Proposed Rule to Designate Critical Habitat for Rice’s Whale
We, NOAA Fisheries, propose to designate critical habitat for the endangered Rice’s whale pursuant to section 4 of the Endangered Species Act. The specific area proposed for designation as critical habitat is occupied by the whales and encompasses approximately 28,270.65 square miles of continental shelf and slope associated waters within the Gulf of Mexico. We have considered positive and negative economic, national security, and other relevant impacts of the proposed critical habitat.
We are soliciting comments from the public on all aspects of the proposal, including the area proposed for designation, the attributes of the proposed essential feature, and probable benefits and impacts stemming from this designation.