Migratory Bird Subsistence Harvest in Alaska; Harvest Regulations for Migratory Birds in Alaska During the 2016 Season, 78949-78956 [2015-31760]

Download as PDF Vol. 80 Thursday, No. 242 December 17, 2015 Part III Department of the Interior asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 92 Migratory Bird Subsistence Harvest in Alaska; Harvest Regulations for Migratory Birds in Alaska During the 2016 Season; Proposed Rule VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:15 Dec 16, 2015 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 4717 Sfmt 4717 E:\FR\FM\17DEP3.SGM 17DEP3 78950 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 242 / Thursday, December 17, 2015 / Proposed Rules FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Donna Dewhurst, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1011 E. Tudor Road, Mail Stop 201, Anchorage, AK 99503; (907) 786– 3499. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 92 [Docket No. FWS–R7–MB–2015–0158; FF09M21200–156–FXMB1231099BPP0] RIN 1018–BB10 Migratory Bird Subsistence Harvest in Alaska; Harvest Regulations for Migratory Birds in Alaska During the 2016 Season Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service or we) is proposing migratory bird subsistence harvest regulations in Alaska for the 2016 season. These proposed regulations allow for the continuation of customary and traditional subsistence uses of migratory birds in Alaska and prescribe regional information on when and where the harvesting of birds may occur. These proposed regulations were developed under a co-management process involving the Service, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and Alaska Native representatives. The rulemaking is necessary because the regulations governing the subsistence harvest of migratory birds in Alaska are subject to annual review. This rulemaking proposes region-specific regulations that would go into effect on April 2, 2016, and expire on August 31, 2016. DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before February 16, 2016. We must receive requests for public hearings, in writing, at the address shown in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT by February 1, 2016. SUMMARY: You may submit comments by one of the following methods: • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. FWS–R7–MB–2015–0158. • U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R7– MB–2015–0158; Division of Policy, Performance, and Management Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 5275 Leesburg Place, MS: BPHC; Falls Church, VA 22041–3803. We will not accept email or faxes. We will post all comments on http:// www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see the Public Comment Procedures section, below, for more information). asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS ADDRESSES: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:15 Dec 16, 2015 Jkt 238001 Public Comment Procedures To ensure that any action resulting from this proposed rule will be as accurate and as effective as possible, we request that you send relevant information for our consideration. The comments that will be most useful and likely to influence our decisions are those that you support by quantitative information or studies and those that include citations to, and analyses of, the applicable laws and regulations. Please make your comments as specific as possible and explain the basis for them. In addition, please include sufficient information with your comments to allow us to authenticate any scientific or commercial data you include. You must submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed rule by one of the methods listed above in the ADDRESSES section. We will not accept comments sent by email or fax or to an address not listed in ADDRESSES. If you submit a comment via http:// www.regulations.gov, your entire comment—including any personal identifying information, such as your address, telephone number, or email address—will be posted on the Web site. When you submit a comment, the system receives it immediately. However, the comment will not be publicly viewable until we post it, which might not occur until several days after submission. If you mail or hand-carry a hardcopy comment directly to us that includes personal 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. To ensure that the electronic docket for this rulemaking is complete and all comments we receive are publicly available, we will post all hardcopy comments on http:// www.regulations.gov. In addition, comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation used in preparing this proposed rule, will be available for public inspection in two ways: (1) You can view them on http:// www.regulations.gov. Search for FWS– R7–MB–2015–0158, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. (2) You can make an appointment, during normal business hours, to view the comments and materials in person at the Division of Migratory Bird PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 Management, MS: MB, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041–3803; (703) 358–1714. Public Availability of Comments As stated above in more detail, before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Why is this rulemaking necessary? This rulemaking is necessary because, by law, the migratory bird harvest season is closed unless opened by the Secretary of the Interior, and the regulations governing subsistence harvest of migratory birds in Alaska are subject to public review and annual approval. This rulemaking proposes regulations for the taking of migratory birds for subsistence uses in Alaska during the spring and summer of 2016. This proposed rule also sets forth a list of migratory bird season openings and closures in Alaska by region. How do I find the history of these regulations? Background information, including past events leading to this rulemaking, accomplishments since the Migratory Bird Treaties with Canada and Mexico were amended, and a history, were originally addressed in the Federal Register on August 16, 2002 (67 FR 53511) and most recently on February 23, 2015 (80 FR 9392). Recent Federal Register documents and all final rules setting forth the annual harvest regulations are available at http://www.fws.gov/alaska/ambcc/ regulations.htm or by contacting the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. What is the process for issuing regulations for the subsistence harvest of migratory birds in Alaska? The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service or we) is proposing migratory bird subsistence harvest regulations in Alaska for the 2016 season. These proposed regulations allow for the continuation of customary and traditional subsistence uses of migratory birds in Alaska and prescribe regional information on when and where the harvesting of birds may occur. These proposed regulations were developed under a co-management process E:\FR\FM\17DEP3.SGM 17DEP3 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 242 / Thursday, December 17, 2015 / Proposed Rules asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS involving the Service, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and Alaska Native representatives. We opened the process to establish regulations for the 2016 spring and summer subsistence harvest of migratory birds in Alaska in a proposed rule published in the Federal Register on April 13, 2015 (80 FR 19852), to amend 50 CFR part 20. While that proposed rule primarily addressed the regulatory process for hunting migratory birds for all purposes throughout the United States, we also discussed the background and history of Alaska subsistence regulations, explained the annual process for their establishment, and requested proposals for the 2016 season. The rulemaking processes for both types of migratory bird harvest are related, and the April 13, 2015, proposed rule explained the connection between the two. The Alaska Migratory Bird Comanagement Council (Co-management Council) held meetings on April 8–9, 2015, to develop recommendations for changes that would take effect during the 2016 harvest season. Changes were recommended for the permanent regulations in subparts A and C of 50 CFR part 92, and the consent agenda package of carry-over regulations was amended to request a limited emperor goose harvest for 2016; these recommended changes were presented first to the Pacific Flyway Council and then to the Service Regulations Committee (SRC) for approval at the committee’s meeting on July 31, 2015. Who is eligible to hunt under these regulations? Eligibility to harvest under the regulations established in 2003 was limited to permanent residents, regardless of race, in villages located within the Alaska Peninsula, Kodiak Archipelago, the Aleutian Islands, and in areas north and west of the Alaska Range (50 CFR 92.5). These geographical restrictions opened the initial migratory bird subsistence harvest to about 13 percent of Alaska residents. Highpopulated, roaded areas such as Anchorage, the Matanuska-Susitna and Fairbanks North Star boroughs, the Kenai Peninsula roaded area, the Gulf of Alaska roaded area, and Southeast Alaska were excluded from eligible subsistence harvest areas. Based on petitions requesting inclusion in the harvest in 2004, we added 13 additional communities based on criteria set forth in 50 CFR 92.5(c). These communities were Gulkana, Gakona, Tazlina, Copper Center, Mentasta Lake, Chitina, Chistochina, Tatitlek, Chenega, Port Graham, VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:15 Dec 16, 2015 Jkt 238001 Nanwalek, Tyonek, and Hoonah, with a combined population of 2,766. In 2005, we added three additional communities for glaucous-winged gull egg gathering only, based on petitions requesting inclusion. These southeastern communities were Craig, Hydaburg, and Yakutat, with a combined population of 2,459, based on the latest census information at that time. In 2007, we enacted the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s request to expand the Fairbanks North Star Borough excluded area to include the Central Interior area. This action excluded the following communities from participation in this harvest: Big Delta/Fort Greely, Healy, McKinley Park/Village, and Ferry, with a combined population of 2,812. In 2012, we received a request from the Native Village of Eyak to include Cordova, Alaska, for a limited season that would legalize the traditional gathering of gull eggs and the hunting of waterfowl during spring. This request resulted in a new, limited harvest of spring waterfowl and gull eggs starting in 2014. What is different in the regulations for 2016? Subpart A Under subpart A, General Provisions, we are proposing to amend § 92.4 by adding a new definition for ‘‘Edible meat’’ and revising the definition for ‘‘Nonwasteful taking.’’ These changes were requested in 2014 by the Bristol Bay Regional Council, which recommended that all edible parts of migratory waterfowl must be salvaged when harvested. The topic was originally brought up by the Association of Village Council Presidents after an incident in their region where tundra swans were only breasted and the remainder of the bird was discarded. The concern was that ‘‘indigenous inhabitants’’ harvesters come from a variety of different cultures, and it was expressed that subsistence should involve retaining the whole bird for food and other uses. Subpart C Under subpart C, General Regulations Governing Subsistence Harvest, we are proposing to amend § 92.22, the list of birds open to subsistence harvest, by updating scientific names for six species and clarifying the nomenclature for Canada goose subspecies. These nomenclature updates come from the Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 78951 Subpart D The regulations we are proposing for subpart D, Annual Regulations Governing Subsistence Harvest, are the same as the 2015 regulations. While we are not proposing any changes to the 2015 regulations for subpart D in this 2016 proposal, we provide information below on potential changes to the proposed regulations for this subpart in the 2017 migratory bird subsistence harvest regulations in Alaska. The Co-management Council proposed a new emperor goose (Chen canagica) limited subsistence hunt for the 2016 season. Since 2012, the Comanagement Council has received regulatory proposals from the Sun’aq Tribe of Kodiak, the Kodiak-Aleutians Subsistence Regional Advisory Council, the Yaquillrit Keutisti Council (Bristol Bay), and the Bering Strait/Norton Sound Migratory Bird Council (Kawerak) to open the harvest of emperor geese for the subsistence season. Since the hunting season has been closed since 1987 for emperor geese, the Co-management Council created a subcommittee to address these proposals. The emperor goose harvest is guided by the 2006 Pacific Flyway Management Plan and the 2005–2006 Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Goose Management Plan. Over 95 percent of the emperor goose population breeds on the Yukon-Kuskowim Delta of Alaska, and most emperor geese winter in remote western Alaska with the remainder wintering in Russia. The Pacific Flyway Council recognizes the 3year average abundance estimate derived from the emperor goose spring population survey on the Alaska Peninsula as the management index to guide harvest management decisions. The Pacific Flyway Council’s Emperor Goose Management Plan and the YukonKuskokwim Delta Goose Management Plan indicate that a harvest can be considered when the 3-year average abundance index is at least 80,000 birds. This threshold has not been reached since 1984, and Alaska Natives have questioned the survey methods used to determine the population index. In addition, two studies are being conducted concurrently by the Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The first study is designed to provide a comprehensive evaluation of all available emperor goose survey data and assess harvest potential of the population. The second study is designed to develop a Bayesian state space population model to improve estimates of population size by integrating current population assessment methods using all available E:\FR\FM\17DEP3.SGM 17DEP3 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 78952 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 242 / Thursday, December 17, 2015 / Proposed Rules data sets. The model provides a framework from which to make inferences about survival rates, age structure, and population size. The results of these studies will assist in amending the management plans. The Service conducted the spring emperor goose survey April 25–28, 2015, and results indicated that the 2015 spring index (98,155) was 23 percent above the 2014 count (79,883), and 49 percent higher than the longterm (1981–2014) average (65,923). The most recent 3-year average count (2012, 2014, 2015) is 81,875 geese and the highest on record since 1984. Further, it is above the threshold for consideration of an open hunting season on emperor geese as specified in the YukonKuskokwim Delta Goose Management Plan and the Pacific Flyway Council Management Plan for emperor geese. As a result of this new information, the Co-management Council amended their motion of the consent agenda and proposed to add an allowance for a limited emperor goose harvest in 2016. The Pacific Flyway Council met in July 2015, and supported the Comanagement Council’s recommendation to work with the State of Alaska and the Service to develop harvest regulations and monitoring for a limited emperor goose harvest in 2016. On July 31, 2015, the SRC supported the Co-management Council’s proposed limited harvest of emperor geese for the 2016 Alaska spring and summer subsistence season. However, the approval was provisional based upon the following: (1) A limited harvest of 3,500 emperor geese to ensure that population growth continues toward the Flyway management plan objective; (2) A harvest allocation (e.g., an individual, family, or Village quota or permit hunt) that ensures harvest does not exceed 3,500; (3) Agreement on a monitoring program to index abundance of the emperor goose population; and (4) A revised Pacific Flyway Emperor Goose Management Plan including harvest allocation among all parties (including spring/summer and fall/ winter), population objective, population monitoring, and thresholds for season restriction or closure. The harvest allocation design and harvest monitoring plan are to be completed by November 1, 2015. Additionally, there was an explicit statement that the limited, legalized harvest of 3,500 birds was not in addition to existing subsistence harvest (approximately 3,200 emperor geese). The 3,500 bird allowable harvest is to be allocated to subsistence users during the spring and summer subsistence season. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:15 Dec 16, 2015 Jkt 238001 The SRC suggested that the allowable harvest should be monitored to ensure it does not exceed 3,500 birds. On August 13–14, and September 21, 2015, the Co-management Council Native Caucus met separately and with all partners to discuss options available to limit and monitor the harvest, as well as options to allocate the 3,500 birds across the six regions where emperor geese occur. Given the limited time provided to address the four conditions placed on this new harvest by the SRC, all partners agreed that the best course of action would be to spend additional time working together to develop a culturally sensitive framework tailored to each participating region that conserves the population and adequately addresses the data needs of all partners. In support of this recommendation, the Co-management Council took action to: Postpone an emperor goose harvest until 2017; work with all partners to develop the harvest framework; and work with their Emperor Goose Subcommittee and the Pacific Flyway Council on updating the Pacific Flyway Emperor Goose Management Plan. How will the Service ensure that the subsistence harvest will not raise overall migratory bird harvest or threaten the conservation of endangered and threatened species? We have monitored subsistence harvest for the past 25 years through the use of household surveys in the most heavily used subsistence harvest areas, such as the Yukon—Kuskokwim Delta. In recent years, more intensive surveys combined with outreach efforts focused on species identification have been added to improve the accuracy of information gathered from regions still reporting some subsistence harvest of listed or candidate species. Spectacled and Steller’s Eiders Spectacled eiders (Somateria fischeri) and the Alaska-breeding population of Steller’s eiders (Polysticta stelleri) are listed as threatened species. Their migration and breeding distribution overlap with areas where the spring and summer subsistence migratory bird hunt is open in Alaska. Both species are closed to hunting, although harvest surveys and Service documentation indicate both species have been taken in several regions of Alaska. The Service has dual objectives and responsibilities for authorizing a subsistence harvest while protecting migratory birds and threatened species. Although these objectives continue to be challenging, they are not irreconcilable, provided that regulations continue to PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 protect threatened species, measures to address documented threats are implemented, and the subsistence community and other conservation partners commit to working together. With these dual objectives in mind, the Service, working with North Slope partners, developed measures in 2009, to further reduce the potential for shooting mortality or injury of closed species. These conservation measures included: (1) Increased waterfowl hunter outreach and community awareness through partnering with the North Slope Migratory Bird Task Force; and (2) continued enforcement of the migratory bird regulations that are protective of listed eiders. This proposed rule continues to focus on the North Slope from Barrow to Point Hope because Steller’s eiders from the listed Alaska breeding population are known to breed and migrate there. These regulations are designed to address several ongoing eider management needs by clarifying for subsistence users that (1) Service law enforcement personnel have authority to verify species of birds possessed by hunters, and (2) it is illegal to possess any species of bird closed to harvest. This rule also describes how the Service’s existing authority of emergency closure would be implemented, if necessary, to protect Steller’s eiders. We are always willing to discuss regulations with our partners on the North Slope to ensure protection of closed species as well as provide subsistence hunters an opportunity to harvest migratory birds in a way that maintains the culture and traditional harvest of the community. The proposed regulations pertaining to bag checks and possession of illegal birds are deemed necessary to monitor the number of closed eider species taken during the subsistence hunt. The Service is aware of and appreciates the considerable efforts by North Slope partners to raise awareness and educate hunters on Steller’s eider conservation via the bird fair, meetings, radio shows, signs, school visits, and one-on-one contacts. We also recognize that no listed eiders have been documented shot from 2009 through 2012; however, one Steller’s eider and one spectacled eider were found shot during the summer of 2013, and one Steller’s eider was found shot in 2014. In 2015, one spectacled eider was found dead, and it appeared to have been shot by a hunter. The Service acknowledges progress made with the other eider conservation measures, including partnering with the North Slope Migratory Bird Task Force, for increased waterfowl hunter awareness and E:\FR\FM\17DEP3.SGM 17DEP3 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 242 / Thursday, December 17, 2015 / Proposed Rules asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS continued enforcement of the regulations. To reduce the threat of shooting mortality of threatened eiders, we continue to work with North Slope partners to conduct education and outreach. Conservation measures are being continued by the Service, with the amount of effort and emphasis being based on regulatory adherence. In addition, the emergency closure authority provides another level of assurance if an unexpected number of Steller’s eiders are killed by shooting (50 CFR 92.21 and 50 CFR 92.32). The longstanding general emergency closure provision at 50 CFR 92.21 specifies that the harvest may be closed or temporarily suspended upon finding that a continuation of the regulation allowing the harvest would pose an imminent threat to the conservation of any migratory bird population. With regard to Steller’s eiders, the proposed regulation at 50 CFR 92.32, carried over from the past 5 years, clarifies that we will take action under 50 CFR 92.21 as is necessary to prevent further take of Steller’s eiders, and that action could include temporary or long-term closures of the harvest in all or a portion of the geographic area open to harvest. When and if mortality of threatened eiders is documented, we will evaluate each mortality event by criteria such as cause, quantity, sex, age, location, and date. We will consult with the Comanagement Council when we are considering an emergency closure. If we determine that an emergency closure is necessary, we will design it to minimize its impact on the subsistence harvest. Endangered Species Act Consideration Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1536) requires the Secretary of the Interior to ‘‘review other programs administered by him and utilize such programs in furtherance of the purposes of the Act’’ and to ‘‘insure that any action authorized, funded, or carried out * * * is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of [critical] habitat. * * *’’ Prior to issuance of annual spring and summer subsistence regulations, we would consult under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), to ensure that the 2016 subsistence harvest is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any species designated as endangered or threatened, or modify or destroy its critical habitats, and that the regulations are consistent with conservation programs for those species. Consultation under section 7 of the Act for the annual VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:15 Dec 16, 2015 Jkt 238001 subsistence take regulations may cause us to change these regulations. Our biological opinion resulting from the section 7 consultation is a public document available from the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Statutory Authority We derive our authority to issue these regulations from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, at 16 U.S.C. 712(1), which authorizes the Secretary of the Interior, in accordance with the treaties with Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Russia, to ‘‘issue such regulations as may be necessary to assure that the taking of migratory birds and the collection of their eggs, by the indigenous inhabitants of the State of Alaska, shall be permitted for their own nutritional and other essential needs, as determined by the Secretary of the Interior, during seasons established so as to provide for the preservation and maintenance of stocks of migratory birds.’’ Required Determinations Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and 13563) Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) will review all significant rules. The OIRA has determined that this proposed rule is not significant. Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of Executive Order 12866 while calling for improvements in the nation’s regulatory system to promote predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. The executive order directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, and consistent with regulatory objectives. Executive Order 13563 emphasizes further that regulations must be based on the best available science and that the rulemaking process must allow for public participation and an open exchange of ideas. We have developed this rule in a manner consistent with these requirements. Regulatory Flexibility Act The Department of the Interior certifies that, if adopted, this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities as defined under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). A regulatory flexibility analysis is not required. Accordingly, a Small Entity Compliance Guide is not required. This PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 78953 proposed rule would legalize a preexisting subsistence activity, and the resources harvested will be consumed. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act This proposed rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. This proposed rule: (a) Would not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more. It would legalize and regulate a traditional subsistence activity. It would not result in a substantial increase in subsistence harvest or a significant change in harvesting patterns. The commodities that would be regulated under this proposed rule are migratory birds. This proposed rule deals with legalizing the subsistence harvest of migratory birds and, as such, does not involve commodities traded in the marketplace. A small economic benefit from this proposed rule would derive from the sale of equipment and ammunition to carry out subsistence hunting. Most, if not all, businesses that sell hunting equipment in rural Alaska qualify as small businesses. We have no reason to believe that this proposed rule would lead to a disproportionate distribution of benefits. (b) Would not cause a major increase in costs or prices for consumers; individual industries; Federal, State, or local government agencies; or geographic regions. This proposed rule does not deal with traded commodities and, therefore, does not have an impact on prices for consumers. (c) Would not have significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises. This proposed rule deals with the harvesting of wildlife for personal consumption. It does not regulate the marketplace in any way to generate substantial effects on the economy or the ability of businesses to compete. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act We have determined and certified under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.) that this proposed rule would not impose a cost of $100 million or more in any given year on local, State, or tribal governments or private entities. The proposed rule does not have a significant or unique effect on State, local, or tribal governments or the private sector. A statement containing the information required by the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act is not required. Participation on regional management bodies and the Co- E:\FR\FM\17DEP3.SGM 17DEP3 78954 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 242 / Thursday, December 17, 2015 / Proposed Rules management Council requires travel expenses for some Alaska Native organizations and local governments. In addition, they assume some expenses related to coordinating involvement of village councils in the regulatory process. Total coordination and travel expenses for all Alaska Native organizations are estimated to be less than $300,000 per year. In a notice of decision (65 FR 16405; March 28, 2000), we identified 7 to 12 partner organizations (Alaska Native nonprofits and local governments) to administer the regional programs. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game also incurs expenses for travel to Comanagement Council and regional management body meetings. In addition, the State of Alaska will be required to provide technical staff support to each of the regional management bodies and to the Comanagement Council. Expenses for the State’s involvement may exceed $100,000 per year, but should not exceed $150,000 per year. When funding permits, we make annual grant agreements available to the partner organizations and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to help offset their expenses. Takings (Executive Order 12630) Under the criteria in Executive Order 12630, this proposed rule would not have significant takings implications. This proposed rule is not specific to particular land ownership, but applies to the harvesting of migratory bird resources throughout Alaska. A takings implication assessment is not required. asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federalism (Executive Order 13132) Under the criteria in Executive Order 13132, this proposed rule does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a federalism summary impact statement. We discuss effects of this proposed rule on the State of Alaska in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act section above. We worked with the State of Alaska to develop these proposed regulations. Therefore, a federalism summary impact statement is not required. Civil Justice Reform (Executive Order 12988) The Department, in promulgating this proposed rule, has determined that it will not unduly burden the judicial system and that it meets the requirements of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:15 Dec 16, 2015 Jkt 238001 Government-to-Government Relations With Native American Tribal Governments Consistent with Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249; November 6, 2000), ‘‘Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments,’’ and Department of Interior policy on Consultation with Indian Tribes (December 1, 2011), we will send letters to all 229 Alaska Federally recognized Indian tribes. Consistent with Congressional direction (Public Law 108–199, div. H, Sec. 161, Jan. 23, 2004, 118 Stat. 452; as amended by Public Law 108–447, div. H, title V, Sec. 518, Dec. 8, 2004, 118 Stat. 3267), we will be sending letters to approximately 200 Alaska Native corporations and other tribal entities in Alaska soliciting their input as to whether or not they would like the Service to consult with them on the 2016 migratory bird subsistence harvest regulations. We implemented the amended treaty with Canada with a focus on local involvement. The treaty calls for the creation of management bodies to ensure an effective and meaningful role for Alaska’s indigenous inhabitants in the conservation of migratory birds. According to the Letter of Submittal, management bodies are to include Alaska Native, Federal, and State of Alaska representatives as equals. They develop recommendations for, among other things: seasons and bag limits, methods and means of take, law enforcement policies, population and harvest monitoring, education programs, research and use of traditional knowledge, and habitat protection. The management bodies involve village councils to the maximum extent possible in all aspects of management. To ensure maximum input at the village level, we required each of the 11 participating regions to create regional management bodies consisting of at least one representative from the participating villages. The regional management bodies meet twice annually to review and/or submit proposals to the Statewide body. • Voluntary annual household surveys that we use to determine levels of subsistence take (OMB Control Number 1018–0124, expires June 30, 2016). • Permits associated with subsistence hunting (OMB Control Number 1018– 0075, expires February 29, 2016). National Environmental Policy Act Consideration (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) The annual regulations and options are considered in a October 2016 environmental assessment, ‘‘Managing Migratory Bird Subsistence Hunting in Alaska: Hunting Regulations for the 2016 Spring/Summer Harvest,’’ dated October 9, 2015. Copies are available from the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT or at http://www.regulations.gov. Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use (Executive Order 13211) Executive Order 13211 requires agencies to prepare Statements of Energy Effects when undertaking certain actions. This is not a significant regulatory action under this Executive Order; it would allow only for traditional subsistence harvest and improve conservation of migratory birds by allowing effective regulation of this harvest. Further, this proposed rule is not expected to significantly affect energy supplies, distribution, or use. Therefore, this action is not a significant energy action under Executive Order 13211, and a Statement of Energy Effects is not required. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 92 Hunting, Treaties, Wildlife. Proposed Regulation Promulgation For the reasons set out in the preamble, we propose to amend title 50, chapter I, subchapter G, of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows: PART 92—MIGRATORY BIRD SUBSISTENCE HARVEST IN ALASKA 1. The authority citation for part 92 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 16 U.S.C. 703–712. