NOAA Extends Comment Period on Proposed Critical Habitat Designation for the Rice’s Whale

On September 12, 2023, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) extended the comment period for a proposed rule in the Federal Register designating critical habitat for the Rice’s Whale by two weeks.

The proposed rule would designate waters from the 100-meter isobath to the 400-meter isobath in the Gulf of Mexico as critical habitat for the whale.

NMFS prepared an initial regulatory flexibility analysis as part of its draft economic analysis determining that the critical habitat designation would result in “negligible impacts” to small businesses.

NMFS also announced a public hearing on the proposed rule which had to be rescheduled from August 30. The hearing will now be held on September 28, 2023.

Comments on the proposed rule are due October 6, 2023.