Marine Mammals; Subsistence Taking of Northern Fur Seals; Harvest Estimates, 31666-31669 [E8-12323]

Download as PDF 31666 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 107 / Tuesday, June 3, 2008 / Proposed Rules ebenthall on PRODPC60 with PROPOSALS suggestions on this proposed rule. We particularly seek comments concerning: (1) The reasons why we should or should not designate habitat as ‘‘critical habitat’’ under section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), including whether the benefit of designation would outweigh any threats to the subspecies caused by designation such that the designation is not prudent; (2) Specific information on: • The amount and distribution of Salt Creek tiger beetle habitat; • What areas occupied at the time of listing and that contain features essential for the conservation of the subspecies we should include in the designation and why; and • What areas not occupied at the time of listing are essential to the conservation of the subspecies and why; (3) Land use designations and current or planned activities in the subject areas and their possible impacts on proposed critical habitat; (4) Any foreseeable economic, national security, or other relevant impacts resulting from the proposed designation and, in particular, any impacts on small entities; (5) Whether we could improve or modify our approach to designating critical habitat in any way to provide for greater public participation and understanding, or to better accommodate public concerns and comments; and (6) Economic data on the incremental costs of designating any particular area as Salt Creek tiger beetle critical habitat. Previously submitted comments for this proposed rule need not be resubmitted. You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed rule by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We will not consider comments sent by e-mail or fax or to an address not listed in the ADDRESSES section. If you submit a comment via http:// www.regulations.gov, your entire comment—including any personal identifying information—will be posted on the website. If you submit a hardcopy comment that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the top of your document that we withhold this information from public review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We will post all hardcopy comments on http://www.regulations.gov. Background On December 12, 2007, we published a proposed rule designating approximately 1,795 acres (727 hectares) of land in portions of Lancaster and Saunders Counties, VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:17 Jun 02, 2008 Jkt 214001 Nebraska, as critical habitat. The draft economic analysis estimates that, over the 20-year period from 2008 to 2027, post-designation costs for Salt Creek tiger beetle conservation-related activities would range between $21.4 and $25.5 million in undiscounted 2007 dollars. In discounted terms, we estimate potential post-designation economic costs to be $19.9 to $22.9 million (using a 3 percent discount rate) and $18.5 to $20.6 million (using a 7 percent discount rate). In annualized terms, potential impacts are expected to range from $1.3 to $1.5 million (annualized at 3 percent) and $1.7 to $1.9 million (annualized at 7 percent). Public Hearings Section 4(b)(5)(E) of the Act requires a public hearing be held if any person requests it within 45 days of the publication of a proposed rule. In response to requests from the public, the Service will conduct a public hearing for this critical habitat proposal on the date and time and at the address identified in the DATES and ADDRESSES sections above. Persons wishing to make an oral statement for the record are encouraged to provide a written copy of their statement and present it to us at the hearing. In the event there is a large attendance, the time allotted for oral statements may be limited. Oral and written statements receive equal consideration. There are no limits on the length of written comments submitted to us. If you have any questions concerning the public hearing, please contact the Nebraska Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and participate in the public hearings should contact Bob Harms, Nebraska Ecological Services Field Office, at (308) 382–6468, extension 17, as soon as possible. In order to allow sufficient time to process requests, please call no later than one week before the hearing date. Information regarding this notice is available in alternative formats upon request. Authority The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Dated: May 21, 2008. Lyle Laverty, Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. [FR Doc. E8–12401 Filed 6–2–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 216 [Docket No. 080310408–8416–01] RIN 0648–AW55 Marine Mammals; Subsistence Taking of Northern Fur Seals; Harvest Estimates National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments. AGENCY: SUMMARY: Pursuant to regulations governing the subsistence taking of