Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; U.S. Navy Training in the Hawaii Range Complex, 3095-3097 [2011-1035]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 12 / Wednesday, January 19, 2011 / Notices Dated: January 13, 2011. Helen Golde, Deputy Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2011–1030 Filed 1–18–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XA025 Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; U.S. Navy Training in the Hawaii Range Complex National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of issuance of a Letter of Authorization; request for comments on Integrated Comprehensive Management Program Plan. AGENCY: In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), as amended, and implementing regulations, notice is hereby given that NMFS has issued a Letter of Authorization (LOA) to the U.S. Navy (Navy) to take marine mammals incidental to training and research activities conducted within the Hawaii Range Complex (HRC) for the period of January 15, 2011, through January 14, 2012. NMFS also provides notice that the Integrated Comprehensive Management Program (ICMP) Plan, which is intended for use as a planning tool to focus Navy monitoring priorities pursuant to the MMPA and Endangered Species Act (ESA), has been updated for 2010. NMFS encourages the public to review this document and provide comments, information, and suggestions on the ICMP Plan. DATES: This Authorization is effective from January 15, 2011, through January 14, 2012. Comments and information on the ICMP Plan must be received no later than February 28, 2011. ADDRESSES: The LOA and supporting documentation may be obtained by writing to P. Michael Payne, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 EastWest Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910, or by telephoning one of the contacts listed here. The mailbox address for providing e-mail comments on the ICMP Plan is ITP.Hopper@noaa.gov. Comments sent via email, including all attachments, must not exceed a 10-megabyte file size. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michelle Magliocca, Office of Protected mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:04 Jan 18, 2011 Jkt 223001 Resources, NMFS, 301–713–2289, ext. 123. Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) directs NMFS to allow, upon request, the incidental taking of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing), if certain findings are made by NMFS and regulations are issued. Under the MMPA, the term ‘‘take’’ means to harass, hunt, capture, or kill or to attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill marine mammals. Regulations governing the taking of marine mammals by the Navy incidental to training and research activities conducted within the Hawaii Range Complex (HRC) became effective on January 5, 2009 (74 FR 1484, January 12, 2009), and remain in effect until January 5, 2014. For detailed information on this action, please refer to that document. These regulations include mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements and establish a framework to authorize incidental take through the issuance of LOAs. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Summary of Request On August 1, 2010, NMFS received a request from the Navy for a renewal of an LOA issued on January 8, 2009, for the taking of marine mammals incidental to training and research activities conducted within the HRC under regulations issued on January 5, 2009 (74 FR 1484, January 12, 2009). The Navy has complied with the measures required in 50 CFR 216.174 and 216.175, as well as the associated 2010 LOA, and submitted the reports and other documentation required in the final rule and the 2010 LOA. Summary of Activity Under the 2010 LOA As described in the Navy’s exercise reports (both classified and unclassified), in 2010, the training activities conducted by the Navy were within the scope and amounts authorized by the 2010 LOA and the levels of take remain within the scope and amounts contemplated by the final rule. Planned Activities and Estimated Take for 2011 In 2011, the Navy expects to conduct the same type and amount of training identified in the 2010 LOA. Therefore, NMFS is authorizing the same amount of take authorized in 2010. Summary of Monitoring, Reporting, and other Requirements under the 2010 LOA PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 3095 Annual Exercise Reports The Navy submitted their classified and unclassified 2010 exercise reports within the required timeframes and the unclassified report is posted on NMFS Web site: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/ permits/incidental.htm. NMFS has reviewed both reports and they contain the information required by the 2010 LOA. The reports indicate the amounts of different types of training that occurred from August 2, 2009, through August 1, 2010. The Navy conducted two Major Training Exercises (MTEs)— one Rim of the Pacific exercise (RIMPAC) and one Undersea Warfare Exercise (USWEX) (the rule authorizes one RIMPAC every other year and five USWEXs each year)—for a total of 30 days, and three Sinking Exercises (SINKEX) (the rule authorizes an average of six per year). No active sonar use occurred in the period from December 15, 2009, through April 15, 2010, either in the Humpback Cautionary Area or the larger dense