Migratory Bird Subsistence Harvest in Alaska; Harvest Regulations for Migratory Birds in Alaska During the 2019 Season, 12946-12952 [2019-06585]

Download as PDF 12946 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 64 / Wednesday, April 3, 2019 / Rules and Regulations a. In paragraph (d)(3)(i), add the words ‘‘with the Director, Office of Economics, Surface Transportation Board, Washington, DC,’’ after ‘‘shipper’’; ■ b. Remove paragraph (d)(3)(ii) and redesignate paragraph (d)(3)(iii) as paragraph (d)(3)(ii); ■ c. In paragraph (e)(2), remove the words ‘‘An original and 2 copies of the’’ and add in their place ‘‘The’’; and ■ d. In paragraph (g)(3), remove the words ‘‘An original and three (3) copies of the’’ and add in their place ‘‘The’’. ■ PART 1312—REGULATIONS FOR THE PUBLICATION, POSTING AND FILING OF TARIFFS FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF PROPERTY BY OR WITH A WATER CARRIER IN NONCONTIGUOUS DOMESTIC TRADE 44. The authority citation for part 1312 continues to read as follows: ■ [FR Doc. 2019–05831 Filed 4–2–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4915–01–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 92 [Docket No. FWS–R7–MB–2019–0005; FXMB12610700000–190–FF07M01000] RIN 1018–BD07 Authority: 49 U.S.C. 1321(a), 13702(a), 13702(b) and 13702(d). Migratory Bird Subsistence Harvest in Alaska; Harvest Regulations for Migratory Birds in Alaska During the 2019 Season § 1312.4 AGENCY: [Amended] 45. Amend § 1312.4 as follows: a. In paragraph (a)(1), remove ‘‘1925 K Street, NW,’’; ■ b. In paragraph (a)(2)(iii), remove the words ‘‘enclosed, the account number to be billed, or the credit card to be charged;’’ and add in their place ‘‘method of payment (pursuant to 49 CFR 1002.2(a)); and’’; ■ c. In paragraph (a)(2)(iv), remove ‘‘; and’’ and add in its place a period; and ■ d. Remove paragraph (a)(2)(v). ■ ■ PART 1313—RAILROAD CONTRACTS FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS 46. The authority citation for part 1313 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 49 U.S.C. 1321(a) and 10709. 47. In § 1313.4, revise paragraphs (a)(3)(iii) and (iv) and remove paragraph (a)(3)(v) to read as follows: ■ § 1313.4 Filing procedures and formats for contract summaries. khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES with the Board in a package marked ‘‘Confidential Rail Contract Material’’. If a complaint, petition, or reply is electronically filed, it must be designated as confidential in the Board’s e-filing system. * * * * * (a) * * * (3) * * * (iii) The filing fee enclosed (pursuant to 49 CFR 1002.2(a)); and (iv) The transmittal number if the filer utilizes transmittal numbers. * * * * * ■ 48. In § 1313.10, revise paragraph (a)(7) and remove paragraph (a)(8)(v) to read as follows: § 1313.10 Procedures for complaints and discovery. (a) * * * (7) Filings. If a complaint, petition, or reply is filed in paper, it must be filed VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:11 Apr 02, 2019 Jkt 247001 Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Interim rule. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service or we) is establishing migratory bird subsistence harvest regulations in Alaska for the 2019 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. The proposed rule for the 2019 season was delayed, requiring this interim rule to allow subsistence hunting to begin in April. We will respond to public comments, and based on public comments received, may revise this interim rule. DATES: This rule becomes effective on April 2, 2019. We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before May 3, 2019. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this interim rule by one of the following methods: • Federal eRulemaking Portal: https:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. FWS–R7–MB–2019–0005. • U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R7– MB–2019–0005; Division of Policy, SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00074 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Performance, and Management Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 5275 Leesburg Place, MS: BPHC; Falls Church, VA 22041–3803. We will not accept email or faxes. We will post all comments on https:// www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see Public Comments Solicited and Public Availability of Comments, below, for more information). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Eric J. Taylor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1011 E. Tudor Road, Mail Stop 201, Anchorage, AK 99503; (907) 786–3446. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Public Comments Solicited We solicit comments or suggestions from the public. To ensure that any action resulting from this interim rule will be as accurate and as effective as possible, we request that you send relevant information for our consideration. The comments that will be most useful and likely to influence our decisions are those that you support by quantitative information or studies and those that include citations to, and analyses of, the applicable laws and regulations. Please make your comments as specific as possible and explain the basis for them. In addition, please include sufficient information with your comments to allow us to authenticate any scientific or commercial data you include. You must submit your comments and materials concerning this interim rule by one of the methods listed above in ADDRESSES. We will not accept comments sent by email or fax or to an address not listed in ADDRESSES. If you submit a comment via https:// www.regulations.gov, your entire comment—including any personal identifying information, such as your address, telephone number, or email address—will be posted on the website. When you submit a comment, the system receives it immediately. However, the comment will not be publicly viewable until we post it, which might not occur until several days after submission. If you mail or hand-carry a hardcopy comment directly to us that includes personal information, you may request at the top of your document that we withhold this information from public review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. To ensure that the electronic docket for this rulemaking is complete and all comments we receive are publicly available, we