northern fur seals, this document summarizes the annual fur seal subsistence harvests on St. George and St. Paul Islands (the Pribilof Islands) for 2005 to 2007 and proposes annual estimates of fur seal subsistence needs for 2008 through 2010 on the Pribilof Islands, AK. NMFS solicits public comments on the proposed estimates. DATES: Written comments must be received at the address or fax number by July 3, 2008. ADDRESSES: Send comments to Kaja Brix, Assistant Regional Administrator, Protected Resource Division, Alaska Region, NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. You may submit comments, identified by ‘‘RIN 0648 AW55’’ by any of the following methods: Electronic Submissions: Submit electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov; Mail: Kaja Brix, Assistant Regional Administration, Protected Resource Division, Alaska Region, NMFS, P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802; Hand Delivery to the Federal Building: 709 West 9th Street, Room 420A, Juneau, AK; Fax: 907 586 7557, Attention: Ellen Sebastian. Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to http:// www.regulations.gov without change. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments. Attachments to electronic comments must be in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe portable document file (pdf) file formats to be accepted. E:\FR\FM\03JNP1.SGM 03JNP1 31667 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 107 / Tuesday, June 3, 2008 / Proposed Rules hunters may be unavailable to hunt in certain years or have more financial resources to hunt in subsequent years or seasons for other marine mammals. The current timing restriction on the northern fur seal hunt overlaps with the local halibut fishing season, and many of the hunters are also fishermen. In addition, crab fishery rationalization and a renewal of the crab harvest in the Pribilof region has provided local job opportunities that may extend into the spring hunting season for Steller sea lions. The level of Steller sea lion hunting success in the spring influences subsequent northern fur seal harvesting. Thus both Steller sea lions and northern fur seals combine to meet the subsistence needs of the local communities, with northern fur seals providing the more seasonal, but reliable source of the two species. Alaskan communities such as those of St. Paul and St. George Islands, rely on marine mammals as a major food source and cultural foundation of the communities. The harvest of juvenile male northern fur seals has occurred for well over 200 years and the biological implications are reasonably understood. Subsistence harvests under the current regulations are 10 percent or less than the commercial harvests during the past 50 years. Pursuant to the regulations governing the taking of fur seals for subsistence purposes, NMFS must publish a summary of the fur seal harvest for the previous 3-year period and an estimate of the number of seals expected to be taken in the subsequent 3-year period to meet the subsistence needs of the Aleut residents of the Pribilof Islands. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael Williams, (907) 271–5006; Kaja Brix, (907) 586–7835; or Tom Eagle, (301) 713–2322, ext. 105. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Electronic Access An Environmental Impact Statement is available on the Internet at the following address: http:// www.fakr.noaa.gov/protectedresources/ seals/fur/eis/final0505.pdf. Background The subsistence harvest from the depleted stock of northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus), on the Pribilof Islands, AK, is governed by regulations found in 50 CFR part 216, subpart F. The purpose of these regulations, published under the authority of the Fur Seal Act (FSA), 16 U.S.C. 1151, et seq., and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), 16 U.S.C. 1361, et seq., is to limit the take of fur seals to a level providing for the subsistence needs of the Pribilof residents, while restricting taking by sex, age, and season for herd conservation. To further minimize negative effects on the Pribilof Islands’ fur seal population, the harvest has been limited to a 47-day season (June 23 to August 8). There are several factors and conditions that affect the subsistence harvest of northern fur seals. Beginning in 2000, the take ranges have been discussed with each tribal government as part of the co-management relationship and agreement. Accurately predicting the annual subsistence needs of the Pribilof communities has been one of practical and social difficulties; the process to meet the take range regulation has resulted in acceptance of the ranges first established in 1987. These levels provide a degree of flexibility the communities feel comfortable with regarding changes and unanticipated needs within the community and the environment. The variability of the harvest occurs for many reasons. Weather conditions and availability of animals varies annually. The availability of wage earning jobs