[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 242 (Tuesday, December 21, 2021)]
[Notices]
[Pages 72214-72216]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-27535]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[RTID 0648-XB606]


Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument; Monument 
Management Plan

AGENCY:  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Commerce; 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and 
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), as co-leads, announce their 
intention to prepare a Monument Management Plan (MMP) for the Pacific 
Remote Islands Marine National Monument (Monument). NOAA and USFWS are 
updating their original notice of intent to draft the MMP to include 
information about the expansion of the Monument in 2014, and to 
announce that NOAA and USFWS are co-leads in drafting the MMP. NOAA and 
USFWS are seeking input on issues, concerns, ideas, and suggestions for 
the future management of the Monument. NOAA and USFWS will also prepare 
a draft environmental assessment, concurrent with the management plan, 
to evaluate potential effects of implementing the proposed management 
alternatives for the Monument. Following the completion of the MMP, 
USFWS will prepare new individual Comprehensive Conservation Plans 
(CCPs) and revise existing CCPs for National Wildlife Refuges within 
the Monument, as appropriate.

DATES: We must receive comments by January 20, 2022.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2021-0122, by either of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to https://www.regulations.gov and enter NOAA-NMFS-2021-0122 in the Search box. 
Click on the ``Comment'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter 
or attach your comments.
     Mail: Send written comments to Dr. Malia Chow, Branch 
Chief, Habitat Conservation Division, Pacific Islands Regional Office, 
National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA Inouye Regional Center, 1845 
Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received or uploaded after the end of the 
comment period, may not be considered by NOAA and USFWS. 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. We will accept 
anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to 
remain anonymous).
    Additional information about the Monument and the seven refuge 
units is available at http://www.fws.gov/refuge/pacific_remote_islands_marine_national_monument and https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/pacific-islands/habitat-conservation/pacific-remote-islands-marine-national-monument.

[[Page 72215]]


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Malia Chow, NOAA, (808) 725-5015, 
or [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NOAA and USFWS are co-leads in the 
preparation of the MMP for the Monument, which was established by 
Presidential Proclamation 8336 and expanded by Presidential 
Proclamation 9173. With this notice, NOAA and USFWS update their 
original 2011 notice of intent (April 5, 2011, 76 FR 18775). NOAA and 
USFWS are making the updates to include the 2014 expansion of the 
Monument and to identify NOAA and USFWS as co-leads in drafting the MMP 
(previously, USFWS was the lead agency). A draft environmental 
assessment (EA) to evaluate the potential effects of implementing the 
proposed management alternatives will also be prepared. When the draft 
MMP and EA are complete, NOAA and USFWS will publish a notice of 
availability to obtain comments and input from the public and other 
Federal agencies on the draft documents.
    We invite the public and Federal, Tribal, State, and local 
governments to submit input on issues, concerns, ideas, and suggestions 
for the future management of the Monument.

Monument Establishment

    On January 6, 2009, President George W. Bush issued Presidential 
Proclamation No. 8336, establishing the Monument under the authority of 
the Antiquities Act of 1906 (16 U.S.C. 431-433). Upon establishment, 
the Monument incorporated approximately 495,189 square nautical miles 
(nm\2\), or 1,282,534 square kilometers (km\2\), within its boundaries, 
which extended 50 nm (93 km) out from the mean low water lines of 
Baker, Howland, and Jarvis Islands; Johnston, Palmyra, and Wake Atolls; 
and Kingman Reef. On September 25, 2014, President Barack Obama issued 
Presidential Proclamation No. 9173, which expanded the Monument by 
expanding the area around Jarvis Island and Johnston and Wake Atolls to 
include the waters and submerged lands to the extent of the seaward 
limit of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, generally to 200 nm (370 km) 
offshore.

Monument Natural Resources

    The Monument contains significant objects of scientific interest 
and is home to one of the most widespread assemblages of marine and 
terrestrial protected areas in the Pacific Ocean. It is designated to 
protect and sustain many endemic (not found elsewhere) species, 
including corals, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, seabirds, water 
birds, land birds, insects, and vegetation. The 2014 expansion areas 
provide habitat and forage for tuna, turtles, manta rays, sharks, 
cetaceans, and seabirds. These areas also contain pristine deep sea and 
open ocean ecosystems with unique biodiversity, and approximately 165 
seamounts (undersea mountains) that provide habitat for colonies of 
deepwater corals that are many thousands of years old.

Agency Responsibilities

    The Proclamations require the Secretaries of the Interior and 
Commerce, who delegated management responsibilities to USFWS and NOAA 
to prepare an MMP within their respective authorities for the Monument, 
and to promulgate implementing regulations that address specific 
actions necessary for the proper care and management of the Monument. 
With this notice, the Department of the Interior and Department of 
Commerce commit to working cooperatively together and with partners and 
stakeholders in the development of the MMP.

Military Role in Management

    In accordance with the Proclamation, USFWS Director will not 
commence management of emergent lands at Wake Atoll unless and until a 
use agreement between the Secretary of the Air Force and the Secretary 
of the Interior is terminated. The Secretary of Defense also continues 
to manage those portions of the emergent lands of Johnston Atoll under 
the administrative jurisdiction of the Defense Department until such 
administrative jurisdiction is terminated, at which time those emergent 
lands shall be administered as part of the Monument and the Johnston 
Atoll National Wildlife Refuge (NWR; Refuge). However, the MMP will 
recommend management actions for marine areas surrounding both Johnston 
and Wake Atolls.

