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Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus) 5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation
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    A 5-year review is a periodic analysis of a species’ status conducted to ensure that the listing classification of a species as threatened or endangered on the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (List) (50 CFR 17.11 – 17.12) is accurate. The 5-year review is required by section 4(c)(2) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA) and was prepared pursuant to the joint National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 5-year Review Guidance and template (NMFS and USFWS 2006). The NMFS Office of Protected Resources led the 5-year review in collaboration with Alaska Fisheries Science Center staff and input from other NMFS regional offices and science centers. This 5-year review was accomplished through the development of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Revised Recovery Plan for the blue whale (NMFS 2020). The Revised Recovery Plan is a revision to the 1998 Recovery Plan. We rely on the Revised Recovery Plan because it represents the best scientific and commercial data on the status and threats to the blue whale. In addition, the 1998 Recovery Plan did not contain recovery criteria. Information was updated as part of the development of the aforementioned Revised Recovery Plan, based on peer-reviewed publications, government and technical reports, conference papers, workshop reports, dissertations, and theses. We gathered information through January 2020. The information on the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) biology and habitat, threats, and conservation efforts was summarized and analyzed based on ESA section 4(a)(1) factors (see Section 2.0) and the recovery criteria identified in the Revised Recovery Plan to determine whether a reclassification or delisting may be warranted (see Section 3.0).
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