reduces the time available for community members to hunt and harvest subsistence resources. Thus, Summary of Harvest Operations and Monitoring 2005 to 2007 The annual harvests were conducted in the established manner and employed the standard methods required under regulations at 50 CFR 216.72. NMFS personnel, a contract veterinarian, and tribal government staff monitored the harvest and communicated to further improve the efficiency of the annual harvest and full utilization of the animals taken. Annual northern fur seal harvest reports are received from the tribal governments of both islands and from a contract veterinarian for St. Paul. The reported male northern fur seal subsistence harvests for St. Paul from 2005 to 2007 were 466, 396, and 272 respectively (Lestenkof et al., 2006; Lestenkof and Zavadil, 2006; Lestenkof and Zavadil, 2007), and for St. George from 2005 to 2007 were 139, 212, and 206, respectively (Lestenkof et al., 2006, Malavansky and Malavansky, 2006; Malavansky, 2007). The number of male northern fur seals harvested on St. Paul Island from 1986 to 2007 ranged from 272 to 1,710, and the number harvested on St. George Island from 1986 to 2007 ranged from 92 to 319 seals. The average number of male seals harvested during the past 10 years on St. Paul and St. George Islands, respectively, has been 690 seals (range: 269 to 1,297) and 181 seals (range: 121 to 256), (Table 1). The accidental harvest of young female fur seals has occurred intermittently during the male harvest. The regulations call for termination of the annual harvest on August 8 of each year to reduce the probability of the accidental killing of females to the lowest level practical. Thirty-two females on St. Paul and four females on St. George have been accidentally killed, since 1987. The average accidental killing of females on St. Paul and St. George Islands during the last 10 years is 2 and less than l, respectively. Under section 119 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, cooperative agreements were signed with St. Paul in 2000 and with St. George in 2001 for the cooperative management of subsistence uses of northern fur seals and Steller sea lions. The processes defined in the cooperative agreements have facilitated a more collaborative working relationship between NMFS and tribal authorities. This has led to more coordinated efforts by the tribal governments of both islands to promote full utilization of inedible seal parts for traditional arts, crafts, and other uses permitted under regulations at 50 CFR 216.73. The result has been an expanded use of these materials by the Aleut residents and increased fulfillment of the non-wasteful harvest requirements. ebenthall on PRODPC60 with PROPOSALS TABLE 1. SUBSISTENCE HARVEST LEVELS FOR JUVENILE MALE NORTHERN FUR SEALS ON THE PRIBILOF ISLANDS, 1986–2007 Expected Take Ranges Actual Harvest Levels Year St. Paul 1986 1987 1988 VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:17 Jun 02, 2008 St. George St. Paul St. George 2,400–8,000 1,600–2,400 1,800–2,200 800–1,800 533–1,800 600–740 1,299 1,704 1,145 124 92 113 Jkt 214001 PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\03JNP1.SGM 03JNP1 31668 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 107 / Tuesday, June 3, 2008 / Proposed Rules TABLE 1. SUBSISTENCE HARVEST LEVELS FOR JUVENILE MALE NORTHERN FUR SEALS ON THE PRIBILOF ISLANDS, 1986–2007—Continued Expected Take Ranges Actual Harvest Levels Year St. Paul 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 St. George St. Paul St. George 1,600–1,800 1,145–1,800 1,145–1,800 1,645–2,000 1,645–2,000 1,645–2,000 1,645–2,000 1,645–2,000 1,645–2,000 1,645–2,000 1,645–2,000 1,645–2,000 1,645–2,000 1,645–2,000 1,645–2,000 1,645–2,000 1,645–2,000 1,645–2,000 1,645–2,000 533–600 181–500 181–500 281–500 281–500 281–500 281–500 281–500 300–500 300–500 300–500 300–500 300–500 300–500 300–500 300–500 300–500 300–500 300–500 1,340 1,077 1,644 1,480 1,518 1,615 1,263 1,588 1,153 1,297 1,000 754 595 646 522 493 466 396 269 181 164 281 194 319 161 259 232 227 256 193 121 184 202 132 123 139 212 206 ebenthall on PRODPC60 with PROPOSALS Estimate of Subsistence Need for the Period 2008 to 2010 The projected subsistence harvest estimates are given as a range, the lower end of which may be exceeded if NMFS is given notice and the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, determines that the annual subsistence needs of the Pribilof Aleuts have not been satisfied. Conversely, the harvest can be terminated before the lower end of the range is reached if the annual subsistence needs of the Pribilof residents are determined to have been met or the harvest has been conducted in a wasteful manner. For the 3-year period, 2008 to 2010, NMFS proposes no change to the past and current ranges of 1,645–2,000 for St. Paul Island and 300–500 for St. George Island. Retaining these levels will provide adequate flexibility and adaptive management of the subsistence harvest through the co-management process. As described