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Endangered and Threatened Species; Determination of Nine Distinct Population Segments of Loggerhead Sea Turtles as Endangered or Threatened

September 28, 2011

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76 Fed. Reg. 58868/ Vol. 76, No. 184 / Thursday, September 22, 2011 / Rules and Regulations/ DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service/ 50 CFR Part 17; DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE/ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/ 50 CFR Parts 223 and 224

Agency: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce; United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Interior.

Action:Final Rule.

Summary:  We (NMFS and USFWS; also collectively referred to as the Services) have determined that the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) is composed of nine distinct population segments (DPSs) that constitute ‘‘species’’ that may be listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In this final rule, we are listing four DPSs as threatened and five as endangered undindicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. Also, on November 15, 2007, we received a petition to list the ‘‘Western North Atlantic populations of loggerhead sea turtle’’ as an endangered species under the ESA. NMFS published a notice in the Federal Register on March 5, 2008 (73 FR 11849), concluding that the petitioners (Center for Biological Diversity and Oceana) presented substantial scientific information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted.er the ESA. We will propose to designate critical habitat for the two loggerhead sea turtle DPSs occurring within the United States in a future rulemaking. We encourage interested parties to provide any information related to the identification of critical habitat and essential physical or biological features for this species, as well as economic or other relevant impacts of designation of critical habitat, to assist us with this effort.

DATES:This rule is effective on October 24, 2011.

Excerpt: We issued a final rule listing the loggerhead sea turtle as threatened throughout its worldwide range on July 28, 1978 (43 FR 32800). On July 12, 2007, we received a petition to list the ‘‘North Pacific populations of loggerhead sea turtle’’ as an endangered species under the ESA. NMFS published a notice in the Federal Register on November 16, 2007 (72 FR 64585), concluding that the petitioners (Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle Island Restoration Network) presented substantial scientific information

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