Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; U.S. Marine Corps Training Exercises at Air Station Cherry Point, 71535-71554 [2011-29851]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 223 / Friday, November 18, 2011 / Notices Impact on Availability of Affected Species for Taking for Subsistence Uses National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Section 101(a)(5)(D) also requires NMFS to determine that the authorization will not have an unmitigable adverse effect on the availability of marine mammal species or stocks for subsistence use. There is no subsistence hunting for marine mammals in the action area (waters off of the coast of southeast Florida) that implicates MMPA section 101(a)(5)(D). The ACOE has prepared a ‘‘Final Environmental Impact Statement on the Navigation Study for Miami Harbor, Miami-Dade County, Florida,’’ and a Record of Decision for the proposed project was signed on May 22, 2006; however, this document does not analyze NMFS’s action, the issuance of the IHA for the ACOE’s proposed activity. NMFS, after independently reviewing and evaluating the document for sufficiency and compliance with the CEQ regulations and NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 216–6 § 5.09(d), has begun conducting a separate NEPA analysis, which analyzes the project’s purpose and need, alternatives, affected environment, and environmental effects for the proposed action. NMFS will decide whether or not to sign a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) prior to making a determination on the issuance of the IHA. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Endangered Species Act Under section 7 of the ESA, the ACOE requested formal consultation with the NMFS SERO, on the proposed project to improve the Port of Miami on September 5, 2002, and reinitiated consultation on January 6, 2011. NMFS SERO determined that the proposed action is likely to adversely affect one ESA-listed species and prepared a Biological Opinion (BiOp) issued on September 8, 2011, that analyzes the project’s effects on staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis). It is NMFS’s biological opinion that the action, as proposed, is likely to adversely affect staghorn coral, but is not likely to jeopardize its continued existence or adversely modify its designated critical habitat. Based upon NMFS SERO’s updated analysis, NMFS no longer expects the proposed project is likely to adversely affect Johnson’s seagrass (Halophila johnsonii) or its designated critical habitat. NMFS SERO has determined that the ESA-listed marine mammals (Blue, fin, sei, humpback, North Atlantic right, and sperm whales), smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), and leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) are not likely to be adversely affected by the proposed action. Previous NMFS biological opinions have determined that hopper dredges may affect hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii), green (Chelonia mydas), and loggerhead (Caretta caretta) sea turtles through entrainment by the draghead. Any incidental take of loggerhead, green, Kemp’s ridley, or hawksbill sea turtles due to hopper dredging has been previously authorized in NMFS’s 1997 South Atlantic Regional BiOp on hopper dredging along the South Atlantic coast. The ACOE is currently in re-initiation of consultation with NMFS on the South Atlantic Regional BiOp. When a new BiOp is issued by NMFS, the Terms and Conditions of that South Atlantic Regional BiOp will be incorporated into the proposed project. VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:44 Nov 17, 2011 Jkt 226001 Proposed Authorization NMFS proposes to issue an IHA to the ACOE for conducting blasting operations at the Port of Miami, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements are incorporated. The duration of the IHA would not exceed one year from the date of its issuance. Information Solicited NMFS requests interested persons to submit comments and information concerning this proposed project and NMFS’s preliminary determination of issuing an IHA (see ADDRESSES). Concurrent with the publication of this notice in the Federal Register, NMFS is forwarding copies of this application to the Marine Mammal Commission and its Committee of Scientific Advisors. Dated: November 14, 2011. James H. Lecky, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2011–29886 Filed 11–17–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 71535 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XA800 Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; U.S. Marine Corps Training Exercises at Air Station Cherry Point National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; proposed incidental harassment authorization; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS has received an application from the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) requesting authorization to take marine mammals incidental to various training exercises at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point Range Complex, North Carolina. The USMC’s activities are considered military readiness activities pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), as amended by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2004. Pursuant to the MMPA, NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to the USMC to take bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), by Level B harassment only, from specified activities. DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than December 19, 2011. ADDRESSES: Comments on the application should be addressed to Michael Payne, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910– 3225. The mailbox address for providing email comments is ITP.Laws@noaa.gov. NMFS is not responsible for email comments sent to addresses other than the one provided here. Comments sent via email, including all attachments, must not exceed a 10-megabyte file size. Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record and may be posted to https://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ pr/permits/incidental.htm without change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. A copy of the application containing a list of the references used in this SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\18NON1.SGM 18NON1 71536 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 223 / Friday, November 18, 2011 / Notices document may be obtained by writing to the address specified above, telephoning the contact listed below (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT), or visiting the Internet at: https:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental.htm. The following associated document is also available at the same Internet address: Environmental Assessment MCAS Cherry Point Range Operations (USMC 2009). Documents cited in this notice may also be viewed, by appointment, during regular business hours, at the aforementioned address. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ben Laws, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Background Sections 101(a)(5)(A) 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 marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) if certain findings are made and regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the public for review. Authorization for incidental takings may be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for certain subsistence uses, and if 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. 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 marine mammals. Within 45 days of the close of the comment period, NMFS must either issue or deny the authorization. The NDAA (Pub. L. 108–136) removed the ‘‘small numbers’’ and VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:44 Nov 17, 2011 Jkt 226001 ‘‘specified geographical region’’ limitations and amended the definition of ‘‘harassment’’ as it applies to a ‘‘military readiness activity’’ to read as follows (Section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA): (i) Any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A Harassment]; or (ii) Any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered [Level B Harassment]. Summary of Request On September 22, 2011, NMFS received an application from the USMC requesting an IHA for the harassment of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) incidental to air-to-surface and surface-to-surface training exercises conducted around two bombing targets (BTs) within southern Pamlico Sound, North Carolina, at MCAS Cherry Point. NMFS first issued an IHA to the USMC for the same activities that was valid for a period of one year, beginning December 1, 2011 (75 FR 72807; November 26, 2010). Weapon delivery training would occur at two BTs: Brant Island Target (BT–9) and Piney Island Bombing Range (BT–11). Training at BT–9 would involve air-to-surface (from aircraft to in-water targets) and surface-to-surface (from vessels to in-water targets) warfare training, including bombing, strafing, special (laser systems) weapons; surface fires using non-explosive and explosive ordnance; and mine laying exercises (inert). Training at BT–11 would involve air- to-surface exercises to provide training in the delivery of conventional (non-explosive) and special (laser systems) weapons. Surface-to-surface training by small military watercraft would also be executed here. The types of ordnances proposed for use at BT–9 and BT–11 include small arms, large arms, bombs, rockets, missiles, and pyrotechnics. All munitions used at BT– 11 are inert, practice rounds. No live firing occurs at BT–11. Training for any activity may occur year-round. Active sonar is not a component of these specified training exercises; therefore, discussion of marine mammal harassment from active sonar operations is not included within this notice. Description of the Specified Activity The USMC is requesting authorization to harass bottlenose dolphins from ammunition firing conducted at two BTs within MCAS Cherry Point. The PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 authorization would be valid for a period of one year from the date of issuance. The BTs are located at the convergence of the Neuse River and Pamlico Sound, North Carolina. BT–9 is a water-based target located approximately 52 km (28 nautical miles [nm]) northeast of MCAS Cherry Point. The BT–9 target area ranges in depth from 1.2 m to 6.1 m, with the shallow areas concentrated along the Brandt Island Shoal (which runs down the middle of the restricted area in a northwest to southeast orientation). The target itself consists of three ship hulls grounded on Brant Island Shoals, located approximately 4.8 km (3 miles [mi]) southeast of Goose Creek Island. Inert (non-explosive) ordnance up to 454 kilograms (kg) (1,000 lbs) and live (explosive) ordnance up to 45.4 kg (100 lbs) TNT equivalent, including ordnance released during strafing, are authorized for use at this target range. The target is defined by a 6 statute-mile (SM) diameter prohibited area designated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Wilmington District (33 CFR 334.420). Non-military vessels are not permitted within the prohibited area, which is delineated by large signs located on pilings surrounding the perimeter of the BT. BT–9 also provides a mining exercise area; however, all mine exercises are simulation only and do not involve detonations. BT–9 standard operating procedures limit live ordnance deliveries to a maximum explosive weight of 100 lbs TNT equivalent. The USMC estimates that it would conduct approximately 1,539 aircraft-based and 165 vessel-based sorties, annually, at BT–9. The standard sortie consists of two aircraft per bombing run or an average of two and maximum of six vessels. BT–11 is a 50.6 square kilometers (sq km) (19.5 square miles [sq mi]) complex of land- and water-based targets on Piney Island. The BT–11 target area ranges in depth from 0.3 m along the shoreline to 3.1 m in the center of Rattan Bay (BA 2001). The inwater stationary targets of BT–11 consist of a barge and patrol (PT) boat located in roughly the center of Rattan Bay. The barge target is approximately 135 ft by 40 ft in dimension. The PT boat is approximately 110 ft by 35 ft in dimension. Water depths in the center of Rattan Bay are estimated as 2.4 to 3 m (8 to 10 ft) with bottom depths ranging from 0.3 to 1.5 m (1 to 5 ft) adjacent to the shoreline of Piney Island. A shallow ledge, with substrate expected to be hard-packed to hard bottom, surrounds Piney Island. No live firing occurs at BT–11; all munitions used are inert, E:\FR\FM\18NON1.SGM 18NON1 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 223 / Friday, November 18, 2011 / Notices non-explosive practice rounds. Only 36 percent of all munitions fired at BT–11 occur over water; the remaining munitions are fired to land based targets on Piney Island. The USMC estimates that it would conduct approximately 6,727 aircraft-based and 51 vessel-based sorties, annually, at BT–11. All inert and live-fire exercises at MCAS Cherry Point ranges are conducted so that all ammunition and other ordnances strike and/or fall on the land or water based target or within the existing danger zones or water restricted areas. A danger zone is a defined water area that is closed to the public on an intermittent or full-time basis for use by military forces for hazardous operations such as target practice and ordnance firing. A water restricted area is a defined water area where public access is prohibited or limited in order to provide security for Government property and/or to protect the public from the risks of injury or damage that could occur from the government’s use of that area (33 CFR 334.2). Surface danger zones are designated areas of rocket firing, target practice, or other hazardous operations (33 CFR 334.420). The surface danger zone (prohibited area) for BT–9 is a 4.8 km radius centered on the south side of Brant Island Shoal. The surface danger zone for BT–11 is a 2.9 km radius centered on a barge target in Rattan Bay. According to the application, the USMC is requesting take of marine mammals incidental to specified activities at MCAS Cherry Point Range Complex, located within Pamlico Sound, North Carolina. These activities include gunnery; mine laying; bombing; or rocket exercises and are classified into two categories here based on