[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 172 (Thursday, September 3, 2020)]
[Pages 54997-54998]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-19526]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[RTID 0648-XA309]

Nominations to the Marine Mammal Scientific Review Groups

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Notice; request for nominations.


SUMMARY: As required by of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the 
Secretary of Commerce established three independent regional scientific 
review groups (SRGs) to provide advice on a range of marine mammal 
science and management issues. NMFS conducted a membership review of 
the Alaska, Atlantic, and Pacific SRGs, and is soliciting nominations 
for new members to fill vacancies and gaps in expertise.

DATES: Nominations must be received by October 5, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Nominations can be emailed to [email protected], 
Protected Species Science Branch, Office of Science and Technology, 
National Marine Fisheries Service, Attn: SRGs.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Zachary Schakner, Office of 
Science and Technology, 301-427-8106, [email protected]. 
Information about the SRGs, including the SRG Terms of Reference, is 
available at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/scientific-review-groups.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 117(d) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 
1386(d)) directs the Secretary of Commerce to establish three 
independent regional SRGs to advise the Secretary (authority delegated 
to NMFS). The Alaska SRG advises on marine mammals that occur in waters 
off Alaska that are under the jurisdiction of the United States. The 
Pacific SRG advises on marine mammals that occur in waters off the U.S. 
West Coast, Hawaiian Islands, and the U.S. Territories in the Central 
and Western Pacific that are under the jurisdiction of the United 
States. The Atlantic SRG advises on marine mammals that occur in waters 
off the Atlantic coast, Gulf of Mexico, and U.S. Territories in the 
Caribbean that are under the jurisdiction of the United States.
    SRGs members are highly qualified individuals with expertise in 
marine mammal biology and ecology, population dynamics and modeling, 
commercial fishing technology and practices, and stocks taken under 
section 101(b) of the MMPA. The SRGs provide expert reviews of draft 
marine mammal stock assessment reports and other information related to 
the matters identified in section 117(d)(1) of the MMPA, including:
    A. Population estimates and the population status and trends of 
marine mammal stocks;
    B. Uncertainties and research needed regarding stock separation, 
abundance, or trends, and factors affecting the distribution, size, or 
productivity of the stock;
    C. Uncertainties and research needed regarding the species, number, 
ages, gender, and reproductive status of marine mammals;
    D. Research needed to identify modifications in fishing gear and 
practices likely to reduce the incidental mortality and serious injury 
of marine mammals in commercial fishing operations;
    E. The actual, expected, or potential impacts of habitat 
destruction, including marine pollution and natural environmental 
change, on specific marine mammal species or stocks, and for strategic 
stocks, appropriate conservation or management measures to alleviate 
any such impacts; and
    F. Any other issue which the Secretary or the groups consider 
    SRG members collectively serve as independent advisors to NMFS and 
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and provide their expert review and 
recommendations through participation in the SRG. Members attend annual 
meetings and undertake activities as independent persons providing 
expertise in their subject areas. Members are not appointed as 
representatives of professional organizations or particular stakeholder 
groups, including government entities, and are not permitted to 
represent or advocate for those organizations, groups, or entities 
during SRG meetings, discussions, and deliberations.
    SRG membership is voluntary; and, except for reimbursable travel 
and related expenses, service is without pay. The term of service for 
SRG members is three years, and members may serve up

[[Page 54998]]

to three consecutive terms if reappointed.
    NMFS annually reviews the expertise available on the SRG and 
identifies gaps in the expertise that is needed to provide advice 
pursuant to section 117(d) of the MMPA. In conducting the reviews, NMFS 
attempts to achieve, to the maximum extent practicable, a balanced 
representation of viewpoints among the individuals on each SRG.

