[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 35 (Thursday, February 21, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 11988-11995]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-03999]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 92

[Docket No. FWS-R7-MB-2012-0066; FF09M21200-123-FXMB1231099BPP0L2]
RIN 1018-AY70


Migratory Bird Subsistence Harvest in Alaska; Harvest Regulations 
for Migratory Birds in Alaska During the 2013 Season

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final 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 2013 season. These regulations enable 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. This rulemaking establishes 
region-specific regulations that go into effect on April 2, 2013, and 
expire on August 31, 2013.

DATES: The amendments to subpart A of 50 CFR part 92 are effective 
March 25, 2013, and the amendments to subpart D of 50 CFR part 92 are 
effective April 2, 2013, through August 31, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Donna Dewhurst, (907) 786-3499, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 1011 E. Tudor Road, Mail Stop 201, 
Anchorage, AK 99503.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

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 
2013. This rule establishes a list of migratory bird season openings 
and closures in Alaska by region.

[[Page 11989]]

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, was originally addressed 
in the Federal Register on August 16, 2002 (67 FR 53511) and most 
recently on March 26, 2012 (77 FR 17353). Recent Federal Register 
documents, which are all final rules setting forth the annual harvest 
regulations, are available at http://alaska.fws.gov/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 2013 season. These 
regulations enable 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.
    We opened the process to establish regulations for the 2013 spring 
and summer subsistence harvest of migratory birds in Alaska in a 
proposed rule published in the Federal Register on April 17, 2012 (77 
FR 23094), to amend 50 CFR part 20. While that proposed rule dealt 
primarily with the regulatory process for hunting migratory birds for 
all purposes throughout the United States, we also discussed the 
background and history of Alaska subsistence regulations, explained the 
annual process for their establishment, and requested proposals for the 
2013 season. The rulemaking processes for both types of migratory bird 
harvest are related, and the April 17, 2012, proposed rule explained 
the connection between the two.
    The Alaska Migratory Bird Co-management Council (Co-management 
Council) held meetings on April 11-12 and May 9, 2012, to develop 
recommendations for changes to take effect during the 2013 harvest 
season. These recommendations were presented first to the Flyway 
Councils and then to the Service Regulations Committee (SRC) at the 
committee's meeting on July 25 and 26, 2012.
    On September 21, 2012, we published in the Federal Register (77 FR 
58732) a proposed rule that provided our proposed migratory bird 
subsistence harvest regulations in Alaska for the 2013 season. 
Regulations presented in that proposed rule were identical to those for 
the 2012 harvest season.

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. Highly-
populated, roaded areas such as Anchorage, the Matanuska-Susitna and 
Fairbanks North Star boroughs, the Kenai Peninsula roaded area, the 
Gulf of Alaska roaded area, and Southeast Alaska were excluded from 
eligible subsistence harvest areas.
    Based on petitions requesting inclusion in the harvest, in 2004, we 
added 13 additional communities based on criteria set forth in 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, based on petitions requesting 
inclusion. These southeastern communities were Craig, Hydaburg, and 
Yakutat, with a combined population of 2,459, based on 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.

What is different in the region-specific regulations for 2013?

    Regulations established in this rule are identical to those for the 
2012 harvest season. However, at the April 2012 Co-Management Council 
meeting, the North Slope Borough requested that the provision that 
enables yellow-billed loons inadvertently caught in subsistence fishing 
to be kept for subsistence use be added permanently to the consent 
agenda from 2013 regulations forward. The request eliminates the need 
for the North Slope Borough to resubmit the loon proposal annually and 
eliminates the requirement for the SRC to review and decide on the 
proposal at each subsequent July meeting. The motion passed with 
unanimous consent by the Co-Management Council.
    In 2011, the North Slope Borough Wildlife Department conducted 
harvest surveys in Barrow, Atqasuk, and Nuiqsut. They identified 125 
fishermen and cabin owners from those 3 communities involved. Of the 
125, only 3 refused to participate in the survey, so we had 97 percent 
participation. The resultant estimate was 25 yellow-billed loons 
entangled, of which 7 were released; 4 were used to make headdresses 
for traditional, ceremonial dances; and the remainder used for other 
subsistence purposes.
    In the Co-Management Council's discussion of the North Slope 
Borough's proposal to eliminate the requirement for annual submission 
and review, the State of Alaska Representative stated that the North 
Slope Borough had done a very good job of putting together a loon 
harvest survey in those areas where yellow-billed loons and fishing co-
exist, documenting the current levels of inadvertent take. At this 
meeting, the North Slope Borough committed to continue collecting this 
information for 2 more years (through 2013) to provide additional 
inadvertent take numbers to the SRC. On July 26, 2012, the SRC 
supported removal of the requirement for annual review and approval of 
the yellow-billed loon provision for the North Slope.