delivery method: (1) Surface-to-surface gunnery and (2) air-to-surface bombing. Exercises may occur year round, day or night (approximately 15 percent of training occurs at night). Surface-to-Surface Gunnery Exercises Surface-to-surface fires are fires from boats at sea to targets at sea. These can be direct (targets are within sight) or indirect (targets are not within sight). Gunnery exercise employing only direct fire is the only category of surface-tosurface activity currently conducted within the MCAS Cherry Point BTs. An average of two and maximum of six small boats (24–85 ft), or fleet of boats, typically operated by Special Boat Team personnel, use a machine gun to attack and disable or destroy a surface target that simulates another ship, boat, swimmer, floating mine or near shore land targets. Vessels travel between 0–20 kts with an average of two vessels actually conducting surface-to-surface firing activities. Typical munitions are 7.62 millimeter (mm) or .50 caliber (cal) machine guns; and/or 40 mm Grenade machine guns. This exercise is usually a live-fire exercise, but at times blanks may be used so that the boat crews can practice their ship handling skills. The goal of training is to hit the targets; however, some munitions may bounce off the targets and land in the water or miss the target entirely. Additionally, G911 Concussion hand grenades (inert and live) are used; however, these are not aimed at targets, as the goal is to learn how to throw them into the water. The estimated amount of munitions expended at BT–9 and BT–11 during this training can be found in Table 1 below. Historically, boat sorties have been conducted at BT–9 and BT–11 year round with equal distribution of training effort throughout the seasons. Live fires constitute approximately 90 percent of all surface-to-surface gunnery events. The majority of sorties originated and practiced at BT–9 as no live fire is conducted at BT–11. The 71537 USMC has indicated a comparable number of sorties would occur throughout the IHA timeframe. There is no specific schedule associated with the use of ranges by the small boat teams. However, exercises tend to be scheduled for 5-day blocks with exercises at various times throughout that timeframe. There is no specific time of year or month training occurs as variables such as deployment status, range availability, and completion of crew specific training requirements influence schedules. A number of different types of boats are used during surface-to-surface exercises depending on the unit using the boat and their mission and include versions of Small Unit River Craft, Combat Rubber Raiding Craft, Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats, Patrol Craft. They are inboard or outboard, diesel or gasoline engines with either propeller or water jet propulsion. Boat crews approach, at a maximum of 20 kts, and engage targets simulating other boats, swimmers, floating mines, or near shore land targets with 7.62 mm or .50 cal machine guns; 40 mm grenade machine guns; or M3A2 Concussion hand grenades (approximately 200, 800, 10, and 10 rounds respectively). Vessels typically travel in linear paths and do not operate erratically. Other vessels may be located within the BTs; however, these are support craft and do not participate in munitions expenditures. The purpose of the support craft is to remotely control High Speed Maneuvering Surface Targets (HSMSTs) or to conduct maintenance on electronic equipment located in the towers at BT–9. Support craft are typically anchored or tied to marker pilings during HSMST operations or tied to equipment towers. When underway, vessels do not typically travel faster than 12–18 kts or in an erratic manner. TABLE 1—TYPE AND AMOUNT OF MUNITIONS EXPENDED AT BT–9 AND BT–11 DURING SURFACE-TO-SURFACE EXERCISES Annual number of sorties 1 Range mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES BT–9 ............................................... 165 BT–11 ............................................. 51 1 Sorties Munitions expended annually Munitions type 5.56 mm .................................................................................................. 7.62 mm .................................................................................................. .50 cal ..................................................................................................... 40 mm Grenade—Inert ........................................................................... 40 mm Grenade—Live (HE) ................................................................... G911 Grenade ........................................................................................ 7.62 mm .................................................................................................. .40 cal ..................................................................................................... 40 mm Grenade—Inert ........................................................................... 40 mm Illumination-Inert ......................................................................... are from FY 2007 CURRS data. VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:44 Nov 17, 2011 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\18NON1.SGM 18NON1 1,468 218,500 166,900 15,734 9,472 144 44,100 4,600 1,517 9 71538 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 223 / Friday, November 18, 2011 / Notices Air-to-Surface Air-to-surface training involves ordnance delivered from aircraft and aimed at targets on the water’s surface or on land in the case of BT–11. A description of the types of targets used at MCAS Cherry Point is provided in the section on BTs above. There are four types of air-to-surface activities conducted within the MCAS Cherry Point BTs: Mine laying; bombing; gunnery or rocket exercises which are carried out via fixed wing or rotary wing aircraft. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Mine Laying Exercises Mine Warfare (MIW) includes the strategic, operational, and tactical use of mines and mine countermine measures. MIW is divided into two basic subdivisions: (a) The laying of mines to degrade the enemy’s capabilities to wage land, air, and maritime warfare, and (b) the countering of enemy-laid mines to permit friendly maneuver or use of selected land or sea areas (DoN, 2007). MCAS Cherry Point would only engage in mine laying exercises as described below. No detonations of any mine device are involved with this training. During mine laying, a fixed-wing or maritime patrol aircraft (P–3 or P–8) typically drops a series of about four inert mine shapes in an offensive or defensive pattern, making multiple passes along a pre-determined flight azimuth, and dropping one or more shapes each time. Mine simulation shapes include MK76, MK80 series, and BDU practice bombs ranging from 25 to 2,000 pounds in weight, There is an attempt to fly undetected to the area where the mines are laid with either a low or high altitude tactic flight. The shapes are scored for accuracy as they enter the water and the aircrew is later debriefed on their performance. The training shapes are inert (no detonations occur) and expendable. Mine laying operations are regularly conducted in the water in the vicinity of BT–9. Bombing Exercises The purpose of bombing exercises is to train pilots in destroying or disabling enemy ships or boats. During training, fixed wing or rotary wing aircraft deliver bombs against surface maritime targets at BT–9 or BT–11, day or night, using either unguided or precisionguided munitions. Unguided munitions include MK–76 and BDU–45 inert training bombs, and MK–80 series of inert bombs (no cluster munitions authorized). Precision-guided munitions consist of laser-guided bombs (inert) VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:44 Nov 17, 2011 Jkt 226001 and laser-guided training rounds (inert). Typically, two aircraft approach the target (principally BT–9) from an altitude of approximately 914 m (3,000 ft) up to 4,572 m (15,000 ft) and, when on an established range, the aircraft adhere to designated ingress and egress routes. Typical bomb release altitude is 914 m (3,000 ft) for unguided munitions or above 4,572 m (15,000 ft) and in excess of 1.8 km (1 nm) for precisionguided munitions. However, the lowest minimum altitude for ordnance delivery (inert bombs) would be 152 m (500 ft). Onboard laser designators or laser designators from a support aircraft or ground support personnel are used to illuminate certified targets for use when using laser guided weapons. Due to target maintenance issues, live bombs have not been dropped at the BT–9 targets for the past few years although these munitions are authorized for use. For the effective IHA timeframe, no live bombs would be utilized. Live rockets and grenades; however, have been expended at BT–9. Air-to-Surface bombing exercises have the potential to occur on a daily basis. The standard sortie consists of two aircraft per bombing run. The frequency of these exercises is dependent on squadron level training requirements, deployment status, and range availability; therefore, there is no set pattern or specific time of year or month when this training occurs. Normal operating hours for the range are 0800– 2300, Monday through Friday; however, the range is available for use 365 days per year. Rocket Exercises Rocket exercises are carried out similar to bombing exercises. Fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft crews launch rockets at surface maritime targets, day and night, to train for destroying or disabling enemy ships or boats. These operations employ 2.75-inch and 5-inch rockets. The average number of rockets delivered per sortie is approximately 14. As with the bombing exercise, there is no set level or pattern of amount of sorties conducted. Gunnery Exercises During gunnery training, fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft expend smaller munitions targeted at the BTs with the purpose of hitting them. However, some small arms may land in the water. Rotary wing exercises involve either CH–53, UH–1, CH–46, MV–22, or H–60 rotary-wing aircraft with mounted 7.62 mm or .50 cal machine guns. Each PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 gunner expends approximately 800 rounds of 7.62 mm and 200 rounds of .50 cal ammunition in each exercise. These may be live or inert. Fixed wing gunnery exercises involve the flight of two aircraft that begin to descend to the target from an altitude of approximately 914 meters (m) (3,000 feet [ft]) while still several miles away. Within a distance of 1,219 m (4,000 ft) from the target, each aircraft fires a burst of approximately 30 rounds before reaching an altitude of 305 m (1,000 ft), then breaks off and repositions for another strafing run until each aircraft expends its exercise ordnance allowance of approximately 250 rounds. In total, about 8–12 passes are made by each aircraft per exercise. Typically these fixed wing exercise events involve an F/A–18 and AH–1 with Vulcan M61A1/A2, 20 mm cannon; AV–8 with GAU–12, 25 mm cannon. Munition Descriptions A complete list of the ordnance authorized for use at BT–9 and BT–11 can be found in Tables 2 and 3, respectively. There are several varieties and net explosive weights (for live munition used at BT–9) can vary according to the variety. All practice bombs are inert and used to simulate the same ballistic properties of service type bombs. They are manufactured as either solid cast metal bodies or thin sheet metal containers. Since practice bombs contain no explosive filler, a practice bomb signal cartridge (smoke) is used for visual observation of weapon target impact. Practice bombs provide a low cost training device for pilot and ground handling crews. Due to the relatively small amount of explosive material in practice bombs (small signal charge), the availability of ranges for training is greatly increased. When a high explosive detonates, it is converted almost instantly into a gas at very high pressure and temperature. Under the pressure of the gases thus generated, the weapon case expands and breaks into fragments. The air surrounding the casing is compressed and shock (blast) wave is transmitted into it. Typical initial values for a highexplosive weapon are 200 kilobars of pressure (1 bar = 1 atmosphere) and 5,000 degrees Celsius. There are five types of explosive sources used at BT– 9: 2.75’’ Rocket High Explosives, 5’’ Rocket High Explosives, 30 mm High Explosives, 40 mm High Explosives, and G911 grenades. No live munitions are used at BT–11. E:\FR\FM\18NON1.SGM 18NON1 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 223 / Friday, November 18, 2011 / Notices 71539 TABLE 2—DESCRIPTION OF MUNITIONS USED AT BT–9 Ordnance Description Net explosive weight MK76 Practice Bomb (inert) ............ 25-pound teardrop-shaped cast metal bomb, with a bore tube for installation of a signal cartridge. Air Force MK 76 practice bomb ............................................................ 10-pound metal cylindrical bomb body with a bore tube for installation of a signal cartridge. 500-pound metal bomb either sand or water filled. Two signal cartridges. 500-pound metal bomb either sand or water filled. Two signal cartridges. 250-pound bomb .................................................................................... 500-pound bomb .................................................................................... 1000-pound bomb configured like BDU 45 ........................................... 2000-pound bomb configured like BDU 45 ........................................... (of signal cartridge) varies, maximum 0.083800 lbs. same as above. same as above. Unguided 2.75-inch diameter rocket ..................................................... Unguided 5-inch diameter rocket .......................................................... Unguided 5-inch diameter rocket .......................................................... 2.75-inch rocket containing white phosphorous .................................... High Explosive, 2.75-inch rocket ........................................................... Machine gun rounds .............................................................................. 0. 0. 15 lbs. 0. 4.8 lbs. 0. High Explosive Incendiary, Live machine gun rounds .......................... Aerial flare .............................................................................................. 