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) This proposed rule does not contain any new collections of information that require Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval under the PRA (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). We may not conduct or sponsor and you are not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. OMB has reviewed and approved our collection of information associated with: PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 Subpart A—General Provisions 2. Amend § 92.4 by adding, in alphabetical order, a definition for ‘‘Edible meat’’ and revising the definition for ‘‘Nonwasteful taking’’ to read as follows: ■ § 92.4 Definitions. * * * * * Edible meat means the meat from the breast, back, thighs, legs, wings, gizzard, and heart. The head, neck, feet, other E:\FR\FM\17DEP3.SGM 17DEP3 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 242 / Thursday, December 17, 2015 / Proposed Rules internal organs, and skin are considered inedible byproducts, and not edible meat, for all provisions of this part. * * * * * Nonwasteful taking means making a reasonable effort to retrieve all birds killed or wounded, and retaining all edible meat until the birds have been transported to the location where they will be consumed, processed, or preserved as human food. * * * * * Subpart C—General Regulations Governing Subsistence Harvest 3. Amend § 92.22 by: a. Revising paragraph (a)(3); b. Removing and reserving paragraph (a)(4); and ■ c. Revising paragraphs (a)(5) and (6), (i)(3), (13), and (15), (j)(4) and (15), and (l)(2). The revisions read as follows: ■ ■ ■ § 92.22 Subsistence migratory bird species. * * * * * (a)(3) Canada goose (Branta canadensis). * * * * * (a)(5) Canada goose, subspecies Aleutian goose—except in the Semidi Islands. (a)(6) Canada goose, subspecies cackling goose—except no egg gathering is permitted. * * * * * (i)(3) Spotted sandpiper (Actitis macularius). * * * * * (i)(13) Wilson’s snipe (Gallinago delicata). * * * * * (i)(15) Red phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius). * * * * * (j)(4) Bonaparte’s gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia). * * * * * (j)(15) Aleutian tern (Onychoprion aleuticus). * * * * * (l)(2) Snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus). Subpart D—Annual Regulations Governing Subsistence Harvest 4. Amend subpart D by adding § 92.31 to read as follows: asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS ■ § 92.31 Region-specific regulations. The 2016 season dates for the eligible subsistence harvest areas are as follows: (a) Aleutian/Pribilof Islands Region. (1) Northern Unit (Pribilof Islands): (i) Season: April 2–June 30. (ii) Closure: July 1–August 31. (2) Central Unit (Aleutian Region’s eastern boundary on the Alaska VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:15 Dec 16, 2015 Jkt 238001 Peninsula westward to and including Unalaska Island): (i) Season: April 2–June 15 and July 16–August 31. (ii) Closure: June 16–July 15. (iii) Special Black Brant Season Closure: August 16–August 31, only in Izembek and Moffet lagoons. (iv) Special Tundra Swan Closure: All hunting and egg gathering closed in Game Management Units 9(D) and 10. (3) Western Unit (Umnak Island west to and including Attu Island): (i) Season: April 2–July 15 and August 16–August 31. (ii) Closure: July 16–August 15. (b) Yukon/Kuskokwim Delta Region. (1) Season: April 2–August 31. (2) Closure: 30-day closure dates to be announced by the Service’s Alaska Regional Director or his designee, after consultation with field biologists and the Association of Village Council President’s Waterfowl Conservation Committee. This 30-day period will occur between June 1 and August 15 of each year. A press release announcing the actual closure dates will be forwarded to regional newspapers and radio and television stations. (3) Special Black Brant and Cackling Goose Season Hunting Closure: From the period when egg laying begins until young birds are fledged. Closure dates to be announced by the Service’s Alaska Regional Director or his designee, after consultation with field biologists and the Association of Village Council President’s Waterfowl Conservation Committee. A press release announcing the actual closure dates will be forwarded to regional newspapers and radio and television stations. (c) Bristol Bay Region. (1) Season: April 2–June 14 and July 16–August 31 (general season); April 2–July 15 for seabird egg gathering only. (2) Closure: June 15–July 15 (general season); July 16–August 31 (seabird egg gathering). (d) Bering Strait/Norton Sound Region. (1) Stebbins/St. Michael Area (Point Romanof to Canal Point): (i) Season: April 15–June 14 and July 16–August 31. (ii) Closure: June 15–July 15. (2) Remainder of the region: (i) Season: April 2–June 14 and July 16–August 31 for waterfowl; April 2– July 19 and August 21–August 31 for all other birds. (ii) Closure: June 15–July 15 for waterfowl; July 20–August 20 for all other birds. (e) Kodiak Archipelago Region, except for the Kodiak Island roaded area, which is closed to the harvesting of migratory birds and their eggs. The closed area consists of all lands and PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 4702 78955 waters (including exposed tidelands) east of a line extending from Crag Point in the north to the west end of Saltery Cove in the south and all lands and water south of a line extending from Termination Point along the north side of Cascade Lake extending to Anton Larsen Bay. Marine waters adjacent to the closed area are closed to harvest within 500 feet from the water’s edge. The offshore islands are open to harvest. (1) Season: April 2–June 30 and July 31–August 31 for seabirds; April 2–June 20 and July 22–August 31 for all other birds. (2) Closure: July 1–July 30 for seabirds; June 21–July 21 for all other birds. (f) Northwest Arctic Region. (1) Season: April 2–June 9 and August 15– August 31 (hunting in general); waterfowl egg gathering May 20–June 9 only; seabird egg gathering May 20–July 12 only; hunting molting/non-nesting waterfowl July 1–July 31 only. (2) Closure: June 10–August 14, except for the taking of seabird eggs and molting/non-nesting waterfowl as provided in paragraph (f)(1) of this section. (g) North Slope Region. (1) Southern Unit (Southwestern North Slope regional boundary east to Peard Bay, everything west of the longitude line 158°30′ W. and south of the latitude line 70°45′ N. to the west bank of the Ikpikpuk River, and everything south of the latitude line 69°45′ N. between the west bank of the Ikpikpuk River to the east bank of Sagavinirktok River): (i) Season: April 2–June 29 and July 30–August 31 for seabirds; April 2–June 19 and July 20–August 31 for all other birds. (ii) Closure: June 30–July 29 for seabirds; June 20–July 19 for all other birds. (iii) Special Black Brant Hunting Opening: From June 20–July 5. The open area consists of the coastline, from mean high water line outward to include open water, from Nokotlek Point east to longitude line 158°30′ W. This includes Peard Bay, Kugrua Bay, and Wainwright Inlet, but not the Kuk and Kugrua river drainages. (2) Northern Unit (At Peard Bay, everything east of the longitude line 158°30′ W. and north of the latitude line 70°45′ N. to west bank of the Ikpikpuk River, and everything north of the latitude line 69°45′ N. between the west bank of the Ikpikpuk River to the east bank of Sagavinirktok River): (i) Season: April 2–June 6 and July 7– August 31 for king and common eiders; April 2–June 15 and July 16–August 31 for all other birds. E:\FR\FM\17DEP3.SGM 17DEP3 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 78956 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 242 / Thursday, December 17, 2015 / Proposed Rules (ii) Closure: June 7–July 6 for king and common eiders; June 16–July 15 for all other birds. (3) Eastern Unit (East of eastern bank of the Sagavanirktok River): (i) Season: April 2–June 19 and July 20–August 31. (ii) Closure: June 20–July 19. (4) All Units: Yellow-billed loons. Annually, up to 20 yellow-billed loons total for the region inadvertently entangled in subsistence fishing nets in the North Slope Region may be kept for subsistence use. (5) North Coastal Zone (Cape Thompson north to Point Hope and east along the Arctic Ocean coastline around Point Barrow to Ross Point, including Iko Bay, and 5 miles inland). (i) No person may at any time, by any means, or in any manner, possess or have in custody any migratory bird or part thereof, taken in violation of subpart C and D of this part. (ii) Upon request from a Service law enforcement officer, hunters taking, attempting to take, or transporting migratory birds taken during the subsistence harvest season must present them to the officer for species identification. (h) Interior Region. (1) Season: April 2–June 14 and July 16–August 31; egg gathering May 1–June 14 only. (2) Closure: June 15–July 15. (i) Upper Copper River Region (Harvest Area: Game Management Units 11 and 13) (Eligible communities: Gulkana, Chitina, Tazlina, Copper Center, Gakona, Mentasta Lake, Chistochina and Cantwell). (1) Season: April 15–May 26 and June 27–August 31. (2) Closure: May 27–June 26. (3) The Copper River Basin communities listed above also documented traditional use harvesting birds in Game Management Unit 12, making them eligible to hunt in this unit using the seasons specified in paragraph (h) of this section. (j) Gulf of Alaska Region. (1) Prince William Sound Area West (Harvest area: Game Management Unit 6[D]), (Eligible Chugach communities: Chenega Bay, Tatitlek): (i) Season: April 2–May 31 and July 1–August 31. (ii) Closure: June 1–30. (2) Prince William Sound Area East (Harvest area: Game Management Units VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:15 Dec 16, 2015 Jkt 238001 6[B]and [C]—Barrier Islands between Strawberry Channel and Softtuk Bar), (Eligible Chugach communities: Cordova): (i) Season: April 2–April 30 (hunting); May 1–May 31 (gull egg gathering). (ii) Closure: May 1–August 31 (hunting); April 2–30 and June 1– August 31 (gull egg gathering). (iii) Species Open for Hunting: Greater white-fronted goose; snow goose; gadwall; Eurasian and American wigeon; blue-winged and green-winged teal; mallard; northern shoveler; northern pintail; canvasback; redhead; ring-necked duck; greater and lesser scaup; king and common eider; harlequin duck; surf, white-winged, and black scoter; long-tailed duck; bufflehead; common and Barrow’s goldeneye; hooded, common, and redbreasted merganser; and sandhill crane. Species open for egg gathering: glaucous-winged, herring, and mew gulls. (iv) Use of Boats/All-Terrain Vehicles: No hunting from motorized vehicles or any form of watercraft. (v) Special Registration: All hunters or egg gatherers must possess an annual permit, which is available from the Cordova offices of the Native Village of Eyak and the U.S. Forest Service. (3) Kachemak Bay Area (Harvest area: Game Management Unit 15[C] South of a line connecting the tip of Homer Spit to the mouth of Fox River) (Eligible Chugach Communities: Port Graham, Nanwalek): (i) Season: April 2–May 31 and July 1–August 31. (ii) Closure: June 1–30. (k) Cook Inlet (Harvest area: Portions of Game Management Unit 16[B] as specified below) (Eligible communities: Tyonek only): (1) Season: April 2–May 31—That portion of Game Management Unit 16(B) south of the Skwentna River and west of the Yentna River, and August 1–31— That portion of Game Management Unit 16(B) south of the Beluga River, Beluga Lake, and the Triumvirate Glacier. (2) Closure: June 1–July 31. (l) Southeast Alaska. (1) Community of Hoonah (Harvest area: National Forest lands in Icy Strait and Cross Sound, including Middle Pass Rock near the Inian Islands, Table Rock in Cross Sound, and other traditional locations PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4701 Sfmt 9990 on the coast of Yakobi Island. The land and waters of Glacier Bay National Park remain closed to all subsistence harvesting (50 CFR part 100.3(a)): (i) Season: Glaucous-winged gull egg gathering only: May 15–June 30. (ii) Closure: July 1–August 31. (2) Communities of Craig and Hydaburg (Harvest area: Small islands and adjacent shoreline of western Prince of Wales Island from Point Baker to Cape Chacon, but also including Coronation and Warren islands): (i) Season: Glaucous-winged gull egg gathering only: May 15–June 30. (ii) Closure: July 1–August 31. (3) Community of Yakutat (Harvest area: Icy Bay (Icy Cape to Point Riou), and coastal lands and islands bordering the Gulf of Alaska from Point Manby southeast to and including Dry Bay): (i) Season: Glaucous-winged gull egg gathering: May 15–June 30. (ii) Closure: July 1–August 31. ■ 5. Amend subpart D by adding § 92.32 to read as follows: § 92.32 Emergency regulations to protect Steller’s eiders. Upon finding that continuation of these subsistence regulations would pose an imminent threat to the conservation of threatened Steller’s eiders (Polysticta stelleri), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Alaska Regional Director, in consultation with the Comanagement Council, will immediately under § 92.21 take action as is necessary to prevent further take. Regulation changes implemented could range from a temporary closure of duck hunting in a small geographic area to large-scale regional or Statewide long-term closures of all subsistence migratory bird hunting. These closures or temporary suspensions will remain in effect until the Regional Director, in consultation with the Co-management Council, determines that the potential for additional Steller’s eiders to be taken no longer exists. Dated: December 8, 2015. Karen Hyun, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. [FR Doc. 2015–31760 Filed 12–16–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P E:\FR\FM\17DEP3.SGM 17DEP3

