find that the proposed DPS was in danger of extinction. The models also did not find that the DPS was increasing. The Status Review simply stated that the model outputs indicated that the DPS may be declining without us detecting the decline. However, for a number of reasons, discussed in the Finding section, the Services are listing the Northwest Atlantic

Ocean DPS as threatened.

Comment 59: One commenter stated that she does not believe that a proportional decline in the population is the appropriate definition of extinction when other information exists. Specifically, the commenter did not agree that listing decisions should depend solely on whether the population will decline to 50 percent, 30 percent, or 10 percent of its current or historical population size, but should instead be based on more quantitative listing criteria whenever possible. The commenter further noted that stochastic population models have indicated that population size and trend are the best focus in determining listing status and provided several references.

Response: Stochastic population models are useful when we have information on the magnitude of stochasticity. We incorporated the uncertainty in the threat matrix analyses. Because of the late maturity of the species, only small additional mortality can be tolerated for a population of loggerhead sea turtles. Because of the large uncertainties in additional mortalities from a wide variety of threats, a population of loggerheads can be increasing or decreasing rapidly.

The observed trend at nesting beaches may not reflect what happens at sea.

Comment 60: One commenter questioned whether a decline to 30 percent by itself warrants listing any species under the ESA regardless of the population size when at 30 percent. In the case of the Northwest

Atlantic Ocean DPS, in 2007 (the lowest nesting activity in the series) the adult population size of all recovery units combined was approximately 30,000 adult females (TEWG, 2009). Thus, a quasi- extinction threshold (QET) of 0.3 of that number translates to a decline to, or below, 10,000 nesting females (or 20,000 adult females and males combined) within 100 years, if the model was initialized with the 2007 numbers, not the 1998 numbers, which were greater. The commenter asked whether a population of 10,000 adult females 100 years later warrants endangered or threatened status.

Response: The Services believe that population size is just one piece of information to be taken into consideration when considering the status of a species. Although the SQE and threat matrix analyses provided some additional insights into the status of the nine DPSs, ultimately the conclusions and determinations made were primarily based on an assessment of population sizes and trends, current and anticipated threats, and conservation efforts for each DPS.

Comment 61: One commenter believes the SQE analysis used outdated, qualitative estimates of risk factors that fail to incorporate significant changes in fishing effort and management measures that have drastically reduced take and mortality.

Response: The SQE analysis did not use risk factors. Fishing effort or management measures were not relevant to the SQE analysis.

Comment 62: One commenter believes that because the SQE analysis relies exclusively on nesting beach surveys, it is retrospective and considers only mature females thereby failing to capture important indicators of current abundance.

Response: The Services agree that because the SQE analysis relied on nesting beach surveys, it is retrospective and considers only mature females. That

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is why the BRT also conducted the threat matrix analyses to provide insight into the future outlook for each DPS, given the known threats and loggerhead sea turtle biology.

Comment 63: One commenter recommended that the Services update the model to include nesting data through 2008 for the Northwest Atlantic

Ocean DPS, Peninsula Florida Recovery Unit, and the North Pacific Ocean

DPS and through 2008-2009 for the Indian Ocean DPS as data were provided by an independent reviewer of the Status Review. The commenter stated the belief that including these data will change the model's results. Another commenter also requested that the Services update the model to include 2008 nesting data. A third commenter noted that nesting beach abundance data for the North Pacific Ocean DPS exhibit a long-term increasing trend. Additionally, this commenter noted that in the Snover model, the North Pacific population ranked 0.3 on the SQE index, thus indicating that it is at risk (i.e., ``threatened''). The model used a single composite time series of nesting counts for 1990- 2007, which likely underestimates a strong recovery trend because it does not include 2008 and 2009 nesting data. A fourth commenter also noted that most major nesting beaches for which pre-1990 nest count data are available show a consistent lower trend in the latter half of the 1980s compared to the early 1990s, raising the question of whether 1990 may have been an anomalous year with high nesting activity.

Response: The Services have included the most recent nesting data available for each DPS in the Status and Trends of the Nine Loggerhead

DPSs section. For the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS, the nesting data for 2008-2010 were incorporated into the nesting trend analyses, and the result indicated that the nesting trend for this DPS from 1989-2010 is slightly negative but not statistically different from zero.

Available data for the North Pacific Ocean DPS suggest this DPS has declined up to 90 percent from its recorded historical population size of about 50 years ago. The 2010 estimate of the number of nests suggests the abundance of nesting females has returned to earlier levels (ca. 1990); however, this level is still low relative to the historical population.

Comment 64: One commenter noted that the Status Review model used a constant parameter for the number of nests laid per female per season for the next 100 years. The commenter stated that this was inappropriate because older females produce more nests per season than new nesters. Therefore, the commenter stated the belief that the model fails to account for the large number of females that are about to be added to the breeding population and the possibility of a naturally fluctuating decrease that may follow.

