Federal Register Vol. 82, No.161,

Federal Register Volume 82, Issue 161 (August 22, 2017)

Page Range39655-39951
FR Document

82_FR_161
Current View
Page and SubjectPDF
82 FR 39780 - Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) Information To Be Verified for the 2018-2019 Award YearPDF
82 FR 39915 - Government in the Sunshine Act Meeting NoticePDF
82 FR 39915 - Sunshine Act MeetingPDF
82 FR 39916 - Sunshine Act Meeting NoticePDF
82 FR 39888 - Arkansas; Amendment No. 2 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
82 FR 39894 - Missouri; Amendment No. 2 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
82 FR 39785 - Change in Bank Control Notices; Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding CompanyPDF
82 FR 39786 - Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding CompaniesPDF
82 FR 39932 - Notifications to Congress of Proposed Export LicensesPDF
82 FR 39894 - Missouri; Amendment No. 1 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
82 FR 39893 - New Hampshire; Major Disaster and Related DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 39889 - Michigan; Major Disaster and Related DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 39891 - North Dakota; Major Disaster and Related DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 39882 - Accreditation and Approval of Intertek USA, Inc. Pittsburgh, PA, as a Commercial Gauger and LaboratoryPDF
82 FR 39888 - Oregon; Major Disaster and Related DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 39918 - Submission for Review: Combined Federal Campaign Annuitant Pledge Form, OPM Form 1654-BPDF
82 FR 39892 - Final Flood Hazard DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 39894 - Changes in Flood Hazard DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 39898 - Technical Mapping Advisory CouncilPDF
82 FR 39659 - Educational Meeting on the Mandatory Inspection of Fish of the Order Siluriformes and Products Derived From Such Fish Final Rule ImplementationPDF
82 FR 39942 - Notice of Intent To Release Certain Properties at the Melbourne International Airport, Melbourne, FLPDF
82 FR 39949 - Final Priorities for Amendment CyclePDF
82 FR 39880 - Navigation Safety Advisory Council; VacanciesPDF
82 FR 39665 - Safety Zones; Ice Covered Waterways in the Fifth Coast Guard DistrictPDF
82 FR 39890 - Tennessee; Amendment No. 1 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
82 FR 39898 - Nebraska; Major Disaster and Related DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 39890 - New York; Major Disaster and Related DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 39783 - Combined Notice of FilingsPDF
82 FR 39914 - Stainless Steel Flanges From China and India; Institution of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Investigations and Scheduling of Preliminary Phase InvestigationsPDF
82 FR 39889 - Wyoming; Major Disaster and Related DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 39891 - Nebraska; Amendment No. 1 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
82 FR 39887 - Oklahoma; Major Disaster and Related DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 39712 - Definition of “Waters of the United States”-Recodification of Pre-Existing Rules; Extension of Comment PeriodPDF
82 FR 39946 - Petition for Waiver of CompliancePDF
82 FR 39785 - Former Douglas Battery Site, Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, North Carolina; Notice of SettlementPDF
82 FR 39777 - Intent To Grant a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement for the Transfer and Use of a Unique Infrared Laser to University of Central FloridaPDF
82 FR 39797 - Secretarial Review and Publication of the National Quality Forum Report of 2016 Activities to Congress and the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human ServicesPDF
82 FR 39780 - Proposed Agency Information Collection ExtensionPDF
82 FR 39918 - Information Collection Request; Submission for OMB ReviewPDF
82 FR 39715 - Connect2HealthFCC Task Force Announces Upcoming Virtual Listening Sessions on Broadband Health DividePDF
82 FR 39716 - Radio Broadcasting Services; Cora, WyomingPDF
82 FR 39919 - New Postal ProductsPDF
82 FR 39784 - Laramie River DevCo LP; Notice of Request for Temporary WaiverPDF
82 FR 39784 - Combined Notice of Filings #1PDF
82 FR 39790 - Pediatric Advisory Committee; Notice of Meeting; Establishment of a Public Docket; Request for CommentsPDF
82 FR 39903 - Proposed Reinstatement of Terminated Oil and Gas Lease NDM 94112, North DakotaPDF
82 FR 39664 - Revised Medical Criteria for Evaluating Neurological Disorders; CorrectionPDF
82 FR 39949 - Limitation on Claims Against Proposed Public Transportation ProjectsPDF
82 FR 39716 - Migratory Bird Hunting; Proposed Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations on Certain Federal Indian Reservations and Ceded Lands for the 2017-18 SeasonPDF
82 FR 39945 - Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Epilepsy and Seizure DisordersPDF
82 FR 39943 - Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; DiabetesPDF
82 FR 39684 - Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the U.S. Air Force 86 Fighter Weapons Squadron Conducting Long Range Strike Weapons System Evaluation Program at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, HawaiiPDF
82 FR 39732 - Notification of Receipt of a Petition To Ban Imports of All Fish and Fish Products From Mexico That Do Not Satisfy the Marine Mammal Protection Act ProvisionsPDF
82 FR 39940 - Notice of Determinations; Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition Determinations: “Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire” ExhibitionPDF
82 FR 39950 - Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans, Notice of MeetingPDF
82 FR 39758 - Huron-Manistee Resource Advisory CommitteePDF
82 FR 39777 - Credit Union Advisory Council MeetingPDF
82 FR 39749 - Notice of Meeting of the Board for International Food and Agricultural DevelopmentPDF
82 FR 39901 - U.S. Endangered Species; Recovery Permit ApplicationsPDF
82 FR 39787 - Proposed Data Collections Submitted for Public Comment and RecommendationsPDF
82 FR 39665 - Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, Indian River, Titusville, FLPDF
82 FR 39917 - Information Collection: Comprehensive Decommissioning Program, Including Annual Data CollectionPDF
82 FR 39940 - Determination Under the African Growth and Opportunity ActPDF
82 FR 39711 - Juice Products Association; Filing of Food Additive Petition; CorrectionPDF
82 FR 39793 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for Office of Management and Budget Review; Comment Request; Submission of Petitions: Food Additive, Color Additive (Including Labeling), Submission of Information to a Master File in Support of Petitions; and Electronic Submission Using Food and Drug Administration Form 3503PDF
82 FR 39792 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for Office of Management and Budget Review; Comment Request; Medical Devices; Exception From General Requirements for Informed ConsentPDF
82 FR 39795 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for Office of Management and Budget Review; Comment Request; Voluntary Cosmetic Registration ProgramPDF
82 FR 39908 - Notice of Inventory Completion: Tennessee Valley Authority, Knoxville, TNPDF
82 FR 39788 - Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and RecommendationsPDF
82 FR 39759 - Foreign-Trade Zone 38-Spartanburg County, South Carolina; Application for Expansion of Subzone 38A; BMW Manufacturing Company, LLC; Duncan, South CarolinaPDF
82 FR 39759 - Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 277-Western Maricopa County, Arizona; Notification of Proposed Production Activity; CornellCookson, Inc. (Rolling Steel Doors); Goodyear, ArizonaPDF
82 FR 39759 - Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 167-Brown County, Wisconsin; Authorization of Production Activity; Polaris Industries, Inc.; (Spark-Ignition Internal Combustion Engines); Osceola, WisconsinPDF
82 FR 39776 - Marine Mammals and Endangered SpeciesPDF
82 FR 39881 - Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory CommitteePDF
82 FR 39879 - Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory CommitteePDF
82 FR 39749 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 39951 - Agency Information Collection Activity: Claim, Authorization & Invoice for Prosthetic Items & ServicesPDF
82 FR 39915 - Appointment of Members of Senior Executive Service Performance Review BoardPDF
82 FR 39923 - Order Granting Limited Exemptions From Exchange Act Rule 10b-17 and Rules 101 and 102 of Regulation M to IQ Real Return ETF Pursuant to Exchange Act Rule 10b-17(b)(2) and Rules 101(d) and 102(e) of Regulation MPDF
82 FR 39929 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE Arca, Inc.; Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule Change To Extend the Implementation Date for Certain Changes to the NYSE Arca Rule 5 and Rule 8 SeriesPDF
82 FR 39778 - Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 39925 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NASDAQ PHLX LLC; Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule Change Related to the Floor RequirementsPDF
82 FR 39921 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE American LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Modify the NYSE American Options Fee SchedulePDF
82 FR 39930 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Bats EDGX Exchange, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change to Rule 21.2, Days and Hours of BusinessPDF
82 FR 39920 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC; Notice of Filing of a Proposed Rule Change To Extend the Implementation Date for Certain Changes to the Rule 5700 Series and Rule 5810PDF
82 FR 39790 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 39786 - Federal Travel Regulation (FTR); Reimbursement for Use of Transportation Network Companies or Innovative Mobility Technology Companies While on Official TravelPDF
82 FR 39899 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Comment Request; Extension of an Information CollectionPDF
82 FR 39915 - Identifying and Reporting Human Performance IncidentsPDF
82 FR 39786 - Maximum Per Diem Reimbursement Rates for the Continental United States (CONUS)PDF
82 FR 39941 - Petition for Exemption; Summary of Petition Received; Damian MartinPDF
82 FR 39660 - Incorporation by Reference of ICAO Annex 2; Removal of Outdated North Atlantic Minimum Navigation Performance SpecificationsPDF
82 FR 39702 - Regulatory Reform AgendaPDF
82 FR 39941 - Petition for Exemption; Summary of Petition Received; American Airlines, Inc.PDF
82 FR 39762 - Fish and Fish Product Import Provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act List of Foreign FisheriesPDF
82 FR 39942 - Petition for Exemption; Summary of Petition Received; KaiserAir, Inc.PDF
82 FR 39878 - Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health; Notice of MeetingPDF
82 FR 39875 - National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
82 FR 39877 - National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
82 FR 39875 - National Institute of Mental Health; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
82 FR 39876 - National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research; Notice of MeetingPDF
82 FR 39877 - National Institute on Drug Abuse; Notice of MeetingsPDF
82 FR 39875 - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases; Notice of MeetingPDF
82 FR 39877 - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
82 FR 39876 - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
82 FR 39876 - National Institute on Aging; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
82 FR 39875 - National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
82 FR 39878 - Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
82 FR 39900 - Intent To Request Revision From OMB of One Public Collection of Information: Exercise Information SystemPDF
82 FR 39777 - Reserve Forces Policy Board; Notice of Federal Advisory Committee MeetingPDF
82 FR 39911 - Notice of Inventory Completion: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Washington, DC, and Nevada State Museum, Carson City, NVPDF
82 FR 39907 - Notice of Inventory Completion: Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, New Haven, CTPDF
82 FR 39904 - Notice of Inventory Completion: Tennessee Valley Authority, Knoxville, TNPDF
82 FR 39909 - Notice of Inventory Completion: Tennessee Valley Authority, Knoxville, TNPDF
82 FR 39903 - Notice of Inventory Completion: Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, Little Rock, ARPDF
82 FR 39906 - Notice of Inventory Completion: Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, Little Rock, ARPDF
82 FR 39750 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request-Summer Meals StudyPDF
82 FR 39658 - United States Standards for Grades of Frozen OnionsPDF
82 FR 39655 - U.S. Standards for Grades of Shelled Walnuts and Walnuts in the ShellPDF
82 FR 39683 - Amendment of the Commission's Rules With Regard to Commercial Operations in the 3550-3650 MHz BandPDF
82 FR 39733 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Shrimp Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 17BPDF
82 FR 39760 - Certain Frozen Warmwater Shrimp From the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Notice of Court Decision Not in Harmony With Final Results of Administrative Review and Notice of Amended Final ResultsPDF
82 FR 39712 - National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants From the Portland Cement Manufacturing Industry: Alternative Monitoring MethodPDF
82 FR 39671 - National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants From the Portland Cement Manufacturing Industry: Alternative Monitoring MethodPDF
82 FR 39779 - Notice of Intent To Prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement for Northwest Training and TestingPDF
82 FR 39671 - Air Plan Approval; Georgia: Permit Exemptions and Definitions; WithdrawalPDF
82 FR 39940 - Renewal of International Security Advisory Board CharterPDF
82 FR 39743 - Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area; American Fisheries Act; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization ProgramPDF
82 FR 39947 - Pilot Program for Nonprofit Cooperative ProcurementsPDF
82 FR 39735 - Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; 2018 Atlantic Shark Commercial Fishing SeasonPDF
82 FR 39757 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection Comment Requested-Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) Collection Recipe Submission and Review FormsPDF
82 FR 39673 - Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Services ProgramPDF
82 FR 39883 - Changes in Flood Hazard DeterminationsPDF

Issue

82 161 Tuesday, August 22, 2017 Contents Agency Agency for International Development NOTICES Meetings: Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, 39749 2017-17712 Agricultural Marketing Agricultural Marketing Service RULES United States Standards for Grades of Frozen Onions, 39658-39659 2017-17642 United States Standards for Grades of Shelled Walnuts and Walnuts in the Shell, 39655-39658 2017-17641 Agriculture Agriculture Department See

Agricultural Marketing Service

See

Food and Nutrition Service

See

Food Safety and Inspection Service

See

Forest Service

NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 39749-39750 2017-17692
Army Army Department NOTICES Cooperative Research and Development Agreements: Transfer and use of Unique Infrared Laser to University of Central Florida, 39777 2017-17735 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection NOTICES Meetings: Credit Union Advisory Council, 39777 2017-17713 Centers Disease Centers for Disease Control and Prevention NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 39787-39790 2017-17699 2017-17708 Children Children and Families Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 39790 2017-17681 Coast Guard Coast Guard RULES Drawbridge Operations: Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, Indian River, Titusville, FL, 39665 2017-17707 Safety Zones: Ice Covered Waterways in Fifth Coast Guard District, 39665-39671 2017-17748 NOTICES Meetings: Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee, 39879-39880 2017-17693 Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee, 39881-39882 2017-17694 Requests for Nominations: Navigation Safety Advisory Council, 39880-39881 2017-17749 Commerce Commerce Department See

Foreign-Trade Zones Board

See

International Trade Administration

See

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Defense Department Defense Department See

Army Department

See

Engineers Corps

See

Navy Department

NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 39778-39779 2017-17686 Meetings: Reserve Forces Policy Board, 39777-39778 2017-17653
Education Department Education Department NOTICES Free Application for Federal Student Aid Information to be Verified for 2018-2019 Award Year, 39780 C1--2017--09167 Energy Department Energy Department See

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office

See

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Energy Efficiency Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 39780-39783 2017-17733 Engineers Engineers Corps PROPOSED RULES Definition of “Waters of the United States''—Recodification of Pre-existing Rules; Extension of Comment Period, 39712 2017-17739 Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Agency RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: Georgia: Permit Exemptions and Definitions; Withdrawal, 39671 2017-17617 National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants from Portland Cement Manufacturing Industry: Alternative Monitoring Method, 39671-39673 2017-17624 PROPOSED RULES Definition of “Waters of the United States''—Recodification of Pre-existing Rules; Extension of Comment Period, 39712 2017-17739 National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants from Portland Cement Manufacturing Industry: Alternative Monitoring Method, 39712-39715 2017-17626 NOTICES Proposed CERCLA Cost Recovery Settlements: Former Douglas Battery Site, Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, NC, 39785 2017-17737 Federal Aviation Federal Aviation Administration RULES Incorporation by Reference of ICAO Annex 2; Removal of Outdated North Atlantic Minimum Navigation Performance Specifications, 39660-39664 2017-17674 NOTICES Airport Property Releases: Melbourne International Airport, Melbourne, FL, 39942 2017-17756 Exemption Petitions; Summaries: American Airlines, Inc., 39941 2017-17672 Damian Martin, 39941-39942 2017-17675 KaiserAir, Inc., 39942-39943 2017-17670 Federal Communications Federal Communications Commission RULES Amendment of Commission's Rules with Regard to Commercial Operations in 3550-3650 MHz Band, 39683-39684 2017-17637 Structure and Practices of Video Relay Services Program, 39673-39683 2017-17225 PROPOSED RULES Radio Broadcasting Services: Cora, WY, 39716 2017-17730 Virtual Listening Sessions on Broadband Health Divide, 39715-39716 2017-17731 Federal Emergency Federal Emergency Management Agency NOTICES Flood Hazard Determinations, 39892-39893 2017-17762 Flood Hazard Determinations; Changes, 39883-39887, 39894-39898 2017-16950 2017-17760 Major Disaster Declarations: Arkansas; Amendment No. 2, 39888-39889 2017-17775 Missouri; Amendment No. 1, 39894 2017-17769 Missouri; Amendment No. 2, 39894 2017-17774 Nebraska; Amendment No. 1, 39891 2017-17741 Tennessee; Amendment No. 1, 39890-39891 2017-17747 Major Disasters and Related Determinations: Michigan, 39889 2017-17767 Nebraska, 39898 2017-17746 New Hampshire, 39893-39894 2017-17768 New York, 39890 2017-17745 North Dakota, 39891-39892 2017-17766 Oklahoma, 39887-39888 2017-17740 Oregon, 39888 2017-17764 Wyoming, 39889-39890 2017-17742 Federal Energy Federal Energy Regulatory Commission NOTICES Combined Filings, 39783-39785 2017-17676 2017-17727 2017-17744 Requests for Temporary Waivers: Laramie River DevCo, LP, 39784 2017-17728 Federal Motor Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration NOTICES Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications: Diabetes, 39943-39945 2017-17720 Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders, 39945-39946 2017-17721 Federal Railroad Federal Railroad Administration NOTICES Waivers of Compliance; Petitions, 39946-39947 2017-17738 Federal Reserve Federal Reserve System NOTICES Changes in Bank Control: Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding Company, 39785 2017-17772 Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding Companies, 39786 2017-17771 Federal Transit Federal Transit Administration NOTICES Limitations on Claims Against Proposed Public Transportation Projects, 39949 2017-17723 Pilot Program for Nonprofit Cooperative Procurements, 39947-39949 2017-17606 Fish Fish and Wildlife Service PROPOSED RULES Migratory Bird Hunting: Regulations on Certain Federal Indian Reservations and Ceded Lands for 2017-18 Season, 39716-39732 2017-17722 NOTICES Permit Applications: Endangered Species, 39901-39903 2017-17710 Food and Drug Food and Drug Administration PROPOSED RULES Food Additive Petitions: Juice Products Association; Correction, 39711-39712 2017-17704 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Exception from General Requirements for Informed Consent, 39792-39793 2017-17702 Food Additive, Color Additive (Including Labeling), Submission of Information to Master File in Support of Petitions; and Electronic Submission Using Food and Drug Administration Form 3503, 39793-39795 2017-17703 Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program, 39795-39797 2017-17701 Meetings: Pediatric Advisory Committee; Establishment of Public Docket; Request for Comments, 39790-39792 2017-17726 Food and Nutrition Food and Nutrition Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Summer Meals Study, 39750-39757 2017-17643 Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program Education Collection Recipe Submission and Review Forms, 39757-39758 2017-17524 Food Safety Food Safety and Inspection Service RULES Meetings: Mandatory Inspection of Fish of Order Siluriformes and Products Derived from Such Fish Final Rule Implementation, 39659-39660 2017-17757 Foreign Trade Foreign-Trade Zones Board NOTICES Production Activities: Foreign-Trade Zone 167, Polaris Industries, Inc., Brown County, WI, 39759 2017-17696 Foreign-Trade Zone 277, CornellCookson, Inc., Western Maricopa County, AZ, 39759 2017-17697 Subzone Expansions; Applications: Foreign-Trade Zone 38, BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC, Spartanburg County, SC, 39759 2017-17698 Forest Forest Service NOTICES Meetings: Huron-Manistee Resource Advisory Committee, 39758-39759 2017-17714 General Services General Services Administration NOTICES Federal Travel Regulation Bulletin: Reimbursement for Use of Transportation Network Companies or Innovative Mobility Technology Companies While on Official Travel, 39786-39787 2017-17680 Maximum Per Diem Reimbursement Rates for Continental United States, 39786 2017-17677 Health and Human Health and Human Services Department See

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

See

Children and Families Administration

See

Food and Drug Administration

See

National Institutes of Health

NOTICES Secretarial Review and Publication of National Quality Forum Report of 2016 Activities to Congress and Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services, 39797-39874 2017-17734
Homeland Homeland Security Department See

Coast Guard

See

Federal Emergency Management Agency

See

Transportation Security Administration

See

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

See

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

NOTICES Meetings: Technical Mapping Advisory Council, 39898-39899 2017-17759
Interior Interior Department See

Fish and Wildlife Service

See

Land Management Bureau

See

National Park Service

International Trade Adm International Trade Administration NOTICES Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Certain Frozen Warmwater Shrimp from Socialist Republic of Vietnam, 39760-39762 2017-17629 International Trade Com International Trade Commission NOTICES Investigations; Determinations, Modifications, and Rulings, etc.: Stainless Steel Flanges from China and India, 39914-39915 2017-17743 Meetings; Sunshine Act, 39915 2017-17863 2017-17864 Land Land Management Bureau NOTICES Terminated Oil and Gas Leases; Proposed Reinstatements: NDM 94112, North Dakota, 39903 2017-17725 National Credit National Credit Union Administration PROPOSED RULES Regulatory Reform Agenda, 39702-39711 2017-17673 National Drug National Drug Control Policy Office NOTICES Appointment of Members of Senior Executive Service Performance Review Board, 39915 2017-17689 National Institute National Institutes of Health NOTICES Meetings: Advisory Committee on Research on Women's Health, 39878 2017-17667 Center for Scientific Review, 39878 2017-17656 National Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, 39875-39876 2017-17661 National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, 39875 2017-17657 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 39876-39878 2017-17659 2017-17660 National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 39876-39877 2017-17663 National Institute of Mental Health, 39875 2017-17664 National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 39875, 39877 2017-17665 2017-17666 National Institute on Aging, 39876 2017-17658 National Institute on Drug Abuse, 39877 2017-17662 National Oceanic National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RULES Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities: U.S. Air Force 86 Fighter Weapons Squadron Conducting Long Range Strike Weapons System Evaluation Program, Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, HI, 39684-39701 2017-17718 PROPOSED RULES Atlantic Highly Migratory Species: 2018 Atlantic Shark Commercial Fishing Season, 39735-39743 2017-17575 Fisheries of Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic: Shrimp Fishery of Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 17B, 39733-39735 2017-17635 Fisheries of Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska: Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area; American Fisheries Act; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Program, 39743-39748 2017-17607 Petitions: Ban Imports of All Fish and Fish Products from Mexico that Do Not Satisfy Marine Mammal Protection Act Provisions, 39732-39733 2017-17717 NOTICES List of Foreign Fisheries: Fish and Fish Product Import Provisions of Marine Mammal Protection Act, 39762-39776 2017-17671 Permits: Marine Mammals and Endangered Species, 39776-39777 2017-17695 National Park National Park Service NOTICES Inventory Completions: Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, Little Rock, AR, 39903-39904, 39906-39907 2017-17645 2017-17646 Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Washington, DC, and Nevada State Museum, Carson City, NV, 39911-39913 2017-17651 Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, New Haven, CT, 39907-39908 2017-17650 Tennessee Valley Authority, Knoxville, TN, 39904-39906, 39908-39911 2017-17647 2017-17649 2017-17700 National Transportation National Transportation Safety Board NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 39915 2017-17803 Navy Navy Department NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Northwest Training and Testing, 39779-39780 2017-17618 Nuclear Regulatory Nuclear Regulatory Commission NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Comprehensive Decommissioning Program, Including Annual Data Collection, 39917-39918 2017-17706 Identifying and Reporting Human Performance Incidents, 39915-39916 2017-17678 Meetings; Sunshine Act, 39916-39917 2017-17801 Peace Peace Corps NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 39918 2017-17732 Personnel Personnel Management Office NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Combined Federal Campaign Annuitant Pledge Form, 39918-39919 2017-17763 Postal Regulatory Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES New Postal Products, 39919 2017-17729 Securities Securities and Exchange Commission NOTICES Orders Granting Limited Exemptions from Exchange Act Rule, 39923-39925 2017-17688 Self-Regulatory Organizations; Proposed Rule Changes: Bats EDGX Exchange, Inc., 39930-39932 2017-17683 NASDAQ PHLX, LLC, 39925-39929 2017-17685 NASDAQ Stock Market, LLC, 39920-39921 2017-17682 NYSE American, LLC, 39921-39923 2017-17684 NYSE Arca, Inc., 39929-39930 2017-17687 Social Social Security Administration RULES Revised Medical Criteria for Evaluating Neurological Disorders; Correction, 39664-39665 2017-17724 State Department State Department NOTICES Charter Renewals: International Security Advisory Board, 39940 2017-17612 Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition: Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire, 39940 2017-17716 Notifications to Congress of Proposed Commercial Export Licenses, 39932-39940 2017-17770 Trade Representative Trade Representative, Office of United States NOTICES Determinations under African Growth and Opportunity Act, 39940-39941 2017-17705 Transportation Department Transportation Department See

Federal Aviation Administration

See

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

See

Federal Railroad Administration

See

Federal Transit Administration

Security Transportation Security Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Exercise Information System, 39900-39901 2017-17654 Customs U.S. Customs and Border Protection NOTICES Commercial Gaugers and Laboratories; Accreditations and Approvals: Intertek USA, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA, 39882-39883 2017-17765 Immigration U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 39899 2017-17679 U.S. Sentencing United States Sentencing Commission NOTICES Final Priorities for Amendment Cycle, 39949-39950 2017-17754 Veteran Affairs Veterans Affairs Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Claim, Authorization and Invoice for Prosthetic Items and Services, 39951 2017-17691 Meetings: Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans, 39950-39951 2017-17715 Reader Aids

Consult the Reader Aids section at the end of this issue for phone numbers, online resources, finding aids, and notice of recently enacted public laws.

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82 161 Tuesday, August 22, 2017 Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Part 51 [Document Number AMS-SC-16-0005, SC-16-331] U.S. Standards for Grades of Shelled Walnuts and Walnuts in the Shell AGENCY:

Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

This rule revises the U.S. Standards for Grades of Shelled Walnuts and the U.S. Standards for Grades of Walnuts in the Shell issued under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1946. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) is amending the color requirements to include red-colored walnuts. In addition, AMS is removing the “Unclassified” section. These revisions will modernize the standards to more accurately represent today's marketing practices and to meet growing consumer demand by providing greater marketing flexibility.

DATES:

Effective September 21, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

David G. Horner, Agricultural Marketing Specialist, Specialty Crops Inspection Division, USDA/AMS Specialty Crops Program, 100 Riverside Parkway, Suite 101, Fredericksburg, VA 22406; telephone (540) 361-1120; fax (540) 361-1199; or email [email protected] Copies of the revised U.S. Standards for Grades of Shelled Walnuts and Walnuts in the Shell are available at http://www.regulations.gov or http://www.ams.usda.gov/.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The changes in these two sets of standards will permit grade certification of red-colored walnut varieties. These revisions also affect the grade requirements under the marketing order, 7 CFR part 984, issued under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 (7 U.S.C. 601-674) and applicable imports.

Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

This rule does not meet the definition of a significant regulatory action contained in section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866, and is not subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Additionally, because this rule does not meet the definition of a significant regulatory action it does not trigger the requirements contained in Executive Order 13771. See OMB's Memorandum titled “Interim Guidance Implementing Section 2 of the Executive Order of January 30, 2017 titled `Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs' ” (February 2, 2017). Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess all costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety effects, distributive impacts, and equity). Executive Order 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, reducing costs, harmonizing rules, and promoting flexibility.

Executive Order 13175

This action has been reviewed in accordance with the requirements of Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments. The review reveals that this regulation would not have substantial and direct effects on Tribal governments and would not have significant Tribal implications.

Executive Order 12988

This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. It is not intended to have retroactive effect. There are no administrative procedures that must be exhausted prior to any judicial challenge to the provisions of this rule.

Regulatory Flexibility Act and Paperwork Reduction Act

Pursuant to the requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601-612), AMS has considered the economic impacts of the revisions to the U.S. Standards for Grades of Shelled Walnuts and the U.S. Standards for Grades of Walnuts in the Shell. The purpose of the RFA is to structure regulatory actions so small businesses will not be unduly or disproportionately burdened. Accordingly, AMS has prepared the following final regulatory flexibility analysis.

The current U.S. walnut standards have four color classifications: Extra Light, Light, Light Amber, and Amber. Product that does not meet these color standards cannot be certified to a U.S. grade. AMS is revising these standards to include a new classification for red-colored walnuts. In addition, AMS is eliminating the “Unclassified” section. These revisions modernize the current grading standards by allowing the industry to meet the growing consumer demand for red-colored walnuts and by promoting better market information and greater marketing flexibility within the industry.

The process of grading improves the functioning of a commodity market. Assigning different prices to different product characteristics and levels of quality increases opportunities for profitable trade. Including red-colored varieties to the walnut grading standards will facilitate additional market opportunities for walnut producers and other participants in the supply chain. The revision will result in a minor change only to the color requirements of the current standards. AMS anticipates that there will be little or no additional cost to implement this revision. This change applies uniformly to all market participants, and will not result in disproportionate additional costs being borne by small walnut producers or other small businesses.

To determine the proportion of walnut producers that would be considered small, AMS conducted the following analysis. The Small Business Administration (SBA) defines small agricultural producers as those with annual receipts of less than $750,000 (13 CFR 121.601).

AMS used crop value per acre to determine the number of bearing acres required to generate annual sales of $750,000 or more, and came to 136 bearing acres. To reach this number, AMS divided the total crop value measured in dollars by the total utilized production measured in tons. Using annual National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) data for the years 2010 to 2014, the 5-year average crop value was $1,507,478,000; utilized production was 504,800 tons; and, grower price was $2,982 per ton. AMS multiplied the price by yield to find the crop value per acre of $5,670 on average over 5 years. Finally, AMS divided the SBA-defined annual sales threshold of $750,000 by value per acre, which resulted in 136 acres.

The NASS Agricultural Census is conducted every 5 years and in 2012 showed that 87 percent of walnut farming operations in the U.S. fell into its Census category of “under 100 bearing acres” of walnuts. AMS estimates that the proportion of walnut growers that qualify as small businesses under the SBA definition is likely to be close to 90 percent, given the probable exclusion in the “under 100 bearing acres” Census category of walnut producers with bearing acreage between 100 and 136. These small growers will not be disproportionately affected by the final rule as all changes to the standards will be applied uniformly to all market participants.

In August 2015, the Grades and Standards Committee of the California Walnut Board and Commission voted unanimously to revise the U.S. walnut standards to include non-amber cultivars such as red-colored varieties. More than 99 percent of U.S. walnuts are produced in California. Addition of an expanded color certification grade will encourage greater revenue to flow into the industry due to greater marketing opportunities for red-colored nuts. Revising the current grading standards to include red walnuts will come at a minimal cost to the industry. The benefits of modernized grading standards, which include better market information and greater marketing flexibility, exceed the minor costs to market participants of implementing this revision to the U.S. standards for walnuts.

Background

The current U.S. walnut standards only permit the following four colors: Extra Light, Light, Light Amber, and Amber. However, consumer demand is growing for red walnuts in the United States. In China, the Livermore variety (a red-colored walnut) is very desirable. U.S. growers and companies expect sales to continue rising domestically and in China, especially once red walnuts are permitted grade certification.

To address anticipated consumer needs, the Grades and Standards Committee of the California Walnut Board and Commission voted unanimously in August 2015 to revise the U.S. walnut standards to include non-amber cultivars, beginning with the Livermore variety. Later, the California Walnut Board and Commission sent an official letter to the AMS Administrator formally requesting the addition of red-colored varieties.

On November 25, 2016, AMS published a Proposed Rule in the Federal Register (81 FR 85164) soliciting comments on its proposal to amend the standards to (1) include red-colored walnuts and (2) remove the “Unclassified” section. On March 23, 2017, AMS published a “Reopening of the comment period” in the Federal Register (82 FR 14832). The extended comment period closed April 24, 2017. To view the eight posted comments, please visit http://www.regulations.gov.

Six commenters supported the changes. One supporter was a trade association representing nearly 4,000 family farms, nearly 60,000 jobs, and a $1.7 billion walnut industry. The other supporting commenters were from the general public. Two of the supporting individuals asked for clarification on the following:

• Was there a health hazard in the past, preventing red walnuts from being certified to a U.S. grade? No. When the USDA Walnut Color Chart was developed in 1967, walnuts came in light to dark amber colors. Since then, red varieties of walnuts (e.g., Livermore) have been bred and seen increased demand. The standards are being updated to reflect the changing market.

• Are red walnuts a type of English walnut? Yes. Red walnuts, such as the Livermore variety, are a Juglans Regia cultivar with a red seed coat.

• What would prevent the industry from marketing dyed walnuts as true red walnuts? Marketing Order 984, which regulates walnuts grown in California, prohibits walnuts from being modified in any form (over 99 percent of U.S. walnuts are grown in California). In addition, the U.S. grade standards have no provision for artificial coloring and, therefore, walnuts could not be certified to grade if color was added.

Two commenters, representing the general public, opposed the changes. One believed red walnuts should be free from regulations and the other believed it would affect the market negatively. The purpose of U.S. grade standards is to facilitate the marketing of agriculture in the United States and around the world. These revisions come at the request of the U.S. walnut industry. In addition, AMS believes these revisions would increase supply of red walnuts. Marketing Order 984 requires walnuts grown in California to be certified to a U.S. grade. Once red walnuts can be grade certified, they will become more available to domestic and global consumers.

Based on the above information gathered, AMS is making the following revisions in the U.S. Standards for Grades of Shelled Walnuts:

§ 51.2276 Color chart: Removed and reserved. The information in this section regarding the U.S.D.A. Walnut Color Chart is obsolete.

§ 51.2277 U.S. No. 1(a): Revised to include red walnuts.

§ 51.2278 U.S. Commercial (a): Revised to include red walnuts.

§ 51.2279 Unclassified: Removed and reserved. AMS is removing this section in all standards as they are revised, as it is no longer considered necessary.

§ 51.2281 Color classifications: The section is reorganized into subparts (a) and (b) to include red walnuts.

§ 51.2282 Table II: Revised to include red walnuts.

§ 51.2283 Off color: Revised to include red walnuts.

In addition, AMS is making the following revisions in the U.S. Standards for Grades of Walnuts in the Shell:

§ 51.2946 Color chart: Removed and reserved. This section is now redundant and no longer needed.

§ 51.2948 U.S. No. 1(a), § 51.2949 U.S. No. 2(a), and § 51.2950 U.S. No3(a): Subpart (1) was added to subpart (a) in each section to accommodate red walnuts.

§ 51.2951 Unclassified: Removed and reserved. AMS is removing this section in all standards as they are revised, as it is no longer considered necessary.

§ 51.2954 Tolerances for grade defects: Revised to include red walnuts.

The U.S. Standards for Grades of Shelled Walnuts and the U.S. Standards for Grades of Walnuts in the Shell will be effective 30 days after publication of this rule in the Federal Register.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 51

Food grades and standards, Fruits, Nuts, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Vegetables.

For reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR part 51 is amended as follows:

PART 51—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for part 51 continues to read as follows: Authority:

7 U.S.C. 1621-1627.

§ 51.2276 [Removed and reserved]
2. Section 51.2276 is removed and reserved. 3. In § 51.2277, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows:
§ 51.2277 U.S. No. 1.

(a) Color shall be specified in connection with this grade in terms of “extra light,” “light,” “light amber,” or “amber” from the USDA Walnut Color Chart or in terms of “red” color. The color classifications in the USDA Walnut Color Chart shall not apply to “red” color. Furthermore, “red” color shall not be mixed with “extra light,” “light,” “light amber,” or “amber” colors. (See § 51.2281 and § 51.2282.)

4. In § 51.2278, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows:
§ 51.2278 U.S. Commercial.

(a) Color of walnuts based on the USDA Walnut Color Chart shall be not darker than the “amber” classification. There are no color requirements for “red” color. Color may be specified in connection with the grade in terms of one of the color classifications in the USDA Walnut Color Chart or “red” color. “Red” color shall not be mixed with “extra light,” “light,” “light amber,” or “amber” colors. (See § 51.2281 and § 51.2282.)

§ 51.2279 [Removed and reserved]
5. Section 51.2279 is removed and reserved. 6. Revise § 51.2281 to read as follows:
§ 51.2281 Color classifications.

The following classifications are provided to describe the color of any lot:

(a) “Extra light,” “light,” “light amber,” and “amber:” The portions of kernels in the lot shall be not darker than the darkest color permitted in the specified classification as shown on the USDA Walnut Color Chart.

(b) “Red:” There are no color requirements.

7. In § 51.2282, Table II is amended by adding an entry for “Red” to the end of the table and by revising footnote 1 to read as follows:
§ 51.2282 Tolerances for color. Table II Color classification Tolerances for color Darker than extra light 1 Darker than light 1 Darker than light amber 1 Darker than amber 1 *         *         *         *         *         *         * Red 1 See illustration of this term on USDA Walnut Color Chart.
8. Revise § 51.2283 to read as follows:
§ 51.2283 Off color.

The term “off color” is not a color classification, but shall be applied to any lot which fails to meet the requirements of the “amber” classification when applying the color classifications in the USDA Walnut Color Chart. Off color shall not be used for “red” color.

§ 51.2946 [Removed and reserved]
9. Section 51.2946 is removed and reserved. 10. In § 51.2948, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows:
§ 51.2948 U.S. No. 1.

(a) Kernel color shall be specified in connection with this grade in terms of “extra light,” “light,” “light amber,” or “amber” from the USDA Walnut Color Chart or in terms of “red” color. The color classifications in the USDA Walnut Color Chart shall not apply to “red” color. Furthermore, “red” color shall not be mixed with “extra light,” “light,” “light amber,” or “amber” colors. When kernel color is based on the color classifications from the USDA Walnut Color Chart, at least 70 percent, by count, of the walnuts have kernels which are not darker than “light amber,” and which are free from grade defects: Provided, That at least four-sevenths of the above amount, or 40 percent of the walnuts have kernels which are not darker than “light.” Higher percentages of nuts with kernels not darker than “light amber” which are free from grade defects and/or higher percentages with kernels not darker than “light” which are free from grade defects, may be specified in accordance with the facts. (See § 51.2954.)

11. In § 51.2949, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows:
§ 51.2949 U.S. No. 2.

(a) Kernel color shall be specified in connection with this grade in terms of “extra light,” “light,” “light amber,” or “amber” from the USDA Walnut Color Chart or in terms of “red” color. The color classifications in the USDA Walnut Color Chart shall not apply to “red” color. Furthermore, “red” color shall not be mixed with “extra light,” “light,” “light amber,” or “amber” colors. When kernel color is based on the color classifications from the USDA Walnut Color Chart, at least 60 percent, by count, of the walnuts have kernels which are not darker than “light amber,” and which are free from grade defects. Higher percentages of nuts with kernels not darker than “light amber” which are free from grade defects, and/or percentages with kernels not darker than “light” which are free from grade defects, may be specified in accordance with the facts. (See § 51.2954.)

12. In § 51.2950, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows:
§ 51.2950 U.S. No. 3.

(a) Kernel color may be specified in connection with this grade in terms of “light amber” or “light” from the USDA Walnut Color Chart or in terms of “red” color. The color classifications in the USDA Walnut Color Chart shall not apply to “red” color. Furthermore, “red” color shall not be mixed with “extra light,” “light,” “light amber,” or “amber” colors. When kernel color is based on the color classifications from the USDA Walnut Color Chart, there is no requirement in this grade for the percentage of walnuts having kernels which are “light amber” or “light.” However, the percentage, by count, of nuts with kernels not darker than “light amber” which are free from grade defects and/or the percentage with kernels not darker than “light” which are free from grade defects, may be specified in accordance with the facts. (See § 51.2954.)

§ 51.2951 [Removed and reserved]
13. Section 51.2951 is removed and reserved. 14. In § 51.2954, the table is revised to read as follows:
§ 51.2954 Tolerances for grade defects. Tolerances for Grade Defects Grade External (shell) defects Internal (kernel) defects Kernel color based on USDA Walnut Color Chart Kernel color based on red U.S. No. 1 10%, by count, for splits. 5%, by count, for other shell defects, including not more than 3% seriously damaged 10% total, by count, including not more than 6% which are damaged by mold or insects or seriously damaged by other means, of which not more than 5/6 or 5% may be damaged by insects, but no part of any tolerance shall be allowed for walnuts containing live insects No tolerance to reduce the required 70% of “light amber” kernels or the required 40% of “light” kernels or any larger percentage of “light amber” or “light” kernels specified U.S. No. 2 10%, by count, for splits. 10%, by count, for other shell defects, including not more than 5% serious damage by adhering hulls 15% total, by count, including not more than 8% which are damaged by mold or insects or seriously damaged by other means, of which not more than 5/8 or 5% may be damaged by insects, but no part of any tolerance shall be allowed for walnuts containing live insects No tolerance to reduce the required 60% or any specified larger percentage of “light amber” kernels, or any specified percentage of “light” kernels U.S. No. 3 Same as above tolerance for U.S. No. 2 Same as above tolerance for U.S. No. 2 No tolerance to reduce any percentage of “light amber” or “light” kernel specified
Dated: August 16, 2017. Bruce Summers, Acting Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-17641 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-02-P
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Part 52 [Document Number AMS-FV-08-0076; SC-17-330] United States Standards for Grades of Frozen Onions AGENCY:

Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Final notification.

SUMMARY:

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) is establishing voluntary United States Standards for Grades of Frozen Onions. The grade standards provide a common language for trade, a means of measuring value in the marketing of frozen onions, and guidance on the effective use of frozen onions.

DATES:

Effective Date: September 21, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Contact Brian E. Griffin, Agricultural Marketing Specialist, Specialty Crops Inspection Division, Specialty Crops Program, Agricultural Marketing Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Room 1536, South Building; STOP 0240, Washington, DC 20250; telephone (202) 720-5021; fax (202) 690-1527; or, email [email protected] Copies of the new U.S. Standards for Grades of Frozen Onions are available at http://www.regulations.gov or http://www.ams.usda.gov/.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Section 203(c) of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (Act) (7 U.S.C. 1621-1627), as amended, directs and authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture “to develop and improve standards of quality, condition, quantity, grade, and packaging, and recommend and demonstrate such standards in order to encourage uniformity and consistency in commercial practices.”

AMS is committed to carrying out this authority in a manner that facilitates the marketing of agricultural commodities and makes copies of official grade standards available upon request. The United States Standards for Grades of Fruits and Vegetables unrelated to Federal Marketing Orders or U.S. Import Requirements no longer appear in the Code of Federal Regulations, but are maintained by USDA, AMS, Specialty Crops Program, and are available at https://www.ams.usda.gov/grades-standards.

AMS is establishing the U.S. Standards for Grades of Frozen Onions using the procedures in part 36, Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations (7 CFR part 36).

Background: The American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) petitioned AMS to develop new grade standards for frozen onions. AFFI is a national trade association representing the interests of U.S. frozen food processors and their suppliers in all frozen food sectors, including processors and packers of frozen onions. AFFI's more than 500 member companies represent approximately 90 percent of all frozen food processed annually in the United States. The AFFI petition provided information on product styles, sample sizes, and a product description for use in the grade standards.

AMS asked the petitioner for various styles of samples in order to determine grades of frozen onions. AMS distributed several discussion drafts of proposed standards to AFFI, instituted changes to the drafts once agreement was reached, then published several Federal Register documents in order to receive comments from all interested parties (see 66 FR 21116, 68 FR 11801, 68 FR 27010, 76 FR 31575, 81 FR 84506, and 82 FR 12424).

Comments

In the most recent comments published November 23, 2016, in 81 FR 84506, and extended comment period published March 3, 2017, in 82 FR 12424, AMS received 19 comments. All comments received were from the general public. Three commenters stated they did not feel there was a need for Government grades of frozen onions. AMS developed the proposed U.S. Standards for Grades of Frozen Onions at the request of, and in cooperation with, the frozen food industry. The U.S. Standards for Grades of Frozen Onions are voluntary standards for grades of quality and condition, and are not Government mandated for general use. The remaining 16 comments received were in agreement with the proposed standard. Comments may be viewed at www.regulations.gov.

These standards establish the grade levels “A,” “B,” and “Substandard,” as well as Acceptable Quality Levels (AQL) tolerances and acceptance numbers for each quality factor as defined for each grade level.

AMS used the standard format for U.S. standards for grades using “individual attributes.” Specifically, the grade standards provide tolerance limits for defects; acceptance numbers of allowable defects with single letter grade designation based on a specified number or weight of sample units; a product description for frozen onions; and, style designations for “whole,” “strips,” “diced,” and “other” styles. The standard also defines quality factors, AQLs, and tolerances for defects in frozen onions, and determines sample unit sizes for this commodity. The grade of a sample unit of frozen onions will be ascertained considering the factors of varietal characteristics, color, flavor and odor, appearance, absence of grit or dirt, defects, and character.

The official grade of a lot of frozen onions covered by these standards will be determined by the procedures set forth in the Regulations Governing Inspection and Certification of Processed Products Thereof, and Certain Other Processed Food Products (7 CFR part 52 through 52.83).

The new U.S. Standards for Grades of Frozen Onions provide a common language for trade and reflect the current marketing of frozen onions. The standards will be effective 30 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.

Authority:

7 U.S.C. 1621-1627.

Dated: August 16, 2017. Bruce Summers, Acting Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-17642 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-02-P
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Food Safety and Inspection Service 9 CFR Parts 530, 531, 532, 533, 534, 537, 539, 540, 541, 544, 548, 550, 552, 555, 557, 559, 560, and 561 [Docket No. FSIS-2017-0039] Educational Meeting on the Mandatory Inspection of Fish of the Order Siluriformes and Products Derived From Such Fish Final Rule Implementation AGENCY:

Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Notification of educational meeting.

SUMMARY:

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is announcing an educational meeting to discuss the enforcement and implementation of the Final Rule, “Mandatory Inspection of Fish of the Order Siluriformes and Products Derived from Such Fish.” Fish of the order Siluriformes include fish of several families, including catfish (fish of the family Ictaluridae), basa, tra, and swai (fish of the family Pangasiidae), and clarias (fish of the Clariidae family). FSIS will present information on the upcoming full implementation of the regulatory requirements at official domestic establishments that process Siluriformes fish and fish products, as well as information on entry procedures and reinspection at official import inspection establishments. FSIS is particularly interested in soliciting participation from representatives from domestic wild-caught operations that process Siluriformes fish and fish products.

The primary objectives of the meeting are to provide updated information to stakeholders and to encourage dialogue between FSIS and the Siluriformes fish industry. Affected industry and interested individuals, organizations, and other stakeholders are invited to participate in the meeting.

DATES:

The meeting will be held in Webster, FL on Friday, August 25, 2017; 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. ET, at the Florida Bass Conservation Center, 3583 CR 788, in Webster, FL. For directions and parking instructions, please visit: http://myfwc.com/media/244914/FBCC_rack_card08.pdf.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Evelyn Arce, Outreach and Partnership Division, Office of Outreach, Employee Education and Training, FSIS, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Mail Stop 3778, Washington, DC 20250; Telephone: (202) 418-8903; Fax: (202) 690-6519; Email: [email protected], regarding additional information about this meeting or to arrange for special accommodations.

Questions regarding the mandatory inspection of fish of the order Siluriformes and products derived from such fish may be directed to [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Further information on these meetings will be posted on FSIS Web site at: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/newsroom/meetings and through the FSIS Constituent Update.

The final rule may be accessed from the FSIS Web site at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulations/federal-register/interim-and-final-rules. Registration: To pre-register for the meeting, please go to http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/newsroom/meetings.

Background

On December 2, 2015, FSIS published the final rule to establish a mandatory inspection program for fish of the order Siluriformes and products derived from these fish (80 FR 75590). The final rule and other resources and information on Siluriformes fish can be found on the FSIS “Inspection Program for Siluriformes Fish, Including Catfish” Web page: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/inspection/siluriformes.

The final rule was effective March 1, 2016; however, the Agency provided an 18-month transitional period until September 1, 2017, to give domestic establishments time to prepare and comply with the final regulations. The transitional period also provided foreign countries with time to submit the documentation necessary to continue exporting Siluriformes fish and fish products to the United States and to show that they have equivalent inspection systems.

FSIS began inspecting domestic establishments on March 1, 2016, and began selecting imported Siluriformes fish shipments for reinspection on April 15, 2016. During the transitional period, FSIS inspection personnel have exercised broad discretion in enforcing the regulatory requirements, focusing primarily on preventing adulterated or misbranded Siluriformes fish and fish products from entering commerce.

On August 2, 2017, to abide with direction from Congress, FSIS began reinspecting all imported Siluriformes fish and fish products. Specifically, the explanatory statement accompanying the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017, Public Law 115-31 Stat. 135, enacted May 5, 2017, directed FSIS to immediately begin reinspecting all imported Siluriformes fish and fish product shipments https://www.congress.gov/crec/2017/05/03/CREC-2017-05-03-bk2.pdf). FSIS announced its intention to begin this reinspection in a Federal Register notice on July 3, 2017 (“Import Reinspection of Fish of the Order Siluriformes” (82 FR 30721)).

FSIS held a series of domestic and import educational meetings when the final rule initially published in December 2015. More recently, in June and July 2017, FSIS held additional educational meetings in Richmond, VA, and Baltimore, MD. Another educational meeting is scheduled for August 24, 2017, in Memphis, TN. FSIS has gained significant insight into the domestic and importing Siluriformes fish industries during the transitional period.

FSIS is announcing this educational meeting to provide updates regarding full implementation of the regulatory requirements and to exchange information with operations that process wild-caught Siluriformes fish and fish products, and thus encourages representatives and parties involved in this industry to attend the educational meetings. The Agency is particularly interested in gaining additional insight into how the wild-caught Siluriformes fish arrive at processing facilities, where the wild-caught Siluriformes fish are sourced, daily production volume information for these facilities, and where the final Siluriformes fish and fish products are being sold or distributed after processing.

Additional Public Notification

Public awareness of all segments of rulemaking and policy development is important. Consequently, FSIS will announce this Federal Register publication on-line through the FSIS Web page located at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/federal-register.

FSIS also will make copies of this publication available through the FSIS Constituent Update, which is used to provide information regarding FSIS policies, procedures, regulations, Federal Register notices, FSIS public meetings, and other types of information that could affect or would be of interest to our constituents and stakeholders. The Update is available on the FSIS Web page. Through the Web page, FSIS is able to provide information to a much broader, more diverse audience. In addition, FSIS offers an email subscription service which provides automatic and customized access to selected food safety news and information. This service is available at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/subscribe. Options range from recalls to export information, regulations, directives, and notices. Customers can add or delete subscriptions themselves, and have the option to password protect their accounts.

USDA Non-Discrimination Statement

No agency, officer, or employee of the USDA shall, on the grounds of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, or political beliefs, exclude from participation in, deny the benefits of, or subject to discrimination any person in the United States under any program or activity conducted by the USDA.

How To File a Complaint of Discrimination

To file a complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, which may be accessed online at http://www.ocio.usda.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2012/Complain_combined_6_8_12.pdf, or write a letter signed by you or your authorized representative.

Send your completed complaint form or letter to USDA by mail, fax, or email: Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250-9410, Fax: (202) 690-7442, Email: [email protected]

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.), should contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).

Done at Washington, DC, on: August 17, 2017. Paul Kiecker, Acting Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2017-17757 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-DM-P
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 91 [Docket No.: FAA-2016-9154; Amdt. No. 91-348] RIN 2120-AK88 Incorporation by Reference of ICAO Annex 2; Removal of Outdated North Atlantic Minimum Navigation Performance Specifications AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

This rule better aligns FAA regulations regarding the North Atlantic (NAT) Minimum Navigation Performance Specifications (MNPS) with the relevant International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards. The ICAO NAT Region is transitioning from the decades-old MNPS navigation specification to a more modern, Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) specification. This rule also incorporates by reference the current version of Annex 2 (“Rules of the Air”) to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (the “Chicago Convention”), hereinafter referred to as “ICAO Annex 2,” in the FAA's regulations.

DATES:

This regulation is effective October 23, 2017. The incorporation by reference of the publication listed in the rule is approved by the Director of the Federal Register as of October 23, 2017.

ADDRESSES:

For information on where to obtain copies of rulemaking documents and other information related to this final rule, see “How To Obtain Additional Information” in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Kevin C. Kelley, Flight Technologies Division, Flight Standards Service, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone (202) 267-8854; email [email protected] For questions about ICAO Annex 2, contact the FAA's Office of International Affairs at (202) 267-1000.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Authority for This Rulemaking

The FAA is responsible for the safety of flight in the U.S. and for the safety of U.S. civil operators, U.S.-registered civil aircraft, and U.S.-certificated airmen throughout the world. The FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety is found in title 49 United States Code (U.S.C.). Subtitle I, Section 106(f) and (g), describe the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII of title 49, Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the agency's authority. Section 40101(d)(1) provides that the Administrator shall consider in the public interest, among other matters, assigning, maintaining, and enhancing safety and security as the highest priorities in air commerce. Section 40105(b)(1)(A) requires the Administrator to exercise his authority consistently with the obligations of the U.S. Government under international agreements.

This rule is promulgated under the authority described in title 49, subtitle VII, part A, subpart III, section 44701, General requirements. Under that section, the FAA is charged broadly with promoting safe flight of civil aircraft in air commerce by prescribing, among other things, regulations and minimum standards for practices, methods, and procedures that the Administrator finds necessary for safety in air commerce and national security.

This rule is also promulgated pursuant to title 49 U.S.C. 40103(b)(1) and (2), which charge the FAA with issuing regulations: (1) To ensure the safety of aircraft and the efficient use of airspace; and (2) to govern the flight of aircraft for purposes of navigating, protecting and identifying aircraft, and protecting individuals and property on the ground.

This regulation is within the scope of FAA's authority under the statutes cited above, because it amends 14 CFR 91.703, 91.705, 91.905, and 91.1027 and Appendices C and G to part 91, to better align FAA regulations with changes to international standards for operations in airspace over the high seas. This rule also incorporates by reference the current version of ICAO Annex 2 in FAA regulations.

I. Background A. Summary of the NPRM

On September 29, 2016, the FAA published an NPRM (81 FR 66877) in which it proposed several amendments to part 91 to improve the alignment between FAA regulations and ICAO standards relevant to operations over the North Atlantic and in other airspace over the high seas. As a result of ICAO renaming the NAT MNPS airspace as the NAT High Level Airspace (NAT HLA) and requiring PBN specifications to operate in NAT HLA by January 2020, the references to NAT MNPS in FAA regulations are outdated. Accordingly, the FAA proposed to remove all instances of MNPS in 14 CFR part 91.

In the NPRM, the FAA also stated that the prescriptive references to navigational specifications in part 91 were not necessary, since operators are required to comply with ICAO Annex 2, when operating over the high seas. Article 12 of the Chicago Convention states, in pertinent part, “Over the high seas, the rules in force [with respect to the flight and maneuver of aircraft] shall be those established under this Convention.” The Foreword to ICAO Annex 2 further states that the ICAO “. . . Council resolved, in adopting Annex 2 in April 1948 and Amendment 1 to the said Annex in November 1951, that the Annex constitutes [r]ules relating to the flight and [maneuver] of aircraft within the meaning of Article 12 of the [Chicago] Convention.” The Foreword to ICAO Annex 2 further states that, “[o]ver the high seas, therefore, these rules apply without exception.” The international standard in ICAO Annex 2, paragraph 5.1.1, states that: “Aircraft shall be equipped with suitable instruments and with navigation equipment appropriate to the route to be flown.”

In the NPRM, the FAA also proposed to incorporate by reference the current version of ICAO Annex 2.

II. Discussion of Public Comments and Final Rule A. Comments and Final Rule

The FAA did not receive any comments on the NPRM. With this final rule, the FAA adopts the changes as proposed, except as follows. First, in § 91.703, the name of the relevant ICAO unit, the name of the street on which the unit is located, the address of the unit's Web site, and the address of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Web site where information about material incorporated by reference into Federal regulations can be found have all been updated in the final rule to reflect current information. Second, the FAA neglected to include the relevant ICAO unit's telephone number and email address, as well as the agency phone number for questions from the public regarding ICAO Annex 2, in the NPRM and includes them in this final rule. Third, in the NPRM, the FAA also proposed to remove, but inadvertently neglected to propose to reserve for future use, § 91.705 and Appendix C to part 91. The FAA reserves for future use § 91.705 and Appendix C to part 91 in this final rule. These are minor technical changes that have no substantive effect on regulated entities. Except as described in this paragraph, explanations for the changes to §§ 91.703, 91.705, and 91.1027 and Appendices C and G to part 91 are contained in the NPRM.

Further, in preparing the final rule, the FAA also discovered that it had not proposed to remove the reference to “91.705 Operations within the North Atlantic Minimum Navigation Performance Specifications Airspace” from the list of rules subject to waiver in § 91.905 although the NPRM proposed to remove, and this final rule does remove, § 91.705 from the CFR. Consequently, removing the reference to § 91.705 from the list of rules subject to waiver in § 91.905 has no substantive effect on regulated entities. The FAA removes the reference to § 91.705 from § 91.905 in this final rule.

B. Incorporation by Reference

As part of the changes proposed in the NPRM, the FAA proposed to incorporate by reference the current version of ICAO Annex 2, up to and including Amendment 45, applicable on November 10, 2016. ICAO Annex 2 contains the ICAO standards that make up the rules of the air applicable to the flight and maneuver of civil aircraft operating over the high seas. ICAO Annex 2, including all amendments through Amendment 32, was incorporated by reference into § 91.703, effective April 9, 1997 (62 FR 17480, Apr. 9, 1997). Since then, an additional thirteen amendments to ICAO Annex 2 have been published, creating an ambiguity about the version of ICAO Annex 2 applicable to operators of U.S.-registered civil aircraft in high seas airspace. The amendments to ICAO Annex 2 since the previous incorporation by reference are described in Table 1 in the NPRM (81 FR at 66878).

The FAA noted in the proposed rule that the incorporation by reference of ICAO Annex 2 in § 91.703 did not include the proper language conveying the approval of the Director of the Federal Register. The FAA proposed to incorporate by reference the current version of ICAO Annex 2, including appropriate language to reflect the approval of the Director of the Federal Register. This final rule incorporates by reference ICAO Annex 2, up to and including Amendment 45, applicable on November 10, 2016, into § 91.703.

ICAO Annex 2 is available through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Marketing and Customer Relations Unit, 999 Robert Bourassa Boulevard, Montreal, Quebec H3C 5H7, Canada. Also, you may obtain this document on the Internet at http://store1.icao.int/ or by contacting the ICAO Marketing and Customer Relations Unit by telephone at (514) 954-8022 or by email at [email protected] It is also available for inspection at the U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

III. Regulatory Notices and Analyses A. Regulatory Evaluation

Changes to Federal regulations must undergo several economic analyses. First, Executive Order 12866 and Executive Order 13563 direct that each Federal agency shall propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that the benefits of the intended regulation justify its costs. Second, the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (Pub. L. 96-354) requires agencies to analyze the economic impact of regulatory changes on small entities. Third, the Trade Agreements Act (Pub. L. 96-39) prohibits agencies from setting standards that create unnecessary obstacles to the foreign commerce of the United States. In developing U.S. standards, the Trade Agreements Act requires agencies to consider international standards and, where appropriate, that they be the basis of U.S. standards. Fourth, the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-4) requires agencies to prepare a written assessment of the costs, benefits, and other effects of proposed or final rules that include a Federal mandate likely to result in the expenditure by State, local, or tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more annually (adjusted for inflation with base year of 1995). This portion of the preamble summarizes the FAA's analysis of the economic impacts of this final rule.

Department of Transportation Order DOT 2100.5 prescribes policies and procedures for simplification, analysis, and review of regulations. If the expected cost impact is so minimal that a proposed or final rule does not warrant a full evaluation, this order permits that a statement to that effect and the basis for it be included in the preamble if a full regulatory evaluation of the cost and benefits is not prepared. Such a determination has been made for this rule. The reasoning for this determination follows.

This rulemaking better aligns the FAA's regulations regarding operations in NAT airspace with the relevant ICAO standards. ICAO's NAT Region is transitioning from the decades-old MNPS navigation specification to a more modern, PBN specification. The FAA is also incorporating by reference the current version of ICAO Annex 2 in § 91.703. This action removes all references to MNPS from 14 CFR part 91 and will not impose any new requirements.

Under the Chicago Convention, flights operating in international airspace over the high seas must follow the international standards set forth in ICAO Annex 2. United States operators have historically complied with provisions relevant to high seas airspace in ICAO Annex 2. As operators are already complying with ICAO's provisions relevant to operations over the high seas, the FAA believes this rule removing references to MNPS from 14 CFR part 91 and incorporating by reference the current version of ICAO Annex 2 will impose minimal cost. The FAA requested comments on this determination and received none. Therefore, the FAA maintains that this final rule will impose only minimal cost, has determined that this rule is not a “significant regulatory action” as defined in section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866, and is not “significant” as defined in DOT's Regulatory Policies and Procedures.

B. Regulatory Flexibility Determination

The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (Pub. L. 96-354) (RFA) establishes “as a principle of regulatory issuance that agencies shall endeavor, consistent with the objectives of the rule and of applicable statutes, to fit regulatory and informational requirements to the scale of the businesses, organizations, and governmental jurisdictions subject to regulation.” To achieve this principle, agencies are required to solicit and consider flexible regulatory proposals and to explain the rationale for their actions to assure that such proposals are given serious consideration.” The RFA covers a wide-range of small entities, including small businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and small governmental jurisdictions.

Agencies must perform a review to determine whether a rule will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. If the agency determines that it will, the agency must prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis as described in the RFA.

However, if an agency determines that a rule is not expected to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, section 605(b) of the RFA provides that the head of the agency may so certify and a regulatory flexibility analysis is not required. The certification must include a statement providing the factual basis for this determination, and the reasoning should be clear.

The FAA recognizes that there are substantial numbers of small entities operating aircraft over the high seas. This rule, however, does not impose a significant economic impact. Flights in international airspace over the high seas must follow the international standards set forth in ICAO Annex 2. Today, United States operators comply with ICAO Annex 2 when flying over the high seas. This rule updates United States regulations to better align with the current version of ICAO Annex 2 effective in high seas airspace, and imposes no new requirements. Thus, all affected entities will incur only minimal costs. The FAA requested and received no comment on the proposed minimal cost determination, and therefore maintains the same minimal cost determination for the final rule.

Therefore, as provided in section 605(b), the head of the FAA certifies that this rulemaking will not result in a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

C. International Trade Impact Assessment

The Trade Agreements Act of 1979 (Pub. L. 96-39), as amended by the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (Pub. L. 103-465), prohibits Federal agencies from establishing standards or engaging in related activities that create unnecessary obstacles to the foreign commerce of the United States. Pursuant to these Acts, the establishment of standards is not considered an unnecessary obstacle to the foreign commerce of the United States, so long as the standard has a legitimate domestic objective, such as the protection of safety, and does not operate in a manner that excludes imports that meet this objective. The statute also requires consideration of international standards and, where appropriate, that they be the basis for U.S. standards. The FAA has assessed the potential effect of this rule and determined that it improves alignment between FAA regulations and international ICAO standards for the purpose of protecting safety. Consequently, the rule complies with the Trade Agreements Act, as amended by the Uruguay Round Agreements Act.

D. Unfunded Mandates Assessment

Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-4) requires each Federal agency to prepare a written statement assessing the effects of any Federal mandate in a proposed or final agency rule that may result in an expenditure of $100 million or more (in 1995 dollars) in any one year by State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector; such a mandate is deemed to be a “significant regulatory action.” The FAA currently uses an inflation-adjusted value of $155 million in lieu of $100 million. This rule does not contain such a mandate; therefore, the requirements of Title II of the Act do not apply.

E. Paperwork Reduction Act

The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507(d)) requires that the FAA consider the impact of paperwork and other information collection burdens imposed on the public. The FAA has determined that there is no new requirement for information collection associated with this final rule.

F. International Compatibility

In keeping with U.S. obligations under the Chicago Convention, it is FAA policy to conform to ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices to the maximum extent practicable. The FAA has published differences with ICAO Annex 2 in the United States Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP), section GEN 1.7, “Differences From ICAO Standards, Recommended Practices, and Procedures.” The differences listed in the U.S. AIP for ICAO Annex 2 are minor in nature and have no relation to the ICAO Annex 2 requirement for aircraft to be operated with navigation equipment appropriate to the route to be flown. This is consistent with the FAA's support of international compatibility and its obligations under the Chicago Convention.

G. Environmental Analysis

FAA Order 1050.1F identifies FAA actions that are categorically excluded from preparation of an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act in the absence of extraordinary circumstances. The FAA has determined this rulemaking action qualifies for the categorical exclusion identified in paragraph 5-6.6 and involves no extraordinary circumstances.

IV. Executive Order Determinations A. Executive Order 13132, Federalism

The FAA has analyzed this final rule under the principles and criteria of Executive Order 13132, Federalism. The agency determined that this action will not have a substantial direct effect on the States, or the relationship between the Federal Government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government, and, therefore, does not have Federalism implications.

B. Executive Order 13211, Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use

The FAA analyzed this rule under Executive Order 13211, Actions Concerning Regulations that Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use (May 18, 2001). The agency has determined that this rule is not a “significant energy action” under the executive order and is not likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of energy.

C. Executive Order 13609, International Cooperation

Executive Order 13609, Promoting International Regulatory Cooperation, (77 FR 26413, May 4, 2012) promotes international regulatory cooperation to meet shared challenges involving health, safety, labor, security, environmental, and other issues and reduce, eliminate, or prevent unnecessary differences in regulatory requirements. The FAA has analyzed this action under the policy and agency responsibilities of Executive Order 13609, Promoting International Regulatory Cooperation and has determined that it will support international regulatory cooperation. This rule removes potential ambiguities about the version of ICAO Annex 2 applicable to the operations of U.S.-registered civil aircraft over the high seas. ICAO Annex 2 contains the international standards applicable to civil aircraft operations over the high seas. This rule also removes outdated references to MNPS, consistent with ICAO's transition to PBN specifications for operations in the NAT HLA.

D. Executive Order 13771, Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs

Executive Order 13771, Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs, directs that, unless prohibited by law, whenever an executive department or agency publicly proposes for notice and comment or otherwise promulgates a new regulation, it shall identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed. In addition, any new incremental costs associated with new regulations shall, to the extent permitted by law, be offset by the elimination of existing costs. Only those rules deemed significant under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866, “Regulatory Planning and Review,” are subject to these requirements. As determined in Section IV.A., above, this is not a significant rule under Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, this rule is not subject to the requirements of Executive Order 13771.

V. How To Obtain Additional Information A. Rulemaking Documents

An electronic copy of a rulemaking document may be obtained by using the Internet—

1. Search the Federal eRulemaking Portal (http://www.regulations.gov);

2. Visit the FAA's Regulations and Policies Web page at http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/ or

3. Access the Government Publishing Office's Web page at http://www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys/.

Copies may also be obtained by sending a request (identified by notice, amendment, or docket number of this rulemaking) to the Federal Aviation Administration, Office of Rulemaking, ARM-1, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591, or by calling (202) 267-9680.

B. Comments Submitted to the Docket

Although the FAA has not received any comments on the proposed rule, any comments submitted to the docket for this rulemaking in the future may be viewed by going to http://www.regulations.gov and following the online instructions to search the docket number for this action. Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all comments received into any of the FAA's dockets by the name of the individual submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf of an association, business, labor union, etc.).

C. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) of 1996 requires FAA to comply with small entity requests for information or advice about compliance with statutes and regulations within its jurisdiction. A small entity with questions regarding this document, may contact its local FAA official, or the person listed under the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT heading at the beginning of the preamble. To find out more about SBREFA on the Internet, visit http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/sbre_act/.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 91

Air carrier, Air taxis, Air traffic control, Aircraft, Airmen, Aviation safety, Incorporation by reference.

The Amendment

In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation Administration amends chapter I of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

PART 91—GENERAL OPERATING AND FLIGHT RULES 1. The authority citation for part 91 continues to read as follows: Authority:

49 U.S.C. 106(f), 106(g), 1155, 40101, 40103, 40105, 40113, 40120, 44101, 44111, 44701, 44704, 44709, 44711, 44712, 44715, 44716, 44717, 44722, 46306, 46315, 46316, 46504, 46506-46507, 47122, 47508, 47528-47531, 47534, Pub. L. 114-190, 130 Stat. 615 (49 U.S.C. 44703 note); articles 12 and 29 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (61 Stat. 1180), (126 Stat. 11).

2. Amend § 91.703 as follows: a. Amend paragraphs (a)(1) and (3) by removing the word “annex” and adding, in its place, the word “Annex”; b. Remove the first sentence of paragraph (a)(4); and c. Revise paragraph (b) to read as follows:
§ 91.703 Operations of civil aircraft of U.S. registry outside of the United States.

(b) Annex 2 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, Rules of the Air, Tenth Edition—July 2005, with Amendments through Amendment 45, applicable November 10, 2016, is incorporated by reference into this section with the approval of the Director of the Federal Register under 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51. To enforce any edition other than that specified in this section, the FAA must publish a document in the Federal Register and the material must be available to the public. All approved material is available for inspection at U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590 and is available from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Marketing and Customer Relations Unit, 999 Robert Bourassa Boulevard, Montreal, Quebec H3C 5H7, Canada; http://store1.icao.int/; or by contacting the ICAO Marketing and Customer Relations Unit by telephone at 514-954-8022 or by email at [email protected] For questions about ICAO Annex 2, contact the FAA's Office of International Affairs at (202) 267-1000. It is also available for inspection at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call 202-741-6030, or go to http://www.archives.gov/federal_register/code_of_federal_regulations/ibr_locations.html.

§ 91.705 [Removed and Reserved]
3. Remove and reserve § 91.705.
§ 91.905 [Amended]
4. Amend § 91.905 by removing “91.705 Operations within the North Atlantic Minimum Navigation Performance Specifications Airspace.”
§ 91.1027 [Amended]
5. Amend § 91.1027(a)(2) by removing “MNPS,”. Appendix C to Part 91—[Removed and Reserved] 6. Remove and reserve Appendix C to part 91. 7. Amend Appendix G to part 91 by revising paragraph (a)(2) of section 8 to read as follows: Appendix G to Part 91—Operations in Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM) Airspace Section 8. Airspace Designation

(a) * * *

(2) RVSM may be effective in the High Level Airspace (HLA) within the NAT. The HLA within the NAT is defined by the volume of airspace between FL 285 and FL 420 (inclusive) extending between latitude 27 degrees north and the North Pole, bounded in the east by the eastern boundaries of control areas Santa Maria Oceanic, Shanwick Oceanic, and Reykjavik Oceanic and in the west by the western boundaries of control areas Reykjavik Oceanic, Gander Oceanic, and New York Oceanic, excluding the areas west of 60 degrees west and south of 38 degrees 30 minutes north.

Issued under authority provided by 49 U.S.C. 106(f) and (g), 40101(d)(1), 40103(b)(1) and (2), 40105(b)(1)(A), and 44701(a)(5) in Washington, DC, on July 18, 2017. Michael Huerta, Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2017-17674 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION 20 CFR Part 404 [Docket No. SSA-2006-0140] RIN 0960-AF35 Revised Medical Criteria for Evaluating Neurological Disorders; Correction AGENCY:

Social Security Administration.

ACTION:

Correcting amendment.

SUMMARY:

We published final rules in the Federal Register on July 1, 2016, that revised the Listing of Impairments (Listings) for the neurological body system. That document inadvertently omitted a reference. This document amends and corrects the final rule.

DATES:

This rule is effective August 22, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Cheryl A. Williams, Office of Disability Policy, Social Security Administration, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21235-6401, (410) 965-1020. For information on eligibility or filing for benefits, call our national toll-free number 1-800-772-1213, or TTY1-800-325-0778, or visit our Internet site, Social Security Online, at http://www.socialsecurity.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

On July 1, 2016, we published in the Federal Register the final rule, “Revised Medical Criteria for Evaluating Neurological Disorders.” (81 FR 43048). In appendix 1 to subpart P, the body system listing 11.00 Neurological Disorders, we inadvertently omitted a reference to 11.02D from 11.00H4 of the introductory text. The text in 11.02D on dyscognitive seizures refers to 11.00H4 (81 FR at 43056). However, the text of 11.00H4 only referenced 11.02A, B, and C (81 FR at 43054). This correction adds the missing reference to 11.02D to 11.00H4 and creates no change in policy.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 96.001, Social Security—Disability Insurance; 96.002, Social Security— Retirement Insurance; 96.004, Social Security—Survivors Insurance; and 96.006, Supplemental Security Income). List of Subjects in 20 CFR Part 404

Administrative practice and procedure, Blind, Disability benefits, Old-age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Social Security.

Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security.

For the reasons set out in the preamble, we are amending 20 CFR part 404, subpart P as set forth below:

PART 404—FEDERAL OLD-AGE, SURVIVORS AND DISABILITY INSURANCE (1950-) Subpart P—Determining Disability and Blindness 1. The authority citation for subpart P of part 404 continues to read as follows: Authority:

Secs. 202, 205(a)-(b) and (d)-(h), 216(i), 221(a) and (h)-(j), 222(c), 223, 225, and 702(a)(5) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 402, 405(a)-(b) and (d)-(h), 416(i), 421(a), (i), and (j), 422(c), 423, 425, and 902(a)(5)); sec. 211(b), Pub. L. 104-193, 110 Stat. 2105, 2189; sec. 202, Pub. L. 108-203, 118 Stat. 509 (42 U.S.C. 902 note).

2. Amend appendix 1 to subpart P of part 404, by revising the first sentence of 11.00H4 to read as follows: Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Part 404—Listing of Impairments 11.00 NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS

H. * * *

4. Counting seizures. The period specified in 11.02A, B, C, or D cannot begin earlier than one month after you began prescribed treatment. * * *
[FR Doc. 2017-17724 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4191-02-P
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 117 [Docket No. USCG-2017-0778] Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, Indian River, Titusville, FL AGENCY:

Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION:

Notice of deviation from drawbridge regulation.

SUMMARY:

The Coast Guard has issued a temporary deviation from the operating schedule that governs the NASA Railroad Bridge (Jay Jay Bridge) across the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (Indian River), mile 876.6, Titusville, Florida. The deviation is necessary to allow the bridge owner, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to repair the bridge. Due to the type of repairs this bridge will be required to remain closed to navigation periodically throughout the day. This deviation is deemed necessary for the continued safe operation of the bridge.

DATES:

This deviation is effective without actual notice from August 22, 2017 through 4 p.m. on September 26, 2017. For the purposes of enforcement, actual notice will be used from August 17, 2017 at 8 a.m. until August 22, 2017.

ADDRESSES:

The docket for this deviation, USCG-2017-0778 is available at http://www.regulations.gov. Type the docket number in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH”. Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this deviation.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

If you have questions on this temporary deviation, call or email LT Allan Storm, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville, Waterways Management Division; telephone 904-714-7557, email [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

NASA requested a temporary deviation from the operating schedule that governs the NASA Railroad Bridge (Jay Jay Bridge), Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (Indian River), mile 876.6, Titusville, Florida. The bridge is a single leaf bascule railroad bridge with a seven foot vertical clearance in the closed position. The normal operating schedule for the bridge is found in 33 CFR 117.261(j).

The deviation period is from 8 a.m. on August 17, 2017 to 4 p.m. on September 26, 2017. During this period, the bridge is allowed to remain closed to navigation from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Vessels able to pass through the bridge in the closed position may do so at any time. The bridge will be able to open for emergencies and there is no immediate alternate route for vessels to pass. The Coast Guard will also inform the users of the waterways through our Local and Broadcast Notices to Mariners of the change in operating schedule for the bridge so that vessel operators can arrange their transits to minimize any impact caused by the temporary deviation.

In accordance with 33 CFR 117.35(e), the drawbridge must return to its regular operating schedule immediately at the end of the effective period of this temporary deviation. This deviation from the operating regulations is authorized under 33 CFR 117.35.

Dated: August 17, 2017. Barry L. Dragon, Director, Bridge Branch, Seventh Coast Guard District.
[FR Doc. 2017-17707 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 165 [Docket Number USCG-2015-0051] RIN 1625-AA00 Safety Zones; Ice Covered Waterways in the Fifth Coast Guard District AGENCY:

Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Coast Guard is establishing 11 safety zones on certain navigable waters of the Fifth Coast Guard District. This action is necessary to promote navigational safety, provide for the safety of life and property, and facilitate the reasonable demands of commerce where a threat to navigation exists due to ice covered waterways. This rule is intended to mitigate the potential threat ice poses to the maritime public in the Fifth Coast Guard District by implementing control measures on vessels operating in certain ice covered waterways.

DATES:

This rule is effective September 21, 2017.

ADDRESSES:

To view documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, type USCG-2015-0051 in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.” Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this rule.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

If you have questions on this rule, call or email Mr. Doug Simpson, Fifth Coast Guard District, U.S. Coast Guard; telephone 757-398-6346, email [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Table of Abbreviations CFR Code of Federal Regulations DHS Department of Homeland Security FR Federal Register NPRM Notice of proposed rulemaking RNA Regulated Navigation Area SNPRM Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking § Section U.S.C. United States Code II. Background Information and Regulatory History

On July 9, 2015, the Coast Guard published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) titled Regulated Navigation Area; Ice Covered Waterways in the Fifth Coast Guard District (80 FR 39403). The purpose of that proposed regulated navigation area (RNA) was to mitigate the aforementioned potential threat ice poses to the maritime public in the Fifth Coast Guard District by implementing control measures on vessels of certain characteristics. We invited comments on our proposed regulatory action related to that RNA. During the comment period that ended October 7, 2015, we received a total of six comments coming from six submitters. No public meeting was requested, and none was held.

Based on consideration of the comments received in response to the NPRM and further analysis, the Coast Guard proposed to establish 11 safety zones on certain navigable waters of the Fifth Coast Guard District instead of 1 RNA. On February 9, 2017, the Coast Guard published an SNPRM titled Safety Zones; Ice Covered Waterways in the Fifth Coast Guard District (82 FR 9978). There we stated why we issued the SNPRM, replied to the comments received in response to the NPRM, and invited comments on the proposed regulatory action. During the comment period on the SNPRM that ended April 10, 2017, we received a total of 11 comments coming from four submitters. No public meeting was requested, and none was held.

III. Legal Authority and Need for Rule

The Coast Guard is issuing this rule under authority in 33 U.S.C. 1231. The Coast Guard has determined that during an average or severe winter, the presence of ice in waterways presents numerous hazards to vessels. Such hazards include vessels becoming beset or dragged off course, sinking or grounding and creating hazards to navigation. The presence of ice in a waterway may hamper a vessel's ability to maneuver and impose additional loads on a vessel's hull, propulsion system and appendages. Blockage of sea suctions can cause the main engine cooling system to overheat, requiring reduced power to be used or the engine to be shut down completely. Visual aids to navigation may become submerged, destroyed, or moved off station, potentially misleading the vessel operator to unsafe waters. Vessels operating in these hazardous conditions could introduce a clear and present danger to the maritime public and environment. The purpose of this rule is to mitigate the potential threat ice poses to the maritime public in the Fifth Coast Guard District by implementing control measures on vessels operating in certain ice covered waterways.

IV. Discussion of Comments, Changes, and the Rule

As noted above, we received 11 comments from four submitters on our SNPRM published February 9, 2017. One comment was generally supportive of the rule.

In response to one comment, we changed the regulatory text that defined the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway to clarify the safety zone's northern boundaries. The safety zone's northern boundary uses the Fifth Coast Guard District's boundary as defined in 33 CFR 80.501(b)-(c) and 80.502. We changed the rule to define a position for the entrance to Manasquan Inlet. We also changed the rule to define the southern boundary of the zone at Cape May Inlet, Cape May, NJ as it is defined in 33 CFR 80.502 (g). We did not define the width of safety zone in areas where the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway passes through open water areas, as the commenter requested. However, we changed the regulatory text to explicitly include the navigable waters Manasquan River at its tributaries, Metedeconk River and its tributaries, Toms River and Barnegat Bay and its tributaries, Mahahawkin Bay, Little Egg Harbor, Great Bay to Absecon Bay, Lakes Bay, Great Egg Harbor Bay, Peck Bay, Ludlam Bay, Townsend Sound, Stites Sound, Great Sound, Grassy Sound, Taylor Sound, Sunset Lake, Jarvis Sound and Cape May Harbor. The comment also requested we provide the horizontal Datum. We used NAD 83 and changed the regulatory text of each safety zone to incorporate that reference.

Two comments requested that the Coast Guard provide positions for the bridges that serve as boundaries for the Delaware River, Upper Delaware River, Baltimore Harbor and approaches, Chesapeake Channel to Cove Point, Chesapeake Channel between Cove Point and Smith Point, and Lower Potomac River, Potomac River, and the Upper Potomac River and Anacostia River zones. As a result, these positions were provided in the regulatory text where practical. The Coast Guard determined the positions by plotting the locations on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) nautical charts for the following bridges: Betsy Ross (state route 90) fixed highway bridge, Trenton—Morrisville (state route 1) highway bridge, Governor Harry W. Nice (US-301) Memorial Bridge, Woodrow Wilson Memorial (I-95/I-495) Bridge, the Francis Scott Key (US-29) Bridge, and the John Philip Sousa (Pennsylvania Avenue SE) Bridge. The William P. Lane, Jr (US-50/301) Memorial Bridge is curved, and we find it impractical to sufficiently define this boundary using latitude and longitude in this rule. Instead, the southern boundary of the Baltimore Harbor and approaches safety zone and the northern boundary of the Chesapeake Channel to Cove Point safety zone were changed to the southernmost edge of the east-bound span of the of the William P. Lane, Jr (US-50/301) Memorial Bridge.

One comment requested that we describe the end and turning points of all the lines that run along the latitude parallel to another location. We changed the regulatory text of the following safety zones: Chesapeake Channel to Cove Point: Provided positions for the eastern and western extent of the southern boundary; Chesapeake Channel between Cove Point and Smith Point, and Lower Potomac: Provided positions for the eastern and western extent of the northern boundary, and the positions defining southern boundary across the Chesapeake Bay and Tangier Sound; Upper Potomac River and Anacostia River: Provided position for Hains Point; Chesapeake Bay and Tangier Sound: the positions defining the eastern and western extent of the northern boundary across the Chesapeake Bay and Tangier Sound and the eastern and western extent of the southern boundary along latitude 37°45′00.0″ N.

One comment proposed additional smaller zones, with the desire to minimize restriction in portions of the zones that are not impacted by ice. The Coast Guard does not agree with the addition of the proposed zones because the operational complexity and feasibility of enacting those zones is counter to public interest due to the significant amount of time it would take to effectively manage compliance. However, to address the comments, we changed the regulatory text in § 165.550(d)(1) to allow each COTP to set ice conditions for any zone in this rule, or a portion thereof. The COTP may choose not to activate an entire zone if the ice prevalence and thickness is limited in such a way it would be too burdensome to activate the entire zone.

