[Federal Register Volume 65, Number 165 (Thursday, August 24, 2000)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 51542-51544]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 00-21613]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service

36 CFR Part 242

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 100


Subsistence Management Regulations for Public Lands in Alaska, 
Subpart D; Emergency Closures and Adjustments--Kuskokwim Drainage, 
Redoubt Lake, and Yukon Drainage

AGENCIES: Forest Service, USDA; Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Emergency closures and adjustments.

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SUMMARY: This provides notice of the Federal Subsistence Board's 
emergency closures and adjustments to protect chinook salmon escapement 
in the Kuskokwim River drainage, chinook and summer chum salmon 
escapement in the Yukon River drainage, and sockeye salmon escapement 
in Redoubt Lake. These closures and adjustments provide an exception to 
the Subsistence Management Regulations for Public Lands in Alaska, 
published in the Federal Register on January 8, 1999. Those regulations 
redefined the area subject to the subsistence priority for rural 
residents of Alaska under Title VIII of the Alaska National Interest 
Lands Conservation Act of 1980, and also established regulations for 
seasons, harvest limits, methods, and means relating to the taking of 
fish and shellfish for subsistence uses during the 2000 regulatory 
year.

DATES: The Kuskokwim River drainage closure and restrictions are 
effective July 10, 2000, through September 10, 2000. The Redoubt Lake 
closure is effective July 13, 2000, through August 31, 2000. The Yukon 
River drainage restrictions are effective July 19, 2000, through 
September 17, 2000.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas H. Boyd, Office of Subsistence 
Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, telephone (907) 786-3888. 
For questions specific to National Forest System lands, contact Ken 
Thompson, Subsistence Program Manager, USDA--Forest Service, Alaska 
Region, telephone (907) 786-3592.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Title VIII of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act 
(ANILCA) (16 U.S.C. 3111-3126)

[[Page 51543]]

requires that the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of 
Agriculture (Secretaries) implement a joint program to grant a 
preference for subsistence uses of fish and wildlife resources on 
public lands, unless the State of Alaska enacts and implements laws of 
general applicability that are consistent with ANILCA and that provide 
for the subsistence definition, preference, and participation specified 
in Sections 803, 804, and 805 of ANILCA. In December 1989, the Alaska 
Supreme Court ruled that the rural preference in the State subsistence 
statute violated the Alaska Constitution and, therefore, negated State 
compliance with ANILCA.
    The Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture 
(Departments) assumed, on July 1, 1990, responsibility for 
implementation of Title VIII of ANILCA on public lands. Consistent with 
Subparts A, B, and C of these regulations, as revised January 8, 1999, 
(64 FR 1276), the Departments established a Federal Subsistence Board 
to administer the Federal Subsistence Management Program. The Board's 
composition includes a Chair appointed by the Secretary of the Interior 
with concurrence of the Secretary of Agriculture; the Alaska Regional 
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; the Alaska Regional Director, 
U.S. National Park Service; the Alaska State Director, U.S. Bureau of 
Land Management; the Alaska Regional Director, U.S. Bureau of Indian 
Affairs; and the Alaska Regional Forester, USDA Forest Service. Through 
the Board, these agencies participate in the development of regulations 
for Subparts A, B, and C, and the annual Subpart D regulations.
    Because this rule relates to public lands managed by an agency or 
agencies in both the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior, 
identical closures and adjustments would apply to 36 CFR part 242 and 
50 CFR part 100.
    Subpart D regulations for the 2000 fishing seasons and harvest 
limits, and methods and means were published on January 8, 1999, (64 FR 
1276).
    These emergency closures and adjustments are necessary because of 
extremely weak returns of chinook (king) salmon in the Kuskokwim River 
drainage, of chinook and summer-run chum salmon in the Yukon River 
drainage, and of sockeye (red) salmon in Redoubt Lake. These emergency 
actions are authorized and in accordance with 50 CFR 100.19(c) and 36 
CFR 242.19(c).