Response: Because the models were not age-specific, the BRT did not incorporate age-specific demographic parameters. Such an exercise is important for demographic studies but not for determining effects of possible threats to a population, as those uncertainties would be overwhelmed with much greater uncertainty in threat measures. The parameters of the base model in the threat matrix analyses were derived from the basic biology of loggerhead sea turtles, rather than what may happen in the future.

Comment 65: One commenter stated that the application of the diffusion approximation model was so flawed as to make the results unusable and provided a detailed analysis of these flaws. The commenter questioned why the Services did not specify a population threshold or range that below which the population could not survive. The commenter also contended that the Services did not provide direct probability estimates of extinction; instead the Services provided susceptibility to quasi-extinction.

Response: The Services agree that the diffusion approximation approach has limitations as do any other approaches used to estimate possible extinctions of a population. That is why we also conducted the threat matrix analyses to provide insight into the future outlook for each DPS, given the known threats and loggerhead sea turtle biology.

The Services have clarified the text in the Extinction Risk Assessments section to more clearly state that the SQE and threat matrix analyses were only used to provide some additional insights into the status of the nine DPSs, but that ultimately the conclusions and determinations made were based on an assessment of population sizes and trends, current and anticipated threats (i.e., five-factor analysis), and conservation efforts for each DPS.

Comment 66: One commenter stated that neither the Status Review nor the Services dealt with the actual abundance of loggerhead sea turtles or bothered to develop a numeric value to define ``quasi-extinction'' based on known biological characteristics of loggerheads. Rather, the

Status Review included relative estimates of potential decline in its

SQE analysis. Further, the analysis relied solely on nesting data as the only empirical input. Because sea turtles are both long-lived and late maturing, this analysis completely ignored the myriad efforts implemented over the past 20 to 30 years to reduce anthropogenic mortality and increase survival, of which the benefits to conservation of juvenile loggerheads have yet to influence adult numbers. This math- rich, but data-poor approach does not address relevant legal criteria.

Response: The BRT included all available information in the threat matrix analysis approach and used mathematics as a tool to explain how these data are related to the results provided in the Status Review rather than treating them as separate entities. The BRT also considered the time-lag effects of the long-lived and late maturing nature of the species through the matrix modeling approach.

Comment 67: One commenter disagreed with using 100 years in the diffusion approximation model given that scientists who support this concept recommend limiting the number of years to 2.5 times the number of years for which nesting survey data are available (i.e., 50 years based on the 20 years or less of nesting data in the Status Review).

The commenter stated that, using the current model, the population size of the Peninsula Florida Recovery Unit within the Northwest Atlantic

Ocean DPS in 100 years would still approach 1 million loggerheads, which does not suggest an immediate risk of extinction.

Response: Because loggerhead sea turtles are likely to mature at greater than 30 years of age, the BRT used the time period of 100 years to compute QETs, which is consistent with the IUCN Red List Criteria for estimating extinction risk (3 generations or 100 years, whichever is shorter). To incorporate the uncertainty of parameter estimates in determining SQE, the BRT used 95 percent confidence limits of the arithmetic mean of the log population growth rate and the variance of the log population growth rate, which accounts for sources of variability, including environmental and demographic stochasticity, and observation error.

Comment 68: One commenter stated that the diffusion approximation model produced results outside appropriate and acceptable boundaries and contended that the Services did not evaluate the model assumptions to determine whether the results were within appropriate boundaries.

Response: The Services believe the assumptions made for the diffusion approximation model were appropriate for the modeling exercise conducted by the BRT. For further information on the assumptions for the diffusion approximation model, see Conant et al.

Page 58900

2009, section 4. The Services have clarified the text in the Extinction

Risk Assessments section to more clearly state that the SQE and threat matrix analyses were only used to provide some additional insights into the status of the nine DPSs, but that ultimately the conclusions and determinations made were primarily based on an assessment of population sizes and trends, current and anticipated threats, and conservation efforts for each DPS.