The same commenter stated that there are no provisions for Maryland Department of Natural Resources to request or obtain a waiver from the COTP for icebreaking operations. We changed the rule's definition of public vessels in response to this comment to mean vessels owned or bareboat chartered and operated by the United States, or by a State or political subdivision thereof, or by a foreign nation, except when such vessel is engaged in commercial service. Because this definition includes vessels engaged in law enforcement, we removed “engaged in law enforcement” from paragraph (d)(1).

An anonymous comment asserted that the Coast Guard did not evaluate the impact of a “business as usual approach” as an alternative to this rule. We do not agree with this assertion because the existing means by which the Coast Guard restricted vessel operations in ice covered waterways was specifically addressed in the NPRM and SNPRM (82 FR 9978). As stated in the SNPRM, permanent safety zones are the most appropriate from a regulatory perspective and will ensure consistency throughout the Fifth Coast Guard District. Furthermore, as stated in the SNPRM, the Coast Guard finds relying solely on the authority provided by 33 CFR part 6 is not feasible when ice presents hazardous conditions. Sole reliance on this authority involving the protection and security of vessels, harbors, and waterfront facilities would require the COTP to take individual action against every vessel desiring to operate in the area, which is counter to public interest due to the significant amount of time it would take to issue and administer an effective amount of orders.

The same anonymous commenter stated that the Coast Guard did not adequately address “biophysical impacts,” details of the “obvious cultural and social impacts” to recreational activities on the water, environmental justice, and economic impacts of alternatives to the proposed rule. The comment was vague and lacked sufficient supporting information needed to determine its validity. We were unable to obtain clarification from this anonymous commenter regarding the various issues mentioned, but the Coast Guard believes this rule remains as one that is a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment, and the analysis supporting this determination is available in the docket where indicated under ADDRESSES. Similarly, one commenter stated that these regulations would have an impact on persons who make a living by fishing, crabbing, and oystering on the Chesapeake Bay that act as small businesses. The Coast Guard received no comments from the Small Business Administration on this rulemaking, and the Coast Guard certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

One comment stated, “Depending on which shoreline is being used for measurement, a percentage value of coverage may vary considerably, which will affect which areas are selected for closure. It is not known which shoreline standard is being used . . .” In the context of this rule, the shoreline is the extent of navigable waters as they are defined in 33 CFR part 2. We replaced the term shoreline with the term “the extent of navigable waters” to clarify the physical reference point from which ice accumulation will be measured for the purposes of enforcing the rule. The zones cover large geographic areas so that a disproportionate amount of ice accumulation along a shoreline will not have an impact on when the Ice Conditions are set. To clarify the jurisdictional extents of the safety zones, the term “and its tributaries” was added to Delaware Bay, Delaware River, and Upper Delaware River zones.

The same commenter expressed concern that the measurement errors or tolerance that would affect timings of “closure events” is unknown. No changes were made to this rule based on this comment. The Coast Guard finds it reasonable to expect that vessel operators can discern between the ice prevalence and thicknesses that are listed in the regulatory text in order to determine when restrictions are in place. The Coast Guard has consistently received reliable and accurate reports of ice conditions from these same vessel operators in the past. Furthermore, as stated in the regulatory text, the COTP can notify mariners of Ice Conditions and associated restrictions via Broadcast Notice to Mariners and other methods described in 33 CFR 165.7. Vessel operators that encounter ice covered waterways and are uncertain if the zone is in effect may contact the cognizant COTP to determine the waterway status.

The same commenter asked for a list of “protected waters” and their boundary coordinates. This rule defines “protected waters” as, “sheltered waters such as harbors or basins that present no special hazards.” This term is used in this regulation so “vessels may transit within protected waters to facilitate icebreaking operations and protect infrastructure and property without COTP permission.” The commenter specifically asked if contractors moving work barges around bridges would be considered as operating in protected waters and if fishermen attempting to recover nets or other fisheries gear would be considered as protecting infrastructure or property. No changes were made based on this comment. It is not feasible for the Coast Guard to provide a list of activity in every area that could be considered “protected waters” in this rule because the conclusion would vary depending on the vessel, environment, nature of the activity, and infrastructure present at the time the Ice Condition is in effect. The Coast Guard concludes that the present definition provides sufficient parameters that will promote navigational safety, provide for the safety of life and property, and facilitate the reasonable demands of commerce.

Finally, one commenter requested the Coast Guard institute a process whereby the final rule is subject to future review and comment by industry stakeholders at regular intervals to ensure that it remains appropriate to current conditions. The Coast Guard will monitor the effectiveness when executing and enforcing the rule, and ensures that our agency will engage in proper notice-and-comment procedures if we see a need to change the rule.

This rule establishes 11 safety zones on the navigable waters of the Fifth Coast Guard District. This imposes restrictions on vessels operating within the safety zones or a portion of the zones where a threat to navigation exists due to ice covered waterways. Vessels transiting in protected waters, such as within a marina, harbor or basin, for the purposes of facilitating icebreaking operations and protecting infrastructure and property would be exempt from the controls. Vessels capable of operating in the prevailing ice condition outside of protected waters may be allowed to operate within the safety zones if granted permission by the cognizant COTP.

Under this rule, a vessel needs permission from the cognizant COTP or the District Commander to enter or continue transiting a zone if, when approaching or after entering a safety zone, the vessel encounters ice of a given thickness, unless the COTP or the District Commander has set an ice condition for the zone or a portion of the zone and the vessel meets the associated requirements to transit the zone. Descriptions of the three ice conditions and vessel requirements to transit are listed below. Under:

• Condition One, when 30 percent of a zone is reported covered with ice 1 to 3 inches thick, only steel hull vessels would be allowed to transit the zone;

• Condition Two, when 30 to 90 percent of a zone is reported covered with ice 3 to 9 inches thick, only steel hull vessels with a 1,500 minimum shaft horsepower and a main engine cooling system design that prevents blockage from ice would be allowed to transit the zone; and

• Condition Three, when 90 percent or more of a zone is reported covered with ice 9 inches thick, only steel hull vessels with a 1,500 minimum shaft horsepower and a main engine cooling system design that prevents blockage from ice in a vessel convoy would be allowed to transit the zone.

For non-steel-hull vessels, entry into or continuing to transit the zone is prohibited without permission from the cognizant COTP or District Commander if, when approaching the zone or after entering the safety zone, the vessel encounters ice of 1/2-inch or more in thickness. When this thickness of ice is reached in a zone, non-steel hull vessels moored or docked in the zone need not exit the zone, but these vessels may not transit the zone without permission of the cognizant COTP or District Commander. There is an exemption for vessels that need to transit in protected waters, such as within a marina, harbor, or basin, to facilitate icebreaking operations and protect infrastructure and property. The regulatory text appears at the end of this document.

V. Regulatory Analyses

We developed this rule after considering numerous statutes and Executive Orders related to rulemaking. Below we summarize our analyses based on a number of these statutes and Executive Orders, and we discuss First Amendment rights of protestors.

A. Regulatory Planning and Review

Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits. Executive Order 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting flexibility. Executive Order 13771 directs agencies to control regulatory costs through a budgeting process. This rule has not been designated a “significant regulatory action,” under Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, this rule has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and pursuant to OMB guidance it is exempt from the requirements of Executive Order 13771.

This regulatory action determination is based on our assessment that although this regulation could limit or prevent marine traffic from transiting certain waterways in the Fifth Coast Guard District, the effect of this regulation would not be significant because there is little vessel traffic associated with recreational boating and commercial fishing during enforcement periods. The Coast Guard anticipates implementing control measures for limited durations of time. The cognizant COTP will make notifications of the regulated areas to the maritime public via Broadcast Notice to Mariners so mariners can adjust their plans accordingly. Moreover, vessel traffic capable of operating in such conditions will be allowed to enter into or transit within the safety zones as specified by the cognizant COTP.

B. Impact on Small Entities

The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, 5 U.S.C. 601-612, as amended, requires Federal agencies to consider the potential impact of regulations on small entities during rulemaking. The term “small entities” comprises small businesses, not-for-profit organizations that are independently owned and operated and are not dominant in their fields, and governmental jurisdictions with populations of less than 50,000. The Coast Guard received no comments from the Small Business Administration on this rulemaking. The Coast Guard certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

While some owners or operators of vessels intending to transit the regulated areas may be small entities, for the reasons stated in section V.A above, this rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

Under section 213(a) of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-121), we want to assist small entities in understanding this rule. If the rule would affect your small business, organization, or governmental jurisdiction and you have questions concerning its provisions or options for compliance, please contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section.

Small businesses may send comments on the actions of Federal employees who enforce, or otherwise determine compliance with, Federal regulations to the Small Business and Agriculture Regulatory Enforcement Ombudsman and the Regional Small Business Regulatory Fairness Boards. The Ombudsman evaluates these actions annually and rates each agency's responsiveness to small business. If you wish to comment on actions by employees of the Coast Guard, call 1-888-REG-FAIR (1-888-734-3247). The Coast Guard will not retaliate against small entities that question or complain about this rule or any policy or action of the Coast Guard.

C. Collection of Information

This rule will not call for a new collection of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520).

D. Federalism and Indian Tribal Governments

A rule has implications for federalism under Executive Order 13132, Federalism, if it has a substantial direct effect on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. We have analyzed this rule under that Order and have determined that it is consistent with the fundamental federalism principles and preemption requirements described in Executive Order13132.

Also, this rule does not have tribal implications under Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, because it does not have a substantial direct effect on one or more Indian tribes, on the relationship between the Federal Government and Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal Government and Indian tribes. If you believe this rule has implications for federalism or Indian tribes, please contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section.

E. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Act) (2 U.S.C. 1531-1538) requires Federal agencies to assess the effects of their discretionary regulatory actions. In particular, the Act addresses actions that may result in the expenditure by a State, local, or tribal government, in the aggregate, or by the private sector of $100,000,000 (adjusted for inflation) or more in any one year. Though this rule will not result in such an expenditure, we do discuss the effects of this rule elsewhere in this preamble.

F. Environment

We have analyzed this rule under Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 023-01 and Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, which guide the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969(42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have determined that this action is one of a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. This rule involves establishing safety zones. Normally such actions are categorically excluded from further review under paragraph 34(g) of Figure 2-1 of the Commandant Instruction. An environmental analysis checklist and a Record of Environmental Consideration (REC) supporting this determination are available in the docket where indicated under ADDRESSES. We seek any comments or information that may lead to the discovery of a significant environmental impact from this rule.

G. Protest Activities

The Coast Guard respects the First Amendment rights of protesters. Protesters are asked to contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section to coordinate protest activities so that your message can be received without jeopardizing the safety or security of people, places or vessels.

List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 165

Harbors, Marine safety, Navigation (water), Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Security measures, Waterways.

For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Coast Guard amends 33 CFR part 165 as follows:

PART 165—REGULATED NAVIGATION AREAS AND LIMITED ACCESS AREAS 1. The authority citation for part 165 continues to read as follows: Authority:

33 U.S.C. 1231; 50 U.S.C. 191; 33 CFR 1.05-1, 6.04-1, 6.04-6, and 160.5; Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1.

2. Add § 165.550 to read as follows:
§ 165.550 Safety Zones; Ice covered waterways within the Fifth Coast Guard District.

(a) Regulated areas. The following areas are established as safety zones:

(1) Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay—COTP Zone. (i) Delaware Bay: All navigable waters of Delaware Bay and Delaware River in an area bound to the south by a line drawn across the entrance to Delaware Bay, commencing at Cape May Light (LLNR 155) latitude 38°55′59″ N., longitude 074°57′37″ W.; thence southwest to Cape Henlopen, latitude 38°48′20.3″ N., longitude 075°05′44.5″ W. The regulated area is bound to the north by a line drawn across the Delaware River, commencing at Liston Point, DE, latitude 39°25′03.07″ N., longitude 075°32′25.5″ W.; thence northeast to the extent of navigable waters at Hope Creek Jetty, latitude 39°27′05.04″ N., longitude 075°30′12.55″ W. (Datum NAD 83)

(ii) Delaware River: All navigable waters of Delaware River and its tributaries, in an area bound to the south by a line drawn across the Delaware River, commencing at Liston Point, DE, latitude 39°25′03.07″ N., longitude 075°32′25.5″ W.; thence northeast to the extent of navigable waters at Hope Creek Jetty, latitude 39°27′05.04″ N., longitude 075°30′12.55″ W., including the navigable waters of the Salem River, Christina River, and Schuylkill River. The regulated area is bound to the north by a line drawn across the Delaware River at the Betsy Ross (state route 90) fixed highway bridge from latitude 39°59′10.43″ N, longitude 075°04′11.03″ W to latitude 39°58′58.65″ N., longitude 075°03′43.23″ W. (Datum NAD 83)

(iii) Upper Delaware River: All navigable waters of Delaware River and its tributaries in an area bound to the south by a line drawn across the Delaware River at the Betsy Ross (state route 90) fixed highway bridge from latitude 39°59′10.43″ N., longitude 075°04′11.03″ W. to latitude 39°58′58.65″ N., longitude 075°03′43.23″ W. The regulated area is bound to the north by a line drawn across the Delaware River at the Trenton—Morrisville (state route 1) highway bridge from latitude 40°12′29.86″ N., longitude 074°46′11.00″ W. to latitude 40°12′34.93″ N., longitude 74°46′00.63″ W. (Datum NAD 83)

(iv) New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway: All navigable waters of New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway (NJICW), bounded by the area defined by 33 CFR 80.501(b)-(c) and § 80.502, commencing at the entrance to Manasquan Inlet at latitude 40°06′03″ N., longitude 74°01′55″ W., continuing the entire length of NJICW to include the navigable waters Manasquan River at its tributaries, Metedeconk River and its tributaries, Toms River and Barnegat Bay and its tributaries, Mahahawkin Bay, Little Egg Harbor, Great Bay to Absecon Bay, Lakes Bay, Great Egg Harbor Bay, Peck Bay, Ludlam Bay, Townsend Sound, Stites Sound, Great Sound, Grassy Sound, Taylor Sound, Sunset Lake, Jarvis Sound and Cape May Harbor. This regulated area terminates in the east at line drawn across the seaward extremity of Cape May Inlet, Cape May, NJ and in the west at line drawn across the entrance to the Cape May Canal from latitude 38°58′03.72″ N., longitude 074°58′00.00″ W. to latitude 38°57′57.00″ N., longitude 074°58′00.80″ W. (Datum NAD 83)

(2) Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capital Region- COTP Zone. (i) Head of Chesapeake Bay to C&D Canal: All navigable waters of the Upper Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, bound to the north by a line drawn from Hylands Point, MD, latitude 39°30′18″ N., longitude 075°55′37″ W.; thence east across Elk River to the shoreline at Old Town Point Wharf, MD, latitude 39°30′11.3″ N., longitude 075°54′57.1″ W. The regulated area is bound to the south by a line drawn across the Chesapeake Bay, commencing at North Point, MD, latitude 39°11′43.7″ N., longitude 076°26′32.8″ W.; thence east to the extent of navigable waters at Swan Point, latitude 39°08′41.7″ N., longitude 076°16′42.4″ W. (Datum NAD 83)

(ii) Baltimore Harbor and approaches: All navigable waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, bound to the north by a line drawn across the Chesapeake Bay, commencing at North Point, MD, latitude 39°11′43.7″ N., longitude 076°26′32.8″ W.; thence east to the shoreline at Swan Point, latitude 39°08′41.7″ N., longitude 076°16′42.4″ W. The regulated area is bound to the south by the southernmost edge of the east-bound span of the William P. Lane, Jr (US-50/301) Memorial Bridge. (Datum NAD 83)

(iii) Chesapeake Channel to Cove Point: All navigable waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, bound to the north by the southernmost edge of the east-bound span of the William P. Lane, Jr (US-50/301) Memorial Bridge. The regulated area is bound to the south by a line drawn across the Chesapeake Bay commencing in Cove Point in Calvert County, MD at latitude 38°23′10.5″ N., longitude 076°22′52.9″W. and ending at a point in Meekins Neck at latitude 38°23′14.9″ N., longitude 076°16′48.3″ W. (Datum NAD 83)

(iv) Chesapeake Channel between Cove Point and Smith Point, and Lower Potomac River: All navigable waters of Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, bound to the north by a line drawn across the Chesapeake Bay commencing in Cove Point in Calvert County, MD at latitude 38°23′10.5″ N., longitude 076°22′52.9″ W. and ending at a point in Meekins Neck at latitude 38°23′10.5″ N., longitude 076°16′48.3″ W.; and all navigable waters of the Potomac River bound to the north by a line drawn across the Potomac River at the Governor Harry W. Nice (US-301) Memorial Bridge from latitude 38°21′33.30″ N., longitude 077°00′51.41″W. to latitude 38°21′48.22″ N., longitude 76°58′59.83″ W., connecting King George County, VA and Charles County, MD. (Datum NAD 83)

(v) Potomac River: All navigable waters of the Potomac River, bound to the north by a line drawn across the Potomac River at the Woodrow Wilson Memorial (I-95/I-495) Bridge from latitude 38°47′32.38″ N., longitude 077°02′22.15″ W. to latitude 38°47′33.83″ N., longitude 077°01′30.58″ W., connecting Alexandria, VA and Prince George's County, MD. The regulated area is bound to the south by a line drawn across the Potomac River at the Governor Harry W. Nice (US-301) Memorial Bridge from latitude 38°21′33.30″ N., longitude 077°00′51.41″W. to latitude 38°21′48.22″ N., longitude 76°58′59.83″ W., connecting King George County, VA and Charles County, MD. (Datum NAD 83)

(vi) Upper Potomac River and Anacostia River: All navigable waters of the Potomac River, bound to the north by a line drawn across the Potomac River at the Francis Scott Key (US-29) Bridge from latitude 38°54′03.51″ N., longitude 077°04′13.18″ W. to latitude 38°54′13.68″ N., longitude 077°04′08.46″ W., connecting Rosslyn, VA and Georgetown, Washington, DC, and bound to the south by a line drawn across the Potomac River at the Woodrow Wilson Memorial (I-95/I-495) Bridge from latitude 38°47′32.38″ N., longitude 077°02′22.15″ W. to latitude 38°47′33.83″ N., longitude 077°01′30.58″ W., connecting Alexandria, VA and Prince George's County, MD. All navigable waters of Anacostia River and Washington Channel bound to the north by a line drawn across the Anacostia River at the John Philip Sousa (Pennsylvania Avenue SE) Bridge, latitude 38°52′38.97″ N., longitude 076°58′46.48″ W. to latitude 38°52′34.08″ N., longitude 076°58′36.61″ W. and bound to the south by a line drawn across the mouth of the Anacostia River, from Hains Point at latitude 38° 51′ 24.34″ N., longitude 077° 1′ 20.14″ W., south across Anacostia River Channel to Giesboro Point at latitude 38°50′51″ N., longitude 077°01′14″ W. at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling military installation. (Datum NAD 83)

(3) Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads—COTP Zone—(i) Chesapeake Bay and Tangier Sound: All navigable waters of Chesapeake Bay, and its tributaries, bound to the north by a line drawn along the Maryland-Virginia boundary, commencing in Virginia at latitude 37°53′11″ N., longitude 76°14′15″ W., thence east along the Maryland-Virginia boundary as it proceeds across the Chesapeake Bay and Pocomoke River, ending at the point latitude 37°59′39.8″ N., longitude 75°37′27.4″ W. The regulated area is bound to the south by a line drawn across the Chesapeake Bay along latitude 37°45′00.0″ N., commencing in Northumberland County, VA at latitude 37°45′00.00″ N., longitude 76°18′44.32″ W. and ending in Chesconessex, in Accomack County, VA at latitude 37°45′00.00″ N., longitude 75°48′39.53″W. (Datum NAD 83)

(ii) [Reserved]

(b) Definitions. As used in this section:

Convoy means a group of vessels led by U.S. Coast Guard assets or COTP-designated vessels to assist vessels moving through the ice.

COTP means the Coast Guard Captain of the Port with jurisdiction over the geographic area as defined in 33 CFR subpart 3.25.

Designated representative means any Coast Guard commissioned, warrant, or petty officer who has been authorized by the cognizant COTP to assist in enforcing the safety zones described in paragraph (a) of this section.

Horsepower means the total maximum continuous shaft horsepower of a vessel's main propulsion machinery.

Ice Condition One means when the COTP or District Commander has received reports that approximately 30 percent of a safety zone defined in paragraph (a) has been covered with ice whose thickness is approximately 1 to 3 inches.

Ice Condition Two means when the COTP or District Commander has received reports that approximately 30 percent to 90 percent of a safety zone defined in paragraph (a) has been covered with ice whose thickness is approximately 3 to 9 inches.

Ice Condition Three means when the COTP or District Commander has received reports that approximately 90 percent or more of a safety zone defined in paragraph (a) has been covered with ice whose thickness is 9 inches or thicker.

Protected waters means sheltered waters such as harbors or basins that present no special hazards.

Public vessel means vessels owned or bareboat chartered and operated by the United States, or by a State or political subdivision thereof, or by a foreign nation, except when such vessel is engaged in commercial service.

(c) Regulations—(1) Non-steel hull vessels. Non-steel hull vessels may not enter or transit within a safety zone described in paragraph (a) of this section without permission from the cognizant COTP or District Commander if, when approaching the zone or after entering the zone, the vessel encounters ice of 1/2-inch or more in thickness. When ice in a zone is 1/2-inch thick or more, non-steel hull vessels moored or docked in the zone need not exit the zone. Except for as described in paragraph (d)(4), non-steel hull vessels may not enter or transit the zone without permission of the cognizant COTP or District Commander.

(2) Steel hull vessels. Except as provided in paragraph (d)(1) of this section, steel hull vessels may not enter or transit within a safety zone described in paragraph (a) of this section without permission from the cognizant COTP or District Commander in the following circumstances:

(i) The vessel has less than 1,500 minimum shaft horsepower and encounters ice 1 inch or more thick.

(ii) The vessel has a 1,500 minimum shaft horsepower and a main engine cooling system design that prevents blockage from ice and encounters ice 3 inches or more thick.

(iii) The vessel is part of a vessel convoy and has a 1,500 minimum shaft horsepower and a main engine cooling system design that prevents blockage from ice and encounters ice 9 inches or more thick.

(d) Permission to enter or transit. (1) The COTP may set ice conditions, as defined in paragraph (b) of this section, for any zone described in paragraph (a) of this section, or a portion thereof, and announce those conditions via Broadcast Notice to Mariners and other methods described in 33 CFR 165.7. Steel hull vessels prohibited from entering or transiting a safety zone under paragraph (c) of this section may nonetheless enter or continue transiting the safety zone without contacting the COTP if the vessel is a public vessel or the COTP has set an ice condition for the safety zone and the vessel meets these restrictions:

(i) Ice Condition One. Only steel hull vessels may enter, operate in, or transit though a safety zone when Ice Condition One has been set for that zone.

(ii) Ice Condition Two. Only steel hull vessels with a 1,500 minimum shaft horsepower and a main engine cooling system design that prevents blockage from ice, may enter, operate in, or transit though a safety zone when Ice Condition Two has been set for that zone.

(iii) Ice Condition Three. Only steel hull vessels with a 1,500 minimum shaft horsepower and a main engine cooling system design that prevents blockage from ice, and that are part of a vessel convoy, may enter, operate in, or transit though a safety zone when Ice Condition Three has been set for that zone. These vessels may only transit an Ice Condition Three zone during daylight hours.

(2) Vessels prohibited from entering or transiting a safety zone under paragraph (c) of this section may request permission to enter or continue transiting by contacting the cognizant COTP on VHF-FM channel 16 (156.8 MHZ) or via telephone, as follows:

(i) COTP Delaware Bay: 215-271-4940.

(ii) COTP Maryland-National Capital Region: 410-576-2693.

(iii) COTP Hampton Roads: 757-483-8567.

(3) Vessels granted permission to enter, operate in, or transit though a safety zone must do so in accordance with the directions provided by the cognizant COTP or designated representative.

(4) Vessels may transit within protected waters to facilitate icebreaking operations and protect infrastructure and property without COTP permission.

(e) Enforcement. The Coast Guard vessels enforcing this section can be contacted on marine band radio VHF-FM channel 16 (156.8 MHZ). The cognizant COTP and his or her designated representatives can be contacted at telephone number listed in paragraph (d)(2) of this section.

Dated: August 2, 2017. Meredith L. Austin, Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, Fifth Coast Guard District.
[FR Doc. 2017-17748 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R04-OAR-2007-0113; FRL-9966-66-Region 4] Air Plan Approval; Georgia: Permit Exemptions and Definitions; Withdrawal AGENCY:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION:

Direct final rule: withdrawal.

SUMMARY:

Due to adverse comments received, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing the June 29, 2017, direct final rule that would have approved a revision to the Georgia State Implementation Plan (SIP) concerning changes to existing minor source permitting exemptions and a definition related to minor source permitting exemptions. EPA stated in the direct final rule that if EPA received adverse comments by July 31, 2017, the rule would be withdrawn and not take effect.

DATES:

The direct final rule published at 82 FR 29418 on June 29, 2017, is withdrawn, effective August 22, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

D. Brad Akers, Air Regulatory Management Section, Air Planning and Implementation Branch, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 4, 61 Forsyth Street SW., Atlanta, Georgia 30303-8960. Phone number: (404) 562-9089; Email: [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

On June 29, 2017 (82 FR 29418), EPA published a direct final rulemaking to approve portions of a SIP revision submitted by the State of Georgia, through the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Environmental Protection Division (GA EPD), on September 19, 2006, with a clarification submitted on November 6, 2006. The SIP submission included changes to existing minor source permitting exemptions and a definition related to minor source permitting exemptions. On June 29, 2017 (82 FR 29469), EPA also published an accompanying rulemaking proposing to approve the portions of the aforementioned SIP revision in the event that EPA received adverse comments on the direct final rulemaking.

In the direct final rulemaking, EPA explained that the Agency was publishing the rule without prior proposal because the Agency viewed the submittal as a non-controversial SIP amendment and anticipated no adverse comments. Further, EPA explained that the Agency was publishing a separate document in the proposed rules section of the Federal Register to serve as the proposal to approve the SIP revision should an adverse comment be filed. EPA also noted that the rule would be effective on August 28, 2017, without further notice unless the Agency received adverse comment by July 31, 2017. EPA explained that if the Agency received such comments, then EPA would publish a document withdrawing the final rule and informing the public that the rule would not take effect. It was also explained that all public comments received would then be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on the proposed rule, and that EPA would not institute a second comment period on this action. The public was advised that if no comments were received that the rule would be effective on August 28, 2017, with no further actions on the proposed rule.

On July 31, 2017, EPA received one set of adverse comments from a single Commenter representing four individual groups. As a result of the comments received, EPA is withdrawing the direct final rule approving changes to existing minor source permitting exemptions and a definition related to minor source permitting exemptions into the Georgia SIP. If EPA determines that it is appropriate to finalize the proposed approval of these changes to the Georgia SIP, EPA will publish a final rule which will include a response to the comments received. In the event that EPA determines that it is not appropriate to finalize the proposed approval related to these changes, EPA may issue a subsequent proposal with a different course of action.

List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Incorporation by reference, Intergovernmental relations, Particulate matter, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

Dated: August 10, 2017. V. Anne Heard, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 4. Accordingly, the amendments to 40 CFR 52.570(c) published on June 29, 2017 (82 FR 29418), which were to become effective August 28, 2017, are withdrawn.
[FR Doc. 2017-17617 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 63 [EPA-HQ-OAR-2016-0442; FRL-9966-64-OAR] RIN 2060-AT57 National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants From the Portland Cement Manufacturing Industry: Alternative Monitoring Method AGENCY:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a direct final rule in the Federal Register on June 23, 2017 titled National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) From the Portland Cement Manufacturing Industry: Alternative Monitoring Method. This final rule removes the provisions that were added in the June 23, 2017, direct final rule and restores the provisions that were deleted in that rule.

DATES:

Effective August 22, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mr. Brian Storey, Sector Policies and Programs Division (D243-04), Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27711; telephone number: (919) 541-1103; fax number: (919) 541-5450; and email address: [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Why is EPA taking this action?

On June 23, 2017, the EPA published a direct final rule to amend the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants From the Portland Cement Manufacturing Industry (Portland Cement NESHAP) to allow an alternative monitoring method to be used to comply with hydrogen chloride (HCl) emissions standards (82 FR 28562). We stated in that direct final rule that if we received adverse comment by July 3, 2017, the direct final rule would not take effect and we would publish a timely withdrawal in the Federal Register. At the same time, we published a parallel proposal, which proposed to make the same changes that were made in the direct final rulemaking (82 FR 28616). We subsequently received adverse comment on the direct final rule and the parallel proposal, but were unable to withdraw the direct final rule in a timely manner. In this document, we are taking final action to remove the provisions that were added to the Portland Cement NESHAP in the direct final rule and restoring the provisions that were deleted in that rule. This action will, thus, undo the changes made by the direct final rule. We are concurrently publishing a rule re-proposing and providing additional opportunity for public comment on the same amendment for the Portland Cement NESHAP that was proposed on June 23, 2017.

Although the EPA did provide an opportunity for public comment on the parallel proposal, the EPA also finds that there is “good cause” under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B)) to make the amendments discussed in this final rule without prior notice and comment. For this rule, notice and comment is unnecessary because it simply implements an action that the EPA indicated it would take if it received adverse comment on the direct final rule. The record for the provisions being restored is the same record that supported those provisions in the first instance and that was previously subject to notice and comment. These actions are effective as of August 22, 2017.

II. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

Additional information about these statutes and Executive Orders can be found at http://www2.epa.gov/laws-regulations/laws-and-executive-orders.

A. Executive Order 12866: Regulatory Planning and Review and Executive Order 13563: Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review

This action is not a significant regulatory action and was, therefore, not submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review.

B. Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)

This action does not impose any new information collection burden under the PRA. OMB has previously approved the information collection activities contained in the existing regulation (40 CFR part 63, subpart LLL) and has assigned OMB control number 2060-0416. This action does not change the information collection requirements.

C. Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA)

This action is not subject to the RFA. The RFA applies only to rules subject to notice and comment rulemaking requirements under the APA, 5 U.S.C. 553, or any other statute. The rule is not subject to notice and comment requirements because the agency has invoked the APA “good cause” exemption under 5 U.S.C. 553(b).

D. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA)

This action does not contain an unfunded mandate as described in UMRA, 2 U.S.C. 1531-1538, and does not significantly or uniquely affect small governments. The action imposes no enforceable duty on any state, local, or tribal governments or the private sector.

E. Executive Order 13132: Federalism

This action does not have federalism implications. It will not have substantial direct effects on the states, on the relationship between the national government and the states, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.

F. Executive Order 13175: Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments

This action does not have tribal implications, as specified in Executive Order 13175. It will neither impose substantial direct compliance costs on federally recognized tribal governments, nor preempt tribal law. The EPA is aware of one tribally owned Portland cement facility currently subject to 40 CFR part 63, subpart LLL that will be subject to this final rule. However, the provisions of this final rule are not expected to impose new or substantial direct compliance costs on tribal governments since the provisions in this direct final rule are extending the use of an alternative to the HCl monitoring provisions, including an option which provides operational flexibility. Thus, Executive Order 13175 does not apply to this action.

G. Executive Order 13045: Protection of Children From Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks

The EPA interprets Executive Order 13045 as applying to those regulatory actions that concern environmental health or safety risks that the EPA has reason to believe may disproportionately affect children, per the definition of “covered regulatory action” in section 2-202 of the Executive Order. This action is not subject to Executive Order 13045 because it does not concern an environmental health risk or safety risk.

H. Executive Order 13211: Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use

This action is not subject to Executive Order 13211 because it is not a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866.

I. National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA)

This rulemaking does not involve technical standards.

J. Executive Order 12898: Federal Actions To Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations

The EPA believes that this action does not have disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on minority populations, low-income populations, and/or indigenous peoples, as specified in Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994). This action does not affect the level of protection provided to human health or the environment.

K. Congressional Review Act (CRA)

This action is subject to the CRA, and the EPA will submit a rule report to each House of the Congress and to the Comptroller General of the United States. This action is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2).

List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 63

Environmental protection, Administrative practice and procedures, Air pollution control, Hazardous substances, Intergovernmental relations, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

Dated: August 11, 2017. E. Scott Pruitt, Administrator.

For the reasons stated in the preamble, the Environmental Protection Agency is amending title 40, chapter I, part 63 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) as follows:

PART 63—NATIONAL EMISSION STANDARDS FOR HAZARDOUS AIR POLLUTANTS FOR SOURCE CATEGORIES 1. The authority citation for part 63 continues to read as follows: Authority:

42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

Subpart LLL—National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants From the Portland Cement Manufacturing Industry 2. Section 63.1349 is amended by adding paragraph (b)(6)(v)(H) to read as follows:
§ 63.1349 Performance testing requirements.

(b) * * *

(6) * * *

(v) * * *

(H) Paragraph (b)(6)(v) of this section expires on July 25, 2017 at which time the owner or operator must demonstrate compliance with paragraphs (b)(6)(i), (ii), or (iii).

3. Section 63.1350 is amended by revising paragraph (l)(4) introductory text to read as follows:
§ 63.1350 Monitoring requirements.

(l) * * *

(4) If you monitor continuous performance through the use of an HCl CPMS according to paragraphs (b)(6)(v)(A) through (H) of § 63.1349, for any exceedance of the 30 kiln operating day HCl CPMS average value from the established operating limit, you must:

[FR Doc. 2017-17624 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Part 64 [CG Docket Nos. 10-51 and 03-123; FCC 17-86] Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Services Program AGENCY:

Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

In this document, the Commission adopts a four-year rate plan to compensate video relay service (VRS) providers, amends its rules to permit-server based routing for VRS and point-to-point calls, authorizes the continued use of money from the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund for Commission-supervised research and development, eliminates rules providing for a neutral video communications service platform, and reinstates the effectiveness of the rule incorporating the VRS Interoperability Profile technical standard.

DATES:

Effective September 21, 2017. The compliance date for 47 CFR 64.621(b)(1) is December 20, 2017. The incorporation by reference of certain publication listed in the rules was approved by the Director of the Federal Register as of May 30, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Bob Aldrich, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at: (202) 418-0996, email [email protected], or Eliot Greenwald, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at: (202) 418-2235, email [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

This is a summary of the Commission's Report and Order and Order, FCC 17-86, adopted and released on July 6, 2017, in CG Docket Nos. 10-51 and 03-123. The full text of this document will be available for public inspection and copying via the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS), and during regular business hours at the FCC Reference Information Center, Portals II, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an email to [email protected] or call the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (844) 432-2272 (videophone), or (202) 418-0432 (TTY).

Congressional Review Act

The Commission sent a copy of document FCC 17-86 to Congress and the Government Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, see 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A).

Final Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 Analysis

Document FCC 17-86 does not contain any new or modified information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Pub. L. 104-13. In addition, therefore, it does not contain any new or modified information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Pub. L. 107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4).

Synopsis VRS Compensation—Allowable Cost Categories

1. In the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM), FCC 17-26, published at 82 FR 17613, April 12, 2017, the Commission stated its intention not to reopen questions concerning the categories of expenses that should be considered allowable costs for VRS compensation. Various parties commenting in this proceeding nonetheless urge that the Commission re-open the matter of allowing costs associated with customer premise equipment (CPE), numbering, outreach, and research and development (R&D). In addition, Sorenson Communications, LLC (Sorenson) raises new concerns about allowing compensation for imputed intellectual property. These issues are beyond the scope of the rulemaking. The Commission has previously considered and disallowed compensation for each of these categories, except intellectual property, which is addressed below.

2. No reason to reopen previously settled disallowance issues. No party provides a compelling reason to reopen the above issues in this proceeding, especially in the absence of Administrative Procedure Act (APA) notice. The Commission does not agree that circumstances have changed dramatically and sees no material difference from prior proceedings where these issues were addressed.

3. Even if the issues were not already settled and there was APA notice regarding them, the Commission would not be persuaded by arguments to expand allowable costs. Equalizing all VRS-related costs to a voice telephone user's costs is not part of the Commission's mandate under section 225 of the Act. Congressional intent to equalize either network access rates or equipment costs for TRS and voice service users is not evident in the text of this narrowly drawn provision, its surrounding context, or its legislative history. In 1990, the year of section 225's enactment, all TRS calls took place between individuals who used TTYs and voice users. But the high costs of TTY service rates and equipment were matters of public awareness and were being addressed through state and federal action outside the relay requirements of section 225 of the Act. Regarding service costs, the plain text of this section demonstrates that it solely was intended to prevent relay users from incurring the added costs of routing TRS calls through remote relay centers that lie outside the geographical locations of the parties to a relay call, and nothing more. Congress had knowledge about, and ample opportunity to direct the Commission to equalize telephone service costs for TTY users at the time of section 225's enactment, yet it specifically chose not to do so. Accordingly, the discrepancy between the higher service costs for a broadband connection needed to achieve access to VRS and the costs of telephone service incurred by voice users was not a matter intended to be addressed by section 225 of the Act.

4. Similarly, at the time of section 225's enactment, it was quite evident that the cost of end user equipment needed to complete TRS calls would be significantly greater than the equipment costs incurred by voice telephone users. The average cost for a TTY was $600-$1000, a prohibitive amount for many individuals with low incomes. Again, however, there is simply no indication in section 225 of the Act or its legislative history of an intent by Congress to require the Commission to use the TRS Fund or any other mechanism to equalize such equipment costs. Rather, states developed local programs to distribute TTYs and other specialized customer premises equipment to low income and other eligible individuals with disabilities.

5. Further, disallowance of end user equipment costs from compensable expenses does not discourage the development of improved technology. Rather, compensation to providers for the provision of free equipment runs counter to promoting the use of new mobile and other technologies that are available for use with VRS. The Commission has undertaken extensive efforts to expand the availability of interoperable off-the-shelf Internet Protocol (IP) enabled devices for VRS use, so that individuals who use these services can reduce their dependence on VRS equipment specifically designed for a particular provider's network. Providers increasingly run their own software on off-the-shelf mobile devices, tablets, desktop personal computers, and laptops, reducing the need for specialized, stand-alone VRS equipment. Because the Commission's rules require that all providers support a common standard for relay user equipment (in addition to their own proprietary standards), the Commission has made it possible for the software developed according to such standard to work on all provider networks, thus making it more attractive for third parties to develop VRS software. These actions demonstrate a concerted effort by the Commission to further section 225's mandate to encourage the use of new and innovative technology.

6. By not authorizing recovery of the costs of VRS CPE, the Commission avoids offering preferential subsidies to certain VRS providers (i.e., those who rely on the free provision of expensive, dedicated videophones and other equipment to attract and retain VRS consumers for their branded services) to the exclusion of others, as well as avoids encouraging providers to engage in free CPE giveaways as incentives to use their services. The Commission believes that if VRS providers are to compete for customers, it is preferable for such competition to take place with respect to the quality of their services—which was the intended purpose of section 225 of the Act—not the equipment they can afford to distribute. The Commission finds no basis for departing from Commission precedent, and therefore again declines to allow use of TRS funds to support VRS providers' equipment costs.

7. Intellectual Property. The Commission concludes that a provider that develops its own intellectual property is not entitled to have the imputed value of that property included in allowable costs. First, the Commission has not previously allowed compensation for the imputed value of TRS providers' property, whether tangible or intangible, and the Commission sees no reason to do so under a methodology that is based on compensating providers for their actual expenses. Any attempt to value intellectual property would necessarily be speculative and highly inexact, especially in the absence of evidence based on arm's length marketplace transactions involving such property. Second, as noted above, to the extent that a provider engages in R&D to develop VRS technologies whose purpose is to meet the Commission's mandatory minimum standards, it is already permitted to recover those expenses from the TRS Fund. To also compensate a provider for the imputed value of such technology would be duplicative at best. Third, the Commission finds unconvincing the suggestion of an analogy between costs incurred by a TRS provider to license technology from third parties and the imputation of a licensing fee to be “paid” by a TRS provider to itself. The Commission's cost-of-service methodology appropriately assesses the cost of VRS based on provider's actual expenses, not hypothetical expenses that a provider might have incurred had it chosen to purchase technology from third parties. When a VRS provider chooses to develop its own VRS technologies rather than license them from others, it is reasonable to assume that the provider decided that such self-provisioning would enable it to provide service more effectively and at lower cost. It is likewise reasonable and appropriate for the Commission to assess a provider's costs based on its actual expenditures rather than hypothetical, more costly expenditures that it might have made but chose not to.

8. In effect, the argument for recovery of the imputed value of a TRS provider's intellectual property appears to be a way of arguing that VRS providers should be able to gain additional profit for what they have invested in R&D. Although the Commission allows providers to recover their reasonable expenses of providing TRS, in prior decisions it has disallowed claims for “profit” in excess of a reasonable allowance for the cost of raising capital. Although in the section following the Commission modifies the method of estimating capital costs by adopting an “operating margin” approach that will allow providers greater opportunity to recover such costs, the Commission does not thereby authorize providers to recover additional “markup” or profit that goes beyond such reasonable allowance.

Capital Cost Recovery/Operating Margin

9. Replacing return on investment with operating margin. In light of VRS providers' concerns about the adequacy of the 11.25% allowed return on plant investment for capital cost recovery in an industry with very little plant investment, the Commission adopts its proposal in the FNPRM to replace the current rate-of-return approach to capital cost recovery with an operating margin approach, allowing recovery of a specified percentage of allowable expenses.

10. Setting an allowed operating margin. There is wide variation among average operating margins of different industry sectors, as well as between operating margins for particular companies and time periods. Sorenson provides a list of adjusted EBITDA margins for 20 “leading publicly traded information technology consulting companies,” which Sorenson states is based on data reported by Bloomberg on U.S.-listed public companies with a market cap of at least $1 billion and with 100% of their revenue derived from “IT Services.” Sorenson notes that the unweighted average margin for the companies on this list is 15.9%.

11. The Commission concludes that consideration of operating margins earned in analogous industries may be a reasonable approach to setting an allowed operating margin for VRS providers. However, information technology (IT) consulting companies are not sufficiently analogous to VRS providers for their operating margins to serve as a reasonable proxy. Unlike IT consulting companies, the bulk of VRS costs are labor costs, primarily salaries and benefits for interpreters, who need not be highly skilled in technology. The Census Bureau's survey of public companies' financial data for North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code 541, defined as “Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services,” but excluding legal, shows that average quarterly pre-tax operating margins for this industry sector between 2013 and 2016 ranged from 1.8% (in 1Q2016) to 7.9% (in 2Q2013), averaging 4.6% in the 2013-16 period as a whole and 3.2% in 2016. For NAICS 5419, a subsector that includes translation and interpretation services but excludes various less analogous industry segments such as accounting, architectural and engineering, and computer systems design services, the average operating margin for the public firms included in the Census Bureau's survey ranged from 3.9% to 12.2% for the 2013-16 period and averaged 7.4% in the 2013-16 period as a whole and 7.6% in 2016. Government contractors are another category that may reasonably be viewed as analogous to VRS providers in that they are paid by the government for providing services mandated by law or otherwise closely supervised by a government entity. In five surveys of government contractors by Grant Thornton, conducted between 2009 and 2015, the majority of respondents consistently reported profit rates before interest and taxes between 1% and 10%, with the median profit rate in the neighborhood of 6%.

12. Selecting an operating margin from among this wealth of data regarding arguably analogous industry sectors is not subject to precise determination. The Commission notes that for 2016 (or 2015, in the case of government contractors, as that was the most recent year surveyed), none of the industry sector surveys described above, other than the one cited by Sorenson, had average operating margins greater than 7.6%, and that even the high technology firms cited by Sorenson have a median operating margin of only 12.35%. Based on the current record, and in light of the Commission's statutory mandate to ensure that VRS is made available “to the extent possible, and in the most efficient manner,” the Commission concludes that the range of 7.6% to 12.35% represents the “zone of reasonableness” of an allowable operating margin for VRS providers.

Compensation Rate Structure

13. Over the last four years, the Commission has observed the results of its 2013 structural reform and rate initiatives, including the effects on provider incentives, to the extent those can be discerned. The 2013 plan provided for reducing the rate gap between highest- and lowest-priced tiers, with the ultimate expectation that the tiered rate structure eventually would be replaced by a unitary compensation rate for all minutes, which would be set either directly or by proxy based on competitive bidding. This expectation was, in turn, based on the assumption that structural reforms, such as effective interoperability and portability standards and the establishment of a neutral routing platform would generate a “more competition-friendly environment” for small providers. There was also an expectation that, pending the completion of such structural reforms, the temporary continuation of a tiered rate structure would both encourage improvements in efficiency and ensure that smaller providers “have a reasonable opportunity to compete effectively during the transition and to achieve or maintain the necessary scale to compete effectively after structural reforms are implemented.” Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program; Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals With Hearing and Speech Disabilities, Report and Order, FCC 13-82, published at 78 FR 40581, July 5, 2013 (2013 VRS Reform Order).

14. The record confirms that most of these underlying expectations and assumptions have not been borne out by experience. First, a number of the Commission's expectations regarding the pace and content of structural reforms have proven to be overly optimistic. Improved interoperability standards were not incorporated into the Commission's rules until this year, and some aspects of equipment portability, which was expected to improve the competitiveness of the VRS market by facilitating consumers' use of inexpensive, off-the-shelf devices, have yet to secure consensus from the VRS industry. Further, the neutral video communications platform, which the 2013 VRS Reform Order envisioned as a key element in enabling small providers to compete effectively, proved to be impracticable. These developments disprove the Commission's original assumption that structural reforms would be far enough advanced to enable the elimination of tiered rates and the introduction of a market-based methodology upon the expiration of the 2013 compensation plan.

15. Second, provider cost reports overall do not show the major improvements in smaller providers' efficiency that the Commission assumed were possible. With the “glide path” reductions in VRS compensation rates, providers have been under pressure to improve efficiency, and the record indicates that certain providers have taken significant measures to do so. The weighted average of historical per-minute costs reported by VRS providers has declined from 2013 to 2016; however, the decline has been relatively modest, compared to the period from 2009 to 2012, when average per-minute costs declined by more than $1.00 per minute. Thus, while it appears that providers have achieved some efficiency improvements, other factors, such as the lack of full interoperability, may have limited their success. As a result, the Commission's expectation that smaller VRS providers would be able to make substantial improvements in efficiency within the past four-year period was not fulfilled.

16. Third, updated VRS demand data confirm that the VRS market structure is largely unchanged since 2013, when “Sorenson provide[d] about 80% of the VRS minutes logged every month, and its two principal competitors each provide[d] another five to ten percent.” Since then, the two cited competitors of Sorenson have merged, but it is too early to predict how that merger will affect the viability of competition in the VRS market (other than reducing the total number of competitors from five to four). What is clear, however, is that competitors have not made significant inroads into Sorenson's market share, and no VRS provider has been able to grow significantly so as to achieve “the necessary scale to compete effectively.”

17. As a consequence of these developments, there remain vast differences in the per-minute costs of VRS providers, which roughly track the vastly different market shares of each current provider. As long as such lopsided cost structures persist, it seems highly unlikely that any of the non-dominant VRS providers can compete successfully to gain market share vis-à-vis the largest, least-cost provider.

18. In the face of these unfulfilled expectations and assumptions, the Commission must choose from a number of alternative courses to take. One possible course would be to seek to maximize efficiency by transitioning to a single rate set at the level of the allowable costs of the lowest-cost provider, or alternatively, at the level of the average allowable costs for the VRS industry. This approach would reduce the cost burden on the TRS Fund, at least in the short term, but, given the current disparate cost structures in the VRS market, also would be likely to eliminate all VRS competition. The Commission has consistently sought to encourage and preserve the availability of a competitive choice for VRS users, because it ensures a range of service offerings analogous to that afforded voice service users and because it provides a competitive incentive to improve VRS offerings. Further, the continuing presence of such competitive offerings is likely to encourage the lowest-cost provider to maintain higher standards of service quality than if it faced no competition. Thus, if the Commission was to allow VRS competition to be extinguished, for the sake of increasing the efficiency of VRS, the Commission would risk depriving users of functionally equivalent VRS. Because the Commission believes that, in the current circumstances, the benefits of such a rate reduction, through increased efficiency, are not worth the risks to functional equivalence associated with eliminating competitive choice, the Commission did not propose this course as an alternative, and no party advocates it.

19. A second alternative would be to transition to a single rate set at the cost level of some higher-cost provider—most likely the next-lowest-cost provider. Due to the current imbalance among VRS providers' cost structures, however, this method would be likely to result in greatly increased TRS Fund expenditures, because the most efficient provider—with the overwhelming bulk of minutes—would be compensated at a rate far in excess of its actual costs. Such inefficient use of TRS Fund resources is not permitted by section 225 of the Act if there is a more efficient method of ensuring the availability of functionally equivalent service. In addition, by generating an extremely uneven set of operating margins—huge windfall profits for one provider and minimally sufficient margins or actual operating losses for the others, taking this approach seems likely to doom any prospect of the VRS market evolving to a more competitive structure. Indeed, adopting this approach, as a practical matter, would inevitably eliminate two of the four existing VRS competitors. A single rate could not be set high enough to allow a third provider to remain in the market without raising TRS Fund expenditures and allowing the windfall profits for lower-cost providers to achieve astronomical levels.

20. For these reasons, the Commission concludes that the alternative proposed in the FNPRM—maintaining a tiered rate structure for the next four years—is the best available alternative at present. Compared with any practicable single-rate approach, as further explained below, a tiered rate approach is most likely to ensure that functionally equivalent VRS remains available and is provided in the most efficient manner with respect to TRS Fund resources.

21. First, the application of tiered rates rather than a single rate will help ensure that there continue to be competitive options for VRS users, an objective that takes on special importance at this time, in light of the recent attrition in the VRS market. Although there were six independently owned providers at the time of the 2013 VRS Reform Order, this number has since been reduced to four. The presence of multiple competitors, even if less efficient than the lowest-cost provider, may enhance functional equivalence by ensuring that VRS users have a choice among diverse service offerings. Further attrition, which would be inevitable if the Commission sets a single rate at any realistic level, would further limit the ability of consumers to select providers based on service quality and features, and would make the continuing availability of any competitive choice less certain, eroding the Commission's ability to ensure the availability of functionally equivalent service. In these circumstances, to the extent that a tiered rate structure is more effective than a single rate in preventing further erosion of the competitiveness of the VRS environment, it may be justifiable on that ground alone, even if overall efficiency would be somewhat reduced.

22. Moreover, the record indicates that, at this time, a tiered rate structure is more likely than a single-rate structure to improve the efficiency with which the TRS Fund supports VRS. Given the major disparities in service provider size and cost structure, tiered rates enable the Commission to reduce waste of TRS Fund resources by limiting compensation that is excessive in relation to a provider's actual costs. Thus, the Commission is not persuaded that a tiered rate structure, by allowing payment of a higher effective compensation rate to less efficient VRS providers, necessarily contravenes the mandate that VRS be available in the most efficient manner. While the mandate is for the Commission to ensure the availability of VRS in the most efficient manner, the Commission must measure such efficiency by comparing the overall expenditures from the TRS Fund the Commission has established for that purpose, with the overall results achieved by such expenditures in terms of TRS availability and functional equivalence. A single rate structure fails this test of efficiency because it would cost the TRS Fund more in overall compensation than the tiered rate structure the Commission adopts.

23. Further, the Commission must consider the value users get for the compensation paid to providers, and may take into consideration the extent to which the participation of less efficient providers produces other benefits in the way of improved services for consumers. In this regard, on numerous occasions, the Commission has made clear that there are benefits in supporting less efficient providers that meet the needs of niche populations, including people who are deaf-blind or speak Spanish, enabling the entrance of new companies that can introduce technological innovations into the VRS program, and ensuring that consumers with hearing and speech disabilities can select among multiple VRS providers—just as voice telephone users do. While the Commission is obligated to ensure the efficiency of the VRS program, it cannot sacrifice functional equivalency in doing so. Moreover, it is the Commission's statutory obligation not to merely seek a short-term savings in an accounting sense; rather the Commission must consider the consequences of its actions in the long run. By supporting the continued participation of multiple providers, a tiered rate structure can help to prevent the VRS marketplace from devolving into a monopoly environment, thereby providing the Commission with much needed flexibility to consider other approaches that may improve efficiency. For example, one option the Commission may want to consider in the future is a reverse auction, in which multiple providers bid for offering service at the most efficient levels; but such an approach would not be feasible if all providers except one have been driven out of the market. A tiered rate structure allows the Commission to set rates that permit each provider an opportunity to recover its reasonable costs of providing VRS, without overcompensating those providers who have lower actual costs because, for example, they have reached a more efficient scale of operations.

24. The Commission also does not agree that tiered rate structures necessarily detract from providers' incentives to grow and increase their efficiency. As to growth incentives, while there could theoretically be a risk that a provider would “put the brakes on” its growth as it approached a tier boundary, a review of each providers' compensable minutes over the last few years does not suggest that providers' growth rates have been affected as their minutes approach a tier boundary. Moreover, to the extent there is such a risk of generating perverse incentives, the Commission believes it can be effectively addressed by ensuring that tier boundaries are wide enough to cover a provider's likely growth during the life of the rate plan. As to efficiency incentives, because rates are being set for a period of several years, providers will have an incentive to reduce unnecessary costs so they can increase profits and minimize losses.

25. Further, the tiers set under this structure are not provider-specific. Rather, each tier is equally applicable to any provider's minutes that fall within that tier. Accordingly, under the tier structure the Commission adopts, the provider with both relatively large and relatively small volumes of minutes are each compensated at the higher (Tier I) rate for their first 1 million minutes, at a lower (Tier II) rate for additional minutes between 1,000,000 and 2,500,000, and at the lowest (Tier III) rate for any minutes over 2,500,000.

26. The Commission also declines to adopt at this time a plan for transitioning from tiered rates to a single rate structure. The anticipated developments that the Commission thought would eliminate any need for tiered rates have not materialized. Not only have structural reforms been delayed and reduced in scope, but expected gains in individual provider efficiency have not occurred, the largest VRS provider's current market share remains approximately the same, and there continue to be wide disparities among providers' cost structures. Thus, the Commission's experience to date does not provide sufficient confidence that transitioning to a single rate structure would be consistent with preserving the benefits of competition and ensuring the availability of VRS in the most efficient manner. With additional time, this situation may change. The full implementation of competition-promoting interoperability and portability standards, as well as the introduction of some new reforms in other areas, may offer greater opportunities for providers to compete more effectively with one another. Additionally, the Commission is currently gathering comment on service quality metrics, which, when defined, measured, and published, will enhance VRS competition by enabling consumers to make more informed decisions in their selection of their VRS providers. At a later time, the Commission can revisit the compensation rate structure issue as appropriate in light of such developments.

Alternative Approaches

27. The Commission concludes that alternative approaches to setting VRS rates proposed in the FNPRM, including reliance on price caps, market-price benchmarks, a reverse auction, and direct provision of VRS by common carriers, should not be adopted at this time.

28. Price caps. It is premature, at best, to commit to a price cap approach that involves setting an initial, single rate based on, for example, the costs of a “reasonably efficient provider.” Setting a single rate at any level that permits more than one provider to remain in the market would provide windfall profits to the lowest-cost provider, and the wasteful costs that such windfall profits would impose on the TRS Fund would be extremely high given the disparate cost structures of the current providers. Such costs will be imposed regardless of whether the single rate is set under a traditional cost-of-service methodology or as the “initializing” rate to kick off a price cap plan. Further, the Commission does not perceive any way in which price caps could significantly ameliorate the competition and inefficiency disadvantages the Commission has identified above that lead it to reject a single-rate approach. The multi-year, tiered transition plan being adopted will provide many of the same benefits as a price cap, such as predictability in rates and incentives to become more efficient. In addition, given that the weighted average of provider's historical costs has declined measurably over the last four years, the Commission does not believe that the use of such indices is necessary at this time to ensure that VRS providers can continue to recover their reasonable allowable costs, including a reasonable operating margin, over the next four years. Towards the end of the 2017-21 rate plan, there will be another opportunity to examine whether a price cap approach should be adopted in conjunction with whatever rate structure approach is selected for the next plan to maintain efficiency incentives going forward.

29. Reverse auction. Sorenson advocates the use of a reverse auction to set VRS rates, citing as models the auctions authorized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to set rates for supplying electricity, as well as those conducted by this Commission to allocate support for Mobility Funds and to select recipients of support under the Rural Broadband Experiments. However, the auction proposed by Sorenson differs significantly from these examples. The FERC and Commission auctions involved bidding for both price and quantity of the service to be supplied, while Sorenson's VRS proposal would require providers to bid a price that is not tied to a specific quantity. Additionally, the Commission auctions sought selection of a single provider for each service area, rather than multiple providers as in the VRS market. If a provider has no guarantee of serving a fixed number of minutes, each provider's bid will likely be based on current costs associated with the current number of minutes they provide at the time of bidding. Thus, while Sorenson argues that a reverse auction would promote competition, encourage greater efficiencies, and provide stability, it seems equally or more likely to have the opposite effect—producing a VRS rate that is either well above the average cost of providing service, or so low as to keep currently higher cost providers from continuing or new entrants from joining the market. The reverse auction proposal thus suffers from the same defects as other single-rate proposals—it forces a choice between setting a single rate so low as to preclude effective competition and setting it so high as to provide wasteful, windfall profits to the lowest-cost provider. In light of the absence of analogous models for successful implementation, and the other issues discussed above, the Commission declines to pursue a reverse auction approach at this time. The Commission does not rule out exploring this type of approach in the future, however, should new developments warrant revisiting it.

30. Direct provision or procurement of VRS by common carriers. The Commission also finds little benefit at this time in the alternative of terminating TRS Fund support for VRS and, instead, requiring common carriers to provide VRS directly or through contracts with TRS providers. Sorenson offers no supporting evidence for its claim that common carriers and other voice service providers could provide VRS more efficiently on a direct basis than indirectly, through their contributions to the TRS Fund. Further, no carrier has commented favorably on this proposal, while a carrier trade association, USTelecom, affirmatively opposes it. Accordingly, at the present time, the Commission has no basis to conclude that direct provision of VRS would advance the mandate to provide VRS in the most efficient manner or reduce the burden on TRS Fund contributors. Further, the Commission agrees with the non-dominant providers that competition and consumer choice might not survive a transition to a direct-provision or direct-procurement approach. It may well be that common carriers would simply choose to work with the dominant, low-cost provider, rather than attempt to maintain provider choice for consumers.

31. Market-based pricing generally. While in 2013 the Commission indicated a strong interest in exploring a market-based approach, it did not commit to adopting any market-based approach, much less one that could prove less effective than cost-based alternatives for meeting the objectives of section 225 of the Act. Moreover, the market-based schemes proposed in 2013, which assumed there would be a transition to a single market-based rate, no longer appear to be as viable today as they did to the Commission at that time. Those proposals relied on the expected availability of pricing benchmarks that would in turn result from the establishment of a neutral video communications service platform. This platform has not been built, and based on the unsuccessful initial request for proposals for the platform and the general lack of interest in it shown by most existing providers, the Commission has decided not to move forward with its original plan to build this platform. Similarly, support is also lacking for the other market-oriented idea proposed by the Commission in 2013: an auction of calls to certain telephone numbers receiving a high volume of VRS calls.

Tier Structure and Rate Levels

32. Emergent rate. The Commission adopts its proposal to add an emergent rate to the tiered rate structure, applicable solely to providers that have no more than 500,000 total monthly minutes as of July 1, 2017. The Commission concludes that a separate rate structure for such providers is appropriate for a limited period to take into account the generally much higher cost of service for very small providers, encourage new entry into the program, and give such providers and new entrants appropriate incentives to grow. Rather than view an emergent rate as a subsidy for providers that have been unable to attract users, the Commission believes that this approach recognizes the still unbalanced structure of the VRS industry, as well as the incompleteness of VRS reforms intended to enhance competition. In light of the apparently fragile current state of VRS competition and the per-minute cost differentials, the Commission concludes it would be unwise at this time to subject two of the current four competitors to the dramatic rate reductions that would be necessary to fit them under the same tiered rate structure as the other two, much larger providers. Further, smaller providers may offer service features that are designed for niche VRS market segments or that may not be available through other providers and that are helpful in meeting the specific needs of particular VRS consumers. By providing an emergent rate, the Commission can increase the likelihood that, in the near term, even if no new entrants arrive, consumers can continue to select a service provider from four competitors instead of two.

33. In order to maintain incentives for growth and avoid subjecting emergent providers to a sudden drop in the rate applicable to all their minutes when they reach the 500,000-minute ceiling, providers who are initially subject to the emergent rate and who then generate monthly minutes exceeding 500,000 shall continue to be compensated at the otherwise applicable emergent rate (rather than the Tier I rate) for their first 500,000 monthly minutes, until the end of the four-year rate plan, i.e., until June 30, 2021. Such providers shall be compensated at the otherwise applicable Tier I rate for monthly minutes between 500,000 and 1 million.

34. For emergent providers, the Commission adopts a $5.29 per minute rate for each year of the four-year plan. To the extent that these providers have demonstrated the ability to show consistent, substantial growth over the past years, provider cost projections indicate that this rate will afford such providers a reasonable opportunity to meet their expenses and earn some profit. The Commission expects that this opportunity should be enhanced with the implementation of provider interoperability and other competition-promoting measures, such as the development and publication of service quality metrics.

35. However, the Commission does not intend that this rate structure continue to apply to any currently operating providers after the end of the four-year rate plan adopted in document FCC 17-86. During the next four years, the provision of a special rate for emergent providers may not impose major costs on Fund contributors, but the likely benefits to consumers will also remain very limited unless these emergent companies manage to use this four-year window of opportunity to expand their market share. Therefore, after four years, the Commission intends that all existing providers, regardless of size, will be subject to the same rate structure (whether tiered or unitary) under the compensation scheme that then takes effect.

36. Tiers I-III. The Commission also adopts the proposed tier structure, in which a provider's monthly minutes up to 1,000,000 will be included in Tier I, monthly minutes between 1,000,001 and 2,500,000 in Tier II, and all monthly minutes above 2,500,000 in Tier III, with the highest rate applicable to Tier I minutes and the lowest rate applicable to Tier III minutes. Based on real-world evidence, which consistently shows the existence of substantial disparities among the per-minute costs incurred by VRS providers, which are broadly in-line with the similarly wide disparities in their volumes of minutes, the Commission concludes that there are likely to be substantial economies of scale in administrative costs, marketing, and other areas.

37. Further, the existence of persistent cost differences between the largest and lowest-cost VRS provider and its smaller competitors is undisputed. To maintain a competitive environment for the near term, the Commission's most realistic option is to set compensation rates that allow the few remaining VRS competitors an additional period of time to offer a competitive alternative to the lowest-cost provider, while reforms continue to be implemented. In this context, the Commission's primary concern is not to identify the exact extent of scale economies but to ensure that tiers reflect the disparate sizes and cost structures of current competitors. Further, as the Commission also recognized in 2013, significant potential harm to competition could result if the rate tier boundaries are too low and prevent smaller competitors from remaining in the market, while if the Commission sets the boundaries too high the only consequence will be that smaller, less efficient competitors may remain in the market longer than would otherwise be the case, resulting in somewhat higher expenditures from the Fund. With the intervening attrition in the number of VRS competitors, the Commission's preference is even greater today for striking a balance that emphasizes preserving competition.

38. The Commission expands the Tier I boundary to 1,000,000 minutes, in order to ensure that the “emergent” providers, as well as any new entrants, as they grow large enough to leave the “emergent” category, will be subject to a rate that reflects their size and likely cost structure and that is appropriately higher than the marginal rate applicable to larger and more efficient providers. Tier I, which also applies to the first 1,000,000 minutes of each larger provider, allows the Commission to set a rate that is high enough to ensure that each provider is able to cover its relatively fixed, less variable costs. The Commission expands the Tier II boundary, as well, to 2,500,000 minutes, for similar reasons. Expanding the Tier II boundaries, which applies to the minutes of all providers in excess of the 1,000,000-minutes threshold and up to the 2,500,000-minutes ceiling, enables the Commission to set a rate that is appropriately lower than the Tier I rate, but higher than the rate for Tier III, which will currently apply only to the largest provider, whose per-minute costs are far lower than any other provider's. The Tier II rate can thus be set low enough to ensure that providers with more than 1,000,000 minutes are not compensated far in excess of their allowable costs, but high enough to ensure that such providers have an incentive to continue providing additional minutes of service. By increasing the upper boundary of this tier, as well as Tier I, the Commission also limits any risk of eroding a provider's incentive to continue growing as its monthly minutes approach a tier boundary. The lower Tier III rate, in turn, will appropriately be the marginal rate for the largest, lowest-cost provider.

39. Application of rate tiers to commonly owned providers. Regarding the recent merger of two VRS providers, Purple Communications, Inc. (Purple), and CSDVRS, LLC d/b/a ZVRS (ZVRS), there is disagreement among the commenters as to whether the compensation rate tiers should apply to these now-affiliated companies separately or on a consolidated basis, prior to their full consolidation. The VRS compensation system should be designed, as far as possible, to avoid creating undesirable incentives to exploit the tier structure by creating multiple subsidiaries for the provision of VRS. However, the consent decree that authorized the merger between ZVRS and Purple specifically includes language providing that the two entities will continue to operate and submit requests for compensation payments as separate VRS providers, and will be treated as separate entities for compliance purposes, for up to 36 months after the effective date (i.e., until February 15, 2020), after which they will consolidate the operations of the two VRS providers. As applied here, that determination means that the two companies will be treated as separate entities for purposes of the tiered rate structure until February 14, 2020, or until such time that these companies consolidate their operations. After February 14, 2020, or from the date of consolidation if it takes place earlier, these companies will be treated as a single provider for purposes of the tiered rate compensation structure. To ensure compliance with this outcome, the Commission directs ZVRS to provide the Commission with 60 days notice prior to such consolidation.

40. Rate period and adjustments. As with the prior rate plan, the new rate plan will be four years in duration. A four-year period is long enough to offer a substantial degree of rate stability, thereby (1) giving providers certainty regarding the future applicable rate; (2) providing a significant incentive for providers to become more efficient without incurring a penalty; and (3) mitigating any risk of creating the “rolling average” problem previously identified by the Commission regarding TRS, in which the use of rates based on averaged provider costs, if recalculated every year, could leave some providers without adequate compensation, even if they are reasonably efficient. On the other hand, a four-year period is short enough to allow an opportunity for the Commission to reset the rates in response to substantial cost changes or other significant developments that may occur over time. Given the lack of support for continuing six-month adjustments, the Commission adopts the administratively simpler approach of having rate adjustments occur annually over the next four-year rate period.

41. Rate Levels. In setting rate levels, the Commission seeks to limit the likelihood that any provider's total compensation will be insufficient to provide a reasonable margin over its allowable expenses, and to limit the extent of any overcompensation of a provider in relation to its allowable expenses and reasonable operating margin. Further, the Commission seeks to avoid any risk of setting a rate for any tier that is either below the marginal cost of a provider subject to that tier or excessively above such marginal cost.

42. Tier I Rate Level. For this tier, the FNPRM sought comment on a range of possible rates—from $4.06 to $4.82 for the first year and from $3.74 to $4.82 for the fourth year. The current rate level of $4.06 per minute (in conjunction with the $3.49 rate currently applicable to a provider's minutes in excess of 1 million)—is too low to permit all providers to meet their allowable expenses and earn a reasonable operating margin. Instead, the Commission adopts the rate of $4.82 per minute recommended by the non-dominant providers, which will apply to all four years of the rate period. A Tier I rate at this level will allow all providers subject to it to recover their allowable expenses and earn an operating margin within the zone of reasonableness. This Tier I rate level also provides an appropriate incentive for emergent providers to grow their businesses beyond 500,000 minutes.

43. Tier II. The Commission adopts a Tier II rate of $3.97 per minute for all four years of the rate period. For this tier, the FNPRM sought comment on a range of possible rates—from $3.49 to $4.35 for the first year and from $3.08 to $4.35 for the fourth year. The $3.97 rate the Commission adopts is roughly in the middle of the range of Tier II options for the first year. The $4.35 per minute rate advocated by the non-dominant providers is higher than is necessary to allow providers to recover their allowable costs and earn a reasonable operating margin. On the other hand, the current rate level of $3.49, combined with the current Tier I level, is too low to permit all providers to earn a reasonable operating margin. Based on the data reported by providers, applying the $3.97 rate for all four years of the rate period, in conjunction with other applicable rates, will allow all providers subject to this rate to recover their allowable expenses and earn an operating margin within the zone of reasonableness the Commission has adopted. At $3.97, this rate is also above the allowable expenses per minute of any provider subject to the Tier II rate, thus minimizing the risk of deterring such a provider from increasing its VRS minutes. At the same time, the Tier II rate is at a level that, in conjunction with other applicable rates, limits any overcompensation of providers subject to it.

44. Tier III. For this tier, the FNPRM sought comment on a range of possible rates—from $2.83 to $3.49 for the first year and from $2.63 to $3.49 for the fourth year. The Commission concludes that the rate level for Tier III should be $3.21 in the first year and $2.63 per minute in the final year. The $2.63 rate is higher than the average allowable expenses per minute for the current provider subject to this tier, and, in conjunction with other applicable rates, will allow providers that fall into this tier to earn an operating margin over allowable expenses that is within the zone of reasonableness the Commission has adopted. However, because this rate is a substantial reduction from the current Tier III rate, a gradual transition to reach this rate level is appropriate. Accordingly, the Commission adopts a rate of $3.21 per minute for Fund Year 2017-18, the first year of the rate plan period. This continues the ongoing adjustment of the Tier III rate, under the previous rate plan, under which it dropped by $.38 per minute per year, as the initial rate of $3.21 is $.38 below the approximate average ($3.59) of the $3.68 and $3.49 Tier III rates applicable during the 2016-17 Fund Year. The Tier III rate will be reduced by another $0.38 in Fund Year 2018-19, to a rate of $2.83 per minute. For the final two years, the Tier III rate will be $2.63 per minute.

45. Although Sorenson asserts that a proper analysis of VRS costs indicates the Tier III rate should be higher, the Commission does not rely on Sorenson's analysis for several reasons. First, projections for the second year out (in this case, 2018), which are included in Sorenson's analysis, historically have had a poor record of accuracy. Second, Sorenson's cost calculation includes costs that are not allowable, as well as a 15.9% operating margin, which is outside the zone of reasonableness the Commission has adopted.

46. Aggregate effect of the rate levels adopted. The approach adopted here effectively balances the Commission's overarching goal of maintaining competition and consumer choice with its obligation to administer the Fund in an efficient manner. When aggregated, if the tiered compensation rates currently in effect were to be extended for four more years, assuming the present growth of this service, compensation payments from the TRS Fund to VRS providers would be expected to total (over these four years) approximately $1,887,000,000. This figure would swell to approximately $1,925,000,000, were the Commission to adopt the single-rate approach proposed by Sorenson at the lowest rate that Sorenson deems acceptable—$3.73 per minute. This would not only result in an increase of about $38 million over extending the current rates, but also would stifle competition in the VRS market by likely eliminating all but one provider. By contrast, under the tiered rate plan adopted today, the Commission expects that the total cost to the TRS Fund will be approximately $1,835,000,000, which will produce a cost savings of approximately $52 million compared to current rates and preserve the competitive VRS environment that consumers now enjoy.

Other Compensation Matters

47. Audits for providers receiving the emergent rate. The existing, more generally applicable rules regarding audits are sufficient to address any accuracy issues regarding emergent providers' costs. Therefore, the Commission declines to adopt a separate, mandatory audit requirement for providers receiving the emergent rate. However, the Commission reminds all current and potential VRS providers that their costs may be subject to audit at any time to assure the accuracy and integrity of TRS Fund compensation rates and payments.

48. Exogenous costs. In general, the 2007 model for exogenous cost recovery is procedurally sufficient for addressing provider requests for compensation for exogenous costs. Substantively, given that the tiered rates set in document FCC 17-86 are intended to reduce VRS compensation rates in the direction of cost-based levels that have yet to be reached, the Commission adopts the following conditions to ensure that exogenous cost recovery does not result in increasing the disparity between Fund expenditures and actual provider costs. Providers may seek compensation for well-documented exogenous costs that (1) belong to a category of costs that the Commission has deemed allowable, (2) result from new TRS service requirements or other causes beyond the provider's control, (3) are new costs that were not factored into the applicable compensation rates, and (4) if unrecovered, would cause a provider's current allowable-expenses-plus-operating margin to exceed its VRS revenues.

49. Effective date. VRS compensation rates historically have been set prospectively and are normally not adjusted retrospectively unless an error has been made. In establishing the rates applicable to the current period, the Commission acted appropriately based on the record, and the Commission is not aware of any compelling reason to reconsider those ratemaking decisions. Further, while the Commission found it necessary in 2016 to retrospectively apply an emergency rate freeze with respect to the smallest VRS providers, the Commission does not find that a comparable emergency exists now necessitating further adjustment of rates for the same period for which they were already adjusted once on an emergency basis. Accordingly, the Commission declines to give the new rates retrospective effect back to January 1, 2017; rather, the rates the Commission adopts are effective as of July 1, 2017.

50. The Commission finds good cause to make the rule changes adopting a new four-year rate plan in document FCC 17-86 effective as of July 1, 2017. The current rate plan was scheduled to expire on June 30, 2017. Providers have been aware of this pending expiration since 2013, and have further been aware of the Commission's proposal to establish a new rate plan going forward. To avoid unnecessary disruption to VRS providers' operations and to ensure the ability of consumers to continue to place and receive VRS calls, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (Bureau) recently acted to waive the June 30, 2017 expiration of the existing rates and directed Rolka Loube to continue compensating VRS providers at the prevailing rates, pending further action by the Commission.

51. As the Commission now takes action to establish a new four-year rate regime, the Commission directs Rolka Loube to compensate VRS providers at the applicable rates adopted herein for all compensable minutes of use incurred beginning July 1, 2017, except that, to ensure that the release of document FCC 17-86 after July 1 does not adversely affect any VRS provider, the Commission will not apply the reduction in Tier III rates to any compensable minutes of use incurred between July 1 and the release date of document FCC 17-86. To implement this provision (given that minutes of use are compensated on a monthly basis), the Commission directs Rolka Loube to compensate any provider with Tier III minutes in July 2017 at a rate of $3.49 per minute for the first X Tier III minutes, where X equals the number of compensable minutes of use incurred between July 1 and the release of document FCC 17-86. So if a VRS provider has no Tier III minutes in July 2017, this provision will not affect it; if a provider has X or fewer Tier III minutes, then all such minutes will be compensated at the higher $3.49 rate; and if a provider has more than X Tier III minutes, then it will receive $3.49 per minute for the first X Tier III minutes and $3.21 for all remaining Tier III minutes. The Commission also directs the Bureau to provide actual notice to known VRS providers by sending them a copy of document FCC 17-86.

52. Historical Cost vs. Projected Costs. For purposes of document FCC 17-86, a review of the past relationships between projected and actual costs indicates that the most reliable reference points for cost calculations when rates are set are the actual costs reported for the previous calendar year and the projected costs for the current calendar year. The least reliable reference point is the projected costs for the year after the current year. Accordingly, as a reference point for cost calculations for purposes of document FCC 17-86, the Commission uses the weighted average of each provider's actual costs and demand for 2016 and projected costs and demand for 2017.

Other Matters—Server-Based Routing

53. Under the TRS numbering rules, calls that involve multiple VRS providers are routed based on the information provided in the TRS Numbering Directory. Section 64.613(a) of the Commission's rules currently requires that the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) for a VRS user's telephone number contain the IP address of the user's device. However, the VRS Provider Interoperability Profile technical standard provides for the routing of inter-provider VRS and point-to-point video calls to a server of the terminating VRS provider rather than directly to a specific device. The technical standard thus specifies the use of call routing information that contains provider domain names, rather than user-specific IP addresses. To permit the implementation of the VRS Provider Interoperability Profile, which has been incorporated by reference into the Commission's rules, it is necessary to amend the TRS Numbering Directory rule. This change will foster the implementation of interoperability, thereby enhancing functional equivalence. In addition, allowing routing based on domain names will promote TRS regulation that “encourage[s] . . . the use of existing technology and do[es] not discourage or impair the development of improved technology,” as required by 47 U.S.C. 225(c)(2), and will improve the efficiency, reliability, and security of VRS and point-to-point video communications, thus advancing these important Commission objectives as well. The Commission also finds that server-based routing will not impair the Commission's ability to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in the VRS program.

Other Matters—Research and Development

54. The Commission adopts its proposal in the FNPRM to direct the TRS Fund administrator, as part of annual ratemaking proceedings, to include in the proposed TRS Fund administrative budget an appropriate amount for Commission-directed research and development R&D. These funds will enable the Commission to ensure that TRS evolves with improvements in technology. Because the TRS Fund administrator previously submitted its recommended budget for the 2017-18 Fund Year without recommending a specific amount for R&D, the Commission also allocates $6.1 million from the TRS Fund to be used for R&D projects to be overseen by the Commission in the 2017-18 TRS Fund Year.

Other Matters—Repeal of the Neutral Video Communications Service Platform

55. The Commission adopts its proposal to delete the rule provisions relating to the neutral video communications service platform (Neutral VRS Platform). Although the Commission requested bids to build the Neutral VRS Platform, no acceptable bids were received, and the Commission canceled that procurement. Because no party has made any showing that the Commission should request new bids for the Neutral VRS Platform or otherwise expressed any interest in utilizing it, the Commission (i) removes §§ 64.601(a)(20) and (45), 64.611(h), and 64.617 and (ii) modifies §§ 64.604(b)(2)(iii), (b)(4)(iv), and (c)(5)(iii)(N)(1)(iii) and 64.606(a)(4) of the Commission's rules to eliminate references to the Neutral VRS Platform and VRS communications assistant (CA) service providers (the entities that would have made use of the platform).

Other Matters—Technical Correction to the VRS Speed-of-Answer Rule

56. In the 2013 VRS Reform Order, the Commission modified § 64.604(b)(2)(iii) of the Commission's rules, the speed-of-answer rule, changing it from (a) a requirement to answer 80% of all VRS calls within 120 seconds, measured on a monthly basis, to (b) a requirement to answer 85% of all VRS calls (i) within 60 seconds, measured on a daily basis, by January 1, 2014, and (ii) within 30 seconds, measured on a daily basis, by July 1, 2014. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) vacated this aspect of the 2013 VRS Reform Order. The court ruled that, pending further action by the Commission, its decision “will have the effect of reinstating the requirement that 80% of VRS calls be answered within 120 seconds, measured on a monthly basis.” The Commission therefore amends § 64.604(b)(2)(iii) of its rules to comply with the mandate of the D.C. Circuit and provide for a speed-of-answer requirement to answer 80% of all VRS calls within 120 seconds, measured on a monthly basis.

Order

57. In the Order (2017 VRS Improvements Order), FCC 17-26, published at 82 FR 28566, June 23, 2017, the Commission set aside the effectiveness of the VRS Provider Interoperability Profile technical standard until the Commission resolved the apparent conflict between the VRS Provider Interoperability Profile technical standard, under which VRS providers employ server-based routing, and the existing Commission rule, under which they must route calls based on the IP address of the user's device. Now that the Commission, in document FCC 17-86, has amended 47 CFR 64.613(a)(2) to permit server-based routing, the Commission reestablishes the effectiveness of the rule amendment incorporating the VRS Provider Interoperability Profile, adopted in the Report and Order (2017 VRS Interoperability Order), DA 17-76, published at 82 FR 19322, April 27, 2017.

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

58. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA), as amended, the Commission incorporated an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) into the FNPRM. The Commission sought written public comment on its proposals in the FNPRM, including comment on the IRFA. No comments were received on the IRFA. This Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) conforms to the RFA.

Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules

59. Document FCC 17-86 addresses server-based routing of VRS calls, and funding for Commission-directed R&D.

60. First, by amending TRS rules to permit server-based routing, document FCC 17-86 expands the ways that VRS calls can be routed. Under a new interoperability standard, calls may be routed to a server of the terminating VRS provider that serves multiple VRS users and devices, rather than directly to a specific device. This new routing method uses the providers' domain names, rather than user-specific IP addresses, as is currently required.

61. Second, the Commission directs the TRS Fund administrator, as part of future annual ratemaking proceedings, to include for Commission approval proposed funding for Commission-directed R&D. Such funding is necessary to continue to meet the Commission's charge of furthering the goals of functional equivalence and efficient availability of TRS.

Summary of Significant Issues Raised by Public Comments in Response to the IRFA

62. No comments were filed in response to the IRFA.

Small Entities Impacted

63. The server-based routing rule amendment adopted in document FCC 17-86 will affect obligations of VRS Providers. These services can be included within the broad economic category of All Other Telecommunications. Five providers currently receive compensation from the TRS Fund for providing VRS: ASL Services Holdings, LLC; CSDVRS, LLC; Convo Communications, LLC; Purple Communications, Inc.; and Sorenson Communications, Inc. The R&D funding will have no impact on VRS providers.

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements

64. Server-based call routing involves the use of domain names, and VRS providers using this method will need to keep records of such domain names. The domain names will then be processed as call routing information, just as other call routing information is processed currently. The funding for R&D will have no reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements.

Steps Taken To Minimize Significant Impact on Small Entities, and Significant Alternatives Considered

65. Server-based call routing using domain names will be available to all VRS providers, will not be burdensome, and will advance interoperability. Greater interoperability will foster competition, thereby benefitting the smaller providers. To the extent there are differences in operating costs resulting from economies of scale, those costs are reflected in the different compensation rate structures applicable to large and small VRS providers.

66. The funding for R&D does not have any compliance or reporting requirements impacting small entities. Indeed, small entities are not covered by the rule.

67. No commenters raised other alternatives that would lessen the impact of any of these requirements on small entities vis-à-vis larger entities.

Federal Rules Which Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With, the Commission's Proposals

68. None.

Ordering Clauses

69. Pursuant to sections 1, 2, and 225 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, and 225, document FCC 17-86 is adopted, and part 64 of Title 47 is amended.

70. Pursuant to section 553(d)(3) of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), and §§ 1.4(b)(1) and 1.427(b) of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.4(b)(1), 1.427(b), the VRS compensation rates became effective on July 1, 2017.

71. A copy of document FCC 17-86 shall be sent by overnight mail, first class mail and certified mail, return receipt requested, to all known VRS providers.

72. The Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a copy of document FCC 17-86, including the Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.

List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 64

Incorporation by reference, Individuals with disabilities, Telecommunications relay services, Video relay services.

