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NOAA Announces Date for Nome Public Hearing on Ringed and Bearded Seals


Juneau, AK — NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service is announcing it will hold a public hearing April 5 in Nome concerning the agency’s proposals to list some ringed and bearded seals as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

On December 10, 2010, NOAA published proposed rules to list as threatened under the ESA four subspecies of ringed seals found in the Arctic Ocean, Bering, Okhotsk, and Baltic seas, and Lake Ladoga (Russia); and two distinct population segments of bearded seals found in the Beaufort, Chukchi, East Siberian, and Okhotsk seas. The original 60-day public comment period was extended an additional 45-days, and will end March 25, 2011.

In response to requests for public hearings on the issue, NOAA Fisheries previously announced public hearings in Anchorage and Barrow. The additional public hearing in Nome will provide greater opportunity for public comment.

The Anchorage public hearing was held March 7. The Nome hearing announced today is one of two hearings yet to be held:

* Barrow, AK: March 22, 2011; 7-9:30 p.m., Iñupiat Heritage Center
* Nome, AK: April 5, 2011; 4-7 p.m., Mini-Convention Center

Telephone access to the Barrow hearing will be available at the North Slope Borough Teleconferencing Centers in Kaktovik, Wainwright, Point Lay, Point Hope, Nuiqsut, Atqasuk, and Anaktuvuk Pass, as well as a teleconferencing center in Kotzebue.

Written comments on the proposed rules must be received on or before March 25, 2011, or during the hearing in Nome.  

Submit comments—which should be identified by "RIN 0648-XZ58" for bearded seals and “RIN 0648-XZ59” for ringed seals—to Kaja Brix, Assistant Regional Administrator, Protected Resources, Alaska Region, NMFS, ATTN: Ellen Sebastian, by any one of the following methods:

* Electronic submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal website at http://www.regulations.gov
* Mail: P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668
* Fax: 907-586-7557
* Hand-deliver to the Federal Building: 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, Juneau, AK

The proposed rules, status review reports, and other materials relating to the proposed rules can be found at: http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/protectedresources/seals/ice.htm.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us at http://www.noaa.gov or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/usnoaagov.

To learn more about NOAA Fisheries in Alaska, visit  alaskafisheries.noaa.gov or www.afsc.noaa.gov.

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