earlier in this document, if the Aleut residents of either island reach the lower end of this yearly harvest estimate and have unmet subsistence needs and no indication of waste, they may request an additional number of seals up to the upper limit of the respective harvest estimates. The residents of St. George and St. Paul Islands may substantiate any additional need for seals by submitting in writing the information upon which they base their decision that subsistence needs are unfulfilled. The regulations at 50 CFR 216.72(e)(1) and (3) require a suspension of the fur seal harvest for up to 48 hours once the lower end of the VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:17 Jun 02, 2008 Jkt 214001 estimated harvest level is reached. The suspension is to last no more than 48 hours, followed either by a finding that the subsistence needs have been met or by a revised estimate of the number of seals necessary to satisfy the Aleuts’ subsistence needs. The harvest may also be suspended if the harvest has been conducted in a wasteful manner. NMFS seeks public comments on the proposed estimates. The harvest of fur seals is anticipated to be non-wasteful and in compliance with the regulations specified at 50 CFR 216.72 which detail the restrictions and harvest. NMFS will continue to monitor the harvest on St. Paul Island and St. George Islands during 2008 to 2010. Classification National Environmental Policy Act NMFS prepared an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) evaluating the impacts on the human environment of the subsistence harvest on northern fur seals. The Final EIS, which is available on the Internet (see Electronic Access) was subjected to public review (69 FR 53915, September 3, 2004), and the comments were incorporated into the final EIS. Executive Order 12866 and Regulatory Flexibility Act This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant rule under Executive Order (E.O.) 12866. The regulations are not likely to result in (1) an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; (2) a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Federal, state, or local government agencies, or geographic regions; or (3) a significant adverse effect on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or on the ability of U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises in domestic or export markets. The Chief Counsel for Regulation, Department of Commerce, certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration that this proposed action would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Because the harvest of northern fur seals on the Pribilof Islands, AK, is for subsistence purposes only, the estimate of subsistence need would not have an economic effect on any small entities. Therefore, a regulatory flexibility analysis was not prepared. Paperwork Reduction Act This proposed action does not require the collection of information. Executive Order 13132–Federalism This proposed action does not contain policies with federalism implications sufficient to warrant preparation of a federalism assessment under E.O. 13132 because this action does not have substantial direct effects on the states, on the relationship between the national government and the states, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Nonetheless, NMFS worked closely with local governments in the Pribilof Islands, and these estimates of subsistence needs were prepared by the local governments E:\FR\FM\03JNP1.SGM 03JNP1 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 107 / Tuesday, June 3, 2008 / Proposed Rules in St. Paul and St. George, with assistance from NMFS officials. Executive Order 13175–Native Consultation Executive Order 13175 of November 6, 2000 (25 U.S.C. 450 Note), the executive Memorandum of April 29, 1994 (25 U.S.C. 450 note), and the American Indian Native Policy of the U.S. Department of Commerce (March 30, 1995) outline the responsibilities of the National Marine Fisheries Service in matters affecting tribal interests. Section 161 of Public Law 108–100 (188 Stat. 452) as amended by section 518 of Public Law 108–447 (118 Stat. 3267), extends the consultation requirements of E.O. 13175 to Alaska Native corporations. NMFS has contacted the tribal governments of St. Paul and St. George Islands and their respective local Native corporations (Tanadgusix and Tanaq) about setting the next three years harvest estimates and received their input. Dated: May 27, 2008. