50 CFR § 226.224 - Critical habitat for the Puget Sound/Georgia Basin DPS of yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus), and Bocaccio (S. paucispinus).

§ 226.224 Critical habitat for the Puget Sound/Georgia Basin DPS of yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus), and Bocaccio (S. paucispinus).

Critical habitat is designated in the following states and counties for the following DPSs as depicted in the maps below and described in paragraphs (a) through (d) of this section. The maps can be viewed or obtained with greater resolution (http://www.wcr.noaa.gov/) to enable a more precise inspection of critical habitat for yelloweye rockfish, canary rockfish and bocaccio.

(a) Critical habitat is designated for the following DPSs in the following state and counties:

DPS State-counties
Yelloweye rockfish Wa - San Juan, Whatcom, Skagit, Island, Clallam, Jefferson Snohomish, King, Pierce, Kitsap, Thurston, Mason.
Bocaccio Wa - San Juan, Whatcom, Skagit, Island, Clallam, Jefferson Snohomish, King, Pierce, Kitsap, Thurston, Mason.

(b) Critical habitat boundaries. In delineating nearshore (shallower than 30 m (98 ft)) areas in Puget Sound, we define critical habitat for bocaccio, as depicted in the maps below, as occurring from the shoreline from extreme high water out to a depth no greater than 30 m (98 ft) relative to mean lower low water. Deepwater critical habitat for yelloweye rockfish and bocaccio occurs in some areas, as depicted in the maps below, from depths greater than 30 m (98 ft). The critical habitat designation includes the marine waters above (the entire water column) the nearshore and deepwater areas depicted in the maps in this section.

(c) Essential features for juvenile bocaccio.

(1) Juvenile settlement habitats located in the nearshore with substrates such as sand, rock and/or cobble compositions that also support kelp are essential for conservation because these features enable forage opportunities and refuge from predators and enable behavioral and physiological changes needed for juveniles to occupy deeper adult habitats. Several attributes of these sites determine the quality of the area and are useful in considering the conservation value of the associated feature and in determining whether the feature may require special management considerations or protection. These features also are relevant to evaluating the effects of an action in an ESA section 7 consultation if the specific area containing the site is designated as critical habitat. These attributes include:

(i) Quantity, quality, and availability of prey species to support individual growth, survival, reproduction, and feeding opportunities; and

(ii) Water quality and sufficient levels of dissolved oxygen to support growth, survival, reproduction, and feeding opportunities.

(2) Nearshore areas are contiguous with the shoreline from the line of extreme high water out to a depth no greater than 30 meters (98 ft) relative to mean lower low water.

(d) Essential features for adult bocaccio and adult and juvenile yelloweye rockfish. Benthic habitats and sites deeper than 30 m (98 ft) that possess or are adjacent to areas of complex bathymetry consisting of rock and or highly rugose habitat are essential to conservation because these features support growth, survival, reproduction, and feeding opportunities by providing the structure for rockfish to avoid predation, seek food and persist for decades. Several attributes of these sites determine the quality of the habitat and are useful in considering the conservation value of the associated feature, and whether the feature may require special management considerations or protection. These attributes are also relevant in the evaluation of the effects of a proposed action in an ESA section 7 consultation if the specific area containing the site is designated as critical habitat. These attributes include:

(1) Quantity, quality, and availability of prey species to support individual growth, survival, reproduction, and feeding opportunities;

(2) Water quality and sufficient levels of dissolved oxygen to support growth, survival, reproduction, and feeding opportunities; and

(3) The type and amount of structure and rugosity that supports feeding opportunities and predator avoidance.

[79 FR 68075, Nov. 13, 2014, as amended at 82 FR 7720, Jan. 23, 2017]