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 242 (Thursday, December 17, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 78949-78956]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-31760]



[[Page 78949]]

Vol. 80

Thursday,

No. 242

December 17, 2015

Part III





Department of the Interior





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Fish and Wildlife Service





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50 CFR Part 92





Migratory Bird Subsistence Harvest in Alaska; Harvest Regulations for 
Migratory Birds in Alaska During the 2016 Season; Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 242 / Thursday, December 17, 2015 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 78950]]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 92

[Docket No. FWS-R7-MB-2015-0158; FF09M21200-156-FXMB1231099BPP0]
RIN 1018-BB10


Migratory Bird Subsistence Harvest in Alaska; Harvest Regulations 
for Migratory Birds in Alaska During the 2016 Season

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service or we) is 
proposing migratory bird subsistence harvest regulations in Alaska for 
the 2016 season. These proposed regulations allow for the continuation 
of customary and traditional subsistence uses of migratory birds in 
Alaska and prescribe regional information on when and where the 
harvesting of birds may occur. These proposed regulations were 
developed under a co-management process involving the Service, the 
Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and Alaska Native representatives. 
The rulemaking is necessary because the regulations governing the 
subsistence harvest of migratory birds in Alaska are subject to annual 
review. This rulemaking proposes region-specific regulations that would 
go into effect on April 2, 2016, and expire on August 31, 2016.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before 
February 16, 2016. We must receive requests for public hearings, in 
writing, at the address shown in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT by 
February 1, 2016.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. FWS-R7-
MB-2015-0158.
     U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, 
Attn: FWS-R7-MB-2015-0158; Division of Policy, Performance, and 
Management Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 5275 Leesburg 
Place, MS: BPHC; Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.
    We will not accept email or faxes. We will post all comments on 
http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any 
personal information you provide us (see the Public Comment Procedures 
section, below, for more information).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Donna Dewhurst, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 1011 E. Tudor Road, Mail Stop 201, Anchorage, AK 99503; (907) 
786-3499.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Public Comment Procedures

    To ensure that any action resulting from this proposed rule will be 
as accurate and as effective as possible, we request that you send 
relevant information for our consideration. The comments that will be 
most useful and likely to influence our decisions are those that you 
support by quantitative information or studies and those that include 
citations to, and analyses of, the applicable laws and regulations. 
Please make your comments as specific as possible and explain the basis 
for them. In addition, please include sufficient information with your 
comments to allow us to authenticate any scientific or commercial data 
you include.
    You must submit your comments and materials concerning this 
proposed rule by one of the methods listed above in the ADDRESSES 
section. We will not accept comments sent by email or fax or to an 
address not listed in ADDRESSES. If you submit a comment via http://www.regulations.gov, your entire comment--including any personal 
identifying information, such as your address, telephone number, or 
email address--will be posted on the Web site. When you submit a 
comment, the system receives it immediately. However, the comment will 
not be publicly viewable until we post it, which might not occur until 
several days after submission.
    If you mail or hand-carry a hardcopy comment directly to us that 
includes personal 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. To ensure that the 
electronic docket for this rulemaking is complete and all comments we 
receive are publicly available, we will post all hardcopy comments on 
http://www.regulations.gov.
    In addition, comments and materials we receive, as well as 
supporting documentation used in preparing this proposed rule, will be 
available for public inspection in two ways:
    (1) You can view them on http://www.regulations.gov. Search for 
FWS-R7-MB-2015-0158, which is the docket number for this rulemaking.
    (2) You can make an appointment, during normal business hours, to 
view the comments and materials in person at the Division of Migratory 
Bird Management, MS: MB, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-
3803; (703) 358-1714.

Public Availability of Comments

    As stated above in more detail, before including your address, 
phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information 
in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment--
including your personal identifying information--may be made publicly 
available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold 
your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot 
guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Why is this rulemaking necessary?

    This rulemaking is necessary because, by law, the migratory bird 
harvest season is closed unless opened by the Secretary of the 
Interior, and the regulations governing subsistence harvest of 
migratory birds in Alaska are subject to public review and annual 
approval. This rulemaking proposes regulations for the taking of 
migratory birds for subsistence uses in Alaska during the spring and 
summer of 2016. This proposed rule also sets forth a list of migratory 
bird season openings and closures in Alaska by region.

How do I find the history of these regulations?

    Background information, including past events leading to this 
rulemaking, accomplishments since the Migratory Bird Treaties with 
Canada and Mexico were amended, and a history, were originally 
addressed in the Federal Register on August 16, 2002 (67 FR 53511) and 
most recently on February 23, 2015 (80 FR 9392).
    Recent Federal Register documents and all final rules setting forth 
the annual harvest regulations are available at http://www.fws.gov/alaska/ambcc/regulations.htm or by contacting the person listed under 
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

What is the process for issuing regulations for the subsistence harvest 
of migratory birds in Alaska?

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service or we) is proposing 
migratory bird subsistence harvest regulations in Alaska for the 2016 
season. These proposed regulations allow for the continuation of 
customary and traditional subsistence uses of migratory birds in Alaska 
and prescribe regional information on when and where the harvesting of 
birds may occur. These proposed regulations were developed under a co-
management process

[[Page 78951]]

involving the Service, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and 
Alaska Native representatives.
    We opened the process to establish regulations for the 2016 spring 
and summer subsistence harvest of migratory birds in Alaska in a 
proposed rule published in the Federal Register on April 13, 2015 (80 
FR 19852), to amend 50 CFR part 20. While that proposed rule primarily 
addressed the regulatory process for hunting migratory birds for all 
purposes throughout the United States, we also discussed the background 
and history of Alaska subsistence regulations, explained the annual 
process for their establishment, and requested proposals for the 2016 
season. The rulemaking processes for both types of migratory bird 
harvest are related, and the April 13, 2015, proposed rule explained 
the connection between the two.
    The Alaska Migratory Bird Co-management Council (Co-management 
Council) held meetings on April 8-9, 2015, to develop recommendations 
for changes that would take effect during the 2016 harvest season. 
Changes were recommended for the permanent regulations in subparts A 
and C of 50 CFR part 92, and the consent agenda package of carry-over 
regulations was amended to request a limited emperor goose harvest for 
2016; these recommended changes were presented first to the Pacific 
Flyway Council and then to the Service Regulations Committee (SRC) for 
approval at the committee's meeting on July 31, 2015.

Who is eligible to hunt under these regulations?

    Eligibility to harvest under the regulations established in 2003 
was limited to permanent residents, regardless of race, in villages 
located within the Alaska Peninsula, Kodiak Archipelago, the Aleutian 
Islands, and in areas north and west of the Alaska Range (50 CFR 92.5). 
These geographical restrictions opened the initial migratory bird 
subsistence harvest to about 13 percent of Alaska residents. High-
populated, roaded areas such as Anchorage, the Matanuska-Susitna and 
Fairbanks North Star boroughs, the Kenai Peninsula roaded area, the 
Gulf of Alaska roaded area, and Southeast Alaska were excluded from 
eligible subsistence harvest areas.
    Based on petitions requesting inclusion in the harvest in 2004, we 
added 13 additional communities based on criteria set forth in 50 CFR 
92.5(c). These communities were Gulkana, Gakona, Tazlina, Copper 
Center, Mentasta Lake, Chitina, Chistochina, Tatitlek, Chenega, Port 
Graham, Nanwalek, Tyonek, and Hoonah, with a combined population of 
2,766. In 2005, we added three additional communities for glaucous-
winged gull egg gathering only, based on petitions requesting 
inclusion. These southeastern communities were Craig, Hydaburg, and 
Yakutat, with a combined population of 2,459, based on the latest 
census information at that time.
    In 2007, we enacted the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's 
request to expand the Fairbanks North Star Borough excluded area to 
include the Central Interior area. This action excluded the following 
communities from participation in this harvest: Big Delta/Fort Greely, 
Healy, McKinley Park/Village, and Ferry, with a combined population of 
2,812.
    In 2012, we received a request from the Native Village of Eyak to 
include Cordova, Alaska, for a limited season that would legalize the 
traditional gathering of gull eggs and the hunting of waterfowl during 
spring. This request resulted in a new, limited harvest of spring 
waterfowl and gull eggs starting in 2014.

What is different in the regulations for 2016?

Subpart A

    Under subpart A, General Provisions, we are proposing to amend 
Sec.  92.4 by adding a new definition for ``Edible meat'' and revising 
the definition for ``Nonwasteful taking.'' These changes were requested 
in 2014 by the Bristol Bay Regional Council, which recommended that all 
edible parts of migratory waterfowl must be salvaged when harvested. 
The topic was originally brought up by the Association of Village 
Council Presidents after an incident in their region where tundra swans 
were only breasted and the remainder of the bird was discarded. The 
concern was that ``indigenous inhabitants'' harvesters come from a 
variety of different cultures, and it was expressed that subsistence 
should involve retaining the whole bird for food and other uses.

Subpart C

    Under subpart C, General Regulations Governing Subsistence Harvest, 
we are proposing to amend Sec.  92.22, the list of birds open to 
subsistence harvest, by updating scientific names for six species and 
clarifying the nomenclature for Canada goose subspecies. These 
nomenclature updates come from the Service and the Alaska Department of 
Fish and Game.

Subpart D

    The regulations we are proposing for subpart D, Annual Regulations 
Governing Subsistence Harvest, are the same as the 2015 regulations. 
While we are not proposing any changes to the 2015 regulations for 
subpart D in this 2016 proposal, we provide information below on 
potential changes to the proposed regulations for this subpart in the 
2017 migratory bird subsistence harvest regulations in Alaska.
    The Co-management Council proposed a new emperor goose (Chen 
canagica) limited subsistence hunt for the 2016 season. Since 2012, the 
Co-management Council has received regulatory proposals from the Sun'aq 
Tribe of Kodiak, the Kodiak-Aleutians Subsistence Regional Advisory 
Council, the Yaquillrit Keutisti Council (Bristol Bay), and the Bering 
Strait/Norton Sound Migratory Bird Council (Kawerak) to open the 
harvest of emperor geese for the subsistence season. Since the hunting 
season has been closed since 1987 for emperor geese, the Co-management 
Council created a subcommittee to address these proposals. The emperor 
goose harvest is guided by the 2006 Pacific Flyway Management Plan and 
the 2005-2006 Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Goose Management Plan. Over 95 
percent of the emperor goose population breeds on the Yukon-Kuskowim 
Delta of Alaska, and most emperor geese winter in remote western Alaska 
with the remainder wintering in Russia. The Pacific Flyway Council 
recognizes the 3-year average abundance estimate derived from the 
emperor goose spring population survey on the Alaska Peninsula as the 
management index to guide harvest management decisions. The Pacific 
Flyway Council's Emperor Goose Management Plan and the Yukon-Kuskokwim 
Delta Goose Management Plan indicate that a harvest can be considered 
when the 3-year average abundance index is at least 80,000 birds. This 
threshold has not been reached since 1984, and Alaska Natives have 
questioned the survey methods used to determine the population index.
    In addition, two studies are being conducted concurrently by the 
Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The first study is 
designed to provide a comprehensive evaluation of all available emperor 
goose survey data and assess harvest potential of the population. The 
second study is designed to develop a Bayesian state space population 
model to improve estimates of population size by integrating current 
population assessment methods using all available