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. E8–12323 Filed 6–2–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No.070718362–7488–01] RIN 0648–AV14 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Shrimp Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Revisions to Allowable Bycatch Reduction Devices National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments. ebenthall on PRODPC60 with PROPOSALS AGENCY: SUMMARY: In accordance with the framework procedures for adjusting management measures of the Fishery Management Plan for the Shrimp Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP), NMFS proposes to decertify the expanded mesh bycatch reduction device (BRD), the ‘‘Gulf fisheye’’ BRD, and the ‘‘fisheye’’ BRD, as currently specified, for use in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) shrimp fishery. NMFS would also VerDate Aug<31>2005 14:17 Jun 02, 2008 Jkt 214001 certify a new specification for the fisheye device to be used in the Gulf. The intended effect of this proposed rule is to improve bycatch reduction in the shrimp fishery and better meet the requirements of national standard 9. DATES: Comments must be received no later than 4:30 p.m., eastern time, on July 3, 2008. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by 0648–AV14, by any one of the following methods: • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal http:// www.regulations.gov. • Fax: 727–824–5308, Attn: Steve Branstetter. • Mail: Steve Branstetter, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to http:// www.regulations.gov without change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments. Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, Wordperfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only. Copies of an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), and Regulatory Impact Review (RIR) completed in support of the proposed rule are available from the Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701; phone: 727–824–5305; fax: 727–824– 5308. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Branstetter, telephone: 727–824– 5305, fax: 727–824–5308, e-mail: Steve.Branstetter@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The fishery for shrimp in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Gulf is managed under the FMP prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council). The FMP is implemented under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) by regulations at 50 CFR part 622. Background Regulations implementing Amendment 9 to the FMP were published April 14, 1998 (63 FR 18139), and established a requirement, with limited exceptions, for the use of PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 31669 certified BRDs in shrimp trawls towed in the Gulf EEZ shoreward of the 100– fm (183–m) depth contour west of 85°30′W. longitude (western Gulf), the approximate longitude of Cape San Blas, FL. The rule established descriptions of BRD designs and configurations allowed for use in the western Gulf shrimp fishery. To better address the requirements of national standard 9 of the MagnusonStevens Act, regulations implementing Amendment 10 to the FMP (69 FR 1538, January 9, 2004) required BRDs in shrimp trawls fished in the EEZ east of 85°30′ W. longitude (eastern Gulf). In accordance with the BRD framework procedures of the FMP, NMFS recently modified the existing BRD certification criterion for the western Gulf (73 FR 8219, February 13, 2008) to be consistent with the criterion for the eastern Gulf. The new criterion specifies a BRD must demonstrate a 30– percent reduction in the weight of finfish bycatch to be certified for use in the Gulf shrimp fishery. The ‘‘fisheye’’ BRD and ‘‘Gulf fisheye’’ BRD are the two dominant BRD designs currently used in the western Gulf. These two BRDs are actually the same device; the only difference between them is their configuration (where they are placed within the cod end of the trawl). The ‘‘fisheye’’ BRD must be placed along the top center of the cod end of a shrimp trawl no further forward than 11 ft (3.4 m) from the cod end tie-off rings. Subsequent tests of the fisheye device in slightly different configurations led to the certification of the ‘‘Gulf fisheye’’ BRD. In the ‘‘Gulf fisheye’’ configuration, the device may be placed 15 meshes on either side of top center, between 8.5 ft (2.6 m) and 12.5 ft (3.8 m) from the cod end tie-off rings, thus expanding the allowable placement of the device. These two configurations of the fisheye device are also certified for use in the eastern Gulf. Because of the fisheye-type device’s simplistic design and low cost in either configuration, it became the industry standard. The most commonly used configuration for the fisheye device in the Gulf shrimp fishery has the BRD placed 10.5 ft (3.2 m) to 12.5 ft (3.8 m) forward of the cod end tie-off rings. According to NMFS’ Southeast Fishery Science Center (SEFSC) estimates, the fisheye device in this configuration is achieving a 14–percent reduction in finfish bycatch by weight. Thus, it does not meet the new 30–percent finfish bycatch reduction criterion, established in separate rulemaking. However, placed farther back in the cod end, the fisheye device is more effective. When placed no farther E:\FR\FM\03JNP1.SGM 03JNP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 107 (Tuesday, June 3, 2008)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 31666-31669]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-12323]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 216

