[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 65 (Tuesday, April 5, 2011)]
[Pages 18773-18775]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-7960]




Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R1-R-2010-N009; 1265-000-10137-S3]

Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, Commonwealth of the 
Northern Mariana Islands, et al.; Monument Management Plan, 
Comprehensive Conservation Plans, and Environmental Assessment

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

ACTION: Notice of intent; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National 
Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA), intend to prepare the 
monument management plan (MMP) for the Marianas Trench Marine National 
Monument (Monument) established by Presidential Proclamation 8335. The 
MMP will satisfy FWS comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) requirements 
for two units of the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) contained 
therein. When the draft MMP is complete, we will advertise its 
availability and again seek public comment.
    We furnish this notice to advise the public and other Federal and 
local agencies of our intentions, and to obtain suggestions and 
information on the scope of issues to consider during the planning 
    An environmental assessment (EA) to evaluate the potential effects 
of various management alternatives will also be prepared. The EA will 
provide resource managers with the information needed to determine if 
the potential effects may be significant and warrant preparation of an 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), or if the potential impacts lead 
to a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).

DATES: To ensure consideration, we must receive your written comments 
by May 5, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Additional information about the Monument and its two refuge 
units is available at http://www.fws.gov/marianastrenchmarinemonument/ 
and http://www.fpir.noaa.gov/MNM/mnm_index.html. Please send your 
written comments or requests for more information by any of the 
following methods.
    E-mail: Heidi.Hirsh@noaa.gov.
    Fax: (808) 973-2941.
    U.S. Mail: Heidi Hirsh, Natural Resource Management Specialist, 
NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1601 Kapiolani Blvd 
1110, Honolulu, HI 96814.

Management Specialist, (808) 944-2223.



Monument Establishment and Management Responsibilities

    On January 6, 2009, President George W. Bush issued Proclamation 
No. 8335 (Proclamation), establishing the Monument under the authority 
of the Antiquities Act of 1906. The Monument consists of three units: 
The Islands Unit encompasses the waters and submerged lands of the 
three northernmost Mariana Islands from the mean low water line out 
approximately 50 nautical miles (nmi); the Volcanic Unit encompasses 
each designated volcanic feature and the surrounding submerged lands 
out to 1 nmi; and the Trench Unit encompasses the submerged lands 
within the Mariana Trench.
    The Monument encompasses approximately 61 million acres of 
submerged lands and certain waters of the Mariana Archipelago. The 
Trench Unit contains approximately 50.5 million acres of submerged 
lands, the Volcanic Unit includes approximately 55,912 acres of 
submerged lands, and the Islands Unit encompasses approximately 10.5 
million acres of submerged lands and waters.
    The Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Secretary 
of Commerce, has responsibility for management of the Monument; except 
that the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of 
the Interior, has primary responsibility for management with respect to 
fishery-related activities regulated pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) (16 
U.S.C. 1801 et seq.), the Proclamation, and other applicable legal 
    The Proclamation requires the Secretaries of the Interior and 
Commerce to prepare management plans within their respective 
authorities for the Monument, and 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 the Department of Commerce (Departments) are commencing 
development of the MMP. The Departments will work cooperatively under 
Fish and Wildlife Service's lead in this process. The Commerce 
Department, in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior, is 
working with the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council pursuant to 
the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the 
Proclamation to develop a fisheries ecosystem plan amendment and 
related regulations. To the extent they relate to waters within the 
Monument, the plan amendment and implementing regulations will be one 
component of the MMP. The Departments intend to cooperate and 
coordinate in the development and timing of these planning and 
management processes.
    To carry out his responsibilities from the President under the 
Proclamation, by Secretary's Order 3284 (Order) dated January 16, 2009, 
the Secretary of the Interior delegated all of his management 
responsibility for the Monument to the

[[Page 18774]]

FWS Director. The Order directs the FWS to manage the Volcanic Unit and 
the Trench Unit as units of the NWRS. The Order also directs the FWS to 
exercise all management responsibility given to the Secretary for the 
Islands Unit, but specifies that no part of it is included as a unit of 
the NWRS. In carrying out this delegation with respect to the two units 
added to the NWRS, and to facilitate public awareness that their status 
is slightly different than that of the Islands Unit, the FWS named the 
Trench Unit the Mariana Trench National Wildlife Refuge, and the 
Volcanic Unit the Mariana Arc of Fire National Wildlife Refuge.