[[Page 78952]]

data sets. The model provides a framework from which to make inferences 
about survival rates, age structure, and population size. The results 
of these studies will assist in amending the management plans.
    The Service conducted the spring emperor goose survey April 25-28, 
2015, and results indicated that the 2015 spring index (98,155) was 23 
percent above the 2014 count (79,883), and 49 percent higher than the 
long-term (1981-2014) average (65,923). The most recent 3-year average 
count (2012, 2014, 2015) is 81,875 geese and the highest on record 
since 1984. Further, it is above the threshold for consideration of an 
open hunting season on emperor geese as specified in the Yukon-
Kuskokwim Delta Goose Management Plan and the Pacific Flyway Council 
Management Plan for emperor geese.
    As a result of this new information, the Co-management Council 
amended their motion of the consent agenda and proposed to add an 
allowance for a limited emperor goose harvest in 2016.
    The Pacific Flyway Council met in July 2015, and supported the Co-
management Council's recommendation to work with the State of Alaska 
and the Service to develop harvest regulations and monitoring for a 
limited emperor goose harvest in 2016. On July 31, 2015, the SRC 
supported the Co-management Council's proposed limited harvest of 
emperor geese for the 2016 Alaska spring and summer subsistence season. 
However, the approval was provisional based upon the following:
    (1) A limited harvest of 3,500 emperor geese to ensure that 
population growth continues toward the Flyway management plan 
objective;
    (2) A harvest allocation (e.g., an individual, family, or Village 
quota or permit hunt) that ensures harvest does not exceed 3,500;
    (3) Agreement on a monitoring program to index abundance of the 
emperor goose population; and
    (4) A revised Pacific Flyway Emperor Goose Management Plan 
including harvest allocation among all parties (including spring/summer 
and fall/winter), population objective, population monitoring, and 
thresholds for season restriction or closure.
    The harvest allocation design and harvest monitoring plan are to be 
completed by November 1, 2015. Additionally, there was an explicit 
statement that the limited, legalized harvest of 3,500 birds was not in 
addition to existing subsistence harvest (approximately 3,200 emperor 
geese). The 3,500 bird allowable harvest is to be allocated to 
subsistence users during the spring and summer subsistence season. The 
SRC suggested that the allowable harvest should be monitored to ensure 
it does not exceed 3,500 birds.
    On August 13-14, and September 21, 2015, the Co-management Council 
Native Caucus met separately and with all partners to discuss options 
available to limit and monitor the harvest, as well as options to 
allocate the 3,500 birds across the six regions where emperor geese 
occur. Given the limited time provided to address the four conditions 
placed on this new harvest by the SRC, all partners agreed that the 
best course of action would be to spend additional time working 
together to develop a culturally sensitive framework tailored to each 
participating region that conserves the population and adequately 
addresses the data needs of all partners. In support of this 
recommendation, the Co-management Council took action to: Postpone an 
emperor goose harvest until 2017; work with all partners to develop the 
harvest framework; and work with their Emperor Goose Subcommittee and 
the Pacific Flyway Council on updating the Pacific Flyway Emperor Goose 
Management Plan.

How will the Service ensure that the subsistence harvest will not raise 
overall migratory bird harvest or threaten the conservation of 
endangered and threatened species?

    We have monitored subsistence harvest for the past 25 years through 
the use of household surveys in the most heavily used subsistence 
harvest areas, such as the Yukon--Kuskokwim Delta. In recent years, 
more intensive surveys combined with outreach efforts focused on 
species identification have been added to improve the accuracy of 
information gathered from regions still reporting some subsistence 
harvest of listed or candidate species.

Spectacled and Steller's Eiders

    Spectacled eiders (Somateria fischeri) and the Alaska-breeding 
population of Steller's eiders (Polysticta stelleri) are listed as 
threatened species. Their migration and breeding distribution overlap 
with areas where the spring and summer subsistence migratory bird hunt 
is open in Alaska. Both species are closed to hunting, although harvest 
surveys and Service documentation indicate both species have been taken 
in several regions of Alaska.
    The Service has dual objectives and responsibilities for 
authorizing a subsistence harvest while protecting migratory birds and 
threatened species. Although these objectives continue to be 
challenging, they are not irreconcilable, provided that regulations 
continue to protect threatened species, measures to address documented 
threats are implemented, and the subsistence community and other 
conservation partners commit to working together. With these dual 
objectives in mind, the Service, working with North Slope partners, 
developed measures in 2009, to further reduce the potential for 
shooting mortality or injury of closed species. These conservation 
measures included: (1) Increased waterfowl hunter outreach and 
community awareness through partnering with the North Slope Migratory 
Bird Task Force; and (2) continued enforcement of the migratory bird 
regulations that are protective of listed eiders.
    This proposed rule continues to focus on the North Slope from 
Barrow to Point Hope because Steller's eiders from the listed Alaska 
breeding population are known to breed and migrate there. These 
regulations are designed to address several ongoing eider management 
needs by clarifying for subsistence users that (1) Service law 
enforcement personnel have authority to verify species of birds 
possessed by hunters, and (2) it is illegal to possess any species of 
bird closed to harvest. This rule also describes how the Service's 
existing authority of emergency closure would be implemented, if 
necessary, to protect Steller's eiders. We are always willing to 
discuss regulations with our partners on the North Slope to ensure 
protection of closed species as well as provide subsistence hunters an 
opportunity to harvest migratory birds in a way that maintains the 
culture and traditional harvest of the community. The proposed 
regulations pertaining to bag checks and possession of illegal birds 
are deemed necessary to monitor the number of closed eider species 
taken during the subsistence hunt.
    The Service is aware of and appreciates the considerable efforts by 
North Slope partners to raise awareness and educate hunters on 
Steller's eider conservation via the bird fair, meetings, radio shows, 
signs, school visits, and one-on-one contacts. We also recognize that 
no listed eiders have been documented shot from 2009 through 2012; 
however, one Steller's eider and one spectacled eider were found shot 
during the summer of 2013, and one Steller's eider was found shot in 
2014. In 2015, one spectacled eider was found dead, and it appeared to 
have been shot by a hunter. The Service acknowledges progress made with 
the other eider conservation measures, including partnering with the 
North Slope Migratory Bird Task Force, for increased waterfowl hunter 
awareness and

[[Page 78953]]

continued enforcement of the regulations. To reduce the threat of 
shooting mortality of threatened eiders, we continue to work with North 
Slope partners to conduct education and outreach. Conservation measures 
are being continued by the Service, with the amount of effort and 
emphasis being based on regulatory adherence. In addition, the 
emergency closure authority provides another level of assurance if an 
unexpected number of Steller's eiders are killed by shooting (50 CFR 
92.21 and 50 CFR 92.32).
    The longstanding general emergency closure provision at 50 CFR 
92.21 specifies that the harvest may be closed or temporarily suspended 
upon finding that a continuation of the regulation allowing the harvest 
would pose an imminent threat to the conservation of any migratory bird 
population. With regard to Steller's eiders, the proposed regulation at 
50 CFR 92.32, carried over from the past 5 years, clarifies that we 
will take action under 50 CFR 92.21 as is necessary to prevent further 
take of Steller's eiders, and that action could include temporary or 
long-term closures of the harvest in all or a portion of the geographic 
area open to harvest. When and if mortality of threatened eiders is 
documented, we will evaluate each mortality event by criteria such as 
cause, quantity, sex, age, location, and date. We will consult with the 
Co-management Council when we are considering an emergency closure. If 
we determine that an emergency closure is necessary, we will design it 
to minimize its impact on the subsistence harvest.

Endangered Species Act Consideration

    Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1536) requires 
the Secretary of the Interior to ``review other programs administered 
by him and utilize such programs in furtherance of the purposes of the 
Act'' and to ``insure that any action authorized, funded, or carried 
out * * * is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any 
endangered species or threatened species or result in the destruction 
or adverse modification of [critical] habitat. * * *'' Prior to 
issuance of annual spring and summer subsistence regulations, we would 
consult under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), to ensure that the 2016 
subsistence harvest is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence 
of any species designated as endangered or threatened, or modify or 
destroy its critical habitats, and that the regulations are consistent 
with conservation programs for those species. Consultation under 
section 7 of the Act for the annual subsistence take regulations may 
cause us to change these regulations. Our biological opinion resulting 
from the section 7 consultation is a public document available from the 
person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

Statutory Authority

    We derive our authority to issue these regulations from the 
Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, at 16 U.S.C. 712(1), which 
authorizes the Secretary of the Interior, in accordance with the 
treaties with Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Russia, to ``issue such 
regulations as may be necessary to assure that the taking of migratory 
birds and the collection of their eggs, by the indigenous inhabitants 
of the State of Alaska, shall be permitted for their own nutritional 
and other essential needs, as determined by the Secretary of the 
Interior, during seasons established so as to provide for the 
preservation and maintenance of stocks of migratory birds.''

