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DOC/NOAA RIN: 0648-BJ65 Publication ID: Fall 2021 
Title: Designation of Critical Habitat for the Beringia Distinct Population Segment of the Bearded Seal 

NMFS published a final rule to list the Beringia Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of bearded seals as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in December 2012, thereby triggering the requirement under section 4 of the ESA to designate critical habitat for the Beringia DPS to the maximum extent prudent and determinable. NMFS has already initiated rulemaking to establish critical habitat for Arctic ringed seals, which were also listed as threatened under the ESA in December 2012, and that action is proceeding separately. This rulemaking action proposes to designate critical habitat in areas occupied by bearded seals in U.S. waters over the continental shelf in the northern Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas. Impacts from the designation of critical habitat for Beringia DPS bearded seals would stem from the statutory requirement that Federal agencies consult with NMFS under section 7 of the ESA to ensure that any action they carry out, authorize, or fund is not likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of bearded seal critical habitat. Federal agencies are already required to consult with NMFS under section 7 of the ESA to ensure that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the Beringia DPS of bearded seals.

Agency: Department of Commerce(DOC)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 50 CFR 226   
Legal Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.   
Legal Deadline:
Action Source Description Date
NPRM  Judicial  Final Determination 3/15/2022; Judicial, court settlement agreement  03/15/2021 
Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  01/08/2021  86 FR 1433   
NPRM Comment Period End  03/09/2021 
Public Hearing  02/01/2021  86 FR 7686   
Public Hearing Comment Period End  03/09/2021 
Comment Period Extended  03/09/2021  86 FR 13518   
Comment Period Extended End  04/08/2021 
Final Action  03/00/2022 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Yes  Government Levels Affected: None 
Small Entities Affected: Businesses, Governmental Jurisdictions  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: No 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: Yes 
Agency Contact:
Kim Damon-Randall
Director, Office of Protected Resources
Department of Commerce
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1315 East-West Highway,
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone:301 427-8400