Interested members of the public will now have until March 31 to comment on NOAA Fisheries’ proposal to designate critical habitat for Arctic ringed seals under the Endangered Species Act.
The proposed critical habitat in the northern Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort seas provides sea ice conditions that are essential for ringed seal pupping, nursing, basking, and molting. Primary prey species to support ringed seals also occur within the proposed critical habitat area.
The ESA requires federal agencies to ensure that actions they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to destroy or adversely modify designated critical habitat. The proposed critical habitat designation would not include any regulatory restrictions on human activities. In particular, subsistence harvest of ringed seals by Alaska Natives would not be affected by this critical habitat designation.
NOAA Fisheries first published the proposed critical habitat designation on December 9, 2014, with a 90-day public comment period closing on March 9, 2015. The comment period has been extended through March 31, 2015 to provide the public with additional time to submit comments on the proposal. Written comments on the proposed rule, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2013-0114, may be submitted by either of the following methods:
- Electronic Submission: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0114, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
- Mail: Address to Jon Kurland, Assistant Regional Administrator for Protected Resources, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian, P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668
All comments must be received by March 31, 2015. Comments are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on http://www.regulations.gov without change, including any personal information provided. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter "N/A" in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).
For more information, visit the ringed seals web page.