President Obama Plans to Expand National Marine Sanctuaries Up Sonoma and Mendocino Coasts By Paul Rogers

In a move that would permanently ban oil drilling along more than 50 miles of Northern California coast, the Obama administration announced plans Thursday to expand two Northern California marine sanctuaries, extending them up the rugged Sonoma and Mendocino coast.

The announcement, at a news conference in Washington, D.C., with members of the Bay Area congressional delegation and officials from NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, marks the largest expansion of national marine sanctuaries in California in 20 years -- since President George. H.W. Bush established the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in 1992.


Possible Boundary Expansion of Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries

With this notice, NOAA announces that it is considering whether to expand the boundaries of Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones national marine sanctuaries. NOAA will conduct this review pursuant to section 304(e) of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, as amended, (NMSA) (16 U.S.C. 1434(e)). As required by the NMSA, the review will include public processes outlined under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). NOAA anticipates that the review and potential expansion of existing sanctuary boundaries will be completed within 18 to 24 months.

DATES: Comments must be received by March 1, 2013. Dates for scoping meetings are:

    (1) January 24 2013 at the Bodega Bay Grange Hall.

    (2) February 12, 2013 at the Gualala Community Center.

    (3) February 13, 2013 at the Point Arena High School.


Amendment 17 to the Salmon Fishery Management Plan

NMFS proposes regulations to implement Amendment 17 to the Pacific Coast Salmon Fishery Management Plan for Commercial and Recreational Salmon Fisheries off the Coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California (Salmon FMP). Amendment 17, which was transmitted by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) on November 5, 2012, to the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) for review and approval, revises the maximum fishing mortality threshold (MFMT) for Quillayute fall coho, revises the FMP to correct typographical errors, updates reporting measures to reflect new technology, and updates or removes other obsolete or unnecessary language. The Northwest Regional Administrator has determined that the actions of Amendment 17 have all either been previously analyzed in a NEPA document or qualify for categorical exclusion (CE) from further NEPA analysis under NAO 216-6. NMFS also proposes minor updates to regulations unrelated to Amendment 17.

Written comments on this proposed rule must be received on or before January 8, 2013.

Tsunami Debris Report

The Coast Guard spotted a large dock that has washed ashore in a remote section of Olympic National Park on the northwest Washington coast. Scientists are concerned it could be debris from the tsunami that struck Japan last year.

Federal, state and tribal agencies were working together to reach the site and evaluate the dock for any potential invasive aquatic species that might be aboard, said Dave Workman of the Washington state Marine Debris Task Force. They also want to conclusively determine the dock's origin.

PFMC Management Process for 2013 Ocean Salmon

The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Pacific Council) has begun its annual preseason management process for the 2013 ocean salmon fisheries. This document announces the availability of Pacific Council Salmon documents as well as the dates and locations of Pacific Council meetings and public hearings comprising the Pacific Council's complete schedule of events for determining the annual proposed and final modifications to ocean salmon fishery management measures. The agendas for the March and April 2013 Pacific Council meetings will be published in subsequent Federal Register documents prior to the actual meetings.

Written comments on the salmon management alternatives must be received by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time, March 31, 2013.




NOAA Proposes Listing 66 Reef-Building Coral Species under the Endangered Species Act

In compliance with a federal court ordered deadline, and consistent with existing international protections, NOAA Fisheries announced that it is proposing Endangered Species Act (ESA) listings for 66 coral species, including 59 in the Pacific and seven in the Caribbean. This science-based proposal is more limited than the 2009 original petition that led to a settlement agreement and the court order. In order to ensure robust input, NOAA has been engaging the public since the process began three years ago. Before this proposed listing is finalized in late 2013, there will be a 90-day public comment period during which NOAA will hold 18 public meetings.

Pacific Halibut Workgroup Meeting

The Pacific Fishery Management Council's (Pacific Council) South of Humbug Policy Workgroup (Workgroup) for Pacific halibut will hold a working meeting, which is open to the public.

The Workgroup meeting will be held Thursday, December 13, 2012 from 10 a.m. until business for the day is completed.

The overarching goals of the Workgroup meeting are to explore the best methods for incorporating the area south of the Oregon/California border into the International Pacific Halibut Commission's (IPHC) Pacific halibut stock assessment, examine the effect of including that area on the Area 2A apportionment, and evaluate methods to manage the fishery south of Humbug Mountain to comply with allocation provisions of the Catch Sharing Plan and the overall total allowable catch apportioned to Area 2A.

90-Day Finding on a Petition To Delist the Southern Resident Killer Whale

We, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), announce a 90-day finding on a petition to delist the Southern Resident killer whale (Orcinus orca) Distinct Population Segment (DPS) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Southern Resident killer whale DPS was listed as endangered under the ESA in 2005. We find that the petition viewed in the context of information readily available in our files presents substantial scientific information indicating the petitioned action may be warranted. We are hereby initiating a status review of Southern Resident killer whales to determine whether the petitioned action is warranted and to examine the application of the DPS policy. To ensure the status review is comprehensive, we are soliciting scientific and commercial information pertaining to this species.

Amendment 17

NMFS announces that the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) has transmitted Amendment 17 to the Pacific Coast Salmon Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Secretarial review. Amendment 17 revises the maximum fishing mortality threshold (MFMT) for Quillayute fall coho, revises the FMP to correct typographical errors, updates reporting measures to reflect new technology, and updates or removes other obsolete or unnecessary language.

Comments on Amendment 17 must be received on or before January 8, 2013.

New Exhibit Brings You Face to Face With an Orca

In the Pacific Northwest, scientists know each Southern Resident killer whale by name. While the loss of an individual whale leaves a hole in their tight knit family group, it also allows scientists to fill data gaps on marine mammals. The story of one such whale has been turned into an exhibit at The Whale Museum in Harbor, Washington.

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