How will the service ensure that the subsistence harvest will not raise 
overall migratory bird harvest or threaten the conservation of 
endangered and threatened species?

    We have monitored subsistence harvest for the past 25 years through 
the use of annual household surveys in the most heavily used 
subsistence harvest areas, such as the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. In recent 
years, more intensive surveys combined with outreach efforts focused on 
species identification have been added to improve the accuracy of 
information gathered from regions still reporting some subsistence 
harvest of candidate species or species listed under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

Spectacled and Steller's Eiders

    Spectacled eiders (Somateria fischeri) and the Alaska-breeding 
population of Steller's eiders (Polysticta stelleri) are listed as 
threatened species; their

[[Page 11990]]

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 have been taken in several regions 
of Alaska.
    The Service has dual goals and responsibilities for authorizing a 
subsistence harvest while protecting migratory birds and threatened 
species. Although these goals continue to be challenging, they are not 
irreconcilable, provided the regulations continue to protect threatened 
species, measures to remedy documented threats are implemented, and the 
subsistence community and other conservation partners commit to working 
together. With these dual goals 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; (2) continued enforcement of the migratory 
bird regulations that are protective of listed eiders; and (3) in-
season Service verification of the harvest to detect taking of any 
threatened eider species.
    This rule continues to focus on the North Slope from Barrow to 
Point Hope because Steller's eiders from the listed Alaska breeding 
population are known to breed and migrate 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, as 
well as provide subsistence hunters an opportunity to harvest migratory 
birds in a way that maintains the culture and traditional harvest of 
the community. The regulations pertaining to bag checks and possession 
of illegal birds are deemed necessary to verify that no closed eider 
species are taken during the legal subsistence hunt.
    The Service is aware of and appreciates the considerable efforts by 
North Slope partners to raise awareness and educate hunters on 
Steller's eider conservation via the bird fair, meetings, radio shows, 
signs, school visits, and one-on-one contacts. We also recognize that 
no listed eiders have been documented shot in the last 3 years, even 
though Steller's eiders nested in the Barrow area from 2010 through 
2012. The Service acknowledges progress 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. Our primary strategy to reduce the threat of shooting 
mortality of threatened eiders is to continue working with North Slope 
partners to conduct education, outreach, and harvest monitoring. In 
addition, the emergency closure authority provides another level of 
assurance if an unexpected amount of Steller's eider shooting mortality 
occurs (50 CFR 92.21 and 50 CFR 92.32).
    In-season harvest monitoring information will be used to evaluate 
the efficacy of regulations, conservation measures, and outreach 
efforts. During 2009 through 2012, no Steller's eiders were reported 
being taken on the North Slope, and no Steller's eiders were found shot 
during in-season verification of the subsistence harvest. Based on 
these successes, the 2012 conservation measures will also be continued, 
although there will be some modification of the amount of effort and 
emphasis each receives. Specifically, local communities have continued 
to develop greater responsibility for taking actions to ensure 
Steller's and spectacled eider conservation and recovery, and based on 
last year's observations local hunters have demonstrated greater 
compliance with hunting regulations.
    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 regulation at 50 CFR 
92.32, carried over from the past 3 years, clarifies 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. If mortality of threatened eiders occurs, we will evaluate 
each mortality event by criteria such as cause, quantity, sex, age, 
location, and date. We will consult with the Co-management Council when 
we are considering an emergency closure. If we determine that an 
emergency closure is necessary, we will design it to minimize its 
impact on the subsistence harvest.

