[Federal Register Volume 68, Number 180 (Wednesday, September 17, 2003)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Page 54409]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 03-23745]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 16

RIN 1018-AT49


Review of Information Concerning Bighead Carp (Hypophthalmichthys 
nobilis)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of inquiry.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reviewing available 
economic and biological information on bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys 
nobilis) for possible addition of that species to the list of injurious 
wildlife under the Lacey Act. The importation and introduction of 
bighead carp into the natural ecosystems of the United States may pose 
a threat to agriculture, horticulture, forestry, the health and welfare 
of human beings, and the welfare and survival of wildlife and wildlife 
resources in the United States. Listing bighead carp as injurious would 
prohibit their importation into, or transportation between, the 
continental United States, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, the 
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any territory or possession of the 
United States, with limited exceptions. This notice seeks comments from 
the public to aid in determining if a proposed rule is warranted.

DATES: Comments must be submitted on or before November 17, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Comments may be mailed or sent by fax to the Chief, Division 
of Environmental Quality, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North 
Fairfax Drive, Suite 322, Arlington, VA 22203; fax (703) 358-1800. You 
may send comments by electronic mail (e-mail) to: BigheadCarp@fws.gov. 
See the Public Comments Solicited section below for file format and 
other information about electronic filing.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kari Duncan, Division of Environmental 
Quality, Branch of Invasive Species at (703) 358-2464 or kari_
duncan@fws.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On October 16, 2002, the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service received a petition requesting that bighead carp, 
black carp, and silver carp be considered for inclusion in the 
injurious wildlife regulations pursuant to the Lacey Act. The 
petitioners expressed concern that bighead carp could invade the Great 
Lakes from the Mississippi River basin, where they are established, 
through a manmade ship and sanitary canal. The petitioners, 25 members 
of Congress representing the Great Lakes region, are concerned that 
bighead carp, because they are voracious eaters, may impact food 
supplies available to native fisheries in the Great Lakes, which are 
already struggling against other invasive species. The petitioners also 
noted that the Great Lakes fisheries are valued at approximately $4 
billion, and resource managers have spent decades trying to restore and 
protect them.
    Bighead carp are native to southern and central China. They feed on 
plankton and prefer large river habitats. They can grow to maximum 
lengths of about 58 inches and reach sexual maturity at about 21.6 
inches. In Asia, bighead carp typically spawn between April and June, 
and they often migrate upstream to spawn.
    Bighead carp were imported into the United States in 1972 by a fish 
farmer who wanted to use them in combination with other phytoplankton-
eating fish to improve water quality and increase fish production in 
culture ponds (Fuller, et al, 1999). They have been used in many parts 
of the world as food fish. Bighead carp have been recorded from within 
or along the borders of at least 18 States.
    The Lacey Act (18 U.S.C. 42) and its implementing regulations in 50 
CFR part 16 restrict the importation into or the transportation between 
the continental United States, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, the 
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any territory or possession of the 
United States of any species of wildlife, or eggs thereof, determined 
to be injurious or potentially injurious to certain interests, 
including those of agriculture, horticulture, forestry, the health and 
welfare of human beings, and the welfare and survival of wildlife and 
wildlife resources in the United States. However, injurious wildlife 
may be imported by permit for zoological, educational, medical, or 
scientific purposes in accordance with permit regulations at 50 CFR 
16.22, or by Federal agencies without a permit solely for their own 
use. If the process initiated by this notice results in the addition of 
bighead carp to the list of injurious wildlife contained in 50 CFR part 
16, their importation into the United States would be prohibited except 
under the conditions, and for the purposes, described above.
    This notice solicits economic, biological, or other information 
concerning bighead carp. The information will be used to determine if 
the species is a threat, or potential threat, to those interests of the 
United States delineated above, and thus warrants addition to the list 
of injurious wildlife in 50 CFR 16.13.

Public Comments Solicited

    Please send comments to Chief, Division of Environmental Quality, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 322, 
Arlington, VA 22030. Comments may be hand-delivered to the above 
address or faxed to (703) 358-1800. If you submit comments by e-mail, 
please submit comments as an ASCII file format and avoid the use of 
special characters and encryption. Please include ``Attn: [RIN 1018-
AT49]'' and your name and return address in your e-mail message. Please 
note that this email address will be closed at the termination of this 
public comment period.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Individual respondents may request that we withhold 
their home address from the rulemaking record, which we will honor to 
the extent allowable by law. There also may be circumstances in which 
we would withhold from the rulemaking record a respondent's identity, 
as allowable by law. If you wish us to withhold your name and/or 
address, you must state this prominently at the beginning of your 
comment. However, we will not consider anonymous comments. We will make 
all submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals 
identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations 
or businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety.

    Authority: This notice is issued under the authority of the 
Lacey Act (18 U.S.C. 42).

    Dated: September 10, 2003.
Craig Manson,
Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 03-23745 Filed 9-16-03; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P