humpback area generally shown on the Mobley map (73 FR 35520) plus a 5-km buffer but not including the Pacific Missile Range Facility. The reports also list specific information gathered when marine mammals were detected by Navy watchstanders, such as how far an animal was from the vessel, whether sonar was in use, and whether it was powered or shut down. This information indicates that the Navy implemented the safety zone mitigation measures as required. No instances of obvious behavioral disturbance were reported by the Navy watchstanders in their 47 marine mammal sightings totaling 286 animals. Furthermore, there were zero marine mammal sightings reported at a range less than 1,000 yards during the MTEs, concurrent with use of MFAS. Ranges associated with NMFS criteria levels for permanent threshold shift (PTS) and temporary threshold shift (TTS) are much shorter than 200 yards. 2010 Monitoring The Navy conducted the monitoring required by the 2010 LOA and described in the Monitoring Plan, which included aerial and vessel surveys of sonar and explosive exercises by dedicated MMOs, as well as ordering and purchasing acoustic recording devices to be used to gather data in subsequent years. The Navy submitted their 2010 Monitoring Report, which is posted on NMFS’ Web site (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/ permits/incidental.htm), within the required timeframe. The Navy included a summary of their 2010 monitoring E:\FR\FM\19JAN1.SGM 19JAN1 3096 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 12 / Wednesday, January 19, 2011 / Notices effort and results (beginning on page 7 of the monitoring report) and the specific reports for each individual effort are presented in the appendices. Because data is gathered through August 1 and the report is due in October, some of the data analysis will occur in the subsequent year’s report. Navy-funded marine mammal monitoring accomplishments within the HRC from August 1, 2009 to August 1, 2010, include the following: mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES Visual Surveys The Navy completed over 163 hours of visual surveys during three different types of military readiness events. During this time, there were no marine mammal sightings at ranges of 1,000 yards or less and no strandings were observed during coastline and pelagic surveys performed after training events. The aerial surveys proved successful in working with marine mammal observers (MMOs) on board vessels to coordinate sightings. This success also illustrated that marine mammal behavioral observations can be conducted safely and effectively with minimal interference with at-sea naval training involving multiple large vessels and aircraft. The collection of vessel-based survey data is anticipated to be a relatively long-term effort that will provide baseline information regarding marine mammal populations in the Navy exercise areas. Passive Acoustics Four Ecological Acoustic Recording (EAR) devices were deployed for Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) in areas of the HRC where underwater detonations and ASW exercises may occur nearby. New EARs have been in the water for approximately 5 months and collaboration between the Navy and the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) is underway to share acoustic data. Results from the February 2010 Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) instrumented acoustic range training event were analyzed, showing passive acoustic evidence of beaked and minke whale presence both before and after the exercise. While there were differences detected in the number of beaked whale clicks pre- and post-exercise, a better understanding of normal variations in beaked whale clicks and dives is still needed. Successful use of the EAR devices suggests that these species are good candidates for PAM, especially considering the difficulty of visual observation. Marine Mammal Observations MMOs monitored for over 239 hours aboard Navy vessels to commence a VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:04 Jan 18, 2011 Jkt 223001 Lookout effectiveness study and gather sighting and behavioral information during ASW and/or explosive events. The study was initiated to determine the effectiveness of the Navy Lookout team in spotting marine mammals. Marine mammal monitoring during this study allowed for the successful implementation of three separate goals: (1) Collect data to determine the effectiveness of the Navy Lookouts; (2) Obtain data to characterize the possible exposure of marine species to MFAS; and (3) Achieve close coordination between the contracted aerial survey team, Navy aircraft, and the MMO team to facilitate maximizing survey time and project safety. Data collected from this study will be combined with future monitoring efforts in order to determine the effectiveness of Navy Lookouts as a whole, rather than specific to each vessel. Between each shooting component of SINKEX events in July, MMOs also participated in a Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) to look for any live, injured, or dead marine mammals. These surveys, conducted via helicopter, were performed at low altitude combined with slow speeds and judged by the MMOs to provide excellent observer coverage and sightability of the mitigation radius surrounding the vessel’s hulk. Due to the close range of the helicopter