New regs for Tuesday: Protecting whales

Whales and fish:
The National Marine Fisheries Service wants to update regulations that are intended to protect whales in the Atlantic during fishing activities.

The new proposal would update a 1997 plan to reduce the harm brought to whales, including some that are considered endangered, by fishing. The proposal includes new restrictions for buoy lines used by fishermen and revisions for fishing areas and their seasons.

As part of its proposal, the agency also wants to expand marking requirements for the gear that fishing boats use. That data "may provide valuable insight concerning where, when, and how" whales become entangled in fishing gear.

Additionally, the regulator is adjusting rules for vessels catching flounder in the Northeast, prohibiting fishing for haddock in the Gulf of Maine and halting some vessels' fishing for perch in a region of the Bering Sea to prevent overfishing. 

Affordable Care Act:
The Obama administration issued its final requirements for professionals that will help consumers understand new state health insurance marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act. 

Known as "navigators," they are supposed to help people shopping for insurance on the marketplaces weigh their options.

The new 145-page regulation, which The Hill's Healthwatch reported on Friday, finalizes training and certification standards for the navigators. 

Small businesses:
The Small Business Administration is amending its rules on government subcontracts to add a requirement that, for situations where small businesses are required, contractors need to provide written notification whenever they do not use a small business subcontractor.

The new rule also requires notification whenever payments to a small business subcontractor shrink or are 90 or more days late. 

Additionally, the Transportation Department's Surface Transportation Board is looking to define "small business" rail carriers. 

The Securities and Exchange Commission is adopting a rule to let financial brokers engage in foreign currency transactions.

The new rule replaces an interim regulation that was adopted in 2011. 

Regulators are creating a framework to provide an alternative method for fireworks companies to have their products certified for travel throughout the country. The new certification agencies would be approved by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and relieve the industry from the current "unnecessary delay" in the current process. 

Marine vapor:
The Coast Guard is issuing new regulations for systems that contain gases on ships, called vapor control systems

While the systems are not mandatory, some vessels use them during loading and other operations to mitigate air pollution emissions.

Agreements between airports and residents with adjacent property who can access the airport have new regulations from the Federal Aviation Administration. 

By signing a written deal, airports will allow residents and airplane owners who live nearby to access their space, with certain conditions. The new regulations give terms and stipulations to those deals.

Pet food:
The Food and Drug Administration is creating an updated staff guidance for salmonella in animal food.

The guidance explains when agency employees should consider recommending an enforcement action because of salmonella prevalence in pet food. 

The Commerce Department is updating its missile control rules to conform with agreements made at an international meeting in October.

The changes are intended to further reduce the potential of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. 

VA medications:
The Department of Veterans Affairs is changing its rules for prescriptions to make sure that eligible veterans in current and future military conflicts can get medications from physicians outside the department system.