[Federal Register Volume 87, Number 183 (Thursday, September 22, 2022)]
[Pages 57868-57870]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2022-20498]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[RTID: 0648-XB430]

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 the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the 
Secretary of Commerce established three

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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 (see below).

DATES: Nominations must be received by October 24, 2022.

ADDRESSES: Nominations can be emailed to [email protected], 
Assessment 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 
    SRG 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 3 years, and members may serve up 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): Abundance 
estimation, especially distance sampling and mark-recapture methods and 
survey design; Passive acoustic data collection and analysis; Climate 
and oceanographic changes impacting marine mammals; Quantitative 
ecology, population dynamics, modeling, and statistics, especially as 
related to abundance, bycatch, and distribution; Anthropogenic impacts, 
particularly fisheries interactions, vessel strikes, and the effects of 
anthropogenic sound.
    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): Population structure based 
on genetic data, incorporation of new methodological or technological 
advancements for data collection/analysis (e.g. -omics, eDNA, 
microbiome); West Coast and Pacific Islands marine mammal expertise, 
including assessment, life history, ecology, or human-marine mammal 
interactions; Applied conservation and management, including evaluating 
bycatch or fisheries impacts on marine mammals; Expertise in 
identifying and delineating demographically independent populations 
based on multiple lines of evidence; West Coast and Pacific Islands 
fishing gear/techniques, including fishery/marine mammal interactions 
for State, Tribal, or regional/local fisheries; Oceanography or marine 
ecology, particularly decadal and long-term understanding and impacts 
of climate change; spatial movement ecology, telemetry, habitat 
modeling; Sea otters; Pinnipeds.
    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): Expertise in statistical analyses 
relevant to marine mammal population assessment including line-transect 
methods, mark-recapture methods, bycatch estimation, survey design, and 
population dynamics modeling; Large whale (especially North Atlantic 
right whales) population dynamics, biology and ecology; Marine mammal 
acoustics, in terms of individual impacts (masking, TTS) and changes to 
habitat function (loss of communication space, displacement); 
Population dynamics of estuarine and nearshore bottlenose dolphins in 
the Gulf of Mexico and/or Atlantic Ocean; Population dynamics of warm 
temperate to tropical pelagic marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico, 
Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean; Ecology of Caribbean marine mammals 
in U.S. waters of Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands; Marine mammal--
fishery interactions, including fishing gear, practices, and bycatch 
reduction; Impacts of oceanographic & ecosystem changes such as climate 
change, energy (renewable/non-renewable), or marine aquaculture on 
marine mammal populations; Pinniped reproductive behavior, diet, 
physiology, fisheries interactions; Manatee population dynamics and 

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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 24, 2022. 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, and the ability 
to serve as 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 2023 SRG meetings.

    Dated: September 16, 2022.
Evan Howell,
Director, Office of Science and Technology, National Marine Fisheries 
[FR Doc. 2022-20498 Filed 9-21-22; 8:45 am]