Federal Communications Commission. Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary. Final Rules

For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission amends 47 CFR part 64 as follows:

PART 64—MISCELLANEOUS RULES RELATING TO COMMON CARRIERS 1. The authority citation for part 64 continues to read as follows: Authority:

47 U.S.C. 154, 225, 254(k), 403(b)(2)(B), (c), 715, Pub. L. 104-104, 110 Stat. 56. Interpret or apply 47 U.S.C. 201, 218, 222, 225, 226, 227, 228, 254(k), 616, 620, and the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, Pub. L. 112-96, unless otherwise noted.

2. Amend § 64.601 by: a. Revising paragraph (a)(12); b. Removing paragraph (a)(20); c. Redesignating paragraphs (a)(14) through (19) as paragraphs (a)(15) through (20) and adding new paragraph (a)(14); d. Revising paragraph (a)(26); e. Removing paragraphs (a)(45) through (49); f. Redesignating paragraphs (a)(27) through (44) as paragraphs (a)(30) through (47) and adding new paragraphs (a)(27) through (29); and g. Revising newly redesignated paragraph (a)(30).

The additions and revisions read as follows:

§ 64.601 Definitions and provisions of general applicability.

(a) * * *

(12) Default provider change order. A request by an iTRS user to an iTRS provider to change the user's default provider.

(14) Hearing point-to-point video user. A hearing individual who has been assigned a ten-digit NANP number that is entered in the TRS Numbering Directory to access point-to-point service.

(26) Point-to-point video call. A call placed via a point-to-point video service.

(27) Point-to-point video service. A service that enables a user to place and receive non-relay video calls without the assistance of a CA.

(28) Qualified interpreter. An interpreter who is able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary.

(29) Real-Time Text (RTT). The term real-time text shall have the meaning set forth in § 67.1 of this chapter.

(30) Registered Internet-based TRS user. An individual that has registered with a VRS or IP Relay provider as described in § 64.611.

3. Amend § 64.604 by revising paragraphs (b)(2)(iii), (b)(4)(iv), and (c)(5)(iii)(N)(1)(iii) to read as follows:
§ 64.604 Mandatory minimum standards.

(b) * * *

(2) * * *

(iii) Speed of answer requirements for VRS providers. VRS providers must answer 80% of all VRS calls within 120 seconds, measured on a monthly basis. VRS providers must meet the speed of answer requirements for VRS providers as measured from the time a VRS call reaches facilities operated by the VRS provider to the time when the call is answered by a CA—i.e., not when the call is put on hold, placed in a queue, or connected to an IVR system. Abandoned calls shall be included in the VRS speed of answer calculation.

(4) * * *

(iv) A VRS provider leasing or licensing an automatic call distribution (ACD) platform must have a written lease or license agreement. Such lease or license agreement may not include any revenue sharing agreement or compensation based upon minutes of use. In addition, if any such lease is between two eligible VRS providers, the lessee or licensee must locate the ACD platform on its own premises and must utilize its own employees to manage the ACD platform.

(c) * * *

(5) * * *

(iii) * * *

(N) * * *

(1) * * *

(iii) An eligible VRS provider may not contract with or otherwise authorize any third party to provide interpretation services or call center functions (including call distribution, call routing, call setup, mapping, call features, billing, and registration) on its behalf, unless that authorized third party also is an eligible provider.

§ 64.606 [Amended]
4. Amend § 64.606 by removing paragraph (a)(4).
§ 64.611 [Amended]
5. Amend § 64.611 by removing paragraph (h). 6. Amend § 64.613 by revising paragraph (a)(2) to read as follows:
§ 64.613 Numbering directory for Internet-based TRS users.

(a) * * *

(2) For each record associated with a VRS user's geographically appropriate NANP telephone number, the URI shall contain a server domain name or the IP address of the user's device. For each record associated with an IP Relay user's geographically appropriate NANP telephone number, the URI shall contain the user's user name and domain name that can be subsequently resolved to reach the user.

§ 64.617 [Removed]
7. Remove § 64.617. 8. Amend § 64.621 by revising paragraph (b)(1) to read as follows:
§ 64.621 Interoperability and portability.

(b) * * *

(1) Beginning no later than December 20, 2017, VRS providers shall ensure that their provision of VRS and video communications, including their access technology, meets the requirements of the VRS Provider Interoperability Profile.

[FR Doc. 2017-17225 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Part 96 [GN Docket No. 12-354; FCC 15-47] Amendment of the Commission's Rules With Regard to Commercial Operations in the 3550-3650 MHz Band AGENCY:

Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION:

Final rule; announcement of effective date.

SUMMARY:

In this document, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) announces that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved, via a non-substantive change request, the information collection requirements associated with Commercial Operations in the 3550-3650 MHz Band adopted in the Commission's First Report and Order, GN Docket No. 12-354, FCC 15-47. This document is consistent with the First Report and Order, which stated that the Commission would publish a document in the Federal Register announcing OMB approval and the effective date of the requirements.

DATES:

47 CFR 96.49, published at 80 FR 36163, June 23, 2015, is effective on August 22, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

For additional information, contact Cathy Williams, [email protected], (202) 418-2918.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

This document announces that, on August 7, 2015, OMB approved, via a non-substantive change request, the information collection requirements associated with two technical rules (47 CFR 96.49 and 96.51) adopted in the Commission's First Report and Order, FCC 15-47, published at 80 FR 36163, June 23, 2015. The OMB Control Number is 3060-0057. The Commission publishes this document as an announcement of the effective date of the requirements. If you have any comments on the burden estimates listed below, or how the Commission can improve the collections and reduce any burdens caused thereby, please contact Cathy Williams, Federal Communications Commission, Room 1-C823, 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554. Please include the OMB Control Number 3060-0057 in your correspondence. The Commission will also accept your comments via email at [email protected]

To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an email to [email protected] or call the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY).

Synopsis

As required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507), the FCC is notifying the public that it received OMB approval on August 7, 2015, for the non-substantive change to information collection requirements contained in the Commission's rules at 47 CFR 96.49 and 96.51. Under 5 CFR part 1320, an agency may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless it displays a current, valid OMB Control Number.

No person shall be subject to any penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act that does not display a current, valid OMB Control Number. The OMB Control Numbers is 3060-0057.

The foregoing notice is required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13, October 1, 1995, and 44 U.S.C. 3507.

The total annual reporting burdens and costs for the respondents are as follows:

OMB Control Number: 3060-0057.

OMB Approval Date: August 7, 2015.

OMB Expiration Date: May 31, 2020.

Title: Application for Equipment Authorization, FCC Form 731.

Form Number: FCC Form 731.

Respondents: Business or other for-profit entities and state, local or tribal government.

Number of Respondents and Responses: 3,740 respondents and 22,250.

Estimated Time per Response: 35 hours.

Frequency of Response: On occasion reporting requirement and third party disclosure requirement.

Obligation to Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. The statutory authority for this collection is contained in 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 301, 302, 303(e), 303(f) and 303(r).

Total Annual Burden: 778,750.

Annual Cost Burden: No cost.

Privacy Act Impact Assessment: No impact(s).

Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: There is no need for confidentiality with this collection of information.

Needs and Uses: The FCC adopted a First Report and Order, FCC 15-47, for commercial use of 150 megahertz in the 3550-3700 MHz (3.5 GHz) band and a new Citizens Broadband Radio Service, published at 80 FR 36163, June 23, 2015. 3.5 GHz Band users will use Citizens Broadband Radio Service Devices (CBSDs) to operate, which are fixed stations, or networks of such stations that fall under two categories, Category A CBSDs, which operate at lower power, or Category B that operate at a higher power. The rules require compliance with information requirements contained in the First Report and Order already accounted for and approved under this Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number and have not changed since they were last approved by OMB. The rules contain information collection requirements necessary for the Commission to determine compliance of proposed equipment with its rules.

The following is a description of the information collection requirements for which the Commission received OMB approval:

Section 96.49—Equipment Authorization: (a) Each transmitter used for operation under this part and each transmitter marketed as set forth in section 2.803 of this chapter must be of a type which has been certificated for use under this part. (b) Any manufacturer of radio transmitting equipment to be used in these services must request equipment authorization following the procedures set forth in subpart J of part 2 of this chapter.

Section 96.51—RF Safety: Licensees and manufacturers are subject to the radio frequency radiation exposure requirements specified in sections 1.1307(b), 1.1310, 2.1091, and 2.1093 of this chapter, as appropriate. Applications for equipment authorization of Mobile or Portable devices operating under this section must contain a statement confirming compliance with these requirements for both fundamental emissions and unwanted emissions and technical information showing the basis for this statement must be submitted to the Commission upon request.

Federal Communications Commission. Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, Office of the Secretary.
[FR Doc. 2017-17637 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 218 [Docket No. 170201135-7754-02] RIN 0648-BG65 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the U.S. Air Force 86 Fighter Weapons Squadron Conducting Long Range Strike Weapons System Evaluation Program at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii AGENCY:

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

Upon application from the U.S. Air Force (USAF) 86 Fighter Weapons Squadron (hereinafter referred to as 86 FWS), NMFS is issuing regulations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) for the taking of marine mammals incidental to Long Range Strike (LRS) Weapons System Evaluation Program (WSEP) exercises on the Barking Sands Underwater Range Expansion (BSURE) of the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) off Kauai, Hawaii. These regulations allow NMFS to issue a Letter of Authorization (LOA) for the incidental take of marine mammals during the USAF 86 FWS's specified activities carried out during the rule's period of effectiveness, set forth the permissible methods of taking, set forth other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat, and set forth requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of the incidental take. The specific activities are classified as military readiness activities.

DATES:

Effective on August 21, 2017, through August 22, 2022.

ADDRESSES:

To obtain an electronic copy of the USAF 86 FWS's LOA application or other referenced documents, visit the Internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/military.htm. Documents cited in this notice may also be viewed, by appointment, during regular business hours, at 1315 East-West Highway, SSMC III, Silver Spring, MD 20912.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Jaclyn Daly, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Availability

A copy of the 86 FWS's LOA application, NMFS proposed rule (82 FR 21156; May 5, 2017), the 86 FWS's Final Environmental Assessment/Overseas Environmental Assessment (EA/OEA) for the Long Range Strike Weapon Systems Evaluation Program at Kauai, Hawaii, and NMFS Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) may be obtained by visiting the internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/military.htm. Documents cited in this notice may also be viewed, by appointment, during regular business hours, at the aforementioned address (see ADDRESSES).

Background

Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1371(a)(5)(A)) directs the Secretary of Commerce to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional taking of small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region for up to five years if, after notice and public comment, the agency makes certain findings and issues regulations that set forth permissible methods of taking pursuant to that activity, as well as monitoring and reporting requirements. Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA and the implementing regulations at 50 CFR part 216, subpart I provide the legal basis for issuing this rule and any subsequent LOA pursuant to those regulations. As directed by this legal authority, this final rule contains mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements.

Authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant), and if the Secretary sets forth permissible methods of taking and other means of effecting the least practicable impact on the species or stock and its habitat. NMFS has defined “negligible impact” in 50 CFR 216.103 as “an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.”

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 (Section 319, Pub. L. 108-136, November 24, 2003) (NDAA of 2004) removed the “small numbers” and “specified geographical region” limitations indicated earlier and amended the definition of harassment as it applies to a “military readiness activity” to read as follows (Section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA, 16 U.S.C. 1362(18)(B)): “(i) Any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild” (Level A Harassment); “or (ii) any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered” (Level B Harassment).

National Environmental Policy Act

To comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 216-6A, NMFS must review the proposed action (i.e., the issuance of regulations and an LOA) with respect to potential impacts on the human environment.

Accordingly, NMFS has adopted the 86 FWS's EA/OEA, after an independent evaluation of the document found that it included adequate information analyzing the effects on the human environment of issuing incidental take authorizations. The 86 FWS made the draft EA/EOA available for public comment from July 27 through August 26, 2016; no public comments were received. The final EA/EOA is available at http://www.afcec.af.mil/What-We-Do/Environment/Pacific-Range-Strike-Environmental-Assessment/. On August 11, 2017, NMFS issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) which is available for review at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/military.htm.

Summary of Request

On December 21, 2016, NMFS received an adequate and complete application from the 86 FWS for regulations for the taking of 16 species of marine mammals representing 16 stocks incidental to LRS WSEP activities in the BSURE area of the PMRF off Kauai, Hawaii. On January 6, 2017, we published a notice of receipt of the 86 FWS's application in the Federal Register (82 FR 1702), requesting public comment. We considered those comments and subsequently published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register on May 5, 2017 (82 FR 21156), again requesting public comments. Since publishing the proposed rule, the 86 FWS revised the number of munitions it would deploy annually, significantly decreasing the amount of live weapon explosions per year. This decreases the number of anticipated and authorized takes for this activity (see “Estimated Take” section) compared to what was presented in the proposed rule. In addition, the USAF 86 FWS has worked with NMFS to greatly enhance marine mammal monitoring, resulting in increased detection probabilities, and thereby decreasing the likelihood of take of marine mammals.

NMFS previously issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to the 86 FWS authorizing the taking of marine mammal species incidental to similar activities in 2016 (81 FR 67971; October 3, 2016). The 86 FWS complied with all the requirements (e.g., mitigation, monitoring, and reporting) of the previous IHA; information regarding their monitoring results may be found in the Potential Effects of the Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and their Habitat section of this final rule.

Summary of Major Provisions Within the Final Rule

Following is a summary of some of the major provisions applicable to 86 FWS's LRS WSEP training missions. We have determined that 86 FWS's adherence to the mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures included in this rule would achieve the least practicable adverse impact on the affected marine mammals. The provisions, which are generally designed to minimize the duration and total volume of explosive detonations, include:

• Restricting missions to daylight hours, only on weekdays, and only during the summer (June through August) or fall (September through November) months.

• Limiting activity to one mission per calendar year with the 2017 mission limited to one day (dropping 8 small diameter bombs only) and the 2018 through 2022 missions limited to 4 days of training over a 5-day period. We note the proposed rule stated that training would occur for five days per mission; however, the 86 FWS has clarified the fifth day is a contingency day and no training will occur on the fifth day if the scheduled four days of training are completed.

• Limiting each mission day to four hours of training. This training duration limitation was presented in the proposed rule.

• Reducing the number and type of munitions. We note this constitutes a 40 to 92 percent reduction in total munitions from the proposed rule depending upon mission year.

• Conducting a systematic aerial survey covering 8 miles (mi) (13 kilometers (km)) using military aircraft equipped with sensor pods (e.g., Sniper advanced targeting pods) before, during and after each training day. A helicopter-based survey (i.e., the monitoring method presented in the application and proposed rule) will take place only as back-up should a sensor not be available. This monitoring plan is to be implemented in lieu of the helicopter surveys included in the proposed rule.

• Monitoring for marine mammals within the weapon impact area using range cameras stationed on Makaha Ridge before, during and after training each mission day. This requirement constitutes an additional method of monitoring for marine mammals that was not included in the proposed rule.

• Delaying mission activities if a marine mammal is observed in the designated exclusion zone (2.3 mile (mi) (3,704 m) for all missions and delaying missions if a marine mammal is observed within the Level A and/or Level B harassment zone but no take is authorized, resuming only after the animal is observed exiting the exclusion zone or the exclusion zone has been clear of any additional sightings for a period of 30 minutes. In the proposed rule, a mitigation measure was included that required mission delays if a protected species was observed within an impact zone; however, we have authorized the taking of marine mammals; therefore, this measure has been altered to a more practicable, consistent, and specified distance from the target site, which would avoid take in a manner that is not authorized (e.g., mortality, slight lung injury, Level A harassment of mid-frequency cetaceans).

• Shifting the target site as far from a marine mammal observation as possible if it has been determined the mission may continue without taking a marine mammal in a manner not authorized. This mitigation measure is new to the final rule in an effort to further minimize impacts to marine mammals.

• Delaying missions if adverse weather conditions impair the ability of aircraft to operate safely. This measure was included in the proposed rule.

• Notifying NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO) and Pacific Islands Region Marine Mammal Stranding Network of scheduled mission activities at least 72 hours prior to executing training exercises, within 24 hours of mission completion, and immediately if a dead or injured marine mammal is sighted.

• Submitting a report of marine mammal surveys and LRS WSEP activities to the Office of Protected Resources (OPR) and PIRO 90 days after expiration of the current authorization. If subsequent regulations and LOA are requested, a draft report will be included with the incidental take authorization application.

• Collecting passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) data using the U.S. Navy's hydrophones on the PMRF range before, during, and after LRS WSEP missions. These data will be stored at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) and analyzed to better understand the effects of WSEP training activities on marine mammals. A report will be submitted to NMFS 90 days after expiration of this rule or included with an application requesting future MMPA authorizations, whichever is first. Please see the Monitoring and Reporting section for more details.

• Delaying training if an unauthorized take of a marine mammal (i.e., mortality or serious injury; take of marine mammal species not authorized) occurs, and reporting the incident to OPR, PIRO, and the Pacific Islands Region Stranding Network representative immediately followed by a report to NMFS within 24 hours.

• Notifying OPR, PIRO, and the Pacific Island Region Stranding Network immediately, should a marine mammal be sighted that is dead or seriously injured, when such mortality or injury is clearly not a result of LRS WSEP activities (e.g., exhibiting advanced decomposition and/or scavenger wounds).

Detailed Description of the Specified Activity

The proposed rule (82 FR 21156; May 5, 2017) and the 86 FWS EA/OEA include a complete description of the USAF's specified training activities for which NMFS is authorizing incidental take of marine mammals in this final rule. Surface and sub-surface detonations are the stressors most likely to result in impacts on marine mammals that could rise to the level of harassment. The aforementioned documents can be found at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/military.htm). The description of location, delivery aircraft, and weapon types remain unchanged, and we incorporate this description by reference, and provide a summary below. However, the 86 FWS has reduced the amount of live (containing explosive charges) missiles and bombs and duration of each mission that would occur under this rule, and we provide more detailed information below.

The LRS WSEP test objective is to conduct operational evaluations of long range strike weapons and other munitions as part of LRS WSEP operations to properly train units to execute requirements within Designed Operational Capability Statements, which describe units' real-world operational expectations in a time of war. LRS WSEP objectives are to evaluate air-to-surface and maritime weapon employment data, evaluate tactics, techniques, and procedures in an operationally realistic environment and to determine the impact of tactics, techniques, and procedures on combat Air Force training.

Mission training will take place on the U.S. Navy's PMFR. The PMRF is the world's largest instrumented, multi-dimensional testing and training missile range, covering over 1,100 square miles (2,800 km2) of instrumented underwater range and over 42,000 square miles (109,000 km2) of controlled airspace. Within the PMRF, activities would occur only in the BSURE area, which lies in Warning Area 188A (W-188A). Specifically, the impact area is in the most northern portion of the BSURE approximately 44 nautical miles (nmi) (81 km) offshore of Kauai, Hawaii, in a water depth of about 15,240 feet (ft) (4.6 km) (see Figure 2-2 of 86 FWS's application). The BSURE is outfitted with 41 recently installed replacement hydrophones with response of approximately 50 hertz (Hz) to 48 kHz. The 18 legacy BSURE hydrophones (some not operational) have responses of approximately 100 Hz to 19 kHz and are located in similar positions to some of the replacement hydrophones. Hydrophones spacing ranges from approximately 13,123 ft (4 km) to over 22,966 ft (7 km), in water depths ranging from 5,577 ft (1.7 km) to 15,412 ft (4.7 km).

LRS WSEP training missions, classified as military readiness activities, refer to the deployment of live (containing explosive charges) missiles and bombs from aircraft toward the water surface. Depending on the requirements of a given mission, munitions may be inert (containing no explosives or only a “spotting” charge) or live (containing explosive charges). Live munitions may detonate above, at, or slightly below (10 ft (3 m)) the water surface.

Air-to-surface training missions include testing of the Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missile/Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missile-Extended Range (JASSM/JASSM-ER), Small Diameter Bomb-I/II (SDB-I/II), High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM), Joint Direct Attack Munition/Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM/LJDAM), and Miniature Air-Launched Decoy (MALD), including detonations above the water, at the water surface, and slightly below the water surface (Table 1). The JASSM is a stealthy precision cruise missile designed for launch outside area defenses against hardened, medium-hardened, soft, and area type targets. The JASSM has a range of more than 200 nmi (370 km) and carries a 1,000-lb warhead with approximately 300 lbs of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) equivalent net explosive weight (NEW). The specific explosive used is AFX-757, a type of plastic bonded explosive (PBX). The SDB-I is a 250-lb air-launched GPS-INS guided weapon for fixed soft to hardened targets. SDB-II expands the SDB-I capability with network enabling and uses a tri-mode sensor infrared, millimeter, and semi-active laser to attack both fixed and movable targets. Both munitions have a range of up to 60 nmi (111 km). The SDB-I contains 37 lbs of TNT-equivalent NEW, and the SDB-II contains 23 lbs NEW. The explosive used in both SDB-I and SDB-II is AFX-757. The HARM is a supersonic air-to-surface missile designed to seek and destroy enemy radar-equipped air defense systems. It has a range of up to 80 nmi (148 km) and contains 45 lbs of TNT-equivalent NEW. The explosive used is PBXN-107. The JDAM is a smart GPS-INS weapon that uses an unguided gravity bomb and adds a guidance and control kit, converting it to a precision-guided munition. The LJDAM variant adds a laser sensor to the JDAM, permitting guidance to a laser designated target. Both JDAM and LJDAM contain 192 lbs of TNT-equivalent NEW with multiple fusing options, with detonations occurring upon impact or with up to a 10-millisecond delay. The MALD is an air-launched, expendable decoy with ranges up to 500 nmi (926 km) to include a 200 nmi (370 km) dash with a 30-minute loiter mode. It has no warhead, and no detonation would occur upon impact with the water surface.

Mission aircraft may consist of fighter aircraft including F-16, F-15, A-10, and bombers such as B-1 and B-52. Weapon deployment will occur from at least one aircraft. These aircraft will be outfitted with sensors (e.g., target sniper pods) capable of observing very small targets from high altitudes and multiple miles away. Support aircraft associated with range clearance activities before and during the mission, air-to-air refueling operation support, and chase aircraft will also be outfitted with these sensors. Aircraft supporting LSR WSEP missions would primarily operate at high altitudes—only flying below 3,000 ft for a limited time as needed for escorting non-military vessels outside the hazard area or for monitoring the area for protected marine species (e.g., marine mammals and sea turtles).

All munitions would be detonated within a four hour timeframe daily. Since the publication of the proposed rule, the USAF clarified the five mission days described in the proposed rule actually constitute four bombing days and one day set aside as contingency (e.g., if weather or logistics prevent detonations on one of the four training days). In addition, the 86 FWS revised the extent of their mission by greatly reducing the amount of live munitions used each year. In total over the life of these regulations, the original amount of live munitions dropped would have been 530; however, that is now reduced to 220 live bombs and missiles for a total 5-year reduction of 58 percent. The amount of weapon reduction per year is provided in Table 1.

Table 1—Maximum Amount of Munitions, by Type, To Be Released by the USAF 86 FWS Type of munition NEW
  • (lb)
  • Detonation
  • scenario
  • Number of proposed live weapon releases 2017 Original Final 2018 Original Final 2019 Original Final 2020 Original Final 2021 Original Final
    JASSM/JASSM-ER 300 Surface 6 0 6 2 6 4 6 4 6 4 SDB-I 37 Surface 30 8 30 14 30 14 30 14 30 14 SDB-II 23 Surface 30 0 30 0 30 10 30 16 30 20 HARM 45 Surface 10 0 10 6 10 6 10 10 10 10 JDAM/LJDAM 192 Subsurface 1 30 0 30 16 30 16 30 16 30 16 Annual
  • Total
  • 106 8 106 38 106 50 106 60 106 64
    % Reduction 92% 64% 53% 43% 40%

    Releases of live ordnance associated with missions conducted under this rule would result in either airbursts, surface detonations, or subsurface detonations (10 ft (3 m) water depth). Up to four SDB I/II munitions could be released simultaneously, such that each ordnance would hit the water surface within a few seconds of each other. Aside from the SDB-I/II releases, all other weapons would be released separately, impacting the water surface at different times. Prior to weapon release, a range sweep of the hazard area would be conducted by participating mission aircraft or other appropriate aircraft, potentially including S-61N helicopter, C-26 aircraft, fighter aircraft (F-15E, F-16, F-22), or the Coast Guard's C-130 aircraft, to clear the area of civilian vessels and aircraft. The size and shape of the hazard area is determined by the maximum distance a weapon could travel in any direction during its descent and typically adjusted for potential wind speed and direction, resulting in a maximum composite safety footprint for each mission (each footprint boundary is at least 10 nmi from the Kauai coastline).

    Proposed mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures are described in detail later in this document (please see the Mitigation and Monitoring and Reporting sections).

    Comments and Responses

    A notice of receipt of USAF 86 FWS's application published in the Federal Register on January 6, 2017 (82 FR 1702). NMFS published a proposed rule in the Federal Register on May 5, 2017 (82 FR 21156). During the 30-day public comment period on the proposed rule, NMFS received comments from the Marine Mammal Commission (MMC), Dr. Robin Baird from Cascadia Research Collective (CRC), Earthjustice on behalf of the Animal Welfare Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Council for Hawai`i, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Ocean Mammal Institute (herein after “EarthJustice”), the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness (CRE), and 18 members of the general public. Following are the comments received and NMFS' responses.

    Comment 1: The MMC was concerned that the methods used by the USAF to estimate range-to-effects (i.e., distances to various thresholds) are overly conservative and do not match the range-to-effects produced by the Navy included in the Navy's Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Letter of Authorization Application for Training and Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation within the Hawaii-Southern California Fleet Training and Testing Study Area (HSTT) for Phase II. The MMC recommended NMFS review the USAF and Navy's modeling of range-to-effects to ensure the results are comparable for similar munitions at the various thresholds, including the same trends in range-to-effects based on the same metric (i.e., SEL vs SPLpeak). The MMC subsequently recommended NMFS revise the estimated numbers of takes based on any changes to the range-to-effects, and thus impact areas, after comparison with the Navy ranges.

    NMFS Response: The acoustic and take estimate models used by the USAF were thoroughly reviewed by NMFS acoustic experts. While we understand this approach is more simplistic than the sophisticated models used by the Navy and result in more conservative ranges to effects and take numbers, the USAF methods are scientifically sound. Every depth bin was treated independently; therefore, each has its own range-to-effects associated with it. The ranges to which the MMC refers (Table 5 in the proposed rule) represent the maximum estimated range, or radius, from the detonation point to the point for any depth bin at which the various thresholds extend for all munitions proposed to be released in a 24-hour time period. Total exposures (takes) were found by taking the volume of a disk with a given thickness in depth and radius equal to the range-to-effect for that depth bin, multiplied by the dive-profile-weighted animal densities, and then summing all of those density-weighted disk volumes. The mitigation range is based on the maximum range, regardless of which depth that occurs, rather than some average range over depth bins or just the near-surface bins. Further, instead of assuming equal density throughout the water column, they combined marine mammal density (obtained from the Navy's Marine Species Density Database (U.S. Department of the Navy, 2016) with depth information so that impact estimates are based on three-dimensional density distributions. NMFS believes this is an appropriate and acceptable approach to determine the number of takes, by species, requested and authorized.

    Since development of the proposed rule, 86 FWS has reduced the amount of munitions it intends to detonate each year and clarified that each mission would only occur for a maximum of four days, annually, which represents a reduction from the proposed rule. The five days included in the proposed rule included one contingency day (e.g., if poor weather or technical difficulty prevents one day of training). Further, the 86 FWS confirmed in 2017, the mission consists of dropping eight small diameter bombs in one day. However, the 86 FWS will retain the same 8 mi (13 km) monitoring zone as in the proposed rule.

    Comment 2: Multiple commenters expressed concern that the proposed aerial survey that would occur prior to mission exercises and designed to trigger mitigation (e.g., shut down, delay of mission) is insufficient to minimize impacts on marine mammals for several reasons, including low detection probability in high sea states, especially for inconspicuous and elusive animals such as dwarf sperm whales and beaked whales, as well as potentially using an inappropriate survey platform which may fly at altitudes and survey speeds prohibiting visual detection. They also noted the range is not in the lee of the island; therefore, sea states rating higher on the Beaufort scale are common.

    NMFS Response: The 86 FWS is required to conduct their missions in a variety of sea states and marine conditions that would be operationally realistic, while still considering the safety of mission personnel. Therefore, no restrictions on sea state are included in the proposed or final rule. However, NMFS recognizes the efficacy of aerial surveys at detecting marine mammals is reduced as sea surface conditions deteriorate, particularly for deep diving and more cryptic cetaceans (e.g., beaked whales). Therefore, we re-assessed the survey design, in concert with practicability, and worked with the 86 FWS to develop a more robust monitoring plan. As a result, the 86 FWS will substitute the helicopter survey platform with military aircraft (e.g., F-16) equipped with aircraft sensors (e.g., SNIPER target pods) capable of operating in high-definition forward-looking infrared (FLIR), high-definition television modes using synthetic aperture radar (SAR), or other operational sensors. The sniper pod hangs from the underbelly of the plane and, in this case, the pod would be used to “target” observations of marine mammals. The capabilities of the instrumentation within aircraft far exceeds that of the naked eye. It is believed that using these assets in addition to conducting visual surveys will provide multiple opportunities to ensure that marine mammals potentially on or near the water surface within the required survey areas will be identified and can thus be avoided. In addition, because pilots are equipped with these sensors while in route to launch the bomb or missile, they will be monitoring for marine mammals on the flight path to the weapon impact area, allowing for monitoring up until right before missile/bomb detonation. Pre- during, and post-mission day survey protocol is fully described in the 86 FWS Mitigation and Monitoring Plan available at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/military.htm.

    The 86 FWS will retain the option of using a helicopter to conduct the surveys should the target pods malfunction; however, this is not the preferred aerial platform.

    Comment 3: Multiple commenters recommended the 86 FWS should utilize the Navy's MR3 hydrophones on the FRMP to conduct passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) for mitigation purposes. That is, the hydrophones should be monitored in real-time and used to call for mission delays or shut-downs. One commenter supplemented this recommendation by providing information that the instrumented hydrophone range at PMRF has frequently been used for real-time detection, classification and localization (DCL) of marine mammals on the range as part of research activities (Baird et al., 2016; Baird et al., 2015; Baird et al., 2012) and that CRC has participated in 10 different field efforts off PMRF working in conjunction with the Navy to respond to marine mammals that are detected acoustically through the hydrophone system. Those efforts led the Navy to successfully direct a CRC small vessel to a variety of species of marine mammals on the range, including sperm whales, short-finned pilot whales, false killer whales, Blainville's beaked whales, bottlenose dolphins, and rough-toothed dolphins, demonstrating that groups can be successfully localized and classified as to species using this method. The MMC also noted Helble et al. (2015) indicated they were able to track multiple animals on PMRF hydrophones in real time, including humpback whales, a species that can be problematic to localize. The MMC also cited Martin and Matsuyama (2015) as support that tracking of baleen whales is possible on the range.

    NMFS Response: The efficacy of localizing on marine mammals is dependent on multiple factors: (1) Where on the range the animals are located (due to differences in hydrophone spacing and bandwidth), (2) what species are present and the types and regularity of vocalizations produced (echolocation clicks or infrequent whistling are difficult or impossible to use for localizations in real time), and (3) the capabilities and knowledge of the personnel conducting the localizations. The proposed rule described NMFS' efforts to work with the 86 FWS and the Navy to investigate using PAM as a mitigation support tool and identifies the limitations of this technology at detecting, localizing, and identifying marine mammals to a degree that would be sufficient to warrant a shut down or delay in mission. The proposed rule outlined three primary limiting factors: (1) To develop an estimated position for an individual, it must be vocalizing for an extended duration and its vocalizations must be detected on at least three hydrophones; (2) small odontocetes and deep divers (e.g., beaked whales) echolocate with a directed beam that makes detection of the call on multiple hydrophones difficult, and (3) the position estimation process must occur in an area with hydrophones spaced to allow the detection of the same echolocation click on at least three hydrophones (a spacing of less than four km in water depths of approximately two km is preferred). However, NMFS further investigated using PAM to trigger mitigation.

    We reviewed the aforementioned reports cited in the comment letter and determined the weapon impact area used for LRS WSEP activities, which is located at the very north end of the PMRF underwater range, has significant technical differences in PAM capabilities compared to the majority of areas where the researchers have been directed to study marine mammals for the Navy. The PMRF is comprised of three distinct regions: The SWTR, BSURE and Barking Sands Tracking Underwater Range (BARSTUR). The SWTR (Shallow Water Test Range) is the closest to shore and in the shallowest waters and comprises the smallest physical area with hydrophones. The majority of PMRF's hydrophones (118, although many are not operational) are at SWTR, and all are high pass filtered at ~10 kHz and located relatively close together (hydrophone spacing is designed to be a function of depth). The second largest area is the BARSTUR at 13.3 percent the size of BSURE, located just south of BSURE in shallower waters with 42 hydrophones (some not operational). Thirty six of the hydrophones are high pass filtered at ~10 kHz. Six BARSTUR hydrophones have lower frequency response (i.e., ~ 100 Hz to ~ 48 kHz).

    The largest and most northern area is the BSURE and is where the weapon impact area is located. The BSURE has 41 recently installed “replacement” hydrophones with response ~50 Hz to 48 kHz. The 18 legacy BSURE hydrophones (some not operational) have response ~100 Hz to ~ 19 kHz and are located in similar positions to some of the replacement hydrophones. Hydrophones spacing ranges from approximately 4 km to over 7 km, in water depths ranging from 1.7 km to 4.7 km. In summary, the detection and localization capabilities on PMRF are not uniform throughout the range due to the number of hydrophones, frequency response, spacing, and depth logistics. For example, the depth and spacing of hydrophones in the BSURE is much greater (i.e., deeper and farther apart) than in the SWTR and BARSTUR where the cited marine mammal tagging research effort using PAM detection assistance was concentrated. In addition, all hydrophones in the BSURE are located south of the weapon impact area; making the ability to detect and localize animals off the range (i.e., to the north of the impact area) even more improbable. Finally, the process for localizing humpback whales in Helble et al. (2015) was fully performed using recorded data in the laboratory with Matlab algorithms, not in real-time at PMRF. The paper did mention the algorithm as being suitable for real-time application; however, additional software work is required before the algorithm can be implemented into the M3R real-time system. The processing speed for localizing humpback whales in Helble et al. (2015) was also described as being “five times faster than real time” but that is describing the ability to process five days of recorded data in the laboratory in one day, which is important for processing large recorded data sets.

    For these reasons as well as those cited in the proposed rule, NMFS has not included a requirement to use PAM to trigger mitigation. We note the U.S. Navy also does not use PAM to trigger mitigation on the PMRF. However, per the 86 FWS's Mitigation and Monitoring Plan, the 86 FWS will collect acoustic data and provide a report to NMFS upon expiration of the LOA (or concurrent with a future LOA application, whichever is first) informing the potential impacts of the missions on marine mammals (see the Monitoring and Reporting section). The 86 FWS will utilize sensor pods and range cameras capable of detecting marine mammals before and during missions to trigger mitigation.

    Comment 4: One commenter offered information with respect to NMFS' assumption that marine mammals are expected to exhibit avoidance behavior in response to loud sounds within the BSURE, citing findings from research on cetaceans off Kauai showing that individuals of four different species of odontocetes exposed to relatively high source levels of mid-frequency active (MFA) sonar are not leaving the area (Baird et al., 2014; Baird et al., 2017). The commenter recommended against assuming that the responsive behaviors of animals moving away from an initial sound source will reduce the likelihood of repeated exposure or repeated TTS leading to PTS may not be correct for all species in this area.

    NMFS Response: There is a paucity of data on behavioral responses of cetaceans to explosives, although in recent years there has been a concentrated effort to better understand the impacts of MFA sonar on marine mammals (e.g., Baird et al., 2012, 2014, 2017; Henderson et al., 2014, Southall et al., 2009, Tyack et al., 2011). It is important to note MFA sonar is an intrinsically different source than explosives used here by the 86 FWS. The 86 FWS will not use sonar during the LRS WSEP missions. MFA is characterized as non-impulsive, narrowband sources with center frequencies of 2.6 and 3.3 kHz, while explosives are impulsive- noise with high peak sound pressure, short duration, fast rise-time, and broad frequency content times. Despite these differences, we expect the range of behavioral reactions from both sources to be somewhat similar. Henderson et al. (2014) found responses included changes in behavioral state or direction of travel, changes in vocalization rates and call intensity, or a lack of vocalizations while MFA sonar occurred. Similar to the findings noted by the commenter, 43 percent of focal groups exposed to sonar did not change their behavior, possibly due to tolerance and/or habituation. For more sensitive species (e.g., beaked whales), avoidance behavior in response to MFA sonar has been well documented (Southall et al., 2009, Tyack et al., 2011).

    As described in the proposed rule, NMFS acknowledges that behavioral responses to sound are highly variable and context-specific, and that any reactions depend on numerous intrinsic and extrinsic factors (e.g., species, state of maturity, experience, current activity, reproductive state, auditory sensitivity, and time of day), as well as the interplay between factors. NMFS did not limit its analysis of potential impacts to avoidance. The proposed rule discusses that the onset of surface detonations could result in a number of temporary, short term changes in an animal's typical behavior, including, changing durations of surfacing and dives; number of blows per surfacing; moving direction and/or speed; reduced/increased vocal activities; changing/cessation of certain behavioral activities (such as socializing or feeding); and visible startle response or aggressive behavior (such as tail/fluke slapping or jaw clapping). The proposed rule also includes a discussion on potential tolerance and habituation.

    For those animals that do avoid the area, we remain confident this behavior will reduce the potential for TTS and PTS. The avoidance reaction we predict does not necessarily need to occur on a large spatial scale (e.g., moving to the lee side of the island), but could likely occur more locally, for example just outside strong received levels from the target site. Further, because of the planned reduction in number of explosives planned for each mission, the TTS and PTS zones are likely an overestimate, making any movement away from the impact site helpful in further reducing auditory impacts.

    Comment 5: A marine mammal researcher commented that based on relative density and range-to-effects, it is unclear why no takes of Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed sperm whales (Physeter microcephalus) were requested or proposed to be authorized in the rule when sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis) density (a species for which take is requested and authorized) is lower than sperm whale density.

    NMFS Response: The 86 FWS evaluated the likelihood of taking incidental to the specified activities for sperm whales which are classified as a mid-frequency cetaceans. The range to effects for the sperm whale is less than that of sei whales (a low frequency hearing specialist). Considering sperm whale density (0.0016 animals/km2), the distance to the Level B behavioral isopleth minus the Level B TTS isopleth distance (11.95 km−8.01 km), and assuming five training days per mission (the original schedule), the number of sperm whales possibly exposed to Level B harassment equaled 0.3 animals per year. When rounding, this probability becomes zero for sperm whales. For sei whales (0.0002 animals/km2), the final exposure value was 0.7 per year; therefore, it was rounded to one animal. The probability of taking both species is also decreased because the 86 FWS will only conduct four training days per mission, not the original five days included in the application. In summary, NMFS agrees there is a slight probability a sperm whale may be within the action area during training; however, this probability is very low. The 86 FWS did not request take of this species, and the 86 FWS is aware that take of sperm whales is not authorized.

    Comment 6: A marine mammal researcher was concerned there is a potential for 86 FWS activities to overlap spatially and temporally with scientific research activities on the PMRF, and, as a result, those researchers may be displaced.

    NMFS Response: The 86 FWS will issue a Notice to Mariners to inform the public that a military mission will be conducted and that portions of the Pacific Ocean will be temporarily closed for human safety concerns. The 86 FWS will also coordinate with NMFS OPR and PIRO once mission schedules have been set and no less than 72 hours prior to conducting each operation. If a researcher is concerned their planned research may be interrupted by 86 FWS activities, they may contact NMFS or the 86 FWS directly to determine when missions are scheduled. In addition, we do not anticipate a conflict with researchers, not only because of these alert requirements, but also because the weapon impact area is in the most northern part of the BSURE range in very deep water where small boat operations do not typically occur, and missions are to be conducted for only one day in 2017 and one to four days for the remainder of the effective period of this rule.

    Comment 7: The MMC acknowledged the USAF would archive the PAM recordings for analysis when funding is available at a later time, but recommended fulfilling the monitoring requirements under section 101(a)(5) of the MMPA should be made a priority.

    NMFS Response: The final rule contains monitoring and reporting requirements that fully comply with section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA. The purpose of analyzing acoustic data is to better understand the effects of the missions on marine mammals using acoustic recordings from PMRF hydrophones. Because the year one mission will occur only for one day (eight small diameter bombs) and year two through five missions will occur for a maximum of four days (maximum of four hours per day), NMFS finds that requiring an assessment of animal behavior for each mission year would yield a data poor analysis because the amount of acoustic data collected in any given year is likely to be minimal, if any at all. Therefore, the 86 FWS will combine all data over the course of 5 years and provide NMFS a final report within 90 days after the rule expires. However, if 86 FWS applies for a subsequent rule prior to expiration of this rule, a draft acoustic monitoring report shall be submitted with that application.

    Comment 8: Comments received from individual citizens who opposed harming animals can be summarized in four general statements: (1) The activities will kill animals or make them deaf, (2) the USAF should conduct activities in areas where marine life will not be harmed or should conduct “virtual” training, (3) the mitigation and monitoring are ineffective, and (4) a warning should be provided to marine mammals prior to the exercises to give them time to leave the area.

    NMFS Response: The following responses correspond to the numbered statements above: (1) NMFS did not propose to authorize, nor are we authorizing, death or serious injury of marine mammals incidental to the specified activity in this rule, because take in this manner was not requested, and, for reasons provided in this rule and associated documents, we do not believe it will occur. While NMFS does believe there is potential for PTS, experiencing PTS does not mean an animal will become deaf to the degree they are unable to communicate and perform other vital life functions. In addition, our thresholds are conservative in that they anticipate the accumulated energy at which animal may experience any level of PTS, not complete deafness. The distances also represent where the animal would have to remain relative to the detonation site for the duration of the exercise each day as described in the proposed rule. Because the amount of live weapons has been greatly reduced and marine mammal monitoring would occur up until weapon detonation, we believe the chance of PTS, while it still may exist slightly, is also greatly reduced. We do not expect animals to remain stationary; instead we expect them to move away from the source, not toward it, thereby reducing the potential for PTS. (2) NMFS must evaluate a proposed activity and is required to prescribe mitigation to affect the least practicable adverse impact. We do not have the authority to require the USAF to conduct missions elsewhere or use virtual training. (3) Please see our responses to the other public comments regarding mitigation and monitoring. (4) NMFS, in consultation with the USAF, considered a mitigation measure that involved conducting inert munition training or detonating small weapons prior to larger weapons. The 86 FWS indicated it is not known at this time in what order munitions will be detonated; however, NMFS has required that this mitigation measure be followed if the Project Engineer/Commanding Officer determines doing so will not interfere with the mission.

    Comment 9: CRE does not oppose NMFS' issuance of the rule, but they do oppose NMFS' use of our “Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing—Acoustic Threshold Levels for Onset of Permanent and Temporary Threshold Shifts” (Technical Guidance) (NMFS 2016) in our analysis of the potential impacts of the USAF's military readiness activities on marine mammals. CRE commented that it is questionable whether NMFS has the authority to use the Technical Guidance until the Commerce Secretary has completed his review required by Executive Order (EO) 13795. They further recommend NMFS remove any claim that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had approved an Information Collection Request for the Technical Guidance, and NMFS should correct information disseminations that suggest or require that the Technical Guidance may be used for any regulatory purpose.

    NMFS Response: EO 13795 does not state the Technical Guidance cannot be used during the Secretary's review process; therefore, the Technical Guidance remains applicable during this time. Prior to its release, the Technical Guidance was subject to an internal review, three external peer reviews, as well as a follow-up peer review, three public comment periods, and received informal input from key Federal partners. As such, it represents the best available science. However, in accordance with EO 13795, NMFS solicited additional public comment on the Technical Guidance (82 FR 24950, May 31, 2017). NMFS will also consult the appropriate Federal agencies to assist the Secretary of Commerce in reviewing the Technical Guidance for consistency with the policy in section 2 of EO 13795. As mandated by the EO, at the conclusion of the review, the Secretary will make a determination on how to proceed. At that point, NMFS will determine what information will be provided on our information disseminations. Further, the Technical Guidance explicitly states it is a guidance document and that ITA applicants are not required to use it. An applicant may propose an alternative approach if it is likely to produce a more accurate estimate of auditory impact for the project being evaluated. Finally, as explicitly explained in the Guidance, the scientific data compiled therein do not mandate any particular policy or regulatory choice, rather, they are used in the analyses that inform regulatory decisions and, as is appropriate in the case of the MMPA, the regulatory decisions are subject to notice and comment.

    Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified Activities

    There are 25 marine mammal species with potential or confirmed occurrence in the proposed activity area. Not all of these species occur in this region during the project timeframe, or the likelihood of occurrence is very low. The “Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activities” section included in the proposed rule (82 FR 21156; May 5, 2017) and sections 3 and 4 of the USAF's application summarize available information regarding status and trends, distribution and habitat preferences, and behavior and life history, of the potentially affected species. These descriptions have not changed and are incorporated here by reference. Additional information regarding population trends and threats may be found in NMFS's Stock Assessment Reports (SAR; www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/) and more general information about these species (e.g., physical and behavioral descriptions) may be found on NMFS's Web site (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/). Additional information may be found in the USAF 86 FWS EA/EOA for LRS WSEP training exercises in the BSURE of the PMRF, which is available online at http://www.afcec.af.mil/What-We-Do/Environment/Pacific-Range-Strike-Environmental-Assessment/.

    Of the 25 species that may occur in Hawaiian waters, 16 species occur in densities great enough during the seasons the training exercises may occur (summer or fall) to warrant inclusion in this rule (Table 2). The final list of species is based on summer density estimates, a conservative range-to-effects, and duration of the activity.

    Table 2—Marine Mammal Species and Stocks Likely To Be Exposed to 86 FWS LRS WSEP Training Missions Species Stock ESA/MMPA status;
  • strategic
  • (Y/N)1
  • Stock abundance (CV, Nmin, most recent
  • abundance survey) 2
  • PBR 3 Occurrence in BSURE area
    Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Mysticeti (baleen whales) Family: Balaenopteridae Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) 4 Central North Pacific N; Y 10,103 (0.300; 7,890; 2006) 83 Seasonal; throughout known breeding grounds during winter and spring (most common November through April). Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis) Hawaii Y; Y 178 (0.90; 93; 2010) 0.2 Rare; limited sightings of seasonal migrants that feed at higher latitudes. Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) Hawaii -; N n/a (n/a; n/a; 2010) Undet Regular but seasonal (October-April). Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family: Kogiidae Pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps) Hawaii -; N n/a (n/a; n/a; 2010) Undet Widely distributed year round; more likely in waters > 1,000 m depth. Dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima) Hawaii -; N n/a (n/a; n/a; 2010) Undet Widely distributed year round; more likely in waters > 500 m depth. Family: Delphinidae Pygmy killer whale (Feresa attenuata) Hawaii -; N 3,433 (0.52; 2,274; 2010) 23 Year-round resident. Short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus) Hawaii -; N 12,422 (0.43; 8,872; 2010) 70 Commonly observed around Main Hawaiian Islands and Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Melon headed whale (Peponocephala electra) Hawaii Islands stock -; N 5,794 (0.20; 4,904; 2010) 4 Regular. Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) Hawaii pelagic -; N 5,950 (0.59; 3,755; 2010) 38 Common in deep offshore waters. Pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata) Hawaii pelagic -; N 15,917 (0.40; 11,508; 2010) 115 Common; primary occurrence between 100 and 4,000 m depth. Striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoala) Hawaii -; N 20,650 (0.36; 15,391; 2010) 154 Occurs regularly year round but infrequent sighting during survey. Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) Hawaii pelagic -; N n/a (n/a; n/a; 2010) Undet Common year-round in offshore waters. Rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis) Hawaii stock -; N 6,288 (0.39; 4,581; 2010) 46 Common throughout the Main Hawaiian Islands and Hawaiian Islands EEZ. Fraser's dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei) Hawaii -; N 16,992 (0.66; 10,241; 2010) 102 Tropical species only recently documented within Hawaiian Islands EEZ (2002 survey). Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus) Hawaii -; N 7,256 (0.41; 5,207; 2010) 42 Previously considered rare but multiple sightings in Hawaiian Islands EEZ during various surveys conducted from 2002-2012. Family: Ziphiidae Longman's beaked whale (Indopacetus pacificus) Hawaii -; N 4,571 (0.65; 2,773; 2010) 28 Considered rare; however, multiple sightings during 2010 survey. 1 Endangered Species Act (ESA) status: Endangered (E), Threatened (T)/MMPA status: Depleted (D). A dash (-) indicates that the species is not listed under the ESA or designated as depleted under the MMPA. Under the MMPA, a strategic stock is one for which the level of direct human-caused mortality exceeds PBR (see footnote 3) or which is determined to be declining and likely to be listed under the ESA within the foreseeable future. Any species or stock listed under the ESA is automatically designated under the MMPA as depleted and as a strategic stock. 2 CV is coefficient of variation; Nmin is the minimum estimate of stock abundance. In some cases, CV is not applicable. For certain stocks, abundance estimates are actual counts of animals and there is no associated CV. The most recent abundance survey that is reflected in the abundance estimate is presented; there may be more recent surveys that have not yet been incorporated into the estimate. All values presented here are from the 2015 Pacific SARs, except humpback whales- see comment 4. 3 Potential biological removal (PBR), defined by the MMPA as the maximum number of animals, not including natural mortalities, that may be removed from a marine mammal stock while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable population size (OSP). 4Values for humpback whales are from the 2015 Alaska SAR.
    Marine Mammal Hearing

    Hearing is the most important sensory modality for marine mammals underwater, and exposure to anthropogenic sound can have deleterious effects. To appropriately assess the potential effects of exposure to sound, it is necessary to understand the frequency ranges marine mammals are able to hear. Current data indicate that not all marine mammal species have equal hearing capabilities (e.g., Richardson et al., 1995; Wartzok and Ketten, 1999; Au and Hastings, 2008). To reflect this, Southall et al. (2007) recommended that marine mammals be divided into functional hearing groups based on directly measured or estimated hearing ranges on the basis of available behavioral response data, audiograms derived using auditory evoked potential techniques, anatomical modeling, and other data. Note that no direct measurements of hearing ability have been successfully completed for mysticetes (i.e., low-frequency cetaceans).

    Subsequently, NMFS (2016) described generalized hearing ranges for these marine mammal hearing groups. Generalized hearing ranges were chosen based on the approximately 65 dB threshold from the normalized composite audiograms, with the exception for lower limits for low-frequency cetaceans where the lower bound was deemed to be biologically implausible and the lower bound from Southall et al. (2007) retained. The functional groups and the associated frequencies are indicated in Table 3; note that these frequency ranges correspond to the range for the composite group, with the entire range not necessarily reflecting the capabilities of every species within that group (please refer to the proposed rule (82 FR 21156; May 5, 2017) for more detail.

    Table 3—Marine Mammal Hearing Groups [NMFS, 2016] Hearing group Generalized hearing range * Low-frequency (LF) cetaceans (baleen whales) 7 Hz to 35 kHz. Mid-frequency (MF) cetaceans (dolphins, toothed whales, beaked whales, bottlenose whales) 150 Hz to 160 kHz. High-frequency (HF) cetaceans (true porpoises, Kogia, river dolphins, cephalorhynchid, Lagenorhynchus cruciger & L. australis) 275 Hz to 160 kHz. Phocid pinnipeds (PW) (underwater) (true seals) 50 Hz to 86 kHz. Otariid pinnipeds (OW) (underwater) (sea lions and fur seals) 60 Hz to 39 kHz. * Represents the generalized hearing range for the entire group as a composite (i.e., all species within the group), where individual species' hearing ranges are typically not as broad. Generalized hearing range chosen based on ~65 dB threshold from normalized composite audiogram, with the exception for lower limits for LF cetaceans (Southall et al., 2007) and PW pinniped (approximation). Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat

    In the Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals section of the proposed rule (82 FR 21156; May 5, 2017), we included a qualitative discussion of the different ways that the USAF 86 FWS LRS WSEP training activities may potentially affect marine mammals without consideration of mitigation and monitoring measures. These effects are incorporated here by reference; however, we note the new information on decreased munition amount likely further reduces the chance and severity of these effects.

    Estimated Take

    This section provides the number of incidental takes, by stock, authorized through this final rule, which informs both NMFS' consideration of the negligible impact determination.

    Harassment is the only type of take expected to result from these activities. For this military readiness activity, the MMPA defines “harassment” as: (i) Any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A Harassment); or (ii) Any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered (Level B Harassment).

    Authorized takes primarily cover Level B harassment, as explosive detonations have the potential to result in disruption of behavioral patterns and/or TTS for individual marine mammals. There is also some potential for auditory injury (Level A harassment) to result, primarily for mysticetes and high frequency species due to the size of the predicted auditory injury zones. Auditory injury is unlikely to occur for mid-frequency species. The proposed mitigation and monitoring measures are expected to minimize the severity of such taking to the extent practicable. No mortality or serious injury is authorized for this activity. Below we describe how the take is estimated.

    Described in the most basic way, we estimate take by considering: (1) Acoustic thresholds above which NMFS believes the best available science indicates marine mammals will be behaviorally harassed or incur some degree of permanent hearing impairment; (2) the area or volume of water that will be ensonified above these levels in a day; (3) the density or occurrence of marine mammals within these ensonified areas; and, (4) and the number of days of activities. These elements and the method by which takes were calculated are described in detail in the proposed rule for this action. While some aspects have not changed (e.g., acoustic thresholds and modeling approach), we are reducing the amount of authorized take proposed from the proposed rule based on the significant reduction of explosives employed annually. Here, we again provide NMFS acoustic thresholds for explosives for reference and discuss the manner by which takes were estimated for a reduced number of munitions.

    Based on the best available science, NMFS uses the acoustic and pressure thresholds indicated in Table 4 to predict the onset of behavioral harassment, PTS, tissue damage, and mortality.

    ER22AU17.000

    Based on the thresholds in Table 4, the USAF calculated the distances to each based on the amount of ordnance that could be dropped on any given day per the munition amounts included in the application. We also note that for sources that are detonated at shallow depths such as is the case here, explosions may breach the surface with some of the acoustic energy escaping the water column. The source levels used in the acoustic model were not adjusted for this possible venting nor did subsequent analysis attempt to take this into account; therefore, this is another reason to identify the resulting analysis as conservative.

    Although the amount of munitions included in each mission has been significantly reduced, the USAF was unable to recalculate these distances using the original modeling due to time and funding constraints. Therefore, the reduction in impacts (i.e., take) was estimated using the correction factor discussed below Table 5. Although the prior calculations (Table 5) overestimate the range-to-effects, in the absence of mitigation, we continue to use these distances to conservatively inform the mitigation and monitoring measures. If during the course of this rule, the USAF is able to recalculate these zones based on the actual amount of munitions dropped per day, NMFS will reconsider, pursuant to the adaptive management provisions (see Adaptive Management section), the extent of the mitigation zones after review of the model.

    Table 5—Distances (m) to Explosive Thresholds Based on the Originally Proposed Amount of Munitions per Mission Day Species Mortality 1 Level A harassment Slight lung
  • injury
  • GI tract injury 237 dB SPL PTS SEL SPL Level B harassment TTS SEL Behavioral SPL SEL
    Low-Frequency Cetaceans Humpback Whale 99 200 204 5,415 1,241 55,464 2,266 59,039 Blue Whale 74 149 Fin Whale 76 157 Sei Whale 101 204 Bryde's Whale 99 200 Minke Whale 138 268 Mid-Frequency Cetaceans Sperm Whale 91 177 204 1,575 413 8,019 763 11,948 Killer Whale 149 287 False Killer Whale (MHI Insular stock) 177 340 False Killer Whale (all other stocks) 177 340 Pygmy Killer Whale 324 604 Short-finned Pilot Whale 217 413 Melon-headed Whale 273 502 Bottlenose Dolphin 273 509 Pantropical Spotted Dolphin 324 604 Striped Dolphin 324 604 Spinner Dolphin 324 604 Rough-toothed Dolphin 273 509 Fraser's Dolphin 257 480 Risso's Dolphin 207 384 Cuvier's Beaked Whale 131 257 Blainville's Beaked Whale 195 368 Longman's Beaked Whale 133 261 High-Frequency Cetaceans Pygmy Sperm Whale 248 457 204 20,058 4,879 71,452 7,204 74,804 Dwarf Sperm Whale 273 509

    To determine the final amount of take authorized in the proposed rule, we considered the amount of take proposed based on the original amount of munitions released versus the final amount of munitions and the fact the 86 FWS would only conduct one day of training in 2017 and up to four days, annually, in 2018 through 2022 (the proposed rule considered five days of activity for each year). The amount of munition reduction ranges from 40 to 92 percent based on year. Based on these factors, we adjusted takes to be more realistic but also conservative to allow for adequate coverage (Table 6). For those species where take was equal to fewer than five animals, annually, we maintained this amount of take to account for random occurrence on any given day. For all other species, we reduced the amount of take by 20 percent (or one half of the lowest reduction for any given year (i.e., 40 percent).

    Table 6—Annual Original and Final Authorized Take Numbers by Species Species Mortality/tissue damage Level A harassment
  • (PTS only *)
  • Original Final Level B harassment
  • (TTS)
  • Original Final Level B harassment
  • (behavioral)
  • Original Final
    Humpback whale 0 4 4 54 44 38 30 Sei whale 0 0 0 0 0 3 3 Minke whale 0 1 1 11 9 19 15 Pygmy sperm whale 0 9 7 83 66 36 29 Dwarf sperm whale 0 22 18 203 162 87 70 Pygmy killer whale 0 0 0 1 1 25 * 25 Short-finned pilot whale 0 0 0 5 5 36 * 36 Melon-headed whale 0 0 0 1 1 152 * 152 Bottlenose dolphin 0 0 0 2 2 32 26 Pantropical spotted dolphin 0 0 0 3 3 40 * 40 Striped dolphin 0 0 0 2 2 51 * 51 Spinner dolphin 0 0 0 1 1 29 * 29 Rough-toothed dolphin 0 0 0 3 3 22 * 22 Fraser's dolphin 0 0 0 10 8 273 * 273 Risso's dolphin 0 0 0 2 2 25 * 25 Longman's beaked whale 0 0 0 1 1 59 * 59 Total 0 36 30 382 310 927 885 * Denotes average group size.

    We expect the amount of take we are authorizing to be a very conservative estimate and the likelihood of the 86 FWS reaching or exceeding that level of take is unlikely given the reduced amount of munitions proposed each year, the reduction of training duration, and the mitigation and monitoring measures. NMFS expects that Level A harassment is unlikely to occur at the numbers proposed to be authorized because NMFS is authorizing (and analyzing) the modeled number of Level A harassment takes, which does not take the mitigation or avoidance measures into consideration.

    Mitigation

    In order to issue regulations and a LOA under Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA, NMFS must set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to such activity, “and other means of effecting the least practicable impact on such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the availability of such species or stock for taking” for certain subsistence uses (latter not applicable for this action because there are no subsistence uses in Hawaii). NMFS regulations require applicants for incidental take authorizations to include information about the availability and feasibility (economic and technological) of equipment, methods, and manner of conducting such activity or other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact upon the affected species or stocks and their habitat (50 CFR 216.104(a)(11)). The NDAA for FY 2004 amended the MMPA as it relates to military readiness activities and the incidental take authorization process such that “least practicable impact” shall include consideration of personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity.

    In evaluating how mitigation may or may not be appropriate to ensure the least practicable adverse impact on species or stocks and their habitat, as well as subsistence uses where applicable, we carefully consider two primary factors:

    (1) The manner in which, and the degree to which, the successful implementation of the measure(s) is expected to reduce impacts to marine mammals, marine mammal species or stocks, and their habitat. This considers the nature of the potential adverse impact being mitigated (likelihood, scope, range). It further considers the likelihood that the measure will be effective if implemented (probability of accomplishing the mitigating result if implemented as planned) the likelihood of effective implementation (probability implemented as planned), and;

    (2) The practicability of the measures for applicant implementation, which may consider such things as cost, impact on operations, and, in the case of a military readiness activity, personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity.

    The primary means of mitigating for impacts to marine mammals is mission delay if marine mammals are observed within certain distances from the weapon impact site during pre-mission surveys, during missions, or via range camera monitoring. Since promulgation of the proposed rule, the 86 FWS identified that the 2017 missions would be limited to one day involving only eight small diameter bombs (23 to 37 lb NEW). The 2018 through 2022 missions include more explosives than 2017 constituting all possible munitions types; however, in substantially less amount than included in the proposed rule. The range-to-effects distances modeled by the USAF includes 24 explosives ranging from 300 to 23 lb NEW. The USAF did not have the capability to remodel range to effects based on the reduced amount of munitions; therefore, we have outlined circumstances that conservatively accounts for this reduction separately for 2017 and jointly for 2018 through 2022. In the final rule, we identify an “exclusion zone” as absolutely triggering a delay while a “harassment zone” may or may not trigger a delay based on species observed and distance from the weapon impact site. The following circumstances apply to the implementation of exclusion zones and mitigation zones.

    For all mission years, training shall be delayed if a marine mammal is observed within a 2.3 mi (3,704 m) exclusion zone. In the 86 FWS's 2016 IHA, this was the monitoring and mitigation zone established based on eight small diameter bombs (37 lb NEW) and one JASSM/JASSM-ER (300 lb NEW). This distance also greatly exceeds the maximum calculated range-to-effects for mortality and tissue injury when considering the original amount and type of munitions (Table 5). This exclusion zone will avoid any mortality or tissue damage, avoid PTS of mid-frequency cetaceans, and reduce the potential for severe PTS and TTS in low-frequency and high-frequency cetaceans. A standard minimum 2.3 mi (3,704 m) exclusion zone also allows for consistency in mitigation throughout each year for implementation ease. Therefore, NMFS has applied this exclusion zone as the threshold for mission delay mitigation for all training conducted during the effective dates of the regulations.

    For all missions, delay of mission is to be triggered based on the location of an observed marine mammals relative to the weapon impact site. If a species is observed within a harassment zone identified in Table 5 (based on hearing group) and take is not authorized for that species or the 86 FWS has exceeded take for that species, mission delay mitigation would be triggered.

    The USAF has also committed to delaying deployment of munitions if an animal is sighted anywhere within the 8 mi (13 km) monitoring area (see Monitoring and Reporting section below). However, delaying missions until an animal leaves the entire monitoring area may not be practicable or necessarily warranted because we have authorized take for select species. If an animal is observed within the 8 mi (13 km) monitoring area and the USAF 86 FWS has determined missions may resume without exceeding authorized take, the USAF may carry on with training. However, the 86 FWS will shift the target impact site (i.e., the x, y coordinates of the detonation site) away from an animal sighting should mission delay mitigation not be triggered. The target site will be shifted to the farthest distance possible from the sighting but is confined to the two-mile wide weapon impact area.

    If adverse weather conditions impair the ability of aircraft to operate safely, missions will either be delayed until the weather clears or cancelled for the day.

    Monitoring and Reporting

    In order to issue regulations authorizing take incidental to a specified activity, Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth, “requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking.” The MMPA implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104(a)(13) indicate that requests for authorizations must include the suggested means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the species and of the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals that are expected to be present in the proposed action area. Effective reporting is critical both to compliance as well as ensuring that the most value is obtained from the required monitoring.

    Monitoring and reporting requirements prescribed by NMFS should contribute to improved understanding of one or more of the following:

    • Occurrence of marine mammal species or stocks in the area in which take is anticipated (e.g., presence, abundance, distribution, density).

    • Nature, scope, or context of likely marine mammal exposure to potential stressors/impacts (individual or cumulative, acute or chronic), through better understanding of: (1) Action or environment (e.g., source characterization, propagation, ambient noise); (2) affected species (e.g., life history, dive patterns); (3) co-occurrence of marine mammal species with the action; or (4) biological or behavioral context of exposure (e.g., age, calving or feeding areas).

    • Individual marine mammal responses (behavioral or physiological) to acoustic stressors (acute, chronic, or cumulative), other stressors, or cumulative impacts from multiple stressors.

    • How anticipated responses to stressors impact either: (1) Long-term fitness and survival of individual marine mammals; or (2) populations, species, or stocks.

    • Effects on marine mammal habitat (e.g., marine mammal prey species, acoustic habitat, or other important physical components of marine mammal habitat).

    • Mitigation and monitoring effectiveness.

    During the proposed rulemaking stage, the USAF 86 FWS proposed using a helicopter as a marine mammal survey platform and conducting such surveys before and after each day of training as this was the survey method used during the 2016 mission for which NMFS issued an IHA. However, in consideration of public comment and additional available methods, NMFS recommended monitoring enhancements intended to better address the increased duration and amount of activity covered in this rule as compared to the one-day activity in the IHA. As a result, the USAF 86 FWS, in consultation with NMFS, modified their Mitigation and Monitoring Plan to increase marine mammal detection probability and more clearly articulate the protocols followed for the survey. The Mitigation and Monitoring Plan, found at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/military.htm, provides detailed information. Here we summarize the major provisions; however, the USAF 86 FWS is responsible for implementing the full plan.

    A pre-mission and post-mission survey will be conducted by a chase aircraft (e.g., F-16, F-15) at altitudes ranging from 1,000 ft to 25,000 ft. The aircraft will be equipped with a sensor pod (e.g., Sniper or Litening advanced targeting pods). Pre-mission surveys begin no less than 30 minutes prior to the start of a mission, primarily using visual lookouts who will scan the water surface in closely-spaced line-transect patterns as the aircraft circles above the monitoring area. In addition to having a dedicated marine mammal visual lookout, the aircraft's targeting pods, or comparable sensor, will supplement the visual lookout surveys of the same area. Targeting pods have the ability to use high-definition forward looking infrared (FLIR) and high-definition television modes, both of which are displayed in real-time to the aircrew in the cockpit. Using thermal signatures, such as warm-blooded marine mammals in a comparatively cooler marine environment, it is expected that marine mammals at or near the water surface would be prominent and easy to identify in FLIR mode.

    Advanced targeting pods are most frequently used by the USAF and are currently installed on F-16, F-15C/E, A-10, B-1, and B-52 aircraft. Combat aircrews receive extensive training and have gained combat experience using advanced targeting pods to track and identify targets that are similar in size, and in some cases smaller than, marine mammals. For example, the USAF was able to detect sharks from an AC-130 aircraft conducting a 3-mi (5-km) orbit at 15,000 ft altitude using an electro-optical/infrared sensor in the Gulf of Mexico within the Eglin Gulf Test and Training Range (see Figure 2 in the Mitigation and Monitoring Plan). Even though the aircraft and survey location are different than what is proposed under Long Range Strike WSEP activities, the capabilities to detect marine life near the water surface are expected to be similar.

    Mission aircraft are capable of flying at various altitudes and airspeeds. As part of operational procedures, aircrew must conduct aerial surveillance of a potential impact or target area prior to releasing any weapons to confirm the location of the target and ensure the human safety zone around the impact area is clear. In order to accomplish this, the aircraft must operate at an appropriate altitude and airspeed that is operationally safe while meeting mission objectives. The range of altitudes and airspeeds at which this occurs varies across all aerial platforms; therefore, a specific altitude and airspeed requirement cannot be determined because each LRSWSEP event will not have the same types of aircraft participating each year. However, regardless of aircraft type, the pre-mission aircraft will be equipped with a sensor pod to survey for marine mammals.

    In addition to aerial surveys, there are other assets on the PMRF Range that will also be used to supplement the aerial surveys. Range cameras are installed on Makaha Ridge, at an elevation between 1,500 and 1,700 ft, and are able to see out to 50 nmi from the shore. Since the weapon impact area is approximately 44 nm from shore, it would be within the line of sight of the cameras. The optical lenses of the cameras have the zoom capability to see marine life if they are at or near the surface. The camera feed will be monitored by personnel within the mission control room at PMRF. Since these cameras will be used to track weapon impacts, they will be available to supplement aerial survey efforts by providing opportunistic sighting information. Therefore, during pre-mission surveys, the range cameras on Makaha Ridge will be zoomed in on the weapon impact area and will be monitored in real-time for at least 30 minutes prior to weapon release.

    During the mission (i.e., as aircraft are inbound to release weapons), aircrew of the plane carrying the weapon, the chase aircraft, and the range camera operator will observe for protected species. If a protected species is observed, weapon release will be delayed per the mitigation requirements. The mission aircraft pilot will divert effort to following the protected species until it is confirmed to be outside the mitigation zone and on a path away from the area (i.e., on a heading and swim speed suggesting it is outside the mitigation zone).

    NMFS may modify and augment the existing mitigation, monitoring, or reporting measures (after consulting with the 86 FWS regarding the practicability of the modifications) if doing so creates a reasonable likelihood of more effectively accomplishing the goals of the mitigation and monitoring. Possible sources of data that could contribute to the decision to modify the mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures in an LOA include, but is not limited to:

    (i) Results of new range-to-effects models based on maximum amount of weapons, by type, utilized during each mission;

    (ii) Results from 86 FWS's monitoring from the previous year(s);

    (iii) Results from other marine mammal and/or sound research or studies; or

    (iv) Any information that reveals marine mammals may have been taken in a manner, extent, or number not authorized by the regulations or subsequent LOA.

    Adaptive Management

    The final regulations governing the take of marine mammals incidental to 86 FWS training activities on the BSURE area of the PMRF contain an adaptive management component. The reporting requirements associated with this final rule are designed to provide NMFS with monitoring data from the previous year to allow NMFS to consider whether any changes are appropriate. NMFS and the 86 FWS would meet to discuss the monitoring reports, activities, any updated modeling efforts, and current science and whether mitigation or monitoring modifications are appropriate. The use of adaptive management allows NMFS to consider new information from different sources to determine (with input from the 86 FWS regarding practicability) on an annual or biennial basis if mitigation or monitoring measures should be modified (including additions or deletions). Mitigation measures could be modified if new data suggests that such modifications would have a reasonable likelihood of reducing adverse effects to marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat and if the measures are practicable.

    The following are some of the possible sources of applicable data to be considered through the adaptive management process: (1) Results of new range-to-effects models based on maximum amount of weapons, by type, utilized during each mission; (2) results from 86 FWS's monitoring from the previous year(s); (3) Results from other marine mammal and/or sound research or studies; or (4) Any information that reveals marine mammals may have been taken in a manner, extent, or number not authorized by the regulations or subsequent LOA.

    Negligible Impact Analysis and Determination

    NMFS has defined negligible impact as “an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival” (50 CFR 216.103). A negligible impact finding is based on the lack of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., population-level effects). An estimate of the number of takes alone is not enough information on which to base an impact determination. In addition to considering estimates of the number of marine mammals that might be “taken” through harassment, NMFS considers other factors, such as the likely nature of any responses (e.g., intensity, duration), the context of any responses (e.g., critical reproductive time or location, migration), as well as effects on habitat, and the likely effectiveness of the mitigation. We also assess the number, intensity, and context of estimated takes by evaluating this information relative to population status. Consistent with the 1989 preamble for NMFS's implementing regulations (54 FR 40338; September 29, 1989), the impacts from other past and ongoing anthropogenic activities are incorporated into this analysis via their impacts on the environmental baseline (e.g., as reflected in the regulatory status of the species, population size and growth rate where known, ongoing sources of human-caused mortality, or ambient noise levels).

    Behavioral disruption due to Level B harassment would be limited to reactions such as startle responses, movements away from the area, and short-term changes to behavioral state. These impacts are expected to be temporary and of short duration because the specified activity would be limited to 4 hours per day for no more than 4 days per year. We do not anticipate that the effects would be detrimental to rates of recruitment and survival because we do not expect serious or extended behavioral responses that would result in energetic effects at the level to impact fitness.

    In terms of what is analyzed for the potential PTS (Level A harassment) in marine mammals as a result of 86 FWS's LRS WSEP operations, the ranges-to-effects identified are conservative (i.e., the longest distance for any given depth bin) and, in some cases, include more energy than would be released per day due to reduced munition expenditure. The 86 FWS would also maintain an exclusion zone extending 2.3 mi from the target site and shift the target site away from an animal should it be observed (and delay mitigation is not triggered). In addition, marine mammals would likely begin to move away from the immediate area once bombing begins, decreasing exposure to the full amount of acoustic energy used to calculate ranges-to-effects. Therefore, we anticipate that, because of the mitigation measures, conservative range-to-effects analysis, and the likely short duration of exposures, any PTS incurred would be in the form of only a small degree of PTS, rather than total deafness.

    While animals may be impacted in the immediate vicinity of the activity, because of the short duration of the actual individual explosions themselves (versus continual sound source operation) combined with the short duration of the LRS WSEP operations (i.e., maximum of four hours per day over a maximum of four days per year), NMFS has determined there will not be a substantial impact on marine mammals or their habitat. We do not expect the activity would impact rates of recruitment or survival of marine mammals due to mortality (which would remove individuals from the population) or serious injury because we do not expect those impacts to occur not are we authorizing that manner of take. In addition, the activity would occur only in a small part of a stock's overall range, and would not occur in any areas known to be specifically important or unique for feeding or reproductive behaviors when compared to overall range. Therefore, the impact of any potential temporary displacement would be negligible and animals would be expected to return to the area after the cessation of activities. In addition, although the activity could result in Level A harassment (PTS only, as opposed to slight lung injury or gastrointestinal tract injury) and Level B harassment (behavioral disturbance and TTS), the number of exposed animals is expected to be low due to the short-term and site-specific nature of the activity. Therefore, we do not anticipate the level of harassment to impact rates of recruitment or survival of marine mammals.

    In past missions (October 2016), the 86 FWS completed pre- and post-aerial surveys. The 86 FWS did not observe any marine mammals during the pre-mission aerial survey before missions occurred, and did not observe any marine mammals after missions were completed. The 86 FWS was authorized for Level A and Level B harassment takes of five species, but the ordinance failed to detonate therefore, in addition to no marine mammal sightings, no take was documented.

    Based on the analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into consideration the implementation of the proposed monitoring and mitigation measures, NMFS finds that the total marine mammal take from the proposed activity will have a negligible impact on all affected marine mammal species or stocks.

    Unmitigable Adverse Impact Analysis and Determination

    There are no relevant subsistence uses of the affected marine mammal stocks or species implicated by this action. Therefore, NMFS has determined that the total taking of affected species or stocks would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of such species or stocks for taking for subsistence purposes.

    Endangered Species Act (ESA)

    Section 7(a)(2) of the ESA 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that each Federal agency insure that any action it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat. To ensure ESA compliance for the issuance of the final rule and LOA, NMFS consults internally, in this case with the ESA Interagency Cooperation Division, whenever we propose to authorize take for endangered or threatened species.

    There is one marine mammal species under NMFS' jurisdiction that is listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA with confirmed or possible occurrence in the Study Area, the sei whale. The USAF 86 FWS consulted with NMFS pursuant to section 7 of the ESA, and NMFS also consulted internally on the issuance of a rule and LOA under section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA for LRS WSEP training activities. NMFS issued a Biological Opinion concluding that the issuance of the rule and subsequent LOA are likely to adversely affect, but are not likely to jeopardize, the continued existence of the threatened and endangered species under NMFS' jurisdiction and are not likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat in the PMRF. The Biological Opinion for this action is available on NMFS' Web site (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/military.htm).

    Classification

    The Office of Management and Budget has determined that this final rule is not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. This rule is not an Executive Order 13771 regulatory action because this rule is not significant under Executive Order 12866.

    Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), the Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration at the proposed rule stage that this rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The USAF 86 FWS is the sole entity that would be affected by this rulemaking, and the USAF 86 FWS is not a small governmental jurisdiction, small organization, or small business, as defined by the RFA. Because this action directly affects the USAF 86 FWS and not a small entity, NMFS concluded the action will not result in a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. No comments were received regarding this certification. As a result, a regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared.

    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries has determined that there is good cause under the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C 553(d)(3)) to waive the 30-day delay in the effective date of the measures contained in the final rule. NMFS is unable to accommodate the 30-day delay of effectiveness due to delays resulting from: Late changes in the action (reductions in activity levels and increased monitoring protocol that would improve protections for marine mammals), and the resulting need for new take analysis to address decreased munitions in both this rule and the accompanying Biological Opinion. The USAF 86 FWS is the only entity subject to the regulations, and it has requested that NMFS issue the LOA prior to the scheduled August 24, 2017, training to avoid mission delays. A waiver of the 30-day delay of the effective date of the final rule will allow the USAF 86 FWS to finalize operational procedures to ensure compliance with required mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements, and have MMPA authorization in place to support of the training exercise. Any delay of enacting the final rule would result in either: (1) A suspension of planned USAF training, which would disrupt vital training essential to national security; or (2) the USAF's procedural non-compliance with the MMPA (should the USAF conduct training without an LOA), thereby resulting in the potential for unauthorized takes of marine mammals. For these reasons, the Assistant Administrator finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effective date.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 218

    Exports, Fish, Imports, Incidental take, Indians, Labeling, Marine mammals, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Seafood, Transportation.

    Dated: August 16, 2017. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.

    For reasons set forth in the preamble, 50 CFR part 218 is amended as follows:

    PART 218—REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE TAKE OF MARINE MAMMALS INCIDENTAL TO SPECIFIED ACTIVITIES 1. The authority citation for part 218 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq., unless otherwise noted.

    2. Add subpart F to part 218 to read as follows:
    Subpart F—Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to the U.S. Air Force 86 Fighter Weapons Squadron Conducting Long Range Strike Weapons System Evaluation Program at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii Sec. 218.50 Specified activity and specified geographical region. 218.51 Effective dates. 218.52 Permissible methods of taking. 218.53 Prohibitions. 218.54 Mitigation requirements. 218.55 Requirements for monitoring and reporting. 218.56 Letters of Authorization. 218.57 Renewals and Modifications of Letters of Authorization. 218.58 [Reserved] 218.59 [Reserved] Subpart F—Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to the U.S. Air Force 86 Fighter Weapons Squadron Conducting Long Range Strike Weapons System Evaluation Program at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii
    § 218.50 Specified activity and specified geographical region.

    (a) Regulations in this subpart apply only to the 86 Fighter Weapons Squadron (86 FWS) and those persons it authorizes to conduct activities on its behalf, for the taking of marine mammals as outlined in paragraph (b) of this section and incidental to Long Range Strike Weapons System Evaluation Program (LRS WSEP) missions.

    (b) The taking of marine mammals by 86 FWS pursuant to a Letter of Authorization (LOA) is authorized only if it occurs at the Barking Sands Underwater Range Expansion (BSURE) area of the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) off Kauai, Hawaii.

    § 218.51 Effective dates.

    Regulations in this subpart are effective August 21, 2017, through August 22, 2022.

    § 218.52 Permissible methods of taking.

    Under a LOA issued pursuant to § 216.106 of this chapter and § 218.56, the Holder of the LOA (herein after 86 FWS) may incidentally, but not intentionally, take marine mammals by Level A and Level B harassment associated with LRS WSEP activities within the area described in § 218.50, provided the activities are in compliance with all terms, conditions, and requirements of these regulations in this subpart and the associated LOA.

    § 218.53 Prohibitions.

    Notwithstanding takings contemplated in § 218.50 and authorized by an LOA issued under § 216.106 of this chapter and § 218.56, no person in connection with the activities described in § 218.50 may:

    (a) Violate, or fail to comply with, the terms, conditions, and requirements of this subpart or the LOA issued under § 216.106 of this chapter and § 218.56.

    (b) Take a marine mammal species or stock not specified in the LOA; and

    (c) Take a marine mammal species or stock specified in the LOA in any manner other than as specified.

    § 218.54 Mitigation requirements.

    When conducting activities identified in § 218.50, the mitigation measures contained in the LOA issued under § 216.106 of this chapter and § 218.56 must be implemented. These mitigation measures shall include but are not limited to the following general conditions:

    (a) Execute missions during day-light hours only, no more than four hours per day, no more than one day during 2017, no more than four days per year for 2018 through 2022 over a five-day period, on weekdays, and only during summer (June through August) or fall (September through November) months.

    (b) Delay live munition detonations if a marine mammal is observed within the designated exclusion zone (2.3 mile (mi) (3,704 m) from the weapon impact site), resuming only after the animal is observed exiting the exclusion zone or the exclusion zone has been clear of any additional sightings for a period of 30 minutes.

    (c) Delay live munition detonations if a marine mammal is observed in an impact zone but outside of the 2.3 mi exclusion zone and if the manner of taking is not authorized (e.g., animal is observed in Level A impact zone for that species and no Level A take is authorized), resuming only after the animal is observed exiting the zone.

    (d) Shift the target site as far as possible from an observed marine mammal's location (but within the two-mile wide weapon impact area) if a marine mammal is observed during the pre-mission survey or during missions and continuing the mission will not result in an unauthorized take of a marine mammal.

    (e) Suspend live munition detonations if an unauthorized take of a marine mammal occurs, and report the incident to NMFS Office of Protected Resources (OPR), NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO), and the Pacific Islands Region Marine Mammal Stranding Network representative immediately followed by a report to NMFS within 24 hours.

    (f) Implement a best management practice, on a daily basis, of conducting inert munition training or small bomb detonations prior to detonating large bombs if the Project Engineer/Commanding Office determines this practice does not interfere with mission training.

    (g) Additional mitigation measures as contained in an LOA.

    § 218.55 Requirements for monitoring and reporting.

    (a) Holders of LOAs issued pursuant to § 218.56 for activities described in § 218.50(a) are required to cooperate with NMFS, and any other Federal, state, or local agency with authority to monitor the impacts of the activity on marine mammals. Unless specified otherwise in the LOA, the Holder of the LOA must notify the Pacific Islands Region Stranding Coordinator, NMFS, by email, at least 72 hours prior to LRS WSEP missions.

    (b) All marine mammal monitoring will be carried out in compliance with the 86 FWS Marine Mammal Mitigation and Monitoring Plan, dated August 2017.

    (c) Aerial Surveys: The 86 FWS will conduct pre-, during, and post-training surveys each mission day.

    (1) The marine mammal survey monitoring area will extend no less than approximately 8 mi (13 kilometers (km)) from the designated impact site.

    (2) Surveys will utilize military aircraft equipped with advanced targeting sensor pods (e.g., SNIPER pods) at altitudes and speeds ideal for detecting marine mammals using such equipment; aircraft will fly transect lines covering the entire eight mi monitoring area. A helicopter-based survey may substitute the military aircraft survey platform and use of sensor pods only if a sensor pod is not be available.

    (3) A pre-mission marine mammal survey will commence no later than 30 minutes prior to beginning training activities.

    (4) Aircraft personnel will also observe for marine mammals during training (e.g., on approach to weapon launch location).