Comment 69: One commenter noted that there is no universal definition or numerical value of the QET, but it is generally defined as a small population that is doomed to eventual extinction. The commenter provided specific information from Morris and Doak (2002) on the range of QET values, starting at 1 (extremely low), including 20 and 50, and continuing to a much larger value of 100 breeders and noted that typically QET values are less than 500 individuals, breeders, or females. The commenter suggested that the Services make informed decisions about the QET for sea turtles and use population size. The commenter provided an example of susceptibility of quasi-extinction for

Kemp's ridley sea turtles to support this point. The commenter recommended using a QET of 1,000 (or lesser value) adult female loggerhead population size. The commenter provided a new analysis of various SQE values using QET levels ranging from 10,000 to 50 adult females. The Peninsular Florida Recovery Unit is the largest in the

Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS (80 percent of nesting occurs in this recovery unit) and it drives the dynamics of the DPS. Based on the revised SQE analysis, the commenter expressed the opinion that there is little risk (SQE0.9 probability of quasi-extinction. At this critical value (SQE

= 0.40), Type I and Type II errors are minimized simultaneously at approximately 10%. Reducing the critical value to 0.3 lessens the `Type

I' error rate but increases the `Type II' error rate (Snover and

Heppell, 2009). The choice of 0.9 as the cut-off probability was arbitrary, and values other than 0.9 could be used. However, new critical values other than 0.4 needed to be established for different values of the cut-off probability. Qualitatively, the results would not differ if a value other than 0.9 was used (Snover and Heppell, 2009).

In this assessment, we used the cut-off probability of 0.9 as in Snover and Heppell (2009) and a critical value for the SQE of 0.30, which reduced the `Type I' error (a DPS is considered to be not at risk when in fact it is). SQE values greater than 0.30, therefore, indicate the

DPS is at risk.'' The Services agree with this approach taken by the

BRT.

Comments on the Status Determinations for the DPSs

Comment 74: All individuals that sent form letters, as well as 18 organizations or individuals that sent non-form letters, supported the proposed endangered listing status for seven of the DPSs.

Response: While general support or non-support of a listing is not, in itself, a substantive comment that we take into consideration as part of our five-factor analysis, we appreciate the support of these commenters. Support is important to the conservation of species.

Comment 75: Several commenters noted that in the NMFS and USFWS 5- year review for the loggerhead sea turtle (NMFS and USFWS, 2007), the agencies concluded that they do not believe the loggerhead sea turtle should be reclassified; therefore, the 2009 Status Review presents no new information to justify a new ``endangered'' finding.

Response: In the 5-year review for the loggerhead sea turtle, NMFS and USFWS concluded that, based on the best available information, we did not believe the entire species, as listed worldwide, should be delisted or reclassified. However, we stated that we had information indicating that an analysis and review of the species should be conducted to determine the application of the DPS policy to the loggerhead sea turtle. Subsequently, the BRT reviewed and evaluated all relevant scientific information relating to loggerhead population structure globally to determine whether DPSs exist and, if so, to assess the status of each DPS. The findings of the BRT informed this rulemaking.

Comment 76: One commenter provided an analysis of the distinction between ``threatened'' and ``endangered'' under the ESA, referencing a memorandum written by Dan Ashe, USFWS (Ashe Memo). The commenter stated that the key difference is the timing for when the species is in danger of extinction--threatened means may be in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future and endangered means in danger now and on the brink of extinction. The commenter referenced four basic categories included in the Ashe Memo and provided information relative to loggerhead sea turtles as follows: ``(1) Species facing a catastrophic threat from which the risk of extinction is imminent and certain. Unlike snail darters, loggerhead sea turtles are found throughout the world making it neither

Page 58902

uniquely dependent on a single, vulnerable area nor subject to any impending, catastrophic threat. (2) Narrowly restricted endemics that, as a result of their limited range or population size, are vulnerable to extinction from elevated threats. Conservation efforts for loggerheads in the U.S. and internationally have greatly minimized anthropogenic threats and these threats have been significantly reduced over recent decades. (3) Species formerly more widespread that have been reduced to such critically low numbers or restricted ranges that they are at a high risk of extinction due to threats that would not otherwise imperil the species. Loggerheads do not meet these particular criteria, for many of the same reasons already discussed. Additionally, in the Northwest Atlantic alone, this species numbers in the millions at all life stages. Furthermore, such as in the Tongaland example, local loggerhead subpopulations have shown the ability to recover from levels of only a couple hundred mature females. (4) Species with still relatively widespread distribution that have nevertheless suffered ongoing major reductions in its numbers, range, or both, as a result of factors that have not abated.'' The commenter noted that protective measures in the form of ever improving TEDs, protective longline gear and practices, time/area closures, and nesting beach improvements and ordinances have gone a long way toward abating threats to loggerhead sea turtles and that the current trend in loggerhead abundance in the

Northwest Atlantic is increasing.

The commenter further referenced the Ashe Memo, which says

``threatened species typically have some of the characteristics of the fourth category above, in that they too have generally suffered some recent declines in numbers, range or both, but to a less severe extent than endangered species.'' The Ashe Memo goes on to distinguish between a species that is endangered and one that is threatened and ``depends on the life history and ecology of the species, the nature of the threats, and population numbers and trends.'' The trends for loggerheads, both in terms of increased nesting and reduced threats, not to mention the geographic diversity of nesting habitat, the species' extensive distribution, and the sheer numbers of individuals in the population, all point toward, at most, a ``threatened'' status.