Required Determinations

Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and 13563)

    Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and 
Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) will review all significant rules. The OIRA 
has determined that this proposed rule is not significant.
    Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of Executive Order 
12866 while calling for improvements in the nation's regulatory system 
to promote predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, 
most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory 
ends. The executive order directs agencies to consider regulatory 
approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of 
choice for the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, 
and consistent with regulatory objectives. Executive Order 13563 
emphasizes further that regulations must be based on the best available 
science and that the rulemaking process must allow for public 
participation and an open exchange of ideas. We have developed this 
rule in a manner consistent with these requirements.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Department of the Interior certifies that, if adopted, this 
rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities as defined under the Regulatory Flexibility 
Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). A regulatory flexibility analysis is not 
required. Accordingly, a Small Entity Compliance Guide is not required. 
This proposed rule would legalize a pre-existing subsistence activity, 
and the resources harvested will be consumed.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    This proposed rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the 
Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. This proposed rule:
    (a) Would not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million 
or more. It would legalize and regulate a traditional subsistence 
activity. It would not result in a substantial increase in subsistence 
harvest or a significant change in harvesting patterns. The commodities 
that would be regulated under this proposed rule are migratory birds. 
This proposed rule deals with legalizing the subsistence harvest of 
migratory birds and, as such, does not involve commodities traded in 
the marketplace. A small economic benefit from this proposed rule would 
derive from the sale of equipment and ammunition to carry out 
subsistence hunting. Most, if not all, businesses that sell hunting 
equipment in rural Alaska qualify as small businesses. We have no 
reason to believe that this proposed rule would lead to a 
disproportionate distribution of benefits.
    (b) Would not cause a major increase in costs or prices for 
consumers; individual industries; Federal, State, or local government 
agencies; or geographic regions. This proposed rule does not deal with 
traded commodities and, therefore, does not have an impact on prices 
for consumers.
    (c) Would not have significant adverse effects on competition, 
employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of 
U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises. This 
proposed rule deals with the harvesting of wildlife for personal 
consumption. It does not regulate the marketplace in any way to 
generate substantial effects on the economy or the ability of 
businesses to compete.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    We have determined and certified under the Unfunded Mandates Reform 
Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.) that this proposed rule would not impose a 
cost of $100 million or more in any given year on local, State, or 
tribal governments or private entities. The proposed rule does not have 
a significant or unique effect on State, local, or tribal governments 
or the private sector. A statement containing the information required 
by the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act is not required. Participation on 
regional management bodies and the Co-

[[Page 78954]]

management Council requires travel expenses for some Alaska Native 
organizations and local governments. In addition, they assume some 
expenses related to coordinating involvement of village councils in the 
regulatory process. Total coordination and travel expenses for all 
Alaska Native organizations are estimated to be less than $300,000 per 
year. In a notice of decision (65 FR 16405; March 28, 2000), we 
identified 7 to 12 partner organizations (Alaska Native nonprofits and 
local governments) to administer the regional programs. The Alaska 
Department of Fish and Game also incurs expenses for travel to Co-
management Council and regional management body meetings. In addition, 
the State of Alaska will be required to provide technical staff support 
to each of the regional management bodies and to the Co-management 
Council. Expenses for the State's involvement may exceed $100,000 per 
year, but should not exceed $150,000 per year. When funding permits, we 
make annual grant agreements available to the partner organizations and 
the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to help offset their expenses.

Takings (Executive Order 12630)

    Under the criteria in Executive Order 12630, this proposed rule 
would not have significant takings implications. This proposed rule is 
not specific to particular land ownership, but applies to the 
harvesting of migratory bird resources throughout Alaska. A takings 
implication assessment is not required.

Federalism (Executive Order 13132)

    Under the criteria in Executive Order 13132, this proposed rule 
does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the 
preparation of a federalism summary impact statement. We discuss 
effects of this proposed rule on the State of Alaska in the Unfunded 
Mandates Reform Act section above. We worked with the State of Alaska 
to develop these proposed regulations. Therefore, a federalism summary 
impact statement is not required.

Civil Justice Reform (Executive Order 12988)

    The Department, in promulgating this proposed rule, has determined 
that it will not unduly burden the judicial system and that it meets 
the requirements of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988.

Government-to-Government Relations With Native American Tribal 
Governments

    Consistent with Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249; November 6, 
2000), ``Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal 
Governments,'' and Department of Interior policy on Consultation with 
Indian Tribes (December 1, 2011), we will send letters to all 229 
Alaska Federally recognized Indian tribes. Consistent with 
Congressional direction (Public Law 108-199, div. H, Sec. 161, Jan. 23, 
2004, 118 Stat. 452; as amended by Public Law 108-447, div. H, title V, 
Sec. 518, Dec. 8, 2004, 118 Stat. 3267), we will be sending letters to 
approximately 200 Alaska Native corporations and other tribal entities 
in Alaska soliciting their input as to whether or not they would like 
the Service to consult with them on the 2016 migratory bird subsistence 
harvest regulations.
    We implemented the amended treaty with Canada with a focus on local 
involvement. The treaty calls for the creation of management bodies to 
ensure an effective and meaningful role for Alaska's indigenous 
inhabitants in the conservation of migratory birds. According to the 
Letter of Submittal, management bodies are to include Alaska Native, 
Federal, and State of Alaska representatives as equals. They develop 
recommendations for, among other things: seasons and bag limits, 
methods and means of take, law enforcement policies, population and 
harvest monitoring, education programs, research and use of traditional 
knowledge, and habitat protection. The management bodies involve 
village councils to the maximum extent possible in all aspects of 
management. To ensure maximum input at the village level, we required 
each of the 11 participating regions to create regional management 
bodies consisting of at least one representative from the participating 
villages. The regional management bodies meet twice annually to review 
and/or submit proposals to the Statewide body.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA)

    This proposed rule does not contain any new collections of 
information that require Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval 
under the PRA (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). We may not conduct or sponsor 
and you are not required to respond to a collection of information 
unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. OMB has 
reviewed and approved our collection of information associated with:
     Voluntary annual household surveys that we use to 
determine levels of subsistence take (OMB Control Number 1018-0124, 
expires June 30, 2016).
     Permits associated with subsistence hunting (OMB Control 
Number 1018-0075, expires February 29, 2016).

National Environmental Policy Act Consideration (42 U.S.C. 4321 et 
seq.)

    The annual regulations and options are considered in a October 2016 
environmental assessment, ``Managing Migratory Bird Subsistence Hunting 
in Alaska: Hunting Regulations for the 2016 Spring/Summer Harvest,'' 
dated October 9, 2015. Copies are available from the person listed 
under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT or at http://www.regulations.gov.

Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use (Executive Order 13211)

    Executive Order 13211 requires agencies to prepare Statements of 
Energy Effects when undertaking certain actions. This is not a 
significant regulatory action under this Executive Order; it would 
allow only for traditional subsistence harvest and improve conservation 
of migratory birds by allowing effective regulation of this harvest. 
Further, this proposed rule is not expected to significantly affect 
energy supplies, distribution, or use. Therefore, this action is not a 
significant energy action under Executive Order 13211, and a Statement 
of Energy Effects is not required.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 92

    Hunting, Treaties, Wildlife.

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, we propose to amend title 
50, chapter I, subchapter G, of the Code of Federal Regulations as 
follows:

PART 92--MIGRATORY BIRD SUBSISTENCE HARVEST IN ALASKA

0
1. The authority citation for part 92 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 703-712.

Subpart A--General Provisions

0
2. Amend Sec.  92.4 by adding, in alphabetical order, a definition for 
``Edible meat'' and revising the definition for ``Nonwasteful taking'' 
to read as follows:


Sec.  92.4  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Edible meat means the meat from the breast, back, thighs, legs, 
wings, gizzard, and heart. The head, neck, feet, other

[[Page 78955]]

internal organs, and skin are considered inedible byproducts, and not 
edible meat, for all provisions of this part.
* * * * *
    Nonwasteful taking means making a reasonable effort to retrieve all 
birds killed or wounded, and retaining all edible meat until the birds 
have been transported to the location where they will be consumed, 
processed, or preserved as human food.
* * * * *

Subpart C--General Regulations Governing Subsistence Harvest

0
3. Amend Sec.  92.22 by:
0
a. Revising paragraph (a)(3);
0
b. Removing and reserving paragraph (a)(4); and
0
c. Revising paragraphs (a)(5) and (6), (i)(3), (13), and (15), (j)(4) 
and (15), and (l)(2).
    The revisions read as follows:


Sec.  92.22  Subsistence migratory bird species.

* * * * *
    (a)(3) Canada goose (Branta canadensis).
* * * * *
    (a)(5) Canada goose, subspecies Aleutian goose--except in the 
Semidi Islands.
    (a)(6) Canada goose, subspecies cackling goose--except no egg 
gathering is permitted.
* * * * *
    (i)(3) Spotted sandpiper (Actitis macularius).
* * * * *
    (i)(13) Wilson's snipe (Gallinago delicata).
* * * * *
    (i)(15) Red phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius).
* * * * *
    (j)(4) Bonaparte's gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia).
* * * * *
    (j)(15) Aleutian tern (Onychoprion aleuticus).
* * * * *
    (l)(2) Snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus).

Subpart D--Annual Regulations Governing Subsistence Harvest

0
4. Amend subpart D by adding Sec.  92.31 to read as follows:


Sec.  92.31  Region-specific regulations.

