Rice's whale

Image Credit: Joel Vandekrol

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Gulf of Mexico: Proposed Rule to Designate Critical Whale Habitat


NOAA Fisheries will hold a virtual public hearing and extend the public comment period related to the proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the endangered Rice’s whale under the Endangered Species Act.

  • The rescheduled public hearing on the proposed rule will be held online Sept. 28, 2023, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time)
  • The public comment period has been extended and closes Oct. 6, 2023
  • You can join the virtual public hearing, as specified on this website

Supplemental Information

On July 24, 2023, NOAA Fisheries published a proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the endangered Rice’s whale under the ESA. In that document, NOAA Fisheries also:

  • opened a 60-day public comment period that closes Sept. 22, 2023
  • announced two virtual public hearings to be held Aug. 24, 2023, and Aug. 30, 2023, and an option to request an additional public hearing

On Aug. 28, 2023, NOAA Fisheries canceled the Aug. 30, 2023, public hearing due to Hurricane Idalia’s expected landfall. NOAA Fisheries rescheduled that public hearing for Sept. 28, 2023. It has also extended the comment period to Oct. 6, 2023, to allow time for submission of any additional public comment following this rescheduled hearing.

Public Hearing

The rescheduled public hearing on the proposed rule will be held online Sept. 28, 2023, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Time). NOAA Fisheries will give a short presentation followed by a brief opportunity to ask clarifying questions before accepting public comment testimony for the record. The remaining time will be for public comment. We will limit each speaker’s time to ensure the participants all have an opportunity to speak during the hearing. If you wish to make a public comment during the hearing, you will have up to 3 minutes to do so.

How to Comment On the Proposed Rule

The comment period will be extended through Oct. 6, 2023. You may submit comments by electronic submission or by postal mail. Comments sent by any other method (such as e-mail), to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NOAA Fisheries.

Formal Federal Register name/number: 88 FR 47453, published July 24, 2023

Electronic submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.

  1. Go to https://www.regulations.gov/document/NOAA-NMFS-2023-0028-0001
  2. Click on the “Comment” icon and complete the required fields
  3. Enter or attach your comments

Mail: Submit written comments to Grant Baysinger, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

How to Find More Information on the Proposed Rule

The proposed rule, Endangered Species Act Critical Habitat Report, GIS data, and maps that were prepared to support the development of the proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the Rice’s whale may be found online at the NOAA Fisheries website here.