Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Geophysical Surveys in South San Francisco Bay South of the Dumbarton Bridge, 35412-35416 [E6-9679]

Download as PDF 35412 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 118 / Tuesday, June 20, 2006 / Notices Dated: June 14, 2006. Mark S. Plank, Director, Engineering and Environmental Staff, USDA/Rural Development/Utilities Programs. [FR Doc. E6–9642 Filed 6–19–06; 8:45 am] interested party claimed interested party status under section 771(9)(C) of the Act, as a manufacturer of a domestic– like product in the United States. We received a complete substantive response from the domestic interested party within the 30-day deadline specified in 19 CFR 351.218(d)(3)(i). We received no responses from respondent interested parties. As a result, pursuant to 19 CFR 351.218(e)(1)(ii)(C)(2), the Department conducted an expedited (120-day) sunset review of the order. BILLING CODE 3410–15–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration (A–570–835) Furfuryl Alcohol from the People’s Republic of China: Final Results of the Expedited Sunset Review of the Antidumping Duty Order Import Administration, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce. SUMMARY: On April 3, 2006, the Department of Commerce (‘‘the Department’’) initiated the sunset review of the antidumping duty order on furfuryl alcohol from the People’s Republic of China (‘‘PRC’’) pursuant to section 751(c) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (‘‘the Act’’). The Department conducted an expedited (120-day) sunset review for this order. As a result of the sunset review, the Department finds that revocation of the antidumping duty order would be likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of dumping. The dumping margins are identified in the Final Results of Review section of this notice. EFFECTIVE DATE: June 20, 2006. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Audrey Twyman or Brandon Farlander, AD/CVD Operations, Office 1, Import Administration, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th Street & Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482–3534 and (202) 482–0182, respectively. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: AGENCY: rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with NOTICES Background On April 3, 2006, the Department published the notice of initiation of the second sunset review of the antidumping duty order on furfuryl alcohol from the PRC pursuant to section 751(c) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.218(c)(2) of the Department’s Regulations (‘‘Sunset Regulations’’). See Initiation of Five-year (‘‘Sunset’’) Reviews, 71 FR 16551 (April 3, 2006). The Department received the Notice of Intent to Participate from Penn Speciality Chemicals, Inc. (‘‘the domestic interested party’’), within the deadline specified in 351.218(d)(1)(i) of the Sunset Regulations. The domestic VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:31 Jun 19, 2006 Jkt 208001 Scope of the Order The merchandise covered by this order is furfuryl alcohol (C4H3OCH2OH). Furfuryl alcohol is a primary alcohol, and is colorless or pale yellow in appearance. It is used in the manufacture of resins and as a wetting agent and solvent for coating resins, nitrocellulose, cellulose acetate, and other soluble dyes. The product subject to this order is classifiable under subheading 2932.13.00 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (‘‘HTSUS’’). Although the HTSUS subheading is provided for convenience and customs purposes, our written description of the scope of this proceeding is dispositive. Analysis of Comments Received All issues raised in this review are addressed in the ‘‘Issues and Decision Memorandum for the Expedited Sunset Review of the Antidumping Duty Order on Furfuryl Alcohol from The People’s Republic of China; Final Results’’ (‘‘Decision Memo’’) from Stephen J. Claeys, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Import Administration, to David M. Spooner, Assistant Secretary for Import Administration, dated August 1, 2006, which is hereby adopted by this notice. The issues discussed in the Decision Memo include the likelihood of continuation or recurrence of dumping and the magnitude of the margins likely to prevail if the order was to be revoked. Parties can find a complete discussion of all issues raised in the review and the corresponding recommendations in this public memorandum which is on file in room B–099 of the main Commerce building. In addition, a complete version of the Decision Memo can be accessed directly on the Web at http://ia.ita.doc.gov/frn/ index.html. The paper copy and electronic version of the Decision Memo are identical in content. Final Results of Review We determine that revocation of the antidumping duty order on furfuryl alcohol from the PRC would be likely to PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 lead to continuation or recurrence of dumping at the following weighted– average percentage margins: Manufacturers/Exporters/Producers Weighted Average Margin (percent) Qingdao Chemicals & Medicines & Health Products Import & Export Company ..................... Sinochem Shandong Import and Export Company ..................... PRC–Wide Rate ......................... 50.43 43.54 45.27 This notice also serves as the only reminder to parties subject to administrative protective orders (‘‘APO’’) of their responsibility concerning the return or destruction of proprietary information disclosed under APO in accordance with 19 CFR 351.305 of the Department’s regulations. Timely notification of the return or destruction of APO materials or conversion to judicial protective orders is hereby requested. Failure to comply with the regulations and terms of an APO is a violation which is subject to sanction. We are issuing and publishing the results and notice in accordance with sections 751(c), 752, and 777(i)(1) of the Act. Dated: June 14, 2006. David M. Spooner, Assistant Secretary for Import Administration. [FR Doc. E6–9664 Filed 6–19–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–DS–S DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [I.D. 050106A] Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Geophysical Surveys in South San Francisco Bay South of the Dumbarton Bridge National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of proposed authorization for an incidental take authorization; request for comments. AGENCY: SUMMARY: NMFS has received a request from the URS Corporation (URS) for an authorization to take small numbers of California sea lions, Pacific harbor seals, harbor porpoises, and gray whales, by harassment, incidental to geographical seismic surveys being conducted by Fugro West, Inc. (Fugro), in south San E:\FR\FM\20JNN1.SGM 20JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 118 / Tuesday, June 20, 2006 / Notices rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with NOTICES Francisco Bay. Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an authorization to Fugro to incidentally take, by harassment, small numbers of these species of pinnipeds and cetaceans during the next 12 months. DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than July 20, 2006. ADDRESSES: Comments on the application and draft Environmental Assessment (EA) should be addressed to P. Michael Payne, Chief, Permits, Conservation and Education Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 EastWest Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910–3225, or by telephoning the contact listed here. The mailbox address for providing e-mail comments is PR1.050106A@noaa.gov. Include in the subject line of the e-mail comment the following document identifier: 050106A. Comments sent via e-mail, including all attachments, must not exceed a 10–megabyte file size. A copy of the application, the application letter, EA, and other related documents may be obtained by writing to this address or by telephoning one of the contacts listed here (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT) and is also available at: http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental.htm. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shane Guan, NMFS, (301) 713–2289, ext 137, or Monica DeAngelis, NMFS, (562) 980–3232. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the public for review. An authorization shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s) and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses and that the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such taking are set forth. NMFS has defined ‘‘negligible impact’’ in 50 CFR VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:31 Jun 19, 2006 Jkt 208001 216.103 as ’’...an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.’’ Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA established an expedited process by which citizens of the United States can apply for an authorization to incidentally take small numbers of marine mammals by harassment. Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the MMPA defines ‘‘harassment’’ as: any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A harassment]; or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering [Level B harassment]. Section 101(a)(5)(D) establishes a 45– day time limit for NMFS review of an application followed by a 30–day public notice and comment period on any proposed authorizations for the incidental harassment of small numbers of marine mammals. Within 45 days of the close of the comment period, NMFS must either issue or deny issuance of the authorization. Summary of Request On March 30, 2006, URS on behalf of Fugro submitted an application to NMFS requesting an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) for the possible harassment of small numbers of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus), Pacific harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardsi), harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena), and gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) incidental to conducting geophysical surveys in the south San Francisco Bay (SFB or the Bay), California. The purpose of the surveys is to aid the San Francisco Public Utility Commission (SFPUC) in the design of an underground water pipeline, the Bay Division Tunnel, in south SFB. The proposed seismic study would span from Newark Slough and Plummer Creek adjacent to the Cargill Salt property in the east, to the Ravenswood Baylands open space on the western shore of SFB. The study would roughly parallel the existing SFPUC trans-bay pipelines, approximately 1 mile south of the Dumbarton Bridge. Marine seismic surveys would take approximately 8 - 10 days to perform. In the Newark Slough and Plummer Creek areas, work would be restricted to the non-pupping seasons of the harbor seal (July 1 - November PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 35413 30). The ideal start date would occur during the summer/fall of 2006. The proposed geophysical (seismic) studies would include 21 seismic sample transects. A total of 25 - 35 linear miles (40 - 56 km) of marinebased geophysical sampling would occur. The marine seismic reflection data would be collected along a series of lines that cross the Bay centered over the projected alignment. A centerline and four wing lines are planned. Cross lines, or tie lines, would be run perpendicular to the centerline and extend 200 - 500 m (656 - 1,640 ft) beyond the alignment parallel lines, unless restricted by water depth or manmade obstructions. Water depths in the survey area range from roughly 14 m (45 ft) in the deeper mid-Bay channel to about 1.8 - 2.4 m (6 - 8 ft) along the shore and in Newark Slough at high tide. Work would be conducted at high tide in the shallow nearshore areas. Data would be collected from a small boat that tows a seismic energy source and a multichannel hydrophone. Two energy sources would be used, a Squid ‘‘minisparker’’ system and a Geopulse ‘‘boomer’’ system. An onboard generator powers the energy sources. The hydrophone contains multiple sensors that detect the seismic waves reflected from the water bottom and subsea floor sediments and rocks. The hydrophone is filled with inert silicon oil. The survey boat would travel along predetermined survey lines using a differential global positioning system (DGPS) for navigation. Boat speed during surveys would be at 3 - 4 knots. The length of time for each survey transect will vary depending on the total distance of the transect. The longest transects spanning from east to west would take about 1 hour to complete. The shorter north-south transect would generally take less than 30 minutes to complete. The energy source would be fired every 1/2 second (boomer) or 1 second (minisparker). Data received by the hydrophone are recorded with an onboard seismograph and laptop computer. Sound pressure level from a boomer operating at 350 joules is 204 dB re 1 microPaRMS at 1 m, and from a minisparker is 209 dB re 1 microPaRMS at 1 m. Frequency range for the boomer is at 750 - 3,500 Hz, with pulse duration 0.1 ms; and frequency range for the minisparker is at 150 - 2,500 Hz, with pulse duration 0.8 ms. Description of the Marine Mammals Potentially Affected by the Activity The marine mammals most likely to be found in SFB are the California sea lion, Pacific harbor seal, and harbor E:\FR\FM\20JNN1.SGM 20JNN1 35414 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 118 / Tuesday, June 20, 2006 / Notices porpoise. From December through May, gray whales may also be present in the Bay. General information of these species can be found in Caretta et al. (2005), which is available at the following URL: http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/PR2/ StocklAssessmentlProgram/ sars.html. Refer to that document for information on these species. Additional information on these species is presented below. Pacific harbor seal Within the proposed project area, Pacific harbor seals are know to haulout near the junction of Newark Slough and Plummer Creek. Newark Slough is a continually used seal haul-out site, although it is used by small numbers of harbor seals compared with Mowry Slough to the south and Yerba Buena Island and Castro Rocks in the North Bay. Harbor seals are also known to utilize Newark Slough as a pupping site (Harvey and Oates, 2002) and up to 82 individuals have been documented hauling-out at that location on a single day. During a five-year survey period between 2000 and 2005 at Newark Slough, an average of 42 individuals were counted each year during the pupping season, compared to Mowry Slough 2 miles to the south, where an average of 279 animals were counted each year during the pupping season. The California stock of harbor seal is the only stock of this species found in the proposed project area, and its abundance is estimated to be 27,863 (Carretta et al., 2005). rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with NOTICES California sea lion California sea lions breed off the Central and Southern California coastline. Once the pupping season is completed (May - June), male sea lions migrate north and enter the Bay. Although California sea lions are mainly known for haul-out sites off the San Francisco and Marin shorelines within the Bay, it is possible for this species to forage in the south Bay area as well. The U.S. stock of the California sea lion population is estimated between 237,000 to 244,000 (Carretta et al., 2005). Gray whale In the past, eastern Pacific gray whales have been seen irregularly in SFB. These individuals likely wandered off the migration route. The number of gray whales observed in the Bay increased in 1999 and 2000, and the observed whales apparently were feeding in a number of areas in May and June. The increased aberrancies of gray whale sightings in timing and location, VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:31 Jun 19, 2006 Jkt 208001 along with foraging activities on its migration route in 1999 and 2000, were potentially caused by a significant decline in amphipod density in gray whale’s feeding ground in the Bering and Chukchi seas (Le Boeuf et al., 2000). Although twice being hunted to the brink of extinction in the mid 1800s and again in the early 1900s, the eastern North Pacific gray whales population has since increased to a level that equals or exceeds pre-exploitation numbers (Jefferson et al., 1993). Angliss and Lodge (2004) reported the latest abundance estimate of this population is 26,635. Harbor porpoise Harbor porpoises found in waters off the coast of central California from San Francisco to Point Arena belong to the San Francisco-Russian River stock. Year-round surveys in the Gulf of the Farallones area have shown harbor porpoise occurrence within 10 - 20 km (6 - 12 miles) of San Francisco Bay (Calambokidis ET AL., 1990). High harbor porpoise sightings were also reported just outside the Golden Gate and about 1 km (0.62 mile) inside SFB, however, the occurrence of harbor porpoises in the southern part of Bay is rare (DeAngelis, personal comm. 2006). Based on Carretta et al. (2005), the estimated abundance of the San Francisco-Russian River stock of harbor porpoise is 8,521. Potential Effects on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat Seismic surveys using acoustic energy may have the potential to adversely impact marine mammals in the vicinity of