Pacific Island Fisheries; 2017 Hawaii Kona Crab Annual Catch Limit and Accountability Measure, 60366-60368 [2017-27322]

Download as PDF 60366 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 243 / Wednesday, December 20, 2017 / Proposed Rules ethrower on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Submissions merely stating support for or opposition to the actions under consideration without providing supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in making a determination. Section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that determinations as to whether any species is an endangered or threatened species must be made ‘‘solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.’’ You may submit your information concerning these status reviews by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. If you submit information via http:// www.regulations.gov, your entire submission—including any personal identifying information—will be posted on the website. If you submit a hardcopy that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the top of your document that we withhold this personal identifying information from public review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We will post all hardcopy submissions on http:// www.regulations.gov. It is important to note that the standard for a 90-day finding differs from the Act’s standard that applies to a status review to determine whether a petitioned action is warranted. In making a 90-day finding, we consider information in the petition and sources cited in the petition, as well as information which is readily available, and we evaluate merely whether that information constitutes ‘‘substantial information’’ indicating that the petitioned action ‘‘may be warranted.’’ In a 12-month finding, we must complete a thorough status review of the species and evaluate the ‘‘best scientific and commercial data available’’ to determine whether a petitioned action ‘‘is warranted.’’ Because the Act’s standards for 90-day and 12-month findings are different, a substantial 90day finding does not mean that the 12month finding will result in a ‘‘warranted’’ finding. Conclusion On the basis of our evaluation of the information presented in the petitions under section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act, we have determined that the petitions referenced above for the oblong rocksnail, sturgeon chub, sicklefin chub, tricolored bat, and Venus flytrap present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the requested actions may be warranted. Because we have found that these petitions present substantial information indicating that the petitioned actions may be warranted, we are initiating status reviews to VerDate Sep<11>2014 22:03 Dec 19, 2017 Jkt 244001 determine whether these actions are warranted under the Act. At the conclusion of each status review, we will issue a finding, in accordance with section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act, as to whether or not the petitioned action is warranted. Authors The primary authors of this document are staff members of the Ecological Services Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Authority The authority for these actions is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Dated: October 23, 2017. James W. Kurth, Deputy Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, exercising the authority of the Director U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2017–27389 Filed 12–19–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 665 [Docket No. 170915903–7999–01] RIN 0648–XF706 Pacific Island Fisheries; 2017 Hawaii Kona Crab Annual Catch Limit and Accountability Measure National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce. ACTION: Proposed specification; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS proposes a 2017 annual catch limit (ACL) of 3,500 lb for Hawaii Kona Crab, and an accountability measure (AM) to correct or mitigate any overages of catch limits. The proposed ACL and AM support the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands. DATES: NMFS must receive comments by January 4, 2018. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2017–0120, by either of the following methods: • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#! docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20170120, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Send written comments to Michael D. Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Region (PIR), 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818. Instructions: NMFS may not consider comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on https://www.regulations.gov change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS prepared an environmental analysis that describes the potential impacts on the human environment that would result from the proposed ACL and AM. Copies of the environmental analyses and other supporting documents are available at https:// www.regulations.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah Ellgen, NMFS PIR Sustainable Fisheries, 808–725–5173. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Kona crab fishery in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (generally 3–200 nm from shore) around Hawaii is managed under Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the Hawaiian Archipelago (FEP). The Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) developed the FEP, and NMFS implemented the plan under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). The FEP contains a process for the Council and NMFS to specify ACLs and AMs; that process is codified at Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 665.4 (50 CFR 665.4). The regulations require NMFS to specify, every fishing year, an ACL for each stock and stock complex of management unit species (MUS) in an FEP, as recommended by the Council and considering the best available scientific, commercial, and other information about the fishery. If a fishery exceeds an ACL, the regulations require the Council to take action, which may include reducing the ACL for the subsequent fishing year by the amount of the overage, or other appropriate action. The Council recommended that NMFS specify an ACL of 3,500 lb of Hawaii Kona crab for fishing year 2017, which began on January 1 and ends on December 31. The Council based its ACL recommendation on a E:\FR\FM\20DEP1.SGM 20DEP1 ethrower on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 243 / Wednesday, December 20, 2017 / Proposed Rules recommendation of acceptable biological catch of 3,500 lb from its Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), and the results of an October 2015 stock assessment that included commercial catch data from 1970 through 2006. The stock assessment found that the Hawaii Kona crab stock had reached an overfished status (<50 percent of BMSY, biomass at maximum sustainable yield) in 2006, and was likely still overfished in 2010. The assessment also included biomass projections for 2010–2030 under three commercial landings scenarios: Zero lb, 7,000 lb, and 8,000 lb. Hawaii State law prohibits retention of female crabs, but the assessment results included both males and females combined. The assessment acknowledged that the 2010–2030 stock status projections did not account for the effects of the State prohibition after September 2006 and, as a result, the projections are associated with a high degree of uncertainty. At a constant zero-lb annual harvest rate, the assessment predicted that the Kona crab stock would recover from overfished levels after 2015. At a constant 7,000-lb annual commercial harvest rate, the assessment estimated that Kona crab biomass would increase above 50 percent of BMSY by 2030 but explained that, due to uncertainty, there was a chance that stock biomass could potentially decline to zero lb by 2020. At a constant 8,000-lb annual harvest rate, the assessment predicted that stock biomass could reach zero lb by 2020. In 2015, NMFS contracted the Center for Independent (CIE) experts to review the stock assessment. Both the CIE reviewers and NMFS Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) agreed with the evaluation of the fishery for 2006, and the conclusion that stock projections beyond 2006 probably do not accurately describe current Hawaii Kona crab stock size or structure. PIFSC also agreed with the CIE review that further work is needed to provide advice on the status of the population in more recent years. Therefore, PIFSC is planning to complete a benchmark assessment for Hawaii Kona crab in 2019, which could be available for management use in fishing year 2020. In developing the proposed ACL recommendation, the Council also considered information indicating a 50:50 male to female landings ratio, and information suggesting that crabs disentangled from Kona crab may have injuries that could result in mortality rates as high as 100 percent if limbs are lost. Therefore, to meet the objective of rebuilding stock biomass to levels above 50 percent of BMSY, and limit total VerDate Sep<11>2014 22:03 Dec 19, 2017 Jkt 244001 fishing mortality to 7,000 lb, the Council recommended an ACL of 3,500 lb. As an AM, NMFS proposes to apply a three-year average catch to evaluate fishery performance against the proposed ACLs. Specifically, NMFS proposes to use the average catch of fishing years 2015, 2016, and 2017, to evaluate fishery performance against the 2017 ACL. If, after the end of the fishing year, NMFS and the Council determine that the three-year average catch exceeded the specified ACL, NMFS and the Council will reduce the ACL for that fishery by the amount of the overage in the subsequent year. The Council recommended an AM based on multiyear average catch data to reduce the influence of inter-annual variability in catch estimates in evaluating fishery performance against the ACL. NMFS will consider public comments on the proposed ACL and AM and will announce the final specification in the Federal Register. NMFS must receive any comments by the date provided in the DATES heading, not postmarked or otherwise transmitted by that date. Regardless of the final ACL and AM specification, all other management measures will continue to apply in