Notice of Availability of the Final Reserve Operations Plan for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve, 11617-11619 [05-4541]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 45 / Wednesday, March 9, 2005 / Notices site listed below for the most up-to-date meeting agenda. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Captain Roger Parsons, Designated Federal Official (DFO), Office of Coast Survey, National Ocean Service, NOAA (N/CS), 1315 East West Highway, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910; Telephone: 301–713–2770, Fax: 301–713–4019; email: Hydroservices.panel@noaa.gov or visit the NOAA HSRP Web site at http://nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/ocs/ hsrp/hsrp.htm. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The meeting will be open to public participation for verbal comments and questions at the end of the day on April 1, 2005, with a 30-minute period that will be extended if needed. Each individual or group making a verbal presentation will be limited to a total time of five (5) minutes. Written comments (at least 30 copies) should be submitted to the DFO by March 25, 2005. Written comments received by the HSRP DFO after March 25, 2005, will be distributed to the HSRP, but may not be reviewed prior to the meeting date. Approximately 40 seats will be available for the public, on a first-come, firstserved basis. Matters To Be Considered: Topics planned for discussion include: (1) FY 06 President’s Budget (Navigation Services), (2) NOAA Mapping and Charting Outsourcing Strategies, (3) Hydrographic Survey (NOAA) and Private Sector) Cost Analysis Study Proposal, (4) Update on HSRP Congressional Fact-finding Visits, (5) U.S. Ocean Action Plan and NOAA’s Hydrographic Services, (6) HSRP Workgroups—Assignments and Deliverables, (7) Endorsement of NOAA’s Navigation Services Programs’ Operating Principles, and (8) Public Statements. Dated: March 3, 2005. Captain Roger L. Parsons, NOAA, Director, Office of Coast Survey, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. [FR Doc. 05–4542 Filed 3–8–05; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–JE–M DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Notice of Availability of the Final Reserve Operations Plan for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP), National Ocean Service (NOS), National Oceanic and AGENCY: VerDate jul<14>2003 18:06 Mar 08, 2005 Jkt 205001 Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce (DOC). ACTION: Notice. SUMMARY: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announces the availability of the Final Reserve Operations Plan for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve (Reserve). The Reserve Operations Plan (ROP) is a requirement of Executive Order 13178, as finalized by Executive Order 13196 (hereinafter collectively referred to as Executive Order or EO). The ROP was presented to the public on two separate occasions in 2002 and 2004, and over 30,000 public comments resulted from both open public comment periods. The most recent public comment period for the ROP opened on March 19, 2004 and ended on May 15, 2004. Approximately 29,400 public comments were received during this period, with about 27,000 arriving by e-mail and the remainder by letter and fax. In addition, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory Council provided both general and specific comments on the draft final ROP as did the Marine Mammal Commission, Western Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Council and a group of 13 local and national conservation organizations, claiming to represent over 3.4 million members. A similar letter was also received from a group of 10 conservation organizations (many of the same as above), collectively representing more than 2.7 million members. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: ’Aulani Wilhelm, (808) 397–2660, nwhi@noaa.gov. ADDRESSES: Requests for a copy of the ROP can be mailed to NWHI Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve, 6600 Kalanianaole Highway, #300, Honolulu, Hawaii 96825; faxed to (808) 397–2662; or emailed to nwhi@noaa.gov. The ROP can also be downloaded at http:// www.hawaiireef.noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve (Reserve) was established by Executive Orders 13178 and 13196. Pursuant to the EO, NOAA prepared a draft Reserve Operations Plan that was issued for public review in February 2002 (67 FR 11998), which provided a guide for management of the Reserve during a process that will consider the marine environment of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands for designation as a National Marine Sanctuary. Significant public comment was received on the first draft, and the NMSP considered the public comment PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 11617 and worked with the Reserve Advisory Council to produce a second draft Reserve Operations Plan. A second public review period was conducted from March 19 through May 15, 2004 and over 29,000 comments were received. Comments and Responses From all of the public comments received, a number of comments pointed out technical inaccuracies and/ or suggested additional clarifying information as improvements to the ROP. Such comments were incorporated into the final document, either verbatim as suggested, or addressed by explanation. An example of a comment received and accepted which addressed a technical inaccuracy was ‘‘The correct Latin name for killer whale is ‘Orcinus’ and should replace ‘Orsinus’ ’’. Substantive comments to the ROP are generally described below, with NOAA’s responses. 1. Comment: NOAA should, through the Department of Commerce, carry out formal regulations for the Executive Orders that would be enforceable within the Reserve. Response: The NMSP will not pursue the issuance of any additional regulations for the Reserve. The NMSP’s priority is to finalize the ROP and focus on the sanctuary designation process, which will include the development of regulations for the preferred alternative, rather than undertake a resourceintensive, concurrent process to issue regulations for the Reserve. 