will post all hardcopy comments on https:// www.regulations.gov. E:\FR\FM\03APR1.SGM 03APR1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 64 / Wednesday, April 3, 2019 / Rules and Regulations In addition, comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation used in preparing this interim rule, will be available for public inspection in two ways: (1) You can view them on https:// www.regulations.gov. Search for FWS– R7–MB–2019–0005, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. (2) You can make an appointment, during normal business hours, to view the comments and materials in person at the Division of Migratory Bird Management, MS: MB, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041–3803; (703) 358–1714. Public Availability of Comments As stated above in more detail, before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES Why is this rulemaking necessary? This rulemaking is necessary because, by law, the migratory bird harvest season is closed unless opened by the Secretary of the Interior, and the regulations governing subsistence harvest of migratory birds in Alaska are subject to public review and annual approval. This rule establishes regulations for the taking of migratory birds for subsistence uses in Alaska during the spring and summer of 2019. This rule also sets forth a list of migratory bird season openings and closures in Alaska by region. Need for Interim Rule To meet the April 2, 2019, opening season for Alaska subsistence harvest of migratory game birds, we are publishing an interim rule. We were not able to publish a proposed rule in 2019 due to unforeseen time constraints. We have engaged with stakeholders and they are understanding of this circumstance. We are providing an opportunity for public comment (30 days) with this interim rule (see DATES, above). This will help ensure that if we receive any public comments that we could propose those changes in the 2020 spring and summer subsistence harvest rule. Our February 1, 2018, proposed rule (83 FR 4623) provided the public the opportunity to comment on the provisions in this interim rule. For subpart D of part 92 in title 50 of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:11 Apr 02, 2019 Jkt 247001 Code of Federal Regulations (50 CFR part 92, subpart D), the provisions in this interim rule are the same as those set forth in our March 30, 2018, final rule (83 FR 13684); the amendments in the March 30, 2018, final rule to 50 CFR part 92, subpart C do not need to be readopted here. The March 30, 2018, final rule is the most recent Alaska migratory bird subsistence harvest final rule, and the public is familiar with it, having already commented on it. The public, having commented on the 2018 final rule and other previous final rules, also had an opportunity to comment on the substance of the current interim rule. We also addressed the three relevant comments received in the 2018 final rule. Furthermore, these Alaska subsistence harvest regulations have generally been similar the past several years, and with no significant controversy from the public. We do not intend to use an interim rule again for this purpose, as doing so prevents modifications to the regulations implemented in consultation with the Alaskan communities. We regret any confusion that this deviation from the normal rulemaking process may cause. In future Alaska migratory bird subsistence harvest rulemaking actions, we expect to have a proposed rule earlier in the process to ensure meeting the April 2 opening date for the season. Again, it would not be possible for us to publish a proposed rule, with a 30day comment period, and then publish a final rule, by April 2. Therefore, without this interim rule, the subsistence hunting of migratory birds in Alaska during the normal season, which begins on April 2 each year, would be in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA; 16 U.S.C. 703– 712). To respect the subsistence hunt of many rural Alaskans, either for their cultural or religious exercise, sustenance, and/or materials for cultural use (e.g., handicrafts), the Department of the Interior finds that it is in the public interest to publish this interim rule. Under 5 U.S.C. 553(b), the Administrative Procedure Act allows an agency to make a rule effective without a proposed rule for good cause if ‘‘contrary to the public interest.’’ We find that the delay associated with public comment on a proposed rule to open the Alaska migratory bird subsistence harvest by April 2 is contrary to the public interest, and therefore the ‘‘good cause’’ exception under 5 U.S.C. 553(b) applies. In addition, we have good cause to waive the standard 30-day effective date for this interim rule consistent with 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) of the Administrative Procedure Act, and this rule will, PO 00000 Frm 00075 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 12947 therefore, take effect on April 2, 2019. This rule relieves a restriction, as just described. Delaying the effective date for 30 days would have detrimental effects on Alaskans seeking to conduct subsistence harvest during the season that begins April 2, 2019, and on the businesses that support this activity. While we are taking these steps to ensure Alaskan subsistence hunters do not violate the MBTA, we invite public comment as described above in DATES and ADDRESSES. Following our consideration of the comments received, we will respond to public comments, and based on public comments received, may revise this interim rule. 