Expertise Solicited

    For the Alaska SRG, NMFS seeks individuals with expertise in one or 
more of the following areas (not in order of priority): Toxicology, 
pollutants, and marine mammal health; abundance estimation, especially 
distance sampling and mark-recapture methods and survey design; 
anthropogenic impacts, particularly fisheries interactions, marine 
mammal bycatch estimation, depredation, ship strikes, entanglements, 
and the effects of anthropogenic sound; fishing gear and fishing 
practices; Alaska Native harvest and use of marine mammals for 
subsistence and handicraft purposes, especially in the Gulf of Alaska, 
Kodiak, and the Arctic; oceanographic changes impacting marine mammals; 
genetics as a method of identifying population structure; quantitative 
ecology, population dynamics, modeling, and statistics, especially as 
related to abundance and bycatch estimation; and pinnipeds.
    For the Pacific SRG (including waters off the Pacific coast, 
Hawaiian Islands and the U.S. Territories in the Central and Western 
Pacific), NMFS seeks individuals with expertise in one or more of the 
following areas (not in order of priority): Incorporation of new 
methodological or technological advancements for data collection (e.g. 
genomics, eDNA, unmanned aerial or in-water autonomous vehicles) or 
data analysis, particularly for large complex datasets (e.g. machine 
learning, artificial intelligence, automation) into quantitative 
assessments of marine mammal abundance, life history, or population 
structure; marine mammal stock definition and assessment under the MMPA 
and Endangered Species Act, science-management interface; Marine Mammal 
Health and Stranding Response Program; West Coast and Pacific Islands 
fishing gear/techniques, including fishery/marine mammal interactions 
for State, Tribal, and/or regional/local fisheries; Pacific Northwest 
cetaceans, especially ecology and assessment of gray whales, humpback 
whales, harbor porpoise, Dall's porpoise, killer whales; West Coast 
pinnipeds, including assessment, life history, ecology, and human-
pinniped interactions; large whales, particularly with regard to 
assessment, photo-identification, mark-recapture, life history, feeding 
ecology, movements, behavioral ecology as it relates to entanglement 
and ship strikes; oceanography and marine ecology, particularly decadal 
and long-term understanding; quantitative ecology, population dynamics, 
modeling, and statistics; interdisciplinary, integrative ecology with 
applications toward applied conservation and management problems, 
including evaluating bycatch and fisheries impacts across a range of 
marine mammal taxa; and marine mammal acoustics, including the 
integration of passive acoustic datasets into marine mammal assessments 
and examining the impacts of sound on marine mammal populations.
    For the Atlantic SRG (including waters off the Atlantic coast, Gulf 
of Mexico, and U.S. Territories in the Caribbean), NMFS seeks 
individuals with expertise in one or more of the following priority 
areas (not in order of priority): Protected species conservation, 
wildlife management, and policy/science interface especially in the 
non-governmental sector; line-transect methodology, mark-recapture 
methods, survey design, and quantitative ecology; life history and 
ecology, particularly large cetaceans and delphinid species; Gulf of 
Mexico cetacean population dynamics; Southeast U.S. cetaceans; 
Northeast U.S. Large Marine Ecosystem (LME); marine mammal health, 
physiology, energetics, and toxicology; genetics; fishing gear and 
practices, particularly fisheries with marine mammal bycatch, fishery 
bycatch estimation, and bycatch reduction; ecosystem climate impacts; 
and manatees.

Submitting a Nomination

    Nominations for new members should be sent to Dr. Zachary Schakner 
in the NMFS Office of Science & Technology (see ADDRESSES) and must be 
received by October 5, 2020. Nominations should be accompanied by the 
individual's curriculum vitae and detailed information regarding how 
the recommended person meets the minimum selection criteria for SRG 
members (see below). Nominations should also include the nominee's 
name, address, telephone number, and email address. Self-nominations 
are acceptable.

Selection Criteria

    Although the MMPA does not explicitly prohibit Federal employees 
from serving as SRG members, NMFS interprets MMPA section 117(d)'s 
reference to the SRGs as ``independent'' bodies that are exempt from 
Federal Advisory Committee Act requirements to mean that SRGs are 
intended to augment existing Federal expertise and are not composed of 
Federal employees or contractors.
    When reviewing nominations, NMFS, in consultation with the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, will consider the following six criteria:
    (1) Ability to make time available for the purposes of the SRG;
    (2) Knowledge of the species (or closely related species) of marine 
mammals in the SRG's region;
    (3) Scientific or technical achievement in a relevant discipline, 
particularly the areas of expertise identified above, to be considered 
an expert peer reviewer for the topic;
    (4) Demonstrated experience working effectively on teams;
    (5) Expertise relevant to current and expected needs of the SRG, in 
particular, expertise required to provide adequate review and 
knowledgeable feedback on current or developing stock assessment 
issues, techniques, etc. In practice, this means that each member 
should have expertise in more than one topic as the species and 
scientific issues discussed in SRG meetings are diverse; and
    (6) No conflict of interest with respect to their duties as a 
member of the SRG.

Next Steps

    Following review, nominees who are identified by NMFS as potential 
new members must be vetted and cleared in accordance with Department of 
Commerce policy. NMFS will contact these individuals and ask them to 
provide written confirmation that they are not registered Federal 
lobbyists or registered foreign agents, and to complete a confidential 
financial disclosure form, which will be reviewed by the Ethics Law and 
Programs Division within the U.S. Department of Commerce's Office of 
General Counsel. All nominees will be notified of a selection decision 
in advance of the 2020 SRG meetings.

    Dated: August 28, 2020.
Karl I. Moline,
Acting Director, Office of Science and Technology, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-19526 Filed 9-2-20; 8:45 am]