Response: The Services agree that numerous protective measures have been implemented to protect loggerhead sea turtles in the Northwest

Atlantic Ocean. However, compliance levels with TEDs, high interaction levels and mortalities in many domestic and international fisheries, continued loss of nesting beach habitat, and inadequate development and enforcement of lighting ordinances, to name a few, suggest that many threats are still impacting Northwest Atlantic loggerhead sea turtles and need to be further addressed. With regard to the commenter's assertion that the current trend in loggerhead abundance in the

Northwest Atlantic is increasing, inclusion of nesting data up through 2010 results in the nesting trend line being slightly negative, but not significantly different from zero. Regardless, for a number of reasons, discussed in the Finding section, the Services are listing the

Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as threatened.

Comment 77: Three commenters noted that best available science suggests that focusing solely on biological extinction, or imminent extinction, is not useful from an ecological, management, or ecosystem perspective because even after population declines of more than 95 percent, many marine fishes would still number in the hundreds of thousands or millions of individuals and, therefore, not be considered to be at an increased risk of extinction. The commenters argued that scientists do not understand ``how the multitude of factors that influence the extinction probability for a given population or species interact with one another under specific physical and biological environments.'' They contended that the ESA, by requiring NMFS and

USFWS to consider five statutory listing criteria, anticipates the interactions of many factors and provides inherent flexibility in determining whether a species warrants protection as endangered. The commenters stated that requiring that the species face imminent extinction or that the species be on the brink of extinction is neither legally justifiable nor scientifically possible given the current published literature on extinction risk in marine species. The commenters urged the Services to be open to scientists' assessments of extinction risk because these are important to convey that a species' extinction probability has increased and that its probability of recovery is low.

Response: The Services agree that even species that have suffered fairly substantial declines in numbers or range are sometimes listed as threatened rather than endangered, based on the species' resilience and resistance to threats making the species currently less vulnerable to threats. Whether a species is ultimately protected as an endangered species or a threatened species depends on the specific life history and ecology of the species, the nature of the threats, the species' response to those threats, and population numbers and trends.

Comment 78: Two commenters stated that they did not support the proposed endangered listing for North Pacific loggerheads. One of these commenters stated the proposed endangered listing is contrary to established listing practices for other species in similar situations with North Pacific loggerheads (e.g., crested caracara, ribbon seal, northern spotted owl, slickspot peppergrass, chirichua leopard frog, delta green ground beetle, California red-legged frog, southeastern beach mouse, Anastasia Island beach mouse, and Waccamaw silverside minnow). This commenter argued that even though a species may be at risk from significant past and projected habitat destruction, population declines, or elimination from a portion of its range, the

Services regularly list a species as threatened when the population declines are not steep and when the threat to the species' ongoing survival is not imminent.

Response: An endangered species is any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. A threatened species is any species which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Thus, a species may be listed as threatened if it is likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future. Threatened species typically have some of the same characteristics as endangered species with relatively widespread distribution that have suffered ongoing major reductions in numbers, range, or both, as a result of factors that have not been abated, in that they too have generally suffered some recent decline in numbers, range, or both, but to a less severe extent than endangered species.

Whether a species is ultimately protected as an endangered species or a threatened species depends on the specific life history and ecology of the species, the nature of the threats, the species' response to those threats, and population numbers and trends.

Comment 79: One commenter stated that there is a lack of evidence to support the endangered designation for the North Pacific Ocean DPS.

The commenter stated that recent nesting increases are clear evidence that the North Pacific Ocean DPS is increasing, which is inconsistent with the proposed endangered status.

Response: The Services agree there has been an encouraging trend in the annual nesting abundance of

Page 58903

loggerheads in Japan. However, relative to historical levels, the annual nesting abundance is very low. The agencies believe the substantial depletion of this population, despite the aforementioned increases, coupled with ongoing threats to loggerheads in the North

Pacific, warrants endangered status for the North Pacific Ocean DPS.

Comment 80: Two commenters stated that they do not support listing the Southwest Indian Ocean DPS as threatened and suggested it should be listed as endangered. The commenters noted that although this population is increasing, it remains small and vulnerable. The commenters noted that while the majority of nesting habitat is protected in South Africa and Mozambique, loggerheads are at risk from direct exploitation, especially in Madagascar, and incidental capture has not yet been quantified. Additionally, dramatic increases in regional longline fishing for tuna are expected to increase loggerhead bycatch.

Response: A trend analysis of index nesting beach data from this region from 1965 to 2008 indicates an increasing nesting population.