the fisheries. Classification Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator for Fisheries has determined that this proposed specification is consistent with the FEP, other provisions of the MagnusonStevens Act, and other applicable laws, subject to further consideration after public comment. Certification of Finding of No Significant Impact on Substantial Number of Small Entities The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration that this proposed specification, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. A description of the proposed action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for it are contained in the preamble to this proposed specification. NMFS proposes to specify a 2017 annual catch limit (ACL) of 3,500 lb for Kona crab in Hawaii, as recommended by the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council). The 2017 proposed ACL is based on updated scientific information made available to NMFS. The proposed ACL is much lower than the ACL implemented each year from 2012 and 2015, which had been 27,600 lb. NMFS did not PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 60367 implement an ACL for this stock in 2016. This rule would affect participants in the commercial and non-commercial fisheries for Hawaii Kona crab. Kona crab landings averaged 2,658 lb from 2014–2016, with an estimated ex-vessel value of $20,965, based on a price of $5.99 per lb. The amount of Kona crab landed each year has generally declined since 2011, when 51 fishermen reported landing 10,883 lb. During the 2016 fishing year, 24 fishermen reported landing 2,577 lb. In 2015, 26 fishermen reported landing 2,332 lb. In 2014, 30 fishermen reported landing 3,067 lb. Based on available information, NMFS has determined that all vessels in the commercial and non-commercial fisheries for Kona crab are small entities under the Small Business Administration’s definition of a small entity. That is, they are engaged in the business of fish harvesting, independently owned or operated, not dominant in their field of operation, and have annual gross receipts not in excess of $11 million, the small business size standard for commercial fishing (NAICS Code: 11411). Therefore, there would be no disproportionate economic impacts between large and small entities. Furthermore, there would be no disproportionate economic impacts among the universe of vessels based on gear, home port, or vessel length. Even though this proposed action would apply to a substantial number of vessels, this action should not result in significant adverse economic impact to individual vessels. NMFS and the Council are not considering in-season closure in the Kona crab fisheries to which this ACL apply because fishery management agencies are not able to track catch relative to the ACLs during the fishing year. As a result, fishermen would be able to fish throughout the entire year. In addition, the ACLs, as proposed, would not change the gear types, areas fished, effort, or participation of the fishery during the 2017 fishing year. A post-season review of the catch data would be required to determine whether the fishery exceeded its ACL by comparing the ACL to the most recent three-year average catch for which data is available. If an ACL is exceeded, the Council and NMFS would take action in future fishing years to correct the operational issue that caused the ACL overage. NMFS and the Council would evaluate the environmental, social, and economic impacts of future actions, such as changes to future ACLs or AMs, after the required data are available. Specifically, if NMFS and the Council determine that the three-year average catch for a fishery exceeds the E:\FR\FM\20DEP1.SGM 20DEP1 60368 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 243 / Wednesday, December 20, 2017 / Proposed Rules ethrower on DSK3G9T082PROD with PROPOSALS specified ACL, NMFS would reduce the ACL for that fishery by the amount of the overage in the subsequent year. The proposed action does not duplicate, overlap, or conflict with other Federal rules and is not expected to have significant impact on small entities (as discussed above), organizations, or government jurisdictions. The proposed action also will not place a substantial number of small entities, or any segment VerDate Sep<11>2014 22:03 Dec 19, 2017 Jkt 244001 of small entities, at a significant competitive disadvantage to large entities. For the reasons above, NMFS does not expect the proposed action to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. As such, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared. This action is exempt from review under E.O. 12866. PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: December 14, 2017. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2017–27322 Filed 12–19–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\20DEP1.SGM 20DEP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 243 (Wednesday, December 20, 2017)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 60366-60368]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-27322]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 665

