Incidental Taking of Marine Mammals; Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to the Explosive Removal of Offshore Structures in the Gulf of Mexico, 12070-12072 [2011-4972]

Download as PDF 12070 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 43 / Friday, March 4, 2011 / Notices members act as liaisons between the Sanctuary and their constituent groups. The council holds a minimum of four regular meetings per year, and an annual retreat in the summer. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1431, et seq. (Federal Domestic Assistance Catalog Number 11.429 Marine Sanctuary Program) Dated: February 23, 2011. Daniel J. Basta, Director, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1431, et seq. (Federal Domestic Assistance Catalog Number 11.429 Marine Sanctuary Program) Dated: February 23, 2011. Daniel J. Basta, Director, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. [FR Doc. 2011–4709 Filed 3–3–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–NK–M DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE [FR Doc. 2011–4706 Filed 3–3–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–NK–M National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Availability of Seats for the Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), National Ocean Service (NOS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce (DOC). ACTION: Notice and request for applications. AGENCY: The ONMS is seeking applications for the following vacant seat on the Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: Georgia conservation. Applicants are chosen based upon their particular expertise and experience in relation to the seat for which they are applying; community and professional affiliations; philosophy regarding the protection and management of marine resources; and possibly the length of residence in the area affected by the sanctuary. Applicants who are chosen as members should expect to serve 3-year terms, pursuant to the council’s Charter. DATES: Applications are due by April 8, 2011. ADDRESSES: Application kits may be obtained from Becky Shortland, Council Coordinator (becky.shortland@noaa.gov, 10 Ocean Science Circle, Savannah, GA 31411; 912–598–2381) Completed applications should be sent to the same address. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Becky Shortland, Council Coordinator (becky.shortland@noaa.gov, 10 Ocean Science Circle, Savannah, GA 31411; 912–598–2381. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The sanctuary advisory council was established in August 1999 to provide jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:16 Mar 03, 2011 Jkt 223001 advice and recommendations on management and protection of the sanctuary. The advisory council, through its members, also serves as liaison to the community regarding sanctuary issues and represents community interests, concerns, and management needs to the sanctuary and NOAA. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XA253 Incidental Taking of Marine Mammals; Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to the Explosive Removal of Offshore Structures in the Gulf of Mexico National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; issuance of letters of authorization. AGENCY: In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and implementing regulations, notification is hereby given that NMFS has issued three one-year Letters of Authorization (LOA) to take marine mammals incidental to the explosive removal of offshore oil and gas structures (EROS) in the Gulf of Mexico. DATES: These authorizations are effective from February 27, 2011, through February 26, 2012, and May 15, 2011, through May 14, 2012. ADDRESSES: The application and LOAs are available for review by writing to P. Michael Payne, Chief, Permits, Conservation, and Education Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 EastWest Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910–3235 or by telephoning the contact listed here (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT), or online at: https://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental.htm. Documents cited in this notice may be viewed, by appointment, during regular business hours, at the aforementioned address. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Howard Goldstein or Jolie Harrison, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 301–713–2289. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) directs the Secretary of Commerce (who has delegated the authority to NMFS) to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals by United States citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region, if certain findings are made 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 any marine mammal. Authorization for incidental taking, in the form of annual LOAs, may be granted by NMFS for periods up to five years if NMFS finds, after notice and opportunity for public comment, that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s) of marine mammals, and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant). In addition, NMFS must prescribe regulations that include permissible methods of taking and other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the species and its habitat (i.e., mitigation), and on the availability of the species for subsistence uses, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating rounds, and areas of similar significance. The regulations also must include requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking. Regulations governing the taking of marine mammals incidental to EROS were published on June 19, 2008 (73 FR 34875), and remain in effect through July 19, 2013. For detailed information on this action, please refer to that Federal Register notice. The species that applicants may take in small numbers under LOAs during EROS activities are bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis), pantropical