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 March 30, 2018 (83 FR 13684). Recent Federal Register documents and all final rules setting forth the annual harvest regulations are available at https://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 is establishing migratory bird subsistenceharvest regulations in Alaska for the 2019 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 Alaska Migratory Bird Comanagement Council (Co-management Council) did not hold its annual spring meeting in 2018 due to budget constraints. The Co-management Council did consider two proposals to administratively correct two aspects of the closed season in the Yukon/ Kuskokwim Delta region in the 2019 regulations, and voted to approve these via teleconference and email. These proposals will be included in next year’s rulemaking. E:\FR\FM\03APR1.SGM 03APR1 12948 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 64 / Wednesday, April 3, 2019 / Rules and Regulations This Interim Rule This interim rule contains no changes from the final regulation amendments published on March 30, 2018 (83 FR 13684), for 50 CFR part 92, subpart D. khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES 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. The most populated portions of Alaska such as Anchorage, the Matanuska-Susitna and Fairbanks North Star boroughs, the Kenai Peninsula roaded area, the Gulf of Alaska roaded area, the town of Kodiak, and Southeast Alaska were excluded from eligible subsistence harvest areas. In response to petitions requesting inclusion in the harvest in 2004, we added 13 additional communities consistent with the criteria set forth at 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 glaucouswinged gull egg gathering only in response to petitions requesting inclusion. These southeastern communities were Craig, Hydaburg, and Yakutat, with a combined population of 2,459, according to 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. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:11 Apr 02, 2019 Jkt 247001 How will the service ensure that the subsistence migratory bird harvest complies with the migratory bird treaty act, and will not threaten the conservation of endangered and threatened species? We have monitored subsistence harvest for more than 25 years through the use of household surveys in the most heavily used subsistence harvest areas, such as the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Based on our monitoring of the migratory bird species and populations taken for subsistence, we find that this rule will provide for the preservation and maintenance of migratory bird stocks as required by the MBTA. The MBTA’s 16 U.S.C. 712(1) provision states that the Service, ‘‘is authorized 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.’’ Communication and coordination between the Service, the Co-management Council, and the Pacific Flyway Council have allowed us to set harvest regulations to ensure the long-term viability of the migratory bird stocks. In addition, Alaska migratory bird subsistence harvest rates have continued to decline since the inception of the subsistence-harvest program, reducing concerns about the program’s consistency with the preservation and maintenance of stocks of migratory birds. As for the ensuring the conservation of species listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), 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 are taken in several regions of Alaska. We have determined that this rule complies with the ESA (see Endangered Species Act Consideration discussion, below). 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 PO 00000 Frm 00076 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 challenging, they are not irreconcilable, provided that: (1) Regulations continue to protect threatened species; (2) measures to address documented threats are implemented; and (3) the subsistence community and other conservation partners commit to working together. With these 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 rule continues to focus on the North Slope from Utqiagvik (formerly known as Barrow) to Point Hope because Steller’s eiders from the listed Alaska breeding population are known to breed and migrate there, and harvest survey data and direct observations indicate take during subsistence harvest has occurred 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 will 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 while providing subsistence hunters an opportunity to maintain the culture and traditional migratory bird harvest of the community. These regulations pertaining to bag checks and possession of illegal birds are deemed necessary to monitor take of closed eider species during the subsistence hunt. In collaboration with North Slope partners, a number of conservation efforts have been implemented to raise awareness and educate hunters in and around Utqiagvik on Steller’s eider conservation via the local bird outreach festival, meetings, radio shows, signs, school visits, and one-on-one contacts. Limited intermittent monitoring on the North Slope, focused primarily at Utqiagvik, found no evidence that listed eiders were shot in 2009 through 2012; one Steller’s eider and one spectacled eider were found shot during the summer of 2013; one Steller’s eider was found shot in 2014; and no listed eiders E:\FR\FM\03APR1.SGM 03APR1 khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 64 / Wednesday, April 3, 2019 / Rules and Regulations were found shot in 2015 through 2018. Elsewhere in Alaska, one spectacled eider that appeared to have been shot was found dead on the YukonKuskokwim Delta in 2015. The Service notes that progress is being 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. However, Service staff have documented significant availability of lead shot in waterfowl rounds for sale in communities on the YukonKuskokwim Delta and North Slope. Mortality, sickness, and poisoning from lead exposure have been documented in many waterfowl species, including threatened spectacled and Steller’s eiders. Lead shot has been banned nationally for waterfowl hunting since 1991, and this ban is further supported by local bans proposed by the North Slope Borough Fish and Wildlife Management Committee and the Association of Village Council Presidents—Waterfowl Conservation Committee since 2006 and 2007, respectively. The Service will work with partners and to increase our education, outreach, and enforcement efforts to ensure these bans are effective, and that subsistence waterfowl hunting is conducted using nontoxic shot. The longstanding general emergencyclosure 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 8 years, clarify that we would 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 would evaluate each mortality event by criteria such as cause, quantity, sex, age, location, and date. We would consult with the Comanagement Council when we are considering an emergency closure. If we determine that an emergency closure is necessary, we would 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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:11 