[Docket No. 170915903-7999-01]
RIN 0648-XF706


Pacific Island Fisheries; 2017 Hawaii Kona Crab Annual Catch 
Limit and Accountability Measure

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

ACTION: Proposed specification; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS proposes a 2017 annual catch limit (ACL) of 3,500 lb for 
Hawaii Kona Crab, and an accountability measure (AM) to correct or 
mitigate any overages of catch limits. The proposed ACL and AM support 
the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific 
Islands.

DATES: NMFS must receive comments by January 4, 2018.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2017-0120, by either of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0120, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Send written comments to Michael D. Tosatto, 
Regional Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Region (PIR), 1845 Wasp 
Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818.
    Instructions: NMFS may not consider comments sent by any other 
method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end 
of the comment period. All comments received are a part of the public 
record and will generally be posted for public viewing on https://www.regulations.gov change. All personal identifying information (e.g., 
name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise 
sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be 
publicly accessible.
    NMFS prepared an environmental analysis that describes the 
potential impacts on the human environment that would result from the 
proposed ACL and AM. Copies of the environmental analyses and other 
supporting documents are available at https://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah Ellgen, NMFS PIR Sustainable 
Fisheries, 808-725-5173.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Kona crab fishery in the U.S. Exclusive 
Economic Zone (generally 3-200 nm from shore) around Hawaii is managed 
under Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the Hawaiian Archipelago (FEP). The 
Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) developed the FEP, 
and NMFS implemented the plan under the authority of the Magnuson-
Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act).
    The FEP contains a process for the Council and NMFS to specify ACLs 
and AMs; that process is codified at Title 50, Code of Federal 
Regulations, Section 665.4 (50 CFR 665.4). The regulations require NMFS 
to specify, every fishing year, an ACL for each stock and stock complex 
of management unit species (MUS) in an FEP, as recommended by the 
Council and considering the best available scientific, commercial, and 
other information about the fishery. If a fishery exceeds an ACL, the 
regulations require the Council to take action, which may include 
reducing the ACL for the subsequent fishing year by the amount of the 
overage, or other appropriate action.
    The Council recommended that NMFS specify an ACL of 3,500 lb of 
Hawaii Kona crab for fishing year 2017, which began on January 1 and 
ends on December 31. The Council based its ACL recommendation on a

[[Page 60367]]

recommendation of acceptable biological catch of 3,500 lb from its 
Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), and the results of an 
October 2015 stock assessment that included commercial catch data from 
1970 through 2006. The stock assessment found that the Hawaii Kona crab 
stock had reached an overfished status (<50 percent of BMSY, 
biomass at maximum sustainable yield) in 2006, and was likely still 
overfished in 2010. The assessment also included biomass projections 
for 2010-2030 under three commercial landings scenarios: Zero lb, 7,000 
lb, and 8,000 lb.
    Hawaii State law prohibits retention of female crabs, but the 
assessment results included both males and females combined. The 
assessment acknowledged that the 2010-2030 stock status projections did 
not account for the effects of the State prohibition after September 
2006 and, as a result, the projections are associated with a high 
degree of uncertainty. At a constant zero-lb annual harvest rate, the 
assessment predicted that the Kona crab stock would recover from 
overfished levels after 2015. At a constant 7,000-lb annual commercial 
harvest rate, the assessment estimated that Kona crab biomass would 
increase above 50 percent of BMSY by 2030 but explained 
that, due to uncertainty, there was a chance that stock biomass could 
potentially decline to zero lb by 2020. At a constant 8,000-lb annual 
harvest rate, the assessment predicted that stock biomass could reach 
zero lb by 2020.
    In 2015, NMFS contracted the Center for Independent (CIE) experts 
to review the stock assessment. Both the CIE reviewers and NMFS Pacific 
Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) agreed with the evaluation of 
the fishery for 2006, and the conclusion that stock projections beyond 
2006 probably do not accurately describe current Hawaii Kona crab stock 
size or structure. PIFSC also agreed with the CIE review that further 
work is needed to provide advice on the status of the population in 
more recent years. Therefore, PIFSC is planning to complete a benchmark 
assessment for Hawaii Kona crab in 2019, which could be available for 
management use in fishing year 2020.
    In developing the proposed ACL recommendation, the Council also 
considered information indicating a 50:50 male to female landings 
ratio, and information suggesting that crabs disentangled from Kona 
crab may have injuries that could result in mortality rates as high as 
100 percent if limbs are lost. Therefore, to meet the objective of 
rebuilding stock biomass to levels above 50 percent of BMSY, 
and limit total fishing mortality to 7,000 lb, the Council recommended 
an ACL of 3,500 lb.
    As an AM, NMFS proposes to apply a three-year average catch to 
evaluate fishery performance against the proposed ACLs. Specifically, 
NMFS proposes to use the average catch of fishing years 2015, 2016, and 
2017, to evaluate fishery performance against the 2017 ACL. If, after 
the end of the fishing year, NMFS and the Council determine that the 
three-year average catch exceeded the specified ACL, NMFS and the 
Council will reduce the ACL for that fishery by the amount of the 
overage in the subsequent year. The Council recommended an AM based on 
multi-year average catch data to reduce the influence of inter-annual 
variability in catch estimates in evaluating fishery performance 
against the ACL.
    NMFS will consider public comments on the proposed ACL and AM and 
will announce the final specification in the Federal Register. NMFS 
must receive any comments by the date provided in the DATES heading, 
not postmarked or otherwise transmitted by that date. Regardless of the 
final ACL and AM specification, all other management measures will 
continue to apply in the fisheries.

Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 
NMFS Assistant Administrator for Fisheries has determined that this 
proposed specification is consistent with the FEP, other provisions of 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws, subject to further 
consideration after public comment.

Certification of Finding of No Significant Impact on Substantial Number 
of Small Entities

    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce 
certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration that this proposed specification, if adopted, would not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. A description of the proposed action, why it is being 
considered, and the legal basis for it are contained in the preamble to 
this proposed specification.
    NMFS proposes to specify a 2017 annual catch limit (ACL) of 3,500 
lb for Kona crab in Hawaii, as recommended by the Western Pacific 
Fishery Management Council (Council). The 2017 proposed ACL is based on 
updated scientific information made available to NMFS. The proposed ACL 
is much lower than the ACL implemented each year from 2012 and 2015, 
which had been 27,600 lb. NMFS did not implement an ACL for this stock 
in 2016.
    This rule would affect participants in the commercial and non-
commercial fisheries for Hawaii Kona crab. Kona crab landings averaged 
2,658 lb from 2014-2016, with an estimated ex-vessel value of $20,965, 
based on a price of $5.99 per lb. The amount of Kona crab landed each 
year has generally declined since 2011, when 51 fishermen reported 
landing 10,883 lb. During the 2016 fishing year, 24 fishermen reported 
landing 2,577 lb. In 2015, 26 fishermen reported landing 2,332 lb. In 
2014, 30 fishermen reported landing 3,067 lb.
    Based on available information, NMFS has determined that all 
vessels in the commercial and non-commercial fisheries for Kona crab 
are small entities under the Small Business Administration's definition 
of a small entity. That is, they are engaged in the business of fish 
harvesting, independently owned or operated, not dominant in their 
field of operation, and have annual gross receipts not in excess of $11 
million, the small business size standard for commercial fishing (NAICS 
Code: 11411). Therefore, there would be no disproportionate economic 
impacts between large and small entities. Furthermore, there would be 
no disproportionate economic impacts among the universe of vessels 
based on gear, home port, or vessel length.
    Even though this proposed action would apply to a substantial 
number of vessels, this action should not result in significant adverse 
economic impact to individual vessels. NMFS and the Council are not 
considering in-season closure in the Kona crab fisheries to which this 
ACL apply because fishery management agencies are not able to track 
catch relative to the ACLs during the fishing year. As a result, 
fishermen would be able to fish throughout the entire year. In 
addition, the ACLs, as proposed, would not change the gear types, areas 
fished, effort, or participation of the fishery during the 2017 fishing 
year. A post-season review of the catch data would be required to 
determine whether the fishery exceeded its ACL by comparing the ACL to 
the most recent three-year average catch for which data is available. 
If an ACL is exceeded, the Council and NMFS would take action in future 
fishing years to correct the operational issue that caused the ACL 
overage. NMFS and the Council would evaluate the environmental, social, 
and economic impacts of future actions, such as changes to future ACLs 
or AMs, after the required data are available. Specifically, if NMFS 
and the Council determine that the three-year average catch for a 
fishery exceeds the

[[Page 60368]]

specified ACL, NMFS would reduce the ACL for that fishery by the amount 
of the overage in the subsequent year.
    The proposed action does not duplicate, overlap, or conflict with 
other Federal rules and is not expected to have significant impact on 
small entities (as discussed above), organizations, or government 
jurisdictions. The proposed action also will not place a substantial 
number of small entities, or any segment of small entities, at a 
significant competitive disadvantage to large entities. For the reasons 
above, NMFS does not expect the proposed action to have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. As such, an 
initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has 
been prepared.
    This action is exempt from review under E.O. 12866.

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: December 14, 2017.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-27322 Filed 12-19-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P