Endangered and Threatened Species; Draft Recovery Plan and Draft Recovery Implementation Strategy for the Main Hawaiian Islands Insular False Killer Whale Distinct Population Segment and Notice of Initiation of 5-Year Review

 
CONTENT
Federal Register, Volume 85 Issue 201 (Friday, October 16, 2020)
[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 201 (Friday, October 16, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 65791-65793]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-22950]
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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
[RTID 0648-XA467]
Endangered and Threatened Species; Draft Recovery Plan and Draft
Recovery Implementation Strategy for the Main Hawaiian Islands Insular
False Killer Whale Distinct Population Segment and Notice of Initiation
of 5-Year Review
AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce.
ACTION: Notice of availability of draft recovery plan and draft
recovery implementation strategy; request for comments; notice of
initiation of a 5-year review; request for information.
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SUMMARY: We, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), announce the
availability of the Draft Recovery Plan and Draft Recovery
Implementation Strategy for the Main Hawaiian Islands Insular False
Killer Whale (MHI IFKW; Pseudorca crassidens) Distinct Population
Segment (DPS) for public review. We are soliciting review and comment
from the public and all interested parties on the Draft Recovery Plan
and Draft Recovery Implementation Strategy, and will consider all
substantive comments received during the review period before
submitting the Recovery Plan and Recovery Implementation Strategy for
final approval. We are also initiating a 5-year review of the MHI IFKW
and are requesting new information on its status.
[[Page 65792]]
DATES: Comments on the Draft Recovery Plan and Draft Recovery
Implementation Strategy must be received by December 15, 2020.
ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the Draft Recovery Plan, the
Draft Recovery Implementation Strategy, and information for the 5-year
review, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2020-124 by either of the following
methods:
 Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal.
 1. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2020-124.
 2. Click the ``Comment Now!'' icon and complete the required
fields, and
 3. Enter or attach your comments.
 Mail: Submit written comments or information for the 5-
year review to Ann Garrett, Assistant Regional Administrator, Protected
Resources Division, NMFS, Pacific Islands Regional Office, Attn: Krista
Graham, 1845 Wasp Blvd., Building 176, Honolulu, HI 96818.
 Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period,
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are part of the
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain
anonymous).
 The Draft Recovery Plan and Draft Recovery Implementation Strategy
are available online at www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-
2020-124 or from https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/false-killer-whale#conservation-management or upon request from the NMFS Pacific
Islands Regional Office, Protected Resources Division.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Krista Graham, (808) 725-5152,
[email protected]; Kristen Koyama, (301) 427-8403,
[email protected].
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
Background
 The Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973, as amended (15 U.S.C.
1531 et seq.), requires that NMFS develop and implement recovery plans
for the conservation and survival of threatened and endangered species
under its jurisdiction, unless it is determined that such plans would
not promote the conservation of the species. Section 4(f)(1) of the ESA
requires that recovery plans incorporate: (1) Objective, measurable
criteria which, when met, would result in a determination that the
species is no longer threatened or endangered; (2) site-specific
management actions necessary to achieve the plan's goals; and (3)
estimates of the time required and costs to implement recovery actions.
 The MHI IFKW was listed as an endangered DPS on November 28, 2012,
under the ESA (77 FR 70915). The listing determination and the
extinction risk assessment were informed by the best available
scientific and commercial data, as well as the status review conducted
by a Biological Review Team (Oleson et al. 2010). The final critical
habitat rule for the MHI IFKW DPS was published in the Federal Register
on July 24, 2018 (83 FR 35062).
 Although three populations of false killer whales occur within the
Hawaiian Archipelago, the MHI IFKW DPS is a unique island-associated
population with a range that entirely surrounds the main Hawaiian
Islands. The most recent abundance estimate from 2015 was 167 (SE=23;
95 percent CI=128-218) animals, with annual estimates over a 16-year
survey period ranging from 144 to 187 animals (Bradford et al. 2018).
This estimate is similar to multi-year aggregated estimates previously
reported (Oleson et al. 2010). Several lines of evidence indicate that
the MHI IFKW has likely declined until at least the early 2000s.
Because of changes in survey design and effort, it is unknown whether
the MHI IFKW has continued to decline, has recently stabilized, or has
recently increased.
Development of the Draft Plan
 In September 2016, we developed a recovery outline to
systematically and cohesively guide recovery actions for the MHI IFKW
until we completed a recovery plan. The recovery outline is available
from our website at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/false-killer-whale#conservation-management.
 In October 2016, we held a four-day recovery planning workshop for
the MHI IFKW. The purpose of the workshop was to review and update the
original threats analysis from the 2010 status review report (Oleson et
al. 2010) and the 2012 final listing rule (77 FR 70915), as well as
identify potential recovery criteria and actions to address the threats
to the species. We invited experts in specific topic areas, including
the species' biology/ecology, threats to the species and the species'
habitat, and the recovery planning process itself. Identified experts
included representatives of federal and state agencies, scientific
experts, individuals from conservation partners and non-governmental
organizations, and commercial and recreational fishermen. The workshop
summary was published in February 2017 and is available from our
website at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/false-killer-whale#conservation-management.