18-pound chaff canister ......................................................................... 30-pound high intensity illumination flare .............................................. 89-pound inert training bomblet ............................................................. 0.269 lbs. 0. 0. 0. 0. BDU 33 Practice Bomb (inert) ........ BDU 48 Practice Bomb (inert) ........ BDU 45 Practice Bomb (inert) ........ BDU 50 Practice Bomb (inert) ........ MK 81 Practice Bomb (inert) .......... MK 82 Practice Bomb (inert) .......... MK 83 Practice Bomb (inert) .......... MK 84 Practice Bomb (inert) (special exception use only). 2.75-inch (inert) ............................... 5-inch Zuni (inert) ............................ 5-inch Zuni (live) ............................. 2.75wp (inert) .................................. 2.75HE ............................................ 0.50 cal (inert) ................................. 7.62 mm (inert) 20 mm (inert) 25mm (inert) 30 mm (inert) 40 mm (inert) 25 mm HE (live) .............................. Self Protection Flare ....................... Chaff ................................................ LUU–2 ............................................. Laser Guided Training Round (LGTR) (inert). (of signal cartridges, total 0.1676 lbs. same as above. 0. 0. 0.1676 lbs. 0.1676 lbs. TABLE 3—DESCRIPTION OF MUNITIONS USED AT BT–11 Ordnance Description MK76 Practice Bomb ................................................................................ 25-pound teardrop-shaped cast metal bomb body, with a bore tube for installation of a signal cartridge. Air Force designation for MK 76 practice bomb. 10-pound metal cylindrical bomb body with a bore tube for installation of a signal cartridge. 500-pound metal bomb body either sand or water filled. Configured with either low drag conical tail fins or high drag tail fins for retarded weapons delivery. Two signal cartridges installed. 250-pound inert bomb. 500-pound inert bomb. Unguided 2.75 inch diameter rocket. 5 inch diameter rocket. White phosphorous 7-pound rocket. Inert machine gun rounds BDU 33 Practice Bomb ............................................................................ BDU 48 Practice Bomb ............................................................................ BDU45 Practice Bomb ............................................................................. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES MK 81 Practice Bomb .............................................................................. MK 82 Practice Bomb .............................................................................. 2.75-inch ................................................................................................... 5-inch Zuni ................................................................................................ WP-2.75-inch ............................................................................................ 0.50 cal ..................................................................................................... 7.62 mm 5.56 mm 20 mm 30 mm 40 mm TOW ......................................................................................................... Self Protection Flare. ................................................................................ SMD SAMS .............................................................................................. LUU–2 ....................................................................................................... Laser Guided Training Round (LGTR) ..................................................... The amounts of all ordnance to be expended at BT–9 and BT–11 (both surface-to-surface and air-to-surface) are VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:44 Nov 17, 2011 Jkt 226001 Wire guided 56-pound anti-tank missile. Aerial flare. 1.5-pound smoking flare. 30-pound high-intensity illumination flare. 89-pound inert training bomblet. 897,932 and 1,109,955 rounds, respectively (see Table 4 and 5 below). PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\18NON1.SGM 18NON1 71540 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 223 / Friday, November 18, 2011 / Notices TABLE 4—AMOUNT OF LIVE AND INERT MUNITIONS EXPENDED AT BT–9 PER YEAR Proposed total number of rounds Proposed munitions 1 Small Arms Rounds Excluding .50 cal ................................................. .50 Cal .................................................................................................. Large Arms Rounds—Live ................................................................... 525,610 257,067 12,592 Large Arms Rounds—Inert ................................................................... Rockets—Live ....................................................................................... 93,024 241 Rockets—Inert ...................................................................................... Bombs and Grenades—Live ................................................................ Bombs and Grenades—Inert ................................................................ Pyrotechnics ......................................................................................... Total ............................................................................................... 1 Munitions 703 144 4,055 4,496 N/A N/A 0.1019 0.1199 N/A 4.8 15.0 N/A 0.5 N/A N/A 897,932 12,977 ........................................... N/A may be expended from aircraft or small boats. (Stenella frontalis) and common dolphins (Delphinus delphis), are oceanic in distribution and do not Proposed total venture into the shallow, brackish Proposed munitions 1 number of waters of southern Pamlico Sound. rounds 2 Therefore, the specified activity has the potential to affect one marine mammal Small Arms Rounds Excluding .50 Cal ......................... 507,812 species under NMFS’ jurisdiction: the .50 Cal .................................. 326,234 bottlenose dolphin. Coastal (or nearshore) and offshore Large Arms Rounds ............. 240,334 Rockets ................................. 4,549 stocks of bottlenose dolphins in the Bombs and Grenades .......... 22,114 Western North Atlantic can be Pyrotechnics ......................... 8,912 distinguished by genetics, diet, blood characteristics, and outward appearance Total ............................... 1,109,955 (Duffield et al., 1983; Hersh and 1 Munitions may be expended from aircraft Duffield, 1990; Mead and Potter, 1995; or small boats. Curry and Smith, 1997). Initially, a 2 Munitions estimated using FY 2007 single stock of coastal morphotype CURRS data on a per sortie-operation basis. bottlenose dolphins was thought to Description of Marine Mammals in the migrate seasonally between New Jersey Area of the Specified Activity (summer months) and central Florida based on seasonal patterns in strandings Forty marine mammal species occur during a large scale mortality event within the nearshore and offshore occurring during 1987–1988 (Scott et waters of North Carolina; however, the al., 1988). However, re-analysis of majority of these species are solely stranding data (McLellan et al., 2003) oceanic in distribution. Only one and extensive analysis of genetic, photomarine mammal species, the bottlenose identification, satellite telemetry, and dolphin, has been repeatedly sighted in stable isotope studies demonstrate a Pamlico Sound, while an additional complex mosaic of coastal bottlenose species, the endangered West Indian dolphin stocks (NMFS 2001) which may manatee (Trichechus manatus), has be migratory or resident (they do not been sighted rarely (Lefebvre et al., migrate and occur within an area year 2001; DoN 2003). The U.S. Fish and round). Four out of the seven designated Wildlife Service oversees management coastal stocks may occur in North of the manatee; therefore, authorization Carolina waters at some part of the year: to harass manatees would not be The Northern Migratory stock (NM; included in any NMFS’ authorization winter); the Southern Migratory stock and will not be discussed further. No sightings of the endangered North (SM; winter); the Northern North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena Carolina Estuarine stock (NNCE; glacialis) or other large whales have resident, year round); and the more been observed within Pamlico Sound or recently identified Southern North in vicinity of the BTs (Kenney 2006). No Carolina Estuarine stock (SNCE; suitable habitat exists for these species resident, year round). Stable isotope in the shallow Pamlico Sound or BT depleted oxygen signature (hypoxic vicinity; therefore, whales would not be conditions routinely develops during affected by the specified activities and summer in North Carolina waters) will not be discussed further. Other (Cortese, 2000), satellite telemetry, and dolphins, such as Atlantic spotted photo-identification (NMFS, 2001) VerDate Mar<15>2010 Net explosive weight (lb) N/A ................................................ N/A ................................................ 30mm HE: 3,120 .......................... 40mm HE: 9,472 .......................... N/A ................................................ 2.75″ Rocket: 184 ......................... 5″ Rocket: 57 ................................ N/A ................................................ G911 Grenade: 144 ...................... N/A ................................................ N/A ................................................ TABLE 5—AMOUNT OF INERT MUNITIONS EXPENDED AT BT–11 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Proposed number of explosive rounds having an impact on the water 17:44 Nov 17, 2011 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 support stock structure analysis. Dolphins encountered at the BTs likely belong to the NNCE and SNCE stock; however, this may not always be the case. NMFS’ 2010 stock assessment report provides further detail on stock delineation. All stocks discussed here are considered depleted (and thus strategic) under the MMPA (Waring et al., 2010). NMFS provides abundance estimates for the four aforementioned migratory and resident coastal stocks in its 2010 stock assessment report. The best available abundance estimate for the NNCE stock is the combined abundance from estuarine (Read et al., 2003) and coastal (aerial survey data dating from 2002) waters. This combined estimate is 1,387 (Waring et al., 2010). Similarly, the best available abundance estimate for the SNCE stock is the combined abundance from estuarine and coastal waters. This combined estimate is 2,595 (Waring et al., 2010). The best abundance estimate for the NM stock, resulting from 2002 aerial surveys, is 9,604 (Waring et al., 2010). Using the same information, the resulting best abundance estimate for the SM stock is 12,482 (Waring et al., 2010). From July 2004 through April 2006, the NMFS’ SEFSC conducted 41 aerial surveys to document the seasonal distribution and estimated density of sea turtles and dolphins within Core Sound and portions of Pamlico Sound, and coastal waters extending one mile offshore (Goodman et al., 2007). Pamlico Sound was divided into two survey areas: western (encompassing BT–9 and BT–11) and eastern (including Core Sound and the eastern portion of restricted air space R–5306). In total, 281 dolphins were sighted in the western range. To account for animals likely missed during sightings (i.e., those below the surface), Goodman et al. (2007) estimate that, in reality, 415 E:\FR\FM\18NON1.SGM 18NON1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 223 / Friday, November 18, 2011 / Notices dolphins were present. Densities for bottlenose dolphins in the western part of Pamlico Sound were calculated to be 0.0272/km2 in winter; 0.2158/km2 in autumn; 0.0371/km2 in summer; and 0.0946/km2 in summer (Goodman et al., 2007). Dolphins were sighted throughout the entire range when mean sea surface temperature (SST) was 7.60 °C to 30.82 °C, with fewer dolphins sighted as water temperatures increased. Like in Mayer (2003), dolphins were found in higher numbers around BT–11, a range where no live firing occurs. In 2000, Duke University Marine Lab (DUML), conducted a boat-based markrecapture survey throughout the estuaries, bays and sounds of North Carolina (Read et al., 2003). This summer survey yielded a dolphin density of 0.183/km2 (0.071 mi2) based on an estimate of 919 dolphins for the northern inshore waters divided by an estimated 5,015 km2 (1,936 mi2) survey area. Additionally, from July 2002–June 2003, the USMC supported DUML to conduct dolphin surveys specifically in and around BT–9 and BT–11. During these surveys, one sighting in the restricted area surrounding BT–9 and two sightings in proximity to BT–11 were observed, as well as seven sightings in waters adjacent to the BTs. In total, 276 bottlenose dolphins were sighted ranging in group size from two to 70 animals with mean dolphin density in BT–11 more than twice as large as the density of any of the other areas; however, the daily densities were not significantly different (Maher, 2003). Estimated dolphin density at BT–9 and BT–11 based on these surveys were calculated to be 0.11 dolphins/km2, and 1.23 dolphins/km2, respectively, based on boat surveys conducted from July 2002 through June 2003 (excluding April, May, Sept. and Jan.). However, the USMC choose to estimate take of dolphins based on the higher density reported from the summer 2000 surveys (0.183/km2). Although the aerial surveys were conducted year round and therefore provide for seasonal density estimates, the average year-round density from the aerial surveys is 0.0936, lower than the 0.183/km2 density chosen to calculate take for purposes of this MMPA authorization. Additionally, Goodman et al. (2007) acknowledged that boat based density estimates may be more accurate than the uncorrected estimates derived from the aerial surveys. In Pamlico Sound, bottlenose dolphins concentrate in shallow water habitats along shorelines, and few, if any, individuals are present in the central portions of the sounds (Gannon, 2003; Read et al., 2003a, 2003b). The VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:44 Nov 17, 2011 Jkt 226001 dolphins utilize shallow habitats, such as tributary creeks and the edges of the Neuse River, where the bottom depth is less than 3.5 m (Gannon, 2003). Finescale distribution of dolphins seems to relate to the presence of topography