    (5) Aircraft personnel will conduct a post-mission survey for marine mammals immediately following the end of training each mission day. A helicopter may be used in lieu of mission aircraft only if sensor pod is not available.

    (d) Range Camera Surveys: 86 FWS personnel will use the Makaha Ridge range cameras to monitor for marine mammals within the weapon impact area at least 30 minutes prior to, during, and immediately after training activities.

    (e) Helicopter surveys: If military aircraft equipped with a sensor pod cannot be used for marine mammal surveys, the 86 FWS may substitute a helicopter as the survey platform. The helicopter will fly at an approximately 200 feet altitude and will cover the 8 mi monitoring area. If adverse weather conditions preclude the ability for aircraft to safely operate, missions would either be delayed until the weather clears or cancelled for the day.

    (f) Acoustic Monitoring:

    (1) The 86 FWS will comply with all acoustic monitoring as described in the 86 FWS Mitigation and Monitoring Plan.

    (2) Acoustic data from the PRMF hydrophones will be collected and stored by the 86 FWS. Data will be analyzed to better understand the effects of LRS WSEP missions. The results of the analysis will accompany any subsequent LOA request or, if no request is made, no later than 90 after expiration of the LOA.

    (g) The 86 FWS will contact the Pacific Islands Region stranding coordinator, NMFS, by email, at least 72 hours prior to mission onset and one business day after completion of missions to declare that missions are complete.

    (h) The Holder of the LOA is required to:

    (1) Submit a draft report to NMFS OPR on all monitoring conducted under the LOA within 90 days of the completion of marine mammal monitoring or accompanying a subsequent application for regulations. A final report shall be prepared and submitted within 30 days following resolution of comments on the draft report from NMFS. This report must contain the informational elements described in the Monitoring Plan, and shall also include:

    (i) Date and time of each LRS WSEP mission;

    (ii) A complete description of the pre-exercise, exercise, and post-exercise activities related to mitigating and monitoring the effects of LRS WSEP missions on marine mammals; and;

    (iii) Results of the monitoring program, including numbers by species/stock of any marine mammals noted injured or killed as a result of the LRS WSEP mission and number of marine mammals (by species if possible) that may have been harassed due to presence within the designated harassment zones.

    (iv) The draft report will be subject to review and comment by NMFS. Any recommendations made by NMFS must be addressed in the final report prior to acceptance by NMFS. The draft report will be considered the final report for this activity under the LOA if NMFS has not provided comments and recommendations within 90 days of receipt of the draft report.

    (2) Report injured or dead marine mammals:

    (i) In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by the LOA, such as an injury for species not authorized (Level A harassment), serious injury, or mortality, the 86 FWS shall immediately cease the specified activities and immediately report the incident to Pacific Islands Regional Stranding Coordinator (888-256-9840), NMFS followed by a report submitted to NMFS Office of Protected Resources and the Pacific Islands Regional Office within 24 hours. The report must include the following information:

    (A) Time and date of the incident;

    (B) Description of the incident;

    (C) Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility);

    (D) Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 hours preceding the incident;

    (E) Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved;

    (F) Fate of the animal(s); and

    (G) Photographs or video footage of the animal(s).

    (ii) Activities shall not resume until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS will work with 86 FWS to determine what measures are necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. The 86 FWS may not resume their activities until notified by NMFS.

    (iii) In the event that 86 FWS discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead observer determines that the cause of the injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (e.g., in less than a moderate state of decomposition), 86 FWS shall immediately report the incident to the Pacific Islands Regional Stranding Coordinator, followed by a report to NMFS Office of Protected Resources and the Pacific Island Regional Office within 24 hours of the discovery. The report must include the same information identified in paragraph (h)(2)(i) of this section. Activities may continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS will work with 86 FWS to determine whether additional mitigation measures or modifications to the activities are appropriate.

    (iv) In the event that 86 FWS discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead observer determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the activities authorized in the LOA (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, scavenger damage), 86 FWS shall report the incident to the Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the Pacific Islands Regional Stranding Coordinator, NMFS, within 24 hours of the discovery. The 86 FWS shall provide photographs or video footage or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS.

    (3) Additional Conditions:

    (i) The Holder of the LOA must inform the Director, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301-427-8400) or designee (301-427-8401) prior to the initiation of any changes to the monitoring plan for a specified mission activity.

    (ii) A copy of the LOA must be in the possession of the safety officer on duty each mission day.

    (iii) The LOA may be modified, suspended or withdrawn if the holder fails to abide by the conditions prescribed herein, or if NMFS determines the authorized taking is having more than a negligible impact on the species or stock of affected marine mammals.

    § 218.56 Letters of Authorization.

    (a) To incidentally take marine mammals pursuant to these regulations, 86 FWS must apply for and obtain an LOA.

    (b) An LOA, unless suspended or revoked, may be effective for a period of time not to exceed the expiration date of these regulations.

    (c) If an LOA expires prior to the expiration date of these regulations, 86 FWS must apply for and obtain a renewal of the LOA.

    (d) In the event of projected changes to the activity or to mitigation and monitoring measures required by an LOA, 86 FWS must apply for and obtain a modification of the LOA as described in § 218.57.

    (e) The LOA will set forth:

    (1) Permissible methods of incidental taking;

    (2) The number of marine mammals, by species and stock, authorized to be taken;

    (3) Means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact (i.e., mitigation) on the species of marine mammals authorized for taking, on its habitat, and on the availability of the species for subsistence uses; and

    (4) Requirements for monitoring and reporting.

    (f) Issuance of an LOA shall be based on a determination that the level of taking will be consistent with the findings made for the total taking allowable under these regulations.

    (g) Notice of issuance or denial of an LOA will be published in the Federal Register within 30 days of a determination.

    § 218.57 Renewals and Modifications of Letters of Authorization.

    (a) An LOA issued under § 216.106 of this chapter and § 218.56 for the activity identified in § 218.50(a) will be renewed or modified upon request by the applicant, provided that:

    (1) The proposed specified activity and mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures, as well as the anticipated impacts, are the same as those described and analyzed for these regulations (excluding changes made pursuant to the adaptive management provision in paragraph (c)(1) of this section), and

    (2) NMFS determines that the mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures required by the previous LOA under these regulations were implemented.

    (b) For an LOA modification or renewal request by the applicant that include changes to the activity or the mitigation, monitoring, or reporting (excluding changes made pursuant to the adaptive management provision in paragraph (c)(1) of this section) that do not change the findings made for the regulations or result in no more than a minor change in the total estimated number of takes (or distribution by species or years), NMFS may publish a notice of proposed LOA in the Federal Register, including the associated analysis illustrating the change, and solicit public comment before issuing the LOA.

    (c) An LOA issued under § 216.106 of this chapter and § 218.56 for the activity identified in § 218.50(a) may be modified by NMFS under the following circumstances:

    (1) Adaptive Management—NMFS may modify and augment the existing mitigation, monitoring, or reporting measures (after consulting with the 86 FWS regarding the practicability of the modifications) if doing so creates a reasonable likelihood of more effectively accomplishing the goals of the mitigation and monitoring.

    (i) Possible sources of data that could contribute to the decision to modify the mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures in an LOA include, but is not limited to:

    (A) Results of new range-to-effects models based on maximum amount of weapons, by type, utilized during each mission;

    (B) Results from 86 FWS's monitoring from the previous year(s);

    (C) Results from other marine mammal and/or sound research or studies; or

    (D) Any information that reveals marine mammals may have been taken in a manner, extent, or number not authorized by the regulations or subsequent LOA.

    (ii) If, through adaptive management, the modifications to the mitigation, monitoring, or reporting measures are substantial, NMFS will publish a notice of proposed LOA in the Federal Register and solicit public comment.

    (2) Emergencies—If NMFS determines that an emergency exists that poses a significant risk to the well-being of the species or stocks of marine mammals specified in the LOA issued pursuant to § 216.106 of this chapter and § 218.50, an LOA may be modified without prior notice or opportunity for public comment. Notice would be published in the Federal Register within 30 days of the action.

    § 218.58 [Reserved]
    § 218.59 [Reserved]
    [FR Doc. 2017-17718 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    82 161 Tuesday, August 22, 2017 Proposed Rules NATIONAL CREDIT UNION ADMINISTRATION 12 CFR Chapter VII Regulatory Reform Agenda AGENCY:

    National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

    ACTION:

    Request for comment.

    SUMMARY:

    NCUA has established a Regulatory Reform Task Force (Task Force) to oversee the implementation of the agency's regulatory reform agenda. This is consistent with the spirit of President Trump's regulatory reform agenda and Executive Order 13777. Although NCUA, as an independent agency, is not required to comply with Executive Order 13777, the agency chooses to comply with its spirit and has reviewed all of NCUA's regulations to that end. The substance of the Task Force's initial report is provided in this notice. NCUA seeks public comment on the report and if any other regulatory changes should be made.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before November 20, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments by any one of the following methods (Please send comments by one method only):

    NCUA Web site: https://www.ncua.gov/about/pages/board-comments.aspx.

    Email: Address to [email protected] Include “[Your name]—Comments on NCUA Regulatory Reform Agenda” in the email subject line.

    Fax: (703) 518-6319. Use the subject line described above for email.

    Mail: Address to Gerald Poliquin, Secretary of the Board, National Credit Union Administration, 1775 Duke Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314-3428.

    Hand Delivery/Courier: Same as mailing address.

    Public Inspection: You can view all public comments on NCUA's Web site at https://www.ncua.gov/about/pages/board-comments.aspx as submitted, except for those we cannot post for technical reasons. NCUA will not edit or remove any identifying or contact information from the public comments submitted. You may inspect paper copies of comments in NCUA's headquarters at 1775 Duke Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314, by appointment weekdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. To make an appointment, call (703) 518-6546 or send an email to [email protected]

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Thomas I. Zells, Staff Attorney, Office of General Counsel, National Credit Union Administration, 1775 Duke Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314 or telephone: (703) 548-2478.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION Table of Contents I. Background a. NCUA's Regulatory Mission b. The Regulatory Reform Agenda II. This Notice—NCUA's Implementation of the Regulatory Reform Agenda III. The Task Force Report a. Executive Summary b. Introduction c. General Recommendations d. Regulatory Recommendations and Proposed Timeline IV. Request for Comment I. Background a. NCUA's Regulatory Mission

    NCUA, as a prudential safety and soundness regulator, is charged with protecting the safety and soundness of the credit union system and, in turn, the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) and the taxpayer through regulation and supervision. NCUA's mission is to “provide, through regulation and supervision, a safe and sound credit union system, which promotes confidence in the national system of cooperative credit.” 1 Consistent with that mission, NCUA has statutory responsibility for a wide variety of regulations that protect the credit union system, members, and the NCUSIF.

    1https://www.ncua.gov/About/Pages/Mission-and-Vision.aspx.

    b. The Regulatory Reform Agenda

    President Trump has established a regulatory reform agenda and issued multiple executive orders designed to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens. NCUA is not subject to these executive orders but has nonetheless chosen to comply with them in spirit. Executive Order 13777, entitled “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” directs subject agencies to establish Regulatory Task Forces and to evaluate existing regulations to identify those that should be repealed, replaced, or modified. The Executive Order requires subject agencies to, at a minimum, attempt to identify regulations that:

    1. Eliminate jobs, or inhibit job creation;

    2. Are outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective;

    3. Impose costs that exceed benefits;

    4. Create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with regulatory reform initiatives and policies;

    5. Are inconsistent with the requirements of section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 2001 (44 U.S.C. 3516 note), or the guidance issued pursuant to that provision, in particular those regulations that rely in whole or in part on data, information, or methods that are not publicly available or that are insufficiently transparent to meet the standard for reproducibility; or

    6. Derive from or implement Executive Orders or other Presidential directives that have been subsequently rescinded or substantially modified.

    II. This Notice—NCUA's Implementation of the Regulatory Reform Agenda

    In complying with the spirit of Executive Order 13777, NCUA formed its Task Force in March 2017. The Task Force undertook an exhaustive review of NCUA's regulations and issued its first draft report to Chairman McWatters in May 2017 and submitted it without change to the NCUA Board in June 2017. This report outlines the Task Force's proposed review and reporting procedures and makes numerous recommendations for the amendment or repeal of regulatory requirements that the Task Force believes are outdated, ineffective, or excessively burdensome. The substance of the report is provided below. The report has been minimally modified from its original form to ensure readability and compliance with Federal Register publication requirements.

    III. The Task Force Report a. Executive Summary

    Executive Order 13777 requires agencies to appoint a Regulatory Reform Officer (RRO) and establish a Regulatory Reform Task Force (Task Force) to oversee the implementation of regulatory reform initiatives and policies to ensure that agencies effectively carry out regulatory reforms, consistent with applicable law. Although NCUA is not required to comply with this Executive Order, the agency is choosing to comply with its spirit. From the end of March to the beginning of May, the Task Force met and reviewed all of NCUA's Regulations to determine how best to fulfill the aims of the Executive Order and decide what regulations could be eliminated, revised, improved, or clarified. This report contains the Task Force's initial findings and recommendations.

    The Task Force has developed a comprehensive four-year agenda for reviewing and revising NCUA's Regulations. The regulations are broken into three tiers that cover the four-year scope. The Task Force approached this task with Executive Order's stated policy of “alleviat[ing] unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on the American people” and the strong philosophy of regulatory relief embraced by both the new administration and NCUA's Chairman in mind. As a result, the Task Force's recommendations eclipse the depth of changes previously proposed during NCUA's Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act (EGRPRA) and annual one-third regulatory review processes. For comparison purposes, this report also includes NCUA's 2016 EGRPRA report to Congress and the agency's regulatory review recommendations from 2014-2016. These attachments are not included in this Federal Register notice. Instead, they are available on NCUA's Web site at https://www.ncua.gov/regulation-supervision/Pages/rules.aspx.

    The primary factors for evaluating the tiers were degree of impact and degree of effort, which are described in Section II of this report [section III.c of this Federal Register notice]. “Impact” is focused on the magnitude of the benefit that would result from the change, and how broadly the stakeholder community would be impacted. “Effort” considers how much time and energy would go into making the change. Additional consideration was also given to the need to connect or sequence certain changes together, efforts to change regulations that are already underway, and the overall level of resources available to carry out this comprehensive approach.

    Consistent with the spirit of the Executive Order, the Task Force recommends publishing in the Federal Register, with a 90 day comment period, a summary version of the Section III [III.d] regulations targeted for reform. This summary version would provide both a description of the regulations and the recommended actions. Publication will require an affirmative NCUA Board vote.

    Going forward, the Task Force shall determine a mechanism for measuring progress in performing the tasks outlined in the Executive Order and report to the Board. The Task Force also recommends that in the second quarter of 2018, after NCUA has received and evaluated public comments on the summary version of Section III [III.d], the Task Force, upon consultation with the Board, provide the Board with a second report and a refined blueprint of the timeline for completing the specific amendments discussed in Tiers 2 and 3 of Section III [III.d] of this report. It is important to note that, while the report and refined blueprint will guide NCUA's actions moving forward, the process of implementing the amendments suggested in Tier 1 has already begun.

    b. Introduction

    Executive Order 13777 states that “it is the policy of the United States to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on the American people.” It goes on to require that each Task Force created under this Executive Order “evaluate existing regulations [ ] and make recommendations to the agency head regarding their repeal, replacement, or modification, consistent with applicable law.”

    Executive Order 13777 requires agencies to appoint a Regulatory Reform Officer (RRO) and establish a Regulatory Reform Task Force (Task Force) to oversee the implementation of regulatory reform initiatives and policies to ensure that agencies effectively carry out regulatory reforms, consistent with applicable law. Although NCUA is not required to comply with this Executive Order, the agency is choosing to comply with its spirit. Because NCUA is an independent agency, it does not have the structure of a cabinet department. Accordingly, the Task Force has tried to cohere the language of the Executive Order to NCUA's structure, as well as follow the timeline outlined in it.

    On March 20, 2017, Chairman McWatters appointed General Counsel Michael McKenna as NCUA's Regulatory Reform Officer and chair of the Regulatory Reform Task Force (Task Force). In addition, Chairman McWatters appointed to the Task Force the following: (1) Larry Fazio, Director, Examination & Insurance; (2) Ralph Monaco, Chief Economist; (3) Scott Hunt, Director, Office of National Examinations & Supervision; (4) Eugene Schied, Deputy Chief Financial Officer; and (5) Bob Foster, Director of Public and Congressional Affairs. General Counsel Michael McKenna added Special Counsel to the General Counsel Ross Kendall and Staff Attorney Tom Zells to the Task Force on March 21, 2017.

    From the end of March to the beginning of May, the Task Force met and reviewed all of NCUA's Regulations to determine how best to fulfill the aims of the Executive Order and decide what regulations could be eliminated, revised, improved, or clarified. Section II [III.c] provides five general recommendations for complying with the spirt of the Executive Order. Section III [III.d] outlines those regulations the Task Force believes are ripe for reform. The current recommendations are the views of the Task Force; the Task Force has not yet consulted with the NCUA Board, other NCUA staff or sought the opinion of the credit union industry. Sections IV and V of this document contain the NCUA portion of the final EGRPRA report and NCUA's annual one-third regulatory reviews from 2014-2016. The Task Force's recommendations are generally consistent with that report and the regulatory reviews, but more fully embrace the regulatory relief philosophy of the current administration, the Chairman and Executive Order 13777, and should be used as guiding principles for the NCUA Board's regulatory reform initiatives moving forward.

    c. General Recommendations

    The NCUA Regulatory Reform Task Force recommends a comprehensive approach for eliminating, revising, improving, and clarifying NCUA's regulations over a four year period. The approach would examine all aspects of NCUA's regulations and embrace the strong philosophy of regulatory relief promoted by the new administration, NCUA's Chairman, and Executive Order 13777. The Task Force's recommendations propose greater and more significant regulatory relief amendments than have been embraced in the past. As such, this report makes recommendations that, while for the most part consistent with those articulated in NCUA's EGRPRA report and annual one-third regulatory reviews, may not have been prescribed by those documents.

    The general framework for this approach considers as primary factors both the “degree of effort” and “degree of impact” involved in amending each section of the existing regulations.

    Additional consideration is also given to the need to connect or sequence certain changes together, efforts to change regulations that are already underway, and the overall level of resources available to carry out this comprehensive approach. All regulatory changes will require the affirmative vote of the NCUA Board.

    The primary factors for assessing how to comprehensively approach the review of NCUA regulations are defined as follows:

    Degree of Effort: The degree of effort considers factors such as the length of time needed to make the change, the complexity of the change, the resources needed to make the change and the perceived contentiousness of the change. A lower degree of effort has relatively fewer of these characteristics than does a high degree of effort.

    Degree of Impact: The degree of impact mostly considers the number of credit unions that would experience a benefit from the change. A low degree of impact classification does not mean that an amendment is unimportant.

    The table on the following page arranges these two primary factors into an effort/impact prioritization matrix. The purpose of the matrix is to guide agency efforts toward the actions that are expected to yield the greatest benefit relative to the degree of effort to make a particular change. The more immediate focus of the regulatory reform effort should emphasize changes that would require a relatively small effort in order to yield a large impact (benefit), as well as some changes with a significant impact that may require a higher degree of effort (the right side of the matrix). Changes that would fall on the left side of the matrix (lesser impact) will also be pursued in this comprehensive approach, but in many cases as a less immediate focus.

    EP22AU17.082

    The Task Force's initial prioritization of regulatory reforms is presented in Section III [III.d] of this document, which prioritizes the regulatory review into three tiers. As expressed in Section III [III.d], Tier 1 regulations provide the most important targets for reform and they should be amended in the first two years of this project. Tier 2 and Tier 3 regulations would be implemented in year three and year four respectively. The timeframe for Tier 2 and Tier 3 is dependent on timely completion of Tier 1 and NCUA Board priorities. Tier 2 and Tier 3 regulations should be scheduled later because generally these will require more research and consensus on reform initiatives.

    Consistent with the Executive Order, the Task Force recommends publishing in the Federal Register, with a 90 day comment period, a summary version of the Section III [III.d] regulations targeted for reform. This summary version would include a description of the regulations and the recommended actions. Publication will require an affirmative NCUA Board vote. The Task Force also recommends a Board briefing at an open meeting to report on the substance of the comments received, as well as to report on the progress in reforming Tier 1 regulations.

    The Task Force also recommends that in the second quarter of 2018, after NCUA has received and evaluated public comments on the summary version of Section III [III.d], the Task Force, upon consultation with the Board, provide the Board with a refined blueprint of the timeline for completing the specific amendments discussed in Tiers 2 and 3 of Section III [III.d] of this report. It is important to note that, while the report and refined blueprint will guide NCUA's actions moving forward, the process of implementing the amendments suggested in Tier 1 has already begun. Despite this blueprint, NCUA Board future priorities may change over time with circumstances, so ongoing changes to the tiers can be expected.

    In light of the comprehensive approach articulated by the Executive Order, the Task Force recommends suspending the Office of General Counsel's annual one-third review of NCUA's Regulations because the Task Force will have reviewed all of NCUA's Regulations as part of this project. The Task Force recommends that the one-third review be revived again in 2020.

    The Task Force recommends that the offices of primary interest, the Office of General Counsel and the Office of Examination & Insurance take the lead in revising all regulations. This makes sense both because of the substantive expertise each office of primary interest will have for individual regulations and because the regular duties of both the General Counsel and the Director of E&I encompass the efforts that will be required in amending the regulations. The lead offices will also consult and engage other offices as needed.

    Finally, the Task Force recommends the agency continue to coordinate with the other federal financial institution regulators to determine if there are any joint rulemakings that can be targeted for reform.

    d. Regulatory Recommendations and Proposed Timeline 2

    2 Recommendation Categories: Remove, Clarify, Simplify, Improve, Expand (Authority/Relief).

    As noted, Section III [III.d] details the specific regulations the Task Force identified as being ripe for reform initiatives and makes general recommendations about how each of the identified regulations should be amended and the timeline that should be followed. The Task Force's recommendations, as described in Section II [III.c], follow.

    i. Tier 1 (First 24 Months) 1. § 701.21—Loans to Members and Lines of Credit to Members

    Addresses: Loan maturity limits for federal credit unions.

    Sections: 701.21(c)(4),(f), & (g).

    Category: Clarify.

    Degree of Effort: Moderate.

    Degree of Impact: High.

    Recommendation: Combine all the maturity limitations into one section. Current maturity limits are confusing because they are not all co-located. Also, incorporate the legal opinion with respect to modifications to make it clear a lending action (like a troubled debt restructuring) that does not meet the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) standard for a “new loan” is not subject to the maturity limits. In addition, consider providing longer maturity limits for 1-4 family real estate loans and other loans (such as home improvement and mobile home loans) permitted by 12 U.S.C. 1757(5)(A)(i) and (ii) and removing the “case-by-case” exception the NCUA Board can provide.

    Addresses: Single borrower and group of associated borrowers limit.

    Sections: 701.21(c)(5); 701.22(a) & (b)(5); 723.2 & 723.4(c).

    Category: Clarify.

    Degree of Effort: Low.

    Degree of Impact: High.

    Recommendation: Combine single borrower (and group of associated borrowers) limits into one provision. Currently these limits are interspersed in the general loan, loan participation and member business lending regulations. It would provide clarity and consistency to incorporate all references in one location.

    Addresses: Third-party servicing of indirect vehicle loans.

    Sections: 701.21(h).

    Category: Remove.

    Degree of Effort: Low.

    Degree of Impact: Moderate.

    Recommendation: Revise this section to eliminate the portfolio limits and related waiver provision. A single, comprehensive third-party due diligence regulation would address the minimum expectations for credit unions using any servicers.

    2. § 701.21—Loans to Members and Lines of Credit to Members

    Addresses: Compensation in connection with loans.

    Sections: 701.21(c)(8).

    Category: Clarify.

    Degree of Effort: Low.

    Degree of Impact: Moderate/High.

    Recommendation: Modify to provide flexibility with respect to senior executive compensation plans that incorporate lending as part of a broad and balanced set of organizational goals and performance measures.

    3. Appendix A to Part 701—Federal Credit Union Bylaws

    Addresses: Federal Credit Union Bylaws.

    Sections: Appendix A to Part 701.

    Category: Improve.

    Degree of Effort: High.

    Degree of Impact: High.

    Recommendation: Recommend using an ANPR and forming a working group to update the Bylaws. The Bylaws have not been significantly updated in nearly a decade and need to be modernized; the modernization is likely to be complex enough to require a working group approach.

    4. Appendix B to Part 701—Chartering and Field of Membership Manual

    Addresses: Field of Membership.

    Sections: Appendix B to Part 701.

    Category: Expand Authority.

    Degree of Effort: Moderate.

    Degree of Impact: Moderate.

    Recommendation: Revise the chartering and field of membership rules to give applicants for community-charter approval, expansion or conversion the option, in lieu of a presumptive community, to submit a narrative to establish common interests or interaction among residents of the area it proposes to serve, thus qualifying the area as a well-defined local community. Add public hearings for determining well-defined local communities with populations over 2.5 million. Remove the population limit on a community consisting of a statistical area or a portion thereof. Finally, when such an area is subdivided into metropolitan divisions, permit a credit union to designate a portion of the area as its community without regard to division boundaries.3

    3 The timeline of this rule is subject to pending litigation.

    5. Appendix B to Part 701—Chartering and Field of Membership Manual

    Addresses: Emergency Mergers.

    Sections: Appendix 1 to Appendix B to Part 701.

    Category: Improve.

    Degree of Effort: Moderate.

    Degree of Impact: Moderate.4

    4 Includes potential efficiencies and/or cost savings for NCUA.

    Recommendation: Revise the definition of the term “in danger of insolvency” for emergency merger purposes to provide a standard that better protects the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF). First, for two of the three current net worth-based categories, extend the time period in which a credit union's net worth is projected to either render it insolvent or drop below two percent from 24 to 30 months and from 12 to 18 months, respectively. Additionally, add a fourth category to the three existing net worth-based categories of the definition, to include credit unions that have been granted or received assistance under section 208 of the Federal Credit Union Act (FCU Act) within the last 15 months.

    6. Part 702—Capital Adequacy

    Addresses: Capital Planning and Stress Testing.

    Sections: 702.501-702.506.

    Category: Expand Relief.

    Degree of Effort: Moderate.

    Degree of Impact: Moderate.5

    5 Includes potential efficiencies and/or cost savings for NCUA.

    Recommendation: Explore raising the threshold for required stress testing to an amount greater than $10 billion, and assigning responsibility for conducting stress testing to the credit unions.

    7. Part 702—Capital Adequacy

    Addresses: Risk-Based Capital (Delay).

    Sections: 702.

    Category: Improve.

    Degree of Effort: Low.

    Degree of Impact: High.6

    6 Includes potential efficiencies and/or cost savings for NCUA.

    Recommendation: Consider extending the January 1, 2019, implementation date to avoid needing to develop call report and system changes while this rule is under review. This will also allow time for the agency to more closely coincide changes with the implementation of the new expected credit loss accounting standard and consider any changes in risk-based capital standards for community banks currently being considered by the federal banking agencies.7 Considerations include changing the definition of complex to narrow the applicability of the rule, allowing for credit unions with high net worth ratios to be exempt, and simplifying the overall risk category and weighting scheme. (See also number 7 in Tier 2 discussion below.)

    7 CECL (current expected credit loss) is a new accounting standard adopted by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) affecting how credit unions account for losses and related reserves for financial instruments. The FASB effective date of CECL applicable to credit unions is 2021.

    8. Part 704—Corporate Credit Unions

    Addresses: Corporate Credit Unions.

    Sections: 704.

    Category: Improve.

    Degree of Effort: Moderate.

    Degree of Impact: Low.

    Recommendation: Amend capital standards for corporate credit unions to include expanding what constitutes Tier 1 Capital. For mergers, permit Tier 1 Capital to include GAAP Equity Acquired. Also, establish a retained earnings requirement of 2.50 percent, which, when achieved, will allow for all perpetual contributed capital to be included in Tier 1 Capital. The current rule for perpetual contributed capital would remain in effect until the retained earnings requirement is met.

    9. Part 713—Fidelity Bond and Insurance Coverage

    Addresses: Fidelity Bond and Insurance Coverage.

    Sections: 713.

    Category: Improve.

    Degree of Effort: High.

    Degree of Impact: High.8

    8 Includes potential efficiencies and/or cost savings for NCUA.

    Recommendation: Explore ways to implement the requirements of the FCU Act in the least costly way possible. While requiring fidelity coverage is an FCU Act requirement, NCUA's objective should be to allow a credit union to make a business decision based on their own product and service needs. This will effectively reduce NCUA's involvement in a credit union's operational decisions while maintaining the spirit of the FCU Act. This should be done separately from the Regulatory Reform Task Force.9

    9 The timeline of this rule is subject to pending litigation.

    10. Part 715—Supervisory Committee Audits and Verification

    Addresses: Engagement letter, target date of delivery.

    Sections: 715.9(c)(6).

    Category: Remove.

    Degree of Effort: Low.

    Degree of Impact: High.

    Recommendation: Revise this section of the regulation to remove the specific “120 days from the date of calendar or fiscal year-end under audit (period covered)” reference from this section. Recommend the target date of the engagement letter be presented so the “credit union can meet the annual audit requirement.” This allows credit unions to negotiate the target date of delivery with the person or firm they contract with, but also ensures they meet the audit requirement per the FCU Act. This would also alleviate the need for a waiver.

    11. Part 715—Supervisory Committee Audits and Verification

    Addresses: Audit per Supervisory Committee Guide.

    Sections: 715.7(c).

    Category: Clarify.

    Degree of Effort: Moderate.

    Degree of Impact: High.

    Recommendation: Revise this to remove the reference to NCUA's Supervisory Committee Audit Guide. In its place, include minimum standards a supervisory committee audit would be required to meet if they do not obtain a CPA opinion audit.

    12. Securitization

    Addresses: Securitization.

    Sections: 721.

    Category: Expand Authority.

    Degree of Effort: High.

    Degree of Impact: Low.

    Recommendation: Issue a legal opinion letter authorizing federal credit unions to issue and sell securities under their incidental powers authority. Also, finalize the safe harbor rule proposed in 2014 regarding the treatment by the NCUA Board, as liquidating agent or conservator of a federally insured credit union, of financial assets transferred by the credit union in connection with a securitization or a participation.

    13. Part 722—Appraisals

    Addresses: Appraisals.

    Sections: 722.

    Category: Expand Relief.

    Degree of Effort: Moderate.

    Degree of Impact: High.

    Recommendation: NCUA should further explore issuing a rule to raise appraisal thresholds separately from the interagency process. In response to comments received through the EGRPRA process, NCUA joined with the other banking agencies to establish an interagency task force to consider whether changes in the appraisal threshold are warranted. The task force is now drafting a proposed rule to relieve certain appraisal burdens. In particular, the proposal would increase the appraisal threshold from $250,000 to $400,000 for “commercial real estate loans” where repayment is dependent primarily on the sale of real estate or rental income derived from the real estate. In contrast to the other agencies' appraisal regulations, NCUA's appraisal regulation does not currently distinguish, with respect to the appraisal threshold requirement, between different types of real estate secured loans. Under 12 CFR part 722, the dollar threshold for any real estate secured loan is $250,000; loans above that amount must be supported by an appraisal performed by a state certified appraiser. The banking agencies' current appraisal regulations have the same $250,000 threshold as NCUA's regulation for most real estate related loans, but also recognize a separate appraisal threshold of $1 million for certain real estate related business loans that are not dependent on the sale of, or rental income derived from, real estate as the primary source of income (hereinafter, qualifying business loans). If NCUA joins the task force in issuing this joint proposed rule defining and raising the threshold for “commercial real estate loans,” the agency will likely also need to address the appraisal threshold for “qualifying business loans” in a subsequent rulemaking. Recommend that, instead of joining the joint proposed rule, NCUA further explore issuing a rule to raise both thresholds separately from the interagency process.10

    10 If NCUA decides to join the other agencies in issuing this joint proposed rule the timing will be subject to the interagency process.

    14. Part 740—Accuracy of Advertising and Notice of Insured Status

    Addresses: Accuracy of Advertising and Notice of Insured Status.

    Sections: 740.

    Category: Expand Relief.

    Degree of Effort: Moderate.

    Degree of Impact: High.

    Recommendation: Revise certain provisions of NCUA's advertising rule to provide regulatory relief to federally insured credit unions. The current draft NPRM proposes to allow federally insured credit unions to use a fourth version of the official advertising statement, “Insured by NCUA.” The draft also expands a current exemption from the advertising statement requirement regarding radio and television advertisements and eliminates the requirement to include the official advertising statement on statements of condition required to be published by law. Finally, it requests comment about whether the regulation should be modified to accommodate advertising via new types of social media, mobile banking, text messaging and other digital communication platforms, including Twitter and Instagram. Changes made based on this final request would need to be part of a separate rulemaking.

    15. Part 741—Requirements for Insurance 11

    11 Also make technical corrections to the GAAP citations in 741.6(c).

    Addresses: Conversion from, or termination of, Federal share insurance.

    Sections: 741.4(j)(1)(ii).

    Category: Improve.

    Degree of Effort: Low,

    Degree of Impact: Low.12

    12 Includes potential efficiencies and/or cost savings for NCUA.

    Recommendation: Revise this section of the regulation to preclude a credit union that has already converted to another form of insurance from receiving a subsequently declared NCUSIF dividend. Currently, if a credit union terminates insurance before a premium is declared it does not pay, but if it terminates insurance before a dividend is declared but within the same calendar year it receives the dividend. This is unfair to credit unions that remain insured.

    16. Supervisory Review Committee

    Addresses: Supervisory Review Committee.

    Sections: 746, Subpart A.

    Category: Improve.

    Degree of Effort: High.

    Degree of Impact: Low.

    Recommendation: Expand and formalize procedures by which federally insured credit unions may secure review of material supervisory determinations by NCUA's Supervisory Review Committee (SRC). Broaden the jurisdiction of the SRC to more closely conform to the practices of the other federal financial institution regulatory agencies. Expand the pool of agency personnel who will serve on the SRC and implement an optional, intermediate level of review by the Director of NCUA's Office of Examination and Insurance before a matter is considered by the SRC.

    17. Appeals

    Addresses: Appeals.

    Sections: 746, Subpart B.

    Category: Improve.

    Degree of Effort: High.

    Degree of Impact: Low.

    Recommendation: Consolidate procedures currently imbedded in various substantive regulations by which parties affected by an adverse determination at the regional or program office level may appeal that determination to the NCUA Board. Exclude formal enforcement actions and certain other subject areas. Establish uniform procedural guidelines to govern appeals and provide an avenue by which appellants may request the opportunity to appear in person before the Board. Matters that are excluded from the proposed new rule either require a formal hearing on the record in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act (e.g., formal enforcement actions and certain creditor claims in liquidation) or are already governed by separate, discrete procedures (e.g., enforcement measures under prompt corrective action or material supervisory determinations reviewable by the Supervisory Review Committee). Appeals of matters that are delegated by rule to an officer or position below the Board for final, binding agency action are also excluded.

    ii. Tier 2 (Year 3) 1. § 701.22—Loan Participations

    Addresses: Establish a limit on the aggregate amount of loan participations that may be purchased from any one originating lender not to exceed the greater of $5 million or 100 percent of the federally insured credit union's net worth (unless waived).

    Sections: 701.22(b)(5)(ii); 701.22(c).

    Category: Remove.

    Degree of Effort: Low.

    Degree of Impact: High.

    Recommendation: Remove the prescriptive limit on the aggregate amount of loan participations that may be purchased from one originating lender. Replace with a requirement the credit union establish a limit in their policy, and tie into proposed new universal standards for third-party due diligence with heightened standards if it exceeds 100 percent of net worth. Eliminates the need for the waiver provision in section 701.22(c).

    2. § 701.23—Purchase, Sale, and Pledge of Eligible Obligations

    Addresses: Purchase, sale, and pledge of eligible obligations.

    Sections: 701.23.

    Category: Clarify & Expand.

    Degree of Effort: Moderate.

    Degree of Impact: High.

    Recommendation: Simplify and combine all the authority to purchase loans and other assets into one section, and provide full authority consistent with the FCU Act. Eligible obligations of the credit union's members should have no limit. Remove CAMEL rating and other limitations not required by the FCU Act.13

    13 See 12 U.S.C. 1757(7)(E), 1757(13), and 1757(14).

    3. § 741.8—Purchase of assets and assumption of liabilities

    Addresses: Purchase of assets and assumption of liabilities.

    Sections: 741.8.

    Category: Improve.

    Degree of Effort: Moderate.

    Degree of Impact: Moderate.

    Recommendation: Review this regulation to determine if NCUA approval is really needed in purchasing loans and assuming liabilities from market participants other than federally insured credit unions. Credit unions already have relatively broad authority to make loans, buy investments and other assets, and enter into transactions that create liabilities. Requiring NCUA approval in all cases (including transactions not material to the acquirer) is an inordinate burden for the institution and NCUA.

    4. § 701.32—Payment on Shares by Public Units and Nonmembers

    Addresses: Payment on shares by public units and nonmembers.

    Sections: 701.32.

    Category: Expand.

    Degree of Effort: Low.

    Degree of Impact: Moderate.

    Recommendation: Raise the nonmember deposit limit from 20 percent to 50 percent. As the functional equivalent of borrowing, this will parallel the ability of credit unions to borrow from any source up to 50 percent of paid-in and unimpaired capital and surplus per section 1757(9) of the FCU Act. A credit union is required to be low-income designated to accept nonmember deposits, limiting the institutions that can engage in this activity.

    5. § 701.34—Designation of Low Income Status; Acceptance of Secondary Capital Accounts by Low-Income Designated Credit Unions

    Addresses: Designation of low income status; Acceptance of secondary capital accounts by low-income designated credit unions.

    Sections: 701.34.

    Category: Improve.

    Degree of Effort: High.

    Degree of Impact: Low.

    Recommendation: See the January 2017 ANPR on Alternative Capital for the broad range of changes that need to be made to this regulation to relocate capital treatment to Part 702 and address securities law issues, issuance and redemption standards, etc.

    6. § 701.38—Borrowed Funds From Natural Persons

    Addresses: Borrowed funds from natural persons.

    Sections: 701.38.

    Category: Clarify/Expand.

    Degree of Effort: High.

    Degree of Impact: Moderate.

    Recommendation: Recommend revising this section of the regulation to comprehensively address borrowing authority for federal credit unions. See the January 2017 ANPR on Alternative Capital for a discussion on this subject. Also, see recommended changes to Part 703. A comprehensive borrowing rule could provide clarity and certainty needed to support supplemental capital.

    7. Part 702—Capital Adequacy

    Addresses: Risk-Based Capital (Substantive Amendments).

    Sections: 702.

    Category: Improve.

    Degree of Effort: High.

    Degree of Impact: Low/Moderate.14

    14 Degree of impact depends on the approach.

    Recommendation: Considerations include changing the definition of complex to narrow the applicability of the rule, allowing for credit unions with high net worth ratios to be exempt, and simplifying the overall risk category and weighting scheme. These amendments need to be coordinated with any amendments to supplemental and secondary capital, which need to be coordinated with any amendments to the borrowing rule.

    8. Alternative Capital

    Addresses: Alternative Capital.

    Sections: 702 generally.

    Category: Expand Authority.

    Degree of Effort: High.

    Degree of Impact: Low.

    Recommendation: As a follow up to the ANPR issued in January 2017, the NCUA Board should consider whether to propose a rule on alternative forms of capital federally insured credit unions could use in meeting capital standards. First, the Board should decide whether to make changes to the secondary capital regulation for low-income designated credit unions. Second, the Board should decide whether or not to authorize credit unions to issue supplemental capital instruments that would only count towards the risk-based net worth requirement.

    9. Part 703—Investment and Deposit Activities

    Addresses: Investment and Deposit Activities.

    Sections: 703.

    Category: Improve & Expand.

    Degree of Effort: High.

    Degree of Impact: High.

    Recommendation: Revise the regulation to remove unnecessary restrictions on investment authorities not required by the FCU Act, and provide a principles-based approach focused on governance for investing activity. Also, remove the pre-approval requirement for derivatives authority and substitute with a notice requirement (coheres this to Part 741 for federally insured, state-charted credit unions as well). See the appendix for details on modifying this regulation.

    10. § 701.21—Loans to Members and Lines of Credit to Members

    Addresses: Put option purchases in managing increased interest-rate risk for real estate loans produced for sale on the secondary market.

    Sections: 701.21(i).

    Category: Clarify.

    Degree of Effort: Low.

    Degree of Impact: High.

    Recommendation: Recommend moving section 701.21(i) to Part 703 Subpart B—Derivatives Authority to have all options/derivatives authority in one section.

    iii. Tier 3 (Year 4+) 15

    15 These regulations will require more discussion on any potential changes.

    1. § TBD—Third-Party Due Diligence Requirements

    Addresses: Third-party due diligence requirements.

    Sections: TBD.

    Category: Simplify & Improve.

    Degree of Effort: Moderate.

    Degree of Impact: High.

    Recommendation: Add a comprehensive third-party due diligence regulation and remove and/or relocate such provisions from other regulations.

    2. § 701.21—Loans to Members and Lines of Credit to Members

    Addresses: Preemption of state laws

    Sections: 701.21(b)

    Category: Simplify & Improve

    Degree of Effort: Moderate

    Degree of Impact: High

    Recommendation: Enhance Federal preemption where possible and appropriate. Federal credit unions that are multi-state lenders still are subject to a variety of state laws that create overlap and additional regulatory burden. Enhancing preemption where possible and appropriate may help reduce overlap and burden.

    3. § 701.21—Loans to Members and Lines of Credit to Members

    Addresses: Loan interest rate, temporary rate.

    Sections: 701.21(c)(7)(ii).

    Category: Expand/Clarify.

    Degree of Effort: Moderate.

    Degree of Impact: Low.16

    16 Includes potential efficiencies and/or cost savings for NCUA.

    Recommendation: Research the possibility of using a variable rate instead of a fixed, temporary rate. Also, remove the specific means for notifying credit unions to preserve future flexibility in sending notices in the most efficient and suitable manner available.

    4. § 701.37—Treasury Tax and Loan Depositaries and Financial Agents of the Government

    Addresses: Treasury tax and loan depositaries and financial agents of the Government.

    Sections: 701.37.

    Category: Remove/Improve.

    Degree of Effort: Moderate.

    Degree of Impact: Undetermined.

    Recommendation: Determine if this regulation remains relevant and necessary.

    5. Part 709—Involuntary Liquidation of Federal Credit Unions and Adjudication of Creditor Claims Involving Federally Insured Credit Unions in Liquidation

    Addresses: Payout priorities in involuntary liquidation.

    Sections: 709.5.

    Category: Clarify.

    Degree of Effort: Low.

    Degree of Impact: Low.17

    17 Includes potential efficiencies and/or cost savings for NCUA.

    Recommendation: Revise the payout priorities to make unsecured creditors pari passu with the NCUSIF. Currently, unsecured creditors are senior to the NCUSIF.

    6. Part 712—Credit Union Service Organizations (CUSOs)

    Addresses: Credit Union Service Organizations (CUSOs).

    Sections: 712.

    Category: Remove & Expand.

    Degree of Effort: Low.

    Degree of Impact: High.

    Recommendation: Recommend examining the CUSO regulation and evaluating the permissible activities in light of the FCU Act permitting CUSOs “whose business relates to the daily operations of the credit unions they serve” 18 or that are “providing services which are associated with the routine operations of credit unions.” 19

    18 12 U.S.C. 1757(5)(D).

    19 12 U.S.C. 1757(7)(I).

    7. Part 714—Leasing

    Addresses: Leasing.

    Sections: 714.

    Category: Improve.

    Degree of Effort: Moderate.

    Degree of Impact: Undetermined.

    Recommendation: Review this regulation to identify if any changes or improvements are needed.

    8. Part 725—National Credit Union Administration Central Liquidity Facility (CLF)

    Addresses: National Credit Union Administration Central Liquidity Facility (CLF).

    Sections: 725.

    Category: Clarify.

    Degree of Effort: Moderate.

    Degree of Impact: Moderate.

    Recommendation: Update this regulation to streamline, facilitate the use of correspondents, and reduce minimum collateral requirements for certain loans/collateral.

    9. Part 741—Requirements for Insurance

    Addresses: Maximum borrowing authority.

    Sections: 741.2.

    Category: Remove.

    Degree of Effort: Low.

    Degree of Impact: Low.

    Recommendation: Remove the 50 percent borrowing limit for federally insured, state-chartered credit unions and the related waiver provision. State law should govern in this area.

    10. Part 741—Requirements for Insurance

    Addresses: Special reserve for nonconforming investments.

    Sections: 741.3(a)(2).

    Category: Remove.

    Degree of Effort: Low.

    Degree of Impact: Technical Amendment.

    Recommendation: Remove as no longer necessary and not consistent with GAAP.20

    20 There are 11 federally insured, state-chartered credit unions from 8 different states that report a total of $4.4 million in this account on the Call Report as of December 31, 2016.

    11. Part 748—Security Program, Report of Suspected Crimes, Suspicious Transactions, Catastrophic Acts, and Bank Secrecy Act Compliance

    Addresses: Security Program, Report of Suspected Crimes, Suspicious Transactions, Catastrophic Acts, and Bank Secrecy Act Compliance.

    Sections: 748.

    Category: Improve.

    Degree of Effort: Moderate.

    Degree of Impact: High.

    Recommendation: Review this regulation to identify if any changes or improvements are needed. Recommend using an ANPR and forming a working group due to the complexity.

    12. Part 749—Records Preservation Program and Appendices—Record Retention Guidelines; Catastrophic Act Preparedness Guidelines

    Addresses: Records Preservation Program and Appendices—Record Retention Guidelines; Catastrophic Act Preparedness Guidelines

    Sections: 749

    Category: Improve

    Degree of Effort: Moderate

    Degree of Impact: High

    Recommendation: Review this regulation to identify if any changes or improvements are needed. Recommend using an ANPR and forming a working group due to the complexity.

    e. Appendix to Section III—Part 703 Recommendations Details Investments—Part 703 Subpart A Item Change Rationale 1. Investment Policies § 703.3 Fine tune section to focus on investment activities and not on balance sheet activities. E.g., remove (c) and (d), IRR and liquidity, since those items should be addressed in the IRR and liquidity policies Reduces burden on credit unions by not requiring IRR and liquidity policies in the investment policy. Also should help credit unions focus on balance sheet risk. 2. Discretionary Control Over Investments and Investment Advisor § 703.5(b)(1)(ii), § 703.5(b)(2)—(Net worth limit) Remove 100 percent of net worth limit for delegated discretionary control. Would need to add language to ensure credit unions have provided investment advisors with investment guidelines that contain: Duration/average life targets, permissible investments, and investment limits This would allow credit unions to have professionally managed, separate-account, investments without imposing a limit. There are no limits on mutual funds where the credit union has less control of what the manager invests in. Separate-account delegated discretionary programs have considerably more transparency than mutual funds. 3. Discretionary Control Over Investments and Investment Advisor § 703.5(b)(3)—(Due diligence) Remove prescriptive due diligence requirements and simply state the credit union must perform due diligence on the investment advisor This section is too prescriptive for a credit union to perform due diligence. It also does not focus on the investment advisor's ability to manage investments for the credit union. 4. Credit Analysis § 703.6—(Due diligence) Modify exception to credit analysis requirements to only securities guaranteed by the entities listed in the section This will make it clear that NCUA requires credit analysis for investments not guaranteed, but issued by, agencies. Currently the rule would not require a credit analysis for a Fannie Mae loss sharing bond or an unguaranteed subordinate tranche of a Freddie Mac multi-family mortgage security. 5. Credit Analysis § 703.6—(Maximum credit risk) Require a minimum of investment grade for all investments Sets a minimum expectation of credit worthiness for all investments purchased under the Part 703 investment authority. 6. Credit Analysis § 703.6—(Credit union process and people) A credit union, or its investment advisor, must have sufficient resources, knowledge, systems, and procedures to handle the risks and risk management (e.g. IRR modeling) of the investments it purchases This establishes the basic standard for a credit union to purchase an investment. This will allow for a loosening of Part 703 since NCUA has established standards to purchase investments that may have been prohibited or restricted in the past. 7. Broker-Dealers—§ 703.8(b)—(Due diligence) Remove prescriptive due diligence requirements and simply state the credit union must perform due diligence on the broker-dealer This section is too prescriptive for a broker-dealer that doesn't provide advice. May want to specify standards for broker-dealers that provide advice to credit unions. 8. Monitoring Non-Security Investments § 703.10—(Reporting requirements) Remove this section Unduly prescriptive. 9. Valuing Securities § 703.11(a) & (d)—(Due diligence) Combine sections and remove the reference to two price quotations. The requirement should be that the credit union use market inputs to determine if the purchase is at a reasonable market price Currently too prescriptive. A principled approach conforms more to market convention. 10. Valuing Securities § 703.11(c)—(Due diligence) Remove this section Unnecessary. This should be dictated by GAAP. 11. Monitoring Securities § 703.12(a)—(Reporting requirements) Move to and combine with § 703.11 Streamlines Part 703. 12. Monitoring Securities § 703.12(b), (c) and (d)—(Reporting requirements) Remove these sections and 703.12 (a) will be combined with Part 703.11 Unduly prescriptive. 13. Permissible Investment Activities and Permissible Investments § 703.13 and § 703.14 Merge these sections and add language from the FCU Act for permissible investments Streamlines rule and provides full investment authority allowed under the Act. 14. Permissible Investment Activities § 703.13(d) (Borrowing repurchase transactions) Allow mismatch permissible in § 703.20 as the “base” permissible activity A 30 day mismatch is not very risky. 15. Permissible Investments § 703.14(a)—(Permissible indices for variable rate investments) Expand permissible indices for credit unions that have sufficient resources, knowledge, systems, and procedures to handle the risks of the investment. Ability to model the investment for IRR should be required This could provide credit unions with investments that they could benefit from and not pose a risk to the NCUSIF. 16. Permissible Investments § 703.14(e)—(Muni bond limits) Remove limitations on municipal exposure This limit is unnecessary. Credit unions should determine limits. 17. Permissible Investments § 703.14(h)—(Mortgage note repurchase transactions) Limits will be reviewed to determine if they are appropriate Limits may need to be increased or eliminated. 18. Permissible Investments § 703.14(i)—(Zero coupon investment restrictions) Remove limits on zero-coupon investments Interest rate and liquidity risk should be managed from a balance sheet standpoint. This appears to try to manage it from an individual security standpoint. This limit is unnecessary. 19. Permissible Investments § 703.14(j)(3)—(Commercial mortgage related securities) Remove this section Not realistic in the current market place. Furthermore, having a large number of loans was actually a negative in many CMRS deals prior to 2007. Less attention was paid to the smaller loans that were poorly underwritten versus the larger loans in the deal. 20. Prohibited Investment Activities § 703.15—(Short Sales) Review regulatory history on the prohibition of short sales Restriction may be reconsidered. 21. Prohibited Investments § 703.16(a)—(Mortgage servicing rights) Determine if mortgage servicing rights (MSRs) are permissible for credit unions to purchase per the FCU Act. If so, there should be consideration given to permit the purchase of MSRs Buying MSRs from other credit unions may offer efficiencies in the credit union system. 22. Prohibited Investments § 703.16(b)—(Exchangeable, IO and PO MBS) Remove this section A credit union should be able to purchase interest-only and principal-only investments if it has sufficient resources, knowledge, systems, and procedures to handle the risks and risk management (e.g. IRR modeling) of the investments it purchases. 23. Grandfathered Investments § 703.18 Remove sections that will no longer apply based on other changes in the rule Some parts of the section may not apply due to other changes in the rule. 24. Investment Pilot Program § 703.19 Remove this section Pilot programs will no longer be needed with the proposed changes. 25. Request for Additional Authority § 703.20 Remove this section Will no longer be needed with the removal or alignment of the restrictions in other sections. Derivatives—Part 703 Subpart B and Related Items Item Change Rationale 1. “Move” Put-option purchases in managing increased interest-rate risk for real estate loans produced for sale on the secondary market, in 701.21(i) to 703.102(a) Move the product to the Subpart B permissible derivative products This would consolidate into one place all permissible derivative activities. 2. “Move” European financial options contract in 703.14(g) to 703.102(a) Move the product to the Subpart B permissible derivative products This would consolidate into one place all permissible derivative activities. 3. “Rename” 703 Subpart B from “Derivatives Authority” to “Derivatives and Hedging Authority” Name change Would widen the rule to address off balance sheet hedging instruments that are permissible. 4. “Move and Modify” Derivatives section in 703.14(k) to 703 Subpart B With the move, remove 703.14(k)(1), move 703.14(k)(2) to 703.100 and move 703.14(k)(3) to 703.102 Would provide more clarity on hedging activities for TBA, Dollar Rolls, etc. 5. “Modify” Derivatives Application process to “Notification” Remove the FCU application requirements and replace with a “Notification”. This would require changes to § 703.108, § 703.109, § 703.110, § 703.111, § 703.112 The “Notification” requirements would include providing NCUA with at least 60 day notice before initially engaging in a Derivative transaction. 6. “Remove” Derivatives Regulatory Limits Remove the volume limits on derivatives activity. This would require changes to § 703.103, § 703.105, Appendix A Will be better supported as part of supervision guidance and possible use as scoping metrics. 7. “Expand” Eligible Collateral for Margining Expand the eligible collateral in 703.104(a)(2)(iii) to include Agency Debt (Ginnie Mae Securities) This is an acceptable practice and should have been in the Final Rule. 8. “Modify” Eligibility (only part) Remove or change 703.108(b) to require notice but not pre-approval, and re-evaluate the CAMEL and asset size eligibility criteria Allows for more credit unions to use derivatives to manage interest rate risk subject to supervisory intervention if they are not equipped to manage it properly. 9. “Modify” Notification requirement for FISCUs Change 741.219(b) Make consistent with FCU notification requirements. 10. “Remove” Pilot Program Participants Change 703.113 Not relevant anymore. IV. Request for Comment

    Executive Order 13777 requires that “each Regulatory Reform Task Force shall seek input and other assistance, as permitted by law, from entities significantly affected by Federal regulations, including State, local, and tribal governments, small businesses, consumers, non-governmental organizations, and trade associations.” In compliance with the spirit of the Executive Order, the Board seeks comments on all aspects of the Task Force's report.

    Commenters are also encouraged to discuss any other relevant issues they believe NCUA should consider with respect to reducing regulatory burden and fulfilling the aims of Executive Order 13777. The Board requests that, to the extent feasible, commenters provide documentation to support any recommendations.

    By the National Credit Union Administration Board on August 15, 2017. John H. Brolin, Acting Board Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17673 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7535-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Part 172 [Docket No. FDA-2017-F-3717] Juice Products Association; Filing of Food Additive Petition; Correction AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notification; petition for rulemaking; correction.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or we) is correcting a notice that appeared in the Federal Register of Wednesday, July 26, 2017 (82 FR 34615). The document announced that we have filed a petition, submitted by the Juice Products Association, proposing that the food additive regulations be amended to replace the current Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) percentage values of calcium in fruit juices and fruit juice drinks in the regulation for vitamin D3 with absolute values and to update the specifications for vitamin D3. The document was published with incorrect information on the absolute level of added calcium for fruit juice drinks that are fortified with calcium. This document corrects that error.

    DATES:

    This document is publishing in the Federal Register on August 22, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Judith Kidwell, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, 5001 Campus Dr., College Park, MD 20740, 240-402-1071.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In the Federal Register of July 26, 2017, in FR Doc. 2017-15535, on page 34615, the following correction is made:

    On page 34615, in the second paragraph under the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: caption, in the second column, the second paragraph is corrected to read, “These proposed changes would allow manufacturers of fruit juices and fruit juice drinks that are fortified with calcium to maintain the absolute level of added calcium at 330 milligrams (mg) and 100 mg, respectively, as established in our regulations at § 172.380(c)(1) and (2).”

    Dated: August 17, 2017. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17704 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers 33 CFR Part 328 ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Parts 110, 112 116, 117, 122, 230, 232, 300, 302, and 401 [EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0203; FRL-9966-81-OW] RIN 2040-AF74 Definition of “Waters of the United States”—Recodification of Pre-Existing Rules; Extension of Comment Period AGENCY:

    Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers, Department of Defense; and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; Extension of comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of the Army are extending the comment period for the proposed rule “Definition of `Waters of the United States'—Recodification of Pre-existing Rules.” The agencies are extending the comment period for 30 days in response to stakeholder requests for an extension, from August 28, 2017 to September 27, 2017.

    DATES:

    The comment period for the proposed rule published on July 27, 2017, at 82 FR 34899, is extended. Comments must be received on or before September 27, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0203, at http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from Regulations.gov. The agencies may publish any comment received to the public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. The agencies will generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of the primary submission (i.e. on the web, cloud, or other file sharing system). For additional submission methods, the full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit http://www2.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. Donna Downing, Office of Water (4504-T), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: (202) 566-2428; email address: [email protected]; or Ms. Stacey Jensen, Regulatory Community of Practice (CECW-CO-R), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 441 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20314; telephone number: (202) 761-5903; email address: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On July 27, 2017 (82 FR 34899), the EPA and the U.S. Department of the Army published the proposed rule “Definition of `Waters of the United States'—Recodification of Pre-existing Rules” in the Federal Register. The original deadline to submit comments was August 28, 2017. This action extends the comment period for 30 days. Written comments must now be received by September 27, 2017.

    Dated: August 16, 2017. Michael H. Shapiro, Acting Assistant Administrator for Water, Environmental Protection Agency. Dated: August 16, 2017. Douglas W. Lamont, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Project Planning and Review), performing the duties of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17739 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 63 [EPA-HQ-OAR-2016-0442; FRL-9966-63-OAR] RIN 2060-AT57 National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants From the Portland Cement Manufacturing Industry: Alternative Monitoring Method AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to amend the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants From the Portland Cement Manufacturing Industry (Portland Cement NESHAP). We are proposing to revise the testing and monitoring requirements for hydrochloric acid (HCl) due to the current unavailability of HCl calibration gases used for quality assurance purposes.

    DATES:

    The EPA must receive written comments on this proposed rule on or before October 6, 2017.

    Public Hearing. If a public hearing is requested by August 29, 2017, then we will hold a public hearing on September 6, 2017 at the EPA WJC East Building, 1201 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20004. If a public hearing is requested, then we will provide additional details about the public hearing on our Web site at https://www.epa.gov/stationary-sources-air-pollution/portland-cement-manufacturing-industry-national-emission-standards and https://www3.epa.gov/airquality/cement/actions.html. To request a hearing, to register to speak at a hearing, or to inquire if a hearing will be held, please contact Aimee St. Clair at (919) 541-1063 or by email at [email protected] The EPA does not intend to publish any future notices in the Federal Register regarding a public hearing on this proposed action and directs all inquiries regarding a hearing to the Web site and contact person identified above. The last day to pre-register in advance to speak at the public hearing will be September 5, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2016-0442, at http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or withdrawn from Regulations.gov. The EPA may publish any comment received to its public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. The EPA will generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of the primary submission (i.e., on the Web, cloud, or other file sharing system). For additional submission methods, the full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit http://www2.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. Brian Storey, Sector Policies and Programs Division (D243-04), Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27711; telephone number: (919) 541-1103; fax number: (919) 541-5450; and email address: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Organization of This Document. The information in this preamble is organized as follows:

    I. General Information A. Does this proposed rule apply to me? B. What should I consider as I prepare my comments for the EPA? II. What are the amendments made by this proposed rule? III. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews A. Executive Order 12866: Regulatory Planning and Review and Executive Order 13563: Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review B. Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) C. Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) D. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) E. Executive Order 13132: Federalism F. Executive Order 13175: Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments G. Executive Order 13045: Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks H. Executive Order 13211: Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use I. National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA) J. Executive Order 12898: Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations I. General Information A. Does this proposed rule apply to me?

    Categories and entities potentially regulated by this proposed rule include:

    Category NAICS Code 1 Portland cement manufacturing facilities 327310 1 North American Industry Classification System.

    This table is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather provides a guide for readers regarding entities likely to be regulated by this proposed rule. To determine whether your facility is affected, you should examine the applicability criteria in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 CFR 63.1340. If you have questions regarding the applicability of any aspect of this action to a particular entity, consult either the air permitting authority for the entity or your EPA Regional representative as listed in 40 CFR 63.13.

    B. What should I consider as I prepare my comments for the EPA?

    On June 23, 2017, the EPA published a direct final rule that provided a compliance alternative for sources that would otherwise be required to use a HCl continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS) to demonstrate compliance with the HCl emissions limit (82 FR 28562). At the same time, we published a parallel proposal in which we proposed to make the same amendment to the NESHAP. The EPA indicated that it would withdraw the direct final rule if it received adverse comment. The EPA received adverse comment on that direct final rule, but was not able to timely withdraw the rule. In this proposal, the EPA is re-proposing and providing additional opportunity for public comment on the same amendment to the NESHAP that was proposed on June 23, 2017. Simultaneously with this proposal, the EPA is taking final action to withdraw the June 23, 2017, direct final rule. Comments received on the June 23, 2017, direct final rule and/or parallel proposal will be deemed to be submitted on this proposal, unless the commenter withdraws the original comment.

    For comments on this proposal, do not submit information containing CBI to the EPA through http://www.regulations.gov or email. Clearly mark the part or all of the information that you claim to be CBI. For CBI information on a disk or CD-ROM that you mail to the EPA, mark the outside of the disk or CD-ROM as CBI and then identify electronically within the disk or CD-ROM the specific information that is claimed as CBI. In addition to one complete version of the comments that includes information claimed as CBI, a copy of the comments that does not contain the information claimed as CBI must be submitted for inclusion in the public docket. Information so marked will not be disclosed except in accordance with procedures set forth in 40 CFR part 2. Send or deliver information identified as CBI only to the following address: OAQPS Document Control Officer (C404-02), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27711, Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2016-0442.

    II. What are the amendments made by this proposed rule?

    On July 25, 2016, the EPA published an alternative monitoring method for sources that would otherwise be required to use an HCl CEMS to demonstrate compliance with the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants From the Portland Cement Manufacturing Industry (81 FR 48356). The alternative was provided for a period of 1 year. The alternative monitoring method allowed sources to demonstrate compliance by using CEMS readouts as a parameter monitor to indicate relative changes from the observed CEMS HCl reading. Specifically, the alternative required installation of an HCl CEMS to provide a continuous readout of HCl emissions. However, actual compliance with the HCl emissions limit of 3 parts per million by volume (ppmv) was determined by a three-run stack test. During the stack test, the average HCl CEMS reading was determined. The alternative allows this CEMS reading to become a continuous operating parameter that must be met on a 30-day rolling average. The EPA determined it was appropriate to allow this alternative because some facilities have been unable to obtain National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)-traceable calibration gases. As a result, these facilities cannot calibrate their CEMS with sufficient accuracy for the CEMS readout to be used to directly determine compliance with the 3 ppmv HCl emissions limit. The alternative addresses this problem by allowing sources to use the CEMS readouts as a parameter monitor to indicate relative changes from the observed CEMS HCl reading obtained during the stack performance test used to demonstrate compliance.

    In this action, the EPA is proposing to extend the use of the alternative monitoring method, as described in the July 25, 2016, direct final rulemaking (81 FR 48356). Because this alternative is only needed until such time as the NIST-traceable calibration gases become available, the EPA intends to remove the alternative once such gases become available.

    III. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

    Additional information about these statutes and Executive Orders can be found at http://www2.epa.gov/laws-regulations/laws-and-executive-orders.

    A. Executive Order 12866: Regulatory Planning and Review and Executive Order 13563: Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review

    This action is not a significant regulatory action and was, therefore, not submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review.

    B. Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)

    This action does not impose any new information collection burden under the PRA. OMB has previously approved the information collection activities contained in the existing regulation (40 CFR part 63, subpart LLL) and has assigned OMB control number 2060-0416. This action does not change the information collection requirements.

    C. Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA)

    I certify that this action will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the RFA. This action will not impose any requirements on small entities. This action does not create any new requirements or burdens and no costs are associated with this proposed action.

    D. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA)

    This action does not contain any unfunded mandate as described in UMRA, 2 U.S.C. 1531-1538, and does not significantly or uniquely affect small governments. The action imposes no enforceable duty on any state, local, or tribal governments or the private sector.

    E. Executive Order 13132: Federalism

    This action does not have federalism implications. It will not have substantial direct effects on the states, on the relationship between the national government and the states, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.

    F. Executive Order 13175: Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments

    This action does not have tribal implications, as specified in Executive Order 13175. It will neither impose substantial direct compliance costs on federally recognized tribal governments, nor preempt tribal law. The EPA is aware of one tribally owned Portland cement facility currently subject to 40 CFR part 63, subpart LLL that will be subject to this proposed rule. However, the provisions of this proposed rule are not expected to impose new or substantial direct compliance costs on tribal governments since the provisions in this proposed rule are extending the use of an alternative to the HCl monitoring provisions, including an option which provides operational flexibility. Thus, Executive Order 13175 does not apply to this action.

    G. Executive Order 13045: Protection of Children From Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks

    The EPA interprets Executive Order 13045 as applying only to those regulatory actions that concern environmental health or safety risks that the EPA has reason to believe may disproportionately affect children, per the definition of “covered regulatory action” in section 2-202 of the Executive Order. This action is not subject to Executive Order 13045 because it does not concern an environmental health risk or safety risk.

    H. Executive Order 13211: Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use

    This action is not subject to Executive Order 13211 because it is not a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866.

    I. National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA)

    This rulemaking does not involve technical standards.

    J. Executive Order 12898: Federal Actions To Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations

    The EPA believes that this action does not have disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on minority populations, low-income populations, and/or indigenous peoples, as specified in Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994). This action does not affect the level of protection provided to human health or the environment.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 63

    Environmental protection, Administrative practice and procedures, Air pollution control, Hazardous substances, Intergovernmental relations, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: August 11, 2017. E. Scott Pruitt, Administrator.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to amend title 40, chapter I, part 63 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) as follows:

    PART 63—NATIONAL EMISSION STANDARDS FOR HAZARDOUS AIR POLLUTANTS FOR SOURCE CATEGORIES 1. The authority citation for part 63 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Subpart LLL—National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants From the Portland Cement Manufacturing Industry 2. Section 63.1349 is amended by: a. Revising paragraph (b)(6)(v) introductory text. b. Removing paragraph (b)(6)(v)(H).

    The revision reads as follows:

    § 63.1349 Performance testing requirements.

    (b) * * *

    (6) * * *

    (v) As an alternative to paragraph (b)(6)(ii) of this section, the owner or operator may demonstrate initial compliance by conducting a performance test using Method 321 of appendix A to this part. You must also monitor continuous performance through use of an HCl CPMS according to paragraphs (b)(6)(v)(A) through (G) of this section. For kilns with inline raw mills, compliance testing and monitoring HCl to establish the site specific operating limit must be conducted during both raw mill on and raw mill off conditions.

    3. Section 63.1350 is amended by revising paragraph (l)(4) introductory text to read as follows:
    § 63.1350 Monitoring requirements.

    (l) * * *

    (4) If you monitor continuous performance through the use of an HCl CPMS according to paragraphs (b)(6)(v)(A) through (G) of § 63.1349, for any exceedance of the 30-kiln operating day HCl CPMS average value from the established operating limit, you must:

    [FR Doc. 2017-17626 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Parts 0, 1, 15, 20, and 54 [GN Docket No. 16-46; DA 17-664] Connect2HealthFCC Task Force Announces Upcoming Virtual Listening Sessions on Broadband Health Divide AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Extension of comment deadline.

    SUMMARY:

    In this document, the Connect2HealthFCC Task Force (Task Force) of the Federal Communications Commission (Commission), extends the deadline for interested parties to submit comments and reply comments in response to the notice issued on April 24, 2017, on FCC Seeks Comment and Data on Actions to Accelerate Adoption and Accessibility of Broadband-Enabled Health Care Solutions and Advanced Technologies (GN Docket No. 16-46; FCC 17-46). In addition, the Task Force announces that it will be convening several virtual listening sessions to more efficiently facilitate additional input on the issues raised in the aforementioned notice.

    DATES:

    Submit comments and reply comment on or before September 29, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments and reply comments, identified by GN Docket No. 16-46, by any of the following methods:

    Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/ (click the “submit a filing” tab). Filers should follow the instructions provided on the Web site for submitting comments. For ECFS filers, in completing the transmittal screen, filers should include their full name, U.S. Postal service mailing address, and the applicable docket number: GN Docket No. 16-46.

    Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one copy of each filing. Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, Marlene H. Dortch, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission. All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th St. SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes must be disposed of before entering the building. The filing hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743. U.S. Postal Service first-class mail, Express Mail, and Priority Mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.

    Additional Filing Instruction: To the extent feasible, parties should email a copy of their comments to the Task Force's email box, at [email protected] In the email, please insert “Comments in GN Docket No. 16-46” in the subject line. Copies of all filings will be available in GN Docket No. 16-46 through ECFS and are also available for public inspection and copying during regular business hours at the FCC Reference Information Center, Portals II, 445 12th St. SW., Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554, telephone (202) 418-0270. Documents will be available electronically in ASCII, Microsoft Word, and/or Adobe Acrobat.

    People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an email to [email protected] or call the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice) or 202-418-0432 (TTY). Contact the FCC to request reasonable accommodations for filing comments (accessible format documents, sign language interpreters, CART, etc.) by email at: [email protected]; phone: 202-418-0530 or TTY: 202-418-0432.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ben Bartolome, Special Counsel, Connect2HealthFCC Task Force, at (770) 935-3383, or via email at [email protected] (inserting “Question re GN Docket No 16-46” in the subject line).

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This is a summary of the Commission's document, DA 17-664, released on July 21, 2017. The complete text of this document is available on the Internet at the Commission's Web site, at https://www.fcc.gov/document/c2h-hold-listening-sessions-bridging-broadband-health-divide. The full text is also available for public inspection and copying from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) Monday through Thursday or from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Fridays in the FCC Reference Information Center, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554 (Telephone: 202-418-0270; TTY: 202-418-2555).

    In document DA 17-664, the Federal Communications Commission's Connect2Health Task Force announces that it will convene several virtual listening sessions over several weeks (i.e., during the week of August 7, and also the weeks of September 11, 18, and 25, 2017) to more efficiently facilitate targeted input on broadband health issues (including on the rural/urban gap and other digital divide issues) from non-traditional stakeholders and those outside the Washington, DC area. The instructions for participating in these sessions are provided in the notice. This effort specifically relates to the Task Force's development of recommendations on critical regulatory, policy, technical, and infrastructure issues concerning the emerging broadband-enabled health and care ecosystem described in the April 24, 2017 document FCC 17-46, issued in GN Docket No. 16-46 (FCC Seeks Comment and Data on Actions to Accelerate Adoption and Accessibility of Broadband-Enabled Health Care Solutions and Advanced Technologies).

    This document also announces that the formal comment period for GN Docket No. 16-46 will remain open until September 29, 2017, to give interested parties an opportunity to file additional comments and information following the completion of the aforementioned virtual listening sessions (noting that the initial deadlines for filing comments and reply comments in response to the notice in GN Docket No. 16-46 were May 24, 2017, and June 8, 2017, respectively). Further, parties have also expressed interest in submitting comments and suggestions for enhancements related to the Mapping Broadband Health in America platform (available on the Commission's Web site at www.fcc.gov/health/maps) released on June 8, 2017; as such, this extension will facilitate such filings in GN Docket No. 16-46.

    Federal Communications Commission. Ryan Yates, Attorney Advisor, Office of the General Counsel.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17731 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Part 73 [MB Docket No. 17-196; RM-11794; DA 17-726] Radio Broadcasting Services; Cora, Wyoming AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    This document requests comments on a Petition for Rulemaking filed by Wind River Broadcasting, Inc., proposing to amend the FM Table of Allotments, of the Commission's rules, by allotting Channel 274C2 at Cora, Wyoming, as a first local service. A staff engineering analysis indicates that Channel 274C2 can be allotted to Cora, consistent with the minimum distance separation requirements of the Commission's rules without a site restriction. The reference coordinates are 43-03-24 NL and 110-08-07 WL.

    DATES:

    Comments must be filed on or before September 21, 2017, and reply comments on or before October 6, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, 445 Twelfth Street SW., Washington, DC 20554. In addition to filing comments with the FCC, interested parties should serve counsel for the petitioner as follows: Dan J. Alpert, Esq., The Law Office of Dan J. Alpert, 2120 N. 21st Rd., Arlington, VA 22201

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Deborah A. Dupont, Media Bureau, (202) 418-2700.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This is a synopsis of the Commission's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), MB Docket No. 17-196, adopted July 28, 2017 and released July 31, 2017. The full text of this Commission decision is available for inspection and copying during normal business hours in the FCC's Reference Information Center at Portals II, CY-A257, 445 Twelfth Street SW., Washington, DC 20554. The full text is also available online at http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/. This document does not contain proposed information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13. In addition, therefore, it does not contain any proposed information collection burden “for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees,” pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4).

    Provisions of the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 do not apply to this proceeding.

    Members of the public should note that from the time a Notice of Proposed Rule Making is issued until the matter is no longer subject to Commission consideration or court review, all ex parte contacts are prohibited in Commission proceedings, such as this one, which involve channel allotments. See 47 CFR 1.1204(b) for rules governing permissible ex parte contacts.

    For information regarding proper filing procedures for comments, see 47 CFR 1.415 and 1.420.

    List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 73

    Radio, Radio broadcasting.

    Federal Communications Commission. Nazifa Sawez, Assistant Chief, Audio Division, Media Bureau.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission proposes to amend 47 CFR part 73 as follows:

    PART 73—RADIO BROADCAST SERVICES 1. The authority citation for part 73 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    47 U.S.C. 154, 303, 309, 310, 334, 336 and 339.

    § 73.202 [Amended]
    2. Section 73.202(b), the table is amended by adding an entry under Wyoming for Cora to read as follows:
    § 73.202 Table of Allotments.

    (b) Table of FM Allotments.

    Wyoming *   *   *   *   *    Cora 274C2 *   *   *   *   *   
    [FR Doc. 2017-17730 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 20 [Docket No. FWS-HQ-MB-2016-0051; FF09M21200-178-FXMB1231099BPP0] RIN 1018-BB40 Migratory Bird Hunting; Proposed Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations on Certain Federal Indian Reservations and Ceded Lands for the 2017-18 Season AGENCY:

    Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (hereinafter, Service or we) proposes special migratory bird hunting regulations for certain Tribes on Federal Indian reservations, off-reservation trust lands, and ceded lands for the 2017-18 migratory bird hunting season.

    DATES:

    You must submit comments on the proposed regulations by September 21, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments: You may submit comments on the proposals by one of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments on Docket No. FWS-HQ-MB-2016-0051.

    U.S. mail or hand delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-HQ-MB-2016-0051; Division of Policy, Performance, and Management Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; MS: BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike; Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

    We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see Public Comments, below, for more information).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ron W. Kokel, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior, MS: MB, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803; (703) 358-1967.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    As part of DOI's retrospective regulatory review, we developed a schedule for migratory game bird hunting regulations that is more efficient and will provide dates much earlier than was possible under the old process. This will facilitate planning for the States and all parties interested in migratory bird hunting. Beginning in the summer of 2015, with the development of the 2016-17 hunting seasons, we are using a new schedule for establishing our annual migratory game bird hunting regulations. We will combine the current early- and late-season regulatory actions into a single process, based on predictions derived from long-term biological information and harvest strategies, to establish migratory bird hunting seasons much earlier than the system we have used for many years. Under the new process, we will develop proposed hunting season frameworks for a given year in the fall of the prior year. We will finalize those frameworks a few months later, thereby enabling the State agencies to select and publish their season dates in early summer. This rulemaking is part of that process.

    We developed the guidelines for establishing special migratory bird hunting regulations for Indian Tribes in response to tribal requests for recognition of their reserved hunting rights and, for some Tribes, recognition of their authority to regulate hunting by both tribal and nontribal hunters on their reservations. The guidelines include possibilities for:

    (1) On-reservation hunting by both tribal and nontribal hunters, with hunting by nontribal hunters on some reservations to take place within Federal frameworks but on dates different from those selected by the surrounding State(s);

    (2) On-reservation hunting by tribal members only, outside of the usual Federal frameworks for season dates and length, and for daily bag and possession limits; and

    (3) Off-reservation hunting by tribal members on ceded lands, outside of usual framework dates and season length, with some added flexibility in daily bag and possession limits.

    In all cases, the regulations established under the guidelines must be consistent with the March 10 to September 1 closed season mandated by the 1916 Convention between the United States and Great Britain (for Canada) for the Protection of Migratory Birds (Treaty). The guidelines apply to those Tribes having recognized reserved hunting rights on Federal Indian reservations (including off-reservation trust lands) and on ceded lands. They also apply to establishing migratory bird hunting regulations for nontribal hunters on all lands within the exterior boundaries of reservations where Tribes have full wildlife management authority over such hunting or where the Tribes and affected States otherwise have reached agreement over hunting by nontribal hunters on lands owned by non-Indians within the reservation.

    Tribes usually have the authority to regulate migratory bird hunting by nonmembers on Indian-owned reservation lands, subject to Service approval. The question of jurisdiction is more complex on reservations that include lands owned by non-Indians, especially when the surrounding States have established or intend to establish regulations governing hunting by non-Indians on these lands. In such cases, we encourage the Tribes and States to reach agreement on regulations that would apply throughout the reservations. When appropriate, we will consult with a Tribe and State with the aim of facilitating an accord. We also will consult jointly with tribal and State officials in the affected States where Tribes wish to establish special hunting regulations for tribal members on ceded lands. Because of past questions regarding interpretation of what events trigger the consultation process, as well as who initiates it, we provide the following clarification.

    We routinely provide copies of Federal Register publications pertaining to migratory bird management to all State Directors, Tribes, and other interested parties. It is the responsibility of the States, Tribes, and others to notify us of any concern regarding any feature(s) of any regulations. When we receive such notification, we will initiate consultation.

    Our guidelines provide for the continued harvest of waterfowl and other migratory game birds by tribal members on reservations where such harvest has been a customary practice. We do not oppose this harvest, provided it does not take place during the closed season defined by the Treaty, and does not adversely affect the status of the migratory bird resource. Before developing the guidelines, we reviewed available information on the current status of migratory bird populations, reviewed the current status of migratory bird hunting on Federal Indian reservations, and evaluated the potential impact of such guidelines on migratory birds. We concluded that the impact of migratory bird harvest by tribal members hunting on their reservations is minimal.

    One area of interest in Indian migratory bird hunting regulations relates to hunting seasons for nontribal hunters on dates that are within Federal frameworks, but which are different from those established by the State(s) where the reservation is located. A large influx of nontribal hunters onto a reservation at a time when the season is closed in the surrounding State(s) could result in adverse population impacts on one or more migratory bird species. The guidelines make this unlikely, and we may modify regulations or establish experimental special hunts, after evaluation of information obtained by the Tribes.

    We believe the guidelines provide appropriate opportunity to accommodate the reserved hunting rights and management authority of Indian Tribes while ensuring that the migratory bird resource receives necessary protection. The conservation of this important international resource is paramount. Further, the guidelines should not be viewed as inflexible. In this regard, we note that they have been employed successfully since 1985. We believe they have been tested adequately and, therefore, we made them final beginning with the 1988-89 hunting season (53 FR 31612, August 18, 1988). We should stress here, however, that use of the guidelines is not mandatory and no action is required if a Tribe wishes to observe the hunting regulations established by the State(s) in which the reservation is located.

    Regulations Schedule for 2017

    On June 10, 2016, we published a proposal to amend title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at part 20 (81 FR 38050). The proposal provided a background and overview of the migratory bird hunting regulations process, and addressed the establishment of seasons, limits, and other regulations for hunting migratory game birds under §§ 20.101 through 20.107, 20.109, and 20.110 of subpart K. Major steps in the 2017-18 regulatory cycle relating to open public meetings and Federal Register notifications were also identified in the June 10, 2016, proposed rule.

    The June 10 proposed rule also provided detailed information on the proposed 2017-18 regulatory schedule and announced the Service Regulations Committee (SRC) and Flyway Council meetings.

    On October 25-26, 2016, we held open meetings with the Flyway Council Consultants, at which the participants reviewed information on the current status of migratory game birds and developed recommendations for the 2017-18 regulations for these species.

    On February 9, 2017, we published in the Federal Register (82 FR 10222) the proposed frameworks for the 2017-18 season migratory bird hunting regulations. On May 30, 2017, we published in the Federal Register (82 FR 24786) final season frameworks for migratory game bird hunting regulations, from which wildlife conservation agency officials from the States, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Tribes select hunting dates, hours, areas, and limits.

    Population Status and Harvest

    Each year we publish various species status reports that provide detailed information on the status and harvest of migratory game birds, including information on the methodologies and results. These reports are available at the address indicated under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT or from our Web site at https://www.fws.gov/birds/surveys-and-data/reports-and-publications/population-status.php.

    We used the following reports: Adaptive Harvest Management, 2017 Hunting Season (August 2016); American Woodcock Population Status, 2016 (August 2016); Band-tailed Pigeon Population Status, 2016 (September 2016); Migratory Bird Hunting Activity and Harvest During the 2014-15 and 2015-16 Hunting Seasons (October 2016); Mourning Dove Population Status, 2016 (August 2016); Status and Harvests of Sandhill Cranes, Mid-continent, Rocky Mountain, Lower Colorado River Valley and Eastern Populations, 2016 (September 2016); and Waterfowl Population Status, 2016 (August 2016).

    Hunting Season Proposals From Indian Tribes and Organizations

    For the 2017-18 hunting season, we received requests from 24 Tribes and Indian organizations. In this proposed rule, we respond to these requests and also evaluate anticipated requests for six Tribes from whom we usually hear but from whom we have not yet received proposals. We actively solicit regulatory proposals from other tribal groups that are interested in working cooperatively for the benefit of waterfowl and other migratory game birds. We encourage Tribes to work with us to develop agreements for management of migratory bird resources on tribal lands.

    The proposed frameworks for flyway regulations were published in the Federal Register on February 9, 2017 (82 FR 10222), and the final frameworks on May 30, 2017 (82 FR 24786). We notified affected Tribes of season dates, bag limits, etc., of the final frameworks. As previously discussed, no action is required by Tribes wishing to observe migratory bird hunting regulations established by the State(s) where they are located. The proposed regulations for the 30 Tribes that meet the established criteria are shown below.

    (a) Colorado River Indian Tribes, Colorado River Indian Reservation, Parker, Arizona (Tribal Members and Nontribal Hunters)

    The Colorado River Indian Reservation is located in Arizona and California. The Tribes own almost all lands on the reservation, and have full wildlife management authority.