    The 2016 season dates for the eligible subsistence harvest areas 
are as follows:
    (a) Aleutian/Pribilof Islands Region. (1) Northern Unit (Pribilof 
Islands):
    (i) Season: April 2-June 30.
    (ii) Closure: July 1-August 31.
    (2) Central Unit (Aleutian Region's eastern boundary on the Alaska 
Peninsula westward to and including Unalaska Island):
    (i) Season: April 2-June 15 and July 16-August 31.
    (ii) Closure: June 16-July 15.
    (iii) Special Black Brant Season Closure: August 16-August 31, only 
in Izembek and Moffet lagoons.
    (iv) Special Tundra Swan Closure: All hunting and egg gathering 
closed in Game Management Units 9(D) and 10.
    (3) Western Unit (Umnak Island west to and including Attu Island):
    (i) Season: April 2-July 15 and August 16-August 31.
    (ii) Closure: July 16-August 15.
    (b) Yukon/Kuskokwim Delta Region. (1) Season: April 2-August 31.
    (2) Closure: 30-day closure dates to be announced by the Service's 
Alaska Regional Director or his designee, after consultation with field 
biologists and the Association of Village Council President's Waterfowl 
Conservation Committee. This 30-day period will occur between June 1 
and August 15 of each year. A press release announcing the actual 
closure dates will be forwarded to regional newspapers and radio and 
television stations.
    (3) Special Black Brant and Cackling Goose Season Hunting Closure: 
From the period when egg laying begins until young birds are fledged. 
Closure dates to be announced by the Service's Alaska Regional Director 
or his designee, after consultation with field biologists and the 
Association of Village Council President's Waterfowl Conservation 
Committee. A press release announcing the actual closure dates will be 
forwarded to regional newspapers and radio and television stations.
    (c) Bristol Bay Region. (1) Season: April 2-June 14 and July 16-
August 31 (general season); April 2-July 15 for seabird egg gathering 
only.
    (2) Closure: June 15-July 15 (general season); July 16-August 31 
(seabird egg gathering).
    (d) Bering Strait/Norton Sound Region. (1) Stebbins/St. Michael 
Area (Point Romanof to Canal Point):
    (i) Season: April 15-June 14 and July 16-August 31.
    (ii) Closure: June 15-July 15.
    (2) Remainder of the region:
    (i) Season: April 2-June 14 and July 16-August 31 for waterfowl; 
April 2-July 19 and August 21-August 31 for all other birds.
    (ii) Closure: June 15-July 15 for waterfowl; July 20-August 20 for 
all other birds.
    (e) Kodiak Archipelago Region, except for the Kodiak Island roaded 
area, which is closed to the harvesting of migratory birds and their 
eggs. The closed area consists of all lands and waters (including 
exposed tidelands) east of a line extending from Crag Point in the 
north to the west end of Saltery Cove in the south and all lands and 
water south of a line extending from Termination Point along the north 
side of Cascade Lake extending to Anton Larsen Bay. Marine waters 
adjacent to the closed area are closed to harvest within 500 feet from 
the water's edge. The offshore islands are open to harvest.
    (1) Season: April 2-June 30 and July 31-August 31 for seabirds; 
April 2-June 20 and July 22-August 31 for all other birds.
    (2) Closure: July 1-July 30 for seabirds; June 21-July 21 for all 
other birds.
    (f) Northwest Arctic Region. (1) Season: April 2-June 9 and August 
15-August 31 (hunting in general); waterfowl egg gathering May 20-June 
9 only; seabird egg gathering May 20-July 12 only; hunting molting/non-
nesting waterfowl July 1-July 31 only.
    (2) Closure: June 10-August 14, except for the taking of seabird 
eggs and molting/non-nesting waterfowl as provided in paragraph (f)(1) 
of this section.
    (g) North Slope Region. (1) Southern Unit (Southwestern North Slope 
regional boundary east to Peard Bay, everything west of the longitude 
line 158[deg]30' W. and south of the latitude line 70[deg]45' N. to the 
west bank of the Ikpikpuk River, and everything south of the latitude 
line 69[deg]45' N. between the west bank of the Ikpikpuk River to the 
east bank of Sagavinirktok River):
    (i) Season: April 2-June 29 and July 30-August 31 for seabirds; 
April 2-June 19 and July 20-August 31 for all other birds.
    (ii) Closure: June 30-July 29 for seabirds; June 20-July 19 for all 
other birds.
    (iii) Special Black Brant Hunting Opening: From June 20-July 5. The 
open area consists of the coastline, from mean high water line outward 
to include open water, from Nokotlek Point east to longitude line 
158[deg]30' W. This includes Peard Bay, Kugrua Bay, and Wainwright 
Inlet, but not the Kuk and Kugrua river drainages.
    (2) Northern Unit (At Peard Bay, everything east of the longitude 
line 158[deg]30' W. and north of the latitude line 70[deg]45' N. to 
west bank of the Ikpikpuk River, and everything north of the latitude 
line 69[deg]45' N. between the west bank of the Ikpikpuk River to the 
east bank of Sagavinirktok River):
    (i) Season: April 2-June 6 and July 7-August 31 for king and common 
eiders; April 2-June 15 and July 16-August 31 for all other birds.

[[Page 78956]]

    (ii) Closure: June 7-July 6 for king and common eiders; June 16-
July 15 for all other birds.
    (3) Eastern Unit (East of eastern bank of the Sagavanirktok River):
    (i) Season: April 2-June 19 and July 20-August 31.
    (ii) Closure: June 20-July 19.
    (4) All Units: Yellow-billed loons. Annually, up to 20 yellow-
billed loons total for the region inadvertently entangled in 
subsistence fishing nets in the North Slope Region may be kept for 
subsistence use.
    (5) North Coastal Zone (Cape Thompson north to Point Hope and east 
along the Arctic Ocean coastline around Point Barrow to Ross Point, 
including Iko Bay, and 5 miles inland).
    (i) No person may at any time, by any means, or in any manner, 
possess or have in custody any migratory bird or part thereof, taken in 
violation of subpart C and D of this part.
    (ii) Upon request from a Service law enforcement officer, hunters 
taking, attempting to take, or transporting migratory birds taken 
during the subsistence harvest season must present them to the officer 
for species identification.
    (h) Interior Region. (1) Season: April 2-June 14 and July 16-August 
31; egg gathering May 1-June 14 only.
    (2) Closure: June 15-July 15.
    (i) Upper Copper River Region (Harvest Area: Game Management Units 
11 and 13) (Eligible communities: Gulkana, Chitina, Tazlina, Copper 
Center, Gakona, Mentasta Lake, Chistochina and Cantwell). (1) Season: 
April 15-May 26 and June 27-August 31.
    (2) Closure: May 27-June 26.
    (3) The Copper River Basin communities listed above also documented 
traditional use harvesting birds in Game Management Unit 12, making 
them eligible to hunt in this unit using the seasons specified in 
paragraph (h) of this section.
    (j) Gulf of Alaska Region. (1) Prince William Sound Area West 
(Harvest area: Game Management Unit 6[D]), (Eligible Chugach 
communities: Chenega Bay, Tatitlek):
    (i) Season: April 2-May 31 and July 1-August 31.
    (ii) Closure: June 1-30.
    (2) Prince William Sound Area East (Harvest area: Game Management 
Units 6[B]and [C]--Barrier Islands between Strawberry Channel and 
Softtuk Bar), (Eligible Chugach communities: Cordova):
    (i) Season: April 2-April 30 (hunting); May 1-May 31 (gull egg 
gathering).
    (ii) Closure: May 1-August 31 (hunting); April 2-30 and June 1-
August 31 (gull egg gathering).
    (iii) Species Open for Hunting: Greater white-fronted goose; snow 
goose; gadwall; Eurasian and American wigeon; blue-winged and green-
winged teal; mallard; northern shoveler; northern pintail; canvasback; 
redhead; ring-necked duck; greater and lesser scaup; king and common 
eider; harlequin duck; surf, white-winged, and black scoter; long-
tailed duck; bufflehead; common and Barrow's goldeneye; hooded, common, 
and red-breasted merganser; and sandhill crane. Species open for egg 
gathering: glaucous-winged, herring, and mew gulls.
    (iv) Use of Boats/All-Terrain Vehicles: No hunting from motorized 
vehicles or any form of watercraft.
    (v) Special Registration: All hunters or egg gatherers must possess 
an annual permit, which is available from the Cordova offices of the 
Native Village of Eyak and the U.S. Forest Service.
    (3) Kachemak Bay Area (Harvest area: Game Management Unit 15[C] 
South of a line connecting the tip of Homer Spit to the mouth of Fox 
River) (Eligible Chugach Communities: Port Graham, Nanwalek):
    (i) Season: April 2-May 31 and July 1-August 31.
    (ii) Closure: June 1-30.
    (k) Cook Inlet (Harvest area: Portions of Game Management Unit 
16[B] as specified below) (Eligible communities: Tyonek only):
    (1) Season: April 2-May 31--That portion of Game Management Unit 
16(B) south of the Skwentna River and west of the Yentna River, and 
August 1-31--That portion of Game Management Unit 16(B) south of the 
Beluga River, Beluga Lake, and the Triumvirate Glacier.
    (2) Closure: June 1-July 31.
    (l) Southeast Alaska. (1) Community of Hoonah (Harvest area: 
National Forest lands in Icy Strait and Cross Sound, including Middle 
Pass Rock near the Inian Islands, Table Rock in Cross Sound, and other 
traditional locations on the coast of Yakobi Island. The land and 
waters of Glacier Bay National Park remain closed to all subsistence 
harvesting (50 CFR part 100.3(a)):
    (i) Season: Glaucous-winged gull egg gathering only: May 15-June 
30.
    (ii) Closure: July 1-August 31.
    (2) Communities of Craig and Hydaburg (Harvest area: Small islands 
and adjacent shoreline of western Prince of Wales Island from Point 
Baker to Cape Chacon, but also including Coronation and Warren 
islands):
    (i) Season: Glaucous-winged gull egg gathering only: May 15-June 
30.
    (ii) Closure: July 1-August 31.
    (3) Community of Yakutat (Harvest area: Icy Bay (Icy Cape to Point 
Riou), and coastal lands and islands bordering the Gulf of Alaska from 
Point Manby southeast to and including Dry Bay):
    (i) Season: Glaucous-winged gull egg gathering: May 15-June 30.
    (ii) Closure: July 1-August 31.
0
5. Amend subpart D by adding Sec.  92.32 to read as follows:


Sec.  92.32  Emergency regulations to protect Steller's eiders.

    Upon finding that continuation of these subsistence regulations 
would pose an imminent threat to the conservation of threatened 
Steller's eiders (Polysticta stelleri), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service Alaska Regional Director, in consultation with the Co-
management Council, will immediately under Sec.  92.21 take action as 
is necessary to prevent further take. Regulation changes implemented 
could range from a temporary closure of duck hunting in a small 
geographic area to large-scale regional or Statewide long-term closures 
of all subsistence migratory bird hunting. These closures or temporary 
suspensions will remain in effect until the Regional Director, in 
consultation with the Co-management Council, determines that the 
potential for additional Steller's eiders to be taken no longer exists.

    Dated: December 8, 2015.
Karen Hyun,
Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and 
Parks.
[FR Doc. 2015-31760 Filed 12-16-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4333-15-P