Migratory Bird Subsistence Harvest in Alaska; Harvest Regulations for Migratory Birds in Alaska During the 2016 Season, 18781-18788 [2016-07398]

Download as PDF Lhorne on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 63 / Friday, April 1, 2016 / Rules and Regulations ‘‘California Regional Haze Plan,’’ adopted January 22, 2009. (e) 2008 Pb NAAQS: The 2011 Pb Infrastructure SIP, submitted on September 22, 2011, and the 2014 Multi-pollutant Infrastructure SIP, submitted on March 6, 2014, and the additional plan elements listed below meet the following specific requirements of Clean Air Act section 110(a)(2)(D)(i) for the 2008 Pb NAAQS. (1) The requirements of CAA section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) regarding significant contribution to nonattainment of the 2008 Pb NAAQS in any other State and interference with maintenance of the 2008 Pb NAAQS by any other State. (2) The requirements of section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II) regarding interference with any other state’s measures required under title I, part C of the Clean Air Act to prevent significant deterioration of air quality, except that these requirements are not fully met in the Air Pollution Control Districts (APCDs) or Air Quality Management Districts (AQMDs) listed in this paragraph. (i) Mendocino County AQMD (PSD requirements for a baseline date for PM2.5 increments, only) (ii) North Coast APCD (PSD requirements for the regulation of PM2.5, PM2.5 precursors, condensable PM2.5, PM2.5 increments, and NOX as an ozone precursor, only) (iii) Northern Sonoma County APCD (PSD requirements for a baseline date for PM2.5 increments, only) (iv) South Coast AQMD (PSD requirements for the NAAQS, only). (v) All other areas in California that are subject to the Federal PSD program as provided in 40 CFR 52.270. (3) The requirements of section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II) regarding interference with other states’ measures to protect visibility are met by chapter 3 (Emissions Inventory), chapter 4 (California 2018 Progress Strategy), and chapter 8 (Consultation) of the ‘‘California Regional Haze Plan,’’ adopted January 22, 2009. (f) 2010 NO2 NAAQS: The 2012 NO2 Infrastructure SIP, submitted on November 15, 2012, and the 2014 Multipollutant Infrastructure SIP, submitted on March 6, 2014, and the additional plan elements listed below meet the following specific requirements of Clean Air Act section 110(a)(2)(D)(i) for the 2010 NO2 NAAQS. (1) The requirements of CAA section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) regarding significant contribution to nonattainment of the 2010 NO2 NAAQS in any other State and interference with maintenance of the 2010 NO2 NAAQS by any other State. VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:14 Mar 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 (2) The requirements of section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II) regarding interference with any other state’s measures required under title I, part C of the Clean Air Act to prevent significant deterioration of air quality, except that these requirements are not fully met in the Air Pollution Control Districts (APCDs) or Air Quality Management Districts (AQMDs) listed in this paragraph. (i) Mendocino County AQMD (PSD requirements for a baseline date for PM2.5 increments, only) (ii) North Coast APCD (PSD requirements for the regulation of PM2.5, PM2.5 precursors, condensable PM2.5, PM2.5 increments, and NOX as an ozone precursor, only) (iii) Northern Sonoma County APCD (PSD requirements for a baseline date for PM2.5 increments, only) (iv) South Coast AQMD (PSD requirements for the NAAQS, only). (v) All other areas in California that are subject to the Federal PSD program as provided in 40 CFR 52.270. (3) The requirements of section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II) regarding interference with other states’ measures to protect visibility are met by chapter 3 (Emissions Inventory), chapter 4 (California 2018 Progress Strategy), and chapter 8 (Consultation) of the ‘‘California Regional Haze Plan,’’ adopted January 22, 2009. (g) 2010 SO2 NAAQS: The 2014 Multipollutant Infrastructure SIP, submitted on March 6, 2014, and the additional plan elements listed below meet the following specific requirements of Clean Air Act section 110(a)(2)(D)(i) for the 2010 SO2 NAAQS. (1) The requirements of section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II) regarding interference with any other state’s measures required under title I, part C of the Clean Air Act to prevent significant deterioration of air quality, except that these requirements are not fully met in the Air Pollution Control Districts (APCDs) or Air Quality Management Districts (AQMDs) listed in this paragraph. (i) Mendocino County AQMD (PSD requirements for a baseline date for PM2.5 increments, only) (ii) North Coast APCD (PSD requirements for the regulation of PM2.5, PM2.5 precursors, condensable PM2.5, PM2.5 increments, and NOX as an ozone precursor, only) (iii) Northern Sonoma County APCD (PSD requirements for a baseline date for PM2.5 increments, only) (iv) South Coast AQMD (PSD requirements for the NAAQS, only). (v) All other areas in California that are subject to the Federal PSD program as provided in 40 CFR 52.270. PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 18781 (2) The requirements of section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II) regarding interference with other states’ measures to protect visibility are met by chapter 3 (Emissions Inventory), chapter 4 (California 2018 Progress Strategy), and chapter 8 (Consultation) of the ‘‘California Regional Haze Plan,’’ adopted January 22, 2009. [FR Doc. 2016–07323 Filed 3–31–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P 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 Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service or we) is establishing migratory bird subsistence harvest regulations in Alaska for the 2016 season. These 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 regulations were developed under a comanagement 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 establishes region-specific regulations that will go into effect on April 2, 2016, and expire on August 31, 2016. DATES: The amendments to subpart D of 50 CFR part 92 are effective April 2, 2016, through August 31, 2016. The amendments to subparts A and C of 50 CFR part 92 are effective May 2, 2016. 