the activities (Gordon et al., 2004). Intense acoustic signals from seismic surveys have been known to cause behavioral alteration such as reduced vocalization rates (Goold, 1996), avoidance (Malme et al., 1986, 1988; Richardson et al., 1995; Harris et al., 2001), and changing in blow rates (Richardson et al., 1995) in several marine mammal species. The proposed studies would use a low intensity acoustic energy with source levels of 204 dB re 1 microPa at 1 m RMS (boomer) and 209 dB re 1 microPa at 1 m RMS (minisparker) to conduct the seismic surveys. However, it is unlikely that any marine mammals in the vicinity would be exposed to high sound pressure levels (SPL) due to transmission loss of the acoustic energy in the water column. In addition, the sound pulses produced by the energy sources are extremely short, lasting for only 0.1 ms for the boomer and 0.8 ms for the minisparker. Therefore, the PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 energy from the seismic impulse is expected to be significantly low. Pinniped disturbance could also be caused by the presence of vessels and humans that are involved in the geographical surveys. These disturbances could cause hauled out harbor seals or California sea lions to flush and possibly result in temporary use of alternate haul-out sites in the Bay. However, long term abandonment of the sites is not likely because noise from traffic, recreational boaters, and other human activities already occur in the area, and it is likely that these animals have become habituated to these disturbances. Furthermore, marine mammal densities within the proposed project are typically very low. California sea lions, harbor porpoises and gray whales are not known to regularly visit the proposed project area, which is located in southern SFB. Although harbor seals use portions of the proposed project area as haul-out sites, their density is low. Within the last 5 years, individual harbor seals counted while hauling-out at the Newark Slough haul-out site during the post-pupping season have fluctuated between a maximum of 34 animals in 2001 to a minimum of 10 animals in 2005 (DeAngelis, personal comm. 2006). Numbers of harbor seals counted at the Newark Slough haul-out site during May 2001 and May 2002 (pupping season) ranged from 26 - 65 individuals. Lastly, the entire geophysical survey would only last for 8 - 10 days, which excludes any possible long term noise exposure to marine mammals in the vicinity of the proposed action area. Based on this information, NMFS concludes that a small number of Pacific harbor seals, California sea lions, harbor porpoises, and gray whales that may be swimming, foraging, or resting in the project vicinity would be potentially taken by Level B behavioral harassment due to the proposed activity. In addition, proposed mitigation measures discussed below would greatly reduce the potential takes of marine mammals due to the proposed geophysical surveys. Mitigation The following mitigation measures are proposed be required under the proposed IHA to be issued to SFPUC for conducting geophysical surveys in southern SFB. NMFS believes that the implementation of these mitigation measures would reduce impacts to marine mammals to the lowest extent practicable. E:\FR\FM\20JNN1.SGM 20JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 118 / Tuesday, June 20, 2006 / Notices Time and Location Geophysical studies would only be conducted during daylight hours from 7 am - 7 pm, when marine mammal monitoring prior to and during the surveys would be most effective. Seismic studies would not occur in the vicinity of Newark Slough or Plummer Creek during the harbor seal pupping season (March 1 - June 30). Seismic studies would only occur over open water transects during that period. Establishment of Safety Zones Safety zones would be established and monitored during the seismic surveys. The applicant proposes to establish a 45–m (148–ft) radius safety zone for the boomer system and a 100– m (328–ft) radius for the minisparker system. At these distances, the SPLs would be reduced to 179 dB re 1 microPa rms and 169 dB re 1 microPa rms, respectively, which is lower than NMFS standards set for avoiding marine mammal Level A harassment (180 dB re 1 microPa rms for cetaceans and 190 dB re 1 microPa rms for pinnipeds). Observers on boats will survey the safety zone for 15 minutes to ensure that no marine mammals are seen within the zone before a seismic survey begins. If marine mammals are found within the safety zone, seismic surveys will be delayed until they move out of the area. If a marine mammal is seen above the water and then dives below, the surveyor will wait 15 minutes and if no marine mammals are seen by the observer in that time it will be assumed that the animal has moved beyond the safety zone. This 15–minute criterion is based on scientific evidence that harbor seals in San Francisco Bay dive for a mean time of 0.50 minutes to 3.33 minutes (Harvey and Torok, 1994), the mean diving duration for harbor porpoises ranges from 44 to 103 seconds (Westgate et al., 1995), and the mean diving duration for gray whales is approximately 1.84 minutes (Wursig et al., 2003). rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with NOTICES Soft Start Although marine mammals will be protected from Level A harassment by establishment of a safety zone at a SPL levels of 169 and 179 dB re 1 microPa rms, mitigation may not be 100 percent effective at all times in locating marine mammals. In order to provide additional protection to marine mammals near the project area by allowing marine mammals to vacate the area prior to receiving a potential injury, and to further reduce Level B harassment by startling marine mammals with a sudden intensive sound, Fugro will VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:31 Jun 19, 2006 Jkt 208001 implement ‘‘soft start’’ practice when starting up acoustic equipment. By implementing the ‘‘soft start’’ practice, acoustic equipment will be initiated at an energy level less than full capacity (i.e., approximately 40–60 percent energy levels) for at least 5 minutes before gradually escalating to full capacity. This would ensure that, although not expected, any pinnipeds and cetaceans that are missed during safety zone monitoring will not be injured. Equipment Shut-down If Marine Mammal Enters Safety Zone With all the aforementioned mitigation measures in place, marine mammals may still enter the safety zone when geophysical surveys are underway. As a result, there is a possibility that Level A harassment could occur to these animals when exposed to intensive sounds. In order to prevent any potential Level A harassment to marine mammals from occurring, the surveyors will shut down the acoustic equipment if a marine mammal is sighted in or believed to have entered within the safety zone during the survey transect. The surveyors would not start the acoustic equipment again until the marine mammal leaves the safety zone, or no marine mammals are sighted within the safety zone for 15 minutes after the last sighting. Monitoring and Reporting URS will develop a monitoring plan that would collect data for each distinct marine mammal species observed in the south Bay proposed project area during the period of the seismic surveys. Marine mammal behavior, overall numbers of individuals observed, frequency of observation, the time corresponding to the daily tidal cycle, and any behavioral changes due to the geophysical surveys will be recorded on daily observation sheets. Monitoring would be conducted by qualified NMFS-approved biologists. Binoculars and optical or digital laser range finders that are accurate to 3 feet (0.9 m) would be standard equipment for the monitors. Monitoring would begin prior to the first day of the survey to establish baseline data, and would occur from a chase boat during the 8 - 10 day survey period. Post-survey monitoring would occur for a period of one day upon completion of the seismic studies. Before the startup of the survey equipment, a marine mammal observer would visually survey the area for 15 minutes to confirm the safety zone is clear of any marine mammals. Seismic PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 35415 surveys will not begin until the safety zone is clear of marine mammals. Two observers would be present when surveys start onboard a separate boat and scan different sections of the overall survey area, particularly the safety zone. However, as described in the Mitigation section, once seismic survey of a transect begins, operations will continue uninterrupted until that transect is completed. However, if seismic survey of one transect is completed and a marine mammal is sighted within the designated safety zone prior to commencement of the next transect, the observer(s) must notify the surveyor (or other authorized individual) immediately and follow the mitigation requirements as outlined previously (see Mitigation). URS would submit a final report to NMFS 90 days after completion of the proposed project. The final report would include data collected for each distinct marine mammal species observed in the south Bay proposed project area during the period of the seismic surveys. Marine mammal behavior, overall numbers of individuals observed, frequency of observation, and any behavioral changes due to the geophysical surveys would also be included in the final report. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) NMFS has prepared a draft EA for public review and comment (see ADDRESSES). Endangered Species Act (ESA) Based on a review conducted by NMFS biologists, no ESA-listed species are expected to occur in the proposed action area, therefore, NMFS has determined that this action will have no effect on listed species, and a section 7 consultation is not necessary. Preliminary Determinations For the reasons discussed in this document and in the identified supporting documents, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the impact of seismic surveys and other activities associated in the south SFB would result, at worst, in the Level B harassment of small numbers of California sea lions, Pacific harbor seals, harbor porpoises, and potentially gray whales that inhabit or visit south SFB. While behavioral modifications, including temporarily vacating the area during the survey period of 8 - 10 days, may be made by these species to avoid the resultant visual and acoustic disturbance, the availability of alternate areas within SFB and haul-out sites (including pupping sites) and feeding E:\FR\FM\20JNN1.SGM 20JNN1 35416 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 118 / Tuesday, June 20, 2006 / Notices areas within the Bay has led NMFS to preliminarily determine that this action will have a negligible impact on California sea lions, Pacific harbor seals, harbor porpoises, and gray whale populations along the California coast. In addition, no take by Level A harassment (injury) or death is anticipated and harassment takes should be at the lowest level practicable due to incorporation of the mitigation measures described in this document. Proposed Authorization NMFS proposes to issue an IHA to Fugro for the potential harassment of small numbers of harbor seals, California sea lions, harbor porpoises, and gray whales incidental to conducting of seismic surveys in south San Francisco Bay in California, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements are incorporated. Information Solicited NMFS requests interested persons to submit comments, information, and suggestions concerning this request (see ADDRESSES). Dated: June 14, 2006. Donna Wieting, Deputy Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. E6–9679 Filed 6–19–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–S DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE before July 20, 2006. Unless comments are received, the deletion of the system of records will become effective as proposed on the date of publication of a subsequent notice in the Federal Register. Written comments may be mailed to Stacy Cheney, AttorneyAdvisor, Office of the Chief Counsel, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Room 4713, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20231. Paper submissions should include a 3 1/ 2 inch computer diskette in HTML, ASCII, Word, or WordPerfect format (please specify version). Diskettes should be labeled with the name and organization affiliation of the filer, and the name of the word processing program used to create the document. Comments may be submitted electronically to the following electronic mail address: sorcomments@ntia.doc.gov. Comments submitted via electronic mail also should be submitted in paper or diskette formats. Comments will be posted on NTIA’s Web site at http:// www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/occ/ sorcomments. ADDRESSES: This Privacy Act System of Records is being deleted because the records are no longer collected or maintained by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. There are no records remaining in the system. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Dated: June 14, 2006. Brenda Dolan, Departmental Freedom of Information and Privacy Act Officer. [FR Doc. E6–9615 Filed 6–19–06; 8:45 am] National Telecommunications and Information Administration Docket No. 060606155–6155-01 Privacy Act of 1974: Systems of Records BILLING CODE 3510–60–S National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce ACTION: Notice to delete a Privacy Act System of Records: COMMERCE/NTIA1, ‘‘Radio Spectrum Management Career Development Program.’’ AGENCY: In accordance with the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(4) and (11)), the Department of Commerce is issuing notice of its intent to delete the system of records entitled ‘‘Radio Spectrum Management Career Development Program.’’ This system of records is no longer collected or maintained by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. There are no records remaining in the system. DATES: To be considered, written comments must be submitted on or rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:31 Jun 19, 2006 Jkt 208001 CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION [Petition HP 06–1] Petition Requesting Ban on Lead Toy Jewelry Consumer Product Safety Commission. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: SUMMARY: The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (Commission or CPSC) has received a petition (HP 06–1) requesting that the Commission ban toy jewelry containing more than 0.06% lead. The Commission solicits written comments concerning the petition. PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 The Office of the Secretary must receive comments on the petition by August 21, 2006. DATES: Comments on the petition may be filed by e-mail to cpscos@cpsc.gov. Comments may also be filed by facsimile to (301) 504–0127, or delivered or mailed, preferably in five copies, to the Office of the Secretary, Consumer Product Safety Commission, 4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814, telephone (301) 504–7923. Comments should be captioned ‘‘Petition HP 06–1, Petition Requesting Ban on Lead Toy Jewelry.’’ The petition is available on the CPSC Web site at http://www.cpsc.gov. A request for a hard copy of the petition may be directed to the Office of the Secretary. ADDRESSES: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rockelle Hammond, Office of the Secretary, Consumer Product Safety Commission, 4330 East West Highway; telephone (301) 504–6833, e-mail rhammond@cpsc.gov. The Commission has received correspondence from the Sierra Club requesting that the Commission classify toy jewelry containing more than 0.06% lead as a banned hazardous substance under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA). The request for a ban on toy jewelry containing more than 0.06% lead was docketed as petition number HP 06–1 under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, 15 U.S.C. 1261–1278. The Sierra Club states that the Commission should adopt regulations declaring that any toy jewelry containing more than 0.06% lead by weight for which there is a reasonably foreseeable possibility that children could ingest be declared a banned hazardous substance under the FHSA. The Sierra Club also states that the 0.06% level may not be low enough to protect children and should be an interim step until a determination of a more appropriate cutoff is made. In addition, the Sierra Club asserts that it believes that toy jewelry is any item that serves a decorative but no or minimal functional purpose that is valued at less than $20 per item. According to the Sierra Club, people are less likely to store such low-cost jewelry in secure containers or out of reach from children. Interested parties may obtain a copy of the petition on the CPSC Web site at http://www.cpsc.gov or by writing or calling the Office of the Secretary, Consumer Product Safety Commission, 4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814; telephone (301) 504–7923. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: E:\FR\FM\20JNN1.SGM 20JNN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 118 (Tuesday, June 20, 2006)]
[Notices]
[Pages 35412-35416]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E6-9679]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[I.D. 050106A]


Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; 
Geophysical Surveys in South San Francisco Bay South of the Dumbarton 
Bridge

AGENCY:  National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION:  Notice of proposed authorization for an incidental take 
authorization; request for comments.

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SUMMARY:  NMFS has received a request from the URS Corporation (URS) 
for an authorization to take small numbers of California sea lions, 
Pacific harbor seals, harbor porpoises, and gray whales, by harassment, 
incidental to geographical seismic surveys being conducted by Fugro 
West, Inc. (Fugro), in south San

[[Page 35413]]

Francisco Bay. Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is 
requesting comments on its proposal to issue an authorization to Fugro 
to incidentally take, by harassment, small numbers of these species of 
pinnipeds and cetaceans during the next 12 months.

DATES:  Comments and information must be received no later than July 
20, 2006.

ADDRESSES:  Comments on the application and draft Environmental 
Assessment (EA) should be addressed to P. Michael Payne, Chief, 
Permits, Conservation and Education Division, Office of Protected 
Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, 
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3225, or by telephoning the contact listed 
here. The mailbox address for providing e-mail comments is 
PR1.050106A@noaa.gov. Include in the subject line of the e-mail comment 
the following document identifier: 050106A. Comments sent via e-mail, 
including all attachments, must not exceed a 10-megabyte file size. A 
copy of the application, the application letter, EA, and other related 
documents may be obtained by writing to this address or by telephoning 
one of the contacts listed here (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT) 
and is also available at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/
incidental.htm.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:  Shane Guan, NMFS, (301) 713-2289, ext 
137, or Monica DeAngelis, NMFS, (562) 980-3232.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) 
direct the Secretary of Commerce to allow, upon request, the 
incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine 
mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than 
commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain 
findings are made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking 
is limited to harassment, notice of a proposed authorization is 
provided to the public for review.
    An authorization shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking 
will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s) and will not 
have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species 
or stock(s) for subsistence uses and that the permissible methods of 
taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and 
reporting of such taking are set forth. NMFS has defined ``negligible 
impact'' in 50 CFR 216.103 as ''...an impact resulting from the 
specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not 
reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through 
effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.''
    Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA established an expedited process 
by which citizens of the United States can apply for an authorization 
to incidentally take small numbers of marine mammals by harassment. 
Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the MMPA 
defines ``harassment'' as:
    any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the 
potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the 
wild [Level A harassment]; or (ii) has the potential to disturb a 
marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing 
disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, 
migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering 
[Level B harassment].
    Section 101(a)(5)(D) establishes a 45-day time limit for NMFS 
review of an application followed by a 30-day public notice and comment 
period on any proposed authorizations for the incidental harassment of 
small numbers of marine mammals. Within 45 days of the close of the 
comment period, NMFS must either issue or deny issuance of the 
authorization.

