[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 48 (Monday, March 12, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 14562-14564]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-5879]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-FHC-2012-N045; FXFR13340500000L4-123-FF05F24400]


Information Collection Request Sent to the Office of Management 
and Budget (OMB) for Approval; Horseshoe Crab Tagging Program

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice; request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: We (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) have sent an Information 
Collection Request (ICR) to OMB for review and approval. We summarize 
the ICR below and describe the nature of the

[[Page 14563]]

collection and the estimated burden and cost. This information 
collection is scheduled to expire on March 31, 2012. We may not conduct 
or sponsor and a person is not required to respond to a collection of 
information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. 
However, under OMB regulations, we may continue to conduct or sponsor 
this information collection while it is pending at OMB.

DATES: You must submit comments on or before April 11, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments and suggestions on this information 
collection to the Desk Officer for the Department of the Interior at 
OMB-OIRA at (202) 395-5806 (fax) or OIRA_DOCKET@OMB.eop.gov (email). 
Please provide a copy of your comments to the Service Information 
Collection Clearance Officer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS 2042-
PDM, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203 (mail), or 
INFOCOL@fws.gov (email). Please include ``1018-0127'' in the subject 
line of your comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: To request additional information 
about this ICR, contact Hope Grey at INFOCOL@fws.gov (email) or 703-
358-2482 (telephone). You may review the ICR online at http://www.reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to review Department of the 
Interior collections under review by OMB.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 
    OMB Control Number: 1018-0127.
    Title: Horseshoe Crab Tagging Program.
    Service Form Number(s): FWS Forms 3-2310 and 3-2311.
    Type of Request: Extension of currently approved collection.
    Description of Respondents: Tagging agencies include Federal and 
State agencies, universities, and biomedical companies. Members of the 
general public provide recapture information.
    Respondent's Obligation: Voluntary.
    Frequency of Collection: On occasion. When horseshoe crabs are 
tagged and when horseshoe crabs are found or captured.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           Number of       Number of
               Activity                     annual          annual         Completion time per     Annual burden
                                          respondents      responses            response               hours
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
FWS Form 3-2310.......................             950           2,250  5 minutes...............             188
FWS Form 3-2311.......................              18              18  95 hours *..............           1,710
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Totals............................             968           2,268  ........................           1,898
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Average time required per response is dependent on the number of tags applied by an agency in 1 year. Agencies
  tag between 25 and 9,000 horseshoe crabs annually, taking between 2 to 5 minutes per crab to tag, record, and
  report data. Each agency determines the number of tags it will apply.

    Abstract: Horseshoe crabs play a vital role commercially, 
biomedically, and ecologically along the Atlantic coast. Horseshoe 
crabs are commercially harvested and used as bait in eel and conch 
fisheries. Biomedical companies along the coast also collect and bleed 
horseshoe crabs at their facilities. Limulus Amoebocyte Lysate is 
derived from crab blood, which has no synthetic substitute, and is used 
by pharmaceutical companies to test sterility of products. Finally, 
migratory shorebirds also depend on the eggs of horseshoe crabs to 
refuel on their migrations from South America to the Arctic. One bird 
in particular, the red knot, feeds primarily on horseshoe crab eggs 
during its stopover. That bird is currently listed as a candidate for 
protection under the Endangered Species Act.
    In 1998, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), a 
management organization with representatives from each State on the 
Atlantic Coast, developed a horseshoe crab management plan. The ASMFC 
plan and its subsequent addenda established mandatory State-by-State 
harvest quotas, and created the 1,500-square-mile Carl N. Shuster, Jr., 
Horseshoe Crab Sanctuary off the mouth of Delaware Bay.
    Although restrictive measures have been taken in recent years, 
populations are increasing slowly. Because horseshoe crabs do not breed 
until they are 9 years or older, it may take some time before the 
population measurably increases. Federal and State agencies, 
universities, and biomedical companies participate in a Horseshoe Crab 
Cooperative Tagging Program. The Maryland Fishery Resources Office, 
Fish and Wildlife Service, maintains the information that we collect 
under this program and uses it to evaluate migratory patterns, 
survival, and abundance of horseshoe crabs.
    Agencies that tag and release the crabs complete FWS Form 3-2311 
(Horseshoe Crab Tagging) and provide the Service with:
     Organization name.
     Contact person name.
     Tag number.
     Sex of crab.
     Prosomal width.
     Capture site, latitude, longitude, waterbody, State, and 
date.
    Members of the public who recover tagged crabs provide the 
following information using FWS Form 3-2310 (Horseshoe Crab Recapture 
Report):
     Tag number.
     Whether or not tag was removed.
     Whether or not the tag was circular or square.
     Condition of crab.
     Date captured/found.
     Crab fate.
     Finder type.
     Capture method.
     Capture location.
     Reporter information.
     Comments.
    If the public participant who reports the tagged crab requests 
information, we send data pertaining to the tagging program and tag and 
release information on the horseshoe crab that was found or captured.
    Comments: On September 26, 2011, we published in the Federal 
Register (76 FR 59422) a notice of our intent to ask OMB to renew 
approval for this information collection. In that notice, we solicited 
comments for 60 days, ending on November 25, 2011. We received comments 
from 10 individuals/organizations.
    Commenter 1 appreciated the opportunity to tag horseshoe crabs and 
suggested that public outreach is an important component of the program 
and that increased public outreach would be useful.
    Commenter 2 said that the public outreach component has been very 
useful and the tagging program has benefited horseshoe crab management 
and increased public awareness of management issues.
    Commenter 3 said that both the scientific merit and public outreach 
components of the program have been very useful. The tagging program 
has benefited horseshoe crab management and increased public awareness 
of management issues.
    Commenter 4 discussed the scientific merit of the tagging program 
and said