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: SUMMARY: Why is this rulemaking necessary? This rulemaking is necessary because, by law, the migratory bird harvest E:\FR\FM\01APR1.SGM 01APR1 18782 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 63 / Friday, April 1, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 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 rule establishes regulations for the taking of migratory birds for subsistence uses in Alaska during the spring and summer of 2016. This rule also sets forth a list of migratory bird season openings and closures in Alaska by region. Lhorne on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES 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 establishing migratory bird subsistence harvest regulations in Alaska for the 2016 season. These 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 regulations were developed under a co-management process 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. VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:14 Mar 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 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. The Comanagement Council also amended the consent agenda package of carry-over regulations 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. On December 17, 2015, we published in the Federal Register a proposed rule (80 FR 78950) to amend 50 CFR part 92 to establish regulations for the 2016 spring and summer subsistence harvest of migratory birds in Alaska at subpart D, and to make certain changes to the permanent regulations at subparts A and C. 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, 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 PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 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 amending § 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 amending § 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 establishing for subpart D, Annual Regulations Governing Subsistence Harvest, are the same as the 2015 regulations. While we are not establishing any changes to the 2015 regulations for subpart D in this 2016 rule, we provide information below on potential changes to the 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 E:\FR\FM\01APR1.SGM 01APR1 Lhorne on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 63 / Friday, April 1, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 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 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:14 Mar 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 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 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, 2016. 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 PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 18783 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 final rule continues to focus on the North Slope from Barrow to Point E:\FR\FM\01APR1.SGM 01APR1 Lhorne on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES 18784 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 63 / Friday, April 1, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 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 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, continued enforcement of the regulations, and inseason verification of the harvest. To reduce the threat of shooting mortality of threatened eiders, we continue to work with North Slope partners to conduct education and outreach. 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). In-season harvest monitoring information will be used to evaluate the efficacy of regulations, conservation measures, and outreach efforts. Conservation measures are being continued by the Service, with the amount of effort and emphasis being based on regulatory adherence. VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:14 Mar 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 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 regulations at 50 CFR 92.32, carried over from the past 5 years, clarify 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. * * *’’ We conducted an intraagency consultation with the Service’s Fairbanks Fish and Wildlife Field Office on this harvest as it will be managed in accordance with this final rule and the conservation measures. The consultation was completed with a biological opinion dated December 18, 2015, that concluded the final rule and conservation measures are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of Steller’s and spectacled eiders or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat. Summary of Public Involvement On December 17, 2015, we published in the Federal Register a proposed rule (80 FR 78950) to establish spring and summer migratory bird subsistence harvest regulations in Alaska for the 2016 subsistence season. The proposed rule provided for a public comment period of 60 days, ending February 16, 2016. We posted an announcement of the comment period dates for the proposed rule, as well as the rule itself PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 and related historical documents, on the Co-management Council’s Internet homepage. We issued a press release announcing our request for public comments and the pertinent deadlines for such comments, which was faxed to the media Statewide in Alaska. Additionally, all documents were available on http://www.regulations.gov. The Service received two responses from