spotted dolphins (Stenella attenuata), Clymene dolphins (Stenella clymene), striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba), spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris), rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis), Risso’s dolphins (Grampus griseus), melonheaded whales (Peponocephala electra), short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus), and sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus). NMFS received requests for LOA renewals E:\FR\FM\04MRN1.SGM 04MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 43 / Friday, March 4, 2011 / Notices from Energy Resource Technology GOM, Inc. (ERT), Demex International, Inc. (Demex), and Noble Energy, Inc. (Noble Energy), for activities covered by the EROS regulations. Reporting NMFS regulations require timely receipt of reports for activities conducted under the previously issued LOA, and a determination that the required mitigation, monitoring, and reporting were undertaken. NMFS Galveston Laboratory’s Platform Removal Observer Program (PROP) has provided reports for ERT and Noble Energy’s removal of offshore structures Company Structure Dates Marine mammals sighted (individuals) ERT ............................ Vermillion Area, Block 199, Platform JA. May 13 to 17, 2010 ... ERT ............................ South Marsh Island Area, Block 24, Platform A. West Cameron Area, Block 331, Platform A. West Cameron Area, Block 458, Platform D. South Marsh Island Area, Block 113, Platform B. West Cameron Area, Block 328, Platform A. Eugene Island Area, Block 128A, Platform JC. East Cameron Area, Block 282, Platform C. May 11 to 16, 2010 ... Bottlenose dolphins (22), Spotted dolphins (15). None .......................... ERT ............................ ERT ............................ ERT ............................ ERT ............................ ERT ............................ ERT ............................ ERT ............................ ERT ............................ ERT ............................ ERT ............................ ERT ............................ Noble Energy ............. Noble Energy ............. jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with NOTICES Noble Energy ............. West Cameron Area, Block 405, Platform A. East Cameron Area, Block 298, Platform E. High Island Area, Block A544, Platform A. East Cameron Area, Block 364, Platform A. East Cameron Area, Block 346, Subsea Well #6. Brazos Area, Block A51, Platform F. Eugene Island Area, Block 308, Platform A. Main Pass Area, Block 305, Platform B. On May 20, 2010, NMFS received a phone call from a PROP observer regarding a single bottlenose dolphin that was injured and most likely killed by entanglement in a diver’s guide line during platform removal operations. ERT was conducting these EROS operations in the GOM accompanied by a LOA, issued under the MMPA. No VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:16 Mar 03, 2011 Jkt 223001 May 14 to 20, 2010 ... May 16 to 21 and August 22 to 24, 2010. Bottlenose dolphins (8), Unidentified dolphins (13). Bottlenose dolphins (23). 12071 during 2010. Demex has not used their LOA for any operations to date. NMFS PROP observers and non-NMFS observers reported the following during ERT and Noble Energy’s EROS operations in 2010: Biological impacts observed to marine mammals None. None. None. A bottlenose dolphin was killed at this location via entanglement in a diver’s guide line. None. May 17 to 23, 2010 ... Bottlenose dolphins (14). May 21 to 24, 2010 ... Bottlenose dolphins (1). None. May 24 to June 4, 2010. Bottlenose dolphins (77). None. May 22 to 23, May 25 to 29, June 12 to 17, and August 25, 2010. May 25 to June 3, 2010. Spotted dolphins (20) None. None .......................... None. May 29 to June 1, and None .......................... June 18 to 20, 2010. None. June 15 to 17, and August 26 to 27, 2010. August 2 to 6, and August 30 to September 2, 2010. August 28 to 29, 2010 None. June 20 to 24, 2010 .. June 21 to 23, July 5 to 6, and July 10 to 11, 2010. August 16 to 21, 2010 Bottlenose dolphins (14), Spotted dolphins (8). None .......................... None. None .......................... None. Bottlenose dolphins (30), Spotted dolphins (11). None .......................... None. Unidentified dolphins (1). serious injury or mortality was anticipated or authorized in the EROS regulations. The PROP observer reported the incident as required in EROS regulations. The mortality of the individual bottlenose dolphin was unrelated to the use of explosives, and determined as unforeseen by NMFS. During the many years in which NMFS PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 None. None. PROP observers have monitored EROS operations, this is the first reported observed lethal ‘‘take’’ by entanglement of a dolphin in a diver guide line or any other kind of line. There are two primary methodologies used in the GOM for severing decommissioned targets; non-explosive and explosive severance. The EROS E:\FR\FM\04MRN1.SGM 04MRN1 12072 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 43 / Friday, March 4, 2011 / Notices jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with NOTICES regulations analyzed both methodologies and determined that non-explosive severance activities have little or no impact on the marine environment and would not result in an incidental take of marine mammals, though they are relatively timeconsuming and potentially harmful to human health and safety (primarily for divers). Due to the unlikelihood of take of marine mammals incidental to entanglement during EROS activities, the then Minerals Management Service (now the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement) did not request (nor did NMFS contemplate) MMPA authorization for take of marine mammals from entanglement in the EROS regulations. Due to the low predictability of an incident