2. Comment: The ROP should include a penalty schedule for violation of all Reserve prohibitions. Response: The National Marine Sanctuaries Amendments Act of 2000 does not contain a specific provision for assessing penalties. As such, the National Marine Sanctuary Program has determined that the ROP will not include a schedule of penalties for the Reserve. Remedies applicable to violations will depend on the circumstances of the particular case. 3. Comment: The ROP fails to provide specific plans and actions on how to recover endangered and threatened species within the Reserve. Response: Actions needed for the recovery of species listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, are addressed in formal Recovery Plans. Recovery Plans for most terrestrial species are written and carried out under the authority of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. Similarly, Recovery Plans for most species of marine mammals are prepared and E:\FR\FM\09MRN1.SGM 09MRN1 11618 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 45 / Wednesday, March 9, 2005 / Notices implemented under the authority of the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Marine Fisheries Service. In some instances where species rely on both the land and the ocean for essential life stages (such as with sea turtles and monk seals in the NWHI), the Recovery Plans are jointly written by the abovenamed agencies, and recovery actions are shared. Copies of Recovery Plans pertaining to threatened and endangered species within the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands may be obtained by contacting the offices of the agencies mentioned above. The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve, through cooperative interagency efforts described in the ROP, will coordinate and assist both agencies in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. 4. Comment: The Reserve should implement mandatory access permits and a mandatory access notification system. Response: The Reserve manager currently reviews requests for permits pertaining to activities proposed in the Reserve that are otherwise prohibited by the Executive Order. However, a mandatory access notification system is not mandated by the EO and thus is not a requirement for the ROP. 5. Comment: The ROP should constitute the ‘‘No Action’’ alternative for any sanctuary designation proposal. The Executive Summary should be expanded to note that the ROP establishes a Reserve management framework that will remain in place until modified or replaced by a management program that incorporates provisions of the Executive Orders in an approved sanctuary decision. Response: The Sanctuary Designation Action Plan contained within the ROP describes that NOAA will prepare a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS), pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as part of the designation process. The DEIS will identify and analyze a range for alternatives, including a ‘‘no action’’ alternative. The ‘‘no action’’ alternative will describe continuing the management of the Reserve pursuant to the Executive Orders. However, it is speculative and premature, relative to the process mandated under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act and NEPA, to suggest that the ROP and provisions of the EO be approved as part of a final sanctuary decision. 6. Comment: Clearly some of the responsibilities related to enforcement in the NWHI reside with other parts of NOAA or with other Federal agencies. Including such high costs for enforcement in the draft ROP greatly VerDate jul<14>2003 18:06 Mar 08, 2005 Jkt 205001 inflates the estimate of total funding required for maintaining and operating the Reserve. Response: An enforcement workshop was held in May and June 2004 to gather knowledge and exchange ideas among multiple Federal and state agencies with the intent to develop a unified approach to surveillance and monitoring in the NWHI. The cost of surveillance and monitoring of the Reserve and who will bear the costs have yet to be determined. The enforcement costs in the draft ROP reflect total costs and are the best projections at this time. 7. Comment: NOAA’s marine debris cleanup efforts should focus on areas that pose a high risk of monk seal entanglement (i.e., adjacent to places where monk seal pups are born and where young seals may learn to swim and feed). Given the magnitude of the debris problem and the length of time that will likely be required to adequately clean up the entire region, the Marine Mammal Commission continues to believe that it is necessary to prioritize areas for cleanup. Therefore, the ROP should indicate the highest priority need is to remove debris from areas of particular importance to monk seals. Response: The Desired Outcome of the Marine Debris Action Plan of the ROP was expanded to read ‘‘To reduce threats by marine debris to natural resources in the Reserve and neighboring waters with an emphasis on preventing endangered species entanglement.’’ The following statement was also added; ‘‘Areas identified as most important for marine debris removal should be consistent with endangered species recovery efforts, such as monk seal recovery.’’ 8. Comment: The ROP does not contain enough background information on the four fisheries (lobster, pelagic species, bottomfish, and precious coral) undertaken or proposed in recent years in the NWHI. This lack of information on current NWHI stocks, allowable fishing levels, and efforts to manage these fisheries stands in sharp contrast to the more detailed discussions of other resources such as cultural and historic resources. Its brevity is inappropriate given the major focus on fishery management needs and measures in the Executive Orders. The discussion should be expanded and included in a separate action plan on fisheries. Response: The NMSP believes the ROP contains adequate descriptions of fisheries for the purposes of implementing the Executive Order. Sanctuary designation requires an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 The EIS will contain detailed background information on the relevant fisheries, will include a thorough analysis of issues associated with fishing activities. 9. Comment: The ROP should implement a mandatory domestic Vessel Monitoring System (VMS). Response: The Executive Order does not state that a vessel monitoring system be mandatory; rather it directs the ROP to consider the use of VMS, if warranted (see Sec. 5(b)(10) of EO 13178). Reserve Operations Plan The EO directs that the ROP shall be directed at priority issues and actions. The EO also directs that the ROP should address such issues as coordinated management among the agencies with relevant jurisdiction in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, cleanup and prevention of marine debris, restoration of degraded or injured resources, research and education, enforcement and surveillance, identification and coordination with Native Hawaiian interests on cultural uses and locations, and designation of the Reserve as a National Marine Sanctuary. The NMSP prepared the revised draft Reserve Operations Plan, following templates used for the management plans of the National Marine Sanctuary Program. The document is composed of a set of function- and issue-oriented action plans (as topically identified in the Executive Order), with supporting documentation. Each action plan focuses on strategies, and outlines what, who, why, when, and how different activities will be conducted. Following is a list of the action plans contained in the final Reserve Operations Plan: • Operations: Includes interagency coordination, activity and area identification, Reserve/Sanctuary Advisory Council operations, development of fishing caps and permitting procedures, and infrastructure development; • Education: Encompasses all education, outreach, and interpretive projects; • Native Hawaiian Cultural Resources: Consists of all projects related to