the public. Response to Public Comments Comment: We received one comment on the overall regulations that expressed strong opposition to the concept of allowing any harvest of migratory birds in Alaska. Service Response: For centuries, indigenous inhabitants of Alaska have harvested migratory birds for subsistence purposes during the spring and summer months. The Canada and Mexico migratory bird treaties were amended for the express purpose of allowing subsistence hunting for migratory birds during the spring and summer. The amendments indicate that the Service should issue regulations allowing such hunting as provided in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; see 16 U.S.C. 712(1). Please refer to Statutory Authority section, below, for more details. Comment: We received one comment encouraging the use of steel shot in rural Alaska. Service Response: These subsistence regulations have prohibited the possession and use of non-toxic shot since the program’s inception in 2003. This has been a target of both outreach and enforcement through the years. Comment: We received one comment requesting the reinstatement of a mandatory Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (‘‘Duck Stamp’’) for hunters over 12 or 16 years of age. Service Response: On December 18, 2014, President Obama signed into law the Federal Duck Stamp Act of 2014 (Pub. L. 113–264). The Federal Duck Stamp Act of 2014 amends the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act (16 U.S.C. 718a–718k, as amended) by, among other things, adding an exemption from the requirement to purchase a Duck Stamp for rural Alaska subsistence users. Specifically, the Federal Duck Stamp Act of 2014 states that purchase of a Duck Stamp is not required ‘‘by a rural Alaska resident for subsistence uses (as that term is defined in section 803 of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act [ANILCA] (16 U.S.C. 3113)).’’ ANILCA (Pub. L. 96– 487, 94 Stat. 2371) is codified, as E:\FR\FM\01APR1.SGM 01APR1 Lhorne on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 63 / Friday, April 1, 2016 / Rules and Regulations amended, at 16 U.S.C. 410hh–3233 and 43 U.S.C. 1602–1784. To remove this exemption would require another congressional action. Comment: We received one comment encouraging more hunter education classes in rural areas. Service Response: Hunter education classes are coordinated and conducted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Comment: We received one comment saying we should encourage proper cooking and cleaning procedures and storage of harvested birds. Service Response: The annual public regulations booklet for the subsistence spring/summer migratory bird harvest has a special section on the last page dedicated to just these topics. Comment: We received one comment saying we should attempt to minimize use of trail vehicles and motorized equipment during the nesting season. Service Response: Access to nesting areas is dictated by the local land owner or manager. In the case of national wildlife refuges, contact the appropriate Service refuge office directly to discuss access issues. Comment: We received one comment saying that local populations of sea ducks as well as geese should be more protected. Service Response: Following declines from the 1960s to the 1980s, most sea duck and other waterfowl populations have stabilized. For example, the 2015 Environmental Assessment found that common eiders have increased since the mid-1990s, while king eiders have stabilized since 1996. Factors driving population fluctuations in sea duck populations are uncertain, but there is some evidence that sea ducks are responding to large scale changes in the marine environment. Harvested goose populations are all generally high or over management objectives. Total annual and long-term subsistence and sport harvest of waterfowl in Alaska and the Pacific Flyway are low relative to the size of their continental populations. In general, we do not set regulations to address waterfowl populations on a local scale because sport and subsistence harvest estimates and estimates of species abundance are very imprecise at local scales. We set subsistence harvest regulations on a regional or statewide level based on species or subspecies continental population status. We would welcome any suggestions on how to make our regulations more effective in conserving local populations of hunted birds. VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:14 Mar 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 18785 Statutory Authority Regulatory Flexibility Act 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.’’ 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 final rule would legalize a pre-existing subsistence activity, and the resources harvested will be consumed. Effective Date of This Rule The amendments to subpart D of 50 CFR part 92 will take effect less than 30 days after publication (see DATES, above). If there was a delay in the effective date of these regulations after this final rulemaking, subsistence hunters would not be able to take full advantage of their subsistence hunting opportunities. We therefore find that ‘‘good cause’’ exists justifying the earlier start date, within the terms of 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) of the Administrative Procedure Act, and under authority of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (July 3, 1918), as amended (16 U.S.C. 703–712). 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 rule is not significant. Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of E.O. 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. E.O. 