Yellow-Billed Loon and Kittlitz's Murrelet

    Yellow-billed loon (Gavia adamsii) and Kittlitz's murrelet 
(Brachyramphus brevirostris) are candidate species for listing under 
the Endangered Species Act. Their migration and breeding distribution 
overlaps with where the spring and summer migratory bird hunt is open 
in Alaska. Both species are closed to hunting, and there is no evidence 
Kittlitz's murrelets are harvested. On the other hand, harvest surveys 
have indicated that harvest of yellow-billed loons on the North Slope 
and St. Lawrence Island does occur. Most of the yellow-billed loons 
reported harvested on the North Slope were found to be entangled loons 
salvaged from subsistence fishing nets as described below. The Service 
will continue outreach efforts in both areas in 2013, engaging partners 
to improve harvest estimates and decrease take of yellow-billed loons.
    Consistent with the request of the North Slope Borough Fish and 
Game Management Committee and the recommendation of the Co-management 
Council, this rule will continue through 2013 the provisions originally 
established in 2005, to allow subsistence use of yellow-billed loons 
inadvertently entangled in subsistence fishing (gill) nets on the North 
Slope. Yellow-billed loons are culturally important to the Inupiat 
Eskimo of the North Slope for use in traditional dance regalia. A 
maximum of 20 yellow-billed loons will be allowed to be kept if found 
entangled in fishing nets in 2013, under this provision. This provision 
does not authorize intentional harvest of yellow-billed loons, but 
allows use of those loons inadvertently entangled during normal 
subsistence fishing activities.

Definition Clarification

    We are adding a definition of harvest season ``closure'' to the 
existing definitions list at 50 CFR 92.4. This change to the 
regulations clarifies our use of this term. This addition was requested 
by members of the public who expressed some confusion as to whether or 
not egg gathering is also prohibited during harvest closures. Under our 
new definition, we clarify that a season ``closure'' means that the 
season is closed to all forms of harvest, including hunting and egg 
gathering, unless specified otherwise.

[[Page 11991]]

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 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 Fairbanks Fish and Wildlife Field 
Office on this harvest as it will be managed in accordance with this 
final rule and the conservation measures. The consultation was 
completed with a biological opinion dated January 24, 2013, that 
concluded the final rule and conservation measures are not likely to 
jeopardize the continued existence of Steller's eider, spectacled 
eider, yellow-billed loon, or Kittlitz's murrelet, or result in the 
destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat for 
Steller's eider or spectacled eider.

Summary of Public Involvement

    On September 21, 2012, we published in the Federal Register a 
proposed rule (77 FR 58732) to establish spring and summer migratory 
bird subsistence harvest regulations in Alaska for the 2013 subsistence 
season. The proposed rule provided for a public comment period of 60 
days, ending November 20, 2012. We posted an announcement of the 
comment period dates for the proposed rule, as well as the rule itself 
and related historical documents, on the Co-management Council's 
Internet homepage. We issued a press release announcing our request for 
public comments and the pertinent deadlines for such comments, which 
was faxed to the media Statewide in Alaska. Additionally, all documents 
were available on http://www.regulations.gov. The Service received 
three responses, all from individuals.