Kuskokwim River Drainage

    The Federal Subsistence Board, the Alaska Department of Fish and 
Game, and subsistence users are concerned that there are not enough 
king salmon returning to the Kuskokwim River and its tributaries to 
meet escapement on the spawning grounds. All king salmon escapement 
monitoring projects are showing extremely weak king salmon returns (60-
85% lower than in recent years) throughout the Kuskokwim River 
drainage. This extremely low escapement could jeopardize the viability 
of future returns. This is the second consecutive year with poor 
chinook salmon returns for the Kuskokwim River. Subsistence users are 
also reporting very low catches of king salmon.
    The State Board of Fisheries (BOF) met on Saturday July 8, 2000 to 
review the status of king salmon returns on the Kuskokwim River and 
determined that an emergency exists. The BOF then took action to (1) 
restrict drift and set gill net mesh size to six inches or less for the 
subsistence fishery in the entire Kuskokwim River drainage, and (2) 
reduce the daily bag and possession limit in the entire Kuskokwim River 
drainage to one king salmon when subsistence fishing using a line 
attached to a rod or pole. In addition, ADF&G has closed the sport 
fishery for king salmon in the entire Kuskokwim River drainage and no 
commercial fishing periods are being considered for the Kuskokwim 
River.
    On July 10, the Federal Subsistence Board adopted an emergency 
action restricting drift and set gillnet mesh size to six inches or 
less for the subsistence fishery in the Kuskokwim River drainage within 
the boundaries of the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, and 
reducing the daily bag and possession limit in the Kuskokwim River 
drainage to one chinook salmon with a rod and reel. The gear 
restriction to six inches or less will minimize the chinook harvest to 
a few smaller fish (which are predominantly male) while allowing 
subsistence users the opportunity to continue to harvest chum, sockeye, 
and coho salmon, whitefish and other resident fish species. The smaller 
gillnet mesh would also protect the larger female king salmon. Female 
and large male king salmon are more susceptible to a gillnet with eight 
inch mesh or larger. The limited rod and reel harvest does allow for 
subsistence users to catch a king salmon for immediate consumption when 
necessary. This would also bring the Federal subsistence fishing 
regulations in line with the similar BOF action for unified management 
and minimize confusion under the dual management system.

Yukon River Drainage

    Returns of chinook and summer chum salmon to the Yukon River are at 
or near recorded lows. Low catches of chinook salmon have also been 
reported by many subsistence fishermen. Federal and State Managers and 
many subsistence users in the region have strong concerns that not 
enough chinook or summer chum salmon will reach their spawning grounds. 
All chinook and summer chum salmon escapement monitoring projects show 
that the returns of these species are very weak throughout the entire 
Yukon River drainage. The various weirs, sonars and counting stations 
in the drainage reported chinook salmon returns 41% to 85% below 
average and summer chum returns 49% to 91% below average.
    The Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued Emergency Orders 
closing sport fishing for chinook and chum salmon in the Yukon drainage 
and restricting subsistence fishing to certain times each week in the 
various fishing districts along the river. The commercial and personal 
use fishery in the Yukon River had previously been closed.
    On July 19, the Federal Subsistence Board instituted the following 
adjustments for the Yukon River drainage:
    During any commercial salmon fishing season closure of greater than 
five days in duration, you may take salmon only during the following 
periods in the following districts:
    (A) In Districts 1, 2, and 3, salmon may be taken from 9:00 a.m. 
until 9:00 p.m. each Saturday;
    (B) In District 4, salmon may be taken from 6:00 p.m. Tuesday until 
6:00 p.m. Wednesday and from 6:00 p.m. Friday until 6:00 p.m. Saturday;
    (C) In District 5, salmon may be taken from 9:00 p.m. Saturday 
until 9:00 p.m. Sunday, from 9:00 p.m. Tuesday until 9:00 a.m. 
Wednesday, and from 9:00 p.m. Thursday until 9:00 a.m. Friday;
    (D) In District 6, salmon may be taken from 6:00 p.m. Monday until 
6:00 p.m. Tuesday.
    During any commercial salmon fishing season closure of greater than 
five days in duration, you may take fish other than salmon only with 
gillnets with a stretched mesh size of 4 inches or less or with other 
legal gear except fishwheels.
    These adjustments bring the Federal subsistence fishing regulations 
in line with the similar ADF&G action for unified management and 
minimize confusion under the dual management system.

[[Page 51544]]

Redoubt Lake

    Based on sockeye salmon returns to Redoubt Lake, State and Federal 
managers project an escapement of 2,300 fish for the 2000 season. This 
projection represents 6% of the average escapement of 36,000 sockeye 
during the period 1989-1999. Since the projected escapement is well 
below desired levels for this system, the system is being closed to 
provide for spawning escapement needs. The Federal Subsistence Board on 
July 13 closed the Federal freshwater sockeye subsistence fishery at 
Redoubt Lake due to the very low escapement numbers. This action 
parallels ADF&G action that closed both sport and subsistence harvest 
for sockeye salmon in Redoubt Lake and Bay.
    The Board finds that additional public notice and comment 
requirements under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) for these 
emergency closures and adjustments are impracticable, unnecessary, and 
contrary to the public interest. Lack of appropriate and immediate 
conservation measures could seriously affect the continued viability of 
fish populations, adversely impact future subsistence opportunities for 
rural Alaskans, and would generally fail to serve the overall public 
interest. Therefore, the Board finds good cause pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 
553(d) to waive additional public notice and comment procedures prior 
to implementation of these actions.