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. PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act This rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. This rule: (a) Will not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more. It legalizes and regulates a traditional subsistence activity. It will not result in a substantial increase in subsistence harvest or a significant change in harvesting patterns. The commodities that will be regulated under this final rule are migratory birds. This 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 final rule will 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 final rule will lead to a disproportionate distribution of benefits. (b) Will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for consumers; individual industries; Federal, State, or local government agencies; or geographic regions. This final rule does not deal with traded commodities and, therefore, does not have an impact on prices for consumers. (c) Will 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 final 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 final rule will not impose a cost of $100 million or more in any given year on E:\FR\FM\01APR1.SGM 01APR1 18786 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 63 / Friday, April 1, 2016 / Rules and Regulations local, State, or tribal governments or private entities. The final 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 Comanagement 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 final rule will not have significant takings implications. This final 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. Lhorne on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES Federalism (Executive Order 13132) Under the criteria in Executive Order 13132, this final rule does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a federalism summary impact statement. We discuss effects of this final rule on the State of Alaska in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act section, above. We worked with the State of Alaska to develop these final regulations. Therefore, a federalism summary impact statement is not required. VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:14 Mar 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 Civil Justice Reform (Executive Order 12988) The Department, in promulgating this final 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), in January 2016, we sent letters via electronic mail to all 229 Alaska Federally recognized Indian tribes. Consistent with Congressional direction (Pub. L. 108–199, div. H, Sec. 161, Jan. 23, 2004, 118 Stat. 452, as amended by Pub. L. 108–447, div. H, title V, Sec. 518, Dec. 8, 2004, 118 Stat. 3267), we also sent 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 received one response that requested consultation. We conducted one consultation with a Native Traditional Council on February 16, 2016. The tribal contacts were happy with the information provided and did not have any specific comments on the 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 PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 management bodies meet twice annually to review and/or submit proposals to the Statewide body. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) This final 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 April 30, 2016). National Environmental Policy Act Consideration (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) The annual regulations and options are considered in an 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 final 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. Regulation Promulgation For the reasons set out in the preamble, we amend title 50, chapter I, subchapter G, of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows: E:\FR\FM\01APR1.SGM 01APR1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 63 / Friday, April 1, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 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. 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 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. Lhorne on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES * * * * * (a) * * * (3) Canada goose (Branta canadensis). * * * * * (5) Canada goose, subspecies Aleutian goose—except in the Semidi Islands. (6) Canada goose, subspecies cackling goose—except no egg gathering is permitted. * * * * * (i) * * * (3) Spotted sandpiper (Actitis macularius). * * * * * (13) Wilson’s snipe (Gallinago delicata). * * * * * (15) Red phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius). * * * * * (j) * * * 14:14 Mar 31, 2016 Subpart D—Annual Regulations Governing Subsistence Harvest 4. Amend subpart D by adding § 92.31 to read as follows: ■ § 92.31 * VerDate Sep<11>2014 (4) Bonaparte’s gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia). * * * * * (15) Aleutian tern (Onychoprion aleuticus). * * * * * (l) * * * (2) Snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus). Jkt 238001 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 PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 18787 (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°3′ 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. E:\FR\FM\01APR1.SGM 01APR1 Lhorne on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES 18788 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 63 / Friday, April 1, 2016 / Rules and Regulations (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. (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 subparts 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:14 Mar 31, 2016 Jkt 238001 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 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. PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 9990 (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. 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: March 21, 2016. Karen Hyun, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. [FR Doc. 2016–07398 Filed 3–31–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P E:\FR\FM\01APR1.SGM 01APR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 63 (Friday, April 1, 2016)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 18781-18788]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-07398]


