Update Recovery Plan for Blue Whale & Prepare a Recovery Plan for the North Pacific Right Whale

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is announcing its
intent to update a recovery plan for the blue whale (Balaenoptera
musculus) and prepare a recovery plan for the North Pacific right whale
(Eubalaena japonica) and requests information from the public. NMFS is
required by the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), as amended to
develop plans for the conservation and survival of federally listed species, i.e., recovery

DATES: To allow NMFS adequate time to conduct the reviews, all
information must be received no later than May 17, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on these documents, identified by
NOAA-NMFS-2012-0091, by any of the following methods:


Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal www.regulations.gov. To
submit comments via the e-Rulemaking Portal, first click the ``submit a
comment'' icon, then enter NOAA-NMFS-2012-0091 in the keyword search.
Locate the document you wish to comment on from the resulting list and
click on the ``Submit a Comment'' icon on the right of that line.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Chief, Endangered Species
Division, National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of Protected
Resources, 1315 East West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910, Attn:
Recovery Plans.

Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above
methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and
considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period,
may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public
record and will generally be posted for public viewing on
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying
information (e.g., name, address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the
sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business
information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will
accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you
wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be
accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file
formats only.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Larissa Plants, Office of Protected
Resources, 301-427-8471, or Shannon Bettridge, Office of Protected
Resources, 301-427-8437.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Management responsibility for blue whales
and North Pacific right whales lies with the Secretary of Commerce and
has been delegated to NMFS. As such, NMFS is charged with the recovery
of blue and North Pacific right whales, which are listed as endangered
under the ESA. The recovery planning process is guided by the statutory
language of Section 4(f) of the ESA and NMFS policies. Recovery
planning identifies all methods and procedures that are necessary to
recover any endangered species or threatened species. Section
4(f)(1)(B) of the ESA specifies that recovery plans must incorporate in
each plan (i) a description of such site-specific management actions as
may be necessary to achieve the plan's goal for the conservation and
survival of the species; (ii) objective, measurable criteria which when
met, would result in a determination, that the species be removed from
the list; and (iii) estimates of the time required and cost to carry
out those measures needed to achieve the plan's goal and to achieve
intermediate steps toward that goal.

Section 4(f)(4) of the ESA requires that public notice and an
opportunity for public review and comment be provided during recovery
plan development. NMFS requests relevant information from the public
during preparation of the draft Recovery Plans. Such information should
address: (a) criteria for removing the these whales from the list of
threatened and endangered species; (b) factors that are presently
limiting, or threaten to limit, the survival of the blue and North
Pacific right whales; (c) actions to address limiting factors and
threats; (d) estimates of time and cost to implement recovery actions;
and (e) research, monitoring and evaluation needs. Upon completion, the
draft Recovery Plans will be available for public review and comment
through the publication of a Federal Register Notice.