Conformance with Statutory and Regulatory Authorities

National Environmental Policy Act Compliance

    A Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was published on 
February 28, 1992, and a Record of Decision (ROD) signed April 6, 1992. 
The final rule for Subsistence Management Regulations for Public Lands 
in Alaska, Subparts A, B, and C (57 FR 22940-22964, published May 29, 
1992) implemented the Federal Subsistence Management Program and 
included a framework for an annual cycle for subsistence hunting and 
fishing regulations. A final rule that redefined the jurisdiction of 
the Federal Subsistence Management Program to include waters subject to 
the subsistence priority was published on January 8, 1999, (64 FR 
1276.)

Compliance with Section 810 of ANILCA

    The intent of all Federal subsistence regulations is to accord 
subsistence uses of fish and wildlife on public lands a priority over 
the taking of fish and wildlife on such lands for other purposes, 
unless restriction is necessary to conserve healthy fish and wildlife 
populations. A Section 810 analysis was completed as part of the FEIS 
process. The final Section 810 analysis determination appeared in the 
April 6, 1992, ROD which concluded that the Federal Subsistence 
Management Program, under Alternative IV with an annual process for 
setting hunting and fishing regulations, may have some local impacts on 
subsistence uses, but the program is not likely to significantly 
restrict subsistence uses.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    These emergency closures and adjustments do not contain information 
collection requirements subject to Office of Management and Budget 
(OMB) approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

Other Requirements

    These emergency closures and adjustments are not subject to OMB 
review under Executive Order 12866.
    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) 
requires preparation of flexibility analyses for rules that will have a 
significant effect on a substantial number of small entities, which 
include small businesses, organizations, or governmental jurisdictions. 
The Departments determined that these emergency closures and 
adjustments will not have a significant economic effect on a 
substantial number of small entities within the meaning of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act.
    These emergency closures and adjustments will impose no significant 
costs on small entities.
    Title VIII of ANILCA requires the Secretaries to administer a 
subsistence preference on public lands. The scope of this program is 
limited by definition to certain public lands. Likewise, these 
emergency closures and adjustments have no potential takings of private 
property implications as defined by Executive Order 12630.
    The Service has determined and certifies pursuant to the Unfunded 
Mandates Reform Act, 2 U.S.C. 1502 et seq., that these emergency 
closures and adjustments will not impose a cost of $100 million or more 
in any given year on local or State governments or private entities. 
The implementation is by Federal agencies, and no cost is involved to 
any State or local entities or Tribal governments.
    The Service has determined that these emergency closures and 
adjustments meet the applicable standards provided in Sections 3(a) and 
3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988.
    In accordance with Executive Order 13132, these emergency closures 
and adjustments do not have sufficient federalism implications to 
warrant the preparation of a Federalism Assessment. Title VIII of 
ANILCA precludes the State from exercising management authority over 
wildlife resources on Federal lands.
    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994, 
``Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal 
Governments'' (59 FR 22951) and 512 DM 2, we have evaluated possible 
effects on Federally recognized Indian tribes and have determined that 
there are no effects. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is a participating 
agency in this rulemaking.

Drafting Information

    William Knauer drafted this document under the guidance of Thomas 
H. Boyd, of the Office of Subsistence Management, Alaska Regional 
Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, Alaska. Curt Wilson, 
Alaska State Office, Bureau of Land Management; Greg Bos, Alaska 
Regional Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Sandy Rabinowitch, 
Alaska Regional Office, National Park Service; Ida Hildebrand, Alaska 
Regional Office, Bureau of Indian Affairs; and Ken Thompson, USDA-
Forest Service, provided additional guidance.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 3, 472, 551, 668dd, 3101-3126; 18 U.S.C. 
3551-3586; 43 U.S.C. 1733.

    Dated: August 18, 2000.
Kenneth E. Thompson,
Subsistence Program Leader, USDA-Forest Service.
Thomas H. Boyd,
Acting Chair, Federal Subsistence Board.
[FR Doc. 00-21613 Filed 8-23-00; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-11-P; 4310-55-P