The Monument's Natural Resources

    The Volcanic Unit contains unique geological features found nowhere 
else in the world, including the largest active mud volcanoes, vents 
expelling almost pure liquid carbon dioxide, a pool of liquid sulfur, 
and one of only a few places in the world where photosynthetic and 
chemosynthetic communities of life coexist. The Trench Unit, where the 
Pacific Plate plunges into the Earth's mantle, contains the deepest 
point on Earth. The Islands Unit encompasses the waters of the 
archipelago's three northern islands, which are among the most 
biologically diverse in the western Pacific Ocean, and includes the 
greatest diversity of seamount and hydrothermal vent life yet 

The MMP Planning Process

    The MMP's format will include elements similar to a NWRS CCP, and 
the planning process for those elements will be conducted in a manner 
similar to the CCP planning and public involvement process. The MMP 
will be updated every 15 years.
    The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as 
amended by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 
(16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee) (Refuge System Administration Act), requires 
FWS to develop a CCP for each national wildlife refuge or planning 
unit. The purpose for developing a CCP is to provide refuge managers 
with a 15-year plan for achieving refuge purposes and contributing 
toward the mission of the NWRS, consistent with sound principles of 
fish and wildlife management and natural resource conservation, legal 
mandates, and applicable policies. In addition to outlining broad 
management direction for conserving wildlife and their habitats, CCPs 
identify wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities available to the 
public, including opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife 
observation and photography, and environmental education and 
    We will conduct environmental reviews of various management 
alternatives and develop an EA in accordance with the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et 
seq.); NEPA Regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-1508); other Federal laws 
and regulations; and our policies and procedures for compliance with 
those laws and regulations.
    The Fish and Wildlife Service, as lead agency for NEPA purposes, 
will also designate and involve as cooperating agencies the Department 
of Commerce, through NOAA; the Department of Defense; the Department of 
State; and the Government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana 
Islands (CNMI), in accordance with NEPA and Executive Order 13352 of 
August 26, 2004, titled Facilitation of Cooperative Conservation.
    The MMP is to provide for the following activities, to the extent 
appropriate to Department of the Interior and Department of Commerce 
authorities and the Proclamation:
     Management of the Islands Unit, in consultation with the 
Government of the CNMI, including designating specific roles and 
responsibilities, and identifying the means of consultation on 
management decisions as appropriate and consistent with the respective 
authorities and jurisdictions of the CNMI and the Secretaries of the 
Interior and Commerce.
     Public education programs and public outreach regarding 
the Monument's coral reef ecosystem, related marine resources and 
species, and conservation efforts.
     Traditional access to the Monument by indigenous persons, 
as identified by the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce in 
consultation with the Government of the CNMI, for culturally 
significant subsistence and other cultural and religious uses.
     A program to assess and promote Monument-related 
scientific exploration and research, tourism, and recreational and 
economic activities and opportunities in the CNMI.
     A process to consider requests for recreational fishing 
permits in certain areas of the Islands Unit.
     Programs for monitoring and enforcement necessary to 
ensure that scientific exploration and research, tourism, and 
recreational and commercial activities do not degrade the Monument's 
coral reef ecosystem or related marine resources or species, or 
diminish the Monument's natural character.

Public Involvement

    The FWS and NOAA will conduct the planning process in a manner that 
will provide participation opportunities for the public, Federal and 
local government agencies, and other interested parties. At this time, 
we encourage input in the form of issues, concerns, ideas, and 
suggestions for the future management of the Monument. Opportunities 
for additional public input will be announced throughout the planning 
process. We may hold public meetings to help share information and 
obtain comments.

Preliminary Issues, Concerns, and Opportunities

    We identified the following preliminary issues and opportunities 
that we may address in the MMP. We expect to identify additional issues 
during public scoping.
     Climate change impacts and adaptation.
     Marine debris impacts and removal.
     Invasive species prevention and control.
     Other potential threats to the ecosystem (e.g., trespass; 
illegal fishing; and shipwrecks, groundings, and spills).
     Emergency response to natural and manmade disasters and 
natural resources damage assessments.
     Operational capabilities for effective ecosystem 
monitoring, surveillance, and enforcement.
     Habitat conservation and restoration.
     Biological and abiotic inventory and monitoring.
     Protected resources and their habitats, including coral 
reefs, marine clams, apex predators, marine mammals, sea turtles, 
seabirds, and fishes.
     Historic and cultural resources, including maritime 
     Public education and outreach.
     International programs and collaboration.
     Scientific exploration and research opportunities.
     Developing an appropriate permitting regime for activities 
within the Monument.
     Determining if bioprospecting is appropriate and 

Next Steps

    The FWS and NOAA, in consultation with the Mariana Monument 
Advisory Council, and the Government of the CNMI, will be considering 
your comments during development of the Draft MMP/CCPs/EA.

[[Page 18775]]

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, 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 
comments to withhold your personal identifying information from public 
review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Robyn Thorson,
Regional Director, Region 1, Portland, Oregon.
Emily H. Menashes,
Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-7960 Filed 4-4-11; 8:45 am]