Native Hawaiian culture, uses, and locations; • Maritime Heritage: Contains projects related to maritime historic resources; • Research and Monitoring: Contains all projects related to research and monitoring; • Mapping: Covers all projects related to developing nautical charts and maps of the NWHI; E:\FR\FM\09MRN1.SGM 09MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 45 / Wednesday, March 9, 2005 / Notices • Response, Damage Assessment, and Restoration: Contains projects related to contingency planning, response, and restoration; • Marine Debris: Consists of projects related to the removal of marine debris from the NWHI; • Enforcement: Includes air and sea support for existing enforcement operations and expansion of a vessel monitoring system; and • Designation: Consists of all projects related to the Sanctuary designation process. The ROP provides a guide for management of the Reserve during the process of considering the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands for designation as a National Marine Sanctuary. The designation process is currently underway (66 FR 5509). Authority: Pub. L. 106–513; Executive Order 13178; and Executive Order 13196. Dated: February 20, 2005. John L. Hayes, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Management, Ocean Services and Coastal Zone Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. [FR Doc. 05–4541 Filed 3–8–05; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–NK–M DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [I.D. 022505D] Endangered Species; File No. 1509 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Receipt of application. AGENCY: Notice is hereby given that Jeanette Wyneken, Florida Atlantic University, Department of Biological Sciences, 777 Glades Rd., Boca Raton, FL 33431, has applied in due form for a permit to take loggerhead (Caretta caretta) sea turtles for purposes of scientific research. DATES: Written, telefaxed, or e-mail comments must be received on or before April 8, 2005. ADDRESSES: The application and related documents are available for review upon written request or by appointment in the following office(s): Permits, Conservation and Education Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13705, Silver Spring, MD 20910; phone (301)713–2289; fax (301)427–2521; and Southeast Region, NMFS, 9721 Executive Center Drive North, St. SUMMARY: VerDate jul<14>2003 18:06 Mar 08, 2005 Jkt 205001 Petersburg, FL 33702–2432; phone (727)570–5301; fax (727)570–5320. Written comments or requests for a public hearing on this application should be mailed to the Chief, Permits, Conservation and Education Division, F/PR1, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13705, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Those individuals requesting a hearing should set forth the specific reasons why a hearing on this particular request would be appropriate. Comments may also be submitted by facsimile at (301)427–2521, provided the facsimile is confirmed by hard copy submitted by mail and postmarked no later than the closing date of the comment period. Comments may also be submitted by e-mail. The mailbox address for providing email comments is NMFS.Pr1Comments@noaa.gov. Include in the subject line of the e-mail comment the following document identifier: File No. 1509. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Patrick Opay or Ruth Johnson, (301)713–2289. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The subject permit is requested under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and the regulations governing the taking, importing, and exporting of endangered and threatened species (50 CFR 222–226). The applicant proposes to study whether mis-oriented turtles are able to crawl towards the ocean and swim offshore. The results of the study would help determine if these turtles remain behaviorally competent when released at beach sites and are likely to complete their offshore migration, and whether they are likely to survive and contribute to population recovery. The applicant would conduct the research on 80 loggerhead hatchlings. The sea turtle hatchlings would have a lightweight float attached to them and they would be tracked by boat or kayak as they migrate offshore. At the conclusion of its swimming trial, each hatchling would be captured to remove the float gear. If the turtle was heading properly offshore, it would be released to continue its journey. If the turtle was heading in the incorrect direction, it would be released the next afternoon in the Gulf Stream. The applicant is requesting authorization from NMFS to conduct the in-water activities relating to the research. The research activities would occur in the waters of Florida and the applicant requests a 2–year permit. PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 11619 Dated: March 4, 2005. Stephen L. Leathery, Chief, Permits, Conservation and Education Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 05–4621 Filed 3–8–05; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S COMMITTEE FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF TEXTILE AGREEMENTS Adjustment of Import Limits for Certain Cotton, Wool and Man-Made Fiber Textiles and Textile Products Produced or Manufactured in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam March 3, 2005. Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA). AGENCY: Issuing a directive to the Commissioner, Bureau of Customs and Border Protection adjusting limits. ACTION: EFFECTIVE DATE: March 9, 2005. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Naomi Freeman, International Trade Specialist, Office of Textiles and Apparel, U.S. Department of Commerce, (202) 482–4212. For information on the quota status of these limits, refer to the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection website (http:// www.cbp.gov), or call (202) 344-2650. For information on embargoes and quota re-openings, refer to the Office of Textiles and Apparel website at http:// otexa.ita.doc.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Authority: Section 204 of the Agricultural Act of 1956, as amended (7 U.S.C. 1854); Executive Order 11651 of March 3, 1972, as amended. The current limits for certain categories are being increased for the recrediting of unused carryforward. A description of the textile and apparel categories in terms of HTS numbers is available in the CORRELATION: Textile and Apparel Categories with the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (see Federal Register notice 69 FR 4926, published on February 2, 2004). Information regarding the 2005 CORRELATION will be published in the Federal Register at a later date. Also see E:\FR\FM\09MRN1.SGM 09MRN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 45 (Wednesday, March 9, 2005)]
[Notices]
[Pages 11617-11619]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-4541]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Notice of Availability of the Final Reserve Operations Plan for 
the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve

AGENCY: National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP), National Ocean 
Service (NOS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 
Department of Commerce (DOC).

ACTION: Notice.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 
announces the availability of the Final Reserve Operations Plan for the 
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve (Reserve). 
The Reserve Operations Plan (ROP) is a requirement of Executive Order 
13178, as finalized by Executive Order 13196 (hereinafter collectively 
referred to as Executive Order or EO). The ROP was presented to the 
public on two separate occasions in 2002 and 2004, and over 30,000 
public comments resulted from both open public comment periods.
    The most recent public comment period for the ROP opened on March 
19, 2004 and ended on May 15, 2004. Approximately 29,400 public 
comments were received during this period, with about 27,000 arriving 
by e-mail and the remainder by letter and fax. In addition, the 
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory 
Council provided both general and specific comments on the draft final 
ROP as did the Marine Mammal Commission, Western Pacific Regional 
Fisheries Management Council and a group of 13 local and national 
conservation organizations, claiming to represent over 3.4 million 
members. A similar letter was also received from a group of 10 
conservation organizations (many of the same as above), collectively 
representing more than 2.7 million members.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: 'Aulani Wilhelm, (808) 397-2660, 
nwhi@noaa.gov.

ADDRESSES: Requests for a copy of the ROP can be mailed to NWHI Coral 
Reef Ecosystem Reserve, 6600 Kalanianaole Highway, 300, 
Honolulu, Hawaii 96825; faxed to (808) 397-2662; or e-mailed to 
nwhi@noaa.gov. The ROP can also be downloaded at http://
www.hawaiireef.noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef 
Ecosystem Reserve (Reserve) was established by Executive Orders 13178 
and 13196. Pursuant to the EO, NOAA prepared a draft Reserve Operations 
Plan that was issued for public review in February 2002 (67 FR 11998), 
which provided a guide for management of the Reserve during a process 
that will consider the marine environment of the Northwestern Hawaiian 
Islands for designation as a National Marine Sanctuary. Significant 
public comment was received on the first draft, and the NMSP considered 
the public comment and worked with the Reserve Advisory Council to 
produce a second draft Reserve Operations Plan. A second public review 
period was conducted from March 19 through May 15, 2004 and over 29,000 
comments were received.