Apr 02, 2019 Jkt 247001 Secretary of the Interior to ‘‘review other programs administered by him (or her) 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 interim rule. The consultation was completed with a biological opinion that concluded the interim 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. Based on comments submitted, we may confirm this finding in our future notice responding to public comments. Statutory Authority We derive our authority to issue these regulations from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, at 16 U.S.C. 712(1), which authorizes the Secretary of the Interior, in accordance with the treaties with Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Russia, to ‘‘issue such regulations as may be necessary to assure that the taking of migratory birds and the collection of their eggs, by the indigenous inhabitants of the State of Alaska, shall be permitted for their own nutritional and other essential needs, as determined by the Secretary of the Interior, during seasons established so as to provide for the preservation and maintenance of stocks of migratory birds.’’ Required Determinations Executive Order 13771—Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs This rule is not subject to the requirements of Executive Order 13771 (82 FR 9339, February 3, 2017) because this rule establishes annual harvest limits related to routine hunting or fishing. 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. 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, PO 00000 Frm 00077 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 12949 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 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 rule legalizes 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 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 rule derives 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 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 rule does not deal with traded commodities and, therefore, will not have an impact on prices for consumers. E:\FR\FM\03APR1.SGM 03APR1 12950 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 64 / Wednesday, April 3, 2019 / Rules and Regulations (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 rule deals with the harvesting of wildlife for personal consumption. It will not regulate the marketplace in any way to generate substantial effects on the economy or the ability of businesses to compete. khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES Unfunded Mandates Reform Act We have determined and certified under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.) that this rule will not impose a cost of $100 million or more in any given year on local, State, or tribal governments or private entities. The rule will 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 would 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 rule will not have significant takings implications. This 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. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:11 Apr 02, 2019 Jkt 247001 Federalism (Executive Order 13132) Under the criteria in Executive Order 13132, this rule does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a federalism summary impact statement. We discuss effects of this rule on the State of Alaska in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act section, above. We worked with the State of Alaska to develop these regulations. Therefore, a federalism summary impact statement is not required. Civil Justice Reform (Executive Order 12988) The Department, in promulgating this 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 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. In accordance with the President’s memorandum of April 29, 1994, ‘‘Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments’’ (59 FR 22951), E.O. 13175, and 512 DM 2, we are evaluating possible effects on Federally recognized Indian tribes. The provisions in this Interim Rule are the same as those set forth in last year’s final Rule, where we consulted with the tribes. This rulemaking process is collaborative with the PO 00000 Frm 00078 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Tribes, and we will continue to consult with the Tribes as we affirm the Interim Rule. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) This 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.). OMB has previously approved the information collection requirements associated with voluntary annual household surveys used to determine levels of subsistence take and assigned OMB Control No. 1018–0124 (expires 10/31/2019). You may view the information collection requirements at https://www.reginfo.gov/ public/do/PRAMain. 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. National Environmental Policy Act Consideration (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) The annual regulations and options are considered in an October 2018 environmental assessment, ‘‘Managing Migratory Bird Subsistence Hunting in Alaska: Hunting Regulations for the 2019 Spring/Summer Harvest.’’ Copies are available from the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT or at https:// 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 allows only for traditional subsistence harvest and improves conservation of migratory birds by allowing effective regulation of this harvest. Further, this 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: PART 92—MIGRATORY BIRD SUBSISTENCE HARVEST IN ALASKA 1. The authority citation for part 92 continues to read as follows: ■ E:\FR\FM\03APR1.SGM 03APR1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 64 / Wednesday, April 3, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Authority: 16 U.S.C. 703–712. Subpart D—Annual Regulations Governing Subsistence Harvest 2. Amend subpart D by adding § 92.31 to read as follows: ■ khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES § 92.31 Region-specific regulations. The 2019 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 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): VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:11 Apr 02, 2019 Jkt 247001 (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 14 and July 16– August 31 (hunting in general); waterfowl egg gathering April 2–June 14 only; seabird