Although the Services agree that fisheries bycatch is a concern, the extent of this threat is not well understood. In light of the protected status of the majority of nesting beaches and the increasing nesting trend, the Services believe a threatened status is appropriate for the

Southwest Indian Ocean DPS.

Comment 81: Thousands of commenters stated that they strongly supported listing the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as endangered, particularly noting that Northwest Atlantic loggerheads are more in need of endangered status to ensure their survival after the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Many commenters noted that the majority of

Northwest Atlantic loggerheads nest in the United States and represent the second largest nesting assemblage in the world, which makes their survival critical to the future of the species. The States of Florida,

Georgia, and Virginia support an endangered status for the Northwest

Atlantic Ocean DPS. The North Carolina Department of Marine Fisheries stated that it opposes an endangered listing because appropriate information is lacking. Specifically, the agency stated that it opposes the listing because counts of nests or females are not an assessment of the population. Three other commenters also stated that they oppose listing the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS as endangered, arguing that the case for a change in listing status has not been established and the proposed rule should be rejected, particularly for the Northwest

Atlantic Ocean DPS.

Response: The Services agree on the importance of the Northwest

Atlantic Ocean DPS. The predominance of nesting in the United States and the extensive use of U.S. coastal and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) waters by adults and large neritic juveniles from this DPS provides us the ability to better control anthropogenic threats to individuals of those highly valuable life stages compared to other DPSs which originate in, and inhabit waters of, other nations over which we have no control. Based on additional review and discussions within the

Services on status and trends, threats, and conservation efforts, we do not believe the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS is currently ``in danger of extinction throughout all or a portion of its range,'' and determined that a ``threatened'' listing under the ESA is more appropriate.

Comment 82: The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries stated that there is no accurate way to determine the status of the Northwest

Atlantic Ocean DPS because there is no benchmark assessment of the DPS and periodic updates. It suggested conducting an assessment similar to the 2009 bottlenose dolphin stock assessment.

Response: The Services agree that gaps remain in what is known about the population dynamics of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS. The

Services continue to evaluate ways to improve population assessments for sea turtles. The Services used the best available data and the most appropriate analyses in assessing the status of the Northwest Atlantic

Ocean DPS and making our final determination.

Comment 83: Three commenters stated the belief that the Northwest

Atlantic Ocean DPS is ``in danger of extinction throughout all or a portion of its range'' and therefore must be listed as endangered. The commenters noted that the definition of an endangered species is necessarily forward-looking, as a species ``in danger'' of extinction is not currently extinct. Rather it is a species facing a risk of extinction in the future. The Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS, facing a high probability of quasi-extinction, cannot be merely threatened, because the threatened category is only for species that are not currently in danger of extinction but instead likely to become so in the future.

Response: Based on additional review and discussions within the

Services on status and trends, threats, and conservation efforts, we do not believe the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS is currently ``in danger of extinction throughout all or a portion of its range,'' and determined that a ``threatened'' listing under the ESA is more appropriate. Quasi-extinction analyses support the fact that the

Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS is not currently in danger of extinction throughout all or a portion of its range. In one such analysis, a

Dennis-Holmes demographic population viability analysis (PVA) was conducted using nesting data through 2009. Quasi-extinction was defined as 1,000 remaining adults (which is higher than is typically used in most PVAs) within 100 years. For a population of 35,000 turtles

(approximately the current estimated number of adult females), the risk of reaching that QET was 0.0017, less than two-tenths of a percent

(NMFS, unpublished data). A revision of the SQE analysis done in the

Status Report written by the BRT had similar results. Including nesting data through 2009 instead of just 2007, and redoing the analysis to use a range of adult female abundance estimates as QETs, it was determined that there was little risk (SQE [lambda](the proportion of [lambda] values greater than 1) and a narrow range. The greatest threats for the Southeast

Indo-Pacific Ocean DPS exist for the first year of the life stages

(eggs and hatchlings).

For the Southwest Indian Ocean DPS, the SQE approach, based on a 37-year time series of nesting female counts at Tongaland, South Africa

(1963-1999), indicated this segment of the population, while small, has increased, and the likelihood of quasi-extinction is negligible. The threat matrix analysis, on the other hand, provided a wide range of results: In the best case scenario, the DPS would grow slowly, whereas in the worst case scenario, the DPS would decline in the future. The results of the threat matrix analysis were driven by uncertainty in anthropogenic mortalities in the neritic environment and the eggs/ hatchlings stage.

