Under direction of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska is responsible for the conservation of polar bears, northern sea otters, and Pacific walruses that inhabit Alaskan waters. Our sister agency, the National Marine Fisheries Service, is responsible for whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, and sea lions.

--NOTICE: Available for Public Comment--

1) Our draft stock assessment reports (SARs) for Pacific walrus and the northern sea otter stocks are available for public review and comment. You will find the reports and can submit comments by visiting www.regulations.gov and searching docket number: FWS-R7-ES-2022-0155. The comment period is 90 days starting February 7, 2023. In 2021 we determined that these SARs should be revised based on new information available that allows us to better describe their status. The new information does not indicate that any change to the status of the stocks is warranted at this time. The reports were prepared using the best available science and in consultation with the Alaska Scientific Review Group. 

2) Proposed Incidental Harassment Authorization; Prudhoe Bay Unit of the North Slope of Alaska

In response to a request under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended, from BP America Production Company, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to authorize nonlethal incidental take by harassment of small numbers of Southern Beaufort Sea (SBS) polar bears between issuance and December 14, 2023. The applicant requested this authorization for take by harassment that may result from activities associated with closure, remediation, and rehabilitation of the Foggy Island Bay State No. 1 gravel pad in the Prudhoe Bay area of the North Slope of Alaska. We estimate that this project may result in the nonlethal incidental take by harassment of up to three SBS polar bears. This proposed authorization, if finalized, will be for up to three takes of polar bears by Level B harassment only. No take by injury or mortality is requested, expected, or proposed to be authorized.

The proposed incidental harassment authorization and supporting documents are available for public review and comment at www.regulations.gov, docket number FWS-R7-ES-2022-0141. The public comment period is from February 15, 2023 to March 17, 2023. Once the public comment period closes, we will review all submitted comments prior to making a final determination.

Comments may be submitted electronically or by U.S. Mail. All comments received on a proposed authorization during the comment period will be posted at http://www.regulations.gov. You may request that we withhold personal identifying information from public review; however, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Electronic Submission: Federal eRulemaking Portal at: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments to the appropriate Docket No.

U.S. Mail: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS-R7-ES-2022-0141, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: PRB/3W, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.