    We have yet to hear from the Colorado River Indian Tribes. The Tribes usually request a split dove season, with the early season beginning on September 1 and ending on September 15, 2017. Daily bag limits would be 15 mourning or white-winged doves in the aggregate, of which no more than 10 may be white-winged dove. Possession limit would be 45, of which no more than 30 may be white-winged dove. They usually request the late season for doves to open November 7 and close December 20, 2017. The daily bag limit would be 15 mourning doves. The possession limit would be 45. Shooting hours would be from one-half hour before sunrise to noon in the early season and until sunset in the late season. Other special tribally set regulations would apply.

    The Tribes also usually propose duck hunting seasons. The season would usually open October 17, 2017, and close January 25, 2018. The Tribes usually propose the same season dates for mergansers, coots, and common moorhens. The daily bag limit for ducks, including mergansers, would be seven, except that the daily bag limits could contain no more than two hen mallards, two redheads, two Mexican ducks, two goldeneye, three scaup, one pintail, two cinnamon teal, and one canvasback. The possession limit would be twice the daily bag limit after the first day of the season. The daily bag and possession limit for coots and common moorhens would be 25, singly or in the aggregate. Shooting hours would be from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

    For geese, the Colorado River Indian Tribes usually propose a season of October 18, 2017, through January 19, 2018. The daily bag limit for geese would be three light geese and three dark geese. The possession limit would be six light geese and six dark geese after opening day. Shooting hours would be from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

    In 1996, the Tribes conducted a detailed assessment of dove hunting. Results showed approximately 16,100 mourning doves and 13,600 white-winged doves were harvested by approximately 2,660 hunters who averaged 1.45 hunter-days. Field observations and permit sales indicate that fewer than 200 hunters participate in waterfowl seasons. Under the proposed regulations described here and based upon past seasons, we and the Tribes estimate harvest will be similar.

    Hunters must have a valid Colorado River Indian Reservation hunting permit and a Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp in their possession while hunting. Other special tribally set regulations would apply. As in the past, the regulations would apply both to tribal and nontribal hunters, and nontoxic shot is required for waterfowl hunting.

    We propose to approve the Colorado River Indian Tribes regulations for the 2017-18 hunting season, if the seasons' dates fall within final flyway frameworks (applies to nontribal hunters only) and upon receipt of their proposal.

    (b) Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Flathead Indian Reservation, Pablo, Montana (Tribal and Nontribal Hunters)

    For the past several years, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the State of Montana have entered into cooperative agreements for the regulation of hunting on the Flathead Indian Reservation. The State and the Tribes are currently operating under a cooperative agreement signed in 1990, which addresses fishing and hunting management and regulation issues of mutual concern. This agreement enables all hunters to utilize waterfowl hunting opportunities on the reservation.

    As in the past, tribal regulations for nontribal hunters would be at least as restrictive as those established for the Pacific Flyway portion of Montana. Goose, duck, and coot season dates would also be at least as restrictive as those established for the Pacific Flyway portion of Montana. Shooting hours for waterfowl hunting on the Flathead Reservation are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. Steel shot or other federally approved nontoxic shots are the only legal shotgun loads on the reservation for waterfowl or other game birds.

    For tribal members, the Tribe proposes outside frameworks for ducks and geese of September 1, 2017, through March 9, 2018. Daily bag and possession limits were not proposed for tribal members.

    The requested season dates and bag limits are similar to past regulations. Harvest levels are not expected to change significantly. Standardized check station data from the 1993-94 and 1994-95 hunting seasons indicated no significant changes in harvest levels and that the large majority of the harvest is by nontribal hunters.

    We propose to approve the Tribes' request for special migratory bird regulations for the 2017-18 hunting season.

    (c) Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Cloquet, Minnesota (Tribal Members Only)

    Since 1996, the Service and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians have cooperated to establish special migratory bird hunting regulations for tribal members. The Fond du Lac's December 6, 2017, proposal covers land set apart for the band under the Treaties of 1837 and 1854 in northeastern and east-central Minnesota and the Band's Reservation near Duluth.

    The band's proposal for 2017-18 is essentially the same as that approved last year. The proposed 2017-18 waterfowl hunting season regulations for Fond du Lac are as follows:

    Ducks A. 1854 and 1837 Ceded Territories

    Season Dates: Begin September 9 and end November 30, 2017.

    Daily Bag Limit: 18 ducks, including no more than 12 mallards (only 3 of which may be hens), 9 black ducks, 9 scaup, 9 wood ducks, 9 redheads, 9 pintails, and 9 canvasbacks.

    B. Reservation

    Season Dates: Begin September 1 and end November 30, 2017.

    Daily Bag Limit: 12 ducks, including no more than 8 mallards (only 2 of which may be hens), 6 black ducks, 6 scaup, 6 redheads, 6 pintails, 6 wood ducks, and 6 canvasbacks.

    Mergansers A. 1854 and 1837 Ceded Territories

    Season Dates: Begin September 9 and end November 30, 2017.

    Daily Bag Limit: 15 mergansers, including no more than 6 hooded mergansers.

    B. Reservation

    Season Dates: Begin September 1 and end November 30, 2017.

    Daily Bag Limit: 10 mergansers, including no more than 4 hooded mergansers.

    Canada Geese All Areas

    Season Dates: Begin September 1 and end November 30, 2017.

    Daily Bag Limit: 20 geese.

    Sandhill Cranes 1854 and 1837 Ceded Territories Only

    Season Dates: Begin September 1 and end November 30, 2017.

    Daily Bag Limit: Two sandhill cranes. A crane carcass tag is required prior to hunting.

    Coots and Common Moorhens (Common Gallinules) A. 1854 and 1837 Ceded Territories

    Season Dates: Begin September 9 and end November 30, 2017.

    Daily Bag Limit: 20 coots and common moorhens, singly or in the aggregate.

    B. Reservation

    Season Dates: Begin September 1 and end November 30, 2017.

    Daily Bag Limit: 20 coots and common moorhens, singly or in the aggregate.

    Sora and Virginia Rails All Areas

    Season Dates: Begin September 1 and end November 30, 2017.

    Daily Bag Limit: 25 sora and Virginia rails, singly or in the aggregate.

    Common Snipe All Areas

    Season Dates: Begin September 1 and end November 30, 2017.

    Daily Bag Limit: Eight common snipe.

    Woodcock All Areas

    Season Dates: Begin September 1 and end November 30, 2017.

    Daily Bag Limit: Three woodcock.

    Mourning Dove All Areas

    Season Dates: Begin September 1 and end November 30, 2017.

    Daily Bag Limit: 30 mourning doves.

    The following general conditions apply:

    1. While hunting waterfowl, a tribal member must carry on his/her person a valid Ceded Territory License.

    2. Shooting hours for migratory birds are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

    3. Except as otherwise noted, tribal members will be required to comply with tribal codes that will be no less restrictive than the provisions of Chapter 10 of the Model Off-Reservation Code. Except as modified by the Service rules adopted in response to this proposal, these amended regulations parallel Federal requirements in 50 CFR part 20 as to hunting methods, transportation, sale, exportation, and other conditions generally applicable to migratory bird hunting.

    4. Band members in each zone will comply with State regulations providing for closed and restricted waterfowl hunting areas.

    5. There are no possession limits for migratory birds. For purposes of enforcing bag limits, all migratory birds in the possession or custody of band members on ceded lands will be considered to have been taken on those lands unless tagged by a tribal or State conservation warden as having been taken on-reservation. All migratory birds that fall on reservation lands will not count as part of any off-reservation bag or possession limit.

    The band anticipates harvest will be fewer than 500 ducks and geese, and fewer than 10 sandhill cranes.

    We propose to approve the request for special migratory bird hunting regulations for the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians.

    (d) Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Suttons Bay, Michigan (Tribal Members Only)

    In the 1995-96 migratory bird seasons, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians and the Service first cooperated to establish special regulations for waterfowl. The Grand Traverse Band is a self-governing, federally recognized Tribe located on the west arm of Grand Traverse Bay in Leelanau County, Michigan. The Grand Traverse Band is a signatory Tribe of the Treaty of 1836. We have approved special regulations for tribal members of the 1836 treaty's signatory Tribes on ceded lands in Michigan since the 1986-87 hunting season.

    For the 2017-18 season, the Tribe requests that the tribal member duck season run from September 1, 2017, through January 20, 2018. A daily bag limit of 35 would include no more than 8 pintail, 4 canvasback, 5 hooded merganser, 8 black ducks, 8 wood ducks, 8 redheads, and 20 mallards (only 10 of which may be hens).

    For Canada and snow geese, the Tribe proposes a September 1, 2017, through February 15, 2018, season. For white-fronted geese and brant, the Tribe proposes a September 20 through December 30, 2017, season. The daily bag limit for Canada and snow geese would be 15, and the daily bag limit for white-fronted geese and including brant would be 5 birds. We further note that, based on available data (of major goose migration routes), it is unlikely that any Canada geese from the Southern James Bay Population will be harvested by the Tribe.

    For woodcock, the Tribe proposes a September 1 through November 14, 2017, season. The daily bag limit will not exceed five birds. For mourning doves, snipe, and rails, the Tribe proposes a September 1 through November 14, 2017, season. The daily bag limit would be 15 mourning dove, 10 snipe, and 10 rail.

    For sandhill crane, the Tribe proposes a September 1 through November 14, 2017, season. The daily bag limit would be 3 birds and a season limit of 10 birds.

    For snipe and rails, the Tribe proposes a September 1 through November 14, 2017, season. The daily bag limit would be 10 birds per species.

    Shooting hours would be from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. All other Federal regulations contained in 50 CFR part 20 would apply. The Tribe proposes to monitor harvest closely through game bag checks, patrols, and mail surveys. Harvest surveys from the 2013-14 hunting season indicated that approximately 30 tribal hunters harvested an estimated 100 ducks and 45 Canada geese.

    We propose to approve the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians 2017-18 special migratory bird hunting proposal.

    (e) Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Odanah, Wisconsin (Tribal Members Only)

    Since 1985, various bands of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians have exercised judicially recognized, off-reservation hunting rights for migratory birds in Wisconsin. The specific regulations were established by the Service in consultation with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) (GLIFWC is an intertribal agency exercising delegated natural resource management and regulatory authority from its member Tribes in portions of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota). Beginning in 1986, a Tribal season on ceded lands in the western portion of the Michigan Upper Peninsula was developed in coordination with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. We have approved regulations for Tribal members in both Michigan and Wisconsin since the 1986-87 hunting season. In 1987, GLIFWC requested, and we approved, regulations to permit Tribal members to hunt on ceded lands in Minnesota, as well as in Michigan and Wisconsin. The States of Michigan and Wisconsin originally concurred with the regulations, although both Wisconsin and Michigan have raised various concerns over the years. Minnesota did not concur with the original regulations, stressing that the State would not recognize Chippewa Indian hunting rights in Minnesota's treaty area until a court with jurisdiction over the State acknowledges and defines the extent of these rights. In 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the existence of the tribes' treaty reserved rights in Minnesota v. Mille Lacs Band, 199 S. Ct. 1187 (1999).

    We acknowledge all of the States' concerns, but point out that the U.S. Government has recognized the Indian treaty reserved rights, and that acceptable hunting regulations have been successfully implemented in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Consequently, in view of the above, we have approved regulations since the 1987-88 hunting season on ceded lands in all three States. In fact, this recognition of the principle of treaty reserved rights for band members to hunt and fish was pivotal in our decision to approve a 1991-92 season for the 1836 ceded area in Michigan. Since then, in the 2007 Consent Decree, the 1836 Treaty Tribes' and Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment established court-approved regulations pertaining to off-reservation hunting rights for migratory birds.

    For 2017, GLIFWC proposes off-reservation special migratory bird hunting regulations on behalf of the member Tribes of the Voigt Intertribal Task Force of GLIFWC (for the 1837 and 1842 Treaty areas in Wisconsin and Michigan), the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and the six Wisconsin Bands (for the 1837 Treaty area in Minnesota), and the Bay Mills Indian Community (for the 1836 Treaty area in Michigan). Member Tribes of the Task Force are: the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians, the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, the St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin, and the Sokaogon Chippewa Community (Mole Lake Band), all in Wisconsin; the Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa Indians and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in Minnesota; and the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Chippewa Indians and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Michigan.

    The GLIFWC 2017 proposal has four changes from regulations approved last season. First, in the 1837 and 1842 Treaty Areas, the GLIFWC proposal would allow up to 50 Tribal hunters to use electronic calls for any open season under a limited and experimental design under a special Tribal permit. In addition to obtaining a special permit, the Tribal hunter would be required to complete and submit a hunt diary for each hunt where electronic calls were used. Second, GLIFWC also proposes to allow the take of migratory birds (primarily waterfowl) with the use of hand-held nets, hand-held snares, and/or capture birds by hand in the 1837 and 1842 Treaty Areas. The GLIWFC proposal for the use of nets, snares, or by hand would include the take of birds at night. Third, GLIFWC proposes beginning the current swan season September 1 rather than November 1 in the 1837 and 1842 Treaty Areas. However, the trumpeter swan quota would remain at 10 swans. Lastly, GLIFWC proposes the addition of a sandhill crane hunting season in the 1836 Treaty Area.

    GLIFWC states that the proposed regulatory changes are intended to increase the subsistence opportunities for tribal migratory bird hunters and provide opportunities for more efficient harvesting. Under the GLIFWC's proposed regulations, GLIFWC expects total ceded territory harvest to be approximately 2,000 to 3,000 ducks, 400 to 600 geese, 20 sandhill cranes, and 20 swans, which, with the exception of ducks, is roughly similar to anticipated levels in previous years for those species for which seasons were established. GLIFWC further anticipates that tribal harvest will remain low given the small number of tribal hunters and the limited opportunity to harvest more than a small number of birds on most hunting trips.

    Recent GLIFWC harvest surveys (1996-98, 2001, 2004, 2007-08, 2011, 2012, and 2015) indicate that tribal off-reservation waterfowl harvest has averaged fewer than 1,100 ducks and 250 geese annually. In the latest survey year for which we have specific results (2015), an estimated 297 hunters hunted a total of 2,190 days and harvested 2,727 ducks (1.2 ducks per day) and 639 geese. The greatest number of ducks reported harvested in a single day was 10, while the highest number of geese reported taken on a single outing was 6. Mallards, wood ducks, and blue-winged teal composed about 72 percent of the duck harvest. Two sandhill cranes were reported harvested in each of the first three Tribal sandhill crane seasons, with 3 reported harvested in 2015. No swans have been harvested. About 81 percent of the estimated hunting days took place in Wisconsin, with the remainder occurring in Michigan. As in past years, most hunting took place in or near counties with reservations. Overall, analysis of hunter survey data over 1996-2015 indicates a general downward, or flat, trend in both harvest and hunter participation. More specific discussion on each of the proposals follows below.

    Allowing Electronic Calls

    In the 1837 and 1842 Treaty Areas, GLIFWC proposes allowing an experimental application of electronic calls with up to 50 Tribal hunters allowed to use the devices. Individuals using electronic calls would be required to obtain a special Tribal permit, complete a hunt diary for each hunt where the devices are used, and submit the hunt diary to the Commission within 2 weeks of the end of the season in order to be eligible to obtain a permit for the following year. GLIFWC proposes to require hunters to record the date, time, and location of each hunt; the number of hunters; the number of each species harvested per hunting event; if other hunters were in the area, any interactions with other hunters; and other information GLIFWC deems appropriate. GLIFWC would then summarize the diary results and submit a report to the Service. Barring unforeseen results, GLIFWC proposes that this experimental application be replicated for 3 years, after which a full evaluation would be completed.

    As we have stated over the last 6 years (76 FR 54676, September 1, 2011; 77 FR 54451, September 5, 2012; 78 FR 53218, August 28, 2013; 79 FR 52226, September 3, 2014; 80 FR 52663, September 1, 2015; 81 FR 62404, September 9, 2016), the issue of allowing electronic calls and other electronic devices for migratory game bird hunting has been highly debated and highly controversial over the last 40 years, similar to other prohibited hunting methods. Electronic calls, i.e., the use or aid of recorded or electronic amplified bird calls or sounds, or recorded or electrically amplified imitations of bird calls or sounds to lure or attract migratory game birds to hunters, were Federally prohibited in 1957, because of their effectiveness in attracting and aiding the harvest of ducks and geese and because they are generally not considered a legitimate component of hunting (see restriction in 50 CFR 20.21(g)). In 1999, after much debate, the migratory bird regulations were revised to allow the use of electronic calls for the take of light geese (lesser snow geese and Ross geese) during a light-goose-only season when all other waterfowl and crane hunting seasons, excluding falconry, were closed (64 FR 7507, February 16, 1999; 64 FR 71236, December 20, 1999; 73 FR 65926, November 5, 2008). The regulations were also changed in 2006, to allow the use of electronic calls for the take of resident Canada geese during Canada-goose-only September seasons when all other waterfowl and crane seasons, excluding falconry, were closed (71 FR 45964, August 10, 2006). In both instances, these changes were made in order to significantly increase the take of these species due to serious population overabundance, depredation issues, or public health and safety issues, or a combination of these.

    In our previous responses on this issue, we have also discussed information stemming from the use of electronic calls during the special light-goose seasons and our conclusions as to its applicability to most other waterfowl species. Given available evidence on the effectiveness of electronic calls, we continue to be concerned about the large biological uncertainty surrounding any widespread use of electronic calls. Additionally, given the fact that tribal waterfowl hunting covered by this proposal would occur on ceded lands that are not in the ownership of the Tribes, we remain very concerned that the use of electronic calls to take waterfowl would lead to confusion on the part of the public, wildlife-management agencies, and law enforcement officials in implementing the requirements of 50 CFR part 20. Further, similar to the impacts of baiting, we have concerns on the uncertain zone of influence range from the use of electronic calls which could potentially increase harvest from nontribal hunters operating within areas that electronic calls are used during the dates of the general hunt. However, unlike baiting, once the electronic call is removed from an area, the attractant or lure is immediately removed with presumably little to no lingering effects.

    Notwithstanding our above concerns, we understand and appreciate GLIFWC's position on this issue, their desire to increase tribal hunter opportunity, harvest, and participation, and the importance that GLIFWC has ascribed to these issues. We further appreciate GLIFWC's latest proposal on the issue. GLIFWC has proposed a limited use of electronic calls under an experimental design with up to only 50 Tribal hunters. Hunters would be required to obtain special permits and complete and submit a hunt diary for each hunt where electronic calls were used. Clearly, GLIFWC has given this issue considerable thought. In our recent discussions with them, they have willingly discussed our concerns and all the uncertainties and difficulties surrounding them. Therefore, we agree with the tribes that much of the large uncertainty surrounding any widespread use of electronic calls could be potentially controlled, or significantly lessened, by this very modest experiment.

    In that light, we are proposing GLIFWC's limited experimental approach with the hope of gaining some additional information and knowledge about the use of electronic calls and their effects on waterfowl. Ideally, this limited approach would include utilizing electronic calls both for Canada geese (where they may already be used in some instances) and new efforts for ducks. Important data related to tribal hunter interest, participation, effects on targeted species, and harvest would need to be closely tracked and reported, as GLIFWC has proposed. We conclude that the experimental removal of the electronic call prohibition, with the proposed limited design, would be consistent with helping address and answer some of our long-standing concerns, and thus we support GLIFWC's proposal to allow the experimental use of electronic calls in the 1837 and 1842 Treaty Areas for any open season for a 3-year experimental period.

    Use of Hand-Held Nets and Snares

    GLIFWC proposes that we allow the take of migratory birds (primarily waterfowl) with the use of hand-held nets, hand-held snares, and the capturing of birds by hand in the 1837 and 1842 Treaty Areas. The GLIWFC proposal for the use of nets and snares and capturing by hand would include the take of birds at night. Within the 1837 and 1842 Treaty Areas, tribal members would be allowed to use non-mechanical, hand-operated nets (i.e., throw/cast nets or hand-held nets typically used to land fish) and hand-operated snares, and could chase and capture migratory birds without the aid of hunting devices (i.e., by hand). Non-attended nets or snares would not be authorized under this proposal. Tribal members using nets or snares to take migratory birds, or taking birds by hand, would be required to obtain a special Tribal permit, complete a hunt diary for each hunt where these methods are used, and submit the hunt diary to the Commission within 2 weeks of the end of the season in order to be eligible to obtain a permit to net migratory birds for the following year. GLIFWC-required information would include the date, time, and location of the hunt; number of hunters; the number of each species harvested per hunting event; and other information GLIFWC deems appropriate. Diary results would then be summarized and documented in a GLIFWC report, which would be submitted to the Service. Barring unforeseen results, GLIFWC proposes that this experimental application be replicated for 3 years, after which a full evaluation would be completed.

    Current regulations at 50 CFR part 20 do not allow the use of traps, nets, or snares to capture migratory game birds (see § 20.21(a)), and we are unaware of any current State regulations allowing the use of traps for the capture of resident game birds. While the use of traps or nets for birds is not generally considered a sport-hunting technique, we recognize that their use may be a customary and traditional hunting method by tribal members. Further, GLIFWC's netting and trapping proposal does not allow baiting (which could lead to concerns related to potential disease transmission) or the herding of waterfowl into traps when they are largely flightless, such as during the summer molt. Practices such as these would significantly increase our concerns. As such, and recognizing the importance GLIFWC has placed on this issue, we are not opposed to the trapping of migratory birds, especially given all the GLIFWC-proposed restrictions on their use and the fact that they will be manned at all times. Thus, we agree with the GLIFWC proposal and believe the restrictions they have proposed are appropriate to begin a 3-year experimental evaluation.

    Extension of the Swan Season

    GLIFWC has conducted a swan season in the 1837 and 1842 Treaty Areas since 2014. While the season primarily is targeted at tundra swans, trumpeter swans are legally allowed in the daily bag limit. However, all swans harvested must be registered with the Tribe by presenting the fully feathered carcass to a tribal registration station or GLIFWC warden, to confirm species. If the total number of trumpeter swans harvested reaches 10, GLIFWC closes the swan season by emergency rule. Hunters are expected to check the GLIFWC's Web site each day they hunt to determine season status. To date, no swans have been harvested. GLIFWC would like to expand the current swan season by beginning the season September 1 rather than November 1, as they believe the current regulations may too restrictive. The trumpeter swan quota would remain at 10 swans. Given the absence of any swan harvest, we agree. If, in future years, the swan season closes early due to attainment of the trumpeter swan quota before December 31, GLIFWC proposes, and we agree, to re-evaluate the earlier opening date in order to shift potential harvest back towards tundra swans.

    Sandhill Crane Season in the 1836 Treaty Area

    GLIFWC proposes the addition of a sandhill crane hunting season in the 1836 Treaty Area. Currently, the State of Michigan does not offer a sandhill crane hunt season to their hunters. In the 1836 and 1842 Treaty Areas, only two sandhill cranes were reported harvested in each of the first three Tribal sandhill crane seasons, with 3 reported harvested in 2015. Given the expected relative light hunting pressure, the proposed daily bag limit of 1 sandhill crane with a seasonal bag limit of 3 cranes, and the fact that crane harvest will be monitored through Tribal-required hunter registration, we see no compelling biological reason to not approve the proposal.

    The proposed 2017-18 waterfowl hunting season regulations apply to all treaty areas (except where noted) for GLIFWC as follows:

    Ducks

    Season Dates: Begin September 1 and end December 31, 2017.

    Daily Bag Limit: 50 ducks in the 1837 and 1842 Treaty Area; 30 ducks in the 1836 Treaty Area.

    Mergansers

    Season Dates: Begin September 1 and end December 31, 2017.

    Daily Bag Limit: 10 mergansers.

    Geese

    Season Dates: Begin September 1 and end December 31, 2017. In addition, any portion of the ceded territory that is open to State-licensed hunters for goose hunting outside of these dates will also be open concurrently for tribal members.

    Daily Bag Limit: 20 geese in aggregate.

    Other Migratory Birds A. Coots and Common Moorhens (Common Gallinules)

    Season Dates: Begin September 1 and end December 31, 2017.

    Daily Bag Limit: 20 coots and common moorhens (common gallinules), singly or in the aggregate.

    B. Sora and Virginia Rails

    Season Dates: Begin September 1 and end December 31, 2017.

    Daily Bag and Possession Limits: 20, singly, or in the aggregate, 25.

    C. Common Snipe

    Season Dates: Begin September 1 and end December 31, 2017.

    Daily Bag Limit: 16 common snipe.

    D. Woodcock

    Season Dates: Begin September 5 and end December 31, 2017.

    Daily Bag Limit: 10 woodcock.

    E. Mourning Dove: 1837 and 1842 Ceded Territories Only

    Season Dates: Begin September 1 and end November 29, 2017.

    Daily Bag Limit: 15 mourning doves.

    F. Sandhill Cranes: 1837 and 1842 Ceded Territories Only

    Season Dates: Begin September 1 and end December 31, 2017.

    Daily Bag Limit: 2 cranes and no seasonal bag limit in the 1837 and 1842 Treaty areas; 1 crane with a seasonal bag limit of 3 in the1836 Treaty area.

    G. Swans: 1837 and 1842 Ceded Territories Only

    Season Dates: Begin September 1 and end December 31, 2017.

    Daily Bag Limit: 2 swans. All harvested swans must be registered by presenting the fully-feathered carcass to a tribal registration station or GLIFWC warden. If the total number of trumpeter swans harvested reaches 10, the swan season will be closed by emergency tribal rule.

    General Conditions

    A. All tribal members will be required to obtain a valid tribal waterfowl hunting permit.

    B. Except as otherwise noted, tribal members will be required to comply with tribal codes that will be no less restrictive than the model ceded territory conservation codes approved by Federal courts in the Lac Courte Oreilles v. State of Wisconsin (Voigt) and Mille Lacs Band v. State of Minnesota cases. Chapter 10 in each of these model codes regulates ceded territory migratory bird hunting. Both versions of Chapter 10 parallel Federal requirements as to hunting methods, transportation, sale, exportation, and other conditions generally applicable to migratory bird hunting. They also automatically incorporate by reference the Federal migratory bird regulations adopted in response to this proposal.

    C. Particular regulations of note include:

    1. Nontoxic shot will be required for all waterfowl hunting by tribal members.

    2. Tribal members in each zone will comply with tribal regulations providing for closed and restricted waterfowl hunting areas. These regulations generally incorporate the same restrictions contained in parallel State regulations.

    3. There are no possession limits, with the exception of 2 swans (in the aggregate) and 25 rails (in the aggregate). For purposes of enforcing bag limits, all migratory birds in the possession and custody of tribal members on ceded lands will be considered to have been taken on those lands unless tagged by a tribal or State conservation warden as taken on reservation lands. All migratory birds that fall on reservation lands will not count as part of any off-reservation bag or possession limit.

    4. The baiting restrictions included in the respective section 10.05(2)(h) of the model ceded territory conservation codes will be amended to include language which parallels that in place for nontribal members as published at 64 FR 29799, June 3, 1999.

    5. There are no shell limit restrictions.

    6. Hunting hours are from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset, except that, within the 1837 and 1842 Ceded Territories, hunters may use non-mechanical nets or snares that are operated by hand to take those birds subject to an open hunting season at any time (see #8 below for further information). Hunters shall also be permitted to capture, without the aid of other devices (i.e., by hand) and immediately kill birds subject to an open season, regardless of the time of day.

    7. An experimental application of electronic calls will be implemented in the 1837 and 1842 Ceded Territories. Up to 50 tribal hunters will be allowed to use electronic calls. Individuals using these devices will be required to obtain a special permit; they will be required to complete a hunt diary for each hunt where electronic calls are used; and they will be required to submit the hunt diary to the Commission within 2 weeks of the end of the season in order to be eligible to obtain an permit for the following year. Required information will include the date, time, and location of the hunt; number of hunters; the number of each species harvested per hunting event; if other hunters were in the area, any interactions with other hunters; and other information deemed appropriate. Diary results will be summarized and documented in a Commission report, which will be submitted to the Service. Barring unforeseen results, this experimental application would be replicated for 3 years, after which a full evaluation would be completed.

    8. Within the 1837 and 1842 Ceded Territories, tribal members will be allowed to use non-mechanical, hand-operated nets (i.e., throw/cast nets or hand-held nets typically used to land fish) and hand-operated snares, and may chase and capture migratory birds without the aid of hunting devices (i.e., by hand). At this time, non-attended nets or snares shall not be authorized under this regulation. Tribal members using nets or snares to take migratory birds, or taking birds by hand, will be required to obtain a special permit; they will be required to complete a hunt diary for each hunt where these methods are used; and they will be required to submit the hunt diary to the Commission within 2 weeks of the end of the season in order to be eligible to obtain a permit to net migratory birds for the following year. Required information will include the date, time, and location of the hunt; number of hunters; the number of each species harvested per hunting event; and other information deemed appropriate. Diary results will be summarized and documented in a Commission report, which will be submitted to the Service. Barring unforeseen results, this experimental application would be replicated for 3 years, after which a full evaluation would be completed.

    We propose to approve the above GLIFWC regulations for the 2017-18 hunting season.

    (f) Jicarilla Apache Tribe, Jicarilla Indian Reservation, Dulce, New Mexico (Tribal Members and Nontribal Hunters)

    The Jicarilla Apache Tribe has had special migratory bird hunting regulations for tribal members and nonmembers since the 1986-87 hunting season. The Tribe owns all lands on the reservation and has recognized full wildlife management authority. In general, the proposed seasons would be more conservative than allowed by the Federal frameworks of last season and by States in the Pacific Flyway.

    The Tribe proposes a 2017-18 waterfowl and Canada goose season beginning October 14, 2017, and a closing date of November 30, 2017. Daily bag and possession limits for waterfowl would be the same as Pacific Flyway States. The Tribe proposes a daily bag limit for Canada geese of two. Other regulations specific to the Pacific Flyway guidelines for New Mexico would be in effect.

    During the Jicarilla Game and Fish Department's 2015-16 season, estimated duck harvest was 45, which is the lowest on record. The species composition included mainly mallards, northern shovelor, gadwall, American wigeon, and teal. The estimated harvest of geese was 0 birds.

    The proposed regulations are essentially the same as were established last year. The Tribe anticipates the maximum 2017-18 waterfowl harvest would be around 300 ducks and 30 geese.

    We propose to approve the Tribe's requested 2017-18 hunting seasons.

    (g) Kalispel Tribe, Kalispel Reservation, Usk, Washington (Tribal Members and Nontribal Hunters)

    The Kalispel Reservation was established by Executive Order in 1914, and currently comprises approximately 4,600 acres. The Tribe owns all Reservation land and has full management authority. The Kalispel Tribe has a fully developed wildlife program with hunting and fishing codes. The Tribe enjoys excellent wildlife management relations with the State. The Tribe and the State have an operational memorandum of understanding with emphasis on fisheries but also for wildlife.

    The nontribal member seasons described below pertain to a 176-acre waterfowl management unit and 800 acres of reservation land with a guide for waterfowl hunting. The Tribe is utilizing this opportunity to rehabilitate an area that needs protection because of past land use practices, as well as to provide additional waterfowl hunting in the area. Beginning in 1996, the requested regulations also included a proposal for Kalispel-member-only migratory bird hunting on Kalispel-ceded lands within Washington, Montana, and Idaho.

    For the 2017-18 migratory bird hunting seasons, the Kalispel Tribe proposes tribal and nontribal member waterfowl seasons. The Tribe requests that both duck and goose seasons open at the earliest possible date and close on the latest date under Federal frameworks.

    For nontribal hunters on Tribally managed lands, the Tribe requests the seasons open at the earliest possible date and remain open, for the maximum amount of open days. Specifically, the Tribe requests a season for ducks run September 23-24, 2017, September 29-30, 2017, and from October 1, 2017, to January 8, 2018. In that period, nontribal hunters would be allowed to hunt approximately 107 days. Hunters should obtain further information on specific hunt days from the Kalispel Tribe.

    For nontribal hunters on Tribally managed lands, the Tribe also requests a season for geese run September 9-10, 2017, September 16-17, 2017, and from October 1, 2017, to January 8, 2018. Total number of days should not exceed 107. Nontribal hunters should obtain further information on specific hunt days from the Tribe. Daily bag and possession limits would be the same as those for the State of Washington.

    The Tribe reports past nontribal harvest of 1.5 ducks per day. Under the proposal, the Tribe expects harvest to be similar to last year, that is, fewer than 100 geese and 200 ducks.

    All other State and Federal regulations contained in 50 CFR part 20, such as use of nontoxic shot and possession of a signed migratory bird hunting and conservation stamp, would be required.

    For tribal members on Kalispel-ceded lands, the Kalispel Tribe proposes season dates for ducks of October 10, 2017, through January 31, 2018, and for geese of September 10, 2017, through January 31, 2018. Daily bag and possession limits would parallel those in the Federal regulations contained in 50 CFR part 20.

    The Tribe reports that there was no tribal harvest. Under the proposal, the Tribe expects harvest to be fewer than 200 birds for the season with fewer than 100 geese. Tribal members would be required to possess a signed Federal migratory bird stamp and a tribal ceded lands permit.

    We propose to approve the regulations requested by the Kalispel Tribe, since these dates conform to Federal flyway frameworks for the Pacific Flyway.

    (h) Klamath Tribe, Chiloquin, Oregon (Tribal Members Only)

    The Klamath Tribe currently has no reservation, per se. However, the Klamath Tribe has reserved hunting, fishing, and gathering rights within its former reservation boundary. This area of former reservation, granted to the Klamaths by the Treaty of 1864, is over 1 million acres. Tribal natural resource management authority is derived from the Treaty of 1864, and carried out cooperatively under the judicially enforced Consent Decree of 1981. The parties to this Consent Decree are the Federal Government, the State of Oregon, and the Klamath Tribe. The Klamath Indian Game Commission sets the seasons. The tribal biological staff and tribal regulatory enforcement officers monitor tribal harvest by frequent bag checks and hunter interviews.

    For the 2017-18 seasons, the Tribe requests proposed season dates of October 7, 2017, through January 31, 2018. Daily bag limits would be 9 for ducks, 9 for geese, and 9 for coot, with possession limits twice the daily bag limit. Shooting hours would be one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. Steel shot is required.

    Based on the number of birds produced in the Klamath Basin, this year's harvest would be similar to last year's. Information on tribal harvest suggests that more than 70 percent of the annual goose harvest is local birds produced in the Klamath Basin.

    We propose to approve those 2017-18 special migratory bird hunting regulations.

    (i) Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Cass Lake, Minnesota (Tribal Members Only)

    The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe is a federally recognized Tribe located in Cass Lake, Minnesota. The reservation employs conservation officers to enforce conservation regulations. The Service and the Tribe have cooperatively established migratory bird hunting regulations since 2000.

    For the 2017-18 season, the Tribe requests a duck season starting on September 16 and ending December 31, 2017, and a goose season to run from September 1 through December 31, 2017. Daily bag limits for ducks would be 10, including no more than 5 pintail, 5 canvasback, and 5 black ducks. Daily bag limits for geese would be 10. Possession limits would be twice the daily bag limit. Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

    The annual harvest by tribal members on the Leech Lake Reservation is estimated at 250 to 500 birds.

    We propose to approve the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe's requested 2017-18 special migratory bird hunting season.

    (j) Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Manistee, Michigan (Tribal Members Only)

    The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is a self-governing, federally recognized Tribe located in Manistee, Michigan, and a signatory Tribe of the Treaty of 1836. We have approved special regulations for tribal members of the 1836 treaty's signatory Tribes on ceded lands in Michigan since the 1986-87 hunting season. Ceded lands are located in Lake, Mason, Manistee, and Wexford Counties. The Band proposes regulations to govern the hunting of migratory birds by Tribal members within the 1836 Ceded Territory as well as on the Band's Reservation.

    For the 2017-18 season, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians proposes a duck and merganser season from September 9, 2017, through January 26, 2018. A daily bag limit of 12 ducks would include no more than 2 pintail, 2 canvasback, 3 black ducks, 3 wood ducks, 3 redheads, 6 mallards (only 2 of which may be a hen), 1 bufflehead, and 1 hooded merganser. Possession limits would be twice the daily bag limit.

    For coots and gallinules, the Tribe proposes a September 15, 2017, through January 26, 2018, season. Daily bag limits would be five coot and five gallinule.

    For white-fronted geese, snow geese, and brant, the Tribe proposes a September 8 through December 10, 2017, season. Daily bag limits would be five geese.

    For Canada geese only, the Tribe proposes a September 1, 2017, through February 4, 2018, season with a daily bag limit of five. The possession limit would be twice the daily bag limit.

    For snipe, woodcock, rails, and mourning doves, the Tribe proposes a September 1 to November 12, 2017, season. The daily bag limit would be 10 common snipe, 5 woodcock, 10 rails, and 10 mourning doves. Possession limits for all species would be twice the daily bag limit.

    The Tribe monitors harvest through mail surveys. General conditions are as follows:

    A. All tribal members will be required to obtain a valid tribal resource card and 2017-18 hunting license.

    B. Except as modified by the Service rules adopted in response to this proposal, these amended regulations parallel all Federal regulations contained in 50 CFR part 20. Shooting hours will be from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

    C. Particular regulations of note include:

    (1) Nontoxic shot will be required for all waterfowl hunting by tribal members.

    (2) Tribal members in each zone will comply with tribal regulations providing for closed and restricted waterfowl hunting areas. These regulations generally incorporate the same restrictions contained in parallel State regulations.

    D. Tribal members hunting in Michigan will comply with tribal codes that contain provisions parallel to Michigan law regarding duck blinds and decoys.

    We plan to approve Little River Band of Ottawa Indians' 2017-18 special migratory bird hunting seasons.

    (k) The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Petoskey, Michigan (Tribal Members Only)

    The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (LTBB) is a self-governing, federally recognized Tribe located in Petoskey, Michigan, and a signatory Tribe of the Treaty of 1836. We have approved special regulations for tribal members of the 1836 treaty's signatory Tribes on ceded lands in Michigan since the 1986-87 hunting season.

    For the 2017-18 season, we have not yet heard from the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. The LTBB usually proposes regulations similar to those of other Tribes in the 1836 treaty area. The LTBB usually proposes the regulations to govern the hunting of migratory birds by tribal members on the LTBB reservation and within the 1836 Treaty Ceded Territory. The tribal member duck and merganser season would usually run from September 1, 2017, through January 31, 2018. A daily bag limit of 20 ducks and 10 mergansers would include no more than 5 hen mallards, 5 pintail, 5 canvasback, 5 scaup, 5 hooded merganser, 5 black ducks, 5 wood ducks, and 5 redheads.

    For Canada geese, the LTBB usually proposes a September 1, 2017, through February 8, 2018, season. The daily bag limit for Canada geese would be 20 birds. We further note that, based on available data (of major goose migration routes), it is unlikely that any Canada geese from the Southern James Bay Population would be harvested by the LTBB. Possession limits are twice the daily bag limit.

    For woodcock, the LTBB usually proposes a September 1 to December 1, 2017, season. The daily bag limit will not exceed 10 birds. For snipe, the LTBB proposes a September 1 to December 31, 2017, season. The daily bag limit will not exceed 16 birds. For mourning doves, the LTBB usually proposes a September 1 to November 14, 2017, season. The daily bag limit will not exceed 15 birds. For Virginia and sora rails, the LTBB usually proposes a September 1 to December 31, 2017, season. The daily bag limit will not exceed 20 birds per species. For coots and gallinules, the LTBB usually proposes a September 15 to December 31, 2017, season. The daily bag limit will not exceed 20 birds per species. The possession limit will not exceed 2 days' bag limit for all birds.

    The LTBB also usually proposes a sandhill crane season to begin September 1 and end December 1, 2017. The daily bag limit will not exceed one bird. The possession limit will not exceed two times the bag limit.

    All other Federal regulations contained in 50 CFR part 20 would apply.

    Harvest surveys from 2014-15 hunting season indicated that approximately 10 hunters harvested 10 different waterfowl species totaling 69 birds. No sandhill cranes were reported harvested during the 2014-15 season. The LTBB usually proposes to monitor harvest closely through game bag checks, patrols, and mail surveys. In particular, the LTBB usually proposes monitoring the harvest of Southern James Bay Canada geese and sandhill cranes to assess any impacts of tribal hunting on the population.

    We propose to approve the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians' requested 2017-18 special migratory bird hunting regulations, upon receipt of their proposal.

    (l) Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, Lower Brule Reservation, Lower Brule, South Dakota (Tribal Members and Nontribal Hunters)

    The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe first established tribal migratory bird hunting regulations for the Lower Brule Reservation in 1994. The Lower Brule Reservation is about 214,000 acres in size and is located on and adjacent to the Missouri River, south of Pierre. Land ownership on the reservation is mixed, and until recently, the Lower Brule Tribe had full management authority over fish and wildlife via a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the State of South Dakota. The MOA provided the Tribe jurisdiction over fish and wildlife on reservation lands, including deeded and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-taken lands. For the 2017-18 season, the two parties have come to an agreement that provides the public a clear understanding of the Lower Brule Sioux Wildlife Department license requirements and hunting season regulations. The Lower Brule Reservation waterfowl season is open to tribal and nontribal hunters.

    For the 2017-18 migratory bird hunting season, the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe proposes a nontribal member duck, merganser, and coot season length of 97 days, or the maximum number of days allowed by Federal frameworks in the High Plains Management Unit for this season. The Tribe proposes a duck season from October 7, 2017, through January 11, 2018. The daily bag limit would be six birds or the maximum number that Federal regulations allow, including no more than two hen mallard and five mallards total, two pintail, two redhead, two canvasback, three wood duck, three scaup, and one mottled duck. The daily bag limit for mergansers would be five, only two of which could be a hooded merganser. The daily bag limit for coots would be 15. Possession limits would be three times the daily bag limits.

    The Tribe's proposed nontribal-member Canada goose season would run from October 28, 2017, through February 11, 2018 (107-day season length), with a daily bag limit of six Canada geese. The Tribe's proposed nontribal member white-fronted goose season would run from October 28, 2017, through January 23, 2018, with a daily bag and possession limits concurrent with Federal regulations. The Tribe's proposed nontribal-member light goose season would run from October 28, 2017, through February 11, 2018, and February 12 through March 10, 2018. The light goose daily bag limit would be 20 or the maximum number that Federal regulations allow with no possession limits.

    For tribal members, the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe proposes a duck, merganser, and coot season from September 1, 2017, through March 10, 2018. The daily bag limit would be six ducks, including no more than two hen mallard and five mallards total, two pintail, two redheads, two canvasback, three wood ducks, three scaup, two bonus teal during the first 16 days of the season, and one mottled duck or the maximum number that Federal regulations allow. The daily bag limit for mergansers would be five, only two of which could be hooded mergansers. The daily bag limit for coots would be 15. Possession limits would be three times the daily bag limits.

    The Tribe's proposed Canada goose season for tribal members would run from September 1, 2017, through March 10, 2018, with a daily bag limit of six Canada geese. The Tribe's proposed white-fronted goose tribal season would run from September 1, 2017, through March 10, 2018, with a daily bag limit of two white-fronted geese or the maximum number that Federal regulations allow. The Tribe's proposed light goose tribal season would run from September 1, 2017, through March 10, 2018. The light goose daily bag limit would be 20 or the maximum number that Federal regulations allow, with no possession limits.

    In the 2013-14 season, nontribal members harvested 641 geese and 1,616 ducks. In the 2013-14 season, duck harvest species composition was primarily mallard (67 percent), gadwall (5 percent), green-winged teal (7 percent), and wigeon (5 percent).

    The Tribe anticipates a duck and goose harvest similar to those of the previous years. All basic Federal regulations contained in 50 CFR part 20, including the use of nontoxic shot, Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, etc., would be observed by the Tribe's proposed regulations. In addition, the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe has an official Conservation Code that was established by Tribal Council Resolution in June 1982 and updated in 1996.

    We plan to approve the Tribe's requested regulations for the Lower Brule Reservation if the seasons' dates fall within final Federal flyway frameworks (applies to nontribal hunters only).

    (m) Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, Port Angeles, Washington (Tribal Members Only)

    Since 1996, the Service and the Point No Point Treaty Tribes, of which Lower Elwha was one, have cooperated to establish special regulations for migratory bird hunting. The Tribes are now acting independently, and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe would like to establish migratory bird hunting regulations for tribal members for the 2017-18 season. The Tribe has a reservation on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State and is a successor to the signatories of the Treaty of Point No Point of 1855.

    For the 2017-18 season, we have yet to hear from the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. The Tribe usually requests special migratory bird hunting regulations for ducks (including mergansers), geese, coots, band-tailed pigeons, snipe, and mourning doves. The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe usually requests a duck and coot season from September 13, 2017, to January 4, 2018. The daily bag limit will be seven ducks, including no more than two hen mallards, one pintail, one canvasback, and two redheads. The daily bag and possession limit on harlequin duck will be one per season. The coot daily bag limit will be 25. The possession limit will be twice the daily bag limit, except as noted above.

    For geese, the Tribe usually requests a season from September 13, 2017, to January 4, 2018. The daily bag limit will be four, including no more than three light geese. The season on Aleutian Canada geese will be closed.

    For brant, the Tribe usually proposes to close the season.

    For mourning doves, band-tailed pigeon, and snipe, the Tribe usually requests a season from September 1, 2017, to January 11, 2018, with a daily bag limit of 10, 2, and 8, respectively. The possession limit will be twice the daily bag limit.

    All Tribal hunters authorized to hunt migratory birds are required to obtain a tribal hunting permit from the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe pursuant to tribal law. Hunting hours would be from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Only steel, tungsten-iron, tungsten-polymer, tungsten-matrix, and tin shot are allowed for hunting waterfowl. It is unlawful to use or possess lead shot while hunting waterfowl.

    The Tribe typically anticipates harvest to be fewer than 10 birds. Tribal reservation police and Tribal fisheries enforcement officers have the authority to enforce these migratory bird hunting regulations.

    The Service proposes to approve the special migratory bird hunting regulations for the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe upon receipt of their proposal.

    (n) Makah Indian Tribe, Neah Bay, Washington (Tribal Members Only)

    The Makah Indian Tribe and the Service have been cooperating to establish special regulations for migratory game birds on the Makah Reservation and traditional hunting land off the Makah Reservation since the 2001-02 hunting season. Lands off the Makah Reservation are those contained within the boundaries of the State of Washington Game Management Units 601-603.

    The Makah Indian Tribe proposes a duck and coot hunting season from September 23, 2017, to January 28, 2018. The daily bag limit is seven ducks, including no more than five mallards (only two hen mallard), one canvasback, one pintail, three scaup, and one redhead. The daily bag limit for coots is 25. The Tribe has a year-round closure on wood ducks and harlequin ducks. Shooting hours for all species of waterfowl are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

    For geese, the Tribe proposes that the season open on September 23, 2017, and close January 28, 2018. The daily bag limit for geese is four and one brant. The Tribe notes that there is a year-round closure on Aleutian and dusky Canada geese.

    For band-tailed pigeons, the Tribe proposes that the season open September 22, 2017, and close October 23, 2017. The daily bag limit for band-tailed pigeons is two.

    The Tribe anticipates that harvest under this regulation will be relatively low since there are no known dedicated waterfowl hunters and any harvest of waterfowl or band-tailed pigeons is usually incidental to hunting for other species, such as deer, elk, and bear. The Tribe expects fewer than 50 ducks and 10 geese to be harvested during the 2017-18 migratory bird hunting season.

    All other Federal regulations contained in 50 CFR part 20 would apply. The following restrictions are also proposed by the Tribe:

    (1) As per Makah Ordinance 44, only shotguns may be used to hunt any species of waterfowl. Additionally, shotguns must not be discharged within 0.25 miles of an occupied area.

    (2) Hunters must be eligible, enrolled Makah tribal members and must carry their Indian Treaty Fishing and Hunting Identification Card while hunting. No tags or permits are required to hunt waterfowl.

    (3) The Cape Flattery area is open to waterfowl hunting, except in designated wilderness areas, or within 1 mile of Cape Flattery Trail, or in any area that is closed to hunting by another ordinance or regulation.

    (4) The use of live decoys and/or baiting to pursue any species of waterfowl is prohibited.

    (5) Steel or bismuth shot only for waterfowl is allowed; the use of lead shot is prohibited.

    (6) The use of dogs is permitted to hunt waterfowl.

    The Service proposes to approve the Makah Indian Tribe's requested 2017-18 special migratory bird hunting regulations.

    (o) Navajo Nation, Navajo Indian Reservation, Window Rock, Arizona (Tribal Members and Nontribal Hunters)

    Since 1985, we have established uniform migratory bird hunting regulations for tribal members and nonmembers on the Navajo Indian Reservation (in parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah). The Navajo Nation owns almost all lands on the reservation and has full wildlife management authority.

    For the 2017-18 season, the Tribe requests the earliest opening dates and longest duck, mergansers, Canada geese, and coots seasons, and the same daily bag and possession limits allowed to Pacific Flyway States under final Federal frameworks for tribal and nontribal members.

    For both mourning dove and band-tailed pigeons, the Navajo Nation proposes seasons of September 1 through September 30, 2017, with daily bag limits of 10 and 5, respectively. Possession limits would be twice the daily bag limits.

    The Nation requires tribal members and nonmembers to comply with all basic Federal migratory bird hunting regulations in 50 CFR part 20 pertaining to shooting hours and manner of taking. In addition, each waterfowl hunter age 16 or older must carry on his/her person a valid Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (Duck Stamp), which must be signed in ink across the face. Special regulations established by the Navajo Nation also apply on the reservation.

    The Tribe anticipates a total harvest of fewer than 500 mourning doves; fewer than 10 band-tailed pigeons; fewer than 1,000 ducks, coots, and mergansers; and fewer than 1,000 Canada geese for the 2017-18 season. The Tribe measures harvest by mail survey forms. Through the established Navajo Nation Code, titles 17 and 18, and 23 U.S.C. 1165, the Tribe will take action to close the season, reduce bag limits, or take other appropriate actions if the harvest is detrimental to the migratory bird resource.

    We propose to approve the Navajo Nation's 2017-18 special migratory bird hunting regulations.

    (p) Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, Oneida, Wisconsin (Tribal Members Only)

    Since 1991-92, the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin and the Service have cooperated to establish uniform regulations for migratory bird hunting by tribal and nontribal hunters within the original Oneida Reservation boundaries. Since 1985, the Oneida Tribe's Conservation Department has enforced the Tribe's hunting regulations within those original reservation limits. The Oneida Tribe also has a good working relationship with the State of Wisconsin, and the majority of the seasons and limits are the same for the Tribe and Wisconsin.

    For the 2017-18 season, the Tribe submitted a proposal requesting special migratory bird hunting regulations. For ducks, the Tribe proposal describes the general outside dates as being September 16 through December 3, 2017. The Tribe proposes a daily bag limit of six birds, which could include no more than six mallards (three hen mallards), six wood ducks, one redhead, two pintails, and one hooded merganser.

    For geese, the Tribe requests a season between September 1 and December 31, 2017, with a daily bag limit of five Canada geese. If a quota of 500 geese is attained before the season concludes, the Tribe will recommend closing the season early.

    For woodcock, the Tribe proposes a season between September 2 and November 5, 2017, with a daily bag and possession limit of two and four, respectively.

    For mourning dove, the Tribe proposes a season between September 2 and November 5, 2017, with a daily bag and possession limit of 10 and 20, respectively.

    The Tribe proposes shooting hours be one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. Nontribal hunters hunting on the Reservation or on lands under the jurisdiction of the Tribe must comply with all State of Wisconsin regulations, including shooting hours of one-half hour before sunrise to sunset, season dates, and daily bag limits. Tribal members and nontribal hunters hunting on the Reservation or on lands under the jurisdiction of the Tribe must observe all basic Federal migratory bird hunting regulations found in 50 CFR part 20, with the following exceptions: Oneida members would be exempt from the purchase of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (Duck Stamp); and shotgun capacity is not limited to three shells.

    The Service proposes to approve the 2017-18 special migratory bird hunting regulations for the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin.

    (q) Point No Point Treaty Council Tribes, Kingston, Washington (Tribal Members Only)

    We are establishing uniform migratory bird hunting regulations for tribal members on behalf of the Point No Point Treaty Council Tribes, consisting of the Port Gamble S'Klallam and Jamestown S'Klallam Tribes. The two tribes have reservations and ceded areas in northwestern Washington State and are the successors to the signatories of the Treaty of Point No Point of 1855. These proposed regulations will apply to tribal members both on and off reservations within the Point No Point Treaty Areas; however, the Port Gamble S'Klallam and Jamestown S'Klallam Tribal season dates differ only where indicated below.

    For the 2017-18 season, the Point No Point Treaty Council requests special migratory bird hunting regulations for both the Jamestown S'Klallam and Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribes. For ducks, the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe season would open September 1, 2017, and close March 10, 2018, and coots would open September 13, 2017, and close February 1, 2018. The Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribes duck and coot seasons would open from September 1, 2017, to March 10, 2018. The daily bag limit would be seven ducks, including no more than two hen mallards, one canvasback, one pintail, two redhead, and four scoters. The daily bag limit for coots would be 14. The daily bag limit and possession limit on harlequin ducks would be one per season. The daily possession limits are double the daily bag limits except where noted.

    For geese, the Point No Point Treaty Council proposes the season open on September 9, 2017, and close March 10, 2018, for the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe, and open on September 1, 2017, and close March 10, 2018, for the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe. The daily bag limit for geese would be four, not to include more than three light geese. The Council notes that there is a year-round closure on dusky Canada geese. For brant, the Council proposes the season open on November 9, 2017, and close January 31, 2018, for the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe, and open on January 10 and close January 25, 2018, for the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe. The daily bag limit for brant would be two.

    For band-tailed pigeons, the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe season would open September 1, 2017, and close March 10, 2018. The Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe season would open September 13, 2017, and close January 18, 2018. The daily bag limit for band-tailed pigeons would be two. For snipe, the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe season would open September 1, 2017, and close March 10, 2018. The Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe season would open September 13, 2017, and close March 10, 2018. The daily bag limit for snipe would be eight. For mourning dove, the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe season would open September 1, 2017, and close January 31, 2018. The Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe would open September 13, 2017, and close January 18, 2018. The daily bag limit for mourning dove would be 10.

    The Tribe anticipates a total harvest of fewer than 175 birds for the 2017-18 season. The tribal fish and wildlife enforcement officers have the authority to enforce these tribal regulations.

    We propose to approve the Point No Point Treaty Council Tribe's requested 2017-18 special migratory bird seasons.

    (r) Saginaw Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan (Tribal Members Only)

    The Saginaw Tribe of Chippewa Indians is a federally recognized, self-governing Indian Tribe, located on the Isabella Reservation lands bound by Saginaw Bay in Isabella and Arenac Counties, Michigan.

    In a December 1, 2016, letter, the Tribe proposes special migratory bird hunting regulations. For ducks, mergansers, and common snipe, the Tribe proposes outside dates as September 1, 2017, through January 31, 2018. The Tribe proposes a daily bag limit of 20 ducks, which could include no more than five each of the following: hen mallards; wood duck; black duck; pintail; red head; scaup; and canvasback. The merganser daily bag limit is 10, with no more than 5 hooded mergansers and 16 for common snipe.

    For geese, coot, gallinule, sora, and Virginia rail, the Tribe requests a season from September 1, 2017, to January 31, 2018. The daily bag limit for geese is 20, in the aggregate. The daily bag limit for coot, gallinule, sora, and Virginia rail is 20 in the aggregate.

    For woodcock and mourning dove, the Tribe proposes a season between September 1, 2017, and January 31, 2018, with daily bag limits of 10 and 25, respectively.

    For sandhill crane, the Tribe proposes a season between September 1, 2017, and January 31, 2018, with a daily bag limit of one.

    All Saginaw Tribe members exercising hunting treaty rights are required to comply with Tribal Ordinance 11. Hunting hours would be from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. All other regulations in 50 CFR part 20 apply, including the use of only nontoxic shot for hunting waterfowl.

    The Service proposes to approve the request for 2017-18 special migratory bird hunting regulations for the Saginaw Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

    (s) Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (Tribal Members Only)

    The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians is a federally recognized, self-governing Indian Tribe, distributed throughout the eastern Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan. The Tribe has retained the right to hunt, fish, trap, and gather on the lands ceded in the Treaty of Washington (1836).

    The Tribe proposes special migratory bird hunting regulations. For ducks, mergansers, and common snipe, the Tribe proposes outside dates as September 15 through December 31, 2017. The Tribe proposes a daily bag limit of 20 ducks, which could include no more than 10 mallards (5 hen mallards), 5 wood duck, 5 black duck, and 5 canvasbacks. The merganser daily bag limit is 10 in the aggregate and 16 for common snipe.

    For geese, teal, coot, gallinule, sora, and Virginia rail, the Tribe requests a season from September 1 to December 31, 2017. The daily bag limit for geese is 20, in the aggregate. The daily bag limit for coot, teal, gallinule, sora, and Virginia rail is 20 in the aggregate.

    For woodcock, the Tribe proposes a season between September 2 and December 1, 2017, with a daily bag and possession limit of 10 and 20, respectively.

    For mourning dove, the Tribe proposes a season between September 1 and November 14, 2017, with a daily bag and possession limit of 10 and 20, respectively.

    In 2014, the total estimated waterfowl hunters were 266. All Sault Ste. Marie Tribe members exercising hunting treaty rights within the 1836 Ceded Territory are required to submit annual harvest reports including date of harvest, number and species harvested, and location of harvest. Hunting hours would be from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. All other regulations in 50 CFR part 20 apply, including the use of only nontoxic shot for hunting waterfowl.

    The Service proposes to approve the request for 2017-18 special migratory bird hunting regulations for the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

    (t) Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Fort Hall Indian Reservation, Fort Hall, Idaho (Nontribal Hunters)

    Almost all of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation is tribally owned. The Tribes claim full wildlife management authority throughout the reservation, but the Idaho Fish and Game Department has disputed tribal jurisdiction, especially for hunting by nontribal members on reservation lands owned by non-Indians. As a compromise, since 1985, we have established the same waterfowl hunting regulations on the reservation and in a surrounding off-reservation State zone. The regulations were requested by the Tribes and provided for different season dates than in the remainder of the State. We agreed to the season dates because they would provide additional protection to mallards and pintails. The State of Idaho concurred with the zoning arrangement. We have no objection to the State's use of this zone again in the 2017-18 hunting season, provided the duck and goose hunting season dates are the same as on the reservation.

    In a proposal for the 2017-18 hunting season, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes request a continuous duck (including mergansers and coots) season, with the maximum number of days and the same daily bag and possession limits permitted for Pacific Flyway States under the final Federal frameworks. The Tribes propose a duck and coot season with, if the same number of hunting days is permitted as last year, an opening date of October 7, 2017, and a closing date of January 19, 2018. The Tribes anticipate harvest will be about 7,500 ducks.

    The Tribes also request a continuous goose season with the maximum number of days and the same daily bag and possession limits permitted in Idaho under Federal frameworks. The Tribes propose that, if the same number of hunting days is permitted as in previous years, the season would have an opening date of October 7, 2017, and a closing date of January 19, 2018. The Tribes anticipate harvest will be about 5,000 geese.

    The Tribes request a common snipe season with the maximum number of days and the same daily bag and possession limits permitted in Idaho under Federal frameworks. The Tribes propose that, if the same number of hunting days is permitted as in previous years, the season would have an opening date of October 7, 2017, and a closing date of January 19, 2018.

    Nontribal hunters must comply with all basic Federal migratory bird hunting regulations in 50 CFR part 20 pertaining to shooting hours, use of steel shot, and manner of taking. Special regulations established by the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes also apply on the reservation.

    We note that the requested regulations are nearly identical to those of last year, and we propose to approve them for the 2017-18 hunting season if the seasons' dates fall within the final Federal flyway frameworks (applies to nontribal hunters only).

    (u) Skokomish Tribe, Shelton, Washington (Tribal Members Only)

    Since 1996, the Service and the Point No Point Treaty Tribes, of which the Skokomish Tribe was one, have cooperated to establish special regulations for migratory bird hunting. The Tribes have been acting independently since 2005. The Skokomish Tribe has yet to send in a proposal to establish migratory bird hunting regulations for tribal members for the 2017-18 season. The Tribe has a reservation on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State and is a successor to the signatories of the Treaty of Point No Point of 1855.

    The Skokomish Tribe usually requests a duck and coot season from September 16, 2017, to February 28, 2018. The daily bag limit is seven ducks, including no more than two hen mallards, one pintail, one canvasback, and two redheads. The daily bag and possession limit on harlequin duck is one per season. The coot daily bag limit is 25. The possession limit is twice the daily bag limit, except as noted above.

    For geese, the Tribe usually requests a season from September 16, 2017, to February 28, 2018. The daily bag limit is four, including no more than three light geese. The season on Aleutian Canada geese is closed. For brant, the Tribe usually proposes a season from November 1, 2017, to February 15, 2018, with a daily bag limit of two. The possession limit is twice the daily bag limit.

    For mourning doves, band-tailed pigeon, and snipe, the Tribe usually requests a season from September 16, 2017, to February 28, 2018, with a daily bag limit of 10, 2, and 8, respectively. The possession limit is twice the daily bag limit.

    All Tribal hunters authorized to hunt migratory birds are required to obtain a tribal hunting permit from the Skokomish Tribe pursuant to tribal law. Hunting hours would be from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Only steel, tungsten-iron, tungsten-polymer, tungsten-matrix, and tin shot are allowed for hunting waterfowl. It is unlawful to use or possess lead shot while hunting waterfowl.

    The Tribe usually anticipates harvest to be fewer than 150 birds. The Skokomish Public Safety Office enforcement officers have the authority to enforce these migratory bird hunting regulations.

    We propose to approve the Skokomish Tribe's 2017-18 migratory bird hunting season, upon receipt of their proposal.

    (v) Spokane Tribe of Indians, Spokane Indian Reservation, Wellpinit, Washington (Tribal Members Only)

    The Spokane Tribe of Indians wishes to establish waterfowl seasons on their reservation for its membership to access as an additional resource. An established waterfowl season on the reservation will allow access to a resource for members to continue practicing a subsistence lifestyle.

    The Spokane Indian Reservation is located in northeastern Washington State. The reservation comprises approximately 157,000 acres. The boundaries of the Reservation are the Columbia River to the west, the Spokane River to the south (now Lake Roosevelt), Tshimikn Creek to the east, and the 48th Parallel as the north boundary. Tribal membership comprises approximately 2,300 enrolled Spokane Tribal Members.

    These proposed regulations would allow Tribal Members, spouses of Spokane Tribal Members, and first-generation descendants of a Spokane Tribal Member with a tribal permit and Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp an opportunity to utilize the reservation and ceded lands for waterfowl hunting. These regulations would also benefit tribal membership through access to this resource throughout Spokane Tribal ceded lands in eastern Washington. By Spokane Tribal Referendum, spouses of Spokane Tribal Members and children of Spokane Tribal Members not enrolled are allowed to harvest game animals within the Spokane Indian Reservation with the issuance of hunting permits.

    For the 2017-18 season, we have not yet received the Tribe's proposal. The Tribe usually requests to establish duck seasons that would run from September 2, 2017, through January 31, 2018. The tribe is requesting the daily bag limit for ducks to be consistent with final Federal frameworks. The possession limit is twice the daily bag limit.

    The Tribe usually proposes a season on geese starting September 2, 2017, and ending on January 31, 2018. The tribe is requesting the daily bag limit for geese to be consistent with final Federal frameworks. The possession limit is twice the daily bag limit.

    Based on the quantity of requests the Spokane Tribe of Indians has received, the tribe anticipates harvest levels for the 2017-18 season for both ducks and geese to be fewer than 100 total birds, with goose harvest at fewer than 50. Hunter success will be monitored through mandatory harvest reports returned within 30 days of the season closure.

    We propose to approve the Spokane Tribe's requested 2017-18 special migratory bird hunting regulations, upon receipt of their proposal.

    (w) Squaxin Island Tribe, Squaxin Island Reservation, Shelton, Washington (Tribal Members Only)

    The Squaxin Island Tribe of Washington and the Service have cooperated since 1995, to establish special tribal migratory bird hunting regulations. These special regulations apply to tribal members on the Squaxin Island Reservation, located in western Washington near Olympia, and all lands within the traditional hunting grounds of the Squaxin Island Tribe.

    For the 2017-18 season, we have yet to hear from the Squaxin Island Tribe. The Tribe usually requests to establish duck and coot seasons that would run from September 1, 2017, through January 15, 2018. The daily bag limit for ducks would be five per day and could include only one canvasback. The season on harlequin ducks is closed. For coots, the daily bag limit is 25. For snipe, the Tribe usually proposes that the season start on September 15, 2017, and end on January 15, 2018. The daily bag limit for snipe would be eight. For band-tailed pigeon, the Tribe usually proposes that the season start on September 1 and end on December 31, 2017. The daily bag limit would be five. The possession limit would be twice the daily bag limit.

    The Tribe usually proposes a season on geese starting September 15, 2017, and ending on January 15, 2018. The daily bag limit for geese would be four, including no more than two snow geese. The season on Aleutian and cackling Canada geese would be closed. For brant, the Tribe usually proposes that the season start on September 1 and end on December 31, 2017. The daily bag limit for brant would be two. The possession limit would be twice the daily bag limit.

    We propose to approve the Tribe's 2017-18 special migratory bird hunting regulations, upon receipt of their proposal.

    (x) Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians, Arlington, Washington (Tribal Members Only)

    The Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians and the Service have cooperated to establish special regulations for migratory game birds since 2001. For the 2017-18 season, the Tribe requests regulations to hunt all open and unclaimed lands under the Treaty of Point Elliott of January 22, 1855, including their main hunting grounds around Camano Island, Skagit Flats, and Port Susan to the border of the Tulalip Tribes Reservation. Ceded lands are located in Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, and Kings Counties, and a portion of Pierce County, Washington. The Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians is a federally recognized Tribe and reserves the Treaty Right to hunt (U.S. v. Washington).

    The Tribe proposes their duck (including mergansers and coot) and goose seasons run from October 1, 2017, to March 10, 2018. The daily bag limit on ducks (including sea ducks and mergansers) is 10. The daily bag limit for coot is 25. For geese, the daily bag limit is six. The season on brant is closed. Possession limits are totals of these three daily bag limits.

    The Tribe proposes the snipe seasons run from October 1, 2017, to January 31, 2018. The daily bag limit for snipe is 10. Possession limits are three times the daily bag limit.

    Harvest is regulated by a punch card system. Tribal members hunting on lands under this proposal will observe all basic Federal migratory bird hunting regulations found in 50 CFR part 20, which will be enforced by the Stillaguamish Tribal law enforcement. Tribal members are required to use steel shot or a nontoxic shot as required by Federal regulations.

    The Tribe anticipates a total harvest of 200 ducks, 100 geese, 50 mergansers, 100 coots, and 100 snipe. Anticipated harvest needs include subsistence and ceremonial needs. Certain species may be closed to hunting for conservation purposes, and consideration for the needs of certain species will be addressed.

    The Service proposes to approve the Stillaguamish Tribe's request for 2017-18 special migratory bird hunting regulations.

    (y) Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, LaConner, Washington (Tribal Members Only)

    In 1996, the Service and the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community began cooperating to establish special regulations for migratory bird hunting. The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community is a federally recognized Indian Tribe consisting of the Swinomish, Lower Skagit, Samish, and Kikialous. The Swinomish Reservation was established by the Treaty of Point Elliott of January 22, 1855, and lies in the Puget Sound area north of Seattle, Washington.

    For the 2017-18 season, the Tribal Community requests to establish a migratory bird hunting season on all areas that are open and unclaimed and consistent with the meaning of the treaty. The Tribe proposes their duck (including mergansers and coot) and goose seasons run from September 1, 2017, to March 9, 2018. The daily bag limit on ducks is 20. The daily bag limit for coot is 25. For geese, the daily bag limit is 10. The season on brant runs from September 1, 2017, to March 9, 2018. The daily bag limit is 5.

    The Tribe proposes the snipe season run from September 1, 2017, to March 9, 2018. The daily bag limit for snipe is 15. The Tribe proposes the mourning dove season run from September 1, 2017, to March 9, 2018. The daily bag limit for mourning dove is 15. The Tribe proposes the band-tailed pigeon season run from September 1, 2017, to March 9, 2018. The daily bag limit for band-tailed pigeon is 3. The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community requests to have no possession limits.

    The Community anticipates that the regulations will result in the harvest of approximately 600 ducks and 200 geese. The Swinomish utilize a report card and permit system to monitor harvest and will implement steps to limit harvest where conservation is needed. All tribal regulations will be enforced by tribal fish and game officers.

    We propose to approve these 2017-18 special migratory bird hunting regulations.

    (z) The Tulalip Tribes of Washington, Tulalip Indian Reservation, Marysville, Washington (Tribal Members Only)

    The Tulalip Tribes are the successors in interest to the Tribes and bands signatory to the Treaty of Point Elliott of January 22, 1855. The Tulalip Tribes' government is located on the Tulalip Indian Reservation just north of the City of Everett in Snohomish County, Washington. The Tribes or individual tribal members own all of the land on the reservation, and they have full wildlife management authority. All lands within the boundaries of the Tulalip Tribes Reservation are closed to nonmember hunting unless opened by Tulalip Tribal regulations.

    For ducks, mergansers, coot, and snipe, the Tribe proposes seasons for tribal members from September 3, 2017, through February 28, 2018. Daily bag and possession limits would be 15 and 30 ducks, respectively, except that for blue-winged teal, canvasback, harlequin, pintail, and wood duck, the bag and possession limits would be the same as those established in accordance with final Federal frameworks. For coot, daily bag and possession limits are 25 and 50, respectively, and for snipe 8 and 16, respectively. Ceremonial hunting may be authorized by the Department of Natural Resources at any time upon application of a qualified tribal member. Such a hunt must have a bag limit designed to limit harvest only to those birds necessary to provide for the ceremony.

    For geese, tribal members propose a season from September 3, 2017, through February 28, 2018. The goose daily bag and possession limits would be 10 and 20, respectively, except that the bag limits for brant, cackling Canada geese, and dusky Canada geese would be those established in accordance with final Federal frameworks.

    All hunters on Tulalip Tribal lands are required to adhere to shooting hour regulations set at one-half hour before sunrise to sunset, special tribal permit requirements, and a number of other tribal regulations enforced by the Tribe. Each nontribal hunter 16 years of age and older hunting pursuant to Tulalip Tribes' Ordinance No. 67 must possess a valid Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp and a valid State of Washington Migratory Waterfowl Stamp. Each hunter must validate stamps by signing across the face.

    Although the season length requested by the Tulalip Tribes appears to be quite liberal, harvest information indicates a total take by tribal and nontribal hunters of fewer than 1,000 ducks and 500 geese annually.

    We propose to approve the Tulalip Tribe's request for 2017-18 special migratory bird hunting regulations.

    (aa) Upper Skagit Indian Tribe, Sedro Woolley, Washington (Tribal Members Only)

    The Upper Skagit Indian Tribe and the Service have cooperated to establish special regulations for migratory game birds since 2001. The Tribe has jurisdiction over lands within Skagit, Island, and Whatcom Counties, Washington. The Tribe issues tribal hunters a harvest report card that will be shared with the State of Washington.

    For the 2017-18 season, the Tribe requests a duck season starting October 1, 2017, and ending February 28, 2018. The Tribe proposes a daily bag limit of 15 with a possession limit of 20. The Tribe requests a coot season starting October 1, 2017, and ending February 15, 2018. The coot daily bag limit is 20 with a possession limit of 30.

    The Tribe proposes a goose season from October 1, 2017, to February 28, 2018, with a daily bag limit of 7 geese and a possession limit of 10. For brant, the Tribe proposes a season from November 1 to November 10, 2017, with a daily bag and possession limit of 2.

    The Tribe proposes a mourning dove season between September 1 and December 31, 2017, with a daily bag limit of 12 and possession limit of 15.

    The anticipated migratory bird harvest under this proposal would be 100 ducks, 5 geese, 2 brant, and 10 coots. Tribal members must have the tribal identification and tribal harvest report card on their person to hunt. Tribal members hunting on the Reservation will observe all basic Federal migratory bird hunting regulations found in 50 CFR part 20, except shooting hours would be 15 minutes before official sunrise to 15 minutes after official sunset.

    We propose to approve the Tribe's 2017-18 special migratory bird hunting regulations.

    (bb) Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head, Aquinnah, Massachusetts (Tribal Members Only)

    The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head is a federally recognized Tribe located on the island of Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. The Tribe has approximately 560 acres of land, which it manages for wildlife through its natural resources department. The Tribe also enforces its own wildlife laws and regulations through the natural resources department.

    For the 2017-18 season, we have not yet heard from the Tribe. The Tribe usually proposes a duck season of October 14, 2017, through February 22, 2018. The Tribe usually proposes a daily bag limit of eight birds, which could include no more than four hen mallards, four mottled ducks, one fulvous whistling duck, four mergansers, three scaup, two hooded mergansers, three wood ducks, one canvasback, two redheads, two pintail, and four of all other species not listed. The season for harlequin ducks is usually closed. The Tribe usually proposes a teal (green-winged and blue) season of October 10, 2017, through February 22, 2018. A daily bag limit of six teal would be in addition to the daily bag limit for ducks.

    For sea ducks, the Tribe usually proposes a season between October 7, 2017, and February 22, 2018, with a daily bag limit of seven, which could include no more than one hen eider and four of any one species unless otherwise noted above.

    For Canada geese, the Tribe usually requests a season between September 4 and September 21, 2017, and between October 28, 2017, and February 22, 2018, with a daily bag limit of 8 Canada geese. For snow geese, the tribe usually requests a season between September 4 and September 21, 2017, and between November 25, 2017, and February 22, 2018, with a daily bag limit of 15 snow geese.

    For woodcock, the Tribe usually proposes a season between October 10 and November 23, 2017, with a daily bag limit of three. For sora and Virginia rails, the Tribe usually requests a season of September 2, 2017, through November 10, 2017, with a daily bag limit of 5 sora and 10 Virginia rails. For snipe, the Tribe usually requests a season of September 2, 2017, through December 16, 2017, with a daily bag limit of 8.

    Prior to 2012, the Tribe had 22 registered tribal hunters and estimates harvest to be no more than 15 geese, 25 mallards, 25 teal, 50 black ducks, and 50 of all other species combined. Tribal members hunting on the Reservation will observe all basic Federal migratory bird hunting regulations found in 50 CFR part 20. The Tribe requires hunters to register with the Harvest Information Program.

    If we receive a proposal that matches the Tribe's usual request, we propose to approve those 2017-18 special migratory bird hunting regulations.

    (cc) White Earth Band of Ojibwe, White Earth, Minnesota (Tribal Members Only)

    The White Earth Band of Ojibwe is a federally recognized tribe located in northwest Minnesota and encompasses all of Mahnomen County and parts of Becker and Clearwater Counties. The reservation employs conservation officers to enforce migratory bird regulations. The Tribe and the Service first cooperated to establish special tribal regulations in 1999.

    For the 2017-18 migratory bird hunting season, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe requests a duck season to start September 9 and end December 17, 2017. For ducks, they request a daily bag limit of 10, including no more than 2 hen mallards, 2 pintail, and 2 canvasback. For mergansers, the Tribe proposes the season to start September 9 and end December 17, 2017. The merganser daily bag limit would be five, with no more than two hooded mergansers. For geese, the Tribe proposes an early season from September 1 through September 22, 2017, and a late season from September 23 through December 17, 2017. The early season daily bag limit is 10 geese, and the late season daily bag limit is 5 geese.

    For coots, the Tribe proposes a September 1 through November 30, 2017, season with daily bag limits of 20 coots. For snipe, woodcock, rail, and mourning dove, the Tribe proposes a September 1 through November 30, 2017, season with daily bag limits of 10, 10, 25, and 25 respectively. Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. Nontoxic shot is required.

    Based on past harvest surveys, the Tribe anticipates harvest of 1,000 to 2,000 Canada geese and 1,000 to 1,500 ducks. The White Earth Reservation Tribal Council employs four full-time conservation officers to enforce migratory bird regulations.

    We propose to approve the Tribe's 2017-18 special migratory bird hunting regulations.

    (dd) White Mountain Apache Tribe, Fort Apache Indian Reservation, Whiteriver, Arizona (Tribal Members and Nontribal Hunters)

    The White Mountain Apache Tribe owns all reservation lands, and the Tribe has recognized full wildlife management authority. As in past years, the White Mountain Apache Tribe has requested regulations that are essentially unchanged from those agreed to since the 1997-98 hunting season.

    The hunting zone for waterfowl is restricted and is described as: The length of the Black River west of the Bonito Creek and Black River confluence and the entire length of the Salt River forming the southern boundary of the reservation; the White River, extending from the Canyon Day Stockman Station to the Salt River; and all stock ponds located within Wildlife Management Units 4, 5, 6, and 7. Tanks located below the Mogollon Rim, within Wildlife Management Units 2 and 3, will be open to waterfowl hunting during the 2017-18 season. The length of the Black River east of the Black River/Bonito Creek confluence is closed to waterfowl hunting. All other waters of the reservation would be closed to waterfowl hunting for the 2017-18 season.

    For nontribal and tribal hunters, the Tribe proposes a continuous duck, coot, merganser, gallinule, and moorhen hunting season, with an opening date of October 14, 2017, and a closing date of January 28, 2018. The season on scaup would open November 4, 2017, and end January 28, 2018. The Tribe proposes a daily duck (including mergansers) bag limit of seven, which may include no more than two redheads, two pintail, three scaup (when open), seven mallards (including no more than two hen mallards), and two canvasback. The daily bag limit for coots, gallinules, and moorhens would be 25, singly or in the aggregate.

    For geese, the Tribe proposes a season from October 14, 2017, through January 28, 2018. Hunting would be limited to Canada geese, and the daily bag limit would be three.

    Season dates for band-tailed pigeons and mourning doves would start September 1, and end September 15, 2017, in Wildlife Management Unit 10 and all areas south of Y-70 and Y-10 in Wildlife Management Unit 7, only. Proposed daily bag limits for band-tailed pigeons and mourning doves would be 3 and 10, respectively.

    Possession limits for the above species are twice the daily bag limits. Shooting hours would be from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. There would be no open season for sandhill cranes, rails, and snipe on the White Mountain Apache lands under this proposal.

    A number of special regulations apply to tribal and nontribal hunters, which may be obtained from the White Mountain Apache Tribe Game and Fish Department.

    We plan to approve the White Mountain Apache Tribe's requested 2017-18 special migratory bird hunting regulations.

    Public Comments

    The Department of the Interior's policy is, whenever possible, to afford the public an opportunity to participate in the rulemaking process. Accordingly, we invite interested persons to submit written comments, suggestions, or recommendations regarding the proposed regulations. Before promulgating final migratory game bird hunting regulations, we will consider all comments we receive. These comments, and any additional information we receive, may lead to final regulations that differ from these proposals.

    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed rule by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. We will not accept comments sent by email or fax. We will not consider hand-delivered comments that we do not receive, or mailed comments that are not postmarked, by the date specified in DATES.

    We will post all comments in their entirety—including your personal identifying information—on http://www.regulations.gov. 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.

    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Migratory Bird Management, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

    We will consider, but possibly may not respond in detail to, each comment. As in the past, we will summarize all comments we receive during the comment period and respond to them after the closing date in the preamble of a final rule.

    Required Determinations

    Based on our most current data, we are affirming our required determinations made in the May 30 rule; for descriptions of our actions to ensure compliance with the following statutes and Executive Orders, see our May 30, 2017, final rule (82 FR 24786):

    • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Consideration;

    • Endangered Species Act Consideration;

    • Regulatory Flexibility Act;

    • Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act;

    • Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995;

    • Unfunded Mandates Reform Act;

    • Executive Orders 12630, 12866, 12988, 13132, 13175, 13211, 13563, and 13771.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 20

    Exports, Hunting, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation, Wildlife.

    The rules that eventually will be promulgated for the 2017-18 hunting season are authorized under 16 U.S.C. 703-712 and 16 U.S.C. 742 a-j.

    Dated: August 9, 2017. Todd D. Willens, Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17722 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333-15-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 216 RIN 0648-XF599 Notification of Receipt of a Petition To Ban Imports of All Fish and Fish Products From Mexico That Do Not Satisfy the Marine Mammal Protection Act Provisions AGENCY:

    National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Receipt of petition to ban imports through emergency rulemaking; request for information and comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS announces receipt of a petition for emergency rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act. Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Animal Welfare Institute petitioned the U.S. Department of Commerce and other relevant Departments to initiate emergency rulemaking under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (“MMPA”), to ban importation of commercial fish or products from fish that have been caught with commercial fishing technology that results in incidental mortality or serious injury of vaquita in excess of United States standards.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on September 21, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2017-0097, by either of the following methods:

    1. Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0097, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields and enter or attach your comments.

    2. Mail: Submit written comments to: Director, Office of International Affairs and Seafood Inspection, Attn: MMPA Petition, NMFS, F/IS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on http://www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter “N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

    Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe portable document file (PDF) formats only. The complete text of the petition is available via the internet at the following web address: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ia/. In addition, copies of this petition may be obtained by contacting NMFS at the above address.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Nina Young, NMFS F/IS at [email protected] or 301-427-8383.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    Section 101(a)(2) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), 16 U.S.C. 1371(a)(2), states that: “The Secretary of the Treasury shall ban the importation of commercial fish or products from fish which have been caught with commercial fishing technology which results in the incidental kill or incidental serious injury of ocean mammals in excess of United States standards.” In August 2016, NMFS published a final rule (81 FR 54390; August 15, 2016) implementing the fish and fish product import provisions in section 101(a)(2) of the MMPA. This rule established conditions for evaluating a harvesting nation's regulatory programs to address incidental and intentional mortality and serious injury of marine mammals in fisheries operated by nations that export fish and fish products to the United States. In that rule, NMFS stated that it may consider emergency rulemaking to ban imports of fish and fish products from an export or exempt fishery having or likely to have an immediate and significant adverse impact on a marine mammal stock.

    Information in the Petition

    NMFS received the petition on May 18, 2017. The petition alleges that the Secretaries of Commerce and other relevant Federal Departments are required to carry out non-discretionary duties under section 101(a)(2) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1371(a)(2)), to “ban the importation of commercial fish or products from fish” sourced in a manner that “results in the incidental kill or incidental serious injury” of vaquita “in excess of United States standards.” The petition requested that the relevant Secretary ban all fish and fish products originating from the vaquita's range in the northern Gulf of California that were obtained using any kind of gillnet—the fishing gear solely responsible for the current decline of the vaquita.

    As support for the need for this action, the petition cites reports from the Comité Internacional para la Recuperación de la Vaquita (CIRVA) documenting a 95 percent decline in the vaquita population over the last two decades. The petitioners also assert that for the vaquita, gillnet bycatch has driven the species from a population of more than 700 in 1990 to currently fewer than 30 vaquita.