Within the Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS, four of the five identified recovery units have adequate time series data for applying the original SQE analysis; these are the Northern, Peninsular Florida,

Northern Gulf of Mexico, and Greater Caribbean Recovery Units. The original SQE analysis indicated differences in SQEs among these four recovery units. Although the Northern Gulf of Mexico Recovery Unit indicated the worst result among the four recovery units assessed the length of the time series was shortest (12 data points). The other three recovery units, however, appeared to show similar declining trends, which were indicated through the SQE approach. A revision of the SQE analysis, however, had different results. Including nesting data through 2009 instead of just 2007, and redoing the analysis to use a range of adult female abundance estimates as QETs, it was determined that there was little risk (SQE Utility: The information disseminated is intended to describe a species' life history, population status, threats, and risks; management actions; and the effects of management actions. The information is intended to be useful to State and Federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, industry groups and other interested parties so they can understand the listing status of the species.

Integrity: No confidential data were used in the analysis of the impacts associated with this document. All information considered in this document and used to analyze the proposed action, is considered public information.

Objectivity: The NOAA Information Quality Guidelines require disseminated information to be presented in an accurate, clear, complete, and unbiased manner. This document was prepared with these objectives in mind. It was also reviewed by a variety of biologists, policy analysts, and attorneys from NMFS and USFWS.

Administrative Procedure Act

The Federal Administrative Procedure Act (APA) establishes procedural requirements applicable to informal rulemaking by Federal agencies. The purpose of the APA is to ensure public access to the

Federal rulemaking process and to give the public notice and an opportunity to comment before the agency promulgates new regulations.

These public notice and comment procedures have been completed in this rulemaking as further explained in the Background.

Coastal Zone Management Act

Section 307(c)(1) of the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 requires that all Federal activities that affect any land or water use or natural resource of the coastal zone be consistent with approved

State coastal zone management programs to the maximum extent practicable. NMFS and USFWS have determined that this action is consistent to the maximum extent practicable with the enforceable policies of approved Coastal Zone Management Programs of Maine, New

Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New

Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina,

Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, California,

Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Letters documenting our determination, along with the proposed rule, were sent to the coastal zone management program offices of these

States. A list of the specific State contacts and a copy of the letters are available upon request. A copy of the final rule will be sent to the coastal zone management programs in these States.

Executive Order 13132 Federalism

Executive Order 13132 requires agencies to take into account any federalism impacts of regulations under development. It includes specific directives for consultation in situations where a regulation will preempt State law or impose substantial direct compliance costs on

State and local governments (unless required by statute). Neither of those circumstances is applicable to this final rule. In keeping with the intent of the Administration and Congress to provide continuing and meaningful dialogue on issues of mutual State and Federal interest, the proposed rule was provided to each State in which the subject species occurs, and the State was invited to comment. We considered and incorporated their comments and recommendations into this final determination where applicable. We also provided responses to their comments in the Summary of Comments section.

Environmental Justice

Executive Order 12898 requires that Federal actions address environmental justice in decision-making process. In particular, the environmental effects of the actions should not have a disproportionate effect on minority and low-income communities. The final listing determinations are not expected to have a disproportionate effect on minority or low-income communities because the implications of these listing actions do not adversely affect the human health of low-income, minority, or other populations or the environment in which these various populations live.

Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Flexibility Act, and Paperwork

Reduction Act (PRA)

As noted in the Conference Report on the 1982 amendments to the

ESA, economic impacts shall not be considered when assessing the status of a species. Therefore, the economic analysis requirements of the

Regulatory Flexibility Act are not applicable to the listing process.

In addition, this rule is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. This rule does not contain a collection-of-information requirement for the purposes of the PRA.

Page 58950

List of Subjects 50 CFR Part 17

Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation. 50 CFR Part 223

Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation. 50 CFR Part 224

Administrative practice and procedure, Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements,

Transportation.

Dated: September 9, 2011.

Daniel M. Ashe,

Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Samuel D. Rauch III,

Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine

Fisheries Service.

For the reasons set out in the preamble, FWS and NOAA amend 50 CFR parts 17, 223, and 224 as follows:

PART 17--ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS 0 1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544; 16 U.S.C. 4201-4245; Pub. L. 99-625, 100 Stat. 3500; unless otherwise noted. 0 2. In Sec. 17.11(h) revise the entry for ``Sea turtle, loggerhead'', which is in alphabetical order under REPTILES, to read as follows:

Sec. 17.11 Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *

(h) * * *

Species

Vertebrate

population where

Critical

Special

Historic range

endangered or

Status

When listed habitat

rules

Common name

Scientific name

threatened

* * * * * * *

Sea turtle, loggerhead,

Caretta caretta..... Mediterranean Sea

Mediterranean Sea

E

794

NA

NA

Mediterranean Sea.

Basin.

east of 5[deg]36'

W. Long.

Sea turtle, loggerhead, North

Caretta caretta..... North Indian Ocean North Indian Ocean E

794

NA

NA

Indian Ocean.