egg gathering May 20–July 12 only; hunting molting/non-nesting waterfowl July 1–July 15 only. (2) Closure: June 15–July 15, except for the taking of seabird eggs and molting/non-nesting waterfowl as provided in paragraph (f)(1) of this section. (g) North Slope region. (1) Southern Unit (Southwestern North Slope regional boundary east to Peard Bay, everything west of the longitude line 158°30′ W and south of the latitude line 70°45′ N to the west bank of the Ikpikpuk River, and everything south of the latitude line 69°45′ N between the west bank of the Ikpikpuk River to the east bank of Sagavinirktok River): (i) Season: April 2–June 29 and July 30–August 31 for seabirds; April 2–June 19 and July 20–August 31 for all other birds. (ii) Closure: June 30–July 29 for seabirds; June 20–July 19 for all other birds. (iii) Special Black Brant Hunting Opening: From June 20–July 5. The open area consists of the coastline, from mean high water line outward to include open water, from Nokotlek Point east to longitude line 158°30′ W. PO 00000 Frm 00079 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 12951 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 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 E:\FR\FM\03APR1.SGM 03APR1 khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES 12952 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 64 / Wednesday, April 3, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 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, Tatitlek, and Chenega Bay): (i) Season: April 2–April 30 (hunting); May 1–May 31 (gull egg gathering). (ii) Closure: May 1–August 31 (hunting); April 2–30 and June 1– August 31 (gull egg gathering). (iii) Species Open for Hunting: Greater white-fronted goose; snow goose; gadwall; Eurasian and American wigeon; blue-winged and green-winged teal; mallard; northern shoveler; northern pintail; canvasback; redhead; ring-necked duck; greater and lesser scaup; king and common eider; harlequin duck; surf, white-winged, and black scoter; long-tailed duck; bufflehead; common and Barrow’s goldeneye; hooded, common, and redbreasted merganser; and sandhill crane. Species open for egg gathering: glaucous-winged, herring, and mew gulls. (iv) Use of Boats/All-Terrain Vehicles: No hunting from motorized vehicles or any form of watercraft. (v) Special Registration: All hunters or egg gatherers must possess an annual permit, which is available from the Cordova offices of the Native Village of Eyak and the U.S. Forest Service. (3) Kachemak Bay Area (Harvest area: Game Management Unit 15[C] South of a line connecting the tip of Homer Spit to the mouth of Fox River) (Eligible Chugach Communities: Port Graham, Nanwalek): (i) Season: April 2–May 31 and July 1–August 31. (ii) Closure: June 1–30. (k) Cook Inlet (Harvest area: portions of Game Management Unit 16[B] as specified below) (Eligible communities: Tyonek only): (1) Season: April 2–May 31—That portion of Game Management Unit 16(B) south of the Skwentna River and west of the Yentna River, and August 1–31— That portion of Game Management Unit 16(B) south of the Beluga River, Beluga Lake, and the Triumvirate Glacier. (2) Closure: June 1–July 31. (l) Southeast Alaska. (1) Community of Hoonah (Harvest area: National Forest lands in Icy Strait and Cross Sound, including Middle Pass Rock near the Inian Islands, Table Rock in Cross Sound, and other traditional locations on the coast of Yakobi Island. The land and waters of Glacier Bay National Park VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:11 Apr 02, 2019 Jkt 247001 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. 3. 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 27, 2019. Margaret E. Everson, Principal Deputy Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Exercising the Authority of the Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [FR Doc. 2019–06585 Filed 4–1–19; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P PO 00000 Frm 00080 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 180831813–9170–02] RIN 0648–XG935 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pollock in Statistical Area 610 in the Gulf of Alaska National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; closure. AGENCY: NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for pollock in Statistical Area 610 in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the B season allowance of the 2019 total allowable catch of pollock for Statistical Area 610 in the GOA. DATES: Effective 1200 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), March 29, 2019, through 1200 hours, A.l.t., May 31, 2019. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Josh Keaton, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the GOA exclusive economic zone according to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP) prepared by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council under authority of the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Regulations governing fishing by U.S. vessels in accordance with the FMP appear at subpart H of 50 CFR part 600 and 50 CFR part 679. The B season allowance of the 2019 total allowable catch (TAC) of pollock in Statistical Area 610 of the GOA is 848 metric tons (mt) as established by the final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications for groundfish in the GOA (84 FR 9416, March 14, 2019). In accordance with § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B), the Regional Administrator hereby increases the B seasonal apportionment for Statistical Area 610 by 54 mt to account for the underharvest of the TAC in Statistical Area 630 in the A season. This increase is in proportion to the estimated pollock biomass and is not greater than 20 percent of the B seasonal apportionment of the TAC in Statistical Area 610. Therefore, the revised B seasonal apportionment of pollock TAC in Statistical Area 610 is 902 mt (848 mt plus 54 mt). In accordance with § 679.20(d)(1)(i), the Regional Administrator has SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\03APR1.SGM 03APR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 64 (Wednesday, April 3, 2019)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 12946-12952]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-06585]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 92