Response to Public Comments

    Comment: We received one general comment on the overall regulations 
that expressed strong opposition to the concept of allowing any harvest 
of migratory birds in Alaska.
    Service Response: For centuries, indigenous inhabitants of Alaska 
have harvested migratory birds for subsistence purposes during the 
spring and summer months. The Canada and Mexico migratory bird treaties 
were amended for the express purpose of allowing subsistence hunting 
for migratory birds during the spring and summer. The amendments 
indicate that the Service should issue regulations allowing such 
hunting as provided in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; see 16 U.S.C. 
712(1). See also Statutory Authority section, below, for more details.
    Comment: We received one comment that it is unnecessary and time 
consuming to have the migratory bird harvest season subject to annual 
review and approval.
    Service Response: At 50 CFR 92.30, we explain that the Co-
Management Council will have the opportunity to review the harvest 
regulations on an annual basis, working within the schedule of the 
late-season regulations for migratory game bird hunting. Under the 
Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. 703-712), the harvesting of 
migratory birds is prohibited unless regulations are established 
ensuring the protection of the various populations of migratory birds. 
Development of these regulations involves annual data gathering to 
determine bird population status and trends, habitat conditions, 
harvest trends, and other factors that may have an impact on the 
effects of the harvest. The Service therefore proposes annual 
regulations for public comment for 50 CFR part 92, subpart D.
    Comment: One commenter stated that the Service violated the 
language of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by permitting the taking of 
birds for cultural purposes, namely the taking of yellow-billed loons 
for use in traditional dance regalia.
    Service Response: The commenter correctly points out that ``the 
Secretary of the Interior 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 * * *'' (16 U.S.C. 712(1)). While the commenter does 
not believe that traditional dance regalia is an essential need, the 
regulations issued by the Secretary of the Interior at 50 CFR 92.6 
state that nonedible byproducts of migratory birds may be used for 
other purposes. Traditional dance regalia is such a purpose.
    Comment: One commenter stated that the Service did not provide 
adequate notice as required by the Administrative Procedure Act (5 
U.S.C. 551 et seq.) for its proposal to permanently add to the consent 
agenda the provision enabling yellow-billed loons inadvertently caught 
on subsistence fishing to be kept for subsistence use. The commenter 
further contends that the Service did not make the North Slope Borough 
loon survey report part of the administrative record available with the 
proposed rule, denying the public access to review and comment if it 
was sufficient. In addition, they requested that Service should reopen 
the comment period for the proposed rule to make available the loon 
survey report and allow the public an opportunity to comment on it.
    Service Response: The proposed rule included the provision allowing 
yellow-billed loons that are inadvertently entangled in fishing nets to 
be kept for subsistence uses. Thus, the Service provided the legally-
required notice that it intended to include this provision in the final 
rule. The consent agenda and the North Slope Borough loon survey report 
pertain to the development of the Service's regulatory proposal. The 
loon survey report was available and was discussed at the April 11-12, 
2012, meeting of the Co-Management Council in Anchorage, which was a 
publicized public meeting. In addition, any referenced documents were 
and are available by contacting the person listed under FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT. During the 60-day public comment period for the 
proposed rule, interested members of the public had further 
opportunities to request and receive the loon survey report and to 
submit comments on it.
    Comment: The Service relied on limited, uncertain data when 
addressing the proposal to permanently add to the consent agenda the 
provision enabling yellow-billed loons inadvertently caught in 
subsistence fishing to be kept for subsistence use, such that the 
Service violated the Administrative Procedure Act by not supplying 
sound facts to support the decision.
    Service Response: The North Slope Borough's survey methodology was 
reviewed and approved in advance by both the Service and the Alaska 
Department of Fish and Game. By targeting registered subsistence 
fishermen from villages where their fishing activities overlap with the 
breeding range of yellow-billed loons, the survey focused on the users 
that could inadvertently catch yellow-billed loons in their fishing 
nets. The survey was voluntary, and cannot be legally mandated, so a 97 
percent response rate was exceptional. Consequently, the Service 
considers the survey to be a comprehensive and valid means of 
documenting the current levels of inadvertent take.
    Comment: The Service's proposal to allow 20 yellow-billed loons to 
be kept for subsistence purposes when inadvertently caught in 
subsistence fishing nets is an arbitrary and

[[Page 11992]]

capricious number with no record evidence to support it.
    Service Response: In the face of uncertainty, the SRC, on July 29, 
2004, proposed 20 as the maximum number of yellow-billed loons that 
could be inadvertently caught and retained annually in the North Slope 
Region. The number 20 was chosen as a trigger point that if the 
inadvertent harvest remained below that, it was deemed not a 
significant threat to the local breeding population; however if the 
harvest exceeded that, then any continuation of this provision would 
have to be carefully re-evaluated by the SRC. During the following 7 
years, the SRC required annual re-evaluation of this provision to 
monitor the amount of yellow-billed loons actually being caught and 
retained, and to allow the Service to work with the North Slope Borough 
on outreach efforts to encourage safe release of loons inadvertently 
caught in the fishing nets, when possible. Since that time, there has 
been no indication that the numerical cap should change. Thus, the SRC 
did not see the need to adjust the numerical cap on the number of loons 
salvaged.

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

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.). An initial 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 by the harvesters or persons within their 
local community.