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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: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service or we) is 
establishing migratory bird subsistence harvest regulations in Alaska 
for the 2016 season. These 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 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 establishes 
region-specific regulations that will go into effect on April 2, 2016, 
and expire on August 31, 2016.

DATES: The amendments to subpart D of 50 CFR part 92 are effective 
April 2, 2016, through August 31, 2016. The amendments to subparts A 
and C of 50 CFR part 92 are effective May 2, 2016.

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: 

Why is this rulemaking necessary?

    This rulemaking is necessary because, by law, the migratory bird 
harvest

[[Page 18782]]

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 rule 
establishes regulations for the taking of migratory birds for 
subsistence uses in Alaska during the spring and summer of 2016. This 
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 establishing 
migratory bird subsistence harvest regulations in Alaska for the 2016 
season. These 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 regulations were developed under a co-management process 
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. The 
Co-management Council also amended the consent agenda package of carry-
over regulations 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.
    On December 17, 2015, we published in the Federal Register a 
proposed rule (80 FR 78950) to amend 50 CFR part 92 to establish 
regulations for the 2016 spring and summer subsistence harvest of 
migratory birds in Alaska at subpart D, and to make certain changes to 
the permanent regulations at subparts A and C.

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 amending 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 amending 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 establishing for subpart D, Annual 
Regulations Governing Subsistence Harvest, are the same as the 2015 
regulations. While we are not establishing any changes to the 2015 
regulations for subpart D in this 2016 rule, we provide information 
below on potential changes to the 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

[[Page 18783]]

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 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 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, 2016. 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 final rule continues to focus on the North Slope from Barrow 
to Point

[[Page 18784]]

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 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, continued enforcement of the regulations, and in-season 
verification of the harvest. To reduce the threat of shooting mortality 
of threatened eiders, we continue to work with North Slope partners to 
conduct education and outreach. 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).
    In-season harvest monitoring information will be used to evaluate 
the efficacy of regulations, conservation measures, and outreach 
efforts. Conservation measures are being continued by the Service, with 
the amount of effort and emphasis being based on regulatory adherence.
    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 regulations at 50 CFR 
92.32, carried over from the past 5 years, clarify 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. * * *'' We conducted an 
intra-agency consultation with the Service's Fairbanks Fish and 
Wildlife Field Office on this harvest as it will be managed in 
accordance with this final rule and the conservation measures. The 
consultation was completed with a biological opinion dated December 18, 
2015, that concluded the final rule and conservation measures are not 
likely to jeopardize the continued existence of Steller's and 
spectacled eiders or result in the destruction or adverse modification 
of designated critical habitat.

Summary of Public Involvement

    On December 17, 2015, we published in the Federal Register a 
proposed rule (80 FR 78950) to establish spring and summer migratory 
bird subsistence harvest regulations in Alaska for the 2016 subsistence 
season. The proposed rule provided for a public comment period of 60 
days, ending February 16, 2016. We posted an announcement of the 
comment period dates for the proposed rule, as well as the rule itself 
and related historical documents, on the Co-management Council's 
Internet homepage. We issued a press release announcing our request for 
public comments and the pertinent deadlines for such comments, which 
was faxed to the media Statewide in Alaska. Additionally, all documents 
were available on http://www.regulations.gov. The Service received two 
responses from the public.

Response to Public Comments

    Comment: We received one comment on the overall regulations that 
expressed strong opposition to the concept of allowing any harvest of 
migratory birds in Alaska.
    Service Response: For centuries, indigenous inhabitants of Alaska 
have harvested migratory birds for subsistence purposes during the 
spring and summer months. The Canada and Mexico migratory bird treaties 
were amended for the express purpose of allowing subsistence hunting 
for migratory birds during the spring and summer. The amendments 
indicate that the Service should issue regulations allowing such 
hunting as provided in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; see 16 U.S.C. 
712(1). Please refer to Statutory Authority section, below, for more 
details.
    Comment: We received one comment encouraging the use of steel shot 
in rural Alaska.
    Service Response: These subsistence regulations have prohibited the 
possession and use of non-toxic shot since the program's inception in 
2003. This has been a target of both outreach and enforcement through 
the years.
    Comment: We received one comment requesting the reinstatement of a 
mandatory Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (``Duck 
Stamp'') for hunters over 12 or 16 years of age.
    Service Response: On December 18, 2014, President Obama signed into 
law the Federal Duck Stamp Act of 2014 (Pub. L. 113-264). The Federal 
Duck Stamp Act of 2014 amends the Migratory Bird Hunting and 
Conservation Stamp Act (16 U.S.C. 718a-718k, as amended) by, among 
other things, adding an exemption from the requirement to purchase a 
Duck Stamp for rural Alaska subsistence users. Specifically, the 
Federal Duck Stamp Act of 2014 states that purchase of a Duck Stamp is 
not required ``by a rural Alaska resident for subsistence uses (as that 
term is defined in section 803 of the Alaska National Interest Lands 
Conservation Act [ANILCA] (16 U.S.C. 3113)).'' ANILCA (Pub. L. 96-487, 
94 Stat. 2371) is codified, as

[[Page 18785]]