Summary of Request

    On March 30, 2006, URS on behalf of Fugro submitted an application 
to NMFS requesting an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) for the 
possible harassment of small numbers of California sea lions (Zalophus 
californianus), Pacific harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardsi), harbor 
porpoises (Phocoena phocoena), and gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) 
incidental to conducting geophysical surveys in the south San Francisco 
Bay (SFB or the Bay), California. The purpose of the surveys is to aid 
the San Francisco Public Utility Commission (SFPUC) in the design of an 
underground water pipeline, the Bay Division Tunnel, in south SFB.
    The proposed seismic study would span from Newark Slough and 
Plummer Creek adjacent to the Cargill Salt property in the east, to the 
Ravenswood Baylands open space on the western shore of SFB. The study 
would roughly parallel the existing SFPUC trans-bay pipelines, 
approximately 1 mile south of the Dumbarton Bridge. Marine seismic 
surveys would take approximately 8 - 10 days to perform. In the Newark 
Slough and Plummer Creek areas, work would be restricted to the non-
pupping seasons of the harbor seal (July 1 - November 30). The ideal 
start date would occur during the summer/fall of 2006.
    The proposed geophysical (seismic) studies would include 21 seismic 
sample transects. A total of 25 - 35 linear miles (40 - 56 km) of 
marine-based geophysical sampling would occur. The marine seismic 
reflection data would be collected along a series of lines that cross 
the Bay centered over the projected alignment. A centerline and four 
wing lines are planned. Cross lines, or tie lines, would be run 
perpendicular to the centerline and extend 200 - 500 m (656 - 1,640 ft) 
beyond the alignment parallel lines, unless restricted by water depth 
or man-made obstructions. Water depths in the survey area range from 
roughly 14 m (45 ft) in the deeper mid-Bay channel to about 1.8 - 2.4 m 
(6 - 8 ft) along the shore and in Newark Slough at high tide. Work 
would be conducted at high tide in the shallow nearshore areas.
    Data would be collected from a small boat that tows a seismic 
energy source and a multichannel hydrophone. Two energy sources would 
be used, a Squid ``minisparker'' system and a Geopulse ``boomer'' 
system. An onboard generator powers the energy sources. The hydrophone 
contains multiple sensors that detect the seismic waves reflected from 
the water bottom and subsea floor sediments and rocks. The hydrophone 
is filled with inert silicon oil.
    The survey boat would travel along predetermined survey lines using 
a differential global positioning system (DGPS) for navigation. Boat 
speed during surveys would be at 3 - 4 knots. The length of time for 
each survey transect will vary depending on the total distance of the 
transect. The longest transects spanning from east to west would take 
about 1 hour to complete. The shorter north-south transect would 
generally take less than 30 minutes to complete.
    The energy source would be fired every 1/2 second (boomer) or 1 
second (minisparker). Data received by the hydrophone are recorded with 
an onboard seismograph and laptop computer. Sound pressure level from a 
boomer operating at 350 joules is 204 dB re 1 microPaRMS at 
1 m, and from a minisparker is 209 dB re 1 microPaRMS at 1 
m. Frequency range for the boomer is at 750 - 3,500 Hz, with pulse 
duration 0.1 ms; and frequency range for the minisparker is at 150 - 
2,500 Hz, with pulse duration 0.8 ms.

Description of the Marine Mammals Potentially Affected by the Activity

    The marine mammals most likely to be found in SFB are the 
California sea lion, Pacific harbor seal, and harbor

[[Page 35414]]

porpoise. From December through May, gray whales may also be present in 
the Bay. General information of these species can be found in Caretta 
et al. (2005), which is available at the following URL: http://
www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/PR2/Stock_Assessment_Program/sars.html. Refer to 
that document for information on these species. Additional information 
on these species is presented below.

Pacific harbor seal

    Within the proposed project area, Pacific harbor seals are know to 
haul-out near the junction of Newark Slough and Plummer Creek. Newark 
Slough is a continually used seal haul-out site, although it is used by 
small numbers of harbor seals compared with Mowry Slough to the south 
and Yerba Buena Island and Castro Rocks in the North Bay. Harbor seals 
are also known to utilize Newark Slough as a pupping site (Harvey and 
Oates, 2002) and up to 82 individuals have been documented hauling-out 
at that location on a single day. During a five-year survey period 
between 2000 and 2005 at Newark Slough, an average of 42 individuals 
were counted each year during the pupping season, compared to Mowry 
Slough 2 miles to the south, where an average of 279 animals were 
counted each year during the pupping season. The California stock of 
harbor seal is the only stock of this species found in the proposed 
project area, and its abundance is estimated to be 27,863 (Carretta et 
al., 2005).

California sea lion

    California sea lions breed off the Central and Southern California 
coastline. Once the pupping season is completed (May - June), male sea 
lions migrate north and enter the Bay. Although California sea lions 
are mainly known for haul-out sites off the San Francisco and Marin 
shorelines within the Bay, it is possible for this species to forage in 
the south Bay area as well. The U.S. stock of the California sea lion 
population is estimated between 237,000 to 244,000 (Carretta et al., 
2005).

