Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
NMFS will hold a public meeting to inform interested parties of the permitting process and solicit comments on the application and accompanying draft environmental assessment. The meeting will be held on October 12, 2012, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The meeting will be held at the NOAA Silver Spring Metro Center Complex, NOAA Science Center, 1301 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. This meeting is accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Jennifer Skidmore, (301)427-8401 (voice) or (301)713-0376 (fax), at least five days before the scheduled meeting date.
The subject permit is requested under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1361
Georgia Aquarium requests authorization to import 18 wild caught beluga whales from the Utrish Marine Mammal Research Station in Russia to the United States for the purpose of public display. All 18 beluga whales were collected in Sakhalin Bay of the Sea of Okhotsk in 2006, 2010, and 2011. Approximately six (6) animals would be transported to the Georgia Aquarium facility in Atlanta, GA, and the remaining animals would be transported to four other U.S. partner facilities; Sea World of Florida, Sea World of Texas, Sea World of California, and Shedd Aquarium pursuant to breeding loans. Georgia Aquarium and its U.S. partners are: (1) Open to the public on regularly scheduled basis with access that is not limited or restricted other than by charging for an admission fee; (2) offer conservation and educational programs based on professionally accepted standards of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums; and (3) hold Exhibitor's Licenses by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Animal Welfare Act (7 U.S.C. 2131-59).
In addition to determining whether the applicant meets the three public display criteria, NMFS must determine whether the applicant has demonstrated that the proposed activity is humane and does not represent any unnecessary risks to the health and welfare of marine mammals; that the proposed activity by itself, or in combination with other activities, will not likely have a significant adverse impact on the species or stock; and that the applicant's expertise, facilities and resources are adequate to accomplish successfully the objectives and activities stated in the application.
A draft environmental assessment (EA) has been prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321
Concurrent with the publication of this notice in the