50 CFR 665.248 - Monk seal protective measures.
(a)General. This section establishes a procedure that will be followed if the Regional Administrator receives a report of a monk seal death that appears to be related to the lobster fishery in Permit Area 1.
(b)Notification. Upon receipt of a report of a monk seal death that appears to be related to the lobster fishery, the Regional Administrator will notify all interested parties of the facts known about the incident. The Regional Administrator will also notify them that an investigation is in progress, and that, if the investigation reveals a threat of harm to the monk seal population, protective measures may be implemented.
(1) The Regional Administrator will investigate the incident reported and will attempt to:
(i) Verify that the incident occurred.
(ii) Determine the extent of the harm to the monk seal population.
(iii) Determine the probability of a similar incident recurring.
(iv) Determine details of the incident such as:
(A) The number of animals involved.
(B) The cause of the mortality.
(C) The age and sex of the dead animal(s).
(D) The relationship of the incident to the reproductive cycle, for example, breeding season (March-September), non-breeding season (October-February).
(E) The population estimates or counts of animals at the island where the incident occurred.
(F) Any other relevant information.
(v) Discover and evaluate any extenuating circumstances.
(vi) Evaluate any other relevant factors.
(d)Determination of relationship. The Regional Administrator will review and evaluate the results of the investigation and any comments received from interested parties. If there is substantial evidence that the death of the monk seal was related to the lobster fishery, the Regional Administrator will:
(1) Advise the interested parties of his or her conclusion and the facts upon which it is based.
(2) Request from the interested parties their advice on the necessity of protective measures and suggestions for appropriate protective measures.
(e)Determination of response. The Regional Administrator will consider all relevant information discovered during the investigation or submitted by interested parties in deciding on the appropriate response. Protective measures may include, but are not limited to, changes in trap design, changes in gear, closures of specific areas, or closures for specific periods of time.
(f)Action by the Regional Administrator. If the Regional Administrator decides that protective measures are necessary and appropriate, the Regional Administrator will prepare a document that describes the incident, the protective measures proposed, and the reasons for the protective measures; provide it to the interested parties; and request their comments.
(g)Implementation of protective measures.
(1) If, after completing the steps described in paragraph (f) of this section, the Regional Administrator concludes that protective measures are necessary and appropriate, the Regional Administrator will recommend the protective measures to the Assistant Administrator and provide notice of this recommendation to the Chairman of the Council and the Director of the Division of Aquatic Resources, Department of Land and Natural Resources, State of Hawaii.
(2) If the Assistant Administrator concurs with the Regional Administrator's recommendation, NMFS will publish an action in the Federal Register that includes a description of the incident that triggered the procedure described in this section, the protective measures, and the reasons for the protective measures.
(h)Notification of “no action.” If, at any point in the process described in this section, the Regional Administrator or Assistant Administrator decides that no further action is required, the interested parties will be notified of this decision.
(1) The protective measures will take effect 10 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.
(2) The protective measures will remain in effect for the shortest of the following time periods:
(i) Until the Hawaii FEP and this section are amended to respond to the problem;
(ii) Until other action that will respond to the problem is taken under the ESA;
(iv) For the period of time set forth in the Federal Register notification, not to exceed 3 months. The measures may be renewed for 3 months after again following procedures in paragraphs (b) through (g) of this section.
(1) If the Assistant Administrator decides that protective measures may no longer be necessary for the protection of monk seals, the Assistant Administrator will notify the interested parties of this preliminary decision and the facts upon which it is based. The Assistant Administrator will request advice on the proposed repeal of the protective measures.
(3) If the Assistant Administrator decides to repeal the protective measures -
(i) Interested parties will be notified of the decision; and
(ii) Notification of repeal and the reasons for the repeal will be published in the Federal Register.
(k)Monk seal emergency protective measures -
(1)Determination of emergency. If, at any time during the process described in paragraphs (a) through (j) of this section, the Regional Administrator determines that an emergency exists involving monk seal mortality related to the lobster fishery and that measures are needed immediately to protect the monk seal population, the Regional Administrator will -
(i) Notify the interested parties of this determination and request their immediate advice and comments.
(2)Implementation of emergency measures. If the Assistant Administrator agrees with the recommendation for emergency action -
(i) The Regional Administrator will determine the appropriate emergency protective measures.
(ii) NMFS will publish the emergency protective measures in the Federal Register.
(iii) The Regional Administrator will notify the interested parties of the emergency protective measures. Holders of permits to fish in Permit Area I will be notified by certified mail. Permit holders that the Regional Administrator knows are on the fishing grounds also will be notified by radio.
(i) Emergency protective measures are effective against a permit holder at 12:01 a.m., local time, of the day following the day the permit holder receives actual notice of the measures.
(ii) Emergency protective measures are effective for 10 days from the day following the day the first permit holder is notified of the protective measures.
(iii) Emergency protective measures may be extended for an additional 10 days, if necessary, to allow the completion of the procedures set out in § 665.252.