[Docket No. FWS-R7-MB-2019-0005; FXMB12610700000-190-FF07M01000]
RIN 1018-BD07


Migratory Bird Subsistence Harvest in Alaska; Harvest Regulations 
for Migratory Birds in Alaska During the 2019 Season

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Interim 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 2019 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. The proposed rule for the 2019 
season was delayed, requiring this interim rule to allow subsistence 
hunting to begin in April. We will respond to public comments, and 
based on public comments received, may revise this interim rule.

DATES: This rule becomes effective on April 2, 2019. We will accept 
comments received or postmarked on or before May 3, 2019.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this interim rule by one of the 
following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. FWS-R7-
MB-2019-0005.
     U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, 
Attn: FWS-R7-MB-2019-0005; Division of Policy, Performance, and 
Management Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 5275 Leesburg 
Place, MS: BPHC; Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.
    We will not accept email or faxes. We will post all comments on 
https://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any 
personal information you provide us (see Public Comments Solicited and 
Public Availability of Comments, below, for more information).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Eric J. Taylor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 1011 E. Tudor Road, Mail Stop 201, Anchorage, AK 99503; (907) 
786-3446.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Public Comments Solicited

    We solicit comments or suggestions from the public. To ensure that 
any action resulting from this interim rule will be as accurate and as 
effective as possible, we request that you send relevant information 
for our consideration. The comments that will be most useful and likely 
to influence our decisions are those that you support by quantitative 
information or studies and those that include citations to, and 
analyses of, the applicable laws and regulations. Please make your 
comments as specific as possible and explain the basis for them. In 
addition, please include sufficient information with your comments to 
allow us to authenticate any scientific or commercial data you include.
    You must submit your comments and materials concerning this interim 
rule by one of the methods listed above in ADDRESSES. We will not 
accept comments sent by email or fax or to an address not listed in 
ADDRESSES. If you submit a comment via https://www.regulations.gov, your 
entire comment--including any personal identifying information, such as 
your address, telephone number, or email address--will be posted on the 
website. When you submit a comment, the system receives it immediately. 
However, the comment will not be publicly viewable until we post it, 
which might not occur until several days after submission.
    If you mail or hand-carry a hardcopy comment directly to us that 
includes personal information, you may request at the top of your 
document that we withhold this information from public review. However, 
we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. To ensure that the 
electronic docket for this rulemaking is complete and all comments we 
receive are publicly available, we will post all hardcopy comments on 
https://www.regulations.gov.

[[Page 12947]]

    In addition, comments and materials we receive, as well as 
supporting documentation used in preparing this interim rule, will be 
available for public inspection in two ways:
    (1) You can view them on https://www.regulations.gov. Search for 
FWS-R7-MB-2019-0005, which is the docket number for this rulemaking.
    (2) You can make an appointment, during normal business hours, to 
view the comments and materials in person at the Division of Migratory 
Bird Management, MS: MB, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-
3803; (703) 358-1714.

Public Availability of Comments

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

Why is this rulemaking necessary?

    This rulemaking is necessary because, by law, the migratory bird 
harvest season is closed unless opened by the Secretary of the 
Interior, and the regulations governing subsistence harvest of 
migratory birds in Alaska are subject to public review and annual 
approval. This rule establishes regulations for the taking of migratory 
birds for subsistence uses in Alaska during the spring and summer of 
2019. This rule also sets forth a list of migratory bird season 
openings and closures in Alaska by region.

Need for Interim Rule

    To meet the April 2, 2019, opening season for Alaska subsistence 
harvest of migratory game birds, we are publishing an interim rule. We 
were not able to publish a proposed rule in 2019 due to unforeseen time 
constraints. We have engaged with stakeholders and they are 
understanding of this circumstance. We are providing an opportunity for 
public comment (30 days) with this interim rule (see DATES, above). 
This will help ensure that if we receive any public comments that we 
could propose those changes in the 2020 spring and summer subsistence 
harvest rule.
    Our February 1, 2018, proposed rule (83 FR 4623) provided the 
public the opportunity to comment on the provisions in this interim 
rule. For subpart D of part 92 in title 50 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations (50 CFR part 92, subpart D), the provisions in this interim 
rule are the same as those set forth in our March 30, 2018, final rule 
(83 FR 13684); the amendments in the March 30, 2018, final rule to 50 
CFR part 92, subpart C do not need to be readopted here. The March 30, 
2018, final rule is the most recent Alaska migratory bird subsistence 
harvest final rule, and the public is familiar with it, having already 
commented on it. The public, having commented on the 2018 final rule 
and other previous final rules, also had an opportunity to comment on 
the substance of the current interim rule. We also addressed the three 
relevant comments received in the 2018 final rule. Furthermore, these 
Alaska subsistence harvest regulations have generally been similar the 
past several years, and with no significant controversy from the 
public. We do not intend to use an interim rule again for this purpose, 
as doing so prevents modifications to the regulations implemented in 
consultation with the Alaskan communities. We regret any confusion that 
this deviation from the normal rulemaking process may cause. In future 
Alaska migratory bird subsistence harvest rulemaking actions, we expect 
to have a proposed rule earlier in the process to ensure meeting the 
April 2 opening date for the season.
    Again, it would not be possible for us to publish a proposed rule, 
with a 30-day comment period, and then publish a final rule, by April 
2. Therefore, without this interim rule, the subsistence hunting of 
migratory birds in Alaska during the normal season, which begins on 
April 2 each year, would be in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty 
Act (MBTA; 16 U.S.C. 703-712). To respect the subsistence hunt of many 
rural Alaskans, either for their cultural or religious exercise, 
sustenance, and/or materials for cultural use (e.g., handicrafts), the 
Department of the Interior finds that it is in the public interest to 
publish this interim rule. Under 5 U.S.C. 553(b), the Administrative 
Procedure Act allows an agency to make a rule effective without a 
proposed rule for good cause if ``contrary to the public interest.'' We 
find that the delay associated with public comment on a proposed rule 
to open the Alaska migratory bird subsistence harvest by April 2 is 
contrary to the public interest, and therefore the ``good cause'' 
exception under 5 U.S.C. 553(b) applies.
    In addition, we have good cause to waive the standard 30-day 
effective date for this interim rule consistent with 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) 
of the Administrative Procedure Act, and this rule will, therefore, 
take effect on April 2, 2019. This rule relieves a restriction, as just 
described. Delaying the effective date for 30 days would have 
detrimental effects on Alaskans seeking to conduct subsistence harvest 
during the season that begins April 2, 2019, and on the businesses that 
support this activity.
    While we are taking these steps to ensure Alaskan subsistence 
hunters do not violate the MBTA, we invite public comment as described 
above in DATES and ADDRESSES. Following our consideration of the 
comments received, we will respond to public comments, and based on 
public comments received, may revise this interim rule.