[Docket No. 080310408-8416-01]
RIN 0648-AW55


Marine Mammals; Subsistence Taking of Northern Fur Seals; Harvest 
Estimates

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: Pursuant to regulations governing the subsistence taking of 
northern fur seals, this document summarizes the annual fur seal 
subsistence harvests on St. George and St. Paul Islands (the Pribilof 
Islands) for 2005 to 2007 and proposes annual estimates of fur seal 
subsistence needs for 2008 through 2010 on the Pribilof Islands, AK. 
NMFS solicits public comments on the proposed estimates.

DATES: Written comments must be received at the address or fax number 
by July 3, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Send comments to Kaja Brix, Assistant Regional 
Administrator, Protected Resource Division, Alaska Region, NMFS, Attn: 
Ellen Sebastian. You may submit comments, identified by ``RIN 0648 
AW55'' by any of the following methods:
    Electronic Submissions: Submit electronic public comments via the 
Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov;
    Mail: Kaja Brix, Assistant Regional Administration, Protected 
Resource Division, Alaska Region, NMFS, P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 
99802;
    Hand Delivery to the Federal Building: 709 West 9th Street, Room 
420A, Juneau, AK;
    Fax: 907 586 7557, Attention: Ellen Sebastian.
    Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record 
and will generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov without 
change. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or otherwise 
sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments. Attachments to electronic comments must be in Microsoft Word, 
Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe portable document file (pdf) file formats 
to be accepted.

[[Page 31667]]


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael Williams, (907) 271-5006; Kaja 
Brix, (907) 586-7835; or Tom Eagle, (301) 713-2322, ext. 105.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Electronic Access

    An Environmental Impact Statement is available on the Internet at 
the following address: http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/protectedresources/
seals/fur/eis/final0505.pdf.

Background

    The subsistence harvest from the depleted stock of northern fur 
seals (Callorhinus ursinus), on the Pribilof Islands, AK, is governed 
by regulations found in 50 CFR part 216, subpart F. The purpose of 
these regulations, published under the authority of the Fur Seal Act 
(FSA), 16 U.S.C. 1151, et seq., and the Marine Mammal Protection Act 
(MMPA), 16 U.S.C. 1361, et seq., is to limit the take of fur seals to a 
level providing for the subsistence needs of the Pribilof residents, 
while restricting taking by sex, age, and season for herd conservation. 
To further minimize negative effects on the Pribilof Islands' fur seal 
population, the harvest has been limited to a 47-day season (June 23 to 
August 8).
    There are several factors and conditions that affect the 
subsistence harvest of northern fur seals. Beginning in 2000, the take 
ranges have been discussed with each tribal government as part of the 
co-management relationship and agreement. Accurately predicting the 
annual subsistence needs of the Pribilof communities has been one of 
practical and social difficulties; the process to meet the take range 
regulation has resulted in acceptance of the ranges first established 
in 1987. These levels provide a degree of flexibility the communities 
feel comfortable with regarding changes and unanticipated needs within 
the community and the environment.
    The variability of the harvest occurs for many reasons. Weather 
conditions and availability of animals varies annually. The 
availability of wage earning jobs reduces the time available for 
community members to hunt and harvest subsistence resources. Thus, 
hunters may be unavailable to hunt in certain years or have more 
financial resources to hunt in subsequent years or seasons for other 
marine mammals. The current timing restriction on the northern fur seal 
hunt overlaps with the local halibut fishing season, and many of the 
hunters are also fishermen. In addition, crab fishery rationalization 
and a renewal of the crab harvest in the Pribilof region has provided 
local job opportunities that may extend into the spring hunting season 
for Steller sea lions. The level of Steller sea lion hunting success in 
the spring influences subsequent northern fur seal harvesting. Thus 
both Steller sea lions and northern fur seals combine to meet the 
subsistence needs of the local communities, with northern fur seals 
providing the more seasonal, but reliable source of the two species. 
Alaskan communities such as those of St. Paul and St. George Islands, 
rely on marine mammals as a major food source and cultural foundation 
of the communities. The harvest of juvenile male northern fur seals has 
occurred for well over 200 years and the biological implications are 
reasonably understood. Subsistence harvests under the current 
regulations are 10 percent or less than the commercial harvests during 
the past 50 years.
    Pursuant to the regulations governing the taking of fur seals for 
subsistence purposes, NMFS must publish a summary of the fur seal 
harvest for the previous 3-year period and an estimate of the number of 
seals expected to be taken in the subsequent 3-year period to meet the 
subsistence needs of the Aleut residents of the Pribilof Islands.