or vertical structure, such as the steeplysloping bottom near the shore and oyster reefs, which may be used to facilitate prey capture (Gannon, 2003). Results of a passive acoustic monitoring effort conducted from 2006–2007 by Duke University researchers validated this information. Vocalizations of dolphins in the BT–11 vicinity were higher in August and September than vocalization detection at BT–9, an open water area (Read et al., 2007). Additionally, detected vocalizations of dolphins were more frequent at night for the BT–9 area and during early morning hours at BT–11. Unlike migrating whales which display strong temporal foraging and mating/birthing periods, many bottlenose dolphins in Pamlico Sound are residents and mate year round. However, dolphins in the southeast U.S. do display some reproductive seasonality. Based on neonate stranding records, sighting data, and births by known females, the populations of dolphins that frequent the North Carolina estuarine waters have calving peaks in spring but calving continues throughout the summer and is followed by a smaller number of fall births (Thayer et al., 2003). Bottlenose dolphins can typically hear within a broad frequency range of 0.04 to 160 kHz (Au, 1993; Turl, 1993). Electrophysiological experiments suggest that the bottlenose dolphin brain has a dual analysis system: one specialized for ultrasonic clicks and another for lower-frequency sounds, such as whistles (Ridgway, 2000). Scientists have reported a range of highest sensitivity between 25 and 70 kHz, with peaks in sensitivity at 25 and 50 kHz (Nachtigall et al., 2000). Recent research on the same individuals indicates that auditory thresholds obtained by electrophysiological methods correlate well with those obtained in behavior studies, except at some lower (10 kHz) and higher (80 and 100 kHz) frequencies (Finneran and Houser, 2006). Sounds emitted by bottlenose dolphins have been classified into two broad categories: pulsed sounds (including clicks and burst-pulses) and narrow-band continuous sounds (whistles), which usually are frequency modulated. Clicks have a dominant frequency range of 110 to 130 kiloHertz (kHz) and a source level of 218 to 228 dB re 1 mPa (peak-to-peak) (Au, 1993) PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 71541 and 3.4 to 14.5 kHz at 125 to 173 dB re 1 mPa (peak-to-peak) (Ketten, 1998). Whistles are primarily associated with communication and can serve to identify specific individuals (i.e., signature whistles) (Caldwell and Caldwell, 1965; Janik et al., 2006). Up to 52 percent of whistles produced by bottlenose dolphin groups with mothercalf pairs can be classified as signature whistles (Cook et al., 2004). Sound production is also influenced by group type (single or multiple individuals), habitat, and behavior (Nowacek, 2005). Bray calls (low-frequency vocalizations; majority of energy below 4 kHz), for example, are used when capturing fish, specifically sea trout (Salmo trutta) and Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), in some regions (i.e., Moray Firth, Scotland) (Janik, 2000). Additionally, whistle production has been observed to increase while feeding (Acevedo´ Gutierrez and Stienessen, 2004; Cook et al., 2004). Potential Effects on Marine Mammals As mentioned previously, with respect to military readiness activities, Section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA defines ‘‘harassment’’ as: (i) Any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A Harassment]; or (ii) any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered [Level B Harassment]. The USMC has concluded that harassment to marine mammals may occur incidental to munitions firing noise and pressure at the BTs. These military readiness activities would result in increased noise levels, explosions, and munition debris within bottlenose dolphin habitat. NMFS also considered the potential for harassment from vessel and aircraft operation. NMFS’ analysis of potential impacts from these factors, including consideration of the USMC’s analysis in its application, is outlined below. Anthropogenic Sound Marine mammals respond to various types of anthropogenic sounds introduced in the ocean environment. Responses are highly variable and depend on a suite of internal and external factors which in turn results in varying degrees of significance (NRC, 2003; Southall et al., 2007). Internal factors include: (1) Individual hearing E:\FR\FM\18NON1.SGM 18NON1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 71542 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 223 / Friday, November 18, 2011 / Notices sensitivity, activity pattern, and motivational and behavioral state (e.g., feeding, traveling) at the time it receives the stimulus; (2) past exposure of the animal to the noise, which may lead to habituation or sensitization; (3) individual noise tolerance; and (4) demographic factors such as age, sex, and presence of dependent offspring. External factors include: (1) Nonacoustic characteristics of the sound source (e.g., if it is moving or stationary); (2) environmental variables (e.g., substrate) which influence sound transmission; and (3) habitat characteristics and location (e.g., open ocean vs. confined area). To determine whether an animal perceives the sound, the received level, frequency, and duration of the sound are compared to ambient noise levels and the species’ hearing sensitivity range. That is, if the frequency of an introduced sound is outside of the species’ frequency hearing range, it cannot be heard. Similarly, if the frequency is on the upper or lower end of the species hearing range, the sound must be louder in order to be heard. Marine mammal responses to anthropogenic noise are typically subtle and can include visible and acoustic reactions such as avoidance, altered dive patterns and cessation of preexposure activities and vocalization reactions such as increasing or decreasing call rates or shifting call frequency. Responses can also be unobservable, such as stress hormone production and auditory trauma or fatigue. It is not always known how these behavioral and physiological responses relate to significant effects (e.g., long-term effects or individual/ population consequences); however, individuals and populations can be monitored to provide some insight into the consequences of exposing marine mammals to noise. For example, Haviland-Howell et al. (2007) compared sighting rates of bottlenose dolphins within the Wilmington, NC stretch of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) on weekends, when recreational vessel traffic was high, to weekdays, when vessel traffic was relatively minimal. The authors found that dolphins were less often sighted in the ICW during times of increased boat traffic (i.e., on weekends) and theorized that because vessel noise falls within the frequencies of dolphin communication whistles and primary energy of most fish vocalizations, the continuous vessel traffic along that stretch of the ICW could result in social and foraging impacts. However, the extent to which these impacts affect VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:44 Nov 17, 2011 Jkt 226001 individual health and population structure is unknown. A full assessment of marine mammal responses and disturbances when exposed to anthropogenic sound can be found in NMFS’ proposed rulemaking for the Navy Cherry Point Range Complex (74 FR 11057, March 16, 2009). That rulemaking was made final on June 15, 2009 (74 FR 28370). In summary, sound exposure may result in physiological impacts, stress responses, and behavioral responses which could affect proximate or ultimate life functions. Proximate life history functions are the functions that the animal is engaged in at the time of acoustic exposure. The ultimate life functions are those that enable an animal to contribute to the population (or stock, or species, etc.). I. Physiology-Hearing Threshold Shift In mammals, high-intensity sound may rupture the eardrum, damage the small bones in the middle ear, or over stimulate the electromechanical hair cells that convert the fluid motions caused by sound into neural impulses that are sent to the brain. Lower level exposures may cause a loss of hearing sensitivity, termed a threshold shift (TS) (Miller, 1974). Incidence of TS may be either permanent, referred to as permanent threshold shift (PTS), or temporary, referred to as temporary threshold shift (TTS). The amplitude, duration, frequency, and temporal pattern, and energy distribution of sound exposure all affect the amount of associated TS and the frequency range in which it occurs. As amplitude and duration of sound exposure increase, generally, so does the amount of TS and recovery time. Human non-impulsive noise exposure guidelines are based on exposures of equal energy (the same SEL) producing equal amounts of hearing impairment regardless of how the sound energy is distributed in time (NIOSH 1998). Until recently, previous marine mammal TTS studies have also generally supported this equal energy relationship (Southall et al., 2007). Three newer studies, two by Mooney et al. (2009a, 2009b) on a single bottlenose dolphin either exposed to playbacks of Navy MFAS or octave-band noise (4–8 kHz) and one by Kastak et al. (2007) on a single California sea lion exposed to airborne octave-band noise (centered at 2.5 kHz), concluded that for all noise exposure situations the equal energy relationship may not be the best indicator to predict TTS onset levels. Generally, with sound exposures of equal energy, those that were quieter (lower sound pressure level [SPL]) with longer duration were found to induce PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 TTS onset more than those of louder (higher SPL) and shorter duration (more similar to noise from AS Cherry Point exercises). For intermittent sounds, less TS will occur than from a continuous exposure with the same energy (some recovery will occur between exposures) (Kryter et al., 1966; Ward, 1997). Additionally, though TTS is temporary, very prolonged exposure to sound strong enough to elicit TTS, or shorterterm exposure to sound levels well above the TTS threshold, can cause PTS, at least in terrestrial mammals (Kryter, 1985). However, these studies highlight the inherent complexity of predicting TTS onset in marine mammals, as well as the importance of considering exposure duration when assessing potential impacts. PTS consists of non-recoverable physical damage to the sound receptors in the ear, which can include total or partial deafness, or an impaired ability to hear sounds in specific frequency ranges; PTS is considered Level A harassment. TTS is recoverable and is considered to result from temporary, non-injurious impacts to hearing-related tissues; TTS is considered Level B harassment. Permanent Threshold Shift Auditory trauma represents direct mechanical injury to hearing related structures, including tympanic membrane rupture, disarticulation of the middle ear ossicles, and trauma to the inner ear structures such as the organ of Corti and the associated hair cells. Auditory trauma is irreversible and considered to be an injury that could result in PTS. PTS results from exposure to intense sounds that cause a permanent loss of inner or outer cochlear hair cells or exceed the elastic limits of certain tissues and membranes in the middle and inner ears and result in changes in the chemical composition of the inner ear fluids. In some cases, there can be total or partial deafness across all frequencies, whereas in other cases, the animal has an impaired ability to hear sounds in specific frequency ranges. There is no empirical data for onset of PTS in any marine mammal, and therefore, PTS- onset must be estimated from TTS-onset measurements and from the rate of TTS growth with increasing exposure levels above the level eliciting TTS-onset. PTS is presumed to be likely if the hearing threshold is reduced by ≥ 40 dB (i.e., 40 dB of TTS). Relationships between TTS and PTS thresholds have not been studied in marine mammals, but are assumed to be similar to those in humans and other terrestrial mammals. E:\FR\FM\18NON1.SGM 18NON1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 223 / Friday, November 18, 2011 / Notices Temporary Threshold Shift TTS is the mildest form of hearing impairment that can occur during exposure to a loud sound (Kryter, 1985). Southall et al. (2007) indicate that although PTS is a tissue injury, TTS is not because the reduced hearing sensitivity following exposure to intense sound results primarily from fatigue, not loss, of cochlear hair cells and supporting structures and is reversible. Accordingly, NMFS classifies TTS as Level B Harassment, not Level A Harassment (injury); however, NMFS does not consider the onset of TTS to be the lowest level at which Level B Harassment may occur (see III. Behavior section below). Southall et al. (2007) considers a 6 dB TTS (i.e., baseline hearing thresholds are elevated by 6 dB) sufficient to be recognized as an unequivocal deviation and thus a sufficient definition of TTS onset. TTS in bottlenose dolphin hearing have been experimentally induced. For example, Finneran et al. (2002) exposed a trained captive bottlenose dolphin to a seismic watergun simulator with a single acoustic pulse. No TTS was observed in the dolphin at the highest exposure condition (peak: 207 kPa [30psi]; peakto-peak: 228 dB re: 1 microPa; SEL: 188 dB re 1 microPa2-s). Schludt et al. (2000) demonstrated temporary shifts in masked hearing thresholds in five bottlenose dolphins occurring generally between 192 and 201 dB rms (192 and 201 dB SEL) after exposure to intense, non-pulse, 1-s tones at, 3kHz, 10kHz, and 20 kHz. TTS onset occurred at mean sound exposure level of 195 dB rms (195 dB SEL). At 0.4 kHz, no subjects exhibited threshold shifts after SPL exposures of 193dB re: 1 microPa (192 dB re: 1 microPa2-s). In the same study, at 75 kHz, one dolphin exhibited a TTS after exposure at 182 dB SPL re: 1 microPa but not at higher exposure levels. Another dolphin experienced no threshold shift after exposure to maximum SPL levels of 193 dB re: 1 microPa at the same frequency. Frequencies of explosives used at MCAS Cherry Point range from 1–25 kHz; the range where dolphin TTS onset occurred at 195 dB rms in the Schludt et al. (2000) study. Preliminary research indicates that TTS and recovery after noise exposure are frequency dependent and that