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 final 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 final 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 final rule does not deal with 
traded commodities and, therefore, does not have an impact on prices 
for consumers.
    (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 
final rule deals with the harvesting of wildlife for personal 
consumption. It does not regulate the marketplace in any way to 
generate 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 final 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 final rule does 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 will require 
travel expenses for some Alaska Native organizations and local 
governments. In addition, they will 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 will also incur expenses for travel to Co-management Council and 
regional management body meetings. In addition, the State of Alaska 
will 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 final rule does 
not have significant takings implications. This final 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 final rule does 
not have sufficient federalism implications to

[[Page 11993]]

warrant the preparation of a federalism summary impact statement. We 
discuss effects of this final 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 final rule, has determined 
that it does 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

    Consistent with Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249; November 6, 
2000), ``Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal 
Governments'', and Department of Interior policy on Consultation with 
Indian Tribes (December 1, 2011), we emailed or sent letters to all 229 
Alaska Federally recognized Indian tribes. Consistent with 
Congressional direction (Public Law 108-199, div. H, Sec. 161, Jan. 23, 
2004, 118 Stat. 452, as amended by Public Law 108-447, div. H, title V, 
Sec. 518, Dec. 8, 2004, 118 Stat. 3267), we emailed or sent letters to 
approximately 200 Alaska Native corporations and other tribal entities 
in Alaska soliciting their input as to whether or not they would like 
the Service to consult with them on the 2013 migratory bird subsistence 
harvest regulations. We received 4 responses, of which 2 requested 
consultation. One respondent was confused as to the process and was 
actually just seeking more information, and one respondent did not want 
to consult after also receiving clarification of the process. We 
conducted 2 consultations, one with a tribe and one with a corporation, 
on November 14, 2012. All contacts were happy with the information 
provided and did not have any comments on the regulations. One contact 
did suggest a change in the public distribution of the regulations, 
requesting that tribal offices receive extra copies of the public 
booklet.
    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 will 
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 will 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.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This final rule has been examined under the Paperwork Reduction Act 
of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) and does not contain any new 
collections of information that require Office of Management and Budget 
(OMB) approval. OMB has approved our collection of information 
associated with the voluntary annual household surveys used to 
determine levels of subsistence take. The OMB control number is 1018-
0124, which expires April 30, 2013. An agency 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.

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

    The annual regulations and options are considered in the 
environmental assessment, ``Managing Migratory Bird Subsistence Hunting 
in Alaska: Hunting Regulations for the 2013 Spring/Summer Harvest,'' 
September 12, 2012. Copies are available from the person listed under 
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT or at http://www.regulations.gov under 
docket number FWS-R7-ES-2012-0066.

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 final 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 no Statement 
of Energy Effects is required.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 92

    Hunting, Treaties, Wildlife.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, we are amending 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:

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

Subpart A--General Provisions

0
2. Amend Sec.  92.4 by adding, in alphabetical order, a definition for 
``Closure'' to read as follows:


Sec.  92.4  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Closure means the season is closed to all forms of harvest, 
including hunting and egg gathering, unless specified otherwise.
* * * * *

Subpart D--Annual Regulations Governing Subsistence Harvest

0
3. Add Sec.  92.31 to subpart D to read as follows:


Sec.  92.31  Region-specific regulations.

    The 2013 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 (Aleut 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 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

[[Page 11994]]

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 and Cackling Goose 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. 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 9 and August 15-August 31 (hunting in 
general); waterfowl egg gathering May 20-June 9 only; seabird egg 
gathering May 20-July 12 only; hunting molting/non-nesting waterfowl 
July 1-July 31 only.
    (2) Closure: June 10-August 14, 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 6-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 may be inadvertently entangled in 
subsistence fishing nets in the North Slope Region and 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 subpart 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: 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 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 (Harvest area: Unit 6[D]), (Eligible 
Chugach communities: Chenega Bay, Tatitlek):
    (i) Season: April 2-May 31 and July 1-August 31.
    (ii) Closure: June 1-30.
    (2) Kachemak Bay Area (Harvest area: 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 Unit 16[B] as specified 
below) (Eligible communities: Tyonek only).
    (1) Season: April 2-May 31--That portion of Unit 16(B) south of the 
Skwentna River and west of the Yentna River, and August 1-31--That 
portion of 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.

[[Page 11995]]

    (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 Dry Bay):
    (i) Season: glaucous-winged gull egg gathering: May 15-June 30.
    (ii) Closure: July 1-August 31.

0
4. Add Sec.  92.32 to subpart D 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: February 12, 2013.
Rachel Jacobson,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 2013-03999 Filed 2-20-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P