 The recovery planning components for the MHI IFKW DPS is divided
into three separate documents. The first document, the Recovery Status
Review (NMFS 2020a), provides all the detailed information on the MHI
IFKWs' biology, ecology, status and threats, and conservation efforts
to date, which have typically been included in the background section
of a species' recovery plan. This separate, peer-reviewed document is
designed to inform all post-listing activities, including recovery
planning, and is a comprehensive update to the original 2010 status
review (Oleson et al. 2010). The Recovery Status Review is a living
document that will be updated regularly. The second document, the Draft
Recovery Plan (NMFS 2020b), focuses on the statutory requirements of
the ESA: (1) A description of site-specific management actions
necessary to conserve the species; (2) objective, measurable criteria
that, when met, will allow the species to be removed from the
endangered and threatened species list; and (3) estimates of the time
and funding required to achieve the plan's goals. Recovery actions in
the Draft Recovery Plan are described at a higher-level and are more
strategic. The third document, the Draft Recovery Implementation
Strategy (NMFS 2020c), is a flexible, operational document separate
from the Draft Recovery Plan that provides specific, prioritized
activities necessary to fully implement recovery actions in the Draft
Recovery Plan, while affording us the ability to modify these
activities in real time to reflect changes in the information available
as well as progress towards recovery. All recovery planning documents,
including the Recovery Status Review, the Draft Recovery Plan, and the
Draft Recovery Implementation Strategy, are available on the NMFS false
killer whale species profile website at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/false-killer-whale#conservation-management.
 We have determined that this Draft Recovery Plan for the MHI IFKW
DPS meets the statutory requirements for a recovery plan and are
proposing to adopt it as the ESA recovery plan for
[[Page 65793]]
this endangered DPS. Section 4(f) of the ESA, as amended in 1988,
requires that public notice and an opportunity to comment be provided
prior to final approval of a recovery plan. This notice solicits
comments on this Draft Recovery Plan and Draft Recovery Implementation
Strategy.
Contents of the Draft Recovery Plan
 The Draft Recovery Plan presents NMFS' proposed recovery goal,
objectives, and criteria for making a downlisting (to threatened) and
delisting decision. The proposed demographic and threats-based recovery
objectives and criteria are based on the five listing factors found in
the ESA section 4(a)(1). Before NMFS can remove the MHI IFKW DPS from
protection under the ESA, the factors that led to the ESA listing need
to have been reduced or eliminated to the point where federal
protection under the ESA is no longer needed, and there is reasonable
certainty that the relevant regulatory mechanisms are adequate to
protect MHI IFKWs. The proposed demographic and threats-based recovery
objectives and criteria for the MHI IFKW address threats from small
population size, incidental take, inadequate regulatory mechanisms,
competition with fisheries for prey, environmental contaminants and
biotoxins, anthropogenic noise, effects from climate change, and
secondary threats and synergies. The Draft Recovery Plan also describes
specific information on the following: Current status of MHI IFKWs;
pressures (limiting factors) and threats that have contributed to the
MHI IFKWs' decline; recovery strategies to address the threats based on
the best available science; and site-specific actions with timelines.
The Draft Recovery Plan also summarizes time and costs required to
implement recovery actions.
 The Draft Recovery Implementation Strategy provides specific,
prioritized activities necessary to fully implement recovery actions in
the Draft Recovery Plan. This stepped-down approach will afford us the
ability to modify these activities in real time to reflect changes in
the information available as well as progress towards recovery.
How NMFS and Others Expect To Use the Plan
 In addition to continuing to carry out actions already underway,
such as photo identification efforts and satellite tag deployment and
analysis, we have begun implementation of outreach actions as described
in the plan, such as developing strategic outreach messaging and tools
for fishermen and boaters to report sightings of false killer whales,
and anonymously reporting interactions with false killer whales. After
public comment and the adoption of the Final Recovery Plan and Final
Recovery Implementation Strategy, we will implement the actions and
activities for which we have authority and funding; encourage other
federal, state, and local agencies to implement recovery actions and
activities for which they have responsibility, authority, and funding;
and work cooperatively with the public and local stakeholders on
implementation of other actions and activities. We expect the Recovery
Plan to guide us and other federal agencies in evaluating federal
actions under ESA section 7, as well as in implementing other
provisions of the ESA, such as considering permits under section 10,
and other statutes.
 When we are considering a species for delisting, the agency will
examine whether the ESA section 4(a)(1) listing factors have been
addressed. To assist in this examination, we will use the delisting
criteria described in the Draft Recovery Plan, which include both
demographic criteria and threats-based criteria addressing each of the
ESA section 4(a)(1) listing factors, as well as any other relevant data
and policy considerations.
Public Comments Solicited
 We are soliciting written comments on the Draft Recovery Plan and
Draft Recovery Implementation Strategy. All substantive comments
received by the date specified above will be considered and
incorporated, as appropriate, prior to our decision whether to approve
this Recovery Plan and Recovery Implementation Strategy. While we
invite comments on all aspects of the Draft Recovery Plan and Draft
Recovery Implementation Strategy, we are particularly interested in
comments on the proposed objectives, criteria, and actions, as well as
comments on the estimated time and cost of recovery actions and
activities.
 In addition, the ESA requires that we conduct a review of listed
species at least once every five years. On the basis of such review
under section (4)(c)(2)(B), we determine whether any species should be
removed from the list (i.e., delisted) or reclassified from endangered
to threatened or from threatened to endangered (16 U.S.C.
1533(c)(2)(B)). Any change in federal classification would require a
separate rulemaking process. The regulations in 50 CFR 424.21 require
that we publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing those
species currently under active review. This notice announces our active
review of the MHI IFKW listed as an endangered DPS (77 FR 70915;
November 28, 2012). Comments and information submitted will be
considered in the 5-year review, as applicable.
 Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.
 Dated: October 13, 2020.
Angela Somma,
Chief, Endangered Species Conservation Division, Office of Protected
Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-22950 Filed 10-15-20; 8:45 am]
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