Gray whale

    In the past, eastern Pacific gray whales have been seen irregularly 
in SFB. These individuals likely wandered off the migration route. The 
number of gray whales observed in the Bay increased in 1999 and 2000, 
and the observed whales apparently were feeding in a number of areas in 
May and June. The increased aberrancies of gray whale sightings in 
timing and location, along with foraging activities on its migration 
route in 1999 and 2000, were potentially caused by a significant 
decline in amphipod density in gray whale's feeding ground in the 
Bering and Chukchi seas (Le Boeuf et al., 2000). Although twice being 
hunted to the brink of extinction in the mid 1800s and again in the 
early 1900s, the eastern North Pacific gray whales population has since 
increased to a level that equals or exceeds pre-exploitation numbers 
(Jefferson et al., 1993). Angliss and Lodge (2004) reported the latest 
abundance estimate of this population is 26,635.

Harbor porpoise

    Harbor porpoises found in waters off the coast of central 
California from San Francisco to Point Arena belong to the San 
Francisco-Russian River stock. Year-round surveys in the Gulf of the 
Farallones area have shown harbor porpoise occurrence within 10 - 20 km 
(6 - 12 miles) of San Francisco Bay (Calambokidis et al., 1990). High 
harbor porpoise sightings were also reported just outside the Golden 
Gate and about 1 km (0.62 mile) inside SFB, however, the occurrence of 
harbor porpoises in the southern part of Bay is rare (DeAngelis, 
personal comm. 2006). Based on Carretta et al. (2005), the estimated 
abundance of the San Francisco-Russian River stock of harbor porpoise 
is 8,521.

Potential Effects on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat

    Seismic surveys using acoustic energy may have the potential to 
adversely impact marine mammals in the vicinity of the activities 
(Gordon et al., 2004). Intense acoustic signals from seismic surveys 
have been known to cause behavioral alteration such as reduced 
vocalization rates (Goold, 1996), avoidance (Malme et al., 1986, 1988; 
Richardson et al., 1995; Harris et al., 2001), and changing in blow 
rates (Richardson et al., 1995) in several marine mammal species.
    The proposed studies would use a low intensity acoustic energy with 
source levels of 204 dB re 1 microPa at 1 m RMS (boomer) and 209 dB re 
1 microPa at 1 m RMS (minisparker) to conduct the seismic surveys. 
However, it is unlikely that any marine mammals in the vicinity would 
be exposed to high sound pressure levels (SPL) due to transmission loss 
of the acoustic energy in the water column. In addition, the sound 
pulses produced by the energy sources are extremely short, lasting for 
only 0.1 ms for the boomer and 0.8 ms for the minisparker. Therefore, 
the energy from the seismic impulse is expected to be significantly 
low.
    Pinniped disturbance could also be caused by the presence of 
vessels and humans that are involved in the geographical surveys. These 
disturbances could cause hauled out harbor seals or California sea 
lions to flush and possibly result in temporary use of alternate haul-
out sites in the Bay. However, long term abandonment of the sites is 
not likely because noise from traffic, recreational boaters, and other 
human activities already occur in the area, and it is likely that these 
animals have become habituated to these disturbances.
    Furthermore, marine mammal densities within the proposed project 
are typically very low. California sea lions, harbor porpoises and gray 
whales are not known to regularly visit the proposed project area, 
which is located in southern SFB. Although harbor seals use portions of 
the proposed project area as haul-out sites, their density is low. 
Within the last 5 years, individual harbor seals counted while hauling-
out at the Newark Slough haul-out site during the post-pupping season 
have fluctuated between a maximum of 34 animals in 2001 to a minimum of 
10 animals in 2005 (DeAngelis, personal comm. 2006). Numbers of harbor 
seals counted at the Newark Slough haul-out site during May 2001 and 
May 2002 (pupping season) ranged from 26 - 65 individuals. Lastly, the 
entire geophysical survey would only last for 8 - 10 days, which 
excludes any possible long term noise exposure to marine mammals in the 
vicinity of the proposed action area.
    Based on this information, NMFS concludes that a small number of 
Pacific harbor seals, California sea lions, harbor porpoises, and gray 
whales that may be swimming, foraging, or resting in the project 
vicinity would be potentially taken by Level B behavioral harassment 
due to the proposed activity. In addition, proposed mitigation measures 
discussed below would greatly reduce the potential takes of marine 
mammals due to the proposed geophysical surveys.

Mitigation

    The following mitigation measures are proposed be required under 
the proposed IHA to be issued to SFPUC for conducting geophysical 
surveys in southern SFB. NMFS believes that the implementation of these 
mitigation measures would reduce impacts to marine mammals to the 
lowest extent practicable.

[[Page 35415]]

Time and Location

    Geophysical studies would only be conducted during daylight hours 
from 7 am - 7 pm, when marine mammal monitoring prior to and during the 
surveys would be most effective.
    Seismic studies would not occur in the vicinity of Newark Slough or 
Plummer Creek during the harbor seal pupping season (March 1 - June 
30). Seismic studies would only occur over open water transects during 
that period.

Establishment of Safety Zones

    Safety zones would be established and monitored during the seismic 
surveys. The applicant proposes to establish a 45-m (148-ft) radius 
safety zone for the boomer system and a 100-m (328-ft) radius for the 
minisparker system. At these distances, the SPLs would be reduced to 
179 dB re 1 microPa rms and 169 dB re 1 microPa rms, respectively, 
which is lower than NMFS standards set for avoiding marine mammal Level 
A harassment (180 dB re 1 microPa rms for cetaceans and 190 dB re 1 
microPa rms for pinnipeds).
    Observers on boats will survey the safety zone for 15 minutes to 
ensure that no marine mammals are seen within the zone before a seismic 
survey begins. If marine mammals are found within the safety zone, 
seismic surveys will be delayed until they move out of the area. If a 
marine mammal is seen above the water and then dives below, the 
surveyor will wait 15 minutes and if no marine mammals are seen by the 
observer in that time it will be assumed that the animal has moved 
beyond the safety zone. This 15-minute criterion is based on scientific 
evidence that harbor seals in San Francisco Bay dive for a mean time of 
0.50 minutes to 3.33 minutes (Harvey and Torok, 1994), the mean diving 
duration for harbor porpoises ranges from 44 to 103 seconds (Westgate 
et al., 1995), and the mean diving duration for gray whales is 
approximately 1.84 minutes (Wursig et al., 2003).