resulting in the mortality of a marine mammal from entanglement in a diver’s guide line, NMFS’s regulations for EROS do not address this aspect of the activity; nor is NMFS currently aware of any specific additional monitoring and mitigation measures to further reduce the likelihood of such an event, other than the recommendation to remove any unattended lines from the water column and/or keep guide lines taut (i.e., no slack) during EROS operations. NMFS may further explore monitoring and mitigation measures in the next rulemaking for EROS activities. In the meantime, NMFS will continue to monitor EROS activities and may recommend additional monitoring and mitigation measures to future LOA holders. Of note, ERT was in compliance with the mitigation and monitoring measures required by the regulations and LOA and provided the specific information outlined in the reporting section of the rule, as well as additional information. The unexpected dolphin mortality does not change the negligible impact and small numbers determinations in the regulations. Authorization Pursuant to these regulations, NMFS has issued an LOA to Energy Resource Technology GOM, Inc., Demex International, Inc., and Noble Energy, Inc. Issuance of the LOAs is based on a finding made in the preamble to the final rule that the total taking by these activities (with monitoring, mitigation, and reporting measures) will result in no more than a negligible impact on the affected species or stock(s) of marine mammals and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on subsistence uses. NMFS also finds that the applicant will meet the requirements contained in the VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:16 Mar 03, 2011 Jkt 223001 implementing regulations and LOA, including monitoring, mitigation, and reporting requirements. Dated: February 23, 2011. James H. Lecky, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2011–4972 Filed 3–3–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P Public Availability of Commodity Futures Trading Commission FY 2010 Service Contract Inventory Commodity Futures Trading Commission. AGENCY: Notice of Public Availability of FY 2010 Service Contract Inventories. ACTION: In accordance with Section 743 of Division C of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010 (Pub. L. 111–117), Commodity Futures Trading Commission is publishing this notice to advise the public of the availability of the FY 2010 Service Contract inventory. This inventory provides information on service contract actions over $25,000 that were made in FY 2010. The information is organized by function to show how contracted resources are distributed throughout the agency. The inventory has been developed in accordance with guidance issued on November 5, 2010 by the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP). OFPP’s guidance is available at: https:// www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/ omb/procurement/memo/servicecontract-inventories-guidance11052010.pdf. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has posted its inventory and a summary of the inventory on the CFTC homepage at the following link: https://www.cftc.gov/ ucm/groups/public/@aboutcftc/ documents/file/ cftcserviceinventory_2010.pdf. SUMMARY: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Questions regarding the service contract inventory should be directed to Sonda R. Owens in the Office of Financial Management, Procurement at 202–418– 5182 or sowens@cftc.gov. David A. Stawick, Secretary of the Commission. [FR Doc. 2011–4850 Filed 3–3–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6351–01–P Frm 00060 Fmt 4703 Guidance for Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request; Generic Clearance for the Collection of Qualitative Feedback on Agency Service Delivery Corporation for National and Community Service. ACTION: Guidance for Corporation Notices, with request for comments. AGENCY: COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION PO 00000 CORPORATION FOR NATIONAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICE Sfmt 4703 The Corporation for National and Community Service (hereinafter the ‘‘Corporation’’), is submitting the below information for future Corporation Federal Register Notices in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104–13, (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35). As part of a Federal Government-wide effort to streamline the process to seek feedback from the public on service delivery, OMB is coordinating the development of the following proposed Generic Information Collection Request (Generic ICR): ‘‘Generic Clearance for the Collection of Qualitative Feedback on Agency Service Delivery’’ for approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). This notice announces that the Corporation intends to submit collections to OMB for approval and solicit comments on specific aspects for the proposed information collection. DATES: Comments must be submitted April 4, 2011. ADDRESSES: Comments may be submitted, identified by the title of the information collection activity, to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Attn: Ms. Sharon Mar, OMB Desk Officer for the Corporation for National and Community Service, by any of the following two methods within 30 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register: (1) By fax to: (202) 395–6974, Attention: Ms. Sharon Mar, OMB Desk Officer for the Corporation for National and Community Service; and (2) Electronically by e-mail to: smar@omb.eop.gov. SUMMARY: To request additional information, please contact Amy Borgstrom, Associate Director of Policy, Corporation for National and Community Service, at (202) 606–6930 or e-mail to aborgstrom@cns.gov. Individuals who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TTY–TDD) may call 1–800–833– 3722 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: E:\FR\FM\04MRN1.SGM 04MRN1