to the hulk, observational effort for marine mammals was possible on both sides of the aircraft. BDA began at approximately 300 ft, an altitude lower than the 800–1,000 ft typically used for aerial marine mammal surveys. Although no marine mammals were sighted during this assessment, details such as flying sea birds and floating surface debris were easily detectable. Tagging Eleven Hawaiian monk seals were tagged with ‘‘cell phone tags’’ and tagging efforts will continue into the coming year. At the time of submitting their monitoring report, the Navy was still receiving reports from tracking devices deployed as early as March 1, 2010. These devices are providing surface movements for Hawaiian monk seals, which preliminarily show both very localized and long-distance movement, as well as travel between Kauai and Oahu. The tags also illustrate dive movements during foraging. In conclusion, the Navy’s implementation of the monitoring plan accomplished several goals, primarily through contributions to larger bodies of data intended to better characterize the abundance, distribution, life history, and behaviors of the species in the HRC PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 area. The monitoring satisfied the objectives of the monitoring plan and specifically contributed to a greater knowledge and understanding of: the density and distribution of species within the HRC area; the vocalizations of different species, which contributes to the development of automated classification software and the future use of PAM for monitoring species which are difficult to observe visually; the movement patterns of individuals (both vertically in the water column on a daily basis, as well as horizontally over weeks and months); and the observable behavioral patterns of marine mammals, both with and without exposure to Navy training activities. Except as described below in the Adaptive Management section, NMFS concludes that the results of these monitoring efforts, when taken together with the findings presented in the 2010 exercise report (see Annual Exercise Report section), do not warrant making changes to the current monitoring and mitigation requirements identified in the LOA. While the data collected by the Navy through monitoring and reporting builds on the existing body of information in a valuable way, none of the new data contradict, or amend, the assumptions that underlie the findings in the 2009 rule in a manner that would suggest that the mitigation or monitoring should change. Included in the Navy’s 2010 Monitoring Report were detailed descriptions of the monitoring conducted during different exercises and training events. Results help illustrate the effectiveness of the Navy’s current monitoring plan. Adaptive Management NMFS and the Navy conducted an adaptive management meeting in October, 2010, which representatives from the Marine Mammal Commission participated in, wherein we reviewed the Navy monitoring results through August 1, 2010, discussed other Navy research and development efforts, and discussed other new information that could potentially inform decisions regarding Navy mitigation and monitoring. Based on the implementation of the 2010 monitoring, the Navy proposed some slight modifications to their monitoring plan for 2011, which NMFS agreed were appropriate. Beyond those changes, none of the information discussed led NMFS to recommend any modifications to the existing mitigation or monitoring measures. The final modifications to the monitoring plan and justifications are described in Section 13 of the Navy’s 2011 LOA Application, which may be E:\FR\FM\19JAN1.SGM 19JAN1 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 12 / Wednesday, January 19, 2011 / Notices mstockstill on DSKH9S0YB1PROD with NOTICES viewed at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ pr/permits/incidental.htm. Integrated Comprehensive Monitoring Report The 2010 LOA required that the Navy update the ICMP Plan to reflect development in three areas, specifically: (1) Identifying more specific monitoring sub-goals under the major goals that have been identified; (2) Characterizing Navy Range Complexes and study areas within the context of the prioritization guidelines described in the ICMP Plan; and (3) Continuing to develop data management, organization, and access procedures. The Navy has updated the ICMP Plan as required. Because the ICMP is an evolving Program, we have posted the ICMP on NMFS Web site: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental.htm and are specifically requesting input, which the Navy and NMFS will consider and apply as appropriate. Further, the Navy convened a monitoring meeting in October, 2010 to solicit input from NMFS and marine mammal and acoustic scientists regarding the comprehensive development and improvement of the more specific monitoring that should occur across the Navy’s training areas. Subsequent to those discussions, the Navy has developed a scientific advisory group composed of individuals from the research community and academia that will develop a proposed Strategic Plan for Navy monitoring that better considers the biological, logistical, and resource-specific factors that are applicable in each training area (and which are summarized in the updated ICMP) to maximize the effectiveness of Navy monitoring within the context of the information that is