[Federal Register: January 12, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 7)]
[Page 1756-1757]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Change in Administrative Jurisdiction of Midway Atoll National 
Wildlife Refuge

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: This notice clarifies that jurisdiction and control of 
submerged lands and marine waters at and surrounding Midway Atoll, 
located in the Pacific Ocean, are the responsibility of the U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service based on an agreement with the Department of the 
Interior Office of Insular Affairs.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: A. Eric Alvarez, Chief, Division of 
Realty, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Telephone (703) 358-1713.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This gives public notice of the transfer of 
jurisdiction and control of marine waters at and surrounding Midway 
Atoll from the Department of the Interior Office of Insular Affairs to 
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) 
between the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the 
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Insular Affairs (both within the 
Department of the Interior) transferred the management of submerged 
lands and waters associated with Midway Atoll to the Fish and Wildlife 
Service on March 26, 2003. Upon execution of the MOU, the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service assumed

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jurisdiction and control of the submerged lands and waters within the 
12-nautical mile territorial sea in order to manage the natural 
resources (i.e., fish, wildlife, plants, and other associated 
resources) associated with this area as part of the Midway Atoll 
National Wildlife Refuge.
    The Service will continue to administer and manage this area under 
the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 
U.S.C. 668dd-668ee, as amended); the general regulations governing the 
National Wildlife Refuge System published in Title 50, Subchapter C, 
Code of Federal Regulations; and in accordance with all applicable 
laws, policies, and rules.
    The refuge consists of all of the islands and submerged lands of 
Midway Atoll together with the surrounding territorial sea, which 
currently extends outward to 12 nautical miles. Executive Order 13022 
transferred the authority over the Midway Islands from the Department 
of the Navy to the Department of the Interior on October 31, 1996. The 
MOU clarifies that the authority over submerged lands and waters of 
Midway Atoll has been delegated to the Director of the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service by the Secretary of the Interior through the Office of 
Insular Affairs. We took this action in furtherance of United States 
sovereignty over Midway Atoll and to protect the unique ecosystem of 
Midway Atoll, including the adjacent coral reefs and marine waters.
    The Service, which has been managing the refuge pursuant to the 
Executive order, will continue to manage it under all applicable laws, 
policies, and regulations that govern the National Wildlife Refuge 
System. In carrying out those responsibilities, and consistent with 
those authorities, we shall ensure that the service will manage the 
unique ecosystem of the refuge to preserve its character in support of 
the protection and conservation of the fish and wildlife in the refuge.

    Dated: December 8, 2003.
Matt Hogan,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 04-536 Filed 1-9-04; 8:45 am]