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Notice

Determination of Pest-Free Areas in Australia; Request for Comments

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AGENCY:

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

We are advising the public that we have received a request from the Government of Australia to recognize additional areas as pest-free areas for Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata) or Queensland fruit fly (Bactrocera tryoni). After reviewing the documentation submitted in support of this request, the Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has determined that these areas meet the criteria in our regulations for recognition as pest-free areas. We are making that determination, as well as an evaluation document we have prepared in connection with this action, available for review and comment.

DATES:

We will consider all comments that we receive on or before November 14, 2011.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments by either of the following methods:

Supporting documents and any comments we receive on this docket may be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov/​#!docketDetail;​D=​APHIS-2011-0088 or in our reading room, which is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 690-2817 before coming.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Ms. Meredith C. Jones, Regulatory Coordination Specialist, Regulatory Coordination and Compliance, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 156, Riverdale, MD 20737; (301) 734-7467.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Under the regulations in “Subpart—Fruits and Vegetables” (7 CFR 319.56-1 through 319.56-51, referred to below as the regulations), the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture prohibits or restricts the importation of fruits and vegetables into the United States from certain parts of the world to prevent plant pests from being introduced into and spread within the United States.

Section 319.56-4 of the regulations contains a performance-based process for approving the importation of commodities that, based on the findings of a pest risk analysis, can be safely imported subject to one or more of the designated phytosanitary measures listed in paragraph (b) of that section. One of the designated phytosanitary measures is that the fruits or vegetables are imported from a pest-free area [1] in the country of origin that meets the requirements of § 319.56-5 for freedom from that pest and are accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate stating that the fruits or vegetables originated in a pest-free area in the country of origin.

Under the regulations in § 319.56-5, APHIS requires that determinations of pest-free areas be made in accordance with the criteria for establishing freedom from pests found in International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) No. 4, “Requirements For the Establishment of Pest Free Areas.” The international standard was established by the International Plant Protection Convention of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization and is incorporated by reference in our regulations in 7 CFR 300.5. In addition, APHIS must also approve the survey protocol used to determine and maintain pest-free status, as well as protocols for actions to be performed upon detection of a pest. Pest-free areas are subject to audit by APHIS to verify their status.

APHIS has received a request from the Government of Australia to recognize new areas of that country as being free of Ceratitis capitata, the Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly), and to recognize other areas of the country as being free of Bactrocera tryoni, the Queensland fruit fly. Specifically, the Government of Australia asked that we recognize the States of New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, and Victoria as free of Medfly and the State of Western Australia as free of Queensland fruit fly.

Each proposed pest-free area is free of one of the fruit flies, but may have the other fruit fly, so fruit from these areas of Australia would still require a quarantine treatment. However the treatments required are different for each fly, are less stringent than the treatments for both flies, and therefore are less damaging to the commodity.

In accordance with our regulations and the criteria set out in ISPM No. 4, we have reviewed and approved the survey protocols and other information provided by Australia relative to its system to establish freedom, phytosanitary measures to maintain freedom, and system for the verification of the maintenance of freedom. Because this action concerns the expansion of a currently recognized pest-free area in Australia from which fruits and vegetables are authorized for importation into the United States, our review of the information presented by Australia in support of its request is examined in a commodity import evaluation document (CIED) titled “Recognition of Additional States as Medfly and Queensland fruit fly Pest-Free Areas (PFA) for Australia.”

The CIED may be viewed on the Regulations.gov Web site or in our reading room (see ADDRESSES above for instructions for accessing Regulations.gov and information on the location and hours of the reading room). You may request paper copies of the CIED by calling or writing to the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.Start Printed Page 56731

Therefore, in accordance with § 319.56-5(c), we are announcing the Administrator's determination that the States of New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, and Victoria meet the criteria of § 319.56-5(a) and (b) with respect to freedom from Medfly and the State of Western Australia meets the criteria of § 319.56-5(a) and (b) with respect to freedom from Queensland fruit fly. After reviewing the comments we receive on this notice, we will announce our decision regarding the status of these areas with respect to their freedom from Medfly and Queensland fruit fly. If the Administrator's determination remains unchanged, we will amend the list of pest-free areas to list the States of New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, and Victoria as free of Medfly and the State of Western Australia as free of Queensland fruit fly.

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Done in Washington, DC, this 7th day of September 2011.

Kevin Shea,

Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

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Footnotes

[FR Doc. 2011-23431 Filed 9-13-11; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-34-P