most needed. Subsequently, NMFS and MMC representatives will review this proposed Strategic Plan for marine species monitoring, which may reflect monitoring differences in some Navy training areas from what is required in the 2010 LOA. This Navy-wide Strategic Monitoring Plan will then be available for review and discussion at the required 2011 Navy Monitoring Meeting, which will take place in mid-2011. The Navy and NMFS will then modify the Navy-wide Strategic Plan for monitoring based on applicable input from the 2011 Monitoring Meeting and propose appropriate changes to the monitoring measures in specific LOAs for the different Range Complexes and training areas. For training areas with substantive monitoring modifications, NMFS will subsequently publish proposed LOAs, with the modifications, VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:04 Jan 18, 2011 Jkt 223001 in the Federal Register and solicit public input. After addressing public comments and making any necessary changes, NMFS would, as appropriate, issue new LOAs for the different training areas that reflect the updated ICMP and associated new Strategic Plan for Navy monitoring. NOAA Workshops In a January 19, 2010 letter to the Council on Environmental Quality, NOAA identified the need for two interrelated workshops on marine mammals and sound in the ocean. To address this commitment, NOAA is convening two parallel, focused, relatively small, and product-driven working groups. One will identify and map cetacean ‘‘hot spots,’’ defined as areas of known, or reasonably predictable, biological importance (i.e., for reproduction, feeding, migration) and/or high densities. The second working group will be directed toward developing a comprehensive data collection and analysis plan for describing and predicting underwater sound fields in different areas. The outcomes of these working groups will be integrated and analyzed in a broader symposium to include a larger audience of scientists, industries, Federal agencies, conservation managers, and environmental NGOs. The final products and analyses will provide a more robust, comprehensive, and context-specific biological and acoustic basis by which to inform subsequent management decisions regarding human noise in our oceans. The steering committee has been convened and met for the first time in October, 2010. The working group efforts should take about a year to complete, and we expect the final symposium to be held in early 2012. The results of these working groups will be analyzed by NMFS in an adaptive management context, as related to the January 5, 2009 (74 FR 1484, January 12, 2009) HRC final rule, and mitigation or monitoring measures may be modified, as appropriate. Authorization The Navy complied with the requirements of the 2010 LOA. Based on our review of the record, NMFS has determined that the marine mammal takes resulting from the 2010 military readiness training and research activities falls within the levels previously anticipated, analyzed, and authorized. Further, the level of taking authorized in 2011 for the Navy’s HRC training and research activities is consistent with our previous findings made for the total taking allowed under the HRC regulations. Finally, the record PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 3097 supports NMFS’ conclusion that the total number of marine mammals taken by the 2011 HRC activities will have no more than a negligible impact on the affected species or stock of marine mammals and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of these species or stocks for taking for subsistence uses. Accordingly, NMFS has issued a oneyear LOA for Navy training exercises conducted in the HRC from January 15, 2011, through January 14, 2012. Dated: January 13, 2011. Helen M. Golde, Deputy Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2011–1035 Filed 1–18–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces Code Committee Meeting AGENCY: ACTION: DoD. Notice of Public Meeting. This notice announces the forthcoming public meeting of the Code Committee established by Article 146(a), Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. 946(a), to be held at the Courthouse of the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, 450 E Street, NW., Washington, DC 20442– 0001, at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, March 1, 2011. The agenda for this meeting will include consideration of proposed changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Manual for CourtsMartial, United States, and other matters relating to the operation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice throughout the Armed Forces. SUMMARY: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William A. DeCicco, Clerk of Court, United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, 450 E Street, Northwest, Washington, DC 20442–0001, telephone (202) 761–1448. Dated: January 11, 2011. Morgan F. Park, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense. [FR Doc. 2011–961 Filed 1–18–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001–06–P E:\FR\FM\19JAN1.SGM 19JAN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 12 (Wednesday, January 19, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 3095-3097]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-1035]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XA025


Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; U.S. Navy Training in the 
Hawaii Range Complex

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

ACTION: Notice of issuance of a Letter of Authorization; request for 
comments on Integrated Comprehensive Management Program Plan.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), as 
amended, and implementing regulations, notice is hereby given that NMFS 
has issued a Letter of Authorization (LOA) to the U.S. Navy (Navy) to 
take marine mammals incidental to training and research activities 
conducted within the Hawaii Range Complex (HRC) for the period of 
January 15, 2011, through January 14, 2012.
    NMFS also provides notice that the Integrated Comprehensive 
Management Program (ICMP) Plan, which is intended for use as a planning 
tool to focus Navy monitoring priorities pursuant to the MMPA and 
Endangered Species Act (ESA), has been updated for 2010. NMFS 
encourages the public to review this document and provide comments, 
information, and suggestions on the ICMP Plan.

DATES: This Authorization is effective from January 15, 2011, through 
January 14, 2012. Comments and information on the ICMP Plan must be 
received no later than February 28, 2011.

ADDRESSES: The LOA and supporting documentation may be obtained by 
writing to P. Michael Payne, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 
East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910, or by telephoning one of 
the contacts listed here. The mailbox address for providing e-mail 
comments on the ICMP Plan is ITP.Hopper@noaa.gov. Comments sent via 
email, including all attachments, must not exceed a 10-megabyte file 
size.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michelle Magliocca, Office of 
Protected Resources, NMFS, 301-713-2289, ext. 123.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 
1361 et seq.) directs NMFS to allow, upon request, the incidental 
taking of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified 
activity (other than commercial fishing), if certain findings are made 
by NMFS and regulations are issued. Under the MMPA, the term ``take'' 
means to harass, hunt, capture, or kill or to attempt to harass, hunt, 
capture, or kill marine mammals.
    Regulations governing the taking of marine mammals by the Navy 
incidental to training and research activities conducted within the 
Hawaii Range Complex (HRC) became effective on January 5, 2009 (74 FR 
1484, January 12, 2009), and remain in effect until January 5, 2014. 
For detailed information on this action, please refer to that document. 
These regulations include mitigation, monitoring, and reporting 
requirements and establish a framework to authorize incidental take 
through the issuance of LOAs.

Summary of Request

    On August 1, 2010, NMFS received a request from the Navy for a 
renewal of an LOA issued on January 8, 2009, for the taking of marine 
mammals incidental to training and research activities conducted within 
the HRC under regulations issued on January 5, 2009 (74 FR 1484, 
January 12, 2009). The Navy has complied with the measures required in 
50 CFR 216.174 and 216.175, as well as the associated 2010 LOA, and 
submitted the reports and other documentation required in the final 
rule and the 2010 LOA.

Summary of Activity Under the 2010 LOA

    As described in the Navy's exercise reports (both classified and 
unclassified), in 2010, the training activities conducted by the Navy 
were within the scope and amounts authorized by the 2010 LOA and the 
levels of take remain within the scope and amounts contemplated by the 
final rule.

Planned Activities and Estimated Take for 2011

    In 2011, the Navy expects to conduct the same type and amount of 
training identified in the 2010 LOA. Therefore, NMFS is authorizing the 
same amount of take authorized in 2010. Summary of Monitoring, 
Reporting, and other Requirements under the 2010 LOA