Basin.

north of the equator and south of 30[deg] N. Lat.

Sea turtle, loggerhead, North

Caretta caretta..... North Pacific Ocean North Pacific north E

794

NA

NA

Pacific Ocean.

Basin.

of the equator and south of 60[deg]

N. Lat.

Sea turtle, loggerhead, Northeast Caretta caretta..... Northeast Atlantic Northeast Atlantic E

794

NA

NA

Atlantic Ocean.

Ocean Basin.

Ocean north of the equator, south of 60[deg] N. Lat., and east of 40[deg] W. Long., except in the vicinity of the

Strait of

Gibraltar where the eastern boundary is 5[deg]36' W. Long.

Sea turtle, loggerhead, Northwest Caretta caretta..... Northwest Atlantic Northwest Atlantic T

794

NA

NA

Atlantic Ocean.

Ocean Basin.

Ocean north of the equator, south of 60[deg] N. Lat., and west of 40[deg] W. Long.

Sea turtle, loggerhead, South

Caretta caretta..... South Atlantic

South Atlantic

T

794

NA

NA

Atlantic Ocean.

Ocean Basin.

Ocean south of the equator, north of 60[deg] S. Lat., west of 20[deg] E.

Long., and east of 67[deg] W. Long.

Sea turtle, loggerhead, South

Caretta caretta..... South Pacific Ocean South Pacific south E

794

NA

NA

Pacific Ocean.

Basin.

of the equator, north of 60[deg]

S. Lat., west of 67[deg] W. Long., and east of 141[deg] E. Long.

Sea turtle, loggerhead, Southeast Caretta caretta..... Southeast Indian

Southeast Indian

T

794

NA

NA

Indo-Pacific Ocean.

Ocean Basin; South Ocean south of the

Pacific Ocean

equator, north of

Basin as far east 60[deg] S. Lat., as 141[deg] E.

and east of

Long.

80[deg] E. Long.;

South Pacific

Ocean south of the equator, north of 60[deg] S. Lat., and west of 141[deg] E. Long.

Sea turtle, loggerhead, Southwest Caretta caretta..... Southwest Indian

Southwest Indian

T

794

NA

NA

Indian Ocean.

Ocean Basin.

Ocean north of the equator, south of 30[deg] N. Lat., west of 20[deg] E.

Long., and east of 80[deg] E. Long.

* * * * * * *

Page 58951

PART 223--THREATENED MARINE AND ANADROMOUS SPECIES 0 3. The authority citation for part 223 continues to read as follows:

Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1531-1543; subpart B, Sec. 223.201-202 also issued under 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 5503(d) for

Sec. 223.206(d)(9). 0 4. Amend the table in Sec. 223.102 by revising paragraph (b) to read as follows:

Sec. 223.102 Enumeration of threatened marine and anadromous species.

* * * * *

Species \1\

Citation(s) for

Citation(s) for

Where listed

listing

critical habitat

Common name

Scientific name

determination(s)

designation(s)

* * * * * * *

(b) Sea Turtles

(1) Green sea turtle \2\....... Chelonia mydas.... Wherever found,

43 FR 32800; Jul

63 FR 46693; Sep except where

28, 1978.

2, 1998, 64 FR listed as

14052; Mar 23, endangered under

1999.

Sec. 224.101(c); circumglobal in tropical and temperate seas and oceans.

(2) Loggerhead sea turtle--

Caretta caretta... Northwest Atlantic [INSERT FR CITATION NA.

Northwest Atlantic Ocean DPS

Ocean north of

WHEN PUBLISHED AS

\2\.

the equator,

A FINAL RULE]. south of 60[deg]

N. Lat., and west of 40[deg] W.

Long.

(3) Loggerhead sea turtle--

Caretta caretta... South Atlantic

INSERT FR CITATION NA.

South Atlantic Ocean DPS \2\.

Ocean south of

WHEN PUBLISHED AS the equator,

A FINAL RULE. north of 60[deg]

S. Lat., west of 20[deg] E. Long., and east of 67[deg] W. Long.

(4) Loggerhead sea turtle--

Caretta caretta... Southeast Indian

INSERT FR CITATION NA.

Southeast Indo-Pacific Ocean

Ocean south of

WHEN PUBLISHED AS

DPS \2\.

the equator,

A FINAL RULE. north of 60[deg]

S. Lat., and east of 80[deg] E.

Long.; South

Pacific Ocean south of the equator, north of 60[deg] S. Lat., and west of 141[deg] E. Long.

(5) Loggerhead sea turtle--

Caretta caretta... Southwest Indian

INSERT FR CITATION NA.

Southwest Indian Ocean DPS \2\.

