NOAA Issues Positive Findings on Petition to Delist Humpback Whales

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NOAA Fisheries is announcing a positive 90-day finding on a petition to designate the Central North Pacific stock of the endangered humpback whale as a Distinct Population Segment and delist it under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Scientists estimate there are a minimum of 5,833 of this population, which migrates between Alaska and Hawaii.

In the 90-day finding, NOAA Fisheries has determined that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted.

NOAA Fisheries received a petition from the State of Alaska on February 26, which argued that the Central North Pacific, or Hawaii, stock constitutes a Distinct Population Segment under the ESA. The petition further asserts that this population has recovered to the point that it is no longer in danger of extinction, and meets the criteria for removal from the list of threatened and endangered species.

Under the ESA, a positive 90-day finding on such a petition requires the agency to conduct a status review for the species. NOAA Fisheries is already developing a status review of the humpback whale globally to review the status of the species, and is also reviewing a separate petition from the Hawaii Fishermen’s Alliance for Conservation and Tradition to delist humpback whales throughout the North Pacific. NOAA Fisheries will incorporate consideration of the Alaska petition into the ongoing status review for humpback whales.

To ensure this status review is comprehensive, the agency is soliciting scientific and commercial information regarding this species through a 30-day public comment period. The deadline to comment is July 28, 2014.

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