Annual Exercise Reports

    The Navy submitted their classified and unclassified 2010 exercise 
reports within the required timeframes and the unclassified report is 
posted on NMFS Web site: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm. NMFS has reviewed both reports and they contain the 
information required by the 2010 LOA. The reports indicate the amounts 
of different types of training that occurred from August 2, 2009, 
through August 1, 2010. The Navy conducted two Major Training Exercises 
(MTEs)--one Rim of the Pacific exercise (RIMPAC) and one Undersea 
Warfare Exercise (USWEX) (the rule authorizes one RIMPAC every other 
year and five USWEXs each year)--for a total of 30 days, and three 
Sinking Exercises (SINKEX) (the rule authorizes an average of six per 
year). No active sonar use occurred in the period from December 15, 
2009, through April 15, 2010, either in the Humpback Cautionary Area or 
the larger dense humpback area generally shown on the Mobley map (73 FR 
35520) plus a 5-km buffer but not including the Pacific Missile Range 
Facility.
    The reports also list specific information gathered when marine 
mammals were detected by Navy watchstanders, such as how far an animal 
was from the vessel, whether sonar was in use, and whether it was 
powered or shut down. This information indicates that the Navy 
implemented the safety zone mitigation measures as required. No 
instances of obvious behavioral disturbance were reported by the Navy 
watchstanders in their 47 marine mammal sightings totaling 286 animals. 
Furthermore, there were zero marine mammal sightings reported at a 
range less than 1,000 yards during the MTEs, concurrent with use of 
MFAS. Ranges associated with NMFS criteria levels for permanent 
threshold shift (PTS) and temporary threshold shift (TTS) are much 
shorter than 200 yards.

2010 Monitoring

    The Navy conducted the monitoring required by the 2010 LOA and 
described in the Monitoring Plan, which included aerial and vessel 
surveys of sonar and explosive exercises by dedicated MMOs, as well as 
ordering and purchasing acoustic recording devices to be used to gather 
data in subsequent years. The Navy submitted their 2010 Monitoring 
Report, which is posted on NMFS' Web site (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm), within the required timeframe. The Navy 
included a summary of their 2010 monitoring

[[Page 3096]]

effort and results (beginning on page 7 of the monitoring report) and 
the specific reports for each individual effort are presented in the 
appendices. Because data is gathered through August 1 and the report is 
due in October, some of the data analysis will occur in the subsequent 
year's report. Navy-funded marine mammal monitoring accomplishments 
within the HRC from August 1, 2009 to August 1, 2010, include the 
following:

Visual Surveys

    The Navy completed over 163 hours of visual surveys during three 
different types of military readiness events. During this time, there 
were no marine mammal sightings at ranges of 1,000 yards or less and no 
strandings were observed during coastline and pelagic surveys performed 
after training events. The aerial surveys proved successful in working 
with marine mammal observers (MMOs) on board vessels to coordinate 
sightings. This success also illustrated that marine mammal behavioral 
observations can be conducted safely and effectively with minimal 
interference with at-sea naval training involving multiple large 
vessels and aircraft. The collection of vessel-based survey data is 
anticipated to be a relatively long-term effort that will provide 
baseline information regarding marine mammal populations in the Navy 
exercise areas.

Passive Acoustics

    Four Ecological Acoustic Recording (EAR) devices were deployed for 
Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) in areas of the HRC where underwater 
detonations and ASW exercises may occur nearby. New EARs have been in 
the water for approximately 5 months and collaboration between the Navy 
and the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) is underway to share 
acoustic data. Results from the February 2010 Pacific Missile Range 
Facility (PMRF) instrumented acoustic range training event were 
analyzed, showing passive acoustic evidence of beaked and minke whale 
presence both before and after the exercise. While there were 
differences detected in the number of beaked whale clicks pre- and 
post-exercise, a better understanding of normal variations in beaked 
whale clicks and dives is still needed. Successful use of the EAR 
devices suggests that these species are good candidates for PAM, 
especially considering the difficulty of visual observation.