Soft Start

    Although marine mammals will be protected from Level A harassment 
by establishment of a safety zone at a SPL levels of 169 and 179 dB re 
1 microPa rms, mitigation may not be 100 percent effective at all times 
in locating marine mammals. In order to provide additional protection 
to marine mammals near the project area by allowing marine mammals to 
vacate the area prior to receiving a potential injury, and to further 
reduce Level B harassment by startling marine mammals with a sudden 
intensive sound, Fugro will implement ``soft start'' practice when 
starting up acoustic equipment. By implementing the ``soft start'' 
practice, acoustic equipment will be initiated at an energy level less 
than full capacity (i.e., approximately 40-60 percent energy levels) 
for at least 5 minutes before gradually escalating to full capacity. 
This would ensure that, although not expected, any pinnipeds and 
cetaceans that are missed during safety zone monitoring will not be 
injured.

Equipment Shut-down If Marine Mammal Enters Safety Zone

    With all the aforementioned mitigation measures in place, marine 
mammals may still enter the safety zone when geophysical surveys are 
underway. As a result, there is a possibility that Level A harassment 
could occur to these animals when exposed to intensive sounds. In order 
to prevent any potential Level A harassment to marine mammals from 
occurring, the surveyors will shut down the acoustic equipment if a 
marine mammal is sighted in or believed to have entered within the 
safety zone during the survey transect. The surveyors would not start 
the acoustic equipment again until the marine mammal leaves the safety 
zone, or no marine mammals are sighted within the safety zone for 15 
minutes after the last sighting.

Monitoring and Reporting

    URS will develop a monitoring plan that would collect data for each 
distinct marine mammal species observed in the south Bay proposed 
project area during the period of the seismic surveys. Marine mammal 
behavior, overall numbers of individuals observed, frequency of 
observation, the time corresponding to the daily tidal cycle, and any 
behavioral changes due to the geophysical surveys will be recorded on 
daily observation sheets.
    Monitoring would be conducted by qualified NMFS-approved 
biologists. Binoculars and optical or digital laser range finders that 
are accurate to 3 feet (0.9 m) would be standard equipment for the 
monitors.
    Monitoring would begin prior to the first day of the survey to 
establish baseline data, and would occur from a chase boat during the 8 
- 10 day survey period. Post-survey monitoring would occur for a period 
of one day upon completion of the seismic studies.
    Before the startup of the survey equipment, a marine mammal 
observer would visually survey the area for 15 minutes to confirm the 
safety zone is clear of any marine mammals. Seismic surveys will not 
begin until the safety zone is clear of marine mammals. Two observers 
would be present when surveys start onboard a separate boat and scan 
different sections of the overall survey area, particularly the safety 
zone. However, as described in the Mitigation section, once seismic 
survey of a transect begins, operations will continue uninterrupted 
until that transect is completed. However, if seismic survey of one 
transect is completed and a marine mammal is sighted within the 
designated safety zone prior to commencement of the next transect, the 
observer(s) must notify the surveyor (or other authorized individual) 
immediately and follow the mitigation requirements as outlined 
previously (see Mitigation).
    URS would submit a final report to NMFS 90 days after completion of 
the proposed project. The final report would include data collected for 
each distinct marine mammal species observed in the south Bay proposed 
project area during the period of the seismic surveys. Marine mammal 
behavior, overall numbers of individuals observed, frequency of 
observation, and any behavioral changes due to the geophysical surveys 
would also be included in the final report.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    NMFS has prepared a draft EA for public review and comment (see 
ADDRESSES).

Endangered Species Act (ESA)

    Based on a review conducted by NMFS biologists, no ESA-listed 
species are expected to occur in the proposed action area, therefore, 
NMFS has determined that this action will have no effect on listed 
species, and a section 7 consultation is not necessary.

Preliminary Determinations

    For the reasons discussed in this document and in the identified 
supporting documents, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the impact 
of seismic surveys and other activities associated in the south SFB 
would result, at worst, in the Level B harassment of small numbers of 
California sea lions, Pacific harbor seals, harbor porpoises, and 
potentially gray whales that inhabit or visit south SFB. While 
behavioral modifications, including temporarily vacating the area 
during the survey period of 8 - 10 days, may be made by these species 
to avoid the resultant visual and acoustic disturbance, the 
availability of alternate areas within SFB and haul-out sites 
(including pupping sites) and feeding

[[Page 35416]]

areas within the Bay has led NMFS to preliminarily determine that this 
action will have a negligible impact on California sea lions, Pacific 
harbor seals, harbor porpoises, and gray whale populations along the 
California coast.
    In addition, no take by Level A harassment (injury) or death is 
anticipated and harassment takes should be at the lowest level 
practicable due to incorporation of the mitigation measures described 
in this document.

Proposed Authorization

    NMFS proposes to issue an IHA to Fugro for the potential harassment 
of small numbers of harbor seals, California sea lions, harbor 
porpoises, and gray whales incidental to conducting of seismic surveys 
in south San Francisco Bay in California, provided the previously 
mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements are 
incorporated.

Information Solicited

    NMFS requests interested persons to submit comments, information, 
and suggestions concerning this request (see ADDRESSES).

    Dated: June 14, 2006.
Donna Wieting,
Deputy Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. E6-9679 Filed 6-19-06; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S