Comments and Responses

    From all of the public comments received, a number of comments 
pointed out technical inaccuracies and/or suggested additional 
clarifying information as improvements to the ROP. Such comments were 
incorporated into the final document, either verbatim as suggested, or 
addressed by explanation. An example of a comment received and accepted 
which addressed a technical inaccuracy was ``The correct Latin name for 
killer whale is `Orcinus' and should replace `Orsinus' ''. Substantive 
comments to the ROP are generally described below, with NOAA's 
responses.
    1. Comment: NOAA should, through the Department of Commerce, carry 
out formal regulations for the Executive Orders that would be 
enforceable within the Reserve.
    Response: The NMSP will not pursue the issuance of any additional 
regulations for the Reserve. The NMSP's priority is to finalize the ROP 
and focus on the sanctuary designation process, which will include the 
development of regulations for the preferred alternative, rather than 
undertake a resource-intensive, concurrent process to issue regulations 
for the Reserve.
    2. Comment: The ROP should include a penalty schedule for violation 
of all Reserve prohibitions.
    Response: The National Marine Sanctuaries Amendments Act of 2000 
does not contain a specific provision for assessing penalties. As such, 
the National Marine Sanctuary Program has determined that the ROP will 
not include a schedule of penalties for the Reserve. Remedies 
applicable to violations will depend on the circumstances of the 
particular case.
    3. Comment: The ROP fails to provide specific plans and actions on 
how to recover endangered and threatened species within the Reserve.
    Response: Actions needed for the recovery of species listed as 
endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended, are addressed in formal Recovery Plans. Recovery Plans for 
most terrestrial species are written and carried out under the 
authority of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife 
Service. Similarly, Recovery Plans for most species of marine mammals 
are prepared and

[[Page 11618]]

implemented under the authority of the U.S. Department of Commerce, 
National Marine Fisheries Service. In some instances where species rely 
on both the land and the ocean for essential life stages (such as with 
sea turtles and monk seals in the NWHI), the Recovery Plans are jointly 
written by the above-named agencies, and recovery actions are shared. 
Copies of Recovery Plans pertaining to threatened and endangered 
species within the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands may be obtained by 
contacting the offices of the agencies mentioned above. The 
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve, through 
cooperative interagency efforts described in the ROP, will coordinate 
and assist both agencies in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
    4. Comment: The Reserve should implement mandatory access permits 
and a mandatory access notification system.
    Response: The Reserve manager currently reviews requests for 
permits pertaining to activities proposed in the Reserve that are 
otherwise prohibited by the Executive Order. However, a mandatory 
access notification system is not mandated by the EO and thus is not a 
requirement for the ROP.
    5. Comment: The ROP should constitute the ``No Action'' alternative 
for any sanctuary designation proposal. The Executive Summary should be 
expanded to note that the ROP establishes a Reserve management 
framework that will remain in place until modified or replaced by a 
management program that incorporates provisions of the Executive Orders 
in an approved sanctuary decision.
    Response: The Sanctuary Designation Action Plan contained within 
the ROP describes that NOAA will prepare a draft environmental impact 
statement (DEIS), pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA), as part of the designation process. The DEIS will identify and 
analyze a range for alternatives, including a ``no action'' 
alternative. The ``no action'' alternative will describe continuing the 
management of the Reserve pursuant to the Executive Orders. However, it 
is speculative and premature, relative to the process mandated under 
the National Marine Sanctuaries Act and NEPA, to suggest that the ROP 
and provisions of the EO be approved as part of a final sanctuary 
decision.
    6. Comment: Clearly some of the responsibilities related to 
enforcement in the NWHI reside with other parts of NOAA or with other 
Federal agencies. Including such high costs for enforcement in the 
draft ROP greatly inflates the estimate of total funding required for 
maintaining and operating the Reserve.
    Response: An enforcement workshop was held in May and June 2004 to 
gather knowledge and exchange ideas among multiple Federal and state 
agencies with the intent to develop a unified approach to surveillance 
and monitoring in the NWHI. The cost of surveillance and monitoring of 
the Reserve and who will bear the costs have yet to be determined. The 
enforcement costs in the draft ROP reflect total costs and are the best 
projections at this time.
    7. Comment: NOAA's marine debris cleanup efforts should focus on 
areas that pose a high risk of monk seal entanglement (i.e., adjacent 
to places where monk seal pups are born and where young seals may learn 
to swim and feed). Given the magnitude of the debris problem and the 
length of time that will likely be required to adequately clean up the 
entire region, the Marine Mammal Commission continues to believe that 
it is necessary to prioritize areas for cleanup. Therefore, the ROP 
should indicate the highest priority need is to remove debris from 
areas of particular importance to monk seals.
    Response: The Desired Outcome of the Marine Debris Action Plan of 
the ROP was expanded to read ``To reduce threats by marine debris to 
natural resources in the Reserve and neighboring waters with an 
emphasis on preventing endangered species entanglement.'' The following 
statement was also added; ``Areas identified as most important for 
marine debris removal should be consistent with endangered species 
recovery efforts, such as monk seal recovery.''
    8. Comment: The ROP does not contain enough background information 
on the four fisheries (lobster, pelagic species, bottomfish, and 
precious coral) undertaken or proposed in recent years in the NWHI. 
This lack of information on current NWHI stocks, allowable fishing 
levels, and efforts to manage these fisheries stands in sharp contrast 
to the more detailed discussions of other resources such as cultural 
and historic resources. Its brevity is inappropriate given the major 
focus on fishery management needs and measures in the Executive Orders. 
The discussion should be expanded and included in a separate action 
plan on fisheries.
    Response: The NMSP believes the ROP contains adequate descriptions 
of fisheries for the purposes of implementing the Executive Order. 
Sanctuary designation requires an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). 
The EIS will contain detailed background information on the relevant 
fisheries, will include a thorough analysis of issues associated with 
fishing activities.
    9. Comment: The ROP should implement a mandatory domestic Vessel 
Monitoring System (VMS).
    Response: The Executive Order does not state that a vessel 
monitoring system be mandatory; rather it directs the ROP to consider 
the use of VMS, if warranted (see Sec. 5(b)(10) of EO 13178).

