Impacts of Northern Right Whale Critical Habitat Designation in the North Pacific Ocean
The proposed action being addressed in this Regulatory Impact Review (RIR) and Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis (RFAA) is the designation of critical habitat in waters of the North Pacific Ocean for the northern right whale under authority of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The purpose of this RIR/RFAA is to evaluate, to the extent practicable, the economic, socioeconomic, and other costs and benefits attributable to the alternatives identifying and describing critical habitat for the northern right whale in the North Pacific Ocean. These analyses meet the regulatory requirements of, and are the bases for, the 4(b)(2) Exclusion Analysis and Evaluation.
Under the ESA, NMFS is responsible for designating critical habitat for the endangered northern right whale. Section 3 of the ESA defines critical habitat as “(i) the specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species, at the time it is listed, on which are found the physical and biological features (I) essential to the conservation of the species and (II) which may require special management considerations or protection: and (ii) specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time it is listed that are determined by the Secretary to be essential for the conservation of the species.”