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 March 30, 2018 (83 FR 13684).
    Recent Federal Register documents and all final rules setting forth 
the annual harvest regulations are available at https://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 is establishing migratory bird 
subsistence-harvest regulations in Alaska for the 2019 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 Alaska Migratory Bird Co-management Council (Co-management 
Council) did not hold its annual spring meeting in 2018 due to budget 
constraints. The Co-management Council did consider two proposals to 
administratively correct two aspects of the closed season in the Yukon/
Kuskokwim Delta region in the 2019 regulations, and voted to approve 
these via teleconference and email. These proposals will be included in 
next year's rulemaking.

[[Page 12948]]

This Interim Rule

    This interim rule contains no changes from the final regulation 
amendments published on March 30, 2018 (83 FR 13684), for 50 CFR part 
92, subpart D.

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. The most 
populated portions of Alaska such as Anchorage, the Matanuska-Susitna 
and Fairbanks North Star boroughs, the Kenai Peninsula roaded area, the 
Gulf of Alaska roaded area, the town of Kodiak, and Southeast Alaska 
were excluded from eligible subsistence harvest areas.
    In response to petitions requesting inclusion in the harvest in 
2004, we added 13 additional communities consistent with the criteria 
set forth at 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 in response to petitions 
requesting inclusion. These southeastern communities were Craig, 
Hydaburg, and Yakutat, with a combined population of 2,459, according 
to 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.

How will the service ensure that the subsistence migratory bird harvest 
complies with the migratory bird treaty act, and will not threaten the 
conservation of endangered and threatened species?

    We have monitored subsistence harvest for more than 25 years 
through the use of household surveys in the most heavily used 
subsistence harvest areas, such as the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
    Based on our monitoring of the migratory bird species and 
populations taken for subsistence, we find that this rule will provide 
for the preservation and maintenance of migratory bird stocks as 
required by the MBTA. The MBTA's 16 U.S.C. 712(1) provision states that 
the Service, ``is authorized 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.'' Communication and 
coordination between the Service, the Co-management Council, and the 
Pacific Flyway Council have allowed us to set harvest regulations to 
ensure the long-term viability of the migratory bird stocks. In 
addition, Alaska migratory bird subsistence harvest rates have 
continued to decline since the inception of the subsistence-harvest 
program, reducing concerns about the program's consistency with the 
preservation and maintenance of stocks of migratory birds.
    As for the ensuring the conservation of species listed under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.), 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 are taken in 
several regions of Alaska. We have determined that this rule complies 
with the ESA (see Endangered Species Act Consideration discussion, 
below).
    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: (1) 
Regulations continue to protect threatened species; (2) measures to 
address documented threats are implemented; and (3) the subsistence 
community and other conservation partners commit to working together. 
With these 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 rule continues to focus on the North Slope from Utqiagvik 
(formerly known as Barrow) to Point Hope because Steller's eiders from 
the listed Alaska breeding population are known to breed and migrate 
there, and harvest survey data and direct observations indicate take 
during subsistence harvest has occurred 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 will 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 
while providing subsistence hunters an opportunity to maintain the 
culture and traditional migratory bird harvest of the community. These 
regulations pertaining to bag checks and possession of illegal birds 
are deemed necessary to monitor take of closed eider species during the 
subsistence hunt.
    In collaboration with North Slope partners, a number of 
conservation efforts have been implemented to raise awareness and 
educate hunters in and around Utqiagvik on Steller's eider conservation 
via the local bird outreach festival, meetings, radio shows, signs, 
school visits, and one-on-one contacts. Limited intermittent monitoring 
on the North Slope, focused primarily at Utqiagvik, found no evidence 
that listed eiders were shot in 2009 through 2012; one Steller's eider 
and one spectacled eider were found shot during the summer of 2013; one 
Steller's eider was found shot in 2014; and no listed eiders

[[Page 12949]]

were found shot in 2015 through 2018. Elsewhere in Alaska, one 
spectacled eider that appeared to have been shot was found dead on the 
Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in 2015.
    The Service notes that progress is being 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. However, Service staff have documented significant 
availability of lead shot in waterfowl rounds for sale in communities 
on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and North Slope. Mortality, sickness, and 
poisoning from lead exposure have been documented in many waterfowl 
species, including threatened spectacled and Steller's eiders.
    Lead shot has been banned nationally for waterfowl hunting since 
1991, and this ban is further supported by local bans proposed by the 
North Slope Borough Fish and Wildlife Management Committee and the 
Association of Village Council Presidents--Waterfowl Conservation 
Committee since 2006 and 2007, respectively. The Service will work with 
partners and to increase our education, outreach, and enforcement 
efforts to ensure these bans are effective, and that subsistence 
waterfowl hunting is conducted using nontoxic shot.
    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 8 years, clarify that we would 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 would evaluate each mortality event by criteria such as cause, 
quantity, sex, age, location, and date. We would consult with the Co-
management Council when we are considering an emergency closure. If we 
determine that an emergency closure is necessary, we would 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 (or her) 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 interim rule. The consultation 
was completed with a biological opinion that concluded the interim 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. 
Based on comments submitted, we may confirm this finding in our future 
notice responding to public comments.