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[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 43 (Friday, March 4, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 12070-12072]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-4972]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XA253


Incidental Taking of Marine Mammals; Taking of Marine Mammals 
Incidental to the Explosive Removal of Offshore Structures in the Gulf 
of Mexico

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

ACTION: Notice; issuance of letters of authorization.

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

SUMMARY: In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and 
implementing regulations, notification is hereby given that NMFS has 
issued three one-year Letters of Authorization (LOA) to take marine 
mammals incidental to the explosive removal of offshore oil and gas 
structures (EROS) in the Gulf of Mexico.

DATES: These authorizations are effective from February 27, 2011, 
through February 26, 2012, and May 15, 2011, through May 14, 2012.

ADDRESSES: The application and LOAs are available for review by writing 
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 20910-3235 or by 
telephoning the contact listed here (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT), or online at: https://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm. Documents cited in this notice may be viewed, by 
appointment, during regular business hours, at the aforementioned 
address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Howard Goldstein or Jolie Harrison, 
Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 301-713-2289.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 
1361 et seq.) directs the Secretary of Commerce (who has delegated the 
authority to NMFS) to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not 
intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals by United States 
citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial 
fishing) within a specified geographical region, if certain findings 
are made 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 any marine mammal.
    Authorization for incidental taking, in the form of annual LOAs, 
may be granted by NMFS for periods up to five years if NMFS finds, 
after notice and opportunity for public comment, that the taking will 
have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s) of marine mammals, 
and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of 
the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant). In 
addition, NMFS must prescribe regulations that include permissible 
methods of taking and other means of effecting the least practicable 
adverse impact on the species and its habitat (i.e., mitigation), and 
on the availability of the species for subsistence uses, paying 
particular attention to rookeries, mating rounds, and areas of similar 
significance. The regulations also must include requirements pertaining 
to the monitoring and reporting of such taking.
    Regulations governing the taking of marine mammals incidental to 
EROS were published on June 19, 2008 (73 FR 34875), and remain in 
effect through July 19, 2013. For detailed information on this action, 
please refer to that Federal Register notice. The species that 
applicants may take in small numbers under LOAs during EROS activities 
are bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), Atlantic spotted dolphins 
(Stenella frontalis), pantropical spotted dolphins (Stenella 
attenuata), Clymene dolphins (Stenella clymene), striped dolphins 
(Stenella coeruleoalba), spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris), 
rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis), Risso's dolphins (Grampus 
griseus), melon-headed whales (Peponocephala electra), short-finned 
pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus), and sperm whales (Physeter 
macrocephalus). NMFS received requests for LOA renewals

[[Page 12071]]

from Energy Resource Technology GOM, Inc. (ERT), Demex International, 
Inc. (Demex), and Noble Energy, Inc. (Noble Energy), for activities 
covered by the EROS regulations.