Reserve Operations Plan

    The EO directs that the ROP shall be directed at priority issues 
and actions. The EO also directs that the ROP should address such 
issues as coordinated management among the agencies with relevant 
jurisdiction in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, cleanup and 
prevention of marine debris, restoration of degraded or injured 
resources, research and education, enforcement and surveillance, 
identification and coordination with Native Hawaiian interests on 
cultural uses and locations, and designation of the Reserve as a 
National Marine Sanctuary.
    The NMSP prepared the revised draft Reserve Operations Plan, 
following templates used for the management plans of the National 
Marine Sanctuary Program. The document is composed of a set of 
function- and issue-oriented action plans (as topically identified in 
the Executive Order), with supporting documentation. Each action plan 
focuses on strategies, and outlines what, who, why, when, and how 
different activities will be conducted. Following is a list of the 
action plans contained in the final Reserve Operations Plan:
     Operations: Includes interagency coordination, activity 
and area identification, Reserve/Sanctuary Advisory Council operations, 
development of fishing caps and permitting procedures, and 
infrastructure development;
     Education: Encompasses all education, outreach, and 
interpretive projects;
     Native Hawaiian Cultural Resources: Consists of all 
projects related to Native Hawaiian culture, uses, and locations;
     Maritime Heritage: Contains projects related to maritime 
historic resources;
     Research and Monitoring: Contains all projects related to 
research and monitoring;
     Mapping: Covers all projects related to developing 
nautical charts and maps of the NWHI;

[[Page 11619]]

     Response, Damage Assessment, and Restoration: Contains 
projects related to contingency planning, response, and restoration;
     Marine Debris: Consists of projects related to the removal 
of marine debris from the NWHI;
     Enforcement: Includes air and sea support for existing 
enforcement operations and expansion of a vessel monitoring system; and
     Designation: Consists of all projects related to the 
Sanctuary designation process.
    The ROP provides a guide for management of the Reserve during the 
process of considering the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands for 
designation as a National Marine Sanctuary. The designation process is 
currently underway (66 FR 5509).

    Authority: Pub. L. 106-513; Executive Order 13178; and Executive 
Order 13196.

    Dated: February 20, 2005.
John L. Hayes,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Management, Ocean Services and 
Coastal Zone Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration.
[FR Doc. 05-4541 Filed 3-8-05; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-NK-M