Marine Mammal Observations

    MMOs monitored for over 239 hours aboard Navy vessels to commence a 
Lookout effectiveness study and gather sighting and behavioral 
information during ASW and/or explosive events. The study was initiated 
to determine the effectiveness of the Navy Lookout team in spotting 
marine mammals. Marine mammal monitoring during this study allowed for 
the successful implementation of three separate goals: (1) Collect data 
to determine the effectiveness of the Navy Lookouts; (2) Obtain data to 
characterize the possible exposure of marine species to MFAS; and (3) 
Achieve close coordination between the contracted aerial survey team, 
Navy aircraft, and the MMO team to facilitate maximizing survey time 
and project safety. Data collected from this study will be combined 
with future monitoring efforts in order to determine the effectiveness 
of Navy Lookouts as a whole, rather than specific to each vessel.
    Between each shooting component of SINKEX events in July, MMOs also 
participated in a Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) to look for any live, 
injured, or dead marine mammals. These surveys, conducted via 
helicopter, were performed at low altitude combined with slow speeds 
and judged by the MMOs to provide excellent observer coverage and 
sightability of the mitigation radius surrounding the vessel's hulk. 
Due to the close range of the helicopter to the hulk, observational 
effort for marine mammals was possible on both sides of the aircraft. 
BDA began at approximately 300 ft, an altitude lower than the 800-1,000 
ft typically used for aerial marine mammal surveys. Although no marine 
mammals were sighted during this assessment, details such as flying sea 
birds and floating surface debris were easily detectable.

Tagging

    Eleven Hawaiian monk seals were tagged with ``cell phone tags'' and 
tagging efforts will continue into the coming year. At the time of 
submitting their monitoring report, the Navy was still receiving 
reports from tracking devices deployed as early as March 1, 2010. These 
devices are providing surface movements for Hawaiian monk seals, which 
preliminarily show both very localized and long-distance movement, as 
well as travel between Kauai and Oahu. The tags also illustrate dive 
movements during foraging.
    In conclusion, the Navy's implementation of the monitoring plan 
accomplished several goals, primarily through contributions to larger 
bodies of data intended to better characterize the abundance, 
distribution, life history, and behaviors of the species in the HRC 
area. The monitoring satisfied the objectives of the monitoring plan 
and specifically contributed to a greater knowledge and understanding 
of: the density and distribution of species within the HRC area; the 
vocalizations of different species, which contributes to the 
development of automated classification software and the future use of 
PAM for monitoring species which are difficult to observe visually; the 
movement patterns of individuals (both vertically in the water column 
on a daily basis, as well as horizontally over weeks and months); and 
the observable behavioral patterns of marine mammals, both with and 
without exposure to Navy training activities.
    Except as described below in the Adaptive Management section, NMFS 
concludes that the results of these monitoring efforts, when taken 
together with the findings presented in the 2010 exercise report (see 
Annual Exercise Report section), do not warrant making changes to the 
current monitoring and mitigation requirements identified in the LOA. 
While the data collected by the Navy through monitoring and reporting 
builds on the existing body of information in a valuable way, none of 
the new data contradict, or amend, the assumptions that underlie the 
findings in the 2009 rule in a manner that would suggest that the 
mitigation or monitoring should change.
    Included in the Navy's 2010 Monitoring Report were detailed 
descriptions of the monitoring conducted during different exercises and 
training events. Results help illustrate the effectiveness of the 
Navy's current monitoring plan.

Adaptive Management

    NMFS and the Navy conducted an adaptive management meeting in 
October, 2010, which representatives from the Marine Mammal Commission 
participated in, wherein we reviewed the Navy monitoring results 
through August 1, 2010, discussed other Navy research and development 
efforts, and discussed other new information that could potentially 
inform decisions regarding Navy mitigation and monitoring. Based on the 
implementation of the 2010 monitoring, the Navy proposed some slight 
modifications to their monitoring plan for 2011, which NMFS agreed were 
appropriate. Beyond those changes, none of the information discussed 
led NMFS to recommend any modifications to the existing mitigation or 
monitoring measures. The final modifications to the monitoring plan and 
justifications are described in Section 13 of the Navy's 2011 LOA 
Application, which may be

[[Page 3097]]

viewed at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm.