Reporting

    NMFS regulations require timely receipt of reports for activities 
conducted under the previously issued LOA, and a determination that the 
required mitigation, monitoring, and reporting were undertaken. NMFS 
Galveston Laboratory's Platform Removal Observer Program (PROP) has 
provided reports for ERT and Noble Energy's removal of offshore 
structures during 2010. Demex has not used their LOA for any operations 
to date. NMFS PROP observers and non-NMFS observers reported the 
following during ERT and Noble Energy's EROS operations in 2010:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                         Marine mammals     Biological impacts
            Company                  Structure            Dates             sighted         observed to marine
                                                                         (individuals)            mammals
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ERT............................  Vermillion Area,   May 13 to 17,      Bottlenose         None.
                                  Block 199,         2010.              dolphins (22),
                                  Platform JA.                          Spotted dolphins
                                                                        (15).
ERT............................  South Marsh        May 11 to 16,      None.............  None.
                                  Island Area,       2010.
                                  Block 24,
                                  Platform A.
ERT............................  West Cameron       May 14 to 20,      Bottlenose         None.
                                  Area, Block 331,   2010.              dolphins (8),
                                  Platform A.                           Unidentified
                                                                        dolphins (13).
ERT............................  West Cameron       May 16 to 21 and   Bottlenose         A bottlenose dolphin
                                  Area, Block 458,   August 22 to 24,   dolphins (23).     was killed at this
                                  Platform D.        2010.                                 location via
                                                                                           entanglement in a
                                                                                           diver's guide line.
ERT............................  South Marsh        May 17 to 23,      Bottlenose         None.
                                  Island Area,       2010.              dolphins (14).
                                  Block 113,
                                  Platform B.
ERT............................  West Cameron       May 21 to 24,      Bottlenose         None.
                                  Area, Block 328,   2010.              dolphins (1).
                                  Platform A.
ERT............................  Eugene Island      May 24 to June 4,  Bottlenose         None.
                                  Area, Block        2010.              dolphins (77).
                                  128A, Platform
                                  JC.
ERT............................  East Cameron       May 22 to 23, May  Spotted dolphins   None.
                                  Area, Block 282,   25 to 29, June     (20).
                                  Platform C.        12 to 17, and
                                                     August 25, 2010.
ERT............................  West Cameron       May 25 to June 3,  None.............  None.
                                  Area, Block 405,   2010.
                                  Platform A.
ERT............................  East Cameron       May 29 to June 1,  None.............  None.
                                  Area, Block 298,   and June 18 to
                                  Platform E.        20, 2010.
ERT............................  High Island Area,  June 15 to 17,     Bottlenose         None.
                                  Block A544,        and August 26 to   dolphins (14),
                                  Platform A.        27, 2010.          Spotted dolphins
                                                                        (8).
ERT............................  East Cameron       August 2 to 6,     None.............  None.
                                  Area, Block 364,   and August 30 to
                                  Platform A.        September 2,
                                                     2010.
ERT............................  East Cameron       August 28 to 29,   None.............  None.
                                  Area, Block 346,   2010.
                                  Subsea Well
                                  6.
Noble Energy...................  Brazos Area,       June 20 to 24,     Bottlenose         None.
                                  Block A51,         2010.              dolphins (30),
                                  Platform F.                           Spotted dolphins
                                                                        (11).
Noble Energy...................  Eugene Island      June 21 to 23,     None.............  None.
                                  Area, Block 308,   July 5 to 6, and
                                  Platform A.        July 10 to 11,
                                                     2010.
Noble Energy...................  Main Pass Area,    August 16 to 21,   Unidentified       None.
                                  Block 305,         2010.              dolphins (1).
                                  Platform B.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    On May 20, 2010, NMFS received a phone call from a PROP observer 
regarding a single bottlenose dolphin that was injured and most likely 
killed by entanglement in a diver's guide line during platform removal 
operations. ERT was conducting these EROS operations in the GOM 
accompanied by a LOA, issued under the MMPA. No serious injury or 
mortality was anticipated or authorized in the EROS regulations. The 
PROP observer reported the incident as required in EROS regulations. 
The mortality of the individual bottlenose dolphin was unrelated to the 
use of explosives, and determined as unforeseen by NMFS. During the 
many years in which NMFS PROP observers have monitored EROS operations, 
this is the first reported observed lethal ``take'' by entanglement of 
a dolphin in a diver guide line or any other kind of line.
    There are two primary methodologies used in the GOM for severing 
decommissioned targets; non-explosive and explosive severance. The EROS

[[Page 12072]]

regulations analyzed both methodologies and determined that non-
explosive severance activities have little or no impact on the marine 
environment and would not result in an incidental take of marine 
mammals, though they are relatively time-consuming and potentially 
harmful to human health and safety (primarily for divers). Due to the 
unlikelihood of take of marine mammals incidental to entanglement 
during EROS activities, the then Minerals Management Service (now the 
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement) did not 
request (nor did NMFS contemplate) MMPA authorization for take of 
marine mammals from entanglement in the EROS regulations.
    Due to the low predictability of an incident resulting in the 
mortality of a marine mammal from entanglement in a diver's guide line, 
NMFS's regulations for EROS do not address this aspect of the activity; 
nor is NMFS currently aware of any specific additional monitoring and 
mitigation measures to further reduce the likelihood of such an event, 
other than the recommendation to remove any unattended lines from the 
water column and/or keep guide lines taut (i.e., no slack) during EROS 
operations. NMFS may further explore monitoring and mitigation measures 
in the next rulemaking for EROS activities. In the meantime, NMFS will 
continue to monitor EROS activities and may recommend additional 
monitoring and mitigation measures to future LOA holders.
    Of note, ERT was in compliance with the mitigation and monitoring 
measures required by the regulations and LOA and provided the specific 
information outlined in the reporting section of the rule, as well as 
additional information. The unexpected dolphin mortality does not 
change the negligible impact and small numbers determinations in the 
regulations.

Authorization

    Pursuant to these regulations, NMFS has issued an LOA to Energy 
Resource Technology GOM, Inc., Demex International, Inc., and Noble 
Energy, Inc. Issuance of the LOAs is based on a finding made in the 
preamble to the final rule that the total taking by these activities 
(with monitoring, mitigation, and reporting measures) will result in no 
more than a negligible impact on the affected species or stock(s) of 
marine mammals and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on 
subsistence uses. NMFS also finds that the applicant will meet the 
requirements contained in the implementing regulations and LOA, 
including monitoring, mitigation, and reporting requirements.

    Dated: February 23, 2011.
James H. Lecky,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-4972 Filed 3-3-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P