[[Page 14564]]

that it has been very useful. The tagging program has benefited 
horseshoe crab management and has had impacts on management of 
associated shorebird species whose population levels are of concern. 
The commenter had concerns on the effort of tag recoveries, and 
suggested that we provide higher incentives to commercial fishermen to 
report crab tags, increase efforts on spawning beaches to recover tags, 
record time searching for tags to determine catch-per-unit-effort, that 
online reporting can be done in a batch system, and that we increase 
efforts to collect tag data from commercial fishermen. While we 
recognize that all of these suggestions would make a stronger program 
with more significant scientific data, some come with substantial cost. 
At this time we do not have any additional funds to provide increased 
incentives to fishermen, increase tag recovery efforts on beaches (done 
by our cooperators at this time), or increase efforts to solicit tag 
data from commercial fishermen. Through our cooperators in the future, 
we can attempt to get an estimate of catch-per-unit-effort and we will 
discuss this issue with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission 
to determine if those data would be useful. We will also explore 
providing a batch-type data entry program on our Web site to report 
recaptured tags. We will explore collecting catch-per-unit-effort and 
online batch reporting in the future.
    Commenter 5 was supportive of the information collection, and 
commented that the scientific data provided by the program has been 
very useful for horseshoe crab management. Information was collected 
efficiently and the burden estimates were accurate.
    Commenter 6 opposed the use of horseshoe crabs by biomedical 
companies and proposed a ban on the use of horseshoe crabs for any 
purpose.
    Commenter 7 said that the tagging program is not necessary and the 
data generated by the program is not useful. The commenter also opposed 
the commercial harvest of horseshoe crabs and the use of horseshoe 
crabs by biomedical companies. The commenter proposed a ban on the use 
of horseshoe crabs for any purpose.
    Commenter 8 discussed the scientific merit of the tagging program 
and said that it has been very useful for horseshoe crab management 
purposes. The commenter suggested that the Fish and Wildlife Service 
increase efforts in resighting tagged crabs outside the Delaware Bay 
area. While we recognize that increasing effort for resighting tagged 
crabs would increase the quality of the scientific data, there is 
substantial cost associated with increasing that effort. At this time, 
we do not have any additional funds to increase tag recovery efforts on 
beaches (done by our cooperators at this time). We will encourage our 
cooperators to increase efforts in tag recovery outside the Delaware 
Bay area. The commenter also suggested we develop an application for 
smart phones in addition to the online reporting system that we 
currently offer. We will explore the development of an app for smart 
phones to provide another method for tag reporting.
    Commenter 9 discussed the scientific merit of the tagging program 
and said that it has been very useful to horseshoe crab and shorebird 
management (whose population levels are of concern). The commenter 
suggested that we increase efforts on spawning beaches of Maryland and 
Virginia to recover tags, record time searching for tags to determine 
catch-per-unit-effort, and use formal models to determine survival of 
bled crabs from the Lysate industry. As with previous comments, we will 
encourage our cooperators to increase tag recovery efforts on the 
Maryland and Virginia beaches; however, without increased funding, we 
will not be able to increase tag recovery efforts without the 
assistance of cooperators. Some formal studies are being done by our 
cooperators using the Service tagging program to evaluate impacts of 
both tagging and of the Lysate bleeding programs. We will continue to 
support the tagging programs that are evaluating crab survival. The 
commenter also suggested that we should facilitate batch reporting of 
crabs on the phone and to encourage tag reporting by commercial 
fishermen. At this time we do not have any additional funds to provide 
increased incentives to fishermen, increase tag recovery efforts on 
beaches (done by our cooperators at this time), or increase efforts to 
solicit tag data from commercial fishermen. We will work with our 
cooperators to attempt to get better distribution of tag recovery 
efforts.
    Commenter 10 provided comments similar in nature to Commenters 4 
and 9.
    We did not make any changes to our information collection 
requirements based on the above comments.
    We again invite comments concerning this information collection on:
     Whether or not the collection of information is necessary, 
including whether or not the information will have practical utility;
     The accuracy of our estimate of the burden for this 
collection of information;
     Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the 
information to be collected; and
     Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of 
information on respondents.
    Comments that you submit in response to this notice are a matter of 
public record. 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 OMB in your comment to withhold your personal 
identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that it 
will be done.

    Dated: March 6, 2012.
Tina A. Campbell,
Chief, Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-5879 Filed 3-9-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P