    The petitioners maintain that any fishery using gillnets in the Upper Gulf of California violates U.S. standards under the MMPA. The petitioners provide a list of more than 30 fish species potentially harvested by gillnets including corvina and Pacific sierra, which are currently exempt from the Mexican regulations banning the use of gillnets.

    On June 30, 2017, Mexico adopted a permanent ban on the use of gillnets throughout the range of vaquita, with the exception of gillnet fisheries for corvina and Pacific sierra. The regulations also prohibit night fishing, establish sites for disembarkation, and require the use of vessel monitoring systems http://diariooficial.gob.mx/DOFmobile/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5488674&fecha=30/06/2017.

    NMFS will consider public comments in evaluating the request by the petitioners for an import ban. In addition to general comments on the petition, NMFS specifically requests comments on:

    • The adequacy of existing measures regulating commercial fishing throughout the range of the vaquita;

    • Whether such measures can be considered comparable in effectiveness to the U.S. regulatory program;

    • Whether the apparent decline in the vaquita population attributed to interaction with commercial fishing meets the standard of “immediate and significant adverse impact on a marine mammal stock” within the MMPA; and

    • Which specific fisheries are, or may be, directly associated with potential mortality of vaquita and therefore fall within the scope of the petition for emergency action.

    Dated: August 16, 2017. John Henderschedt, Director, Office of International Affairs and Seafood Inspection, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17717 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 RIN 0648-BG82 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Shrimp Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 17B AGENCY:

    National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    The Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) Fishery Management Council (Council) has submitted Amendment 17B to the Fishery Management Plan for the Shrimp Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico U.S. Waters (FMP), for review, approval, and implementation by NMFS. Amendment 17B includes actions to define the aggregate maximum sustainable yield (MSY) and aggregate optimum yield (OY) for the Gulf shrimp fishery, determine a minimum number of Federal commercial vessel moratorium permits in the fishery, would allow for the creation of a Federal Gulf shrimp reserve pool permit when certain conditions are met, and would allow for non-federally permitted shrimping vessels to transit through the Gulf exclusive economic zone (EEZ) with shrimp on board the vessel. The purpose of Amendment 17B is to protect federally managed Gulf shrimp stocks while maintaining catch efficiency, economic efficiency, and stability in the fishery.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before October 23, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments on Amendment 17B, identified by “NOAA-NMFS-2017-0040” by either of the following methods:

    Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0040, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

    Mail: Submit written comments to Frank Helies, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter “N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

    Electronic copies of Amendment 17B, which includes an environmental assessment, a Regulatory Flexibility Act analysis, and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_fisheries/shrimp/2017/am17b/index.html.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Frank Helies, telephone: 727-824-5305, or email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) requires each regional fishery management council to submit any FMP or amendment to NMFS for review and approval, partial approval, or disapproval. The Magnuson-Stevens Act also requires that NMFS, upon receiving a plan or amendment, publish an announcement in the Federal Register notifying the public that the plan or amendment is available for review and comment.

    The FMP being revised by Amendment 17B was prepared by the Council and implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

    Background

    From 2003 to 2006, the Gulf shrimp fishery experienced significant economic losses, primarily as a result of high fuel costs and reduced prices caused by competition with imports. These economic losses contributed to a reduction in the number of vessels in the fishery, and consequently, a reduction of commercial effort. During that time, commercial vessels in the Gulf shrimp fishery were required to have an open-access permit. In 2006, to prevent overcapitalizing the fishery when it became profitable again, the Council established a 10-year freeze on the issuance of new shrimp permits and created a limited access Federal Gulf shrimp moratorium permit (moratorium permit)(71 FR 56039, September 26, 2006). In 2016, the Council extended the duration of the Gulf shrimp moratorium permit program for another 10 years in Amendment 17A to the FMP (81 FR 47733, July 22, 2016).

    During the development of Amendment 17A, the Council identified several other issues with the Gulf shrimp fishery that it wanted to address. First, MSY and OY (equal to MSY), are defined individually for the three penaeid shrimp species and for royal red shrimp. Second, the number of moratorium permits has continued to decline, and the Council is concerned that the decline in total permits will continue indefinitely. Finally, transit through Federal waters (Gulf EEZ) shrimp on board currently requires a moratorium permit, which limits the ability of a state-registered vessel to navigate in certain areas of the Gulf while engaged in shrimping. Amendment 17B addresses these issues through revisions to management reference points and the Gulf shrimp permit program.

    Actions Contained in Amendment 17B

    Amendment 17B includes actions to define the aggregate MSY and aggregate OY for Gulf shrimp, determine a minimum number of Federal commercial vessel moratorium permits in the fishery, allow for the creation of a Federal Gulf shrimp reserve pool permit when certain conditions are met, and allow non-federally permitted shrimping vessels to transit through the Gulf EEZ.

    Aggregate MSY and OY

    After extending the duration of the Gulf shrimp moratorium permit program for another 10 years, and recognizing that the moratorium results in a passive loss of permits from the fishery, the Council decided to determine an appropriate minimum number of moratorium permits. To facilitate this determination, the Council decided to establish an aggregate MSY and OY for the federal Gulf shrimp fishery. In Amendment 15 to the FMP, the Council established species specific MSYs and OYs for penaeid shrimp. MSY and OY were established for royal red shrimp in the original FMP (46 FR 27489, May 20, 1981). Additionally, Amendment 13 to the FMP revised the MSY and OY for royal red shrimp (71 FR 56039, September 26, 2006). However, the shrimp permit is not species specific and an aggregate MSY and OY for all federally managed shrimp species (penaeid and royal red) can be used as reference points for the shrimp fishery as whole.

    In March 2016, the Council convened a working group to determine the appropriate aggregate MSY and aggregate OY for the Gulf shrimp fishery in Federal waters. To determine the aggregate MSY, the working group used the same general approach established by a 2006 working group but included the most recent years of catch and effort data (1990-2014). The working group also determined that there were four important factors to consider when establishing aggregate OY: Landings, catch per unit effort (CPUE), sea turtle bycatch threshold, and juvenile red snapper bycatch. The working group concluded that the predicted effort and associated landings in 2009, balanced all of these criteria relative to observed levels in other years.

    Amendment 17B would establish an aggregate MSY for the Federal Gulf shrimp fishery using the method developed by the working group at 112,531,374 lb (51,043,373 kg), tail weight. Amendment 17B would also establish an aggregate OY for the Gulf shrimp fishery equal to 85,761,596 lb (38,900,806 kg), tail weight, which is the aggregate MSY reduced by the ecological, social, and economic factors described above.

    Minimum Threshold Number of Gulf Shrimp Moratorium Permits and Federal Gulf Shrimp Reserve Pool Permit

    Currently, moratorium permits are valid for 1 year and are required to be renewed annually. If the permit is not renewed within 1 year of its expiration date, the permit is no longer renewable and is terminated. A terminated permit cannot be reissued by NMFS and is lost to the fishery. As of December 31, 2016, there were 1,441 moratorium permits that were valid or renewable. Since the start of the permit moratorium, a total of 493 moratorium permits have been terminated because they were not renewed within the required renewal period.

    When the number of moratorium permits reaches 1,175 valid or renewable permits, the Council would form a panel to review details of a Gulf shrimp reserve permit pool and consider options regarding the reserve pool permits. The panel would consist of the Council's Shrimp Advisory Panel members, Science and Statistical Committee members, NMFS, and Council staff. This panel could make recommendations about how to utilize a Gulf shrimp vessel permit reserve pool.

    As described in Amendment 17B, when the number of valid or renewable moratorium permits reaches 1,072, then any moratorium permits that are not renewed within 1 year of expiration would be converted to a Gulf shrimp reserve pool permit. This number is based on the predicted number of active permitted vessels needed to attain aggregate OY in the offshore fishery. As explained above, the aggregate OY accounts for relatively high CPUE and landings while reducing the risk of exceeding sea turtle and juvenile red snapper bycatch. As described in Amendment 17B, it is estimated that it could take up to 24 years to reach the threshold value of 1,072 valid or renewable moratorium permits. Therefore, any Gulf shrimp reserve pool permit that is created would not be issued until eligibility requirements are developed by the Council and implemented through subsequent rulemaking. Based on future Council action, Gulf shrimp reserve pool permits could be used as a method to allow new entrants into the fishery or allow persons who previously held a moratorium permit to re-enter the fishery.

    Amendment 17B does not actively removes any Gulf shrimp moratorium permits. The minimum threshold is only for purposes of monitoring changes in fishery participation and determining if additional management measures should be established.

    Transit Provisions for Shrimp Vessels Without a Federal Permit

    Currently, to possess Gulf shrimp in the Gulf EEZ, a vessel must have been issued a moratorium permit. In the Gulf, there are some areas where state-only licensed shrimpers would like to transit with shrimp on board from state waters through Federal waters to return to state waters and port. However, because these state-licensed shrimping vessels do not possess a moratorium permit, they cannot legally transit through the Gulf EEZ while possessing shrimp. This results in some of these vessels spending increased time at sea and incurring additional fuel costs because of longer transit times.

    Amendment 17B would allow a vessel possessing Gulf shrimp to transit the Gulf EEZ without a valid moratorium permit if fishing gear is appropriately stowed. Transit would be defined as non-stop progression through the area; fishing gear appropriately stowed would mean trawl doors and nets must be out of the water and the bag straps must be removed from the net. This transit exemption is expected to reduce the time at sea required for some shrimpers while still allowing enforcement to verify that they have not been fishing in the EEZ.

    A proposed rule that would implement measures outlined in Amendment 17B has been drafted. In accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, NMFS is evaluating the proposed rule to determine whether it is consistent with the FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. If that determination is affirmative, NMFS will publish the proposed rule in the Federal Register for public review and comment.

    Consideration of Public Comments

    The Council has submitted Amendment 17B for Secretarial review, approval, and implementation. Comments on Amendment 17B must be received by October 23, 2017. Comments received during the respective comment periods, whether specifically directed to the amendment or the proposed rule, will be considered by NMFS in its decision to approve, disapprove, or partially approve the amendment and will be addressed in the final rule.

    All comments received by NMFS on the amendment or the proposed rule during their respective comment periods will be addressed in the final rule.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: August 16, 2017. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17635 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 170605543-7737-01] RIN 0648-XF486 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; 2018 Atlantic Shark Commercial Fishing Season AGENCY:

    National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    This proposed rule would establish quotas, opening dates, and retention limits for the 2018 fishing season for the Atlantic commercial shark fisheries. Quotas would be adjusted as required or allowable based on any over- and/or underharvests experienced during 2017 and previous fishing seasons. In addition, NMFS proposes season opening dates and commercial retention limits based on adaptive management measures to provide, to the extent practicable, fishing opportunities for commercial shark fishermen in all regions and areas. The proposed measures could affect fishing opportunities for commercial shark fishermen in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received by September 21, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2017-0069, by any of the following methods:

    Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0069, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

    Mail: Submit written comments to Margo Schulze-Haugen, NMFS/SF1, 1315 East-West Highway, National Marine Fisheries Service, SSMC3, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter “N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

    Copies of this proposed rule and supporting documents are available from the HMS Management Division Web site at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/ or by contacting Guý DuBeck by phone at 301-427-8503.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Guý DuBeck or Karyl Brewster-Geisz at 301-427-8503.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    The Atlantic commercial shark fisheries are managed under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). The 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and its amendments are implemented by regulations at 50 CFR part 635. For the Atlantic commercial shark fisheries, the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments established, among other things, commercial shark retention limits, commercial quotas for species and management groups, accounting measures for under- and overharvests for the shark fisheries, and adaptive management measures such as flexible opening dates for the fishing season and inseason adjustments to shark trip limits, which provide management flexibility in furtherance of equitable fishing opportunities, to the extent practicable, for commercial shark fishermen in all regions and areas.

    2018 Proposed Quotas

    This proposed rule would adjust the quota levels for the different shark stocks and management groups for the 2018 Atlantic commercial shark fishing season based on over- and underharvests that occurred during 2017 and previous fishing seasons, consistent with existing regulations at 50 CFR 635.27(b). Over- and underharvests are accounted for in the same region, sub-region, and/or fishery in which they occurred the following year, except that large overharvests may be spread over a number of subsequent fishing years up to a maximum of 5 years. Shark stocks or management groups that contain one or more stocks that are overfished, have overfishing occurring, or have an unknown status, will not have underharvest carried over in the following year. Stocks that are not overfished and have no overfishing occurring may have any underharvest carried over in the following year, up to 50 percent of the base quota.

    The quotas in this proposed rule are based on dealer reports received as of July 14, 2017. In the final rule, NMFS will adjust the quotas as needed based on dealer reports received as of a date in mid-October 2017. Thus, all of the 2018 proposed quotas for the respective stocks and management groups will be subject to further adjustment after NMFS considers the dealer reports through mid-October. All dealer reports that are received after the October date will be used to adjust the 2019 quotas, as appropriate.

    For the sandbar shark, aggregated large coastal share (LCS), hammerhead shark, non-blacknose small coastal share (SCS), blacknose shark, blue shark, porbeagle shark, and pelagic shark (other than porbeagle or blue sharks) management groups, the 2017 underharvests cannot be carried over to the 2018 fishing season because those stocks or management groups have been determined to be overfished, overfished with overfishing occurring, or have an unknown status. Thus, for all of these management groups, the 2018 proposed quotas would be equal to the applicable base quota minus any overharvests that occurred in 2017 and/or previous fishing seasons, as applicable.

    Because the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group and smoothhound shark management groups in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic regions have been determined not to be overfished and to have no overfishing occurring, available underharvest (up to 50 percent of the base quota) from the 2017 fishing season for these management groups may be applied to the respective 2018 quotas, and NMFS proposes to do so.

    The proposed 2018 quotas by species and management group are summarized in Table 1; the description of the calculations for each stock and management group can be found below.

    Table 1—2018 Proposed Quotas and Opening Dates for the Atlantic Shark Management Groups [All Quotas and Landings Are Dressed Weight (dw), in Metric Tons (mt), Unless Specified Otherwise. Table Includes Landings Data as of July 14, 2017; Final Quotas Are Subject to Change Based on Landings as of October 2017. 1 mt = 2,204.6 lb] Region or
  • sub-region
  • Management group 2017 annual quota Preliminary 2017 landings 1 Adjustments 2 2018 base
  • annual quota
  • 2018 proposed
  • annual quota
  • Season opening
  • dates
  • (A) (B) (C) (D) (D + C) Western Gulf of Mexico Blacktip Sharks 331.6 mt dw (730,425 lb dw) 206.6 mt dw (455,535 lb dw) 3 115.7 mt dw (255,131 lb dw) 231.5 mt dw (510,261 lb dw) 347.2 mt dw (765,392 lb dw) January 1, 2018. Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks 72.0 mt dw (158,724 lb dw) 65.8 mt dw (145,098 lb dw) 72.0 mt dw (158,724 lb dw) 72.0 mt dw (158,724 lb dw) Hammerhead Sharks 11.9 mt dw (26,301 lb dw) 2.5 mt dw (5,490 lb dw) 11.9 mt dw (26,301 lb dw) 11.9 mt dw (26,301 lb dw) Eastern Gulf of Mexico Blacktip Sharks 36.0 mt dw (79,359 lb dw) 15.3 mt dw (33,788 lb dw) 3 12.6 mt dw (27,719 lb dw) 25.1 mt dw (55,439 lb dw) 37.7 mt dw (83,158 lb dw) Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks 85.5 mt dw (188,593 lb dw) 42.0 mt dw (92,617 lb dw) 85.5 mt dw (188,593 lb dw) 85.5 mt dw (188,593 lb dw) Hammerhead Sharks 13.4 mt dw (29,421 lb dw) 6.4 mt dw (14,151 lb dw) 13.4 mt dw (29,421 lb dw) 13.4 mt dw (29,421 lb dw) Gulf of Mexico Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks 112.6 mt dw (248,215 lb dw) 36.2 mt dw (79,779 lb dw) 112.6 mt dw (248,215 lb dw) 112.6 mt dw (248,215 lb dw) Smoothhound Sharks 504.6 mt dw (1,112,441 lb dw) 0 mt dw (0 lb dw) 168.2 mt dw (370,814 lb dw) 336.4 mt dw (741,627) 504.6 mt dw (1,112,441 lb dw) Atlantic Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks 168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw) 55.2 mt dw (121,791 lb dw) 168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw) 168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw) January 1, 2018. Hammerhead Sharks 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw) 5.0 mt dw (10,973 lb dw) 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw) 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw) Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks 264.1 mt dw (582,333 lb dw) 60.9 mt dw (134,202 lb dw) 264.1 mt dw (582,333 lb dw) 264.1 mt dw (582,333 lb dw) Blacknose Sharks (South of 34 ° N. lat. only) 17.2 mt dw (37,921 lb dw) 5.2 mt dw (11,373 lb dw) 17.2 mt dw (37,921 lb dw) 17.2 mt dw (37,921 lb dw) Smoothhound Sharks 1,802.6 mt dw (3,973,902 lb dw) 166.9 mt dw (367,933 lb dw) 600.9 mt dw (1,324,634 lb dw) 1,201.7 mt dw (2,649,268 lb dw) 1,802.6 mt dw (3,973,902 lb dw) No regional quotas Non-Sandbar LCS Research 50.0 mt dw (110,230 lb dw) 10.1 mt dw (22,157 lb dw) 50.0 mt dw (110,230 lb dw) 50.0 mt dw (110,230 lb dw) January 1, 2018. Sandbar Shark Research 90.7 mt dw (199,943 lb dw) 38.4 mt dw (84,619 lb dw) 90.7 mt dw (199,943 lb dw) 90.7 mt dw (199,943 lb dw) Blue Sharks 273.0 mt dw (601,856 lb dw) < 2.3 mt dw
  • (< 5,000 lb dw)
  • 273.0 mt dw (601,856 lb dw) 273.0 mt dw (601,856 lb dw)
    Porbeagle Sharks 1.7 mt dw (3,748 lb dw) 0 mt dw (0 lb dw) 1.7 mt dw (3,748 lb dw) 1.7 mt dw (3,748 lb dw) Pelagic Sharks Other Than Porbeagle or Blue 488.0 mt dw (1,075,856 lb dw) 64.9 mt dw (143,137 lb dw) 488.0 mt dw (1,075,856 lb dw) 488.0 mt dw (1,075,856 lb dw) 1 Landings are from January 1, 2017, through July 14, 2017, and are subject to change. 2 Underharvest adjustments can only be applied to stocks or management groups that are not overfished and have no overfishing occurring. Also, the underharvest adjustments cannot exceed 50 percent of the base quota. 3 This adjustment accounts for underharvest in 2017. This proposed rule would increase the overall Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota by 128.3 mt dw (282,850 lb dw). Since any underharvest would be divided based on the sub-regional quota percentage split, the western Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota would be increased by 115.7 mt dw, or 90.2 percent of the underharvest, while the eastern Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota would be increased by 12.6 mt dw, or 9.8 percent of the underharvest.
    1. Proposed 2018 Quotas for the Gulf of Mexico Region Shark Management Groups

    The 2018 proposed commercial quota for blacktip sharks in the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region is 347.2 mt dw (765,392 lb dw) and the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region is 37.7 mt dw (83,158 lb dw). As of July 14, 2017, preliminary reported landings for blacktip sharks in the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region were at 62 percent (206.6 mt dw) of their 2017 quota levels (331.6 mt dw), while the blacktip sharks in the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region were at 43 percent (15.3 mt dw) of their 2017 quota levels (36.0 mt dw). Reported landings have not exceeded the 2017 quota to date, and the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region fishery was closed on May 2, 2017 (82 FR 20447). Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks have not been declared to be overfished, to have overfishing occurring, or to have an unknown status. Pursuant to § 635.27(b)(2)(ii), underharvests for blacktip sharks within the Gulf of Mexico region therefore could be applied to the 2018 quotas up to 50 percent of the base quota. Any underharvest would be split based on the sub-regional quota percentages of 90.2 percent for western Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks and 9.8 percent for eastern Gulf of Mexico blacktip sharks (§ 635.27(b)(1)(ii)). To date, the overall Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group was underharvested by 148.0 mt dw (325,665 lb dw); however, NMFS can only apply up to 50 percent of the base quota or 128.3 mt dw (282,850 lb dw). Accordingly, NMFS proposes to increase the 2018 western Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota by 115.7 mt dw (128.3 mt dw underharvest in 2017 * 90.2 percent = 115.7 mt dw western sub-region underharvest) and increase the 2018 eastern Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota by 12.6 mt dw (128.3 mt dw underharvest in 2017 * 9.8 percent = 12.6 mt dw eastern sub-region underharvest). Thus, the proposed western sub-regional Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark commercial quota is 347.2 mt dw and the proposed eastern sub-regional Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark commercial quota is 37.7 mt dw.

    The 2018 proposed commercial quota for aggregated LCS in the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region is 72.0 mt dw (158,724 lb dw) and the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region is 85.5 mt dw (188,593 lb dw). As of July 14, 2017, preliminary reported landings for aggregated LCS in the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region were at 91 percent (65.8 mt dw) of their 2017 quota levels (72.0 mt dw), while the aggregated LCS in the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region were at 49 percent (42.0 mt dw) of their 2017 quota levels (85.5 mt dw). Reported landings have not exceeded the 2017 quota to date, and the western aggregated LCS sub-region fishery was closed on May 2, 2017 (82 FR 20447). Given the unknown status of some of the shark species within the Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS management group, underharvests cannot be carried over pursuant to § 635.27(b)(2)(ii). Therefore, based on preliminary estimates and consistent with the current regulations at § 635.27(b)(2), NMFS proposes that the 2018 quotas for aggregated LCS in the western Gulf of Mexico and eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-regions be equal to their annual base quotas without adjustment, because there have not been any overharvests and because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status.

    In the Gulf of Mexico, hammerhead shark quotas are divided into two sub-regions: Western and eastern. The 2018 proposed commercial quotas for hammerhead sharks in the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region and eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region are 11.9 mt dw (23,301 lb dw) and 13.4 mt dw (29,421 lb dw), respectively. As of July 14, 2017, preliminary reported landings for hammerhead sharks in the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region were at 24 percent (2.5 mt dw) of their 2017 quota levels (11.9 mt dw), while landings of hammerhead sharks in the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region were at 48 percent (6.4 mt dw) of their 2017 quota levels (13.4 mt dw). Reported landings have not exceeded the 2017 quota to date, and the western hammerhead shark sub-region fishery was closed on May 2, 2017 (82 FR 20447). Therefore, based on preliminary estimates and consistent with the current regulations at § 635.27(b)(2), at this time, NMFS proposes that the 2018 quotas for hammerhead sharks in the western Gulf of Mexico and eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-regions be equal to their annual base quotas without adjustment, because there have not been any overharvests and because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status.

    The 2018 proposed commercial quota for non-blacknose SCS in the Gulf of Mexico region is 112.6 mt dw (248,215 lb dw). As of July 14, 2017, preliminary reported landings of non-blacknose SCS were at 32 percent (36.2 mt dw) of their 2017 quota level (112.6 mt dw) in the Gulf of Mexico region. Reported landings have not exceeded the 2017 quota to date. Given the unknown status of bonnethead sharks within the Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose SCS management group, underharvests cannot be carried forward pursuant to § 635.27(b)(2)(ii). Therefore, based on preliminary estimates and consistent with the current regulations at § 635.27(b)(2), NMFS proposes that the 2018 quota for non-blacknose SCS in the Gulf of Mexico region be equal to the annual base quota without adjustment, because there have not been any overharvests and because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status.

    The 2018 proposed commercial quota for smoothhound sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region is 504.6 mt dw (1,112,441 lb dw). As of July 14, 2017, there are no preliminary reported landings of smoothhound sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region. Gulf of Mexico smoothhound sharks have not been declared to be overfished, to have overfishing occurring, or to have an unknown status. Pursuant to § 635.27(b)(2)(ii), underharvests for smoothhound sharks within the Gulf of Mexico region therefore could be applied to the 2018 quotas up to 50 percent of the base quota. Accordingly, NMFS proposes to increase the 2018 Gulf of Mexico smoothhound shark quota to adjust for anticipated underharvests in 2017 as allowed. The proposed 2018 adjusted base annual quota for Gulf of Mexico smoothhound sharks is 504.6 mt dw (1,112,441 lb dw) (336.4 mt dw annual base quota + 168.2 mt dw 2017 underharvest = 504.6 mt dw 2018 adjusted annual quota).

    2. Proposed 2018 Quotas for the Atlantic Region Shark Management Groups

    The 2018 proposed commercial quota for aggregated LCS in the Atlantic region is 168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw). As of July 14, 2017, the aggregated LCS fishery in the Atlantic region is still open and preliminary landings indicate that only 33 percent of the quota, or 55.2 mt dw (121,791 lb dw), has been harvested. Given the unknown status of some of the shark species within the Atlantic aggregated LCS management group, underharvests cannot be carried over pursuant to § 635.27(b)(2)(ii). Therefore, based on preliminary estimates and consistent with current regulations at § 635.27(b)(2), NMFS proposes that the 2018 quota for aggregated LCS in the Atlantic region be equal to the annual base quota without adjustment, because there have not been any overharvests and underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status.

    The 2018 proposed commercial quota for hammerhead sharks in the Atlantic region is 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw). Currently, the hammerhead shark fishery in the Atlantic region is still open and preliminary landings as of July 14, 2017, indicate that only 18 percent of the quota, or 5.0 mt dw (10,973 lb dw), has been harvested. Given the overfished status of hammerhead sharks, underharvests cannot be carried forward pursuant to § 635.27(b)(2)(ii). Therefore, based on preliminary estimates and consistent with the current regulations at § 635.27(b)(2), NMFS proposes that the 2018 quota for hammerhead sharks in the Atlantic region be equal to the annual base quota without adjustment, because there have not been any overharvests and because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status.

    The 2018 proposed commercial quota for non-blacknose SCS in the Atlantic region is 264.1 mt dw (582,333 lb dw). As of July 14, 2017, preliminary reported landings of non-blacknose SCS were at 23 percent (60.9 mt dw) of their 2017 quota level (264.1 mt dw) in the Atlantic region. Reported landings have not exceeded the 2017 quota to date. Given the unknown status of bonnethead sharks within the Atlantic non-blacknose SCS management group, underharvests cannot be carried forward pursuant to § 635.27(b)(2)(ii). Therefore, based on preliminary estimates and consistent with the current regulations at § 635.27(b)(2), NMFS proposes that the 2018 quota for non-blacknose SCS in the Atlantic region be equal to the annual base quota without adjustment, because there have not been any overharvests and because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status.

    The 2018 proposed commercial quota for blacknose sharks in the Atlantic region is 17.2 mt dw (37,921 lb dw). As of July 14, 2017, preliminary reported landings of blacknose sharks were at 30 percent (5.2 mt dw) of their 2017 quota levels (17.2 mt dw) in the Atlantic region. Reported landings have not exceeded the 2017 quota to date. Pursuant to § 635.27(b)(2), because blacknose sharks have been declared to be overfished with overfishing occurring in the Atlantic region, NMFS could not carry forward the remaining underharvest. Therefore, NMFS proposes that the 2018 Atlantic blacknose shark quota be equal to the annual base quota without adjustment. (Note: The blacknose shark quota is available in the Atlantic region only for those vessels operating south of 34° N. latitude; north of 34° N. latitude, retention, landing, and sale of blacknose sharks are prohibited.)

    The 2018 proposed commercial quota for smoothhound sharks in the Atlantic region is 1,802.6 mt dw (3,973,902 lb dw). As of July 14, 2017, preliminary reported landings of smoothhound sharks were at 9 percent (166.9 mt dw) of their 2017 quota levels (1,802.6 mt dw) in the Atlantic region. Atlantic smoothhound sharks have not been declared to be overfished, to have overfishing occurring, or to have an unknown status. Pursuant to § 635.27(b)(2)(ii), underharvests for smoothhound sharks within the Atlantic region therefore could be applied to the 2018 quotas up to 50 percent of the base quota. Accordingly, NMFS proposes to increase the 2018 Atlantic smoothhound shark quota to adjust for anticipated underharvests in 2017 as allowed. The proposed 2018 adjusted base annual quota for Atlantic smoothhound sharks is 1,802.6 mt dw (1,323,862 lb dw) (1,201.7 mt dw annual base quota + 600.9 mt dw 2017 underharvest = 1,802.6 mt dw 2018 adjusted annual quota).

    3. Proposed 2018 Quotas for Shark Management Groups With No Regional Quotas

    The 2018 proposed commercial quotas within the shark research fishery are 50.0 mt dw (110,230 lb dw) for research LCS and 90.7 mt dw (199,943 lb dw) for sandbar sharks. Within the shark research fishery, as of July 14, 2017, preliminary reported landings of research LCS were at 20 percent (10.1 mt dw) of their 2017 quota levels (50.0 mt dw), and sandbar shark reported landings were at 42 percent (38.4 mt dw) of their 2017 quota levels (27.1 mt dw). Reported landings have not exceeded the 2017 quotas to date. Under § 635.27(b)(2)(ii), because sandbar sharks and scalloped hammerhead sharks within the research LCS management group have been determined to be either overfished or overfished with overfishing occurring, underharvests for these management groups cannot be carried forward to the 2018 quotas. Therefore, based on preliminary estimates and consistent with the current regulations at § 635.27(b)(2), NMFS proposes that the 2018 quota in the shark research fishery be equal to the annual base quota without adjustment because there have not been any overharvests and because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status.

    The 2018 proposed commercial quotas for blue sharks, porbeagle sharks, and pelagic sharks (other than porbeagle or blue sharks) are 273 mt dw (601,856 lb dw), 1.7 mt dw (3,748 lb dw), and 488 mt dw (1,075,856 lb dw), respectively. As of July 14, 2017, there are no preliminary reported landings of porbeagle sharks. The preliminary reported landings of blue sharks were at less than 1 percent (less than 2.3 mt dw) of their 2017 quota level (273.0 mt dw), while preliminary reported landings of pelagic sharks (other than porbeagle and blue sharks) were at 13 percent (64.9 mt dw) of their 2017 quota level (488.0 mt dw). Given that these pelagic species are overfished, have overfishing occurring, or have an unknown status, underharvests cannot be carried forward pursuant to § 635.27(b)(2)(ii). Therefore, based on preliminary estimates and consistent with the current regulations at § 635.27(b)(2), NMFS proposes that the 2018 quotas for blue sharks, porbeagle sharks, and pelagic sharks (other than porbeagle and blue sharks) be equal to their annual base quotas without adjustment, because there have not been any overharvests and because underharvests cannot be carried over due to stock status.

    Proposed Opening Dates and Retention Limits for the 2018 Atlantic Commercial Shark Fishing Season

    For each fishery, NMFS considered the seven “Opening Commercial Fishing Season Criteria” listed at § 635.27(b)(3). The “Opening Fishing Season” criteria consider factors such as the available annual quotas for the current fishing season, estimated season length and average weekly catch rates from previous years, length of the season and fishermen participation in past years, impacts to accomplishing objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, temporal variation in behavior or biology target species (e.g., seasonal distribution or abundance), impact of catch rates in one region on another, and effects of delayed season openings.

    Specifically, as described above and below, NMFS examined the 2017 and previous fishing years' over- and/or underharvests of the different management groups to determine the effects of the 2018 proposed commercial quotas on the shark stocks and fishermen across regional and sub-regional fishing areas. NMFS also examined the potential season length and previous catch rates to ensure, to the extent practicable, that equitable fishing opportunities be provided to fishermen in all areas. Lastly, NMFS examined the seasonal variation of the different species/management groups and the effects on fishing opportunities.

    As described below, NMFS also considered the six “Inseason trip limit adjustment criteria” listed at § 635.24(a)(8) for directed shark limited access permit holders intending to land LCS other than sandbar sharks. Those criteria are: The amount of remaining shark quota in the relevant area or region, to date, based on dealer reports; the catch rates of the relevant shark species/complexes, to date, based on dealer reports; estimated date of fishery closure based on when the landings are projected to reach 80 percent of the quota given the realized catch rates; effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments; variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migratory patterns of the relevant shark species based on scientific and fishery-based knowledge; and/or effects of catch rates in one part of a region precluding vessels in another part of that region from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the relevant quota.

    After considering these criteria, NMFS is proposing that the 2018 Atlantic commercial shark fishing season for all shark management groups in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, open on or about January 1, 2018, after the publication of the final rule for this action (Table 2). NMFS is also proposing to start the 2018 commercial shark fishing season with the commercial retention limit of 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip in the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region, 50 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip in the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region, and 25 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip in the Atlantic region (Table 2). However, at the time of writing this proposed rule, some management groups remain open and, for those management groups that are already closed, landings are still being calculated and checked for quality control and assurance. Thus, NMFS may implement different opening dates and commercial retention limits in the final rule if there are underharvested quotas or quota exceedances in 2017 that are not accounted for in this proposed rule.

    Table 2—Quota Linkages, Season Opening Dates, and Commercial Retention Limit by Regional or Sub-Regional Shark Management Group Region or sub-region Management group Quota
  • linkages
  • Season
  • opening dates
  • Commercial retention limits for directed shark limited access permit holders
  • (inseason adjustments are possible)
  • Western Gulf of Mexico Blacktip Sharks Not Linked January 1, 2018 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks Linked Hammerhead Sharks Eastern Gulf of Mexico Blacktip Sharks Not Linked January 1, 2018 50 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks Linked Hammerhead Sharks Gulf of Mexico Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks Not Linked January 1, 2018 N/A. Smoothhound Sharks Not Linked January 1, 2018 N/A. Atlantic Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks Linked January 1, 2018 25 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip.
  • If quota is landed quickly (e.g., if approximately 20 percent of quota is caught at the beginning of the year), NMFS anticipates an inseason reduction (e.g., to 3 or fewer LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip), then an inseason increase to 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip around July 15, 2018.
  • Hammerhead Sharks
  • Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks Linked (South of 34° N. lat. only) January 1, 2018 N/A. Blacknose Sharks (South of 34° N. lat. only) Smoothhound Sharks Not Linked January 1, 2018 N/A. No regional quotas Non-Sandbar LCS Research
  • Sandbar Shark Research
  • Linked January 1, 2018 N/A.
    Blue Sharks
  • Porbeagle Sharks
  • Pelagic Sharks Other Than Porbeagle or Blue
  • Not Linked January 1, 2018 N/A.

    In the Gulf of Mexico region, we are opening the fishing season on or about January 1, 2018, for the aggregated LCS, blacktip sharks, and hammerhead shark management groups with the commercial retention limits of 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip for directed shark permit holders in the western sub-region—and 50 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip for directed shark permit holders in the eastern sub-region. This would provide, to the extent practicable, equitable opportunities across the fisheries management sub-regions. This opening date takes into account all the season opening criteria listed in § 635.27(b)(3), and particularly the criteria that NMFS consider the length of the season for the different species and/or management group in the previous years (§ 635.27(b)(3)(ii) and (iii)) and whether fishermen were able to participate in the fishery in those years (§ 635.27(b)(3)(v)). The proposed commercial retention limits take into account the criteria listed in § 635.24(a)(8), and particularly the criterion that NMFS consider the catch rates of the relevant shark species/complexes based on dealer reports to date (§ 635.24(a)(8)(ii)). Similar to the retention limit adjustment process described for the Atlantic region, NMFS may consider adjusting the retention limit in the Gulf of Mexico region throughout the season to ensure fishermen in all parts of the region have an opportunity to harvest aggregated LCS, blacktip sharks, and hammerhead sharks (see the criteria listed at § 635.27(b)(3)(v) and § 635.24(a)(8)(ii), (v), and (vi)). In 2017, the management groups in the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region were closed on May 2, 2017 (82 FR 20447). As such, in 2018, NMFS is proposing the same commercial trip limit for these management groups that was set in 2017 in order to ensure the management group is open until at least April 2017, which is when the State of Louisiana closes state waters to shark fishing and when that State has previously asked that NMFS close Federal shark fisheries to match state regulations if quotas are limited (see the criteria listed at § 635.27(b)(3)(vii) and § 635.24(a)(8)(iii)). In the eastern Gulf of Mexico, NMFS is proposing a slightly higher trip limit in order to increase the harvest levels. Currently, the aggregated LCS, blacktip shark, and hammerhead shark management groups are still open in the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region (see the criteria listed at § 635.27(b)(3)(i) through (v), § 635.24(a)(8)(i) through (iii), and § 635.24(a)(8)(v) and (vi)). Fishermen fishing for these management groups in the eastern Gulf of Mexico did not fully land available quota in 2016 (fishing with the same retention limit as in 2017), and, if fishing rates remain similar to those in 2016, are not expected to fully land available quotas in 2017. Thus, NMFS believes that a small increase in retention limit in this sub-region could allow fishermen additional opportunities to fully land available quotas while not exceeding them. However, if catch rates increase and the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-regional management groups close this year, NMFS could make changes to the 2018 opening dates and commercial retention limits if necessary to ensure equitable fishing opportunities.

    In the Atlantic region, NMFS proposes opening the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups on or about January 1, 2018. This opening date is the same date that these management groups opened in 2017. As described below, this opening date also takes into account all the criteria listed in § 635.27(b)(3), and particularly the criterion that NMFS consider the effects of catch rates in one part of a region precluding vessels in another part of that region from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the different species and/or management quotas (§ 635.27(b)(3)(v)). In 2017, the data indicate that an opening date of January 1 provided a reasonable opportunity for every part of each region to harvest a portion of the available quotas (§ 635.27(b)(3)(i)) while accounting for variations in seasonal distribution of the different species in the management groups (§ 635.27(b)(3)(iv)). When the aggregated LCS quota was harvested too quickly to allow fishermen in the North Atlantic area an opportunity to fish, NMFS reduced the retention limit to three sharks per trip on April 13, 2017 (82 FR 17765). NMFS then increased the retention limit to 36 sharks per trip on July 16, 2017 (82 FR 32490), to allow for equitable fishing opportunities across the Atlantic region. Because the quotas in 2018 are proposed to be the same as the quotas in 2017, NMFS expects that the season lengths and therefore the participation of various fishermen throughout the region, would be similar in 2018 (§ 635.27(b)(3)(ii) and (iii)). Based on the recent performance of the fishery, the January 1 opening date appears to be meet the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments (§ 635.27(b)(3)(vi)). Therefore, there is no information that indicates changing the opening date is necessary.

    In addition, for the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups in the Atlantic region, NMFS is proposing that the commercial retention trip limit for directed shark limited access permit holders on the proposed opening date be 25 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. This retention limit should allow fishermen to harvest some of the 2018 quota at the beginning of the year when sharks are more prevalent in the South Atlantic area (see the criteria at § 635.24(a)(3)(i), (ii), (v), and (vi)). As was done in 2017, if it appears that the quota is being harvested too quickly (i.e., about 20 percent) to allow directed fishermen throughout the entire region an opportunity to fish and ensure enough quota remains until later in the year, NMFS would reduce the commercial retention limits to incidental levels (3 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip) or another level calculated to reduce the harvest of LCS taking into account § 635.27(b)(3) and the inseason trip limit adjustment criteria listed in § 635.24(a)(8), particularly the consideration of whether catch rates in one part of a region or sub-region are precluding vessels in another part of that region or sub-region from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the relevant quota (§ 635.24(a)(8)(vi)). If the quota continues to be harvested quickly, NMFS could reduce the retention limit to 0 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip to ensure enough quota remains until later in the year. If either situation occurs, NMFS would publish in the Federal Register notification of any inseason adjustments of the retention limit to an appropriate limit of sharks per trip. In 2017, NMFS reduced the retention limit to 3 LCS other than sandbar sharks on April 13, 2017 (82 FR 17765) when the aggregated LCS landings reached approximately 20 percent of the aggregated LCS quota, and did not need to reduce it further.

    Also, as was done in 2017, NMFS will consider increasing the commercial retention limits per trip at a later date if necessary to provide fishermen in the northern portion of the Atlantic region an opportunity to retain aggregated LCS and hammerhead sharks after considering the appropriate inseason adjustment criteria. Similarly, at some point later in the year (e.g., July 15), potentially equivalent to how the 2017 fishing season operated, NMFS may consider increasing the retention limit to 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip or another amount, as deemed appropriate, after considering the inseason trip limit adjustment criteria. If the quota is being harvested too quickly or too slowly, NMFS could adjust the retention limit appropriately to ensure the fishery remains open most of the rest of the year. Since the fishery is still open with majority of the quota available, NMFS will monitor the rest of the fishing season and could make changes to the proposed 2018 opening date if necessary to ensure equitable fishing opportunities.

    All of the shark management groups would remain open until December 31, 2018, or until NMFS determines that the fishing season landings for any shark management group have reached, or are projected to reach, 80 percent of the available quota. If NMFS determines that a non-linked shark species or management group must be closed, then, consistent with § 635.28(b)(2) for non-linked quotas (e.g., eastern Gulf of Mexico blacktip, western Gulf of Mexico blacktip, Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose SCS, pelagic sharks, or the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico smoothhound sharks), NMFS will publish in the Federal Register a notice of closure for that shark species, shark management group, region, and/or sub-region that will be effective no fewer than 5 days from the date of filing. For the blacktip shark management group, regulations at § 635.28(b)(5)(i) through (v) authorize NMFS to close the management group before landings reach, or are expected to reach, 80 percent of the quota after considering the following criteria and other relevant factors: season length based on available sub-regional quota and average sub-regional catch rates; variability in regional and/or sub-regional seasonal distribution, abundance, and migratory patterns; effects on accomplishing the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments; amount of remaining shark quotas in the relevant sub-region; and regional and/or sub-regional catch rates of the relevant shark species or management groups. From the effective date and time of the closure until NMFS announces, via the publication of a notice in the Federal Register, that additional quota is available and the season is reopened, the fisheries for the shark species or management group are closed, even across fishing years.

    If NMFS determines that a linked shark species or management group must be closed, then, consistent with § 635.28(b)(3) for linked quotas, NMFS will publish in the Federal Register a notice of closure for all of the species and/or management groups in a linked group that will be effective no fewer than 5 days from date of filing. From the effective date and time of the closure until NMFS announces, via the publication of a notice in the Federal Register, that additional quota is available and the season is reopened, the fisheries for all linked species and/or management groups are closed, even across fishing years. The linked quotas of the species and/or management groups are Atlantic hammerhead sharks and Atlantic aggregated LCS; eastern Gulf of Mexico hammerhead sharks and eastern Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS; western Gulf of Mexico hammerhead sharks and western Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS; and Atlantic blacknose and Atlantic non-blacknose SCS south of 34° N. latitude. NMFS may close the fishery for the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark before landings reach, or are expected to reach, 80 percent of the quota, after considering the criteria listed at § 635.28(b)(5).

    Request for Comments

    Comments on this proposed rule may be submitted via www.regulations.gov or by mail. NMFS solicits comments on this proposed rule by September 21, 2017 (see DATES and ADDRESSES).

    Classification

    The NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that the proposed rule is consistent with the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment.

    These proposed specifications are exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

    NMFS determined that the final rules to implement Amendment 2 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (June 24, 2008, 73 FR 35778; corrected on July 15, 2008, 73 FR 40658), Amendment 5a to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (78 FR 40318; July 3, 2013), Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (80 FR 50073; August 18, 2015), and Amendment 9 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (80 FR 73128; November 24, 2015) are consistent to the maximum extent practicable with the enforceable policies of the approved coastal management program of coastal states on the Atlantic including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea as required under the Coastal Zone Management Act. Pursuant to 15 CFR 930.41(a), NMFS provided the Coastal Zone Management Program of each coastal state a 60-day period to review the consistency determination and to advise the Agency of their concurrence. NMFS received concurrence with the consistency determinations from several states and inferred consistency from those states that did not respond within the 60-day time period. This proposed action to establish opening dates and adjust quotas for the 2018 fishing season for the Atlantic commercial shark fisheries does not change the framework previously consulted upon; therefore, no additional consultation is required.

    An initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) was prepared, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. The IRFA analysis follows.

    Section 603(b)(1) of the RFA requires agencies to explain the purpose of the rule. This rule, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, is being proposed to establish the 2018 commercial shark fishing quotas, retention limits, and fishing seasons. Without this rule, the commercial shark fisheries would close on December 31, 2017, and would not open until another action was taken. This proposed rule would be implemented according to the regulations implementing the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments. Thus, NMFS expects few, if any, economic impacts to fishermen other than those already analyzed in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, based on the quota adjustments.

    Section 603(b)(2) of the RFA requires agencies to explain the rule's objectives. The objectives of this rule are to: Adjust the baseline quotas for all Atlantic shark management groups based on any over- and/or underharvests from the previous fishing year(s); establish the opening dates of the various management groups; and establish the retention limits for the blacktip shark, aggregated large coastal shark, and hammerhead shark management groups in order to provide, to the extent practicable, equitable opportunities across the fishing management regions and/or sub-regions while also considering the ecological needs of the different shark species.

    Section 603(b)(3) of the RFA requires agencies to provide an estimate of the number of small entities to which the rule would apply. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has established size criteria for all major industry sectors in the United States, including fish harvesters. Provision is made under SBA's regulations for an agency to develop its own industry-specific size standards after consultation with Advocacy and an opportunity for public comment (see 13 CFR 121.903(c)). Under this provision, NMFS may establish size standards that differ from those established by the SBA Office of Size Standards, but only for use by NMFS and only for the purpose of conducting an analysis of economic effects in fulfillment of the agency's obligations under the RFA. To utilize this provision, NMFS must publish such size standards in the Federal Register, which NMFS did on December 29, 2015 (80 FR 81194). In this final rule effective on July 1, 2016, NMFS established a small business size standard of $11 million in annual gross receipts for all businesses in the commercial fishing industry (NAICS 11411) for RFA compliance purposes. NMFS considers all HMS permit holders to be small entities because they had average annual receipts of less than $11 million for commercial fishing.

    As of July 2017, the proposed rule would apply to the approximately 206 directed commercial shark permit holders, 244 incidental commercial shark permit holders, 142 smoothhound shark permit holders, and 112 commercial shark dealers. Not all permit holders are active in the fishery in any given year. Active directed commercial shark permit holders are defined as those with valid permits that landed one shark based on HMS electronic dealer reports. Of the 450 directed and incidental commercial shark permit holders, only 28 permit holders landed sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region and only 78 landed sharks in the Atlantic region. Of the 142 smoothhound shark permit holders, only 26 permit holders landed smoothhound sharks in the Atlantic region and none landed smoothhound sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region. NMFS has determined that the proposed rule would not likely affect any small governmental jurisdictions.

    This proposed rule does not contain any new reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements (5 U.S.C. 603(b)(4)). Similarly, this proposed rule would not conflict, duplicate, or overlap with other relevant Federal rules (5 U.S.C. 603(b)(5)). Fishermen, dealers, and managers in these fisheries must comply with a number of international agreements as domestically implemented, domestic laws, and FMPs. These include, but are not limited to, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act, the High Seas Fishing Compliance Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Paperwork Reduction Act, and the Coastal Zone Management Act.

    Section 603(c) of the RFA requires each IRFA to contain a description of any significant alternatives to the proposed rule which would accomplish the stated objectives of applicable statutes and minimize any significant economic impact of the proposed rule on small entities. Additionally, the RFA (5 U.S.C. 603(c)(1)-(4)) lists four general categories of significant alternatives that would assist an agency in the development of significant alternatives. These categories of alternatives are: (1) Establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into account the resources available to small entities; (2) clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance and reporting requirements under the rule for such small entities; (3) use of performance rather than design standards; and, (4) exemptions from coverage of the rule for small entities. In order to meet the objectives of this proposed rule, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, NMFS cannot exempt small entities or change the reporting requirements only for small entities because all the entities affected are considered small entities; therefore, there are no alternatives discussed that fall under the first, second, and fourth categories described above. NMFS does not know of any performance or design standards that would satisfy the aforementioned objectives of this rulemaking while, concurrently, complying with the Magnuson-Stevens Act; therefore, there are no alternatives considered under the third category.

    This rulemaking does not establish management measures to be implemented, but rather implements previously adopted and analyzed measures with adjustments, as specified in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments and the Environmental Assessment (EA) that accompanied the 2011 shark quota specifications rule (75 FR 76302; December 8, 2010). Thus, NMFS proposes to adjust quotas established and analyzed in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments by subtracting the underharvest or adding the overharvest as allowable. Thus, NMFS has limited flexibility to modify the quotas in this rule, the impacts of which were analyzed in previous regulatory flexibility analyses.

    Based on the 2016 ex-vessel price, fully harvesting the unadjusted 2018 Atlantic shark commercial baseline quotas could result in total fleet revenues of $7,779,285 (see Table 3). For the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group, NMFS is proposing to increase the baseline sub-regional quotas due to the underharvests in 2017. The increase for the western Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group could result in a $218,647 gain in total revenues for fishermen in that sub-region, while the increase for the eastern Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group could result in a $32,902 gain in total revenues for fishermen in that sub-region. For the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic smoothhound shark management groups, NMFS is proposing to increase the baseline quotas due to the underharvest in 2017. This would cause a potential gain in revenue of $581,718 for the fleet in the Gulf of Mexico region and a potential gain in revenue of $1,083,926 for the fleet in the Atlantic region.

    All of these changes in gross revenues are similar to the changes in gross revenues analyzed in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments. The final regulatory flexibility analyses for those amendments concluded that the economic impacts on these small entities are expected to be minimal. In the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments and the EA for the 2011 shark quota specifications rule, NMFS stated it would be conducting annual rulemakings and considering the potential economic impacts of adjusting the quotas for under- and overharvests at that time.

    Table 3—Average Ex-Vessel Prices per lb dw for Each Shark Management Group, 2016 Region Species Average
  • ex-vessel
  • meat price
  • Average
  • ex-vessel
  • fin price
  • Western Gulf of Mexico Blacktip Shark
  • Aggregated LCS
  • Hammerhead Shark
  • $0.56
  • 0.52
  • 0.83
  • $11.00
  • 11.06
  • 11.08
  • Eastern Gulf of Mexico Blacktip Shark
  • Aggregated LCS
  • Hammerhead Shark
  • 0.89
  • 0.56
  • 0.25
  • 10.67
  • 11.23
  • 15.95
  • Gulf of Mexico Non-Blacknose SCS
  • Smoothhound Shark
  • 0.38
  • 1.50
  • 8.68
  • 1.91
  • Atlantic Aggregated LCS
  • Hammerhead Shark
  • Non-Blacknose SCS
  • 0.79
  • 0.38
  • 0.71
  • 5.54
  • 5.73
  • 2.92
  • Blacknose Shark
  • Smoothhound Shark
  • 0.98
  • 0.75
  • 2.92
  • 1.91
  • No Region Shark Research Fishery (Aggregated LCS) 0.70 9.47 Shark Research Fishery (Sandbar only) 0.68 9.47 Blue shark 0.75 3.58 Porbeagle shark * 1.54 3.58 Other Pelagic sharks 1.54 3.58 * Used other pelagic shark ex-vessel prices for porbeagle sharks ex-vessel prices since there currently are no landings of porbeagle sharks.

    For this rule, NMFS also reviewed the criteria at § 635.27(b)(3) to determine when opening each fishery would provide equitable opportunities for fishermen, to the extent practicable, while also considering the ecological needs of the different species. The opening dates of the fishing season(s) could vary depending upon the available annual quota, catch rates, and number of fishing participants during the year. For the 2018 fishing season, NMFS is proposing to open all of the shark management groups on the effective date of the final rule for this action (expected to be on or about January 1). The direct and indirect economic impacts would be neutral on a short- and long-term basis because NMFS is not proposing to change the opening dates of these fisheries from the status quo.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: August 15, 2017. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17575 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Parts 679 and 680 [Docket No. 170412391-7391-01] RIN 0648-BG84 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area; American Fisheries Act; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Program AGENCY:

    National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS issues a proposed rule to implement Amendment 48 to the Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs (Crab FMP) and a regulatory amendment to revise regulations implementing the American Fisheries Act (AFA) Program and the Crab Rationalization (CR) Program. This proposed rule would revise how NMFS determines the amount of limited access privileges held and used by groups in the Western Alaska Community Development Quota Program (CDQ Program) for the purposes of managing the excessive share limits under the AFA Program and the CR Program. This proposed rule is necessary to align regulations and the Crab FMP to be consistent with an amendment to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) and NMFS' current method of managing excessive share limits for CDQ groups in the AFA Program and the CR Program. This proposed rule is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Crab FMP, and other applicable law.

    DATES:

    Submit comments on or before September 21, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit comments, identified by docket number NOAA-NMFS-2017-0038, by either of the following methods:

    Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0038, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

    Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668.

    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter “N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

    Electronic copies of Amendment 48 to the Crab FMP, the Regulatory Impact Review (RIR), and the Categorical Exclusion prepared for this proposed action are available from http://www.regulations.gov or from the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov.

    The CR Program Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), RIR, and Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, as well as the AFA Program EIS and RIR, are available from the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Keeley Kent, 907-586-7228.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Authority for Action

    NMFS manages the pollock fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off Alaska under the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI FMP). NMFS manages the king and Tanner crab fisheries in the U.S. EEZ of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) under the Crab FMP. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) prepared, and NMFS approved, the BSAI FMP and the Crab FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Regulations governing and implementing the BSAI FMP appear at 50 CFR parts 600 and 679. Regulations governing and implementing the Crab FMP appear at 50 CFR parts 600 and 680.

    A notice of availability for Amendment 48 to the Crab FMP was published in the Federal Register on August 3, 2017. Comment on Amendment 48 is invited through October 2, 2017. All relevant written comments received by the end of the comment period, whether specifically directed to the FMP amendment, this proposed rule, or both, will be considered in the approval/disapproval decision for Amendment 48 and addressed in the response to comments in the final rule.

    Background

    This proposed rule would modify regulations that specify how NMFS determines holding and use of limited access privileges (LAPs) for the purposes of managing excessive share limits for CDQ groups under the AFA Program and the CR Program. The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires NMFS to establish excessive share limits to prevent excessive consolidation of harvesting and processing LAPs in order to maintain an appropriate distribution of economic and social benefits for fishery participants and communities. NMFS has adopted regulations under its LAP programs to ensure that no person holds or uses more LAPs than authorized under excessive share limits established for each LAP program. Section 305(i) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act describes the Western Alaska Community Development Quota Program (CDQ Program) (16 U.S.C. 1855(i)). Regulations at 50 CFR 679.2 define the term “CDQ group” as an entity identified as eligible for the CDQ Program under 16 U.S.C. 1855(i)(1)(D).

    This proposed rule would revise the regulations that prescribe the calculation of excessive share limits for CDQ groups for two LAP programs: The AFA Program and the CR Program. CDQ groups participate in LAP programs, including the AFA and the CR Program, by purchasing harvesting and processing privileges and through ownership of vessels and processors that participate in these fisheries. The Magnuson-Stevens Act was amended by the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2006 (Pub. L. 109-241; the Coast Guard Act) to specify the method that NMFS must use for monitoring excessive share limits as they apply to CDQ groups—the proportional or “individual and collective” rule. Section 305(i)(1)(F)(i) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, as amended by the Coast Guard Act, provides that CDQ groups shall be subject to any excessive share ownership, harvesting, or processing limitations in the fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area only to the extent of the CDQ group's proportional ownership (16 U.S.C. 1855(i)(1)(F)(i)).

    NMFS has implemented in practice the method specified in the 2006 amendment to the Magnuson-Stevens Act for CDQ groups to monitor excessive share limits in the AFA Program and the CR Program; however, the regulations for the AFA Program and the CR Program and the Crab FMP have not been revised to be consistent with the 2006 amendment to the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

    The following sections describe (1) excessive share limits, which are also called holding and use caps, (2) AFA Program use caps, (3) CR Program holding and use caps, (4) CDQ Program holding and use caps, and (5) this proposed rule and the anticipated effects of the action.

    Excessive Share Limits

    Section 301(a)(4) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act specifies that if conservation and management measures allocate or assign fishing privileges, the measures must be carried out so that no particular individual, corporation, or other entity acquires an excessive share of such privileges (16 U.S.C. 1851(a)(4)). Section 303A(c)(5)(D) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act requires regional fishery management councils to establish excessive share limits for LAP programs to prevent excessive accumulation of privileges by participants in the LAP programs (16 U.S.C. 1853a(c)(5)(D)). The intent of these limits or caps is to prevent excessive consolidation in the harvesting and processing sectors in order to maintain an appropriate distribution of economic and social benefits for fishery participants and communities. Because determination of excessive shares must consider the specific circumstances of each fishery, the Council has implemented different excessive share limits in the LAP programs in Alaska's fisheries, including the AFA and CR Programs.

    NMFS implemented use caps for the AFA Program in 2002 (67 FR 79692; December 30, 2002) and holding and use caps for the CR Program in 2005 (70 FR 10174; March 2, 2005). The regulations prohibit a person from using more than the harvesting and processing limits established in the AFA Program and from holding and using more than a specific portion of the LAPs allocated under the CR Program. Under 50 CFR 679.2, “person” includes individuals, corporations, partnerships, associations, and other non-individual entities. To monitor holdings and use of LAPs, NMFS determines what portion of a program's harvesting and processing privileges a person holds and uses to ensure that no person holds or uses more privileges than authorized by the applicable excessive share cap.

    NMFS determines a person's holding and use of a LAP in the AFA Program and CR Program by summing (1) the amount directly held and used by that person, and (2) the amount held and used by that person indirectly through an ownership interest in or control of another entity that also holds and uses the LAP. Businesses that hold and use LAPs in the AFA Program and the CR Program are often composed of multiple owners that have ownership interests in multiple fishing businesses. In cases where a LAP is held by a business entity with more than one owner, NMFS applies the holding and use caps to each entity that holds or controls the LAP to monitor whether those entities each exceed the established caps. Ownership attribution refers to the method NMFS uses to assess the relationships between different entities that participate in LAP programs.

    NMFS uses two ownership attribution methods to determine holdings and use of LAPs. These two methods for attributing ownership and use of a LAP are commonly known as the “individual and collective rule” and the “10-percent rule.” Under the individual and collective rule, NMFS attributes holding and use of LAPs by one person proportionally to their ownership in or control of another entity that holds and uses LAPs. For example, if Company A has a 15 percent ownership of Company B that holds LAPs, Company A would be attributed 15 percent of Company B's holding and use of the LAPs. In contrast, under the 10-percent rule, a person is attributed 100 percent of an entity's LAPs if that person owns or otherwise controls ten percent or more of that entity. Thus, if Company A holds or controls 10 percent or more of Company B, then 100 percent of Company B's holdings and use of LAPs are attributed to Company A. When a person owns or controls 10 percent or more of another entity, the individual and collective rule is less restrictive than the 10-percent rule because a person is only attributed holding and use in proportion to how much that person owns or controls of other entities, rather than attributing 100 percent of the other entity's LAP holdings once the 10-percent ownership or control threshold is met. Thus, under a holding and use cap, the individual and collective rule would allow a person to hold and use more LAPs than if the person was evaluated using the 10-percent rule.

    AFA Program Use Caps

    Congress passed the AFA in October 1998 to implement additional U.S. ownership requirements for vessels harvesting fish from the EEZ. The purpose of the AFA was to tighten U.S. ownership standards that had been exploited under the Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Anti-Reflagging Act of 1987 (Pub. L. 100-239) and to provide the BSAI pollock fleet the opportunity to conduct their fishery in a more rational manner (i.e., stopping the race for fish) while protecting non-AFA participants in the other fisheries. The AFA established sector allocations in the BSAI pollock fishery, determined eligible vessels and processors, allowed for the formation of cooperatives, set limits on the participation of AFA vessels in other fisheries, and imposed special catch weighing and monitoring requirements on AFA vessels. The AFA also divided the available BSAI pollock directed fishing allowance among three harvesting sectors, after CDQ allocations and an amount for incidental catch of pollock by non-AFA vessels were deducted.

    Section 210(e) of the AFA set out excessive harvesting and processing limits for participants. Section 210(e)(1) of the AFA restricts an individual, corporation, or other entity to harvesting no more than 17.5 percent of the pollock available to be harvested in the directed pollock fishery. This limit is codified at 50 CFR 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(6). Every year, this limit is published in the annual harvest specifications (82 FR 11826; February 27, 2017).

    Section 210(e)(2) of the AFA directed the Council to create management measures to prevent any particular individual or entity from processing an excessive share of pollock available in the directed pollock fishery. The Council and NMFS set this limit at 30 percent of the sum of the directed fishing allowances for pollock. This limit is codified at 50 CFR 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(7). Every year, this limit is published in the annual harvest specifications (82 FR 11826; February 27, 2017).

    Section 210(e)(3) of the AFA also specified that any entity in which 10 percent or more of the interest is held or controlled by another individual or entity shall be considered to be the same entity as the other individual or entity for purposes of monitoring the harvesting and processing use caps. This section of the AFA directed NMFS to use the 10-percent rule to determine the use of AFA Program harvesting and processing privileges. NMFS implemented this AFA requirement in part by defining an “AFA entity” at 50 CFR 679.2 as a group of affiliated individuals, corporations, or other business concerns that harvest or process pollock in the Bering Sea directed pollock fishery. The proposed rule to implement the AFA Program stated that the concept of “affiliation” is central to the definition of “AFA entity” (66 FR 65028, 65049; December 17, 2001). As the December 2001 proposed rule explained, “affiliation” means a relationship between two or more individuals, corporations, or other business concerns in which one concern directly or indirectly owns a 10 percent or greater interest in the other, exerts 10 percent or greater control over the other, or has the power to exert 10 percent or greater control over the other; or a third individual, corporation, or other business concern directly or indirectly owns a 10 percent or greater interest in both, exerts 10 percent or greater control over both, or has the power to exert 10 percent or greater control over both (see regulations at § 679.2 for the definition of “affiliation” and Section 2.6.3 of the RIR for more information).

    CR Program Use Caps

    The CR Program was implemented on April 1, 2005 (70 FR 10174; March 2, 2005). The CR Program established a LAP program for nine crab fisheries in the BSAI and assigned quota share (QS) to persons based on their historic participation in one or more of those nine BSAI crab fisheries during a specific period. Each year, a person who holds QS may receive an exclusive harvest privilege for a portion of the annual total allowable catch (TAC). This annual exclusive harvest privilege is called individual fishing quota (IFQ).

    NMFS also issued processor quota share (PQS) under the CR Program. Each year, PQS yields an exclusive privilege to process a portion of the IFQ in each of the nine BSAI crab fisheries. This annual exclusive processing privilege is called individual processor quota (IPQ). Only a portion of the QS issued yields IFQ that is required to be delivered to a processor with IPQ. Each year there is a one-to-one match of the total pounds of IFQ that must be delivered to a processor with IPQ with the total pounds of IPQ issued in each crab fishery.

    When the Council recommended the CR Program, it expressed concern about the potential for excessive consolidation of QS and PQS, in which too few persons control all of the QS or PQS and the resulting annual IFQ and IPQ. The Council determined that excessive consolidation could have adverse effects on crab markets, price setting negotiations between harvesters and processors, employment opportunities for harvesting and processing crew, tax revenue to communities in which crab are landed, and other factors considered and described in the CR Program EIS. To address this concern, the CR Program includes limits on the amount of QS and PQS that a person can hold and the amount of IFQ and IPQ that a person can use.

    The CR Program has QS and IFQ holding and use caps that vary by fishery because of different fleet characteristics and differences in historical dependency of participants on different crab fisheries. 50 CFR 680.42(a)(2) specifies that NMFS uses the individual and collective rule to apply holding and use caps for QS and IFQ for all CR Program participants, including CDQ groups, as recommended by the Council for monitoring harvesting privileges (see Section 2.7 of the RIR for more information).

    For processing privileges, the CR Program limits a person to holding no more than 30 percent of the PQS initially issued in the fishery, and to using no more than the amount of IPQ resulting from 30 percent of the PQS initially issued in a given fishery, with a limited exemption for persons receiving more than 30 percent of the initially-issued PQS (50 CFR 680.42(b)). 50 CFR 680.42(b)(3) specifies that NMFS uses the 10-percent rule to monitor holding and use caps for PQS and IPQ for all CR Program participants as recommended by the Council and addressed in the preamble to the proposed rule for the CR Program (69 FR 63200, 63219 & 63226; October 29, 2004).

    Use Caps for CDQ Groups

    The CDQ Program was established by the Council and NMFS in 1992, and in 1996, authorization for the Program was incorporated into the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The purpose of the CDQ Program is (1) to provide eligible western Alaska villages with the opportunity to participate and invest in fisheries in the BSAI, (2) to support economic development in western Alaska, (3) to alleviate poverty and provide economic and social benefits for residents of western Alaska, and (4) to achieve sustainable and diversified local economies in western Alaska (16 U.S.C. 1855(i)(1)(A)).

    Section 305(i) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act describes the CDQ Program and identifies the villages eligible to participate in the CDQ Program through the six entities specified in Section 305(i)(1)(D) as the CDQ groups (16 U.S.C. 1855(i)). Regulations at 50 CFR 679.2 define the term “CDQ group” as an entity identified as eligible for the CDQ Program under 16 U.S.C. 1855(i)(1)(D). The CDQ Program consists of six different non-profit managing organizations (CDQ groups) representing different geographical regions in Alaska. The CDQ Program receives annual allocations of TACs for a variety of commercially valuable species in the BSAI groundfish, crab, and halibut fisheries, which are in turn allocated among the CDQ groups (see Section 2.8 of the RIR).

    The Secretary of Commerce approved regulations establishing the CDQ Program pollock allocation (57 FR 54936; November 23, 1992). When the AFA Program was implemented, the CDQ Program received an allocation of 10 percent of the Bering Sea pollock TAC (67 FR 79692, 79696; December 30, 2002). CDQ groups participate in the AFA Program primarily through ownership (wholly or partially) in vessels authorized to fish for Bering Sea pollock under the AFA. Vessel ownership varies by CDQ group (see Section 2.8.1 of the RIR). When the CR Program was implemented in 2005, the CDQ Program received an allocation of 10 percent of the TACs for some CR Program fisheries (70 FR 10174, 10176-77; March 2, 2005). In addition to the CDQ allocations, the CDQ groups hold QS and PQS directly as well as indirectly through ownership in other entities that hold QS and PQS (see Section 2.8.3 of the RIR).

    Need for This Proposed Rule

    In 2006, Congress passed the Coast Guard Act (Pub. L. 109-241), which amended the CDQ Program to give CDQ groups and their communities greater autonomy based on recommendations from the State of Alaska's Blue Ribbon Panel. Section 416(a) of the Coast Guard Act revised section 305(i) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and made significant changes to the management and oversight of the CDQ Program. The amendments to section 305(i) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act were intended to promote the ability of CDQ groups to responsibly manage their allocations similar to the LAPs provided by NMFS to most other participants in the BSAI fisheries, while promoting the goals of the CDQ Program (see Section 2.8 of the RIR).

    The Coast Guard Act also revised section 305(i)(1)(F)(i) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to specify that CDQ groups would be subject to excessive share ownership, harvesting, and processing limitations proportional to their ownership of entities holding such privileges (i.e., holdings and use of LAPs by CDQ groups are to be determined by the “individual and collective rule”) (16 U.S.C. 1855(i)(1)(F)(i)). This requires NMFS to use the individual and collective rule to determine holding and use of harvesting and processing privileges for CDQ groups under all LAP programs in the BSAI. After the 2006 amendment to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, NMFS reviewed its methods for determining holding and use of harvesting and processing privileges in all LAP programs in the BSAI and determined that modifications were required for the methods used to determine CDQ group holdings and use for (1) harvesting and processing privileges under the AFA and (2) PQS and IPQ under the CR Program. These modifications were required because the regulations implementing these programs specified that NMFS would use the 10-percent rule to determine holding and use of these harvesting and processing privileges for CDQ groups.

    This Proposed Rule and Its Anticipated Effects

    This proposed rule would revise 50 CFR 679.2, 679.7(k)(6) and (7), 680.2, and 680.42(b).

    This proposed rule would revise the AFA Program to specify that NMFS uses the individual and collective rule for CDQ groups to attribute harvesting and processing privileges of AFA pollock proportionally to the CDQ groups' ownership of vessels and processors active in those fisheries. For example, if a CDQ group holds 15 percent ownership of an entity that holds and uses AFA harvesting and processing privileges, this proposed rule would specify that the CDQ group is attributed 15 percent of the harvest or processing privileges of that company for purposes of monitoring excessive harvesting and processing use caps under the AFA.

    The proposed rule would also implement Amendment 48 to the Crab FMP and revise the CR Program to specify that NMFS uses the individual and collective rule for CDQ groups to attribute holding and use of PQS and IPQ based on the CDQ groups' proportional ownership of entities that hold and use PQS and IPQ. For example, if a CDQ group holds 15 percent ownership of a company that holds or uses PQS or IPQ, this proposed rule would specify that the CDQ group is attributed 15 percent of the holding or use of that PQS or IPQ. The proposed rule would not alter the regulations for the QS and IFQ holding and use caps under the CR Program because current CR Program regulations specify that NMFS uses the individual and collective rule for all program participants, including CDQ groups, to attribute any participants' holding and use of QS and IFQ based on their proportional ownership of entities that hold and use QS and IFQ.

    NMFS has used the individual and collective rule for CDQ group ownership attribution for both the AFA Program and the CR Program since enactment of the Coast Guard Act; however, the regulations and the Crab FMP have not been updated to reflect this change. This proposed rule would update the regulations and the Crab FMP to be consistent with NMFS' current method of ownership attribution for CDQ groups and the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This proposed rule would benefit CDQ groups and the public by clarifying the method NMFS uses to attribute holding and use of harvesting and processing privileges by CDQ groups for purposes of monitoring holding and use caps for the AFA and CR Programs.

    Classification

    Pursuant to sections 304(b)(1)(A) and 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with Amendment 48, the Crab FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration of comments received during the public comment period.

    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for the purposes of Executive Order 12866. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA) that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. NMFS requests comments on the decision to certify this proposed rule. The factual basis for this determination is as follows:

    This proposed action would revise regulations and the Crab FMP so that they are consistent with the ownership attribution method mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Act for CDQ groups for monitoring limitations on the holding and use of harvesting and processing privileges in the AFA and CR Programs.

    The CDQ groups would be the directly regulated entities under the proposed regulatory revisions. All six of the CDQ groups are non-profit corporations and are considered small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act. As NMFS, one of the agencies that manages these holding and use limitations, has already implemented these provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act in practice, this proposed action is not expected to materially change how any small entities are regulated, nor is the proposed action expected to impose significant compliance costs or materially change how any small entities comply with the applicable regulations. Rather, this proposed rule would benefit CDQ groups and the public by clarifying the method NMFS uses to attribute holding and use of harvesting and processing privileges by CDQ groups for purposes of monitoring holding and use caps for the AFA and CR Programs. This proposed action therefore is not expected to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of the small entities regulated by this proposed action—the CDQ groups. As a result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required, and none has been prepared.

    The economic analysis contained in the RIR for this action (see ADDRESSES) further describes the regulatory and operational characteristics of the CDQ Program, including the participation of CDQ groups in the AFA Program and the CR Program, the history of this action, and the details of the alternatives considered for this action, including the preferred alternative.

    Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements

    This rule references collection-of-information requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), which have been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under OMB Control Number 0648-0514. The annual application for a crab IFQ permit and the application for a crab IPQ permit are mentioned in this rule; however, there are no changes to these forms or to who is required to submit the forms for this proposed rule, and therefore there would be no change in burden or cost.

    Send comments on these or any other aspects of the collection of information, to NMFS (see ADDRESSES), and by email to [email protected] or fax to 202-395-5806.

    Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirement of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control number. All currently approved NOAA collections of information may be viewed at: http://www.cio.noaa.gov/services_programs/prasubs.html.

    Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With This Proposed Rule

    No relevant Federal rules have been identified that would duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this proposed rule.

    List of Subjects 50 CFR Part 679

    Alaska, Fisheries, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    50 CFR Part 680

    Alaska, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: August 15, 2017. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, NMFS proposes to amend 50 CFR part 679 and part 680 as follows:

    PART 679—FISHERIES OF THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OFF ALASKA 1. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 679 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 1801 et seq.; 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 108-447; Pub. L. 111-281.

    2. In § 679.2, revise the definitions for “AFA entity” and “Affiliation for the purpose of defining AFA and the Rockfish Program” to read as follows:
    § 679.2 Definitions.

    AFA entity means a group of affiliated individuals, corporations, or other business concerns, except for a CDQ group, that harvests or processes pollock in the BS directed pollock fishery.

    Affiliation for the purpose of defining AFA and the Rockfish Program means a relationship between two or more individuals, corporations, or other business concerns, except CDQ groups, in which one concern directly or indirectly owns a 10 percent or greater interest in another, exerts control over another, or has the power to exert control over another; or a third individual, corporation, or other business concern directly or indirectly owns a 10 percent or greater interest in both, exerts control over both, or has the power to exert control over both.

    3. In § 679.7 revise paragraphs (k)(6) and (k)(7) to read as follows:
    § 679.7 Prohibitions.

    (k) * * *

    (6) Excessive harvesting shares. It is unlawful for an AFA entity or a CDQ group to harvest, through a fishery cooperative or otherwise, an amount of BS pollock that exceeds the 17.5 percent excessive share limit specified under § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(6). A CDQ group's harvest of BS pollock will be calculated through its proportional ownership of individuals, corporations, or other business concerns that harvest BS pollock. The owners and operators of the individual vessels comprising the AFA entity or CDQ group that harvest BS pollock will be held jointly and severally liable for exceeding the excessive harvesting share limit.

    (7) Excessive processing shares. It is unlawful for an AFA entity or a CDQ group to process an amount of BS pollock that exceeds the 30-percent excessive share limit specified under § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(7). The amount of BS pollock processed by a CDQ group will be calculated through its proportional ownership of individuals, corporations, or other business concerns that process BS pollock. The owners and operators of the individual processors comprising the AFA entity or CDQ group that process BS pollock will be held jointly and severally liable for exceeding the excessive processing share limit.

    PART 680—SHELLFISH FISHERIES OF THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OFF ALASKA 4. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 680 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1862; Pub. L. 109-241; Pub. L. 109-479.

    5. In § 680.2, revise the introductory text to the definition for “Affiliation” and the introductory text of paragraph (1) of the definition for “Affiliation” to read as follows:
    § 680.2 Definitions.

    Affiliation means a relationship between two or more entities, except for CDQ groups, in which one directly or indirectly owns or controls a 10 percent or greater interest in, or otherwise controls, another, or a third entity directly or indirectly owns or controls a 10 percent or greater interest in, or otherwise controls, both. For the purpose of this definition, the following terms are further defined:

    (1) Entity. An entity may be an individual, corporation, association, partnership, joint-stock company, trust, or any other type of legal entity, except for a CDQ group, any receiver, trustee in bankruptcy or similar official or liquidating agent, or any organized group of persons whether incorporated or not, that holds direct or indirect interest in:

    6. In § 680.42, revise paragraphs (b)(3)(ii), (b)(3)(iii), and (b)(3)(iv) to read as follows:
    § 680.42 Limitations on use of QS, PQS, IFQ, and IPQ.

    (b) * * *

    (3) * * *

    (ii) Is not a CDQ group and directly or indirectly owns a 10 percent or greater interest in an entity that holds PQS.

    (iii) A person that is not a CDQ group and holds PQS is limited to a PQS use cap that is calculated based on the sum of all PQS held by that PQS holder and all PQS held by any affiliate of the PQS holder. A CDQ group that holds PQS is limited to a PQS use cap that is calculated based on the sum of all PQS held, individually or collectively, by that CDQ group.

    (iv) A person that is not a CDQ group and holds IPQ is limited to an IPQ use cap that is calculated based on the sum of all IPQ held by that IPQ holder and all IPQ held by any affiliate of the IPQ holder. A CDQ group that holds IPQ is limited to an IPQ use cap that is calculated based on the sum of all IPQ held, individually or collectively, by that CDQ group.

    [FR Doc. 2017-17607 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    82 161 Tuesday, August 22, 2017 Notices AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT Notice of Meeting of the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development

    Pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act, notice is hereby given of the public meeting of the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD). The meeting will be held from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, September 12, 2017, at the National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW., 13th Floor, Washington, DC 20045, or online at http://www.aplu.org/projects-and-initiatives/international-programs/bifad/bifad-meetings.html.

    This public meeting, Global Food Security Research Strategy: From Upstream Research to Development Impact, will be co-hosted with the Feed the Future Innovation Labs. The purpose of the meeting will be to launch the new Global Food Security Research Strategy and to highlight the contributions, collaborations, and synergies among the U.S. Government interagency, universities, international agricultural research centers, and private sector on food security research for development. The meeting will include panels on Cutting Edge Science for Development, Practical Applications of Research Results, Applying Research to Emerging Threats, Opportunities for More Intentional USG Intentional Interagency Alignment and Complementarity, and Opportunities for Leveraging Private Sector Innovation. A public comment period is scheduled from 4:00 to 4:30 EDT.

    Those wishing to participate in the meeting in person should arrive early as seating is limited. More information, including a detailed agenda, can be found on the BIFAD landing page at http://www.aplu.org/projects-and-initiatives/international-programs/bifad/bifad-meetings.html.

    To obtain additional information about this public meeting or BIFAD, interested parties should contact Clara Cohen, Designated Federal Officer for BIFAD in the Bureau for Food Security at USAID. Interested persons may write to her in care of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Ronald Reagan Building, Bureau for Food Security, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20523-2110 or telephone her at (202) 712-0119.

    Clara Cohen, USAID Designated Federal Officer for BIFAD, Bureau for Food Security, U.S. Agency for International Development.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17712 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request August 17, 2017.

    The Department of Agriculture has submitted the following information collection requirement(s) to OMB for review and clearance under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13. Comments are requested regarding (1) Whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of burden including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    Comments regarding this information collection received by September 21, 2017 will be considered. Written comments should be addressed to: Desk Officer for Agriculture, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), New Executive Office Building, 725—17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20502. Commenters are encouraged to submit their comments to OMB via email to: [email protected] or fax (202) 395-5806 and to Departmental Clearance Office, USDA, OCIO, Mail Stop 7602, Washington, DC 20250-7602. Copies of the submission(s) may be obtained by calling (202) 720-8958.

    An agency may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless the collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control number and the agency informs potential persons who are to respond to the collection of information that such persons are not required to respond to the collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

    Title: USDA Race, Ethnicity and Gender Data Collection.

    OMB Control Number: 0503-0019.

    Summary of Collection: Section 14006 and 14007 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, 7 U.S.C. 8701 (referred to as the 2008 Farm Bill) establishes a requirement for the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to annually compile application and participation rate data regarding socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers by computing for each program of the USDA that serves agriculture producers and landowners (a) raw numbers of applicants and participants by race, ethnicity, and gender, subject to appropriate privacy protection, as determined by the Secretary; and (b) the application and participation rate, by race, ethnicity and gender as a percentage of the total participation rate of all agricultural producers and landowners for each county and State in the United States.

    Need and Use of the Information: Data will be collected on a voluntary basis through a questionnaire to determine the race, ethnicity and gender of farmers and ranchers who apply for and who participate in USDA programs and services. The data will enable the Secretary and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights and the agencies' outreach offices in reaching current and prospective socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers in a linguistically appropriate manner to focus resources in a particular county or region where low participation is indicated by the data to improve the participation of those farmers and ranchers in USDA programs. The data is intended to be used as one indicator in targeting and designing outreach activities and in assessing compliance with civil rights laws in program delivery. The data may also be used as an indicator in directing compliance reviews to geographic areas where there are indications of low participation in USDA programs by minorities and women, thus serving as an “early warning system” that warrants further investigations. Failure to collect this information will have a negative impact on USDA's outreach activities and could result in an inability of the agencies to equitably deliver programs and services to applicant and producers.

    Description of Respondents: Individuals or households.

    Number of Respondents: 3,200,000.

    Frequency of Responses: Reporting: Other (once).

    Total Burden Hours: 106,667.

    Ruth Brown, Departmental Information Collection Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17692 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-9R-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Food and Nutrition Service Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request—Summer Meals Study AGENCY:

    Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice invites the general public and other public agencies to comment on this proposed information collection. This collection is a new collection. The purpose of the Summer Meals Study is for the Food and Nutrition Service to understand the facilitators and barriers to program implementation, perceived benefits and challenges for sponsor and site participation, nutritional quality of meals served, parental awareness, factors influencing child participation, and experience with the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program's Seamless Summer Option.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before October 23, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments may be sent to: Alice Ann Gola, Office of Policy Support, Food and Nutrition Service, USDA, 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 1014, Alexandria, VA 22302. Comments may also be submitted via fax to the attention of Alice Ann Gola at 703-305-2576 or via email to [email protected] Comments will also be accepted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for submitting comments electronically.

    All written comments will be open for public inspection at the office of the Food and Nutrition Service during regular business hours (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday) at 3101 Park Center Drive, Alexandria, Virginia 22302.

    All responses to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for Office of Management and Budget approval. All comments will be a matter of public record.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information or copies of this information collected should be directed to Alice Ann Gola at 703-305-4347 or [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Summer Meals Study.

    Form Number: Not applicable.

    OMB Number: 0584-NEW.

    Expiration Date: Not Yet Determined.

    Type of Request: New collection.

    Abstract: The Federally-funded Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the National School Lunch Program's Seamless Summer Option (SSO) provide healthy meals and snacks to children through 18 years of age, in low-income areas during summer months when school is not in session. Open summer sites provide free meals to children in geographical areas where at least 50 percent of children are eligible for free or reduced price school meals (i.e., at or below 185 percent of the Federal poverty level). Closed enrolled summer sites provide free meals to children enrolled in an activity program where at least half of the children are individually determined eligible for free or reduced price meals. Open and enrolled sites, as well as sites that predominantly serve children of migrant workers, receive reimbursement from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the meals they serve to all children in attendance. The reimbursement rates vary depending on the type of meal served (i.e., breakfast, lunch, supper, or snack) and whether the site is operating SFSP or SSO. The SFSP and SSO sites operate at State, Local or Tribal locations such as public and private nonprofit schools, local government agencies, business organizations such as youth sports programs, churches, and food pantries. In July 2016, 5,525 sponsors managed 48,618 sites and served 3.85 million summer meals to participating children.1 However, summer meals reach only a small percent of the children receiving free or reduced price meals during the school year. This study will help identify strategies to increase participation in summer meals as well as assess the nutritional quality of the meals served to children. Legislation requires those programs participating in the SFSP or SSO to cooperate with program research and evaluation (Section 305 of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act).

    1 The USDA FNS National Data Bank provides a single official repository to support the analysis and public release of FNS program information through the Food Programs Reporting System (FPRS) OMB Control No. 0584-0594 Expiration 6/2019, data from various FNS programs are extracted and imported into the NDB database. This number includes meals served through both SFSP and SSO.