Fishing

    The Proclamations prohibit commercial fishing within the Monument. 
Consistent with this requirement, the MMP will not consider management 
alternatives to allow commercial fishing. The Proclamations do allow 
the Secretaries of Interior and Commerce to permit fishing for 
scientific exploration and research purposes. Noncommercial fishing may 
also be permitted, as long as it is managed as a sustainable activity. 
The noncommercial fishing permit process is established; information is 
available at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/permit/marine-national-monument-fishing-permit.

Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-
Stevens Act)

    NOAA is responsible for the stewardship of the Nation's ocean 
resources and their habitats, or ``trust resources,'' primarily through 
the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The trust resources are living marine 
resources and their habitats, including but not limited to commercial 
and recreational fishery resources, endangered and threatened marine 
species and their designated critical habitats, marine mammals, marine 
turtles, marshes, mangroves, seagrass beds, coral reefs, other coastal 
habits, and areas identified as essential fish habitat (EFH), in 
accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Act. EFH is made up of those 
waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, 
or growth to maturity. Using the EFH, Endangered Species Act, and 
Marine Mammal Protection Act consultation processes, NOAA will work in 
collaboration and coordination with USFWS, partner agencies, project 
proponents, and stakeholders to conserve these trust resources.

Overview of Refuges and Previous Planning Efforts

    Within the boundaries of the Monument, USFWS continues to 
administer pre-existing national wildlife refuges at Baker, Howland, 
and Jarvis Islands; Wake, Johnston, and Palmyra Atolls; and Kingman 
Reef, in accordance with the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Administration Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee; Refuge System 
Administration Act, as amended). USFWS manages these individual 
refuges, and the Monument as a whole, as part of the National Wildlife 
Refuge System (NWRS).

Howland Island, Baker Island, and Jarvis Island

    Howland Island, Baker Island, and Jarvis Island are unique places 
for climate change research and other research conducted at the 
Equator. These areas have deepwater corals, coral reefs, and corals in 
near-pristine condition, as well as predator-dominated marine 
ecosystems with a biomass of top predators. CCPs were completed for the 
Baker Island, Howland Island, and Jarvis Island NWRs on September 24, 
2008 (73 FR 76678; December 17, 2008). CCPs are required for each 
refuge in accordance with the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Improvement Act.

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Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll

    Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll have relatively undisturbed coral 
reefs, with high levels of coral diversity, fish biomass, and large 
proportions of apex predators relative to other areas in the central 
Pacific Ocean.

Johnston Atoll

    Johnston Atoll's coral reefs help connect the Hawaiian Archipelago 
reef communities to others in the Pacific. This reef community is the 
originating source for much of the larvae for the Hawaiian Islands' 
corals, invertebrates, and other reef fauna. The atoll's reefs have the 
deepest reef-building corals on record.

Wake Atoll

    Wake Atoll encompasses possibly the oldest living coral atoll in 
the world and has healthy and abundant coral and fish populations. CCPs 
have not been completed for Palmyra, Kingman, Wake, and Johnston Atoll 
NWRs. For the current MMP planning process, USFWS will focus on 
appropriate conservation and management recommendations for all 
refuges. Following the completion of the MMP, USFWS will prepare new 
CCPs and revise existing CCPs, as appropriate.

Monument Management Plan Development Process

    The purpose for developing an MMP is to provide monument managers 
with a 15-year direction for the proper care and management of the 
significant objects of scientific interest that are within the 
boundaries of the Monument. The MMP will be consistent with Refuge 
purposes and will contribute toward the mission of the NWRS. The MMP 
will be consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and sound principles 
of marine protected area planning and fish and wildlife management, 
conservation, legal mandates, and applicable policies. The EA will 
evaluate the impacts of implementing the proposed draft management 
plan, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (42 
U.S.C. 4321, as amended).

Public Involvement

    NOAA and USFWS will conduct the planning process in a manner that 
will provide participation opportunities for the public and Federal, 
Tribal, State, and local governments. At this time, NOAA and USFWS 
encourage comments in the form of issues, concerns, ideas, and 
suggestions for the future management of the Monument.

Preliminary Issues, Concerns, and Opportunities

    Below, we have identified the following preliminary issues, 
concerns, and opportunities that may be addressed in the MMP. 
Additional issues may be identified during public scoping.

 Climate impacts and management approach
 Invasive species prevention and control
 Management access, maintenance, and island infrastructure
 Seabird protection and management
 Scientific exploration and research opportunities
 Marine debris and abandoned floating fishing aggregation 
device removal
 Cultural, historic, and maritime resources protection
 Past and current military use
 Legacy contaminants management and cleanup
 Potential threats (e.g., trespass; illegal fishing; and 
shipwrecks, groundings, and spills)
 Public awareness, education, and support
 Emergency response to natural and manmade disasters and 
assessments
 Inventory and monitoring of biological organisms and abiotic 
(nonliving) factors
 Surveillance and enforcement regarding illegal fishing
 Permit system for allowable public activities (special uses, 
recreational fishing)
 Methods and best management practices for habitat conservation 
and restoration actions
 International programs and collaboration
 Opportunities for sustainable practices in management 
operations

Next Steps

    USFWS and NOAA will consider all the public comments received from 
this NOI in developing the draft MMP. The draft MMP and EA will be made 
available for public comment once they are completed.

Ngagne Jafnar Gueye,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
Robyn Thorson,
Regional Director, Columbia-Pacific Northwest and Pacific Islands 
Regions, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2021-27535 Filed 12-20-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P