Statutory Authority

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

Required Determinations

Executive Order 13771--Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory 
Costs

    This rule is not subject to the requirements of Executive Order 
13771 (82 FR 9339, February 3, 2017) because this rule establishes 
annual harvest limits related to routine hunting or fishing.

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. 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 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 rule 
legalizes 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 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 rule derives 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 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 rule does not deal with traded 
commodities and, therefore, will not have an impact on prices for 
consumers.

[[Page 12950]]

    (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 
rule deals with the harvesting of wildlife for personal consumption. It 
will 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 rule will not impose a cost of 
$100 million or more in any given year on local, State, or tribal 
governments or private entities. The rule will 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 would 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 rule will not 
have significant takings implications. This 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 rule does not 
have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a 
federalism summary impact statement. We discuss effects of this rule on 
the State of Alaska in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act section, above. 
We worked with the State of Alaska to develop these regulations. 
Therefore, a federalism summary impact statement is not required.

Civil Justice Reform (Executive Order 12988)

    The Department, in promulgating this 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

    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.
    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994, 
``Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal 
Governments'' (59 FR 22951), E.O. 13175, and 512 DM 2, we are 
evaluating possible effects on Federally recognized Indian tribes. The 
provisions in this Interim Rule are the same as those set forth in last 
year's final Rule, where we consulted with the tribes. This rule-making 
process is collaborative with the Tribes, and we will continue to 
consult with the Tribes as we affirm the Interim Rule.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA)

    This 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.). OMB has previously approved the information 
collection requirements associated with voluntary annual household 
surveys used to determine levels of subsistence take and assigned OMB 
Control No. 1018-0124 (expires 10/31/2019). You may view the 
information collection requirements at https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain. 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.

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

    The annual regulations and options are considered in an October 
2018 environmental assessment, ``Managing Migratory Bird Subsistence 
Hunting in Alaska: Hunting Regulations for the 2019 Spring/Summer 
Harvest.'' Copies are available from the person listed under FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT or at https://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 allows 
only for traditional subsistence harvest and improves conservation of 
migratory birds by allowing effective regulation of this harvest. 
Further, this 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:

PART 92--MIGRATORY BIRD SUBSISTENCE HARVEST IN ALASKA

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


[[Page 12951]]


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

Subpart D--Annual Regulations Governing Subsistence Harvest

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


Sec.  92.31   Region-specific regulations.

    The 2019 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 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 14 and July 
16-August 31 (hunting in general); waterfowl egg gathering April 2-June 
14 only; seabird egg gathering May 20-July 12 only; hunting molting/
non-nesting waterfowl July 1-July 15 only.
    (2) Closure: June 15-July 15, except for the taking of seabird eggs 
and molting/non-nesting waterfowl as provided in paragraph (f)(1) of 
this section.
    (g) North Slope region. (1) Southern Unit (Southwestern North Slope 
regional boundary east to Peard Bay, everything west of the longitude 
line 158[deg]30' W and south of the latitude line 70[deg]45' N to the 
west bank of the Ikpikpuk River, and everything south of the latitude 
line 69[deg]45' N between the west bank of the Ikpikpuk River to the 
east bank of Sagavinirktok River):
    (i) Season: April 2-June 29 and July 30-August 31 for seabirds; 
April 2-June 19 and July 20-August 31 for all other birds.
    (ii) Closure: June 30-July 29 for seabirds; June 20-July 19 for all 
other birds.
    (iii) Special Black Brant Hunting Opening: From June 20-July 5. The 
open area consists of the coastline, from mean high water line outward 
to include open water, from Nokotlek Point east to longitude line 
158[deg]30' W. This includes Peard Bay, Kugrua Bay, and Wainwright 
Inlet, but not the Kuk and Kugrua river drainages.
    (2) Northern Unit (At Peard Bay, everything east of the longitude 
line 158[deg]30' W and north of the latitude line 70[deg]45' N to west 
bank of the Ikpikpuk River, and everything north of the latitude line 
69[deg]45' N between the west bank of the Ikpikpuk River to the east 
bank of Sagavinirktok River):
    (i) Season: April 2-June 6 and July 7-August 31 for king and common 
eiders; April 2-June 15 and July 16-August 31 for all other birds.
    (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

[[Page 12952]]

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, Tatitlek, and 
Chenega Bay):
    (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
3. 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 27, 2019.
Margaret E. Everson,
Principal Deputy Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Exercising 
the Authority of the Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-06585 Filed 4-1-19; 4:15 pm]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P