    The six study objectives are: (1) Identify reasons children and their caregivers participate in summer meals and their satisfaction levels with the program; (2) Assess how characteristics differ between participants and eligible nonparticipants of SFSP and SSO; (3) Determine the reasons eligible families do not participate in SFSP and SSO; (4) Determine the food service characteristics of SFSP and SSO sites; (5) Describe the characteristics and content of SFSP and SSO meals and snacks; and (6) Assess facilitators and barriers to preparing and serving SFSP and SSO meals and snacks.

    A nationally representative study with a mixed-methods research design will be used to address the six study objectives. States will be selected for the study using FNS administrative data on SFSP and SSO program size. In the selected States, State agencies administering SFSP and SSO will provide lists of participating sites and sponsors from which the sample of sites will be drawn. State agencies administering the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in these States will provide SNAP caseload data. These data will be used in conjunction with postal data to identify children in the catchment areas of sampled sites. Quantitative and qualitative data will be collected from SFSP and SSO sponsors and sites, former sponsors, and participants and eligible nonparticipants.

    Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden on the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions that were used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    Affected Public: Respondent groups identified include: (1) Individuals/Households (preschool- and school-aged children and teens eligible for participation in summer meals and their caregivers); (2) State/Local Government (SFSP and SSO State agencies, SNAP State agencies, and SFSP and SSO sponsors, former sponsors, and sites); and (3) Businesses-for-not-for-Profit (SFSP sponsors, former sponsors, and sites).

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 88, 222.48. Out of the 88,222 sample size initially contacted, FNS anticipates approximately 44,340.59 will respond and 43,881 will not respond during the initial contact. FNS will continue to re-contact non-respondents to reach the desired participation rates. This includes: 85,575 individuals and households, 59 State, Local or Tribal agencies; 1,108 sponsors (665 in the State/Local Government category and 443 in the Business category); and1,480 site supervisors (888 in the State/Local Government category and 592 in the Business category).

    Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 3.67. SFSP and SSO State agencies will be asked to provide lists of participating sites/sponsors twice: Once to draw the initial sample (based on sites and sponsors participating in the Summer of 2017), and then again to finalize the sample to include sites and sponsors participating in the Summer of 2018. SNAP State agencies will be asked to provide caseload data once. Caregivers and their children will be asked to respond to one survey, and a subset of caregivers will be invited to participate in a follow-up key informant interview. Sponsors and site supervisors will respond to one survey, and a subset will be invited to participate in a follow-up telephone interview. Those sponsors and site supervisors responsible for menu planning for the sampled site will also be asked to respond to a menu planning survey, and to provide details on the meals from one week of menus. Some of these sponsors and sites will receive a follow-up menu report to fill in details missing from their original submission of menu information. Former sponsors will be asked to respond to one telephone interview.

    Estimated Total Annual Responses: 323,788. There are approximately 169.470.33 total annual responses from participants and approximately 154,307.74 non-responses for those we contacted. Some non-participants were re-contacted more than once.

    Estimated Average Time per Response: 0.6875. The estimated time of response varies from 1 minute to 60 minutes depending on the respondent group, as shown in the table below; the average estimated response is 0.13 hours.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 22,262. The total public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated at 22,261.68 rounded up to 22,262 burden hours and 323,778 total annual responses. Out of the 22,262 burden hours 18,924 are for respondents and 3337.67 burden hours are for non-respondents. See the table below for estimated total annual burden for each type of respondent.

    BILLING CODE 3410-30-P EN22AU17.077 EN22AU17.078 EN22AU17.079 EN22AU17.080 EN22AU17.081 Dated: August 10, 2017. Brandon Lipps, Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17643 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-30-C
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Food and Nutrition Service Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection Comment Requested—Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) Collection Recipe Submission and Review Forms AGENCY:

    Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 this notice announces the Food and Nutrition Service's (FNS) intent to request approval to collect information via online forms. This is a revision of a currently approved information collection request which was transferred from Agricultural Research Service. These voluntary forms (SNAP-Ed Connection Recipe Submission and Review Forms) will be used by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) instructors, Individuals/Households (consumers from the general public), Business (the private sector), USDA Food program operators, and other Federal entities and State Agencies (school nutrition experts, State Agency nutrition programs) to submit recipes. These same groups will also be able to review recipes. These two voluntary forms (The Recipe Finder Submission Form and The Recipe Review Form) give consumers and nutrition program experts the opportunity to share recipes that they have developed and review recipes that have been submitted by either group.

    DATES:

    Comments on this notice must be received by October 23, 2017 to be assured of consideration.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments may be sent to: Usha Kalro, Food and Nutrition Service, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Program Administration and Accountability Division, SNAP-Ed Connection, 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 822, Alexandria, VA 22302, or via fax 703 305 0928. Submit electronic comments to [email protected] Comments will also be accepted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for submitting comments electronically.

    All written comments will be open for public inspection at the office of the Food and Nutrition Service during regular business hours (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday) at 3101 Park Center Drive, Alexandria, Virginia 22302.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information or copies of this information collected should be directed to Usha Kalro, telephone (703) 305-2397, or at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden on the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions that were used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    All responses to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for Office of Management and Budget approval. All comments will be a matter of public record.

    Title: SNAP-Ed Connection Recipe Submission and Review Forms.

    OMB Number: 0584-0624.

    Form Number: N/A.

    Expiration Date: 10.31.17.

    Type of Request: Revision of a currently approved information collect request.

    Abstract: We are requesting an update in the name of this form. The name change from Food Stamp to SNAP was based on the Farm Bill, The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Pub. L. 110-234, H.R. 2419, 122 Stat. 923, Section 4001 enacted May 22, 2008, also known as the 2008 U.S. Farm Bill).

    The What's Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl (formerly the Food Stamp Nutrition Connection Recipe Finder, and then SNAP-Ed Connection Recipe Finder) https://whatscooking.fns.usda.gov is an on-line recipe database. This database is a central location for recipe users to submit and search for healthy recipes that support the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 (DGA). The recipe database is now a combination of recipes from other USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) programs such as the Food Distribution Programs (FDP) (Food Distribution on Indian Reservations, Commodity Supplemental Food Program, and The Emergency Food Assistance Program), Child Nutrition Programs (CNP), and the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP). The recipes benefit (individuals/households) consumers, State Agency staff, SNAP-Ed instructors, school nutrition experts, and (business-for-not-for-profit) the private sector.

    The Recipe Finder Submission Form allows SNAP-Ed instructors, individuals/household consumers from the general public, USDA Foods program operators, other Federal entities and State Agency nutrition programs, school nutrition experts, and (business-for-not-for-profit) the private sector to submit recipes on-line, making the submission process efficient. The criteria for recipe inclusion vary by program area. Staff from SNAP-Ed Connection, CNPP, FDP, and CNP reviews the data collected from the voluntary Recipe Finder Submission Form. Only Staff will review the form to determine whether a recipe is eligible for inclusion in the database.

    Data collected (such as names, addresses, emails and affiliations) from The Recipe Review Form allows recipe users to provide feedback about the recipe that may help future users & allows the Federal entity to reach out to request any changes in the recipe to meet the DGA. Any Web site user is able to leave comments. Estimated burden for each form and affected public is defined in the table below.

    Form 1: The Recipe Finder Submission Form

    Affected Public: State Agencies (15); Business-for-not-for-profit (5) and Individuals or Households (5).

    Estimated Total Number of Respondents: 25 (There are15 State Agencies—who SNAP-Ed instructors, school nutrition experts, state agency nutrition programs), 5 business from the private sector, 5 individuals and household consumers from the general public, the USDA Foods program operators, and Federal. We are not counting burden for the Federal Government entities since these agencies specializes in food nutrition which falls within the scope of their mission.

    Estimated Frequency of Responses: 1.

    Estimated Total Number of Annual Responses: 25.

    Estimated Burden per Response: 0.1837 (The Recipe Submission Form (estimated average 11 minutes per response.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours for Recipe Submission Form: 4.59.

    Form 2: The Recipe Review Form

    Affected Public: State Agencies (75); Business-for-not-for-profit (50) and Individuals or Households (100).

    Estimated Total Number of Respondents: 225.

    (There are 75 State Agencies—who SNAP-Ed instructors, school nutrition experts, state agency nutrition programs), 50 business from the private sector, 100 individuals and household consumers from the general public, the USDA Foods program operators, and Federal. We are not counting burden for the Federal Government entities since these agencies specializes in food nutrition which falls within the scope of their mission.

    Estimated Frequency of Responses: 1.

    Estimated Total Annual Responses: 225.

    Estimate of Burden for Recipe Review Form: 0.1002 (approximately 6 minutes per response).

    Respondents:

    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents for Recipe Review Form: 22.54 hours.

    Overall Burden Estimate Summary for both Forms: 4.59 + 22.54 = 27.13.

    See table below for overall breakdown by affected public and forms:

    Affected public Type of respondent Number of
  • respondents
  • Frequency per respondents Total annual response Average time per response
  • (hours)
  • Total annual burden hours
    State, Local or Tribal Agencies Recipe Submission Form 15 1 15 0.1837 2.75 State, Local or Tribal Agencies Recipe Review Form 75 1 75 0.1002 7.51 State, Local or Tribal Agencies Sub-Total 90 1 90 0.144 10.26 Business-for-not-for-profit Recipe Submission Form 5 1 5 0.1837 0.9185 Business-for-not-for-profit Recipe Review Form 50 1 50 0.1002 5.01 Business Sub-Total 55 1 55 0.10779 5.9285 Individual or Households Recipe Submission Form 5 1 5 0.1837 0.9185 Individual or Households Recipe Review Form 100 1 100 0.1002 10.02 Individual or Households Sub-Total 105 2 105 0.1837 10.938 Grand Total Burden Estimates 250 1 250 0.108 27
    Dated: August 10, 2017. Brandon Lipps, Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17524 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-30-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Huron-Manistee Resource Advisory Committee AGENCY:

    Forest Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice of meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The Huron-Manistee Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) will meet in Mio, Michigan. The RAC is authorized under the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (the Act) and operates in compliance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The purpose of the RAC is to improve collaborative relationships and to provide advice and recommendations to the Forest Service concerning projects and funding consistent with the Act.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held on September 5, 2017, from 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. All RAC meetings are subject to cancellation. For meeting status prior to attendance, please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held at the Mio Ranger District, 107 McKinley Road, Mio, Michigan 48647. Participants who would like to attend by teleconference or by video conference, please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    Written comments may be submitted as described under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. All comments, including names and addresses when provided, are placed in the record and are available for public inspection and copying. The public may inspect comments received at the Mio Ranger District. Please call ahead to facilitate entry into the building.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Brad Bolton, Designated Federal Officer, by phone at 989-826-3252 or via email at [email protected]

    Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8:00 a.m. and

    8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The purpose of the meeting is to:

    1. Review and adopt meeting minutes from previous meeting,

    2. Review process' for recommending and considering Title II projects,

    3. Provide project presentations, and

    4. Allow for public comment.

    The meeting is open to the public. The agenda will include time for people to make oral statements of three minutes or less. Individuals wishing to make an oral statement should make a request in writing by August 29, 2017, to be scheduled on the agenda. Anyone who would like to bring related matters to the attention of the committee may file written statements with the committee staff before or after the meeting. Written comments and requests for time to make oral comments must be sent to Brad Bolton, Designated Federal Officer, 107 McKinley Road, Mio, Michigan 48647, by email to [email protected], or via facsimile to 989-826-6073.

    Meeting Accommodations: If you are a person requiring reasonable accommodation, please make requests in advance for sign language interpreting, assistive listening devices, or other reasonable accommodation. For access to the facility or proceedings, please contact the person listed in the section titled FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. All reasonable accommodation requests are managed on a case by case basis.

    Dated: August 15, 2017. Jeanne M. Higgins, Acting Associate Deputy Chief, National Forest System.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17714 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3411-15-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [B-22-2017] Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 167—Brown County, Wisconsin; Authorization of Production Activity; Polaris Industries, Inc.; (Spark-Ignition Internal Combustion Engines); Osceola, Wisconsin

    On April 4, 2017, Polaris Industries, Inc., submitted a notification of proposed production activity to the FTZ Board within Subzone 167B, in Osceola, Wisconsin.

    The notification was processed in accordance with the regulations of the FTZ Board (15 CFR part 400), including notice in the Federal Register inviting public comment (82 FR 17968, April 14, 2017). On August 8, 2017, the applicant was notified of the FTZ Board's decision that no further review of the activity is warranted at this time. The production activity described in the notification was authorized, subject to the FTZ Act and the FTZ Board's regulations, including Section 400.14.

    Dated: August 16, 2017. Andrew McGilvray, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17696 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [B-55-2017] Foreign-Trade Zone 38—Spartanburg County, South Carolina; Application for Expansion of Subzone 38A; BMW Manufacturing Company, LLC; Duncan, South Carolina

    An application has been submitted to the Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ) Board by the South Carolina State Ports Authority, grantee of FTZ 38, requesting an expansion of Subzone 38A on behalf of BMW Manufacturing Company, LLC, to include a site in Duncan, South Carolina. The application was submitted pursuant to the provisions of the Foreign-Trade Zones Act, as amended (19 U.S.C. 81a-81u), and the regulations of the FTZ Board (15 CFR part 400). It was formally docketed on August 16, 2017.

    The applicant is requesting authority to expand Subzone 38A to include an additional site: Site 10 (10.68 acres)—1181 Howell Road, Duncan, Spartanburg County. No additional authorization for production activity has been requested at this time.

    In accordance with the FTZ Board's regulations, Qahira El-Amin of the FTZ Staff is designated examiner to review the application and make recommendations to the FTZ Board.

    Public comment is invited from interested parties. Submissions shall be addressed to the FTZ Board's Executive Secretary at the address below. The closing period for their receipt is October 2, 2017. Rebuttal comments in response to material submitted during the foregoing period may be submitted during the subsequent 15-day period to October 16, 2017.

    A copy of the application will be available for public inspection at the Office of the Executive Secretary, Foreign-Trade Zones Board, Room 21013, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230-0002, and in the “Reading Room” section of the FTZ Board's Web site, which is accessible via www.trade.gov/ftz.

    For further information, contact Qahira El-Amin at [email protected] or (202) 482-5928.

    Dated: August 16, 2017. Andrew McGilvray, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17698 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [B-54-2017] Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 277—Western Maricopa County, Arizona; Notification of Proposed Production Activity; CornellCookson, Inc. (Rolling Steel Doors); Goodyear, Arizona

    Greater Maricopa Foreign Trade Zone, Inc., grantee of FTZ 277, submitted a notification of proposed production activity to the FTZ Board on behalf of CornellCookson, Inc. (CornellCookson) for its facility in Goodyear, Arizona within FTZ 277. The notification conforming to the requirements of the regulations of the FTZ Board (15 CFR 400.22) was received on July 19, 2017.

    CornellCookson already has authority to produce rolling steel doors within Site 11 of FTZ 277. The current request would add foreign status components to the scope of authority. Pursuant to 15 CFR 400.14(b), additional FTZ authority would be limited to the specific foreign-status materials/components described in the submitted notification (as described below) and subsequently authorized by the FTZ Board.

    Production under FTZ procedures could exempt CornellCookson from customs duty payments on the foreign-status components used in export production. On its domestic sales, for the foreign-status components noted below, CornellCookson would be able to choose the duty rates during customs entry procedures that apply to rolling steel doors (duty free). Customs duties also could possibly be deferred or reduced on foreign-status production equipment.

    The components sourced from abroad include: Steel chains and parts; release pins; motor mounting kits; chain sprockets; centrifugal switches; electrical rectifiers and power supplies; alarm speakers; electrical motor overload protectors; electrical switches; electrical control panels (less than 1,000 volts); electrical cables and conductors; AC motor heaters; and, AC motor encoders (duty rate ranges from duty-free to 5.7%).

    Public comment is invited from interested parties. Submissions shall be addressed to the Board's Executive Secretary at the address below. The closing period for their receipt is October 2, 2017.

    A copy of the notification will be available for public inspection at the Office of the Executive Secretary, Foreign-Trade Zones Board, Room 21013, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230-0002, and in the “Reading Room” section of the Board's Web site, which is accessible via www.trade.gov/ftz.

    For further information, contact Qahira El-Amin at [email protected] or (202) 482-5928.

    Dated: August 16, 2017. Andrew McGilvray, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17697 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-552-802] Certain Frozen Warmwater Shrimp From the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Notice of Court Decision Not in Harmony With Final Results of Administrative Review and Notice of Amended Final Results AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    On August 8, 2017, the Court of International Trade (CIT) issued its final judgment, sustaining the Department of Commerce's (the Department's) remand results pertaining to the eighth administrative review of the antidumping duty order on certain frozen warmwater shrimp from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (Vietnam) covering the period of review (POR) of February 1, 2012, through January 31, 2013. The Department is notifying the public that the final judgment in this case is not in harmony with the final results of the administrative review, and that the Department is amending the final results with respect to the labor surrogate value applied in the administrative review.

    DATES:

    Applicable August 18, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Irene Gorelik, AD/CVD Operations Office VIII, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-6905.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    On September 24, 2014, the Department published the AR8 Final Results, and on November 4, 2014, it published the AR8 Amended Final Results. 1 In Tri Union I, the CIT granted our request for a voluntary remand on the issue of the labor surrogate value.2 In Remand I, the Department determined that wage rate data from the Bangladeshi Bureau of Statistics (BBS) were not aberrational and constituted the best available information for valuing labor.3 Subsequently, in the Remand II Opinion and Order, the CIT remanded this issue again to the Department.4

    1See Certain Frozen Warmwater Shrimp from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review, 2012- 2013, 79 FR 57047 (September 24, 2014) (AR8 Final Results), and Certain Frozen Warmwater Shrimp from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Amended Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review, 2012-2013, 79 FR 65377 (November 4, 2014) (AR8 Amended Final Results).

    2See Tri Union Frozen Prods. Inc. v. United States, 163 F. Supp. 3d 1255, 1312-13 (CIT 2016) (Tri Union I).

    3See Final Results of Redetermination Pursuant to Court Remand, dated September 1, 2016 (Remand I) at 5; available at: http://enforcement.trade.gov/remands/16-33.pdf.

    4See Tri Union Frozen Products Inc., et.al., v. United States, Court No. 14-00249, Slip Op. 17-71 (June 13, 2017) (Remand II Opinion and Order) at 24-25.

    In light of the Court's Remand II Opinion and Order, we evaluated the record evidence and reconsidered our determination that the Bangladeshi data are the best available information. Consequently, we concluded that the BBS data are not the best available information on the record with which to value the respondents' labor. Instead, we determined to use Indian data on the record as a surrogate value for labor.5

    5See Final Results of Redetermination Pursuant to Court Remand, dated July 25, 2017 (Remand II) at 11-12; available at: http://enforcement.trade.gov/remands/17-71.pdf. See also the petitioner's submission re: “Comments on Surrogate Country Selection,” dated August 30, 2013, and the petitioner's submission re: “Post-Prelim Evidentiary Submission Regarding Surrogate Country and Value Selection,” dated April 28, 2014 at Exhibit 8. See also Memorandum to the File, re: “Draft Remand II Redetermination—Draft Remand II Recalculations,” dated July 5, 2017 (Draft Remand Recalculations).

    In the AR8 Final Results, we calculated a 9.75 percent weighted-average margin for Soc Trang Seafood Joint Stock Company, unchanged in AR8 Amended Final Results. 6 Based on our change of the labor surrogate value in Remand II, we calculated a 10.48 percent weighted-average margin for Soc Trang Seafood Joint Stock Company.7 We intend to liquidate Soc Trang Seafood Joint Stock Company's enjoined entries of subject merchandise at the importer-specific assessment rates revised pursuant to Remand II and identified within the Draft Remand Recalculations.

    6See AR8 Final Results, 79 FR at 57049; see also AR8 Amended Final Results, 79 FR at 65378.

    7See Memorandum to the File, re: “Draft Remand II Redetermination—Draft Remand II Recalculations,” dated July 5, 2017 (Draft Remand Recalculations) at Attachment 3 and 4.

    Further, we adjusted the Minh Phu Group's final margin from 4.98 percent 8 to 5.48 percent,9 for the sole purpose of recalculating the separate rate for the non-individually examined companies that received a separate rate and are parties to this litigation; however, there is no effect to the Minh Phu Group's final margin of 4.98 percent in the AR8 Final Results unchanged in AR8 Amended Final Results. 10 The Department recalculated the separate rate resulting in a weighted-average dumping margin of 6.94 percent for the non-individually examined companies that qualified for a separate rate and are subject to this litigation.11 We intend to liquidate these companies' enjoined entries of subject merchandise at this revised rate of 6.94 percent at the completion of this litigation.

    8See AR8 Final Results, 79 FR at 57049; see also AR8 Amended Final Results, 79 FR at 65378.

    9See Draft Remand Recalculations at Attachments 1 and 2.

    10 Since the issuance of the AR8 Final Results, the Department has revoked the antidumping duty order with respect to the Minh Phu Group. Moreover, the Minh Phu Group is not subject to this litigation, the original injunction enjoining the lifting of suspension has been lifted, and the suspended entries have been liquidated. See Certain Frozen Warmwater Shrimp from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Notice of Implementation of Determination Under Section 129 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act and Partial Revocation of the Antidumping Duty Order, 81 FR 47756, 47757-47758 (July 22, 2016).

    11Id., at 3-7, where we provided the separate rate methodology and recalculation and the list of the separate rate companies that are subject to this litigation.

    Timken Notice

    In its decision in Timken, 12 as clarified by Diamond Sawblades, 13 the Federal Circuit held that, pursuant to section 516A(e) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act), the Department must publish a notice of a court decision that is not “in harmony” with a Department determination and must suspend liquidation of entries pending a “conclusive” court decision.

    12See Timken Co. v. United States, 893 F.2d 337, 341 (Fed. Cir. 1990) (Timken).

    13See Diamond Sawblades Mfrs. Coalition v. United States, 626 F.3d 1374 (Fed. Cir. 2010) (Diamond Sawblades).

    This notice is published in fulfillment of the publication requirement of Timken. Accordingly, the Department will continue the suspension of liquidation of the subject merchandise at issue in the Remand II pending expiration of the period to appeal or, if appealed, a final and conclusive court decision.

    Amended Final Results

    Because there is now a final court decision, the Department is amending the AR8 Amended Final Results. Based on Remand II, as affirmed by the Court on August 8, 2017, the revised weighted-average dumping margin for Soc Trang Seafood Joint Stock Company for the period February 1, 2012, through January 31, 2013, is 10.48 percent. The margin for the non-individually examined respondents that received a separate rate in the AR8 Final Results and are subject to this litigation is 6.94 percent.

    In the event that the CIT's ruling is not appealed or, if appealed, is upheld by a final and conclusive court decision, the Department will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to assess antidumping duties on unliquidated entries of subject merchandise based on the importer-specific assessment rates re-calculated in Remand II for Soc Trang Seafood Joint Stock Company and the above-noted 6.94 percent recalculated separate rate for the non-individually examined respondents that received a separate rate in the AR8 Final Results and are subject to this litigation.

    Cash Deposit Requirements Mandatory Respondent

    Because there have been subsequent administrative reviews for Soc Trang Seafood Joint Stock Company, the cash deposit rate for Soc Trang Seafood Joint Stock Company will remain the rate established in the most recently-completed administrative review in which it received a cash deposit rate of 4.78 percent.14

    14See Certain Frozen Warmwater Shrimp from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review, 2014-2015, 81 FR 62717, 62718-62719 (September 12, 2016) (AR10 Final Results). Soc Trang Seafood Joint Stock Company was granted the following “also-known-as” (aka) or “doing-business-as” (dba) names in AR8 Final Results (which were included in the injunction enjoining liquidation of suspended entries): Soc Trang Seafood Joint Stock Company, aka Stapimex, aka Soc Trang Aquatic Products and General Import Export Company, aka Soc Trang Aquatic Products and General Import Export Company (“Stapimex”), aka Stapmex. However, many of these names were not granted separate rate status in AR10 Final Results. Thus, for liquidation purposes, we will continue to use Soc Trang Seafood Joint Stock Company's aforementioned aka/dba names; but for cash deposit purposes, only the aka and/or dba names granted in AR10 Final Results are valid.

    15 Many of the aka or dba names subject to the litigation were not included in subsequent reviews. Therefore, the aka and/or dba names granted separate rate status in subsequent reviews supersede those listed above. The names listed above are included here as they appear in the injunctions enjoining liquidation pending completion of this litigation. Therefore, for liquidation purposes, we will continue to use the names above; however, only the aka and/or dba names granted in subsequent reviews are valid for cash deposit purposes.

    16See Certain Frozen Warmwater Shrimp from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review, 2015-2016, 82 FR 11431, 11433 (February 23, 2017) (AR11 Final Results).

    Separate-Rate Companies

    There have been subsequent administrative reviews completed for the below-listed non-individually examined companies that qualified for a separate rate and are subject to this litigation; thus, the cash deposit rate for these exporters will remain the rate established in the most recently-completed administrative review in which they received a cash deposit rate:

    Exporter 15 Cash deposit rate in effect
  • (%)
  • Federal Register notice
    Camau Frozen Seafood Processing Import Export Corporation, aka Camimex, aka Camau Seafood Factory No. 4, aka Camau Seafood Factory No. 5, aka Camau Frozen Seafood Processing Import Export Corp. (CAMIMEX-FAC 25), aka Frozen Factory No. 4 4.78 AR10 Final Results. Cafatex Fishery Joint Stock Corporation, aka Cafatex Corporation, aka Cafatex Corp., aka Cafatex, aka Taydo Seafood Enterprise, aka Xi Nghiep Che Bien Thuy Suc San Xuat Kau Cantho 4.78 AR11 Final Results. 16 C.P. Vietnam Corporation, aka C.P. Vietnam Livestock Corporation, aka C.P. Vietnam Livestock Company Limited, aka C.P. Vietnam 25.76 AR11 Final Results. Camau Seafood Processing and Service Joint-Stock Corporation 4.78 AR10 Final Results. Cadovimex Seafood Import-Export and Processing Joint Stock Company, aka Cai Doi Vam Seafood Import-Export Company, aka Caidoivam Seafood Company, aka Cadovimex-Vietnam, aka Cadovimex 4.78 AR11 Final Results. Can Tho Import Export Fishery Limited Company, aka CAFISH 4.78 AR10 Final Results. Coastal Fisheries Development Corporation, aka COFIDEC, aka Coastal Fisheries Development Corp., aka Coastal Fisheries Development Co., aka Coastal Fisheries Development 25.76 AR11 Final Results. Cuu Long Seaproducts Company, aka Cuu Long Seaproducts Limited, aka Cuulong Seapro, aka Cuu Long Seapro 4.78 AR10 Final Results. Danang Seaproducts Import Export Corporation, aka Danang Sea Products Import Export Corporation, aka Tho Quang Seafood Processing & Export Company, aka Tho Quang Seafood Processing and Export Company, aka Tho Quang, aka Tho Quang Co., aka Seaprodex Danang 25.76 AR11 Final Results. Gallant Ocean (Vietnam) Co., Ltd 4.78 AR11 Final Results. Hai Viet Corporation 4.78 AR10 Final Results. Investment Commerce Fisheries Corporation, aka Investment Commerce Fisheries Corp., aka Investment Commerce Fisheries, aka Incomfish, aka Incomfish Corp., aka Incomfish Corporation 4.78 AR11 Final Results. Kim Anh Company Limited, aka Kim Anh Co, Ltd 4.78 AR11 Final Results. Minh Hai Export Frozen Seafood Processing Joint-Stock Company, aka Minh Hai Jostoco 4.78 AR10 Final Results. Minh Hai Joint-Stock Seafoods Processing Company, aka Seaprodex Minh Hai, aka Sea Minh Hai, aka Seaprodex Min Hai, aka Seaprodex Minh Hai-Factory No. 78, aka Seaprodex Minh Hai (Minh Hai Joint Stock Seafoods Processing Co.), aka Seaprodex Minh Hai Workshop 1, aka Seaprodex Minh Hai Factory No. 69 4.78 AR10 Final Results. Minh Hai Sea Products Import Export Company, aka Ca Mau Seafood Joint Stock Company, aka Seaprimexco Vietnam, aka Seaprimexco, aka Minh Hai Seaproducts Co Ltd 4.78 AR10 Final Results. Nha Trang Fisheries Joint Stock Company, aka Nha Trang Fisco aka Nhatrang Fisheries Joint Stock Company, aka Nhatrang Fisco, aka Nha Trang Fisheries, Joint Stock 4.78 AR11 Final Results. Nha Trang Seafoods: Nha Trang Seaproducts Company, aka Nha Trang Seafoods, aka NT Seafoods Corporation, aka NT Seafoods, aka Nha Trang Seafoods-F.89 Joint Stock Company, aka Nha Trang Seafoods-F.89, aka NTSF Seafoods Joint Stock Company, aka NTSF Seafoods 4.78 AR10 Final Results. Phu Cuong Jostoco Seafood Corporation, aka Phu Cuong Seafood Processing and Import-Export Co., Ltd., aka Phu Cuong Seafood Processing and Import Export Company Limited, aka Phu Cuong Jostoco Seafood Corp 25.76 AR11 Final Results. Phuong Nam Foodstuff Corp., aka Phuong Nam Co., Ltd 4.78 AR11 Final Results. Quoc Viet Seaproducts Processing Trading and Import-Export Co., Ltd 4.78 AR10 Final Results. Sao Ta Foods Joint Stock Company, aka Fimex VN, aka Sao Ta Seafood Factory, aka Saota Seafood Factory 4.78 AR10 Final Results. Thong Thuan Company Limited, aka Cong Ty Tnhh Thong Thuan 4.78 AR10 Final Results. Thuan Phuoc Seafoods and Trading Corporation, aka Thuan Phuoc Corp., aka Frozen Seafoods Factory No. 32, aka Seafoods and Foodstuff Factory, aka Seafoods and Foodstuff Factory Vietnam, aka My Son Seafoods Factory 4.78 AR10 Final Results. UTXI Aquatic Products Processing Corporation, aka UT XI Aquatic Products Processing Corporation, aka UTXI Aquatic Products Processing Company, aka UT XI Aquatic Products Processing Company, aka UTXI Co. Ltd., aka UTXI, aka UTXICO, aka Hoang Phuong Seafood Factory, aka Hoang Phong Seafood Factory 4.78 AR11 Final Results. Viet Foods Co., Ltd., aka Nam Hai Foodstuff and Export Company Ltd 4.78 AR10 Final Results. Vietnam Clean Seafood Corporation, aka Vina Cleanfood 4.78 AR10 Final Results. Viet Hai Seafood Co., Ltd., aka Vietnam Fish One Co., Ltd., aka Fish One 4.78 AR11 Final Results. Viet I-Mei Frozen Foods Co., Ltd 4.78 AR10 Final Results.

    There have been no subsequent administrative reviews completed for the below-listed non-individually examined company that qualified for a separate rate and is subject to this litigation; thus, the cash deposit rate of 6.94 percent, as recalculated in Remand II, applies for this exporter.

    Exporter Cash deposit rate in effect
  • (%)
  • BIM Seafood Joint Stock Company 6.94
    Notification to Interested Parties

    This notice is issued and published in accordance with sections 516A(e)(1), 751(a)(1), and 777(i)(1) of the Act.

    Dated: August 15, 2017. Gary Taverman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, Performing the Non-exclusive Functions and Duties of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17629 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [Docket No. 170706630-7630-01] RIN 0648-XF538 Fish and Fish Product Import Provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act List of Foreign Fisheries AGENCY:

    National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS is publishing its draft List of Foreign Fisheries (LOFF) for 2017, as required by the regulations implementing the Fish and Fish Product Import Provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The draft LOFF reflects available information on marine mammal interactions in commercial fisheries exporting fish and fish products to the United States. NMFS has classified each commercial fishery included in the draft LOFF into one of two categories based upon frequency and likelihood of incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals that is likely to occur incidental to each fishery. Fisheries are classified as either exempt or export. The classification of a fishery on the draft and final LOFF will determine which regulatory requirements will be applicable to that fishery to enable the nation to receive a comparability finding necessary to export fish and fish products to the United States from that particular fishery. The draft LOFF can be found at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ia/species/marine_mammals/mmpaloff.html.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on October 23, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2017-0084, by either of the following methods:

    1. Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0084, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields and enter or attach your comments.

    2. Mail: Submit written comments to: Director, Office of International Affairs and Seafood Inspection, Attn: MMPA List of Foreign Fisheries, NMFS, F/IASI, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter “N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe portable document file (PDF) formats only.

    NMFS will consider all comments and information received during the comment period in preparing a final LOFF. NMFS will also seek input from nations on the draft LOFF at bilateral and multilateral meetings, as appropriate.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Nina Young, NMFS F/IASI at [email protected] or 301-427-8383.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In August 2016, NMFS published a final rule (81 FR 54390; August 15, 2016) implementing the fish and fish product import provisions (section 101(a)(2)) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). This rule established conditions for evaluating a harvesting nation's regulatory programs to address incidental and intentional mortality and serious injury of marine mammals in fisheries operated by nations that export fish and fish products to the United States.

    Under this rule, fish or fish products cannot be imported into the United States from commercial fishing operations, which result in the incidental mortality or serious injury of marine mammals in excess of United States standards. Such fish and fish products from export and exempt fisheries identified by the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries in the LOFF can only be imported into the United States if the harvesting nation has applied for and received a comparability finding from NMFS. The rule established procedures that a harvesting nation must follow and conditions it must meet to receive a comparability finding for a fishery. The rule also established provisions for intermediary nations to ensure that such nations do not import and re-export to the United States fish or fish products that are subject to an import prohibition.

    What is the List of Foreign Fisheries?

    Based on information provided by nations, industry, the public, and other readily available sources, NMFS has identified nations with commercial fishing operations that export fish and fish products to the United States and has classified each of those fisheries based on their frequency of marine mammal interactions as either “exempt” or “export” fisheries (see definitions below). The entire list of these export and exempt fisheries, organized by nation (or subsidiary jurisdiction), constitutes the LOFF.

    Why is the LOFF important?

    Under the MMPA, the United States prohibits imports of commercial fish or fish products caught in commercial fishing operations resulting in the incidental killing or serious injury (bycatch) of marine mammals in excess of United States standards (16 U.S.C. 1371(a)(2)). NMFS published regulations implementing these MMPA import provisions in August 2016 (81 FR 54390, August 15, 2016). The regulations apply to any foreign nation with fisheries exporting fish and fish products to the United States, either directly or through an intermediary nation.

    The LOFF is an integral part of the process for implementing the import provisions of the MMPA. As described below, the LOFF lists foreign commercial fisheries that export fish and fish products to the United States and that have been classified as either “export” or “exempt” based on the frequency and likelihood of interactions or incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammal. A harvesting nation must apply for and receive a comparability finding for each of its export and exempt fisheries to continue to export fish and fish products from those fisheries to the United States. For all fisheries, in order to receive a comparability finding under this program, the harvesting nation must prohibit intentional killing of marine mammals in the course of commercial fishing operations in the fishery or demonstrate that it has procedures to reliably certify that exports of fish and fish products to the United States were not harvested in association with the intentional killing or serious injury of marine mammals.

    What do the classifications of “exempt fishery” and “export fishery” mean?

    The classifications of “exempt fishery” or “export fishery” determine the criteria that a particular nation's fishery must meet to receive a comparability finding for that fishery. A comparability finding is required for both exempt and export fisheries, but the criteria differ.

    The criteria for an exempt fishery to receive a comparability finding are limited only to those conditions related to the prohibition of intentional killing or injury of marine mammals (see 50 CFR 216.24(h)(6)(iii)(A)). To receive a comparability finding, export fisheries, must comply with those criteria and also maintain regulatory programs comparable in effectiveness to the U.S. regulatory program for reducing incidental marine mammal bycatch (see 50 CFR 216.24(h)(6)).

    What is the five-year exemption period?

    NMFS included a five-year exemption period (which began 1 January, 2017) in this process to allow foreign harvesting nations time to develop, as appropriate, regulatory programs comparable in effectiveness to U.S. programs at reducing marine mammal bycatch. During this exemption period, NMFS, based on the final LOFF, and in consultation with the Secretary of State, will consult with harvesting nations with commercial fishing operations identified as export or exempt fisheries for purposes of notifying the harvesting nation of the requirements of the MMPA. NMFS will continue to urge harvesting nations to gather information about marine mammal bycatch in their commercial fisheries to inform the next draft and final LOFF. NMFS will re-evaluate foreign commercial fishing operations and publish a notice of availability of the draft for public comment, and a notice of availability of the final revised LOFF in the Federal Register the year prior to the expiration of the exemption period (2020).

    If, during the five-year exemption period, the United States determines that a marine mammal stock is immediately and significantly adversely affected by an export fishery, NMFS may use its emergency rulemaking authority to institute an import ban on these products.

    How will NMFS classify a fishery if a harvesting nation does not provide information?

    In instances where information on the commercial fishing operations and the frequency and likelihood of bycatch in a fishery has not been provided by the nation or is not readily available, NMFS may determine whether a fishery is an exempt or export fishery by evaluating the fishery using information such as fishing techniques, gear used, methods used to deter marine mammals, target species, seasons and areas fished, qualitative data from logbooks or fisher reports, stranding data, the species and distribution of marine mammals in the area, or other factors.

    As anticipated, information on the frequency or likelihood of interactions or bycatch in most foreign fisheries was lacking or incomplete. In the absence of such information, NMFS used the information noted above to classify fisheries, which may include drawing analogies to similar U.S. fisheries and gear types interacting with similar marine mammal stocks. Where no analogous fishery or fishery information exists, NMFS classified the commercial fishing operation as an export fishery until such time as information comes available to properly classify the fishery. NMFS may reclassify a fishery if a harvesting nation provides, during the comment period, reliable information to reclassify the fishery or such information is readily available to NMFS in the course of preparing a revised LOFF.

    Instructions to Nations Reviewing the Draft LOFF

    In the LOFF, the vast majority, 3272 fisheries, are classified as export fisheries in accordance with 50 CFR 216.24(h)(3) and 216.3. To ensure the appropriate classification of their fisheries, nations should review the LOFF at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ia/species/marine_mammals/mmpaloff.html together with this Federal Register notice carefully and submit detailed comments on their commercial fishing and processing operations. In this Federal Register notice, NMFS provides detailed information on the information reviewed to create the LOFF, the criteria used to classify a fishery as exempt or export, and the assumptions made to determine such classifications based on the information submitted or found readily available.

    If a nation or entity wishes to advocate for a change in the classification of a fishery, the nation or entity should provide detailed information about the fishery, summaries of observer or logbook data, information on analogous fisheries where marine mammal bycatch may or may not occur, and detailed documentary evidence to support its claims, including, whenever possible, peer-reviewed data on marine mammal bycatch and impacts of bycatch to marine mammal population abundance. NMFS recommends that nations make specific edits in the appropriate column to the draft LOFF and provide references and supporting information.

    Instructions for Freshwater and Inland Fisheries

    Fisheries that occur solely in fresh water outside any marine mammal habitat, and inland aquaculture operations, are exempt from this rule. If any such fisheries have been included in the LOFF, nations should indicate such fisheries and provide the necessary documentary evidence so NMFS can remove them from the LOFF as appropriate.

    Instructions for Data Sets Listed as “None Provided”

    Many nations either did not provide information or provided incomplete information. Where no information was provided, NMFS labelled that data set as “none provided.” Nations are strongly encouraged to provide that information during the public comment period. In particular, NMFS is lacking information for many fisheries on gear type, area of operation, marine mammal species that a fishery may encounter or entangle as bycatch, and bycatch estimates for many species. This information is critical for properly classifying the fishery. When no information was provided, NMFS used other readily available information to define a fishery. Nations are urged to review both information supplied by the nation or discovered by NMFS, especially those nations that did not provide information or provided incomplete information.

    NMFS also urges nations to provide the area of operation for both wild-caught fisheries and aquaculture operations for all the fisheries listed. It is particularly important for nations to provide information on the location of aquaculture operations (e.g., open ocean, lagoon, or pond) and the type of aquaculture operation (e.g., pens, cages, or lines); without this information, NMFS cannot properly classify an aquaculture operation.

    Instructions for Reviewing Gear Type and Operational Areas

    In developing the LOFF, NMFS divided the fisheries by gear type because certain gears are documented as posing a greater risk of having marine mammal bycatch than others. Subdividing fishery information in this manner may not account for the actual or estimated number of vessels. Nations should review the number of vessels licensed to fish with a particular gear type and provide comments or revised estimates of vessels licensed to fish with that gear type.

    Some fisheries in the LOFF are likely multi-species fisheries but are currently classified separately by fish species. If a fishery listed has multiple target species (e.g., demersal fish or large pelagics) and is represented more than once on the LOFF, nations should consider consolidating those fisheries to accurately reflect the multi-species nature of that fishery. For example, cod and haddock fisheries that are classified separately can be designated as multispecies groundfish fishery (including cod, haddock, etc.). NMFS encourages nations to aggregate those fisheries that are listed separately into a broader fishery designation, as appropriate, and provide NMFS with a list of fish species that are captured in that fishery and its operational details (e.g., coastal pelagic gillnet fishery).

    NMFS also urges nations to group or list fisheries, not based on the product exported but on the actual target species of the fishery. If an exported fish or fish product is not a target of a fishery but rather is a bycatch of that fishery, nations should note that information. NMFS prefers avoiding consolidating gear types together due to the different risk gear types pose to marine mammals, but would consider aggregating fisheries by target species or area, based on a nation's recommendations.

    NMFS separated fisheries into specific areas of operation. Our experience indicates that marine mammal bycatch can differ depending on a fishery's area of operation and its overlap with marine mammal populations. NMFS urges nations to review the area of operation listed for each fishery and aggregate fisheries of the same gear type into larger areas of operation (e.g., encompassing more bays or management zones) where appropriate. NMFS recommends avoiding collapsing areas into larger management areas unless it is appropriate to do so and would not result in a fishery with marine mammal bycatch disadvantaging one or more fisheries that do not pose the same level of risk.

    Instructions for High Seas Fisheries Operating Within a Regional Fishery Management Organization, Intergovernmental Agreement, or Access Agreement

    NMFS attempted to identify fisheries that are operating within a convention area of a regional fishery management organization (RFMO) or are associated with an intergovernmental agreement. NMFS requests that nations identify which fisheries are operating or authorized under an RFMO or intergovernmental agreement and provide information on conservation and management measures that specifically govern the bycatch of marine mammals in that organization. This information will further assist in the classification of fisheries and determinations related to future comparability findings.

    Many nations have access agreements with other nations that permit them to fish within the EEZ or territorial waters of another nation (see annex on global tuna catch and access agreements in supporting documents at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ia/species/marine_mammals/mmpaloff.html).

    In most cases, nations did not provide information distinguishing between vessels permitted to fish in their own territorial waters from their national vessels fishing in distant waters under some type of access agreement. NMFS strongly encourages nation to identify which fisheries are operating under access agreements in distant waters or within the EEZ of another nation and the reporting requirements for such fisheries.

    Instruction for Nations That Are Processing Fish and Fish Products

    For the purposes of identifying intermediary nations (discussed below), if a nation exports a fish or fish product to the United States for which it is only the processor, and the fish in that product is harvested elsewhere, NMFS strongly encourages nations or other entities to identify those products and the source fisheries and nations for those products. Providing this information will result in NMFS re-classifying a nation as an intermediary nation for that specific fish or fish product.

    Instructions for Fisheries With No Specific Target Species

    Nations will note that there are products for which NMFS has been unable to find information (e.g., gear type and area of operation), and there are fisheries that have been documented in the literature as having marine mammal bycatch associated with a nation and gear type but for which no target species of fish or fish products was identified. NMFS urges nations to provide the information that is lacking and as much detail as possible about the fishery, its operational characteristics, and its interactions with marine mammals, including applicable references.

    Instructions for Which Fisheries Should be Included in the LOFF

    NMFS urges nations to examine their exports to the United States over the last decade and include all fisheries which have, are, or may in the future be the source of fish and fish products exported to the United States. To ensure that no fisheries are overlooked in this process, nations should be as inclusive as possible. Nations or other entities should provide all the documentation and applicable references necessary to support any proposed modifications to the fisheries in the LOFF. Providing such information will ensure an accurate classification of each fishery in the final LOFF and avoid requiring a nation to develop a regulatory program for a fishery classified as an export fishery because the nation failed to provide information.

    Instructions for Non-Nation Entities

    NMFS welcomes the input of the public, non-governmental organizations, and scientists. These entities can provide critical information about marine mammal bycatch in global fisheries and efforts to mitigate such bycatch. NMFS requests that when such entities comment on the LOFF, they provide as much detail and supporting documentary evidence as possible. While there are references in the literature to marine mammal bycatch in certain foreign fisheries, it may be that fish and fish products originating from those fisheries are not exported to the United States (e.g., artisanal or coastal fisheries for domestic consumption). NMFS would like to receive information on which fish and fish products are exported to the United States and the frequency of marine mammal interactions or bycatch in those fisheries.

    Further Direction and Instructions

    NMFS urges all nations and all stakeholders to review the criteria, assumptions, and global classifications that follow in this Federal Register notice, to more completely understand the classifications and rationale in the LOFF.

    Definitions What is a “comparability finding?”

    A comparability finding is a finding by NMFS that the harvesting nation for an export or exempt fishery has met the applicable conditions specified in the regulations (see 50 CFR 216.24(h)) subject to the additional considerations for comparability findings set out in the regulations. A comparability finding is required for a nation to export fish and fish products to the United States. In order to receive a comparability finding for an export fishery, the harvesting nation must maintain a regulatory program with respect to that fishery that is comparable in effectiveness to the U.S. regulatory program for reducing incidental marine mammal bycatch. This may be met by maintaining a regulatory program that includes measures that are comparable, or that effectively achieve comparable results, to the regulatory program under which the analogous U.S. fishery operates.

    What is the definition of an “export fishery?”

    The definition of export fishery can be found in the implementing regulations for section 101(a)(2) of the MMPA (see 50 CFR 216.3). NMFS considers “export” fisheries to be functionally equivalent to Category I and II fisheries under the U.S. regulatory program (see definitions at 50 CFR 229.2). The definition of an export fishery is summarized below.

    NMFS defines “export fishery” as a foreign commercial fishing operation determined by the Assistant Administrator to be the source of exports of commercial fish and fish products to the United States that have more than a remote likelihood of incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals in the course of its commercial fishing operations.

    Where reliable information on the frequency of incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals caused by the commercial fishing operation is not provided by the harvesting nation, the Assistant Administrator may determine the likelihood of incidental mortality and serious injury as more than remote by evaluating information concerning factors such as fishing techniques, gear used, methods used to deter marine mammals, target fish species, seasons and areas fished, qualitative data from logbooks or fisher reports, stranding data, the species and distribution of marine mammals in the area, or other factors.

    Commercial fishing operations not specifically identified in the current LOFF as either exempt or export fisheries are deemed to be export fisheries until a revised LOFF is posted, unless the harvesting nation provides the Assistant Administrator with information to properly classify the foreign commercial fishing operation. The Assistant Administrator may also request additional information from the harvesting nation, as well as consider other relevant information about such commercial fishing operations and the frequency of incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals, to properly classify the foreign commercial fishing operation.

    What is the definition of an “exempt fishery?”

    The definition of exempt fishery can be found in the implementing regulations for section 101(a)(2) of the MMPA (see 50 CFR 216.3). NMFS considers “exempt” fisheries to be functionally equivalent to Category III fisheries under the U.S. regulatory program (see definitions at 50 CFR 229.2). The definition of an exempt fishery is summarized below.

    NMFS defines an exempt fishery as a foreign commercial fishing operation determined by the Assistant Administrator to be the source of exports of commercial fish and fish products to the United States that have a remote likelihood of, or no known, incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals in the course of commercial fishing operations. A commercial fishing operation that has a remote likelihood of causing incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals is one that, collectively with other foreign fisheries exporting fish and fish products to the United States, causes the annual removal of:

    (1) Ten percent or less of any marine mammal stock's bycatch limit, or

    (2) More than ten percent of any marine mammal stock's bycatch limit, yet that fishery by itself removes one percent or less of that stock's bycatch limit annually, or

    (3) Where reliable information has not been provided by the harvesting nation on the frequency of incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals caused by the commercial fishing operation, the Assistant Administrator may determine whether the likelihood of incidental mortality and serious injury is “remote” by evaluating information such as fishing techniques, gear used, methods to deter marine mammals, target fish species, seasons and areas fished, qualitative data from logbooks or fisher reports, stranding data, the species and distribution of marine mammals in the area, or other factors at the discretion of the Assistant Administrator.

    A foreign fishery will not be classified as an exempt fishery unless the Assistant Administrator has reliable information from the harvesting nation, or other information to support such a finding.

    Developing the 2017 Draft List of Foreign Fisheries How is the List of Foreign Fisheries organized?

    NMFS organized the LOFF by harvesting nation (or subsidiary jurisdiction), then exempt fisheries, export fisheries, and export fisheries with no information. The fisheries listed contain defining factors including geographic location of harvest, gear-type, target species or a combination thereof. The LOFF also includes a list of the marine mammals that interact with each commercial fishing operation, where known, and, when available, indicates the level of incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals in each commercial fishing operation.

    What sources of information did NMFS use to classify the commercial fisheries included in the draft LOFF?

    NMFS reviewed and considered documentation provided by nations; the public; and other sources of information, where available, including fishing vessel records; reports of on-board fishery observers; information from off-loading facilities, port-side government officials, enforcement, transshipment vessel workers and fish importers; government vessel registries; RFMOs or intergovernmental agreement documents, reports, national reports, and statistical document programs; appropriate catch certification programs; Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)documents and profiles; and published literature and reports on commercial fishing operations with intentional or incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals. NMFS has used these sources of information and any other readily available information to classify the fisheries as “export” or “exempt” fisheries to develop the LOFF.

    How did NMFS obtain the information used to classify fisheries included in the draft LOFF?

    First, NMFS identified imports of fish and fish products by nation using the U.S. foreign trade database for commercial fisheries imports found at: http://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/commercial-fisheries/foreign-trade/. Second, in December 2016 NMFS notified in writing each nation with commercial fishing or processing operations that export fish or fish products to the United States to request that within 90 days of notification, by April 1, 2017, the nation submit information about commercial fishing or processing operations. NMFS included in that notification a list of fish and fish products imported into the United States from that nation during the past several years.

    For commercial fishing operations, NMFS requested information on the number of participants, number of vessels, gear type, target species, area of operation, fishing season, and any information regarding the frequency of marine mammal incidental mortality and serious injury, including programs to assess marine mammal populations or bycatch. NMFS also requested that nations submit copies of any laws, decrees, regulations, or measures to reduce incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals in their commercial fishing operations or prohibit the intentional killing or injury of marine mammals.

    NMFS also evaluated information submitted by the nations and the public in response to Federal Register Notice (82 FR 2961, January 10, 2017) seeking information on foreign commercial fishing operations that export fish and fish products to the United States and the frequency of incidental and intentional mortality and serious injury of marine mammals in those fisheries.

    How did NMFS determine which species or stocks are included as incidentally or intentionally killed or seriously injured in a fishery?

    The LOFF includes a list of marine mammal species and/or stocks incidentally or intentionally killed or injured in a commercial fishing operation. The list of species and/or stocks incidentally or intentionally killed or injured includes “serious” and “non-serious” documented injuries and interactions with fishing gear, including interactions such as depredation.

    NMFS reviewed information submitted by nations and readily available scientific information including co-occurrence models demonstrating distributional overlap of the commercial fishing operations and marine mammals to determine which species or stocks to include as incidentally or intentionally killed or seriously injured in or interacting with a fishery. NMFS also reviewed, when available, injury determination reports, bycatch estimation reports, observer data, logbook data, disentanglement network data, fisher self-reports, and the information referenced in the definition of exempt and export fishery (see above or 50 CFR 216.3).

    How often will NMFS revise the List of Foreign Fisheries?

    NMFS has developed this draft LOFF and intends to publish a notice of the availability of the final LOFF in the Federal Register by January 1, 2018. NMFS will re-evaluate foreign commercial fishing operations and publish a notice of availability of the draft for public comment, and a notice of availability of the final revised LOFF in the Federal Register the year prior to the expiration of the exemption period (2020). NMFS will revise the final LOFF, as appropriate, and publish a notice of availability in the Federal Register every four years thereafter. In revising the list, NMFS may reclassify a fishery if new, substantive information indicates the need to re-examine and possibly reclassify a fishery. After publication of the LOFF, if a nation wishes to commence exporting fish and fish products to the United States from a fishery not on the LOFF, that fishery will be classified as an export fishery until the next LOFF is published and will be provided a provisional comparability finding for a period not to exceed twelve months. If a harvesting nation can provide the reliable information necessary to classify the commercial fishing operation at the time of the request for a provisional comparability finding or prior to the expiration of the provisional comparability finding, NMFS will classify the fishery in accordance with the definitions. The provisions for new entrants are discussed in the regulations implementing section 101(a)(2) of the MMPA (see 50 CFR 216.24(h)(8)(vi)).

    How can a classification be changed?

    To change a fishery's classification, nations or other interested stakeholders must provide observer data, logbook summaries, or reports that specifically indicate the presence or absence of marine mammal interactions, quantify such interactions wherever possible, provide additional information on the location and operation of the fishery (e.g., nearshore in less than three meters of water), details about the gear type and how it is used, maps showing the distribution of marine mammals and the operational area of the fishery; information regarding marine mammal populations and the biological impact of that fishery on those populations, and/or any other documentation that clearly demonstrates that a fishery is either an export or exempt fishery.

    The Intersection of the LOFF and Other Statutes Certifying Bycatch What is the relationship between the MMPA import rule, the LOFF, and the affirmative finding process and yellowfin tuna purse seine fisheries in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean?

    Dolphin (family Delphinidae) incidental mortality and serious injury in eastern tropical Pacific yellowfin tuna purse seine fisheries are covered by section 101(a)(2)(B) and Title III of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1371(a)(2)(B) and 16 U.S.C. 1411-1417), implemented at 50 CFR 216.24(a)-(g). Nations must still comply with those provisions and receive an affirmative finding in order to export tuna to the United States. Tuna purse seine fishing vessels fishing for tuna with a carrying capacity of 400 short tons or greater that are governed by the Agreement for the International Dolphin Conservation Program (AIDCP) are not included in the LOFF, and are not required to apply for and receive a comparability finding. Purse seine vessels under 400 short tons and vessels using all other gear types operating in the eastern tropical Pacific must comply with the MMPA import rule. These fisheries are included in the LOFF and must apply for and receive a comparability finding.

    What is the intersection of the U.S. shrimp certification program (Section 609 of Pub. L. 101-162) with the MMPA import rule?

    Section 609 of Public Law 101-162 (“Sec. 609”) prohibits imports of certain categories of shrimp unless the President annually certifies to the Congress by May 1, 1991, and annually thereafter, that either: (1) The harvesting nation has adopted a program governing the incidental taking of sea turtles in its commercial shrimp fishery comparable to the program in effect in the United States and has an incidental take rate comparable to that of the United States; or (2) the particular fishing environment of the harvesting nation does not pose a threat of the incidental taking of sea turtles. On May 1, 2017, the Department of State certified that 13 shrimp-harvesting nations and four fisheries have a regulatory program comparable to that of the United States governing the incidental taking of the relevant species of sea turtles in the course of commercial shrimp harvesting and that the particular fishing environments of 26 shrimp-harvesting nations, one economy, and three fisheries do not pose a threat of the incidental taking of covered sea turtles in the course of such harvesting (83 FR 21295 May 5, 2017). All nations exporting wild-caught shrimp and shrimp products to the United States, regardless of whether they are certified under this provision, must also comply with the MMPA import rule, be included on the LOFF, and have a comparability finding. Nations in compliance with the MMPA import rule, but not certified under Public Law 101-162, cannot export wild-caught shrimp to the United States.

    Classification Criteria, Rationale, and Process Used To Classify Fisheries Process When Incidental Mortality and Serious Injury Estimates and Bycatch Limits Are Available

    If estimates of the total incidental mortality and serious injury were available and a bycatch limit calculated for a marine mammal stock, NMFS used the quantitative and tiered analysis to classify foreign commercial fishing operations as export or exempt fisheries under the category definition within 50 CFR 229.2 and the procedures used to categorize U.S. fisheries as Category I, II, or III, at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/interactions/lof/.

    Process When Only Incidental Mortality and Serious Injury Estimates Were Available

    In the majority of cases, however, NMFS either did not receive any information or found that the information provided was incomplete, lacking detail regarding marine mammal interactions, and lacking quantitative information on the frequency of interactions. Where nations provided estimates of bycatch (incidental or intentional mortality or serious injury) or NMFS found estimates of bycatch in published literature, national reports, or through other readily available sources, NMFS classified the fishery as an export fishery if the information indicated that there was a likelihood that the mortality and serious injury was more than remote. The code or designation in the LOFF for the determination “presence of bycatch” is recorded as “P” in the LOFF.

    Alternative Approaches When Estimates of Marine Mammal Bycatch Are Unavailable

    Because bycatch estimates were lacking for most fisheries, NMFS relied on three considerations to assess the likelihood of bycatch or interaction with marine mammals, including: (1) Co-occurrence, the spatial and seasonal distribution and overlap of marine mammals and fishing operations; (2) analogous gear, evaluation of records of bycatch and assessment of risk, where such information exists, in analogous U.S. and international fisheries or gear types; and (3) overarching classifications, evaluation of gears and fishing operations and their risk of marine mammal bycatch (see section below for further discussion). Published scientific literature provides numerous risk assessments of marine mammal bycatch in fisheries, routinely using these approaches to estimate marine mammal mortality rates, identify information gaps, set priorities for conservation, and transfer technology for deterring marine mammals from gear and catch. Findings from the most recent publications cited in this Federal Register notice, often demonstrate level of risk by location, season, fishery, and gear. A summary of the information used to support the designations described below is available in the annotated bibliography and the expanded LOFF with references and comments, at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ia/species/marine_mammals/mmpaloff.html.

    Co-Occurrence Evaluation

    The co-occurrence of marine mammal populations with a commercial fishing operation can be a measure of risk. NMFS evaluated, when available, the distribution and spatial overlap of marine mammal populations and commercial fishing operations to determine whether the probability for marine mammal interactions or bycatch in that fishery is more than remote. Resources that NMFS used to consider co-occurrence include OBIS-SEAMAP http://seamap.env.duke.edu/, http://www.hsi.org/assets/pdfs/mapping_marine_mammals.pdf and http://www.conservationecologylab.com/uploads/1/9/7/6/19763887/lewison_et_al_2014.pdf. Additional sources in peer reviewed literature that provide documentation of co-occurrence are Komoroske & Lewison 2015; FAO 2010; Watson et al. 2006; Read et al., 2006; Reeves et al., 2004. The code or designation for “co-occurrence” is recorded as “C/O” in the LOFF.

    Analogous Gear Evaluation

    Where a nation did not provide documentation or information was not readily available on the amount of marine mammal bycatch in a fishery or the co-occurrence, NMFS classified a fishery as exempt or export by analogy to similar U.S. or international fisheries and gear types interacting with similar marine mammal stocks. NMFS consulted the United States' domestic MMPA List of Fisheries when classifying by analogy international fisheries http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/interactions/fisheries/2017_list_of_

    fisheries_lof.html. NMFS also evaluated other relevant information including, but not limited to: Fishing techniques, gear used, methods used to deter marine mammals, target fish species, seasons and areas fished, qualitative data from logbooks or fisher reports, stranding data, the species and distribution of marine mammals in the area, or other factors. The code or designation for the determination “analogous gear” is recorded as “A/G” in the LOFF. Gear types commonly used in U.S. fisheries, such as longline, gillnet, purse seine, trawl, and pot/trap, were identified as “analogous gear” in the justification section of the LOFF. Gear types not commonly used in U.S. waters, such as Danish seine, ring nets, lift nets or large pound nets off Southeast Asia, however, could not be compared to an analogous gear or fishery in the United States. Classification in the Absence of Information

    When no analogous gear, fishery, or fishery information existed, or insufficient information was provided by the nation, and information was not readily available, NMFS classified the commercial fishing operation as an export fishery per the definition of “export fishery” at 50 CFR 216.3. These fishing operations will remain classified as export fisheries until the harvesting nation provides the reliable information necessary to classify properly the fishery or, in the course of revising the LOFF, such information becomes readily available to NMFS. The code or designation for the determination “no information” is recorded as “N/I” in the LOFF.

    Multiple Codes and Additional Terms in the LOFF

    In some cases, NMFS recorded multiple codes as the rationale for a fishery classification. For example, NMFS may have received insufficient information from a nation, still lacks information in some columns, yet classified the fishery by analogy. In that instance, the codes used to classify the fishery would be: “N/I, A/G.”

    Additional terms in the LOFF include “none provided,” “no information,” and “none documented”. “None provided” indicates the nation did not provide information and no information could be found through research and literature searches. “None documented” indicates that neither the nation nor reference material have documented interactions with marine mammals either through observers or logbooks. “No information” indicates that the nation provided information but did not specifically provide information on the marine mammal species interacting with a fishery or estimates of marine mammal bycatch.

    Overarching Classifications

    Below is a discussion of the overarching fishery classifications of gillnets, longlines, purse seines, trawls, and aquaculture, and their interactions with marine mammals.

    Gillnets

    Because the available information indicates that there is a likelihood that the mortality and serious injury caused by gillnets is more than remote, NMFS has classified all gillnet fisheries as export fisheries in the draft LOFF. Several U.S. gillnet fisheries, which are analogous to some fisheries considered in the LOFF, have been categorized as Category I fisheries under the MMPA. Records show that between 1990 and 2011, bycatch in gillnets continues to affect many dolphins (odontocetes); namely 56 of the 74 recognized species (75%) have been bycaught in gillnets (Reeves et al. 2013). Additionally, records indicate that nine species of the 14 recognized species of whales have been bycaught in gillnets. For seals and sea lions, 14 of the 18 extant species of phocid seals were captured in gillnets; and of the 14 species of otariid seals and sea lions (including one extinct species), seven have been bycaught in gillnets (Reeves et al. 2013). Since 1990, marine mammal bycatch in gillnets has increased and consistently poses a significant risk to marine mammals (Reeves et al. 2013). In particular, Lewison et al. (2014) found that gillnets for finfish have high bycatch intensity in various fishing regions of the world.

    International and regional marine mammal and fishery management organizations such as ACCOBAMS (2008), ASCOBANS (2009), CMS (2011), FAO (2000), ICES (2013), IOTC (2014), and IWC (2004) have conducted workshops, collected information, and published findings documenting the high risk gillnets pose to marine mammals.

    Based on the available information, NMFS has designated all gillnet fisheries as export fisheries. Nations wishing to challenge this designation must provide observer or logbook data sufficient to refute this determination. When possible, NMFS requests nations provide documentation that demonstrates that a gillnet fishery poses a remote likelihood of incidental mortality and serious injury to marine mammals.

    Longlines

    Because the available information indicates that there is a likelihood that the mortality and serious injury caused by longlines is more than remote, NMFS classified all longline fisheries as export fisheries. U.S. longline fisheries, which are analogous to some fisheries considered in the LOFF, have been categorized as Category I fisheries under the MMPA.

    In longline fisheries, hooking, entanglement, and boat strikes account for some mortality and serious injury, but not all interactions or depredation may have this result. Interactions of marine mammals with longline fisheries are likely to be under-reported (Clarke 2014). Though not as great a threat for cetaceans globally as compared with other gear types, longline bycatch is a threat to several species and populations, including false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens), Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus), and pilot whales (Globicephala spp.) in the Northwest Atlantic (Werner 2015). Killer whales (Orcinus orca) and sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) appear to be the main species involved with demersal longline fisheries at higher latitudes, while false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) and pilot whales (Globicephala spp.) appear to be the primary species involved with pelagic longline fisheries at lower latitudes (Hamer 2012).

    In a 2010 bycatch workshop with tuna RFMOs, the FAO found that progress on quantifying tuna RFMO fishery impacts on marine mammal populations and related progress in mitigating or reducing the mortality has been slow, because the priority for fishers is the adoption of measures to reduce or eliminate depredation and gear damage (FAO 2010). In tuna longline fisheries, which represent a significant portion of fisheries that export seafood to the United States, cetaceans are occasionally entangled and hooked. Any entanglement could be mitigated by the use of voluntary or mandated best practices to avoid bycatch by the tuna fishing industry; however, to date, the application of such techniques has been limited (Gilman 2011).

    Only through an evaluation of the bycatch rate and a determination of overall risk of bycatch associated with longline fishing can definitive case-by-case classifications be made for longline fisheries. NMFS invites nations who are parties and cooperating non-parties to RFMOs to join us in urging their respective RFMOs to undertake, as a research priority, such a risk assessment and analyze logbook and observer data to analyze the marine mammal bycatch risk posed by longline fisheries.

    NMFS designated all longline fisheries as export fisheries. Nations wishing to challenge this designation must provide observer or logbook data sufficient to refute this determination. When possible, NMFS requests that nations provide documentation that demonstrates that a longline fishery poses a remote likelihood of incidental mortality and serious injury to marine mammals.

    Purse Seines

    Because the available information indicates that there is a likelihood that the mortality and serious injury caused by purse seines is more than remote, NMFS classified several types of purse seine fisheries as export fisheries. Purse seine gear is documented to have marine mammal bycatch globally (Anderson 2014, Hall 2013, NOAA Tech Memo 2011). A portion of tuna exported to the United States is captured with purse seines, documented to have marine mammal bycatch (Anderson 2014, Gilman 2011, IOTC 2010). Marine mammal interactions have been documented in purse seine fisheries other than those for tuna, including anchovy (Gonzales 2015), sardine (Prajith 2014), and small scale coastal fisheries for various species (Mustika, 2014, Kiszka 2008).

    Purse seine fisheries for tuna are, with some exceptions, managed through RFMOs according to agreements entered into by member nations. Five tuna RFMOs manage fisheries in the Southern Ocean, Indian Ocean, Eastern Tropical Pacific, Western and Central Pacific, and Atlantic. Only three RFMOs have adopted measures to mitigate marine mammal bycatch in purse seine fisheries or prohibit entirely the intentional encirclement of marine mammals with purse seines. Specifically, the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission serves as the secretariat for the International Dolphin Conservation Program; the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission prohibits members from intentionally setting on cetaceans; and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission also prohibits intentionally setting on schools associated with cetaceans, and requires reasonable steps to ensure safe release of marine mammals. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas and the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna do not prescribe marine mammal conservation measures.

    NMFS designated most non-tuna purse seine fisheries as export fisheries. Purse seine fisheries outside tuna RFMO areas of jurisdiction are designated as export fisheries. Tuna fisheries within the jurisdiction of RFMOs lacking measures that prohibit intentional encirclement are export fisheries. Tuna fisheries within the jurisdiction of RFMOs with measures that prohibit intentional encirclement are exempt fisheries, unless information submitted by nations or readily available scientific information shows that the fishery has more than a remote likelihood of incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals in the course of its commercial fishing operations. Nations wishing to challenge these designations must provide observer or logbook data sufficient to refute this determination. When possible, NMFS requests nations provide documentation that demonstrates that purse seine gear in a particular fishery poses a remote likelihood of incidental mortality and serious injury to marine mammals.

    Trawl

    Because the available information indicates that there is a likelihood that the mortality and serious injury caused by trawl fisheries is more than remote, NMFS classified several types of trawl fisheries as export fisheries. U.S. trawl fisheries with marine mammal bycatch, which are analogous to some fisheries considered in the LOFF have been categorized as Category II fisheries under the MMPA.

    Trawl fisheries, including bottom, mid-water, and pelagic trawls, have been documented to globally interact with marine mammals (Peltier et al. 2016, Komoroske & Lewison 2015, Read 2014, Brown 2014). Pinnipeds are more likely to be entangled in industrial pair and pelagic trawl fisheries (Machado 2015, Lobao-Tello et al. 2013). ICES (2010) has identified pelagic trawl nets as posing a risk of cetacean bycatch. Northridge et al. (2011) documented bycatch of harbor porpoises, bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, pilot whales, minke whales, grey and harbor seals in mid-water and pair trawl fisheries in the North Atlantic. Trawl bycatch intensity was found to be higher in certain regions (Lewison et al. 2014).

    Nations wishing to challenge that designation must provide observer or logbook data sufficient to refute this determination. When possible, NMFS requests nations provide documentation that demonstrates that a trawl fishery poses a remote likelihood of incidental mortality and serious injury to marine mammals.

    Aquaculture

    Based on the available information, NMFS has designated most aquaculture operations for which nations submitted information as exempt fisheries unless there is a record of entanglement or intentional killing in such aquaculture operations. Because the MMPA import rule applies to aquaculture facilities sited in marine mammal habitat, where deterrence measures (e.g., anti-predator nets) may incidentally or intentionally kill and seriously injury marine mammals, NMFS evaluated an array of aquaculture operations, some of which have no analogous operations or characteristics to operations in the United States. Aquaculture operations for finfish (especially salmon), mollusks, seaweed, and other species are proliferating globally. Since 1990, annual production of salmonid farms has increased from 299,000 to 1,900,000 tons (FAO 2012), and accompanying this expansion has been an increase in conflicts with marine mammals, especially pinnipeds. Pinniped depredation is a major problem at many aquaculture facilities in Europe, Chile, Australia, and South Africa (Kemper et al. 2003). Some nations use anti-predator nets as a deterrent.

    In some aquaculture operations, bycatch of marine mammals in anti-predator nets occurs occasionally, although direct killing, harassment, and exclusion from preferred habitat may pose more serious problems for marine mammal populations (Kemper et al. 2003). Fatal entanglements of odontocetes in aquaculture anti-predator nets appear to be infrequent; however, dolphin deaths in such nets have been reported from salmon and tuna facilities in Australia and Chile (Kemper et al. 2003).

    Literature documenting marine mammal interactions and the risk of marine mammal interactions with aquaculture equipment, or fish cages is lacking. For net pens and fish cages, the most damaging marine mammal interactions are with pinnipeds, while dolphins, porpoises and whales are viewed as a minor threat. Dolphins have been documented feeding on wild fish attracted to marine fish farms off Italy but were not reported to predate the caged fish (Díaz López et al. 2005). In a five-year study of Italian sea bass, sea bream, and meagre cages, Díaz López (2012) observed individually identified dolphins to assess patterns of habitat use and farm fidelity. Dolphins near farms typically foraged on wild fish concentrated in the farm but also fed on discarded or escaping fish during harvesting operations. Annual dolphin mortality was 1.5 per year, and five animals were found entangled in nets during the study period. The potential for marine mammals to become entangled and drown in farm structures or lines is a concern (Würsig and Gailey 2002). From surveys at marine fish farms off Italy, Díaz López and Shirai (2007) estimated one bottlenose dolphin mortality per month due to entanglement with farm nets.

    Mussel aquaculture is a growing industry, with coastal and offshore waters being utilized for mussel aquaculture farms. This form of aquaculture uses ropes in the water column that pose an entanglement risk to marine mammals, particularly whales, although the extent of the risk is undetermined. In 2015, a Pacific right whale was documented entangled in, but successfully disentangled and released from, the grow-out ropes of mussel farm gear in Korea (Young, 2015). A Bryde's whale was entangled in mussel spat lines off the coast of New Zealand (Lloyd 2003). A humpback calf was found entangled in mussel spat-collecting rope off Western Australia but was disentangled and released (Groom & Coughran, 2012). Finally, a humpback whale died from entanglement in single dropper spat- collectors at an experimental mussel farm in northwest Iceland (Young, 2015). Given this information, the placement of aquaculture farms in waters that are critical habitats and migratory routes for endangered species, can increase the risk of entanglements, and in so doing can change the classification of the aquaculture operation.

    Review of the NMFS U. S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Marine Mammal Stock Assessments (Waring et al. 2012, 2015) finds very few verified instances of marine mammals being injured by or entangled in aquaculture gear. U.S aquaculture facilities are Category III fisheries, because there are no known incidental mortalities or serious injuries of marine mammals in these operations, and they are considered to have a remote likelihood of marine mammal interactions. Therefore, by analogy, NMFS is proposing to classify all aquaculture operations for which nations provided information (or for which scientific information is readily available) as exempt in the LOFF, absent information and evidence that a particular aquaculture operation has more than a remote likelihood of incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals, NMFS is seeking comment on this classification. However, NMFS has classified as export fisheries aquaculture facilities with a record of entanglement or a history of intentional killing. A harvesting nation must demonstrate that all aquaculture operations, regardless of their classification, sited in marine mammal habitat or interacting with marine mammals, are prohibited from the intentional killing or serious injury of marine mammals in the course of aquaculture operations or have established procedures to reliably certify that exports of fish and fish products to the United States are not the product of an intentional killing or serious injury of a marine mammal.

    While NMFS desires more information about the environmental risk of these operations, particularly mussel rope and cage aquaculture, to marine mammals and urges the industry to develop mitigation techniques to avoid potential entanglements or reduce their severity, the documented interactions have been mostly non-life threatening. Nevertheless, in developing the LOFF, NMFS has evaluated, and will continue to evaluate, aquaculture operations on a case-by-case basis, considering the operation's measures to reduce interactions, prohibit intentional mortality, and reduce incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals (e.g., use of anti-predator nets and the prohibition on intentional killing).

    Fisheries or Gear Types Excluded From This Rule or That are Generally Listed as Exempt

    In the implementing regulations and the LOFF, NMFS has defined “commercial fishing operation” as: Vessels or entities that catch, take, or harvest fish (as defined in section 3 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1802)) from the marine environment (or other areas where marine mammals occur) that results in the sale or barter of all or part of the fish caught, taken or harvested. The term includes aquaculture activities that interact with or occur in marine mammal habitat. Consequently, this rule does not apply to any land-based or freshwater aquaculture operations; these commercial fishing operations do not occur in marine mammal habitat.

    Additionally, there are several gear types in the U.S. List of Fisheries that are consistently and broadly classified as category III fisheries with no documented marine mammal catch (see http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/interactions/fisheries/2016_list_of_fisheries_lof.html#table3_cat3). NMFS has classified those fisheries as Category III because there are often no known incidental mortalities or serious injuries of marine mammals in these fisheries, and there is a remote likelihood of marine mammal mortalities and serious injuries given that the fishing method or gear is highly selective. These include:

    • handline • harpoon • hook and line • pole and line • spearfishing • aquarium collecting • cast net • hand collection • loop net • rake/tongs • diving

    By analogy, NMFS classified these gear types as exempt in the LOFF.

    What was the process for notification and the classification for fisheries where nations failed to provide information?

    NMFS first informed nations of the requirements of the MMPA import rule and the process to develop the LOFF via a cable sent to all trading partners in September 2016. On December 21, 2016, NMFS sent a letter to the Washington, DC embassy of each trading partner officially requesting the information needed to create the LOFF. The letter included explicit details about the type of information needed. From March through June 2017, NMFS followed up on these requests by phone, emails, and in some cases, visits to embassies in the United States, requesting information on nation's fisheries that export to the United States. Additionally, NMFS searched readily available information, including FAO documents, in an attempt to classify fisheries for which nations failed to provide sufficient information or provided no information at all. If nations submit information during this comment period on the draft LOFF, NMFS will consider this information when developing the final LOFF.

    As discussed above, NMFS classified as export fisheries all fisheries from nations that failed to respond to requests for information or provided insufficient information about a fishery and for which information was not readily available as stipulated in the implementing regulations defining export and exempt fishery (see 50 CFR 216.3 Definitions of Export and Exempt Fishery).

    Nations that Failed to Provide Information

    The following nations failed to provide information on their fisheries, and NMFS did not find available information to classify their fisheries; consequently, NMFS classified all these nations' fisheries as export fisheries (see 50 CFR 216.3 Definitions of Export and Exempt Fishery).

    • British Virgin Islands (BVI) failed to provide data for exports of marine fish, toothfish, snapper and squid. BVI maintains that it does not export fish and fish products to the United States.

    • Cameroon failed to provide data for exports of groundfish (cod, cusk, haddock, hake, pollock, sole), mackerel, herring, snail, mussels, oysters, crawfish, crustaceans, tilapia, and shrimp. These species may be harvested with longlines and gillnets. Indications of marine mammal bycatch in longlines (Werner 2014) and gillnets (Ayissi et al. 2014) are documented; however, the target species for these gear types are not identified in the literature for Cameroon.

    • China also did not provide information, and the data readily available and used to classify China's fisheries that export to the United States may not accurately characterize existing aquaculture operations, processing operations, and wild-capture fisheries.

    • Haiti failed to provide data for exports of conch, coral, crab, lobster, molluscs, sea cucumbers, and shrimp. Haiti has not exported fish or fish products to the United States since 2012.

    Classification for Fisheries of Nations Identified as Solely Intermediary Nations

    NMFS defines an intermediary nation as a nation that imports fish or fish products from a fishery on the LOFF and re-exports such fish or fish products to the United States. To prevent any fish or fish products subject to import prohibitions authorized by the MMPA import rule from being imported into the United States from any intermediary nation, including a processing nation, NMFS includes provisions for intermediary nations (see 50 CFR 216.24 (h)(9)(iv)). NMFS requested that intermediary nations provide information on the fisheries and nations that are the source of any imported product that they process and export to the United States. Many nations failed to provide this information; NMFS continues to urge them to do so.

    Based on the information received or obtained, the following nations are solely intermediary nations: Belarus, Monaco, and Switzerland. Israel is predominantly an intermediary nation except for the export of seaweed, tuna, and freshwater species-derived caviar. Nations are encouraged to identify and indicate the fish and fish products for which they are acting as intermediary nations.

    Nations That Do Not Have a Consistent History of Exporting Fish and Fish Products to the United States and Are Not Included in the List of Foreign Fisheries

    In reviewing the import data, information submitted by nations, and readily available information, NMFS identified twenty-five trading partners that either exported solely freshwater species or had a sporadic or inconsistent export history with the United States. Table 1 summarizes the nations that NMFS has determined will not be included in the LOFF and are not subject to any of the requirements of the MMPA import rule. However, if any of these nations wish to export fish and fish products to the United States, they must contact NMFS and satisfy the requirements of the MMPA import rule.

