Listing 4 Subspecies of Ringed Seals (Arctic, Okhotsk, Baltic and Ladoga) Under the ESA
Final determination to list the Arctic (Phoca hispida hispida), Okhotsk (Phoca hispida ochotensis), and Baltic (Phoca hispida botnica) subspecies of the ringed seal (Phoca hispida) as threatened and the Ladoga (Phoca hispida ladogensis) subspecies of the ringed seal as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). NOAA Fisheries will propose to designate critical habitat for the Arctic ringed seal in a future rulemaking.
In light of public comments and upon further review, we are withdrawing the proposed ESA section 4(d) protective regulations for threatened subspecies of the ringed seal because we have determined that such regulations are not necessary or advisable for the conservation of the Arctic, Okhotsk, or Baltic subspecies of the ringed seal at this time. Given their current population sizes, the long-term nature of the primary threat to these subspecies (habitat alteration stemming from climate change), and the existing protections under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, it is unlikely that the proposed protective regulations would provide appreciable conservation benefits.