Integrated Comprehensive Monitoring Report

    The 2010 LOA required that the Navy update the ICMP Plan to reflect 
development in three areas, specifically: (1) Identifying more specific 
monitoring sub-goals under the major goals that have been identified; 
(2) Characterizing Navy Range Complexes and study areas within the 
context of the prioritization guidelines described in the ICMP Plan; 
and (3) Continuing to develop data management, organization, and access 
procedures. The Navy has updated the ICMP Plan as required. Because the 
ICMP is an evolving Program, we have posted the ICMP on NMFS Web site: 
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm and are specifically 
requesting input, which the Navy and NMFS will consider and apply as 
appropriate.
    Further, the Navy convened a monitoring meeting in October, 2010 to 
solicit input from NMFS and marine mammal and acoustic scientists 
regarding the comprehensive development and improvement of the more 
specific monitoring that should occur across the Navy's training areas. 
Subsequent to those discussions, the Navy has developed a scientific 
advisory group composed of individuals from the research community and 
academia that will develop a proposed Strategic Plan for Navy 
monitoring that better considers the biological, logistical, and 
resource-specific factors that are applicable in each training area 
(and which are summarized in the updated ICMP) to maximize the 
effectiveness of Navy monitoring within the context of the information 
that is most needed. Subsequently, NMFS and MMC representatives will 
review this proposed Strategic Plan for marine species monitoring, 
which may reflect monitoring differences in some Navy training areas 
from what is required in the 2010 LOA.
    This Navy-wide Strategic Monitoring Plan will then be available for 
review and discussion at the required 2011 Navy Monitoring Meeting, 
which will take place in mid-2011. The Navy and NMFS will then modify 
the Navy-wide Strategic Plan for monitoring based on applicable input 
from the 2011 Monitoring Meeting and propose appropriate changes to the 
monitoring measures in specific LOAs for the different Range Complexes 
and training areas. For training areas with substantive monitoring 
modifications, NMFS will subsequently publish proposed LOAs, with the 
modifications, in the Federal Register and solicit public input. After 
addressing public comments and making any necessary changes, NMFS 
would, as appropriate, issue new LOAs for the different training areas 
that reflect the updated ICMP and associated new Strategic Plan for 
Navy monitoring.

NOAA Workshops

    In a January 19, 2010 letter to the Council on Environmental 
Quality, NOAA identified the need for two interrelated workshops on 
marine mammals and sound in the ocean. To address this commitment, NOAA 
is convening two parallel, focused, relatively small, and product-
driven working groups. One will identify and map cetacean ``hot 
spots,'' defined as areas of known, or reasonably predictable, 
biological importance (i.e., for reproduction, feeding, migration) and/
or high densities. The second working group will be directed toward 
developing a comprehensive data collection and analysis plan for 
describing and predicting underwater sound fields in different areas. 
The outcomes of these working groups will be integrated and analyzed in 
a broader symposium to include a larger audience of scientists, 
industries, Federal agencies, conservation managers, and environmental 
NGOs. The final products and analyses will provide a more robust, 
comprehensive, and context-specific biological and acoustic basis by 
which to inform subsequent management decisions regarding human noise 
in our oceans. The steering committee has been convened and met for the 
first time in October, 2010. The working group efforts should take 
about a year to complete, and we expect the final symposium to be held 
in early 2012. The results of these working groups will be analyzed by 
NMFS in an adaptive management context, as related to the January 5, 
2009 (74 FR 1484, January 12, 2009) HRC final rule, and mitigation or 
monitoring measures may be modified, as appropriate.

Authorization

    The Navy complied with the requirements of the 2010 LOA. Based on 
our review of the record, NMFS has determined that the marine mammal 
takes resulting from the 2010 military readiness training and research 
activities falls within the levels previously anticipated, analyzed, 
and authorized. Further, the level of taking authorized in 2011 for the 
Navy's HRC training and research activities is consistent with our 
previous findings made for the total taking allowed under the HRC 
regulations. Finally, the record supports NMFS' conclusion that the 
total number of marine mammals taken by the 2011 HRC activities will 
have no more than a negligible impact on the affected species or stock 
of marine mammals and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on 
the availability of these species or stocks for taking for subsistence 
uses. Accordingly, NMFS has issued a one-year LOA for Navy training 
exercises conducted in the HRC from January 15, 2011, through January 
14, 2012.

    Dated: January 13, 2011.
Helen M. Golde,
Deputy Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-1035 Filed 1-18-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P