Summary of Harvest Operations and Monitoring 2005 to 2007

    The annual harvests were conducted in the established manner and 
employed the standard methods required under regulations at 50 CFR 
216.72. NMFS personnel, a contract veterinarian, and tribal government 
staff monitored the harvest and communicated to further improve the 
efficiency of the annual harvest and full utilization of the animals 
taken. Annual northern fur seal harvest reports are received from the 
tribal governments of both islands and from a contract veterinarian for 
St. Paul.
    The reported male northern fur seal subsistence harvests for St. 
Paul from 2005 to 2007 were 466, 396, and 272 respectively (Lestenkof 
et al., 2006; Lestenkof and Zavadil, 2006; Lestenkof and Zavadil, 
2007), and for St. George from 2005 to 2007 were 139, 212, and 206, 
respectively (Lestenkof et al., 2006, Malavansky and Malavansky, 2006; 
Malavansky, 2007). The number of male northern fur seals harvested on 
St. Paul Island from 1986 to 2007 ranged from 272 to 1,710, and the 
number harvested on St. George Island from 1986 to 2007 ranged from 92 
to 319 seals. The average number of male seals harvested during the 
past 10 years on St. Paul and St. George Islands, respectively, has 
been 690 seals (range: 269 to 1,297) and 181 seals (range: 121 to 256), 
(Table 1).
    The accidental harvest of young female fur seals has occurred 
intermittently during the male harvest. The regulations call for 
termination of the annual harvest on August 8 of each year to reduce 
the probability of the accidental killing of females to the lowest 
level practical. Thirty-two females on St. Paul and four females on St. 
George have been accidentally killed, since 1987. The average 
accidental killing of females on St. Paul and St. George Islands during 
the last 10 years is 2 and less than l, respectively.
    Under section 119 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, cooperative 
agreements were signed with St. Paul in 2000 and with St. George in 
2001 for the cooperative management of subsistence uses of northern fur 
seals and Steller sea lions. The processes defined in the cooperative 
agreements have facilitated a more collaborative working relationship 
between NMFS and tribal authorities. This has led to more coordinated 
efforts by the tribal governments of both islands to promote full 
utilization of inedible seal parts for traditional arts, crafts, and 
other uses permitted under regulations at 50 CFR 216.73. The result has 
been an expanded use of these materials by the Aleut residents and 
increased fulfillment of the non-wasteful harvest requirements.

TABLE 1. SUBSISTENCE HARVEST LEVELS FOR JUVENILE MALE NORTHERN FUR SEALS
                   ON THE PRIBILOF ISLANDS, 1986-2007
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                               Expected Take Ranges     Actual Harvest
                             ------------------------       Levels
            Year                                     -------------------
                               St. Paul   St. George               St.
                                                      St. Paul   George
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1986                          2,400-8,00  800-1,800   1,299     124
                               0
1987                          1,600-2,40  533-1,800   1,704     92
                               0
1988                          1,800-2,20  600-740     1,145     113
                               0

[[Page 31668]]

 
1989                          1,600-1,80  533-600     1,340     181
                               0
1990                          1,145-1,80  181-500     1,077     164
                               0
1991                          1,145-1,80  181-500     1,644     281
                               0
1992                          1,645-2,00  281-500     1,480     194
                               0
1993                          1,645-2,00  281-500     1,518     319
                               0
1994                          1,645-2,00  281-500     1,615     161
                               0
1995                          1,645-2,00  281-500     1,263     259
                               0
1996                          1,645-2,00  281-500     1,588     232
                               0
1997                          1,645-2,00  300-500     1,153     227
                               0
1998                          1,645-2,00  300-500     1,297     256
                               0
1999                          1,645-2,00  300-500     1,000     193
                               0
2000                          1,645-2,00  300-500     754       121
                               0
2001                          1,645-2,00  300-500     595       184
                               0
2002                          1,645-2,00  300-500     646       202
                               0
2003                          1,645-2,00  300-500     522       132
                               0
2004                          1,645-2,00  300-500     493       123
                               0
2005                          1,645-2,00  300-500     466       139
                               0
2006                          1,645-2,00  300-500     396       212
                               0
2007                          1,645-2,00  300-500     269       206
                               0
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Estimate of Subsistence Need for the Period 2008 to 2010

