(a) Determinations by rule; notice and hearing; findings; final rule on status of species or stock involved
In any action by the Secretary to determine if a species or stock should be designated as depleted, or should no longer be designated as depleted, regardless of whether such action is taken on the initiative of the Secretary or in response to a petition for a status review, the Secretary shall only make such a determination by issuance of a rule, after notice and opportunity for public comment and after a call for information in accordance with paragraph (2).
The Secretary shall make any determination described in paragraph (1) solely on the basis of the best scientific information available. Prior to the issuance of a proposed rule concerning any such determination, the Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register a call to assist the Secretary in obtaining scientific information from individuals and organizations concerned with the conservation of marine mammals, from persons in any industry which might be affected by the determination, and from academic institutions. In addition, the Secretary shall utilize, to the extent the Secretary determines to be feasible, informal working groups of interested parties and other methods to gather the necessary information.
Within sixty days after receipt of the petition, the Secretary shall publish a finding in the Federal Register as to whether the petition presents substantial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted.
(C) If the Secretary makes a positive finding under subparagraph (B), the Secretary shall include in the Federal Register notice, a finding that—
a review of the status of the species or stock will be commenced promptly; or
a prompt review of the petition is precluded by other pending status determination petitions and that expeditious progress is being made to process pending status determination petitions under this subchapter.
No later than two hundred and ten days after the receipt of the petition, the Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register a proposed rule as to the status of the species or stock, along with the reasons underlying the proposed status determination. Persons shall have at least sixty days to submit comments on such a proposed rule.
Not later than ninety days after the close of the comment period on a proposed rule issued under subparagraph (D), the Secretary shall issue a final rule on the status of the species or stock involved, along with the reasons for the status determination. If the Secretary finds with respect to such a proposed rule that there is substantial disagreement regarding the sufficiency or accuracy of the available information relevant to a status determination, the Secretary may delay the issuance of a final rule for a period of not more than six months for purposes of soliciting additional information.
Notwithstanding subparagraphs (D) and (E) of this paragraph and section 553 of title 5, the Secretary may issue a final rule as to the status of a species or stock any time sixty or more days after a positive finding under subparagraph (B) if the Secretary determines there is substantial information available to warrant such final status determination and further delay would pose a significant risk to the well-being of any species or stock. Along with the final rule, the Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register detailed reasons for the expedited determination.
(b) Conservation plans; preparation and implementation
(1) The Secretary shall prepare conservation plans—
If the Secretary determines that a take reduction plan is necessary to reduce the incidental taking of marine mammals in the course of commercial fishing operations from a strategic stock, or for species or stocks which interact with a commercial fishery for which the Secretary has made a determination under section 1387(f)(1) of this title, any conservation plan prepared under this subsection for such species or stock shall incorporate the take reduction plan required under section 1387 of this title for such species or stock.