    Table 1—Nations Suggested for Removal From the MMPA LOFF and the Justification for Removal Bolivia Justification—Landlocked nation, low level of U.S. fish imports from Bolivia. Detail—Landlocked nation. In 2006 & 2015, the U.S. imported fish and shellfish meal not for human consumption, and fish eggs only in 2006. In 2013, Bolivia exported seaweed to the U.S. http://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/commercial-fisheries/foreign-trade/. http://www.fao.org/fi/oldsite/FCP/en/bol/profile.htm. http://www.fao.org/fishery/facp/BOL/en. Bosnia Hercegovina Justification—Export conch (2015), grouper, snapper, and swordfish (2003). Detail—Very small amount of coastline on the Adriatic Sea. “The role of maritime areas in the total national economy is very small. There are no exact figures on the performance of the economy but it is estimated (Strategy for development of tourism of Bosnia and Herzegovina) that the GDP from the maritime area of Bosnia and Herzegovina is less than 1 percent of the total GDP of the country (European Commission, 2014 H).” Fisheries are artisanal and sold domestically or captured for domestic aquaculture. http://www.fao.org/3/a-au016e.pdf. http://www.fao.org/fishery/facp/BIH/en. Burkina Faso Justification—Landlocked; only export waxes. Detail—Have exported “waxes, may include spermaceti” to the U.S. in 2010, 2013, 2014, and 2016. Further consultation with NMFS Office of Science and Technology (S&T) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) revealed that since cessation of commercial whaling and whale product imports, “waxes” encompasses waxes not derived from spermaceti whale oil, such as beeswax. Cayman Islands Justification—Only toothfish exports which may be an error. Detail—Consultations with S&T, CBP, and NOAA experts on the Dissostichus catch documentation scheme indicate that attribution of toothfish catch to Cayman Islands is likely a recording error of “last port” vs. “origin of product.” NMFS contacted the Caymans, and they have no records of toothfish exports. Further, the catch documentation scheme ensures that toothfish cannot enter the United States without valid catch documentation. Central African Republic (CAR) Justification—Landlocked, possible processor only. Detail—Exported processed squid in 2016, lobster, yellowfin and swordfish 2000-2001. Aquaculture for domestic use only. http://www.fao.org/3/a-au069e.pdf FAO indicates that CAR does not have an export market for fish products: Table 2. http://www.fao.org/fishery/facp/CAF/fr. Chad Justification—Landlocked; Last 17 years only product exported was thickeners derived from seaweed (2015). Detail—Landlocked, local economy produces no exports of fish for human consumption to U.S. from Chad. http://www.fao.org/fishery/facp/TCD/fr. Christmas Island, territory of Australia Justification—During the last 17 years exports have been sporadic, clam or crab in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, fish liver, roe 2016. Detail—Australia indicated that no export fisheries originate from Christmas Island. Cocos Island Justification—Freshwater fish exports. Detail—Between 2000 and 2017, Cocos Island has exported tilapia once to the U.S. Australia noted hand collection of giant clam for aquaculture and re-seeding in the waters around Cocos Island, but these products are not entering the U.S. via Cocos Island. Ethiopia Justification—Landlocked, only product exported is waxes. Detail—Consultation with NMFS S&T and CBP revealed that since cessation of commercial whaling and whale product imports, “waxes” encompasses wax that is not made from spermaceti whale oil, likely beeswax. Ethiopia confirmed the wax was beeswax. Ethiopian fisheries are entirely from aquaculture with limited exports. http://www.fao.org/fishery/facp/ETH/en. French Guiana Justification—Freshwater fish in 2016, no exports to the U.S. 2001-2015. Details—Rule does not apply to freshwater fisheries. Hungary Justification—Landlocked; Seaweed and other algae, historically caviar (2014). Details—Hungary has extensive inland capture fisheries, pond aquaculture, and fish farming. Carps are the most popular fish species in capture fisheries (54%) and pond aquaculture (82%) while African catfish is the dominant fish in intensive fish farming. Inland waters have high value predator species such as pikes, catfish and pike perch, which were not exported to the U.S. Given the inland nature of Hungarian fisheries, the export of seaweed is likely from inland freshwater aquaculture and fish farming and is therefore not included under this rule. Kazakhstan Justification—Landlocked; Solely freshwater fisheries, some caviar. Details—The MMPA import rule does not apply to freshwater fisheries. The last U.S. import of caviar (aquaculture) was in 2010. Aquaculture is on the rise, but fish farming is expensive to maintain and consequently results in very few exports. ftp://ftp.fao.org/FI/DOCUMENT/fcp/en/FI_CP_KZ.pdf. Kyrgyzstan Justification—Landlocked; Oysters, canned (2004), dolphinfish and tilapia (2013), marine fish (2015). Details—In the last 17 years, U.S. importation records show imports for only the three years listed above. Import reports/records may be an error, generally there are no consistent seafood imports to the U.S. from this nation. Macedonia Justification—Landlocked; Exported fish paste in 2016. Details—Exported fish paste (2016 and 2010), and processed tuna in 2010. Their fisheries are entirely freshwater, for which the rule does not apply. ftp://ftp.fao.org/FI/DOCUMENT/fcp/en/FI_CP_MK.pdf. Mali Justification—Landlocked, main export is waxes 2003 to 2015. Details—Mali exported to the U.S. grouper and processed fish in 2009, and solely waxes were exported to the U.S. other years, with no exports to the U.S. between 2015-present. ftp://ftp.fao.org/FI/DOCUMENT/fcp/fr/FI_CP_ML.pdf (in French). Moldova Justification—Landlocked; Export is aquaculture derived caviar. Details—Moldova exported tuna and caviar in 2012 and 2016, caviar only in 2015. FAO has no record of tuna or caviar harvest in Moldova: ftp://ftp.fao.org/FI/DOCUMENT/fcp/en/FI_CP_MD.pdf. It appears that most of the sturgeon caviar harvest is derived from aquaculture: http://www.aquatir.md/?lang=en (and other google searches). Mongolia Justification—Landlocked, freshwater fisheries only. Details— Mongolia exported to U.S. seaweed unfit for human consumption in 2016 (processed product). No FAO fishery profile. The MMPA import rule does not apply to freshwater inland fisheries. Monserrat Justification—freshwater aquaculture; No exports to U.S. from 2000-2017 with exception of tuna in 2012. Details—It appears that Monserrat has no active commercial tuna fishery (http://waittinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/5_Montserrat-Fisheries-Assessment-final.pdf, and targeted searches), no FAO fishery profile. Serbia Justification—No exports 2000-17 with the exception of tuna in 2012. Details—Landlocked, Rule does not apply to freshwater aquaculture. No FAO fishery profile. (http://www.fao.org/fishery/countrysector/naso_serbia/en). Do not and have not fished for tuna as members of International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. Slovakia Justification— Landlocked; Freshwater pond aquaculture. Details— U.S. does not import aquaculture product from Slovakia. The U.S. imported bigeye and yellowfin tuna in 2013 and pickled herring in 2014. Neither are products that Slovakia is likely harvesting or processing. ftp://ftp.fao.org/FI/DOCUMENT/fcp/en/FI_CP_SK.pdf. Somalia Justification—U.S. imported shrimp in 2002, lobster (Homarus spp.) in 2004, and coral/shells in 2015. Details—The Homarus lobster is not native to the Indian Ocean; therefore, this product is likely a re-export or reporting error. Coral and shell fisheries are predominantly hand collection fisheries and have a remote likelihood of marine mammal interaction. NMFS was unable to find evidence of an existing shrimp fishery. Possible import recording issue as the U.S. is not actively importing any product from Somalia. (http://www.fao.org/fi/oldsite/FCP/en/SOM/profile.htm). Tokelau Islands, Territory of New Zealand Justification—No commercial fisheries. Details—2000-2017 U.S. Trade Data shows records of exports of marine fish (2001, 2007, 2008, 2009) seabass (2010, 2011, 2012) and Bluefin tuna (2016). However, several reports indicate the absence of commercial fisheries operating in Tokelau (Dalzell et al., 1996; Passfield, 1998). All fishing activities are subsistence. In addition, seabass is not a species found in Tokelau. Tokelau does not have the food safety regulations to export fish to another nation and is not a flag state or port state. Togo Justification—Few and inconsistent exports. Details—We found evidence that Togo's fisheries for shrimp are subsistence, artisanal fisheries; likewise, Togo's tuna fisheries are solely artisanal fisheries with no current active industrial fishery although foreign-flagged and IUU vessels target tuna in Togo's waters. Togo's sardine fishery consists of industrial trawl and artisanal beach seine operations, with no evidence that these are commercial and exporting fisheries (https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/legacy.seaaroundus/doc/Researcher+Publications/dpauly/PDF/2015/Working+Papers/MarineFisheriesTogo.pdf). Togo's snail (other than sea snail) are freshwater species for which the rule does not apply. Finally, the crustacean fishery is lagoon-based (artisanal and subsistence) with limited exports to international markets. Uganda Justification—Landlocked, only export freshwater species. Details—From 2000-2009, U.S. Trade Data records show some processed marine fishery products imported to the U.S via Uganda; however from 2012 to 2017, exports have been exclusively Nile perch, a freshwater species for which the MMPA import rule does not apply. Uzbekistan Justification—Landlocked; Freshwater species only. Details—No imports 2014-2017, in 2013 Uzbekistan exported freshwater species only; and, from 2009-2012, the predominant exports were freshwater fish species with some exports of processed “marine fish.” For freshwater species the MMPA import rule does not apply. http://www.fao.org/fishery/facp/UZB/en. Assumptions Made in the Development of the LOFF Fishery Products

    NMFS assumed that seafood products imported by the U.S. between the years 2000 and 2017 would be a reasonable basis for the list of target species included in the draft LOFF for each harvesting nation, unless the nation indicated that the fishery no longer occurs, the species is a re-export, (e.g., because the nation is only the processor for that fish or fish product), or the reported export of that seafood species/product to the United States was a data reporting error. For those fish and fish products listed on the U.S. Trade database, NMFS initially assumed that a fishery was associated with those products and looked to exporting nations to confirm their status as either the harvesting nation, intermediary nation, or both.

    NMFS assumed that species or products that were associated with a gear type were wild caught and not aquacultured, with one exception. Unless occurring in the wild in a given country, NMFS assumed tilapia was produced by aquaculture operation.

    Area of Operation

    To the extent possible, NMFS listed a harvesting nation's fisheries that take place in a foreign Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) or on the high seas under that harvesting nation's LOFF, rather than under the LOFF of the nation in whose EEZ the fishing took place.

    Hand Collection Fisheries for Corals, Sponges, Shells

    Where no information was provided by a nation and the U.S. has imported corals, sponges, and/or shells from that nation, these fisheries were designated as a gear type of “hand collection” and subsequently labelled an exempt fishery. There is limited aquaculture of corals for export, though aquaculture-raised coral would also be hand collected and labelled an exempt fishery.

    Duplication of Marine Mammal Interactions Based on Gear Type With No Associated Target Fishery Species

    Where nations did not indicate target species and failed to provide fishery information in the form of: (1) A gear type and associated marine mammal interaction, or (2) a gear type and specific area of operation with associated marine mammal interaction, NMFS assumed that any instance of that gear type for any target species, or that gear type operating in a specific area of operation for any corresponding target species also reported, had the same likelihood or prevalence of marine mammal interaction. Any species or bycatch numbers provided in these instances were copied across target fisheries. Nations are encouraged to notice where duplication may have occurred and provide documentation to support changes to the bycatch species or bycatch estimates.

    Toothfish (Dissostichus spp.) Catch Documentation Scheme (CDS)

    Antarctic and Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus spp.) are fished under a strict catch documentation scheme (CDS) in order to prevent trade in toothfish harvested in contravention of Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) Conservation measures. The CDS allows for supply chain tracking of toothfish from point of harvest. Only Members and nations that are Party to the Convention are permitted to participate in the CDS for toothfish with the exception of the Seychelles, which is the sole Non-Contracting Party (NCP), permitted to participate in the CDS. As in the case of the Cayman Islands discussed above, instances where the NOAA S&T and CBP import data indicated the U.S. received toothfish from an NCP were crosschecked against the CDS and were determined to likely be the result misreporting a vessel's “last port” as its “point of origin.” As the U.S. already prohibits the importation of toothfish without a valid Dissostichus Catch Document, NMFS discarded these cases from the LOFF. For more information, see https://www.ccamlr.org/en/compliance/catch-documentation-scheme-cds.

    Summary

    NMFS reviewed information from or related to more than 160 trading partners. NMFS eliminated 25 nations from the LOFF (see Table 1 for a list of these nations and the rationale used for eliminating them from the LOFF). The draft LOFF is comprised of 138 nations for a total of 720 exempt and 3,270 export fisheries. The LOFF, an expanded LOFF containing references, a list of Intermediary nations and their associated products, and list of fisheries and nations where the rule does not apply can found at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ia/species/marine_mammals/mmpaloff.html. An annotated bibliography with supporting references can be found at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ia/species/marine_mammals/mmpaloff.html.

    Impact of the LOFF on Largest Trading Partners by Volume and Value

    Below is a table containing the twenty largest imports by volume and value, an assessment of the data they provided, and their risk of marine mammal bycatch. NMFS based its assessment of the quality of the data supplied by nations based on the completeness and amount of detail in the information provided. The number of export and exempt fisheries is a tally of those fisheries after NMFS analysis of the LOFF. The overall risk of marine mammal bycatch is based on the type of gear most prevalent in the nation's fisheries and the information provided by those nations related to marine mammal fisheries interactions.

    Chile, Peru, Argentina, and Ecuador have large numbers of small gillnet, purse seine, and trawl vessels with marine mammal bycatch. Canada's pot fisheries for lobster and snow crab have high levels of large whale bycatch. Canada also has bycatch in its gillnet fisheries and permits the intentional killing of marine mammals in aquaculture operations. Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam have large processing and aquaculture sectors; their vulnerability lies in their apparent inability to assess and mitigate marine mammal bycatch. If these nations estimate their marine mammal bycatch or provide more detailed information about their fishery operations, NMFS may be able to reclassify as exempt additional fisheries.

    The Russian Federation, Japan, Mexico, and China provided little to no information to enable a full assessment of their fisheries and level of marine mammal risk. Japan's marine mammal bycatch is particularly large in its pound net fisheries, whereas the Russian Federation's bycatch is predominantly in its pot and trawl fisheries. Mexico's marine mammal bycatch includes its gillnet and trawl fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of California. India's fishery bycatch is predominantly in its coastal gillnet fisheries which includes tens of thousands of vessels. Taiwan has bycatch in their longline fisheries and their drift gillnet fisheries. The United Kingdom has bycatch of harbor porpoise and common dolphins in gillnet and trawl fisheries.

    Nations, some not on this list, with a high level of documented marine mammal bycatch include South Korea (pound nets and gillnets); New Zealand (all gear types, especially trawl); and Australia (trawl and longline). However, NMFS recognizes that this evaluation may be highly influenced by the advanced assessment capabilities of these nations. New Zealand and Norway may be the only nations to have currently calculated a bycatch limit. Norway's information demonstrates bycatch of harbor porpoise, gray seal, and harbor seal in excess of the bycatch limit in its gillnet fisheries.

    Table 2—List of the Twenty Largest Imports by Volume and Value and an Assessment of the Data They Provided and Their Risk of Marine Mammal Bycatch Nation Quality of data supplied Number of
  • export/exempt
  • fisheries
  • Overall risk of marine
  • mammal bycatch
  • Canada Excellent 163/82 Average/High. China Poor 110/3 Unknown. Indonesia Fair 13/25 Low. Thailand Fair 76/12 Average. Chile Good 46/39 Average/High. India Poor 24/2 Unknown. Vietnam Fair 26/14 Low. Ecuador Good 21/6 High. Mexico Fair 40/24 Average. Russian Federation Poor 114/0 Average/High. Japan Poor 197/18 High. Philippines Good 16/4 Low. Peru Good 70/34 Average/High. Argentina Good 65/9 Average. Iceland Excellent 27/2 Average. Honduras Poor 4/6 Unknown. Taiwan Good 19/3 Average/High. South Korea Excellent 604/44 High. New Zealand Excellent 81/25 Average/High. United Kingdom Good 56/8 Average/High.
    Request for Input

    In addition to the requested information in this Federal Register notice, NMFS is interested in receiving public comment and supporting documentation in response to the following:

    1. Should all marine aquaculture involving lines, such as seaweed, mussels, oysters, and other shellfish be considered an exempt fishery? Why or why not?

    2. Should net pen aquaculture for tuna be considered an exempt fishery? Why or why not?

    3. Should net cage aquaculture for finfish be considered an exempt fishery? Why or why not?

    4. Should lift net or other such nets be considered an exempt fishery? Why or why not?

    5. Would nations prefer to submit their information in the form of a database?

    6. Should nations with only exempt fisheries be allowed to apply for a comparability finding every eight years rather than every four years?

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    [FR Doc. 2017-17671 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Mammals and Endangered Species AGENCY:

    National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice; issuance of permits and permit amendments.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given that permits or permit amendments have been issued to the following entities under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), as applicable.

    ADDRESSES:

    The permits and related documents are available for review upon written request or by appointment in the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13705, Silver Spring, MD 20910; phone (301) 427-8401; fax (301) 713-0376.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Shasta McClenahan (File Nos. 17350, 20523, 20605, 21045, and 21114), Carrie Hubard (File No. 16111 and 20311), Sara Young (File No. 20043), Courtney Smith (File No. 21170), and Jennifer Skidmore (File No. 16580) at (301) 427-8401.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Notices were published in the Federal Register on the dates listed below that requests for a permit or permit amendment had been submitted by the below-named applicants. To locate the Federal Register notice that announced our receipt of the application and a complete description of the research, go to www.federalregister.gov and search on the permit number provided in the table below.

    File No. RIN Applicant Receipt of application Federal Register notice Permit or amendment issuance date 16111-02 0648-XA626 John Calambokidis, Cascadia Research Collective, Waterstreet Building, Suite 201, 218 1/2 West Fourth Ave., Olympia, WA 98501 77 FR 19645; April 2, 2012 July 13, 2017. 16580-01 0648-XB158 Shannon Atkinson, Ph.D., University of Alaska Fairbanks, 17101 Pt. Lena Loop Road, Juneau, AK 99801 77 FR 31835; May 30, 2012 July 17, 2017. 17350-02 0648-XC067 North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management, (Taqulik Hepa, Responsible Party), P.O. Box 69, Barrow, AK 99723 77 FR 36488; June 19, 2012 July 20, 2017. 20043 0648-XF153 Whitlow Au, Ph.D., University of Hawaii, P.O. Box 1346, Kaneohe, HI 96744 82 FR 4858; January 17, 2017 July 28, 2017. 20311 0648-XF412 NMFS Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, (Evan Howell, Ph.D., Responsible Party), 1845 Wasp Boulevard, Building 176, Honolulu, HI 96818 82 FR 22498; May 16, 2017 June 30, 2017. 20523 0648-XF455 National Museum of Natural History (Kirk Johnson, Ph.D., Responsible Party), P.O. Box 37012, Washington, DC 20013 82 FR 26455; June 7, 2017 July 10, 2017. 20605 0648-XF381 Robin Baird, Ph.D., Cascadia Research Collective, 218 1/2 West Fourth Avenue, Olympia, WA 98501 82 FR 22503; May 16, 2017 July 28, 2017. 21045 0648-XF350 Matson Laboratory (Carolyn Nistler, Responsible Party), 135 Wooden Shoe Lane, Manhattan, MT 59741 82 FR 22516; May 16, 2017 June 29, 2017. 21114 0648-XF453 The Whale Museum (Jenny Atkinson, Responsible Party), P.O. Box 945, Friday Harbor, WA 98250 82 FR 26455; June 7, 2017 July 25, 2017. 21170 0648-XF399 Keith Ellenbogen, Keith Ellenbogen Photography, 795 Carroll Street, Brooklyn, NY 11215 82 FR 21370; May 8, 2017 July 3, 2017.

    In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), a final determination has been made that the activities proposed are categorically excluded from the requirement to prepare an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement.

    As required by the ESA, as applicable, issuance of these permit was based on a finding that such permits: (1) Were applied for in good faith; (2) will not operate to the disadvantage of such endangered species; and (3) are consistent with the purposes and policies set forth in Section 2 of the ESA.

    Authority:

    The requested permits have been issued under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.), the regulations governing the taking and importing of marine mammals (50 CFR part 216), the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), and the regulations governing the taking, importing, and exporting of endangered and threatened species (50 CFR parts 222-226), as applicable.

    Dated: August 15, 2017. Julia Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17695 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    BUREAU OF CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION Credit Union Advisory Council Meeting AGENCY:

    Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

    ACTION:

    Notice of public meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    Under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), this notice sets forth the announcement of a public meeting of the Credit Union Advisory Council (CUAC or Council) of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau). The notice also describes the functions of the Council.

    DATES:

    The meeting date is Thursday, September 7, 2017, 3:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. eastern daylight time.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting location is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 1275 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20002.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Crystal Dully, Outreach and Engagement Associate, 202-435-9588, [email protected], Consumer Advisory Board and Councils Office, External Affairs, 1275 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20002.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    Section 2 of the CUAC Charter provides that pursuant to the executive and administrative powers conferred on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by section 1012 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act), the Director established the Credit Union Advisory Council under agency authority.

    Section 3 of the CUAC Charter states that the purpose of the Advisory Council is to advise the Bureau in the exercise of its functions under the Federal consumer financial laws as they pertain to credit unions with total assets of $10 billion or less.

    II. Agenda

    The Credit Union Advisory Council will discuss Know Before You Owe overdraft and financial empowerment initiatives. Persons who need a reasonable accommodation to participate should contact [email protected], 202-435-9EEO, 1-855-233-0362, or 202-435-9742 (TTY) at least ten business days prior to the meeting or event to request assistance. The request must identify the date, time, location, and title of the meeting or event, the nature of the assistance requested, and contact information for the requester. CFPB will strive to provide, but cannot guarantee that accommodation will be provided for late requests.

    Written comments will be accepted from interested members of the public and should be sent to [email protected], a minimum of seven (7) days in advance of the meeting. The comments will be provided to the CUAC members for consideration. Individuals who wish to attend the Credit Union Advisory Council meeting must RSVP to [email protected] by noon, Wednesday, September 6, 2017. Members of the public must RSVP by the due date and must include “CUAC” in the subject line of the RSVP.

    III. Availability

    The Council's agenda will be made available to the public on Wednesday, August 23, 2017, via consumerfinance.gov. Individuals should express in their RSVP if they require a paper copy of the agenda.

    A recording and transcript of this meeting will be available after the meeting on the CFPB's Web site consumerfinance.gov.

    Dated: August 17, 2017. Leandra English, Chief of Staff, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17713 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4810-AM-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army Intent To Grant a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement for the Transfer and Use of a Unique Infrared Laser to University of Central Florida AGENCY:

    Department of the Army, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The U.S. Army's Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) announces that, unless there is an objection, after 15 days it contemplates granting a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to University of Central Florida, College of Optics and Photonics, 4304 Scorpius Street, Orlando, FL 32816-2700.

    DATES:

    Objections must be received within 15 days of this notice.

    ADDRESSES:

    Send written objections or inquires to U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research and Development Center (AMRDEC), ATTN: RDMR-CST (ORTA), 5400 Fowler Road, Redstone Arsenal, AL 35898, or Email: [email protected]

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Cindy Wallace at 256-313-0895.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Additional information about CRADAs may be found at https://www.amrdec.army.mil/amrdec/doing-business-with.html.

    Brenda S. Bowen, Army Federal Register Liaison Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17735 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-03-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary Reserve Forces Policy Board; Notice of Federal Advisory Committee Meeting AGENCY:

    Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Department of Defense.

    ACTION:

    Notice of Federal Advisory Committee meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Defense (DoD) is publishing this notice to announce that the following Federal Advisory Committee meeting of the Reserve Forces Policy Board will take place.

    DATES:

    Open to the public Wednesday, September 13, 2017 from 9:25 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    The address for the Open Session of the meeting is the Army Navy Country Club, 1700 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, VA 22202.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Alexander Sabol, (703) 681-0577 (Voice), 703-681-0002 (Facsimile), [email protected] (Email). Mailing address is Reserve Forces Policy Board, 5113 Leesburg Pike, Suite 601, Falls Church, VA 22041. Web site: http://rfpb.defense.gov/. The most up-to-date changes to the meeting agenda can be found on the Web site.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This meeting is being held under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) of 1972 (5 U.S.C., Appendix, as amended), the Government in the Sunshine Act of 1976 (5 U.S.C. 552b, as amended), and 41 CFR 102-3.140 and 102-3.150.

    Purpose of the Meeting: The purpose of the meeting is to obtain, review and evaluate information related to strategies, policies, and practices designed to improve and enhance the capabilities, efficiency, and effectiveness of the Reserve Components. The Department of Defense (DoD) is publishing this notice to announce that the following Federal Advisory Committee meeting of the Reserve Forces Policy Board will take place.

    Agenda: The RFPB will hold an open meeting to the public Wednesday, September 13, 2017 from 9:25 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. The meeting will focus on discussions with the Editor at US Army War College Quarterly who will discuss an Army War College integrated research project entitled “Great Power War” that addressed the issue of full mobilization for the Army; the Director of Training, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff in the Army G-3/5/7 who will discuss the Army Sustainable Readiness Model as it pertains to the Army's process for training, mobilizing, and deploying its Reserve Component units as an element of an operational Reserve Force; the National Chair, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) who will discuss the ESGR's mission of facilitating and promoting a cooperative culture of employer support for National Guard and Reserve services; the Director of Manpower Legislation and Systems, DASD Military Personnel Policy, who will provide the progress on the Department of Defense's Duty Status Reform efforts; the Director of Military Compensation Policy, DASD Military Personnel Policy, who will discuss the General and Flag Officer Requirements Working Group, the Report to Congress on the feasibility and advisability of converting Military Technician positions, and other critical Reserve Component related provisions of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act; and a Reserve Component Senior Enlisted Advisor Panel that will discuss their priorities and views regarding the readiness of their respective component's challenges for the “Operational Reserve” as part of the Total Force.

    Meeting Accessibility: Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552b, as amended and 41 CFR 102-3.140 through 102-3.165, and subject to the availability of space, the meeting is open to the public from 9:25 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Seating is based on a first-come, first-served basis. All members of the public who wish to attend the public meeting must contact Mr. Alex Sabol, the Designated Federal Officer, not later than 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 12, 2017, as listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section.

    Written Statements: Pursuant to 41 CFR 102-3.105(j) and 102-3.140 and section 10(a)(3) of the FACA, interested persons may submit written statements to the RFPB at any time about its approved agenda or at any time on the Board's mission. Written statements should be submitted to the RFPB's Designated Federal Officer at the address or facsimile number listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. If statements pertain to a specific topic being discussed at the planned meeting, then these statements must be submitted no later than five (5) business days prior to the meeting in question. Written statements received after this date may not be provided to or considered by the RFPB until its next meeting. The Designated Federal Officer will review all timely submitted written statements and provide copies to all the committee members before the meeting that is the subject of this notice. Please note that since the RFPB operates under the provisions of the FACA, all submitted comments and public presentations will be treated as public documents and will be made available for public inspection, including, but not limited to, being posted on the RFPB's Web site.

    Dated: August 16, 2017. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17653 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary [Docket ID: DOD-2017-OS-0040] Proposed Collection; Comment Request AGENCY:

    Defense Security Service, DoD.

    ACTION:

    60-day information collection notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Defense Security Service announces a proposed public information collection and seeks public comment on the provisions thereof. Comments are invited on: whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed information collection; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and ways to minimize the burden of the information collection on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    DATES:

    Consideration will be given to all comments received by October 23, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by docket number and title, by any of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Mail: Department of Defense, Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer, Directorate for Oversight and Compliance, Regulatory and Advisory Committee Division, 4800 Mark Center Drive, Mailbox #24, Suite 08D09B, Alexandria, VA 22350-1700.

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name, docket number and title for this Federal Register document. The general policy for comments and other submissions from members of the public is to make these submissions available for public viewing on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov as they are received without change, including any personal identifiers or contact information.

    Any associated form(s) for this collection may be located within this same electronic docket and downloaded for review/testing. Follow the instructions at http://www.regulations.gov for submitting comments. Please submit comments on any given form identified by docket number, form number, and title.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    To request more information on this proposed information collection or to obtain a copy of the proposal and associated collection instruments, please write to the DSS Office of Information Management, Russell Knox Building, 27130 Telegraph Rd., Quantico, VA 22134 or email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title; Associated Form; and OMB Number: National Industrial Security System (NISS); OMB Control Number 0704-XXXX.

    Needs and Uses: The information collection requirement is necessary for DSS to oversee the National Industrial Security Program (NISP) pursuant to Executive Order 12829. The National Industrial Security System (NISS) will become the repository of records related to the maintenance of information pertaining to contractor facility security clearances (FCL) and contractor capabilities to protect classified information in its possession.

    Affected Public: Cleared contractor companies participating in the NISP.

    Annual Burden Hours: 11,671.

    Number of Respondents: 11,671.

    Responses per Respondent: 1.

    Annual Responses: 11,671.

    Average Burden per Response: 60 minutes.

    Frequency: On occasion.

    Respondents are security professionals who provide information to DSS in order to process facility security clearances (FCL), report changes of the facility that may affect the FCL, and managing incident response. In addition to this standard processing, NISS will enable security staff to communicate with their DSS representative pursuant to requirement DoD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual. The NISS will be an integrated automated solution that will facilitate efficient execution of the Agency's core mission. NISS will allow users to manage large amounts of information through increased automated workflows to ensure accuracy, create linkages in data, and close the gap of missing data elements.

    Dated: August 16, 2017. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17686 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Navy Notice of Intent To Prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement for Northwest Training and Testing AGENCY:

    Department of the Navy, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 and regulations implemented by the Council on Environmental Quality, the Department of the Navy (DoN) announces its intent to prepare a supplement to the 2015 Final Northwest Training and Testing (NWTT) Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (EIS/OEIS).

    DATES:

    Public comments will be accepted during the 30-day scoping period from August 22, 2017 to September 21, 2017. Public scoping meetings will not be held. However, public meetings are planned to occur following the release of the Draft Supplemental EIS/OEIS in early 2019.

    ADDRESSES:

    The DoN invites scoping comments on the NWTT Supplemental EIS/OEIS from all interested parties. Substantive comments may be provided by mail to the address below and through the project Web site at http://nwtteis.com/. Comments must be postmarked or received online by September 21, 2017 for consideration during the development of the Draft Supplemental EIS/OEIS.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    John Mosher, (360) 257-3234, [email protected] Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest, Attention: NWTT Supplemental EIS/OEIS Project Manager, 3730 North Charles Porter Avenue, Building 385, Oak Harbor, Washington 98278-3500.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The DoN will assess the potential environmental effects associated with ongoing and future at-sea military readiness activities conducted within the NWTT EIS/OEIS Study Area (hereafter known as the “Study Area”) beyond 2020. Military readiness activities include training and research, development, testing, and evaluation (hereafter known as “testing”). The Supplemental EIS/OEIS will include an analysis of training and testing activities using new information available after the release of the 2015 Final EIS/OEIS. New information includes an updated acoustic effects model, updated marine mammal density data, and evolving and emergent best available science. Proposed activities are generally consistent with those analyzed in the 2015 Final EIS/OEIS and are representative of training and testing activities the DoN has been conducting in the Study Area for decades.

    The Study Area remains unchanged since the 2015 Final EIS/OEIS. The Study Area is comprised of established maritime operating areas and warning areas in the northeastern Pacific Ocean, including areas within the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound, and the Western Behm Canal in southeastern Alaska. The Study Area includes air and water space within and outside Washington state waters, air and water space outside state waters of Oregon and Northern California, and DoN pierside locations where sound navigation and ranging (sonar) maintenance and testing occur. In the supplement to the 2015 Final EIS/OEIS, the DoN will only analyze those training and testing activities conducted at sea within the Study Area.

    As part of this process, the DoN will seek the issuance of federal regulatory permits and authorizations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act to support on-going and future at-sea military readiness activities within the Study Area beyond 2020.

    Pursuant to 40 CFR 1501.6, the DoN will invite the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Coast Guard to be cooperating agencies in preparation of the Supplemental EIS/OEIS.

    The DoN's lead action proponent is Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Additional action proponents include Naval Sea Systems Command and Naval Air Systems Command.

    The DoN's Proposed Action is to conduct at-sea training and testing activities within the Study Area. Activities include the use of active sonar and explosives while employing marine species protective mitigation measures. The Proposed Action does not alter the DoN's original purpose and need as discussed in the 2015 Final EIS/OEIS.

    The purpose of the Proposed Action is to maintain a ready force, which is needed to ensure the DoN can accomplish its mission to maintain, train, and equip combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression, and maintaining freedom of the seas, consistent with Congressional direction in section 5062 of Title 10 of the U.S. Code. A Supplemental EIS/OEIS is considered the appropriate document, as there is recent scientific information including revised acoustic criteria to consider, in furtherance of NEPA, relevant to the environmental effects of the DoN's Proposed Action. The analysis will support Marine Mammal Protection Act authorization requests.

    Proposed training and testing activities are generally consistent with those analyzed in the 2015 Final EIS/OEIS. In the Supplemental EIS/OEIS, the DoN will analyze the proposed changes to the tempo and types of training and testing activities, accounting for the introduction of new technologies, the evolving nature of international events, advances in warfighting doctrine and procedures, and changes in the organization of vessels, aircraft, weapons systems, and DoN personnel. In the NWTT Supplemental EIS/OEIS, the DoN will reflect the compilation of training and testing activities required to fulfill the DoN's military readiness requirements beyond 2020, and therefore includes the analysis of newly proposed activities and changes to previously analyzed activities.

    In the Supplemental EIS/OEIS, the DoN will evaluate the potential environmental effects of a no action alternative and action alternatives. Resources to be evaluated include, but are not limited to, marine mammals, sea turtles, essential fish habitat, threatened and endangered species, and American Indian and Alaska Native Traditional Resources.

    The scoping process is used to identify public concerns and local issues to be considered during the development of the Draft Supplemental EIS/OEIS. Federal agencies, state agencies, local agencies, the public, and interested persons are encouraged to provide substantive comments to the DoN on environmental resources and issue areas of concern the commenter believes the DoN should consider.

    Comments must be postmarked or received online by September 21, 2017 for consideration during the development of the Draft Supplemental EIS/OEIS. Comments can be mailed to: Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest, Attention: NWTT Supplemental EIS/OEIS Project Manager, 3730 North Charles Porter Avenue, Building 385, Oak Harbor, Washington 98278-3500. Comments can be submitted online via the project Web site at http://www.nwtteis.com/. Also at this Web site, those interested in receiving electronic project updates can subscribe to receive notifications via email for key milestones throughout the environmental planning process.

    Dated: August 16, 2017. A.M. Nichols, Lieutenant Commander, Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Navy, Federal Register Liaison Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17618 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3810-FF-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) Information To Be Verified for the 2018-2019 Award Year Correction

    In notice document 2017-09167, appearing on pages 21204 through 21208, in the issue of Friday, May 5, 2017, make the following corrections:

    1. On page 21207, in the second column, on the second line, the entry that reads “I certify that I ___”, should read:

    “I certify that I ___ am”.

    2. On the same page, in the same column, on the nineteenth line, the entry that reads “I certify that I ___”, should read:

    “I certify that I ___ am”.
    [FR Doc. C1-2017-09167 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1301-00-D
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy [EERE-2017-BT-CRT-0054] Proposed Agency Information Collection Extension AGENCY:

    Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy.

    ACTION:

    Information collection extension, with changes; notice and request for comment.

    SUMMARY:

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) intends to extend with changes for three years with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Certification Reports, Compliance Statements, Application for a Test Procedure Waiver, and Recordkeeping for Consumer Products and Commercial/Industrial Equipment subject to Energy or Water Conservation Standards Package under OMB No. 1910-1400. Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    DATES:

    Written comments and information are requested and will be accepted on or before October 23, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Interested persons are encouraged to submit comments using the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Alternatively, interested persons may submit comments, identified by docket number EERE-2017-BT-CRT-0054, by any of the following methods:

    1. Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    2. Email: to [email protected] Include docket number EERE-2017-BT-CRT-0054 in the subject line of the message.

    3. Postal Mail: Appliance and Equipment Standards Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Building Technologies Office, Mailstop EE-5B, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585-0121. Telephone: (202) 287-1445. If possible, please submit all items on a compact disc (“CD”), in which case it is not necessary to include printed copies.

    4. Hand Delivery/Courier: Appliance and Equipment Standards Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Building Technologies Office, 950 L'Enfant Plaza SW., Suite 600, Washington, DC 20024. Telephone: (202) 287-1445. If possible, please submit all items on a CD, in which case it is not necessary to include printed copies.

    No telefacsimilies (faxes) will be accepted.

    Docket: The docket for this activity, which includes Federal Register notices, comments, and other supporting documents/materials, is available for review at http://www.regulations.gov. All documents in the docket are listed in the http://www.regulations.gov index. However, some documents listed in the index, such as those containing information that is exempt from public disclosure, may not be publicly available.

    The docket Web page can be found at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=EERE-2017-BT-CRT-0054. The docket Web page will contain simple instructions on how to access all documents, including public comments, in the docket.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ashley Armstrong, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Building Technologies Office, EE-5B, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585-0121. Telephone: (202) 287-1445. Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This information collection request contains: (1) OMB No. 1910-1400; (2) Information Collection Request Title: Certification Reports, Compliance Statements, Application for a Test Procedure Waiver, Application for Extension of Representation Requirements, Labeling, and Recordkeeping for Consumer Products and Commercial/Industrial Equipment subject to Federal Energy or Water Conservation Standards; (3) Type of Request: Renewal with changes; (4) Purpose:

    Pursuant to the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (“EPCA” or “the Act”),1 Public Law 94-163 (42 U.S.C. 6291-6317, as codified), DOE regulates the energy efficiency of a number of consumer products, and commercial and industrial equipment. Title III, Part B 2 of EPCA established the Energy Conservation Program for Consumer Products Other Than Automobiles, which sets forth a variety of provisions designed to improve energy efficiency of covered consumer products (“covered products”). Title III, Part C 3 of EPCA, added by Public Law 95-619, Title IV, § 441(a), established the Energy Conservation Program for Certain Industrial Equipment, which sets forth a variety of provisions designed to improve energy efficiency of covered commercial and industrial equipment (collectively referred to as “covered equipment”).

    1 All references to EPCA in this document refer to the statute as amended through the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 (EEIA 2015), Public Law 114-11 (April 30, 2015).

    2 For editorial reasons, upon codification in the U.S. Code, Part B was redesignated Part A.

    3 For editorial reasons, upon codification in the U.S. Code, Part C was redesignated Part A-1.

    Covered products and covered equipment are described in 10 CFR parts 429, 430, and 431. These covered products and covered equipment, including all product or equipment classes, include: (1) Consumer refrigerators, refrigerator-freezers and freezers; (2) Room air conditioners; (3) Central air conditioners and central air conditioning heat pumps; (4) Consumer water heaters; (5) Consumer furnaces and boilers; (6) Dishwashers; (7) Residential clothes washers; (8) Clothes dryers; (9) Direct heating equipment; (10) Cooking products; (11) Pool heaters; (12) Television sets; (13) Fluorescent lamp ballasts; (14) General service fluorescent lamps, general service incandescent lamps, and incandescent reflector lamps; (15) Faucets; (16) Showerheads; (17) Water closets; (18) Urinals; (19) Ceiling fans; (20) Ceiling fan light kits; (21) Torchieres; (22) Compact fluorescent lamps; (23) Dehumidifiers; (24) External power supplies; (25) Battery chargers; (26) Candelabra base incandescent lamps and intermediate base incandescent lamps; (27) Commercial warm air furnaces; (28) Commercial refrigerators, freezers, and refrigerator-freezers; (29) Commercial heating and air conditioning equipment; (30) Commercial water heating equipment; (31) Automatic commercial ice makers; (32) Commercial clothes washers; (33) Distribution transformers; (34) Illuminated exit signs; (35) Traffic signal modules and pedestrian modules; (36) Commercial unit heaters; (37) Commercial pre-rinse spray valves; (38) Refrigerated bottled or canned beverage vending machines; (39) Walk-in coolers and walk-in freezers and certain components; (40) Metal halide lamp ballasts and fixtures (41) Integrated light-emitting diode lamps; (42) General service lamps; (43) Furnace fans; (44) Pumps; (45) Commercial packaged boilers; (46) Consumer miscellaneous refrigeration equipment; (47) Portable air conditioners; (48) Compressors; (49) Electric motors, and (50) Small electric motors.

    Under EPCA, DOE's energy conservation program consists essentially of four parts: (1) Testing, (2) labeling, (3) Federal energy conservation standards, and (4) certification and enforcement procedures. For consumer products, relevant provisions of the Act specifically include definitions (42 U.S.C. 6291), energy conservation standards (42 U.S.C. 6295), test procedures (42 U.S.C. 6293), labeling provisions (42 U.S.C. 6294), and the authority to require information and reports from manufacturers (42 U.S.C. 6296). For covered equipment, relevant provisions of the Act include definitions (42 U.S.C. 6311), energy conservation standards (42 U.S.C. 6313), test procedures (42 U.S.C. 6314), labeling provisions (42 U.S.C. 6315), and the authority to require information and reports from manufacturers (42 U.S.C. 6316).

    DOE is seeking to renew its information collection related to the following aspects of the appliance standards program: (1) Gathering data and submitting certification and compliance reports for each basic model distributed in commerce in the U.S. including supplemental testing instructions for certain commercial equipment; (2) maintaining records underlying the certified ratings for each basic model including test data and the associated calculations; (3) applications for a test procedure waiver, which manufacturers may elect to submit if they manufacture a basic model that cannot be tested pursuant to the DOE test procedure; (4) applications requesting an extension of the date by which representations must be made in accordance with any new or amended DOE test procedure; and (5) labeling.

    DOE's certification and compliance activities ensure accurate and comprehensive information about the energy and water use characteristics of covered products and covered equipment sold in the United States. Manufacturers of all covered products and covered equipment must submit a certification report before a basic model is distributed in commerce, annually thereafter, and if the basic model is redesigned in such a manner to increase the consumption or decrease the efficiency of the basic model such that the certified rating is no longer supported by the test data. Additionally, manufacturers must report when production of a basic model has ceased and is no longer offered for sale as part of the next annual certification report following such cessation. DOE requires the manufacturer of any covered product or covered equipment to establish, maintain, and retain the records of certification reports, of the underlying test data for all certification testing, and of any other testing conducted to satisfy the requirements of part 429, part 430, and/or part 431. Certification reports provide DOE and consumers with comprehensive, up-to-date efficiency information and support effective enforcement.

    As the result of a negotiated rulemaking, DOE adopted additional certification requirements for commercial HVAC, water heater, and refrigeration equipment. Specifically, DOE requires manufacturers of commercial refrigeration equipment and some types of commercial HVAC equipment to submit a PDF with specific testing instructions to be used by the Department during verification and enforcement testing. Manufacturers of commercial water heating equipment and some types of commercial HVAC equipment have the option of submitting a PDF with additional testing instructions at the manufacturer's discretion. For additional information on the negotiated rulemaking or supplemental testing instructions see docket number EERE-2013-BT-NOC-0023.

    On December 18, 2014, Congress enacted the EPS Service Parts Act of 2014 (Pub. L. 113-263, “Service Parts Act”). That law exempted manufacturers of certain external power supplies (“EPSs”) that were made available as service and spare parts for end-use products manufactured before February 10, 2016, from the energy conservation standards that DOE promulgated in its February 2014 rule. See 79 FR 7846 (Feb. 10, 2014). Additionally, the Service Parts Act permits DOE to require manufacturers of an EPS that is exempt from the 2016 standards to report to DOE the total number of such EPS units that are shipped annually as service and spare parts and that do not meet those standards. (42 U.S.C. 6295(u)(5)(A)(ii)) DOE may also limit the applicability of the exemption if the Secretary determines that the exemption is resulting in a significant reduction of the energy savings that would result in the absence of the exemption. (42 U.S.C. 6295(u)(5)(A)(iii)) In a final rule published on May 16, 2016, DOE adopted reporting requirements for EPS manufacturers to provide the total number of exempt EPS units sold as service and spare parts for which the manufacturer is claiming exemption from the current standards. 81 FR 30157.

    DOE currently requires manufacturers or their party representatives to prepare and submit certification reports and compliance statements using DOE's electronic Web-based tool, the Compliance and Certification Management System (CCMS), which is the primary mechanism for submitting certification reports to DOE. CCMS currently has product and equipment specific templates which manufacturers are required to use when submitting certification data to DOE. DOE believes the availability of electronic filing through the CCMS system reduces reporting burdens, streamlines the process, and provides the Department with needed information in a standardized, more accessible form. This electronic filing system also ensures that records are recorded in a permanent, systematic way.

    Manufacturers also may rely on CCMS reporting to satisfy certain reporting requirements established by the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”). EPCA directs the FTC generally to prescribe labeling rules for the consumer products subject to energy conservation standards under EPCA. (42 U.S.C. 6296) The required labels generally must disclose the estimated annual operating cost of such product (determined in accordance with Federal test procedures); and information respecting the range of estimated annual operating costs for covered products to which the rule applies. (42 U.S.C 6296(c)(1)) Pursuant to EPCA, the FTC prescribed the Energy Labeling Rule, which in part, requires manufacturers to attach yellow EnergyGuide labels to many of the covered consumer products. See 16 CFR part 305. EnergyGuide labels for most products subject to the FTC labeling requirement contain three key disclosures: Estimated annual energy cost (16 CFR 305.5); a product's energy consumption or energy efficiency rating as determined from DOE test procedures (Id.); and a comparability range displaying the highest and lowest energy costs or efficiency ratings for all similar models (16 CFR 305.10).

    The Energy Labeling Rule also contains reporting requirements for most products, under which manufacturers must submit data to the FTC both when they begin manufacturing new models and on an annual basis thereafter. 16 CFR 305.8. These reports must contain, among other things, estimated annual energy consumption or energy efficiency ratings, similar to what is required under DOE's reporting requirement. Id. Prior to 2013, FTC collected energy data on products subject to the Energy Labeling Rule separate from DOE through paper and email submissions to the FTC. This arrangement required manufacturers to submit nearly duplicative reports to DOE and FTC.

    However, in 2013 the FTC streamlined and harmonized its reporting requirements by giving manufacturers the option to report FTC-required data through DOE's CCMS, in lieu of the traditional practice of submitting directly to FTC. 78 FR 2200 (Jan. 10, 2013); 16 CFR 305.8(a)(1). As such, the CCMS reduces duplicative reporting for manufacturers of covered consumer products that are also required to report under the FTC Energy Label Rule.

    DOE allows manufacturers of both consumer products and/or commercial equipment to apply for a test procedure waiver. Manufacturers may submit an application for a test procedure waiver at his or her discretion if it is determined that the basic model for which the petition for waiver was submitted contains one or more design characteristics that prevents testing of the basic model according to the prescribed test procedures, or if the prescribed test procedures may evaluate the basic model in a manner so unrepresentative of its true energy consumption characteristics as to provide materially inaccurate comparative data. The Department currently uses and will continue to use the information submitted in the application for a waiver as the basis for granting or denying the petition. See 10 CFR 430.27 for additional information on petitions for waivers and for consumer products. See 10 CFR 431.401 for additional information on petitions for waivers for commercial equipment.

    DOE also allows manufacturers of both consumer products and/or commercial equipment to submit applications requesting an extension of the date by which representations must be made in accordance with any new or amended DOE test procedure. DOE may grant extensions of up to 180 days if it determines that making such representations would impose an undue hardship on the petitioner. The Department currently uses and will continue to use the information submitted in these applications as the basis for granting or denying the petition.

    In addition to the FTC labeling requirements for consumer products discussed, EPCA directs DOE to establish labeling requirements for covered industrial and commercial equipment when specified criteria is met. If the Department has prescribed test procedures for any class of covered equipment, a labeling rule applicable to such class of covered equipment must be prescribed. (42 U.S.C. 6315(a)) EPCA, however, requires that certain criteria must be met prior to DOE prescribing a given labeling rule. Specifically, DOE must determine that: (1) Labeling is technologically and economically feasible with respect to any particular equipment class; (2) significant energy savings will likely result from such labeling; and (3) labeling is likely to assist consumers in making purchasing decisions. (42 U.S.C. 6315(h)) DOE has established labeling requirements under the authority in 42 U.S.C. 6315 for electric motors (10 CFR 431.31), walk-in coolers and freezers (10 CFR 431.305), and pumps (10 CFR 431.466).

    (4) Proposed changes to the information collection, including description of additional information that would be collected.

    DOE is considering revisions to the CCMS that would facilitate a reduction in duplicative reporting under the California's Appliance Efficiency Regulations, similar to what was achieved with the FTC. Under its Appliance Efficiency Regulations, California requires manufacturers to certify and report to the California Energy Commission energy efficiency data of certain consumer products. See, California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 20, section 1606. For consumer products that are reported to the California Energy Commission and are subject to Federal test procedures, the California regulations generally require submission of data from those Federal test procedures (i.e., the same data reported to DOE). DOE is considering adding fields to the CCMS that would allow the California Energy Commission to accept a CCMS report in satisfaction of the state reporting requirement. Submission of the additional information would not be mandatory (from DOE's perspective) and would consist of information that manufacturers are already submitting to the California Energy Commission. Should the California Energy Commission choose to streamline and harmonize its reporting requirements by giving manufacturers the option to report California-required data through DOE's CCMS, use of CCMS would reduce duplicative reporting between the California and DOE requirements.

    (5) Annual Estimated Number of Respondents: 2000;

    (6) Annual Estimated Number of Total Responses: 20,000;

    (7) Annual Estimated Number of Burden Hours: 675,000 (30 hours per certification, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information; 16 additional hours for creating supplement testing instructions for commercial HVAC, water heating, and refrigeration equipment manufacturers; 160 hours for test procedure waiver preparation; 160 hours for representation extension request preparation; 1 hour for creating and applying a label for walk-in cooler and freezer, commercial and industrial pump, and electric motor manufacturers);

    (8) Annual Estimated Reporting and Recordkeeping Cost Burden: $67,500,000.

    Statutory Authority:

    Section 326(d) of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, Public Law 94-163, as amended (42 U.S.C. 6296); 10 CFR parts 429, 430, and 431.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on August 15, 2017. Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17733 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings

    Take notice that the Commission has received the following Natural Gas Pipeline Rate and Refund Report filings:

    Filings Instituting Proceedings

    Docket Numbers: RP17-967-000.

    Applicants: Texas Eastern Transmission, LP.

    Description: Texas Eastern Transmission, LP submits tariff filing per 154.203: JntStlmtExtAgmt, Dkt#s RP88-67, 88-81, 88-221, 90-119, 91-4, 17-964.

    Filed Date: 08/09/2017.

    Accession Number: 20170809-5117.

    Comment Date: 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, August 16, 2017.

    Docket Numbers: RP17-968-000.

    Applicants: Northern Natural Gas Company.

    Description: Northern Natural Gas Company submits tariff filing per 154.204: 20170810 Carlton Flow Obligations to be effective 11/1/2017.

    Filed Date: 08/10/2017.

    Accession Number: 20170810-5047.

    Comment Date: 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, August 22, 2017.

    The filings are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the links or querying the docket number.

    Any person desiring to intervene or protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Regulations (18 CFR 385.211 and § 385.214) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date. Protests may be considered, but intervention is necessary to become a party to the proceeding.

    eFiling is encouraged. More detailed information relating to filing requirements, interventions, protests, service, and qualifying facilities filings can be found at: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling/filing-req.pdf. For other information, call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Dated: August 10, 2017. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17676 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings

    Take notice that the Commission has received the following Natural Gas Pipeline Rate and Refund Report filings:

    Filings Instituting Proceedings

    Docket Numbers: RP17-969-000.

    Applicants: Mercuria Energy America, Inc., Noble Americas Gas & Power Corp.

    Description: Joint Petition for Temporary Waiver of Commission Policies, Capacity Release Regulations and Related Tariff Provisions and Request for Expedited Treatment of Mercuria Energy America, Inc., et al.

    Filed Date: 8/10/17.

    Accession Number: 20170810-5143.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 8/22/17.

    Docket Numbers: RP17-955-001.

    Applicants: Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, L.L.C.

    Description: Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, L.L.C. submits tariff filing per 154.205(b): Volume No. 2—Amended Statoil—Susquehanna West Project to be effective 9/1/2017.

    Filed Date: 8/11/17.

    Accession Number: 20170811-5000.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 8/23/17.

    Docket Numbers: RP17-970-000.

    Applicants: Colorado Interstate Gas Company, L.L.C.

    Description: 2017 Penalties Assessed Compliance Filing of Colorado Interstate Gas Company, L.L.C.

    Filed Date: 8/15/17.

    Accession Number: 20170815-5038.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 8/28/17.

    Docket Numbers: RP17-971-000.

    Applicants: Southwest Gas Transmission Company, A Li.

    Description: Southwest Gas Transmission Company, A Limited Partnership submits tariff filing per 154.204: Company Contact Name to be effective 8/14/2017.

    Filed Date: 8/15/17.

    Accession Number: 20170815-5045.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 8/28/17.

    Docket Numbers: RP17-972-000.

    Applicants: Wyoming Interstate Company, L.L.C.

    Description: Wyoming Interstate Company, L.L.C. submits tariff filing per 385.602: Settlement Agreement in Docket No. RP17-302-000.

    Filed Date: 8/15/17.

    Accession Number: 20170815-5131.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 8/28/17.

    Docket Numbers: RP17-973-000.

    Applicants: Equitrans, L.P.

    Description: Equitrans, L.P. submits tariff filing per 154.204: Update NAESB 3.0 Order No. 587-W Compliance Filing to be effective 9/15/2017.

    Filed Date: 8/15/17.

    Accession Number: 20170815-5137.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 8/28/17.

    The filings are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the links or querying the docket number.

    Any person desiring to intervene or protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Regulations (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date. Protests may be considered, but intervention is necessary to become a party to the proceeding.

    eFiling is encouraged. More detailed information relating to filing requirements, interventions, protests, service, and qualifying facilities filings can be found at: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling/filing-req.pdf. For other information, call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Dated August 16, 2017. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17744 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. OR17-20-000] Laramie River DevCo LP; Notice of Request for Temporary Waiver

    Take notice that on August 11, 2017, pursuant to Rule 204 of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (Commission) Rules of Practice and Procedure, 18 CFR 385.204, Laramie river DevCo LP filed a petition for temporary waiver of the tariff filing and reporting requirements of sections 6 and 20 of the Interstate Commerce Act and parts 341 and 357 of the Commission's regulations for a new crude petroleum gathering system to be located in the Colorado, as more fully explained in the petition.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest this filing must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214. Protests will be considered by the Commission in determining the appropriate action to be taken, but will not serve to make protestants parties to the proceeding. Any person wishing to become a party must file a notice of intervention or motion to intervene, as appropriate. Such notices, motions, or protests must be filed on or before the comment date. Anyone filing a motion to intervene or protest must serve a copy of that document on the Petitioner.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper using the eFiling link at http://www.ferc.gov. Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the protest or intervention to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    This filing is accessible on-line at http://www.ferc.gov, using the eLibrary link and is available for review in the Commission's Public Reference Room in Washington, DC. There is an eSubscription link on the Web site that enables subscribers to receive email notification when a document is added to a subscribed docket(s). For assistance with any FERC Online service, please email [email protected], or call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Comment Date: 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on August 25, 2017.

    Dated: August 16, 2017. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17728 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings #1

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric rate filings:

    Docket Numbers: ER10-2137-018; ER10-2124-017; ER10-2125-018; ER10-2127-016; ER10-2128-017; ER10-2130-017; ER10-2131-018; ER10-2132-017; ER10-2133-018; ER10-2138-018; ER10-2139-018; ER10-2140-018; ER10-2141-018; ER10-2764-017; ER11-3872-019; ER11-4044-018; ER11-4046-017; ER12-164-016; ER14-2187-012; ER14-2798-010; ER14-2799-010; ER15-1041-007; ER15-1873-007; ER15-2205-007

    Applicants: Beech Ridge Energy LLC, Beech Ridge Energy II LLC, Beech Ridge Energy Storage LLC, Bishop Hill Energy III LLC, Buckeye Wind Energy LLC, Forward Energy LLC, Grand Ridge Energy LLC, Grand Ridge Energy II LLC, Grand Ridge Energy III LLC, Grand Ridge Energy IV LLC, Grand Ridge Energy V LLC, Grand Ridge Energy Storage LLC, Gratiot County Wind LLC, Gratiot County Wind II LLC, Invenergy TN LLC, Judith Gap Energy LLC, Prairie Breeze Wind Energy II LLC, Prairie Breeze Wind Energy III LLC, Sheldon Energy LLC, Spring Canyon Energy LLC, Stony Creek Energy LLC, Vantage Wind Energy LLC, Willow Creek Energy LLC, Wolverine Creek Energy LLC.

    Description: Notice of Change in Facts Under Market-Based Rate Authority of Beech Ridge Energy LLC, et al.

    Filed Date: 8/16/17.

    Accession Number: 20170816-5110.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 9/6/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER11-4050-005.

    Applicants: Cogentrix of Alamosa, LLC.

    Description: Supplement to May 12, 2017 Notice of non-material change in status of Cogentrix of Alamosa, LLC.

    Filed Date: 7/20/17.

    Accession Number: 20170720-5177.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 9/6/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-1456-000.

    Applicants: Talen Energy Marketing, LLC.

    Description: Report Filing: TEM Refund Report (ER16-1456) to be effective N/A.

    Filed Date: 8/15/17.

    Accession Number: 20170815-5128.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 9/5/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER17-2042-001.

    Applicants: Southwest Power Pool, Inc.

    Description: Tariff Amendment: 3340 Otter Tail Power Company NITSA and NOA to be effective 6/1/2017.

    Filed Date: 8/16/17.

    Accession Number: 20170816-5051.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 9/6/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER17-2153-001.

    Applicants: ISO New England Inc.

    Description: ISO New England Inc. submits tariff filing per 35.17(a): Withdrawal of eTariff document to be effective N/A.

    Filed Date: 7/28/17.

    Accession Number: 20170728-5225.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 8/18/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER17-2312-000.

    Applicants: Southwest Power Pool, Inc.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: Tariff Revisions to Remove Day-Ahead Limited Must Offer Requirement to be effective 10/16/2017.

    Filed Date: 8/15/17.

    Accession Number: 20170815-5138.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 9/5/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER17-2313-000.

    Applicants: Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: 2017-08-16_SA 2506 ITC-Pheasant Run E&P (J075) Termination to be effective 8/17/2017.

    Filed Date: 8/16/17.

    Accession Number: 20170816-5002.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 9/6/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER17-2314-000.

    Applicants: Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: 2017-08-16_Termination of SA 2729_MidAmerican-RPM E&P (J343) to be effective 8/17/2017.

    Filed Date: 8/16/17.

    Accession Number: 20170816-5003.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 9/6/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER17-2315-000.

    Applicants: Portland General Electric Company.

    Description: Portland General Electric Company submits Average System Cost Filing for Sales of Electric Power to the Bonneville Power Administration, FY 2018-2019.

    Filed Date: 8/15/17.

    Accession Number: 20170815-5164.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 9/5/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER17-2316-000.

    Applicants: Indiana Michigan Power Company, PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: Indiana Michigan submits Original CIAC, Service Agreement No. 4755, with NIPSCO to be effective 7/18/2017.

    Filed Date: 8/16/17.

    Accession Number: 20170816-5010.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 9/6/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER17-2317-000.

    Applicants: Mid-Atlantic Interstate Transmission, LLC, PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: MAIT submits an ECSA, Service Agreement No. 4711 with PPL Electric to be effective 10/15/2017.

    Filed Date: 8/16/17.

    Accession Number: 20170816-5065.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 9/6/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER17-2318-000.

    Applicants: Cuyama Solar, LLC.

    Description: Baseline eTariff Filing: Application for Market-Based Rate Authority to be effective 9/29/2017.

    Filed Date: 8/16/17.

    Accession Number: 20170816-5081.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 9/6/17.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following qualifying facility filings:

    Docket Numbers: QF17-1330-000.

    Applicants: S2NRG LLC.

    Description: Form 556 of S2NRG LLC.

    Filed Date: 8/15/17.

    Accession Number: 20170815-5177.

    Comments Due: None Applicable.

    The filings are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the links or querying the docket number.

    Any person desiring to intervene or protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Regulations (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date. Protests may be considered, but intervention is necessary to become a party to the proceeding.

    eFiling is encouraged. More detailed information relating to filing requirements, interventions, protests, service, and qualifying facilities filings can be found at: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling/filing-req.pdf. For other information, call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Dated: August 16, 2017. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17727 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [CERCLA-04-2017-3758; FRL-9966-03-Region 4] Former Douglas Battery Site, Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, North Carolina; Notice of Settlement AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice of settlement.

    SUMMARY:

    Under 122(h) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the United States Environmental Protection Agency has entered into a settlement with Victor Kung, Pearl Pacific Properties LLC and East Best LLC concerning the Former Douglas Battery Site located in Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, North Carolina. The settlement addresses recovery of CERCLA costs for a cleanup action performed by the EPA at the Site.

    DATES:

    The Agency will consider public comments on the settlement until October 23, 2017. The Agency will consider all comments received and may modify or withdraw its consent to the settlement if comments received disclose facts or considerations which indicate that the proposed settlement is inappropriate, improper, or inadequate.

    ADDRESSES:

    Copies of the settlement are available from the Agency by contacting Ms. Paula V. Painter, Program Analyst, using the contact information provided in this notice. Comments may also be submitted by referencing the Site's name through one of the following methods: Internet: https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/about-epa-region-4-southeast#r4-public-notices.

    U.S. Mail: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Superfund Division, Attn: Paula V. Painter, 61 Forsyth Street SW., Atlanta, Georgia 30303.

    Email: [email protected]

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Paula V. Painter at (404) 562-8887.

    Dated: July 7, 2017. Anita L. Davis, Chief, Enforcement and Community Engagement Branch, Superfund Division.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17737 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM Change in Bank Control Notices; Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding Company

    The notificants listed below have applied under the Change in Bank Control Act (12 U.S.C. 1817(j)) and § 225.41 of the Board's Regulation Y (12 CFR 225.41) to acquire shares of a bank or bank holding company. The factors that are considered in acting on the notices are set forth in paragraph 7 of the Act (12 U.S.C. 1817(j)(7)).

    The notices are available for immediate inspection at the Federal Reserve Bank indicated. The notices also will be available for inspection at the offices of the Board of Governors. Interested persons may express their views in writing to the Reserve Bank indicated for that notice or to the offices of the Board of Governors. Comments must be received not later than September 6, 2017.

    A. Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (Colette A. Fried, Assistant Vice President) 230 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois 60690-1414:

    1. D. Shannon Blakley, Hatley, Wisconsin; to acquire voting shares of Banner Bancorp, LTD., and thereby indirectly acquire voting shares of Banner Banks, both in Birnamwood, Wisconsin.

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, August 17, 2017. Yao-Chin Chao, Assistant Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17772 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6210-01-P
    FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding Companies

    The companies listed in this notice have applied to the Board for approval, pursuant to the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 (12 U.S.C. 1841 et seq.) (BHC Act), Regulation Y (12 CFR part 225), and all other applicable statutes and regulations to become a bank holding company and/or to acquire the assets or the ownership of, control of, or the power to vote shares of a bank or bank holding company and all of the banks and nonbanking companies owned by the bank holding company, including the companies listed below.

    The applications listed below, as well as other related filings required by the Board, are available for immediate inspection at the Federal Reserve Bank indicated. The applications will also be available for inspection at the offices of the Board of Governors. Interested persons may express their views in writing on the standards enumerated in the BHC Act (12 U.S.C. 1842(c)). If the proposal also involves the acquisition of a nonbanking company, the review also includes whether the acquisition of the nonbanking company complies with the standards in section 4 of the BHC Act (12 U.S.C. 1843). Unless otherwise noted, nonbanking activities will be conducted throughout the United States.

    Unless otherwise noted, comments regarding each of these applications must be received at the Reserve Bank indicated or the offices of the Board of Governors not later than September 18, 2017.

    A. Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City (Dennis Denney, Assistant Vice President) 1 Memorial Drive, Kansas City, Missouri 64198-0001:

    1. Guaranty Bancorp, Inc., Denver, Colorado; to merge with Castle Rock Bank Holding Company, and thereby indirectly acquire Castle Rock Bank, both of Castle Rock, Colorado.

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, August 17, 2017. Yao-Chin Chao, Assistant Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17771 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION [Notice-MA-2017-05; Docket No. 2017-0002; Sequence 15] Maximum Per Diem Reimbursement Rates for the Continental United States (CONUS) AGENCY:

    Office of Government-wide Policy (OGP), General Services Administration (GSA).

    ACTION:

    Notice of GSA Per Diem Bulletin FTR 18-01, Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 CONUS per diem reimbursement rates.

    SUMMARY:

    GSA's Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 per diem reimbursement rates review has resulted in lodging and meal allowance changes for certain locations within CONUS to provide for reimbursement of Federal employees' subsistence expenses while on official travel.

    DATES:

    Applicability: This notice applies to travel performed on or after October 1, 2017, through September 30, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For clarification of content, contact Ms. Jill Denning, Office of Government-wide Policy, Office of Asset and Transportation Management, at 202-208-7642, or by email at [email protected] Please cite Notice of GSA Per Diem Bulletin FTR 18-01.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background: The CONUS per diem reimbursement rates prescribed in Bulletin 18-01 may be found at www.gsa.gov/perdiem. GSA bases the maximum lodging allowance rates on the average daily rate that the lodging industry reports to an independent organization. If a maximum lodging allowance rate and/or a meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) per diem reimbursement rate is insufficient to meet necessary expenses in any given location, Federal executive agencies can request that GSA review that location. Please review numbers six and seven of GSA's per diem Frequently Asked Questions, at www.gsa.gov/perdiemfaqs, for more information on the special review process. In addition, the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) allows for actual expense reimbursement as provided in §§ 301-11.300 through 301-11.306. For FY 2018, no new non-standard area locations were added. The standard CONUS lodging allowance rate will increase from $91 to $93. The M&IE reimbursement rate tiers were not revised for FY 2018.

    GSA issues and publishes the CONUS per diem rates, formerly published in Appendix A to 41 CFR Chapter 301, solely on the Internet at www.gsa.gov/perdiem. GSA also now solely publishes the M&IE meal breakdown table, which is used when employees are required to deduct meals from their M&IE reimbursement pursuant to FTR § 301-11.18, at www.gsa.gov/mie.

    This process, implemented at 68 FR 22314, on April 28, 2003, for per diem reimbursement rates, and in 2015 for the M&IE breakdown table, ensures more timely changes in per diem reimbursement rates established by GSA for Federal employees on official travel within CONUS. Notices published periodically in the Federal Register, such as this one, now constitute the only notification of revisions in CONUS per diem reimbursement rates to agencies other than the changes posted on the GSA Web site.

    Dated: August 14, 2017. Allison Fahrenkopf Brigati, Associate Administrator, Office of Government-wide Policy, General Services Administration.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17677 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6820-14-P
    GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION [Notice-MA-2017-06; Docket No. 2017-0002, Sequence No. 17] Federal Travel Regulation (FTR); Reimbursement for Use of Transportation Network Companies or Innovative Mobility Technology Companies While on Official Travel AGENCY:

    Office of Government-wide Policy (OGP), General Services Administration (GSA).

    ACTION:

    Notice of a Bulletin.

    SUMMARY:

    The purpose of this notice is to inform federal agencies that FTR Bulletin 17-04, pertaining to the authorization of and reimbursement for use of Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) or innovative mobility technology companies by Federal travelers on temporary duty, is now available online at www.gsa.gov/ftrbulletin.

    DATES:

    Effective: August 22, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. Cy Greenidge, Office of Government-wide Policy, Office of Asset and Transportation Management, at 202-219-2349, or by email at [email protected]

    Please cite Notice of FTR Bulletin 17-04.

    Dated: August 14, 2017. Allison Fahrenkopf Brigati, Associate Administrator, Office of Government-wide Policy, General Services Administration.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17680 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6820-14-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [60Day-17-0773; Docket No. CDC-2017-0061] Proposed Data Collections Submitted for Public Comment and Recommendations AGENCY:

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

    ACTION:

    Notice with comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as part of its continuing efforts to reduce public burden and maximize the utility of government information, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. This notice invites comments on the information collection extension request titled “Adverse Events among Persons on Treatment of Latent Tuberculosis Infection.”

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before October 23, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by Docket No. CDC-2017-0061 by any of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Mail: Leroy A. Richardson, Information Collection Review Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE., MS-D74, Atlanta, Georgia 30329.

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and Docket Number. All relevant comments received will be posted without change to Regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to Regulations.gov.

    Please note: All public comments should be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking portal (Regulations.gov) or by U.S. mail to the address listed above.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    To request more information on the proposed project or to obtain a copy of the information collection plan and instruments, contact Leroy A. Richardson, Information Collection Review Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE., MS-D74, Atlanta, Georgia 30329; phone: 404-639-7570; Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C.3501-3520), Federal agencies must obtain approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for each collection of information they conduct or sponsor. In addition, the PRA also requires Federal agencies to provide a 60-day notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information, including each new proposed collection, each proposed extension of existing collection of information, and each reinstatement of previously approved information collection before submitting the collection to OMB for approval. To comply with this requirement, we are publishing this notice of a proposed data collection as described below.

    Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and (e) estimates of capital or start-up costs and costs of operation, maintenance, and purchase of services to provide information. Burden means the total time, effort, or financial resources expended by persons to generate, maintain, Information Collection Request Procedures Manual 33 retain, disclose or provide information to or for a Federal agency. This includes the time needed to review instructions; to develop, acquire, install and utilize technology and systems for the purpose of collecting, validating and verifying information, processing and maintaining information, and disclosing and providing information; to train personnel and to be able to respond to a collection of information, to search data sources, to complete and review the collection of information; and to transmit or otherwise disclose the information.

    Proposed Project

    National Surveillance for Severe Adverse Events among Persons on Treatment of Latent Tuberculosis Infection—(OMB Control No. 0920-0773, expires 01/17/2018)—Extension—Division of Tuberculosis Elimination (DTBE), National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention NCHHSTP), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Background and Brief Description

    As part of the national tuberculosis (TB) elimination strategy, the American Thoracic Society and CDC have published recommendations for targeted testing for TB and treatment for latent TB infection (LTBI) (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) 2000;49[RR06];1-54). However, between October 2000 and September 2004, the CDC received reports of 50 patients with severe adverse events (SAEs) associated with the use of the two or three-month regimen of rifampin and pyrazinamide (RZ) for the treatment of LTBI; 12 (24%) patients died (MMWR 2003;52[31]:735-9). In 2004, CDC began collecting reports of SAEs among persons on treatment regimen for LTBI.

    For surveillance purposes, an SAE was defined as any drug-associated reaction resulting in a patient's hospitalization or death after at least one treatment dose for LTBI. During 2004-2016, CDC received 66 reports of SAEs among recipients of isoniazid (INH)-only (n=44), INH-rifapentine (RPT) (n=20), rifampin (RIF) (n=1) and INH/Levofloxacin (n=1) for LTBI. Among INH-only recipients, seven died; five, including one child, underwent liver transplantation. Among INH-RPT, RIF, and INH/Levofloxacin recipients, length of hospitalization ranged 1-20 (median: 3) days; no liver transplants or deaths were reported. The RIF recipient had an acute kidney injury but recovered after three hemodialysis treatments [Severe Adverse Events (Hospitalization or Death) Among Persons on Treatment for Latent Tuberculosis Infection, United States, January 2004-December 2016. Presented at the NAR/IUATLD Conference, Vancouver, Canada, February 2017]. Ten of the SAEs were published in Powell, K, et al. Severe Isoniazid-associated Liver Injuries among Persons Being Treated for Latent Tuberculosis Infection-United States, 2004-2008. MMWR 2010; 59:224-9.

    Reports of SAEs related to LTBI treatment regimens have prompted a need for this project—a national surveillance system of such events. The objective of the project is to determine the annual number and temporal trends of SAEs associated with any treatment for LTBI in the United States. Surveillance of such events will provide data to support periodic evaluation or potential revision of guidelines for treatment of persons with LTBI.

    The CDC seeks to request OMB approval for a three-year extension of the previously approved National Surveillance for Severe Adverse Events Associated with Treatment of Latent Tuberculosis Infection—(OMB No. 0920-0773, expires January 17, 2018). This project will continue the passive reporting system for SAEs associated with therapy for LTBI. The system will rely on medical chart review and/or onsite investigations by TB control staff.

    Potential respondents are any of the 60 reporting areas for the national TB surveillance system (the 50 states, the District of Columbia, New York City, Puerto Rico, and 7 jurisdictions in the Pacific and Caribbean).

    CDC will collect data using the data collection form for SAEs associated with LTBI treatment. Based on previous reporting, CDC anticipates receiving an average of six responses per year from the 60 reporting areas. The data collection form is completed by healthcare providers and health departments for each reported hospitalization or death related to treatment of LTBI and contains demographic, clinical, and laboratory information.

    CDC will analyze and periodically publish reports summarizing national LTBI treatment adverse events statistics and will conduct special analyses for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals to further describe and interpret these data.

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) collects data on adverse events related to drugs through the FDA MedWatch Program. CDC is encouraging health departments and healthcare providers to report SAEs to FDA. Reporting will be conducted through telephone, email, or during CDC site visits.

    In this request, CDC is requesting approval for approximately 36 burden hours annually. The only cost to respondents is time to gather medical records and time to complete the reporting form.

    Estimated Annualized Burden Hours Type of respondent Form name Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses per
  • respondent
  • Average
  • burden per
  • response
  • (in hours)
  • Total burden hours
    Physician NSSAE 6 1 1 6 Nurse NSSAE 6 1 4 24 Medical Clerk NSSAE 6 1 1 6 Total 36
    Leroy A. Richardson, Chief, Information Collection Review Office, Office of Scientific Integrity, Office of the Associate Director for Science, Office of the Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17708 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4163-18-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [60Day-17-0740; Docket No. CDC-2017-0060] Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and Recommendations AGENCY:

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

    ACTION:

    Notice with comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as part of its continuing effort to reduce public burden and maximize the utility of government information, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. This notice invites comment on the Medical Monitoring Project, which collects interview and medical record data on a probability sample of HIV-diagnosed persons in order to provide national estimates of access to and utilization of HIV-related medical care and services, the quality of HIV-related ambulatory care, and HIV-related behaviors and clinical outcomes.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before October 23, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by Docket No. CDC-2017-0060 by any of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Mail: Leroy A. Richardson, Information Collection Review Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE., MS-D74, Atlanta, Georgia 30329.

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and Docket Number. All relevant comments received will be posted without change to Regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to Regulations.gov.

    Please note: All public comment should be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking portal (regulations.gov) or by U.S. mail to the address listed above.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    To request more information on the proposed project or to obtain a copy of the information collection plan and instruments, contact Leroy Richardson, Information Collection Review Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE., MS-D74, Atlanta, Georgia 30329; phone: 404-639-7570; Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), Federal agencies must obtain approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for each collection of information they conduct or sponsor. In addition, the PRA also requires Federal agencies to provide a 60-day notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information, including each new proposed collection, each proposed extension of existing collection of information, and each reinstatement of previously approved information collection before submitting the collection to OMB for approval. To comply with this requirement, we are publishing this notice of a proposed data collection as described below.

    Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and (e) estimates of capital or start-up costs and costs of operation, maintenance, and purchase of services to provide information. Burden means the total time, effort, or financial resources expended by persons to generate, maintain, retain, disclose or provide information to or for a Federal agency. This includes the time needed to review instructions; to develop, acquire, install and utilize technology and systems for the purpose of collecting, validating and verifying information, processing and maintaining information, and disclosing and providing information; to train personnel and to be able to respond to a collection of information, to search data sources, to complete and review the collection of information; and to transmit or otherwise disclose the information.

    Proposed Project

    Medical Monitoring Project (MMP)—(OMB Control Number 0920-0740 Expiration 6/30/2018)—Revision—National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Background and Brief Description

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention (DHAP) requests a revision of the currently approved Information Collection Request: “Medical Monitoring Project” expiring June 30, 2018. This data collection addresses the need for national estimates of access to and utilization of HIV-related medical care and services, the quality of HIV-related ambulatory care, and HIV-related behaviors and clinical outcomes.

    For the proposed project, the same data collection methods will be used as for the currently approved project. Data would be collected from a probability sample of HIV-diagnosed adults in the U.S. who consent to an interview and abstraction of their medical records. As for the currently approved project, de-identified information would also be extracted from HIV case surveillance records for a dataset, referred to as the minimum dataset, which is used to assess non-response bias, for quality control, to improve the ability of MMP to monitor ongoing care and treatment of HIV-infected persons, and to make inferences from the MMP sample to HIV-diagnosed persons nationally.

    No other Federal agency collects such nationally representative population-based information from HIV-diagnosed adults. The data are expected to have significant implications for policy, program development, and resource allocation at the state/local and national levels.

    The changes proposed in this request update the data collection system to meet prevailing information needs and enhance the value of MMP data, while remaining within the scope of the currently approved project purpose. The result is a 11% reduction in burden, or a reduction of 786 total burden hours annually. Specifically, the removal of three unfunded project areas reduces the number of interviews conducted and the number of persons for whom healthcare facility staff will be asked for contact information, assistance with approaching for participation, and pulling medical records.

    Changes were made that did not affect the burden, listed below:

    • Sampled persons found to have resided in a non-funded project area on the date of sampling will be considered ineligible for the project, because non-funded project areas were deemed ineligible in the first stage of sampling.

    • Tracking data reports will no longer be sent to CDC, as this information is no longer needed.

    • The average token of appreciation for participants has been increased from $25 to $50.

    • Changes have been made to the respondent consent form to decrease the reading comprehension level and clarify whom participants should contact for different concerns.

    • Forty-two data elements were removed from the minimum data set and forty data elements were added. Because these data elements are extracted from the HIV surveillance system from which they are sampled, these changes do not affect the burden of the project.

    This proposed data collection would supplement the National HIV Surveillance System (NHSS, OMB Control No. 0920-0573, Exp. 6/30/2019) in 23 selected state and local health departments, which collect information on persons diagnosed with, living with, and dying from HIV infection and AIDS.

    The participation of respondents is voluntary. There is no cost to the respondents other than their time. Through their participation, respondents will help to improve programs to prevent HIV infection as well as services for those who already have HIV.

    Estimated Annualized Burden Hours Type of respondent Form name Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses per
  • respondent
  • Average hours per response Total response burden
  • (hours)
  • Sampled, Eligible HIV-Infected Persons Interview Questionnaire 7,760 1 45/60 5,820 Facility office staff looking up contact information N/A 1,940 1 2/60 65 Facility office staff approaching sampled persons for enrollment N/A 970 1 5/60 81 Facility office staff pulling medical records N/A 7,760 1 3/60 388 Total 6,354
    Leroy A. Richardson, Chief, Information Collection Review Office, Office of Scientific Integrity, Office of the Associate Director for Science, Office of the Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17699 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4163-18-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Administration for Children and Families Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request

    Title: Application Requirements for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Plan.

    OMB No.: 0970-0075.

    Description: States, including the District of Columbia, tribes, tribal organizations, and U.S. territories applying for LIHEAP block grant funds must, prior to receiving federal funds, submit an annual application (Model Plan, ACF-122) that meets the LIHEAP statutory and regulatory requirements. In addition to the Model Plan, grantees are also required to complete the Mandatory Grant Application SF-424-Mandatory, which is the first section of the Model Plan.

    The LIHEAP Model Plan is an electronic form and is submitted to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Community Services (OCS) through the On-line Data Collection (OLDC) system within GrantSolutions, which is currently being used by all LIHEAP grantees to submit other required LIHEAP reporting forms. In order to reduce the reporting burden, all data entries from each grantee's prior year's submission of the Model Plan in OLDC is saved and re-populated (cloned) into the form for the following fiscal year's application.

    OCS seeks renewal of this form without any changes. A sample model plan showing these proposed changes can be found on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ACF/OCS LIHEAP Program Resources page at: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ocs/resource/funding-applications.

    On April 3, 2017, ACF published a Federal Register Notice seeking 60 days of public comment on this proposed information collection. One state grantee provided comments. ACF revised the Plan to address the comments by ensuring that open field boxes and attachment capability are available if the answer choices are insufficient to address the questions.

    The revised model plan can be viewed on the OCS Web site at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/programs/liheap.

    Respondents: State, the District of Columbia, U.S. Territories and Tribal governments.

    Annual Burden Estimates Instrument Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses per
  • respondent
  • Average
  • burden hours
  • per response
  • Total burden hours
    LIHEAP Detailed Model Plan 210 1 0.50 105

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours (all respondents): 105.

    Additional Information: Copies of the proposed collection may be obtained by writing to the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, 330 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20201. Attention Reports Clearance Officer. All requests should be identified by the title of the information collection. Email address: [email protected]

    OMB Comment: OMB is required to make a decision concerning the collection of information between 30 and 60 days after publication of this document in the Federal Register. Therefore, a comment is best assured of having its full effect if OMB receives it within 30 days of publication. Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be sent directly to the following: Office of Management and Budget, Paperwork Reduction Project, Email: [email protected], Attn: Desk Officer for the Administration for Children and Families.

    Robert Sargis, Reports Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-17681 Filed 8-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4184-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2017-N-4885] Pediatric Advisory Committee; Notice of Meeting; Establishment of a Public Docket; Request for Comments AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice; establishment of a public docket; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or the Agency) announces a forthcoming public advisory committee meeting of the Pediatric Advisory Committee (PAC). The general function of the committee is to provide advice and recommendations to the Agency on FDA's regulatory issues. The meeting will be open to the public. FDA is establishing a docket for public comments.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held on September 11, 2017, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and September 12, 2017, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    Hilton Washington DC/Rockville Hotel & Executive Meeting Center, 1750 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852. The hotel's telephone number is 301-468-1100. Answers to commonly asked questions including information regarding special accommodations due to a disability, visitor parking, and transportation may be accessed at http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/maryland/hilton-washington-dc-rockville-hotel-and-executive-meeting-ctr-IADMRHF/index.html.

    FDA is establishing a docket for public comment on this document. The docket number is FDA-2017-N-4885. The docket will close on September 13, 2017. Submit either electronic or written comments on this public meeting by that date. Late, untimely comments will not be considered. Electronic comments must be submitted on or before September 13, 2017. The https://www.regulations.gov electronic filing system will accept comments until midnight Eastern Time at the end of September 13, 2017. Comments received by mail/hand delivery/courier (for written/paper submissions) will be considered timely if they are postmarked or the delivery service acceptance receipt is on or before that date.

    Comments received on or before August 28, 2017, will be provided to the committee. Comments received after that date will be taken into consideration by FDA.

    You may submit comments as follows:

    Electronic Submissions

    Submit electronic comments in the following way:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Comments submitted electronically, including attachments, to https://www.regulations.gov will be posted to the docket unchanged. Because your comment will be made public, you are solely responsible for ensuring that your comment does not include any confidential information that you or a third party may not wish to be posted, such as medical information, your or anyone else's Social Security number, or confidential business information, such as a manufacturing process. Please note that if you include your name, contact information, or other information that identifies you in the body of your comments, that information will be posted on https://www.regulations.gov.

    • If you want to submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to make available to the public, submit the comment as a written/paper submission and in the manner detailed (see “Written/Paper Submissions” and “Instructions”).

    Written/Paper Submissions

    Submit written/paper submissions as follows:

    Mail/Hand delivery/Courier (for written/paper submissions): Dockets Management Staff (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    • For written/paper comments submitted to the Dockets Management Staff, FDA will post your comment, as well as any attachments, except for information submitted, marked and identified, as confidential, if submitted as detailed in “Instructions.”

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the Docket No. FDA-2017-N-4885 for “Pediatric Advisory Committee; Notice of Meeting; Establishment of a Public Docket; Request for Comments.” Received comments, those filed in a timely manner (see ADDRESSES), will be placed in the docket and, except for those submitted as “Confidential Submissions,” publicly viewable at https://www.regulations.gov or at the Dockets Management Staff between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    • Confidential Submissions—To submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made publicly available, submit your comments only as a written/paper submission. You should submit two copies total. One copy will include the information you claim to be confidential with a heading or cover note that states “THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION.” The Agency will review this copy, including the claimed confidential information, in its consideration of comments. The second copy, which will have the claimed confidential information redacted/blacked out, will be available for public viewing and posted on https://www.regulations.gov. Submit both copies to the Dockets Management Staff. If you do not wish your name and contact information to be made publicly available, you can provide this information on the cover sheet and not in the body of your comments and you must identify this information as “confidential.” Any information marked as “confidential” will not be disclosed except in accordance with 21 CFR 10.20 and other applicable disclosure law. For more information about FDA's posting of comments to public dockets, see 80 FR 56469, September 18, 2015, or access the information at: https://www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-09-18/pdf/2015-23389.pdf.

    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or the electronic and written/paper comments received, go to https://www.regulations.gov and insert the docket number, found in brackets in the heading of this document, into the “Search” box and follow the prompts and/or go to the Dockets Management Staff, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Marieann Brill, Office of the Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 32, Rm. 5154, Silver Spring, MD 20993, 240-402-3838, [email protected], or FDA Advisory Committee Information Line, 1-800-741-8138 (301-443-0572 in the Washington, DC area). A notice in the Federal Register about last minute modifications that impact a previously announced advisory committee meeting cannot always be published quickly enough to provide timely notice. Therefore, you should always check the Agency's Web site at http://www.fda.gov/AdvisoryCommittees/default.htm. Scroll down to the appropriate advisory committee meeting link, or call the advisory committee information line to learn about possible modifications before coming to the meeting.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Agenda: The PAC will meet to discuss pediatric-focused safety reviews, as mandated by the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act (Pub. L. 107-109) and the Pediatric Research Equity Act (Pub. L. 108-155). Comments about the upcoming September advisory committee meeting should be submitted to Docket No. FDA-2017-N-4885.

    On September 11, 2017, the PAC will discuss the use of prescription opioid products containing hydrocodone or codeine for the treatment of cough in pediatric patients. The discussion will include current practice for the treatment of cough in children and benefit-risk considerations regarding the use of prescription opioid products in pediatric patients.

    On September 12, 2017, the PAC will meet to discuss the following products (listed by FDA Center):

    (1) Center for Drug Evaluation and Research a. ABILIFY (aripiprazole) b. KEPPRA/KEPPRA XR (levetiracetam) (2) Center for Devices and Radiological Health a. CONTEGRA Pulmonary Valved Conduit (humanitarian device exemption (HDE) b. ENTERRA Therapy System (HDE) c. PLEXIMMUNE (HDE) d. ELANA Surgical Kit (HDE)

    FDA intends to make background material available to the public no later than 2 business days before the meeting. If FDA is unable to post the background material on its Web site prior to the meeting, the background material will be made publicly available at the location of the advisory committee meeting, and th