Ocean north of

WHEN PUBLISHED AS the equator,

A FINAL RULE. south of 30[deg]

N. Lat., west of 20[deg] E. Long., and east of 80[deg] E. Long.

(6) Olive ridley sea turtle \2\ Lepidochelys

Wherever found,

43 FR 32800; Jul

NA. olivacea.

except where

28, 1978. listed as endangered under

Sec. 224.101(c); circumglobal in tropical and temperate seas.

* * * * * * *

\1\ Species includes taxonomic species, subspecies, distinct population segments (DPSs) (for a policy statement, see 61 FR 4722, February 7, 1996), and evolutionarily significant units (ESUs) (for a policy statement, see 56

FR 58612, November 20, 1991).

\2\ Jurisdiction for sea turtles by the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,

National Marine Fisheries Service, is limited to turtles while in the water.

PART 224--ENDANGERED MARINE AND ANADROMOUS SPECIES 0 5. The authority citation for part 224 continues to read as follows:

Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1531-1543 and 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq. 0 6. Amend Sec. 224.101 by revising paragraph (c) to read as follows:

Sec. 224.101 Enumeration of endangered marine and anadromous species.

* * * * *

(c) Sea turtles. The following table lists the common and scientific names of endangered sea turtles, the locations where they are listed, and the citations for the listings and critical habitat designations. Jurisdiction for sea turtles by the Department of

Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National

Marine Fisheries Service, is limited to turtles while in the water.

Species\1\

Citation(s) for

Citation(s) for

Where listed

listing

critical habitat

Common name

Scientific name

determination(s)

designation(s)

* * * * * * *

(1) Green sea turtle.......... Chelonia mydas.... Breeding colony

43 FR 32800; Jul

NA. populations in

28, 1978.

Florida and on the Pacific coast of Mexico.

(2) Hawksbill sea turtle...... Eretmochelys

Wherever found;

35 FR 8491; Jun 2, 47 FR 27295; Jun imbricata.

tropical seas.

1970.

24, 1982, 63 FR 46693; Sep 2, 1998, 64 FR 14052; Mar 23, 1999.

(3) Kemp's ridley sea turtle.. Lepidochelys

Wherever found;

35 FR 18319; Dec 2, NA. kempii.

tropical and

1970. temperate seas in

Atlantic Basin, incl. Gulf of

Mexico.

Page 58952

(4) Leatherback sea turtle.... Dermochelys

Wherever found;

35 FR 8491; Jun 2, 43 FR 43688; Sep coriacea.

tropical,

1970.

26, 1978, 44 FR temperate, and

17710; Mar 23, subpolar seas.

1979, 64 FR 14052; Mar 23, 1999.

(5) Loggerhead sea turtle--

Caretta caretta... Mediterranean Sea

INSERT FR

NA.

Mediterranean Sea DPS.

east of 5[deg36' CITATION WHEN

W Long.

PUBLISHED AS A

FINAL RULE].

(6) Loggerhead sea turtle--

Caretta caretta... North Indian Ocean [INSERT FR

NA.

North Indian Ocean DPS.

north of the

CITATION WHEN equator and south PUBLISHED AS A of 30[deg] N. Lat. FINAL RULE].

(7) Loggerhead sea turtle--

Caretta caretta... North Pacific

INSERT FR

NA.

North Pacific Ocean DPS.

north of the

CITATION WHEN equator and south PUBLISHED AS A of 60[deg N. Lat. FINAL RULE].

(8) Loggerhead sea turtle--

Caretta caretta... Northeast Atlantic [INSERT FR

NA.

Northeast Atlantic Ocean DPS.

Ocean north of

CITATION WHEN the equator,

PUBLISHED AS A south of 60[deg]

FINAL RULE].

N. Lat., and east of 40[deg] W.

Long., except in the vicinity of the Strait of

Gibraltar where the eastern boundary is 5[deg]36' W. Long.

(9) Loggerhead sea turtle--

Caretta caretta... South Pacific

INSERT FR

NA.

South Pacific Ocean DPS.

south of the

CITATION WHEN equator, north of PUBLISHED AS A 60[deg S. Lat.,

FINAL RULE]. west of 67[deg]

W. Long., and east of 141[deg]

E. Long.

(10) Sea turtle, olive ridley. Lepidochelys

Breeding colony

43 FR 32800; Jul

NA. olivacea.

populations on

28, 1978. the Pacific coast of Mexico.

\1\ Species includes taxonomic species, subspecies, distinct population segments (DPSs) (for a policy statement, see 61 FR 4722, February 7, 1996), and evolutionarily significant units (ESUs) (for a policy statement, see 56

FR 58612, November 20, 1991).

* * * * *

FR Doc. 2011-23960 Filed 9-16-11; 8:45 am

BILLING CODE 3510-22-P