amended, at 16 U.S.C. 410hh-3233 and 43 U.S.C. 1602-1784. To remove 
this exemption would require another congressional action.
    Comment: We received one comment encouraging more hunter education 
classes in rural areas.
    Service Response: Hunter education classes are coordinated and 
conducted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
    Comment: We received one comment saying we should encourage proper 
cooking and cleaning procedures and storage of harvested birds.
    Service Response: The annual public regulations booklet for the 
subsistence spring/summer migratory bird harvest has a special section 
on the last page dedicated to just these topics.
    Comment: We received one comment saying we should attempt to 
minimize use of trail vehicles and motorized equipment during the 
nesting season.
    Service Response: Access to nesting areas is dictated by the local 
land owner or manager. In the case of national wildlife refuges, 
contact the appropriate Service refuge office directly to discuss 
access issues.
    Comment: We received one comment saying that local populations of 
sea ducks as well as geese should be more protected.
    Service Response: Following declines from the 1960s to the 1980s, 
most sea duck and other waterfowl populations have stabilized. For 
example, the 2015 Environmental Assessment found that common eiders 
have increased since the mid-1990s, while king eiders have stabilized 
since 1996. Factors driving population fluctuations in sea duck 
populations are uncertain, but there is some evidence that sea ducks 
are responding to large scale changes in the marine environment. 
Harvested goose populations are all generally high or over management 
objectives. Total annual and long-term subsistence and sport harvest of 
waterfowl in Alaska and the Pacific Flyway are low relative to the size 
of their continental populations. In general, we do not set regulations 
to address waterfowl populations on a local scale because sport and 
subsistence harvest estimates and estimates of species abundance are 
very imprecise at local scales. We set subsistence harvest regulations 
on a regional or statewide level based on species or subspecies 
continental population status. We would welcome any suggestions on how 
to make our regulations more effective in conserving local populations 
of hunted birds.

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.''

Effective Date of This Rule

    The amendments to subpart D of 50 CFR part 92 will take effect less 
than 30 days after publication (see DATES, above). If there was a delay 
in the effective date of these regulations after this final rulemaking, 
subsistence hunters would not be able to take full advantage of their 
subsistence hunting opportunities. We therefore find that ``good 
cause'' exists justifying the earlier start date, within the terms of 5 
U.S.C. 553(d)(3) of the Administrative Procedure Act, and under 
authority of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (July 3, 1918), as amended 
(16 U.S.C. 703-712).

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 rule is not significant.
    Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of E.O. 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. E.O. 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 final rule would legalize a pre-existing subsistence activity, and 
the resources harvested will be consumed.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    This rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small 
Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. This rule:
    (a) Will not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million 
or more. It legalizes and regulates a traditional subsistence activity. 
It will not result in a substantial increase in subsistence harvest or 
a significant change in harvesting patterns. The commodities that will 
be regulated under this final rule are migratory birds. This 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 final rule will 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 final rule 
will lead to a disproportionate distribution of benefits.
    (b) Will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for 
consumers; individual industries; Federal, State, or local government 
agencies; or geographic regions. This final rule does not deal with 
traded commodities and, therefore, does not have an impact on prices 
for consumers.
    (c) Will 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 
final 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 final rule will not impose a cost 
of $100 million or more in any given year on

[[Page 18786]]

local, State, or tribal governments or private entities. The final 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-
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 final rule will 
not have significant takings implications. This final 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 final rule does 
not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation 
of a federalism summary impact statement. We discuss effects of this 
final rule on the State of Alaska in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act 
section, above. We worked with the State of Alaska to develop these 
final regulations. Therefore, a federalism summary impact statement is 
not required.

Civil Justice Reform (Executive Order 12988)

    The Department, in promulgating this final 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), in January 2016, we sent letters via 
electronic mail to all 229 Alaska Federally recognized Indian tribes. 
Consistent with Congressional direction (Pub. L. 108-199, div. H, Sec. 
161, Jan. 23, 2004, 118 Stat. 452, as amended by Pub. L. 108-447, div. 
H, title V, Sec. 518, Dec. 8, 2004, 118 Stat. 3267), we also sent 
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 received one response that 
requested consultation. We conducted one consultation with a Native 
Traditional Council on February 16, 2016. The tribal contacts were 
happy with the information provided and did not have any specific 
comments on the 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 final 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 April 30, 2016).

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

    The annual regulations and options are considered in an 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 final 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.

Regulation Promulgation

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

[[Page 18787]]

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 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).
* * * * *
    (5) Canada goose, subspecies Aleutian goose--except in the Semidi 
Islands.
    (6) Canada goose, subspecies cackling goose--except no egg 
gathering is permitted.
* * * * *
    (i) * * *
    (3) Spotted sandpiper (Actitis macularius).
* * * * *
    (13) Wilson's snipe (Gallinago delicata).
* * * * *
    (15) Red phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius).
* * * * *
    (j) * * *
    (4) Bonaparte's gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia).
* * * * *
    (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]3' 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.

[[Page 18788]]

    (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.
    (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 subparts 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: March 21, 2016.
Karen Hyun,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 2016-07398 Filed 3-31-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P