    The projected subsistence harvest estimates are given as a range, 
the lower end of which may be exceeded if NMFS is given notice and the 
Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, determines that the annual 
subsistence needs of the Pribilof Aleuts have not been satisfied. 
Conversely, the harvest can be terminated before the lower end of the 
range is reached if the annual subsistence needs of the Pribilof 
residents are determined to have been met or the harvest has been 
conducted in a wasteful manner.
    For the 3-year period, 2008 to 2010, NMFS proposes no change to the 
past and current ranges of 1,645-2,000 for St. Paul Island and 300-500 
for St. George Island. Retaining these levels will provide adequate 
flexibility and adaptive management of the subsistence harvest through 
the co-management process.
    As described earlier in this document, if the Aleut residents of 
either island reach the lower end of this yearly harvest estimate and 
have unmet subsistence needs and no indication of waste, they may 
request an additional number of seals up to the upper limit of the 
respective harvest estimates. The residents of St. George and St. Paul 
Islands may substantiate any additional need for seals by submitting in 
writing the information upon which they base their decision that 
subsistence needs are unfulfilled. The regulations at 50 CFR 
216.72(e)(1) and (3) require a suspension of the fur seal harvest for 
up to 48 hours once the lower end of the estimated harvest level is 
reached. The suspension is to last no more than 48 hours, followed 
either by a finding that the subsistence needs have been met or by a 
revised estimate of the number of seals necessary to satisfy the 
Aleuts' subsistence needs. The harvest may also be suspended if the 
harvest has been conducted in a wasteful manner. NMFS seeks public 
comments on the proposed estimates.
    The harvest of fur seals is anticipated to be non-wasteful and in 
compliance with the regulations specified at 50 CFR 216.72 which detail 
the restrictions and harvest. NMFS will continue to monitor the harvest 
on St. Paul Island and St. George Islands during 2008 to 2010.

Classification

National Environmental Policy Act

    NMFS prepared an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) evaluating 
the impacts on the human environment of the subsistence harvest on 
northern fur seals. The Final EIS, which is available on the Internet 
(see Electronic Access) was subjected to public review (69 FR 53915, 
September 3, 2004), and the comments were incorporated into the final 
EIS.

Executive Order 12866 and Regulatory Flexibility Act

    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant rule 
under Executive Order (E.O.) 12866. The regulations are not likely to 
result in (1) an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; 
(2) a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual 
industries, Federal, state, or local government agencies, or geographic 
regions; or (3) a significant adverse effect on competition, 
employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or on the ability of 
U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises in 
domestic or export markets. The Chief Counsel for Regulation, 
Department of Commerce, certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of 
the Small Business Administration that this proposed action would not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. Because the harvest of northern fur seals on the Pribilof 
Islands, AK, is for subsistence purposes only, the estimate of 
subsistence need would not have an economic effect on any small 
entities. Therefore, a regulatory flexibility analysis was not 
prepared.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This proposed action does not require the collection of 
information.

Executive Order 13132-Federalism

    This proposed action does not contain policies with federalism 
implications sufficient to warrant preparation of a federalism 
assessment under E.O. 13132 because this action does not have 
substantial direct effects on the states, on the relationship between 
the national government and the states, or on the distribution of power 
and responsibilities among the various levels of government. 
Nonetheless, NMFS worked closely with local governments in the Pribilof 
Islands, and these estimates of subsistence needs were prepared by the 
local governments

[[Page 31669]]

in St. Paul and St. George, with assistance from NMFS officials.

Executive Order 13175-Native Consultation

    Executive Order 13175 of November 6, 2000 (25 U.S.C. 450 Note), the 
executive Memorandum of April 29, 1994 (25 U.S.C. 450 note), and the 
American Indian Native Policy of the U.S. Department of Commerce (March 
30, 1995) outline the responsibilities of the National Marine Fisheries 
Service in matters affecting tribal interests. Section 161 of Public 
Law 108-100 (188 Stat. 452) as amended by section 518 of Public Law 
108-447 (118 Stat. 3267), extends the consultation requirements of E.O. 
13175 to Alaska Native corporations. NMFS has contacted the tribal 
governments of St. Paul and St. George Islands and their respective 
local Native corporations (Tanadgusix and Tanaq) about setting the next 
three years harvest estimates and received their input.

    Dated: May 27, 2008.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. E8-12323 Filed 6-2-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S