an inverse relationship exists between exposure time and sound pressure level associated with exposure (Mooney et al., 2005; Mooney, 2006). For example, Nachtigall et al. (2003) measured TTS in a bottlenose dolphin and found an average 11 dB shift following a 30 VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:44 Nov 17, 2011 Jkt 226001 minute net exposure to OBN at a 7.5 kHz center frequency (max SPL of 179 dB re: 1 microPa; SEL: 212–214 dB re: 1 microPa2-s). No TTS was observed after exposure to the same duration and frequency noise with maximum SPLs of 165 and 171 dB re: 1 microPa. After 50 minutes of exposure to the same 7.5 kHz frequency OBN, Natchigall et al. (2004) measured a 4–8 dB shift (max SPL: 160dB re 1microPa; SEL: 193–195 dB re:1 microPa2-s). Finneran et al. (2005) concluded that a sound exposure level of 195 dB re 1 mPa2-s is a reasonable threshold for the onset of TTS in bottlenose dolphins exposed to midfrequency tones. II. Stress Response An acoustic source is considered a potential stressor if, by its action on the animal, via auditory or non-auditory means, it may produce a stress response in the animal. Here, the stress response will refer to an increase in energetic expenditure that results from exposure to the stressor and which is predominantly characterized by either the stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) or the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis (Reeder and Kramer, 2005). The SNS response to a stressor is immediate and acute and is characterized by the release of the catecholamine neurohormones norepinephrine and epinephrine (i.e., adrenaline). These hormones produce elevations in the heart and respiration rate, increase awareness, and increase the availability of glucose and lipids for energy. The HPA response is ultimately defined by increases in the secretion of the glucocorticoid steroid hormones, predominantly cortisol in mammals. The presence and magnitude of a stress response in an animal depends on a number of factors. These include the animal’s life history stage (e.g., neonate, juvenile, adult), the environmental conditions, reproductive or developmental state, and experience with the stressor. Not only will these factors be subject to individual variation, but they will also vary within an individual over time. The stress response may or may not result in a behavioral change, depending on the characteristics of the exposed animal. However, provided a stress response occurs, we assume that some contribution is made to the animal’s allostatic load. Any immediate effect of exposure that produces an injury is assumed to also produce a stress response and contribute to the allostatic load. Allostasis is the ability of an animal to maintain stability through change by adjusting its physiology in PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 71543 response to both predictable and unpredictable events (McEwen and Wingfield, 2003). If the acoustic source does not produce tissue effects, is not perceived by the animal, or does not produce a stress response by any other means, we assume that the exposure does not contribute to the allostatic load. Additionally, without a stress response or auditory masking, it is assumed that there can be no behavioral change. III. Behavior Changes in marine mammal behavior in response to anthropogenic noise may include altered travel directions, increased swimming speeds, changes in dive, surfacing, respiration and feeding patterns, and changes in vocalizations. As described above, lower level physiological stress responses could also co-occur with altered behavior; however, stress responses are more difficult to detect and fewer data exist relative to specific received levels of sound. Acoustic Masking Anthropogenic noise can interfere with, or mask, detection of acoustic signals such as communication calls, echolocation, and environmental sounds important to marine mammals. Southall et al. (2007) defines auditory masking as the partial or complete reduction in the audibility of signals due to the presence of interfering noise with the degree of masking depending on the spectral, temporal, and spatial relationships between signals and masking noise, as well as the respective received levels. Masking of sender communication space can be considered as the amount of change in a sender’s communication space caused by the presence of other sounds, relative to a pre-industrial ambient noise condition (Clark et al., in press). Unlike auditory fatigue, which always results in a stress response because the sensory tissues are being stimulated beyond their normal physiological range, masking may or may not result in a stress response, depending on the degree and duration of the masking effect. Masking may also result in a unique circumstance where an animal’s ability to detect other sounds is compromised without the animal’s knowledge. This could conceivably result in sensory impairment and subsequent behavior change; in this case, the change in behavior is the lack of a response that would normally be made if sensory impairment did not occur. For this reason, masking also may lead directly to behavior change without first causing a stress response. Projecting noise into E:\FR\FM\18NON1.SGM 18NON1 71544 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 223 / Friday, November 18, 2011 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES the marine environment which causes acoustic masking is considered Level B harassment as it can disrupt natural behavioral patterns by interrupting or limiting the marine mammal’s receipt or transmittal of important information or environmental cues. To compensate for masking, marine mammals, including bottlenose dolphins, are known to increase their levels of vocalization as a function of background noise by increasing call repetition and amplitude, shifting calls higher frequencies, and/or changing the structure of call content (Lesage et al., 1999; Scheifele et al., 2005; McIwem, 2006). While it may occur temporarily, NMFS does not expect auditory masking to result in detrimental impacts to an individual’s or population’s survival, fitness, or reproductive success. Dolphins are not confined to the BT ranges; allowing for movement out of area to avoid masking impacts. The USMC would also conduct visual sweeps of the area before any training exercise and implement training delay mitigation measures if a dolphin is sighted within designated zones (see Proposed Mitigation Measures section below). As discussed previously, the USMC has been working with DUML to collect baseline information on dolphins in Pamlico Sound, specifically dolphin abundance and habitat use around the BTs. The USMC has also recently accepted a DUML proposal to investigate methods of dolphin acoustic detection around the BTs. NMFS would encourage the USMC to expand acoustic investigations to include the impacts of training exercises on vocalization properties (e.g., call content, duration, frequency) and masking (e.g., communication and foraging impairment) of the affected population of dolphins in Pamlico Sound. Assessment of Marine Mammal Impacts From Explosive Ordnances MCAS Cherry Point plans to use five types of explosive sources during its training exercises: 2.75″ Rocket High Explosives, 5″ Rocket High Explosives, 30 mm High Explosives, 40 mm High Explosives, and G911 grenades. The underwater explosions from these weapons would send a shock wave and blast noise through the water, release gaseous by-products, create an oscillating bubble, and cause a plume of water to shoot up from the water surface. The shock wave and blast noise are of most concern to marine animals. In general, potential impacts from explosive detonations can range from brief effects (such as short term behavioral disturbance), tactile VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:44 Nov 17, 2011 Jkt 226001 perception, physical discomfort, slight injury of the internal organs and the auditory system, to death of the animal (Yelverton et al., 1973; O’Keeffe and Young, 1984; DoN, 2001). Explosives produce significant acoustic energy across several frequency decades of bandwidth (i.e., broadband). Propagation loss is sufficiently sensitive to frequency as to require model estimates at several frequencies over such a wide band. The effects of an underwater explosion on a marine mammal depend on many factors, including the size, type, and depth of both the animal and the explosive charge; the depth of the water column; and the standoff distance between the charge and the animal, as well as the sound propagation properties of the environment. The net explosive weight (or NEW) of an explosive is the weight of TNT required to produce an equivalent explosive power. The detonation depth of an explosive is particularly important due to a propagation effect known as surfaceimage interference. For sources located near the sea surface, a distinct interference pattern arises from the coherent sum of the two paths that differ only by a single reflection from the pressure-release surface. As the source depth and/or the source frequency decreases, these two paths increasingly, destructively interfere with each other, reaching total cancellation at the surface (barring surface-reflection scattering loss). USMC conservatively estimates that all explosives would detonate at a 1.2 m (3.9 ft) water depth. This is the worst case scenario as the purpose of training is to hit the target, resulting in an in-air explosion. The firing sequence for some of the munitions consists of a number of rapid bursts, often lasting a second or less. The maximum firing time is 10–15 second bursts. Due to the tight spacing in time, each burst can be treated as a single detonation. For the energy metrics, the impact area of a burst is computed using a source energy spectrum that is the source spectrum for a single detonation scaled by the number of rounds in a burst. For the pressure metrics, the impact area for a burst is the same as the impact area of a single round. For all metrics, the cumulative impact area of an event consisting of a certain number of bursts is merely the product of the impact area of a single burst and the number of bursts, as would be the case if the bursts are sufficiently spaced in time or location as to insure that each burst is affecting a different set of marine wildlife. PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Physical damage of tissues resulting from a shock wave (from an explosive detonation) is classified as an injury. Blast effects are greatest at the gas-liquid interface (Landsberg, 2000) and gas containing organs, particularly the lungs and gastrointestinal tract, are especially susceptible to damage (Goertner, 1982; Hill 1978; Yelverton et al., 1973). Nasal sacs, larynx, pharynx, trachea, and lungs may be damaged by compression/ expansion caused by the oscillations of the blast gas bubble (Reidenberg and Laitman, 2003). Severe damage (from the shock wave) to the ears can include tympanic membrane rupture, fracture of the ossicles, damage to the cochlea, hemorrhage, and cerebrospinal fluid leakage into the middle ear. Non-lethal injury includes slight injury to internal organs and the auditory system; however, delayed lethality can be a result of individual or cumulative sublethal injuries (DoN, 2001). Immediate lethal injury would be a result of massive combined trauma to internal organs as a direct result of proximity to the point of detonation (DoN, 2001). Exposure to distance explosions could result only in behavioral changes. Masked underwater hearing thresholds in two bottlenose dolphins and one beluga whale have been measured before and after exposure to impulsive underwater sounds with waveforms resembling distant signatures of underwater explosions (Finneran et al., 2000). The authors found no temporary shifts in masked-hearing thresholds (MTTSs), defined as a 6-dB or larger increase in threshold over pre-exposure levels, had been observed at the highest impulse level generated (500 kg at 1.7 km, peak pressure 70 kPa); however, disruptions of the animals’ trained behaviors began to occur at exposures corresponding to 5 kg at 9.3 km and 5 kg at 1.5 km for the dolphins and 500 kg at 1.9 km for the beluga whale. Generally, the higher the level of impulse and pressure level exposure, the more severe the impact to an individual. While, in general, dolphins could sustain injury or mortality if within very close proximity to in-water explosion, monitoring and mitigation measures employed by the USMC before and during training exercises, as would be required under any ITA issued, are designed to avoid any firing if a marine mammal is sighted within designated BT zones (see Proposed Mitigation and Monitoring section below). No marine mammal injury or death has been attributed to the specified activities described in the application. As such, and due to implementation of the proposed mitigation and monitoring E:\FR\FM\18NON1.SGM 18NON1 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 223 / Friday, November 18, 2011 / Notices measures, bottlenose dolphin injury or mortality is not anticipated nor would any be authorized. Inert Ordnances The potential risk to marine mammals from non-explosive ordnance entails two possible sources of impacts: Elevated sound levels or the ordnance physically hitting an animal. The latter is discussed below in the Munition Presence section below. The USMC provided information that the noise fields generated in water by the firing of non-explosive ordnance indicate that the energy radiated is about 1 to 2 percent of the total kinetic energy of the impact. This energy level (and likely peak pressure levels) is well below the TTS-energy threshold, even at 1-m from the impact and is not expected to be audible to marine mammals. As such, the noise generated by the in-water impact of non-explosive ordnance will not result in take of marine mammals. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Training Debris In addition to behavioral and physiological impacts from live fire and ammunition testing, NMFS has preliminarily analyzed impacts from presence of munition debris in the water, as described in the USMC’s application and 2009 EA. These impacts include falling debris, ingestion of expended ordnance, and entanglement in parachute debris. Ingestion of marine debris by marine mammals can cause digestive tract blockages or damage the digestive system (Gorzelany, 1998; Stamper et al., 2006). Debris could be either the expended ordnance or non-munition related products such as chaff and self protection flares. Expended ordnance would be small and sink to the bottom. Chaff is composed of either aluminum foil or aluminum-coated glass fibers designed to act as a visual smoke screen; hiding the aircraft from enemy radar. Chaff also serves as a decoy for radar detection, allowing aircraft to maneuver or egress from the area. The foil type currently used is no longer manufactured, although it remains in the inventory and is used primarily by B–52 bombers. Both types of chaff are cut into dipoles ranging in length from 0.3 to over 2.0 inches. The aluminum foil dipoles are 0.45 mils (0.00045 inches) thick and 6 to 8 mils wide. The glass fiber dipoles are generally 1 mil (25.4 microns) in diameter, including the aluminum coating. Chaff is packed into about 4-ounce bundles. The major components of chaff are silica, aluminum, and stearic acid; all naturally prevalent in the environment. VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:44 Nov 17, 2011 Jkt 226001 Based on the dispersion characteristics of chaff, concentrations around the BTs would be low. For example, Hullar et al. (1999) calculated that a 4.97-mile by 7.46-mile area (37.1 km2) would be affected by deployment of a single cartridge containing 150 grams of chaff; however, concentration would only be about 5.4 grams per square nautical mile. This corresponds to fewer than 179,000 fibers per square nautical mile or fewer than 0.005 fibers per square foot. Self-protection flares are deployed to mislead or confuse heat-sensitive or heat-seeking anti-aircraft systems. The flares are magnesium pellets that, when ignited, burn for a short period of time (less than 10 seconds) at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Air-deployed LUU–2 highintensity illumination flares are used to illuminate targets, enhancing a pilot’s ability to see targets while using Night Vision Goggles. The LUU–2B Flare has a light output rating of 1.8 x 10(6) candlepower and at 1,000 feet altitude illuminates a circle on the ground of 500 meters. The LUU–2 is housed in a pod or canister and is deployed by ejection. The mechanism has a timer on it that deploys the parachute and ignites the flare candle. The flare candle burns magnesium at high temperature, emitting an intense bright white light. The LUU–2 has a burn time of approximately 5 minutes while suspended from a parachute. The pyrotechnic candle consumes the flare housing, reducing flare weight, which in turn slows the rate of fall during the last 2 minutes of burn time. At candle burnout an explosive bolt is fired, releasing one parachute support cable, which causes the parachute to collapse. Ingestion of debris by dolphins is not likely, as dolphins typically eat fish and other moving prey items. NMFS solicited information on evidence of debris ingestion from two marine mammal veterinarians who have performed many necropsies on the protected species of North Carolina’s waters. In their experience, no necropsies of bottlenose dolphins have revealed evidence of munition, parachute, or chaff ingestion (pers. comm., Drs. C. Harms and D. Rostein, November 14, 2009). However, it was noted evidence of chaff ingestion would be difficult to detect. In the chance that dolphins do ingest chaff, the filaments are so fine they would likely pass through the digestive system without complication. However, if the chaff is durable enough, it might act as a linear foreign body. In such case, the intestines bunch up on the line restricting movement of the line resulting in an obstruction. The peristalsis on an PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 71545 immovable thin line can cause intestinal lacerations and perforations (pers. comm., C. Harms, November 14, 2009. This is a well known complication in cats when they ingest thread and which occurs occasionally with sea turtles ingesting fishing line. The longevity of chaff filaments, based upon dispersion rates, is unclear. Chaff exposed to synthetic seawater and aqueous environments in the pH range of 4–10 exhibited varying levels of degradation suggesting a short lifespan for the outer aluminum coating (Farrell and Siciliano, 1998). The underlying filament is a flexible silica core and composed of primarily silica dioxide. While no studies have been conducted to evaluate the effects of chaff ingestion on marine mammals, the effects are expected to be negligible based upon chaff concentration in the environment, size of fibers, and available toxicity data on fiberglass and aluminum. Given that the size of chaff fibers are no more than 2 inches long, tidal flushing reduces concentration in the environment, and chaff degradation rate, the chance of chaff ingestions is unlikely; however, if swallowed, impacts would be negligible. Given that there is no evidence that dolphins ingest military debris; dolphins in the Sound forage on moving prey suspended in the water column while expended munition would sink; the property and dispersion characteristics of chaff make potential for ingestion discountable; and that Pamlico Sound is a tidal body of water with continuing flushing, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the presence of training debris would not have an effect on dolphins in Pamlico Sound. Although sometimes large, expended parachutes (e.g., those from the flares) are flimsy and structurally simple and NMFS has determined that the probability of entanglement with a dolphin is low. There are no known reports of live or stranded dolphins entangled in parachute gear; fishing gear is usually the culprit of reported entanglements. The NMFS’ Marine Mammal Stranding Network (Network) has established protocol for reporting marine mammals in peril. Should any injured, stranded or entangled marine mammal be observed by USMC personnel during training exercises, the sighting would be reported to the Network within 24 hours of the observation. Vessel and Aircraft Presence The marine mammals most vulnerable to vessel strikes are slow-moving and/or spend extended periods of time at the E:\FR\FM\18NON1.SGM 18NON1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 71546 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 223 / Friday, November 18, 2011 / Notices surface in order to restore oxygen levels within their tissues after deep dives (e.g., right whales, fin whales, sperm whales). Smaller marine mammals such as bottlenose dolphins (the only marine mammal that would be encountered at the BTs) are agile and move more quickly through the water, making them less susceptible to ship strikes. NMFS is not aware of any vessel strikes of bottlenose dolphins in Pamlico Sound. Therefore, NMFS does not anticipate that USMC vessels engaged in the specified activity would strike any marine mammals and no take from ship strike would be authorized in the proposed IHA. Behaviorally, marine mammals may or may not respond to the operation of vessels and associated noise. Responses to vessels vary widely among marine mammals in general, but also among different species of small cetaceans. Responses may include attraction to the vessel (Richardson et al., 1995); altering travel patterns to avoid vessels (Constantine, 2001; Nowacek et al., 2001; Lusseau, 2003, 2006); relocating to other areas (Allen and Read, 2000); cessation of feeding, resting, and social interaction (Baker et al., 1983; Bauer and Herman, 1986; Hall, 1982; Krieger and Wing, 1984; Lusseau, 2003; Constantine et al., 2004); abandoning feeding, resting, and nursing areas (Jurasz and Jurasz 1979; Dean et al., 1985; Glockner-Ferrari and Ferrari 1985, 1990; Lusseau, 2005; Norris et al., 1985; Salden, 1988; Forest, 2001; Morton and Symonds, 2002; Courbis, 2004; Bejder, 2006); stress (Romano et al., 2004); and changes in acoustic behavior (Van Parijs and Corkeron, 2001). However, in some studies marine mammals display no reaction to vessels (Watkins, 1986; Nowacek et al., 2003) and many odontocetes show considerable tolerance to vessel traffic (Richardson et al., 1995). Dolphins may actually reduce the energetic cost of traveling by riding the bow or stern waves of vessels (Williams et al., 1992; Richardson et al., 1995). Dolphins within Pamlico Sound are continually exposed to recreational, commercial, and military vessels. Richardson et al. (1995) addresses in detail three responses that marine mammals may experience when exposed to anthropogenic activities: Tolerance; habituation; and sensitization. More recent publications provide variations on these themes rather than new data (NRC 2003). Marine mammals are often seen in regions with much human activity; thus, certain individuals or populations exhibit some tolerance of anthropogenic noise and other stimuli. Animals will VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:44 Nov 17, 2011 Jkt 226001 tolerate a stimulus they might otherwise avoid if the benefits in terms of feeding, mating, migrating to traditional habitats, or other factors outweigh the negative aspects of the stimulus (NRC, 2003). In many cases, tolerance develops as a result of habituation. The NRC (2003) defines habituation as a gradual waning of behavioral responsiveness over time as animals learn that a repeated or ongoing stimulus lacks significant consequences for the animals. Contrarily, sensitization occurs when an animal links a stimulus with some degree of negative consequence and as a result increases responsiveness to that human activity over time (Richardson et al., 1995). For example, seals and whales are known to avoid previously encountered vessels involved in subsistence hunts (Walker, 1949; Ash 1962; Terhune, 1985) and bottlenose dolphins that had previously been captured and released from a 7.3 m boat involved in health studies were documented to flee when that boat approached closer than 400 m, whereas dolphins that had not been involved in the capture did not display signs of avoidance of the vessel (Irvine et al., 1981). Because dolphins in Pamlico Sound are continually exposed to vessel traffic that does not present immediate danger to them, it is likely animals are both tolerant and habituated to vessels. The specified activities also involve aircraft, which marine mammals are known to react (Richardson et al., 1995). Aircraft produce noise at frequencies that are well within the frequency range of cetacean hearing and also produce visual signals such as the aircraft itself and its shadow (Richardson et al., 1995, ¨ Richardson & Wursig, 1997). A major difference between aircraft noise and noise caused by other anthropogenic sources is that the sound is generated in the air, transmitted through the water surface and then propagates underwater to the receiver, diminishing the received levels to significantly below what is heard above the water’s surface. Sound transmission from air to water is greatest in a sound cone 26 degrees directly under the aircraft. Reactions of odontocetes to aircraft have been reported less often than those of pinnipeds. Responses to aircraft include diving, slapping the water with pectoral fins or tail fluke, or swimming away from the track of the aircraft (Richardson et al., 1995). The nature and degree of the response, or the lack thereof, are dependent upon nature of the flight (e.g., type of aircraft, altitude, straight vs. circular flight pattern). ¨ Wursig et al. (1998) assessed the responses of cetaceans to aerial surveys in the northcentral and western Gulf of PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Mexico using a DeHavilland Twin Otter fixed-wing airplane. The plane flew at an altitude of 229 m at 204 km/hr. A minimum of 305 m straight line distance from the cetaceans was maintained. Water depth was 100– 1000m. Bottlenose dolphins most commonly responded by diving (48 percent), while 14 percent responded by moving away. Other species (e.g., beluga whale, sperm whale) show considerable variation in reactions to aircraft but diving or swimming away from the aircraft are the most common reactions to low flights (less than 500 m). Anticipated Effects on Habitat Detonations of live ordnance would result in temporary modification to water properties. As described above, an underwater explosion from these weapon would send a shock wave and blast noise through the water, release gaseous by-products, create an oscillating bubble, and cause a plume of water to shoot up from the water surface. However, these would be temporary and not expected to last more than a few seconds. Because dolphins are not expected to be in the area during live firing, due to monitoring and mitigation measure implementation, they would not be subject to any short term habitat alterations. Similarly, no long term impacts with regard to hazardous constituents are expected to occur. MCAS Cherry Point has an active Range Environmental Vulnerability Assessment (REVA) program in place to monitor impacts to habitat from its activities. One goal of REVA is to determine the horizontal and vertical concentration profiles of heavy metals, explosives constituents, perchlorate nutrients, and dissolved salts in the sediment and seawater surrounding BT–9 and BT–11. The preliminary results of the sampling indicate that explosive constituents (e.g., trinitrotoluene (TNT), cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine (RDX), and hexahydro-trinitro-triazine (HMX), as described in Hazardous Constituents [Subchapter 3.2.7.2] of the MCAS Cherry Point Range Operations EA, were not detected in any sediment or water sample surrounding the BTs. Metals were not present above toxicity screening values. Perchlorate was detected in a few sediment samples above the detection limit (0.21 ppm), but below the reporting limit (0.6 ppm). The ongoing REVA would continue to evaluate potential munitions constituent migration from operational range areas to off-range areas and MCAS Cherry Point. E:\FR\FM\18NON1.SGM 18NON1 71547 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 223 / Friday, November 18, 2011 / Notices Summary of Previous Monitoring USMC complied with the mitigation and monitoring required under the previous authorization. In accordance with the 2010–11 IHA, USMC submitted a final monitoring report, which described the activities conducted and observations made. USMC did not record observations of any marine mammals during training exercises. The only recorded observations—which were of bottlenose dolphins—were on two occasions by maintenance vessels engaged in target maintenance. No marine mammals were observed during range sweeps, air to ground activities, surface to surface activities (small boats), or ad hoc via range cameras. Table 6 details the number of sorties conducted, by air and water, at each target. The number of sorties conducted does not relate to the total amount of munitions expended, as the training requirements for the specific military unit conducting the sortie determine the munitions loading for the air platform or watercraft during each sortie. In addition, munitions expenditures may be determined by the loading specifications of the specific aircraft and vessels used in the training exercise. TABLE 6—SORTIES CONDUCTED AT BT–9 AND BT–11 Mission type BT–9 BT–11 Air-to-surface ................ Surface-to-surface (water-to-water) ......... 1,554 4,251 223 105 Total ....................... 1,777 The total amount of ordnance expended at BT–9 and BT–11 under the 2010–11 IHA was 878,625 and 693,612 respectively (Table 7). These amounts represent 98 and 62 percent of the estimated annual maximum ordnance expenditures. The amounts of ordnance expended at the BTs account for all use of the targets. There are five types of explosive sources used at BT–9: 2.75’’ Rocket High Explosives, 5’’ Rocket High Explosives, 30 mm High Explosives, 40 mm High Explosives, and G911 grenades. No explosive munitions are used at BT–11. 4,356 TABLE 7—ORDNANCE USAGE AT BT–9 Total rounds Percentage of maximum Munitions expenditures BT–9 BT–11 BT–9 BT–11 Small arms, excluding .50 cal ......................................................... .50 cal .............................................................................................. Large arms (Live) ............................................................................ Large arms (Inert) ............................................................................ Rockets (Live) .................................................................................. Rockets (Inert) ................................................................................. Bombs/Grenades (Live) ................................................................... Bombs/Grenades (Inert) .................................................................. Pyrotechnics .................................................................................... 355,718 410,815 1 480 108,811 2 48 185 0 2,086 482 363,899 246,255 N/A 79,531 N/A 2,018 N/A 1,697 212 68 160 4 117 20 26 0 51 11 72 75 N/A 33 N/A 44 N/A 8 2 Total .......................................................................................... 878,625 693,612 98 62 1 (All mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 40 mm). 2 (All 2.75 in). Proposed Mitigation In order to issue an incidental take authorization (ITA) under Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, NMFS must set forth the ‘‘permissible methods of taking pursuant to such activity, and other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance.’’ The NDAA of 2004 amended the MMPA as it relates to military-readiness activities and the ITA process such that ‘‘least practicable adverse impact’’ shall include consideration of personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity. The training activities described in the USMC’s application are considered military readiness activities. NMFS has carefully evaluated the applicant’s proposed mitigation measures and considered a range of other measures in the context of VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:44 Nov 17, 2011 Jkt 226001 ensuring that NMFS prescribes the means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the affected marine mammal species and stocks and their habitat. Our evaluation of potential measures included consideration of the following factors in relation to one another: (1) The manner in which, and the degree to which, the successful implementation of the measure is expected to minimize adverse impacts to marine mammals; (2) the proven or likely efficacy of the specific measure to minimize adverse impacts as planned; (3) the practicability of the measure for applicant implementation, including consideration of personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity. NMFS has preliminarily determined that the proposed mitigation measures provide the means of effecting the least practicable adverse impacts on marine mammals species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 similar significance while also considering personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity. The USMC, in collaboration with NMFS, has worked to identify potential practicable and effective mitigation measures, which include a careful balancing of the likely benefit of any particular measure to the marine mammals with the likely effect of that measure on personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the ‘‘military-readiness activity’’. These proposed mitigation measures are listed below. (1) Range Sweeps: The VMR–1 squadron, stationed at MCAS Cherry Point, includes three specially equipped HH–46D helicopters. The primary mission of these aircraft, known as PEDRO, is to provide search and rescue for downed 2d Marine Air Wing aircrews. On-board are a pilot, co-pilot, crew chief, search and rescue swimmer, and a medical corpsman. Each crew E:\FR\FM\18NON1.SGM 18NON1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 71548 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 223 / Friday, November 18, 2011 / Notices member has received extensive training in search and rescue techniques, and is therefore particularly capable at spotting objects floating in the water. PEDRO crew would conduct a range sweep the morning of each exercise day prior to the commencement of range operations. The primary goal of the preexercise sweep is to ensure that the target area is clear of fisherman, other personnel, and protected species. The sweep is flown at 100–300 meters above the water surface, at airspeeds between 60–100 knots. The path of the sweep runs down the western side of BT–11, circles around BT–9 and then continues down the eastern side of BT–9 before leaving. The sweep typically takes 20– 30 minutes to complete. The PEDRO crew is able to communicate directly with range personnel and can provide immediate notification to range operators. The PEDRO aircraft would remain in the area of a sighting until clear if possible or as mission requirements dictate. If marine mammals are sighted during a range sweep, sighting data will be collected and entered into the US Marine Corps sighting database, webinterface, or report generator and this information would be relayed to the training Commander. Sighting data includes the following (collected to the best of the observer’s ability): (1) Species identification; (2) group size; (3) the behavior of marine mammals (e.g., milling, travel, social, foraging); (4) location and relative distance from the BT; (5) date, time and visual conditions (e.g., Beaufort sea state, weather) associated with each observation; (6) direction of travel relative to the BT; and (7) duration of the observation. (2) Cold Passes: All aircraft participating in an air-to-surface exercise would be required to perform a ‘‘cold pass’’ immediately prior to ordnance delivery at the BTs both day and night. That is, prior to granting a ‘‘First Pass Hot’’ (use of ordnance), pilots would be directed to perform a low, cold (no ordnance delivered) first pass which serves as a visual sweep of the targets prior to ordnance delivery to determine if unauthorized civilian vessels or personnel, or protected species, are present. The cold pass is conducted with the aircraft (helicopter or fixed-winged) flying straight and level at altitudes of 200–3000 feet over the target area. The viewing angle is approximately 15 degrees. A blind spot exists to the immediate rear of the aircraft. Based upon prevailing visibility, a pilot can see more than one mile forward upon approach. The aircrew and range personnel make every attempt to ensure clearance of the area VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:44 Nov 17, 2011 Jkt 226001 via visual inspection and remotely operated camera operations (see Proposed Monitoring and Reporting section below). The Range Controller may deny or approve the First Pass Hot clearance as conditions warrant. (3) Delay of Exercises: An active range would be considered ‘‘fouled’’ and not available for use if a marine mammal is present within 1000 yards (914 m) of the target area at BT–9 or anywhere within Rattan Bay (BT–11). Therefore, if a marine mammal is sighted within 1000 yards (914 m) of the target at BT–9 or anywhere within Rattan Bay at BT–11 during the cold pass or from range camera detection, training would be delayed until the marine mammal moves beyond and on a path away from 1000 yards (914 m) from the BT–9 target or out of Rattan Bay at BT–11. This mitigation applies to both air-to-surface and surface-to-surface exercises. (4) Range Camera Use: To increase the safety of persons or property near the targets, Range Operation and Control personnel monitor the target area through tower mounted safety and surveillance cameras. The remotely operated range cameras are high resolution and, according to range personnel, allow a clear visual of a duck floating near the target. The cameras allow viewers to see animals at the surface and breaking the surface, but not underwater. A new, enhanced camera system has been purchased and will be installed on BT–11 towers 3 and 7, and on both towers at BT–9. The new camera system has night vision capabilities with resolution levels near those during daytime. Lenses on the camera system have focal lengths of 40 mm to 2200 mm (56x), with view angles of 18°10′ and 13°41′, respectively. The field of view when zoomed in on the Rattan Bay targets will be 23′ wide by 17′ high, and on the mouth of Rattan Bay itself 87′ wide by 66′ high. Again, in the event that a marine mammal is sighted within 1000 yards (914 m) of the BT–9 target, or anywhere within Rattan Bay, the target would be declared fouled. Operations may commence in the fouled area after the animal(s) have moved 1000 yards (914 m) from the BT–9 target and/or out of Rattan Bay. (5) Vessel Operation: All vessels used during training operations would abide by the NMFS’ Southeast Regional Viewing Guidelines designed to prevent harassment to marine mammals (https:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/education/ southeast/). (6) Stranding Network Coordination: The USMC would coordinate with the local NMFS Stranding Coordinator for PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 any unusual marine mammal behavior and any stranding, beached live/dead, or floating marine mammals that may occur at any time during training activities or within 24 hours after completion of training. Proposed Monitoring and Reporting In order to issue an ITA for an activity, Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth ‘‘requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking’’. The MMPA implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104(a)(13) indicate that requests for incidental take authorizations must include the suggested means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the species and of the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals that are expected to be present. Monitoring measures prescribed by NMFS should accomplish one or more of the following general goals: (a) An increase in our understanding of how many marine mammals are likely to be exposed to munition noise and explosions that we associate with specific adverse effects, such as behavioral harassment, TTS, or PTS; (b) an increase in our understanding of how individual marine mammals respond (behaviorally or physiologically) to gunnery and bombing exercises (at specific received levels) expected to result in take; (c) an increase in our understanding of how anticipated takes of individuals (in different ways and to varying degrees) may impact the population, species, or stock (specifically through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival); (d) an increased knowledge of the affected species; (e) an increase in our understanding of the effectiveness of certain mitigation and monitoring measures; (f) a better understanding and record of the manner in which the authorized entity complies with the incidental take authorization; (g) an increase in the probability of detecting marine mammals, both within the safety zone (thus allowing for more effective implementation of the mitigation) and in general to better achieve the above goals. Proposed Monitoring The suggested means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the species and of the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals expected to be present within the action area are as follows: E:\FR\FM\18NON1.SGM 18NON1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 223 / Friday, November 18, 2011 / Notices (1) Marine Mammal Observer Training: Pilots, operators of small boats, and other personnel monitoring for marine mammals would be required to take the Marine Species Awareness Training (Version 2), maintained and promoted by the Department of the Navy. This training would make personnel knowledgeable of marine mammals, protected species, and visual cues related to the presence of marine mammals and protected species. (2) Weekly and Post-Exercise Monitoring: Post-exercise monitoring would be conducted concomitant to the next regularly scheduled pre-exercise sweep. Weekly monitoring events would include a maximum of five preexercise and four post-exercise sweeps. The maximum number of days that would elapse between pre- and postexercise monitoring events would be approximately 3 days, and would normally occur on weekends. If marine mammals are observed during this monitoring, sighting data identical to those collected by PEDRO crew would be recorded. (3) Long-Term Monitoring: The USMC has awarded DUML duties to obtain abundance, group dynamics (e.g., group size, age census), behavior, habitat use, and acoustic data on the bottlenose dolphins which inhabit Pamlico Sound, specifically those around BT–9 and BT– 11. DUML began conducting boat-based surveys and passive acoustic monitoring of bottlenose dolphins in Pamlico Sound in 2000 (Read et al., 2003) and specifically at BT–9 and BT–11 in 2003 (Mayer, 2003). To date, boat-based surveys indicate that bottlenose dolphins may be resident to Pamlico Sound and use BT restricted areas on a frequent basis. Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) is providing more detailed insight into how dolphins use the two ranges, by monitoring for their vocalizations year-round, regardless of weather conditions or darkness. In addition to these surveys, DUML scientists are testing a real-time passive acoustic monitoring system at BT–9 that will allow automated detection of bottlenose dolphin whistles, providing yet another method of detecting dolphins prior to training operations. Although it is unlikely this PAM system would be active for purposes of implementing mitigation measures before an exercise prior to expiration of the proposed IHA, it would be operational for future MMPA incidental take authorizations. (4) Reporting: The USMC would submit a report to NMFS within 90 days after expiration of the IHA or, if a subsequent incidental take authorization is requested, within 120 VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:44 Nov 17, 2011 Jkt 226001 days prior to expiration of the IHA. The report would summarize the type and amount of training exercises conducted, all marine mammal observations made during monitoring, and if mitigation measures were implemented. The report would also address the effectiveness of the monitoring plan in detecting marine mammals. Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment The following provides the USMC’s model for take of dolphins from explosives (without consideration of mitigation and the conservative assumption that all explosives would land in the water and not on the targets or land) and potential for direct hits and NMFS’ analysis of potential harassment from small vessel and aircraft operations. Acoustic Take Criteria For the purposes of an MMPA incidental take authorization, three levels of take are identified: Level B harassment; Level A harassment; and mortality (or serious injury leading to mortality). The categories of marine mammal responses (physiological and behavioral) that fall into harassment categories were described previously in this notice. A method to estimate the number of individuals that will be taken, pursuant to the MMPA, based on the proposed action has been derived. To this end, NMFS uses acoustic criteria that estimate at what received level Level B harassment, Level A harassment, and mortality of marine mammals would occur. The acoustic criteria for underwater detonations are comprehensively explained in NMFS’ proposed and final rulemakings for the U.S. Navy’s Cherry Point Range Operations (74 FR 11057; 74 FR 28370) and are summarized here: Criteria and thresholds for estimating the exposures from a single explosive activity on marine mammals were established for the Seawolf Submarine Shock Test Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) (‘‘Seawolf’’) and subsequently used in the USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) Ship Shock FEIS (‘‘Churchill’’) (DoN, 1998 and 2001). NMFS adopted these criteria and thresholds in its final rule on the unintentional taking of marine animals occurring incidental to the shock testing which involved large explosives (65 FR 77546; December 12, 2000). Because no large explosives (> 1000 lbs NEW) would be used at Cherry Point during the specified activities, a revised acoustic criterion for small underwater explosions (i.e., 23 pounds per square inch [psi] instead of previous acoustic PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 71549 criteria of 12 psi for peak pressure over all exposures) has been established to predict onset of TTS. I.1. Thresholds and Criteria for Injurious Physiological Impacts I.1.a. Single Explosion For injury, NMFS uses dual criteria, eardrum rupture (i.e., tympanicmembrane injury) and onset of slight lung injury, to indicate the onset of injury. The threshold for tympanicmembrane (TM) rupture corresponds to a 50 percent rate of rupture (i.e., 50 percent of animals exposed to the level are expected to suffer TM rupture). This value is stated in terms of an Energy Flux Density Level (EL) value of 1.17 inch pounds per square inch (in-lb/in2), approximately 205 dB re 1 microPa2sec. The threshold for onset of slight lung injury is calculated for a small animal (a dolphin calf weighing 26.9 lbs), and is given in terms of the ‘‘Goertner modified positive impulse,’’ indexed to 13 psi-msec (DoN, 2001). This threshold is conservative since the positive impulse needed to cause injury is proportional to animal mass, and therefore, larger animals require a higher impulse to cause the onset of injury. This analysis assumed the marine species populations were 100 percent small animals. The criterion with the largest potential impact range (most conservative), either TM rupture (energy threshold) or onset of slight lung injury (peak pressure), will be used in the analysis to determine Level A exposures for single explosive events. For mortality, NMFS uses the criterion corresponding to the onset of extensive lung injury. This is conservative in that it corresponds to a 1 percent chance of mortal injury, and yet any animal experiencing onset severe lung injury is counted as a lethal exposure. For small animals, the threshold is given in terms of the Goertner modified positive impulse, indexed to 30.5 psi-msec. Since the Goertner approach depends on propagation, source/animal depths, and animal mass in a complex way, the actual impulse value corresponding to the 30.5 psi-msec index is a complicated calculation. To be conservative, the analysis used the mass of a calf dolphin (at 26.9 lbs) for 100 percent of the populations. I.1.b. Multiple Explosions For multiple explosions, the Churchill approach had to be extended to cover multiple sound events at the same training site. For multiple exposures, accumulated energy over the entire E:\FR\FM\18NON1.SGM 18NON1 71550 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 223 / Friday, November 18, 2011 / Notices training time is the natural extension for energy thresholds since energy accumulates with each subsequent shot (detonation); this is consistent with the treatment of multiple arrivals in Churchill. For positive impulse, it is consistent with the Churchill final rule to use the maximum value over all impulses received. I.2. Thresholds and Criteria for NonInjurious Physiological Effects To determine the onset of TTS (noninjurious harassment)—a slight, recoverable loss of hearing sensitivity, there are dual criteria: An energy threshold and a peak pressure threshold. The criterion with the largest potential impact range (most conservative), either the energy or peak pressure threshold, will be used in the analysis to determine Level B TTS exposures. The thresholds for each criterion are described below. I.2.a. Single Explosion—TTS-Energy Threshold The TTS energy threshold for explosives is derived from the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) pure-tone tests for TTS (Schlundt et al., 2000; Finneran and Schlundt, 2004). The pure-tone threshold (192 dB as the lowest value) is modified for explosives by (a) interpreting it as an energy metric, (b) reducing it by 10 dB to account for the time constant of the mammal ear, and (c) measuring the energy in 1/3-octave bands, the natural filter band of the ear. The resulting threshold is 182 dB re 1 microPa2-sec in any 1/3-octave band. I.2.b. Single Explosion—TTS-Peak Pressure Threshold The second threshold applies to all species and is stated in terms of peak pressure at 23 psi (about 225 dB re 1 microPa). This criterion was adopted for Precision Strike Weapons (PSW) Testing and Training by Eglin Air Force Base in the Gulf of Mexico (NMFS, 2005). It is important to note that for small shots near the surface (such as in this analysis), the 23-psi peak pressure threshold generally will produce longer impact ranges than the 182-dB energy metric. Furthermore, it is not unusual for the TTS impact range for the 23-psi pressure metric to actually exceed the without-TTS (behavioral change without onset of TTS) impact range for the 177-dB energy metric. I.3. Thresholds and Criteria for Behavioral Effects I.3.a. Single Explosion For a single explosion, to be consistent with Churchill, TTS is the criterion for Level B harassment. In other words, because behavioral disturbance for a single explosion is likely to be limited to a short-lived startle reaction, use of the TTS criterion is considered sufficient protection and therefore behavioral effects (Level B behavioral harassment without onset of TTS) are not expected for single explosions. I.3.b. Multiple Explosions—Without TTS For multiple explosions, the Churchill approach had to be extended to cover multiple sound events at the same training site. For multiple exposures, accumulated energy over the entire uninterrupted firing time is the natural extension for energy thresholds since energy accumulates with each subsequent shot (detonation); this is consistent with the treatment of multiple arrivals in Churchill. Because multiple explosions could occur within a discrete time period, a new acoustic criterion-behavioral disturbance without TTS is used to account for behavioral effects significant enough to be judged as harassment, but occurring at lower noise levels than those that may cause TTS. The threshold is based on test results published in Schlundt et al. (2000), with derivation following the approach of the Churchill FEIS for the energy-based TTS threshold. The original Schlundt et al. (2000) data and the report of Finneran and Schlundt (2004) are the basis for thresholds for behavioral disturbance without TTS. During this study, instances of altered behavior sometimes began at lower exposures than those causing TTS; however, there were many instances when subjects exhibited no altered behavior at levels above the onset-TTS levels. Regardless of reactions at higher or lower levels, all instances of altered behavior were included in the statistical summary. The behavioral disturbance without TTS threshold for tones is derived from the SSC tests, and is found to be 5 dB below the threshold for TTS, or 177 dB re 1 microPa2-sec maximum energy flux density level in any 1/3-octave band at frequencies above 100 Hz for cetaceans. II. Summary of Thresholds and Criteria for Impulsive Sounds The effects, criteria, and thresholds used in the assessment for impulsive sounds are summarized in Table 8. The criteria for behavioral effects without physiological effects used in this analysis are based on use of multiple explosives from live, explosive firing at BT–9 only; no live firing occurs at BT– 11. TABLE 8—EFFECTS, CRITERIA, AND THRESHOLDS FOR IMPULSIVE SOUNDS Effect Criteria Metric Threshold Mortality ...................... Onset of Extensive Lung Injury .. Goertner modified positive impulse. Injurious Physiological 50 percent Tympanic Membrane Rupture. Onset Slight Lung Injury ............. Energy flux density ..................... indexed to 30.5 psi-msec (assumes 100 percent small animal at 26.9 lbs). 1.17 in-lb/in2 (about 205 dB re 1 microPa2-sec). indexed to 13 psi-msec (assumes 100 percent small animal at 26.9 lbs). 182 dB re 1 microPa2-sec .......... Level B. 23 psi .......................................... Level B. Injurious Physiological mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Non-injurious Physiological. TTS ............................................. Non-injurious Physiological. TTS ............................................. VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:44 Nov 17, 2011 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Goertner modified positive impulse. Greatest energy flux density level in any 1/3-octave band (> 100 Hz for toothed whales and > 10 Hz for baleen whales)—for total energy over all exposures. Peak pressure over all exposures. Frm 00041 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\18NON1.SGM 18NON1 Effect Mortality. Level A. Level A. 71551 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 223 / Friday, November 18, 2011 / Notices TABLE 8—EFFECTS, CRITERIA, AND THRESHOLDS FOR IMPULSIVE SOUNDS—Continued Effect Criteria Non-injurious Behavioral. Metric Threshold Multiple Explosions Without TTS Greatest energy flux density level in any 1/3-octave (> 100 Hz for toothed whales and > 10 Hz for baleen whales)—for total energy over all exposures (multiple explosions only). 177 dB re 1 microPa2-sec .......... Take From Explosives The USMC conservatively modeled that all explosives would detonate at a 1.2 m (3.9 ft) water depth despite the training goal of hitting the target, resulting in an above water or on land explosion. For sources that are detonated at shallow depths, it is frequently the case that the explosion may breech the surface with some of the acoustic energy escaping the water column. The source levels presented in the table above have not been adjusted for possible venting nor does the subsequent analysis take this into Effect Level B. account. Properties of explosive sources used at BT–9, including NEW, peak onethird-octave (OTO) source level, the approximate frequency at which the peak occurs, and rounds per burst are described in Table 9. Distances to NMFS harassment threshold levels from these sources are outlined in Table 10. TABLE 9—SOURCE WEIGHTS AND PEAK SOURCE LEVELS Source type NEW Peak OTO SL 2.75″ Rocket ............................ 5″ Rocket ................................. 30 mm ...................................... 40 mm ...................................... G911 Grenade ......................... 4.8 lbs ...................................... 15.0 lbs .................................... 0.1019 lbs ................................ 0.1199 lbs ................................ 0.5 ........................................... 223.9 228.9 212.1 227.8 213.9 dB dB dB dB dB re: re: re: re: re: 1 1 1 1 1 μPa μPa μPa μPa μPa Frequency of peak OTO SL .................. .................. .................. .................. .................. ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ 1500 1000 2500 1100 2500 Rounds per burst Hertz (Hz) ................... Hz ................................ Hz ................................ Hz ................................ Hz ................................ 1 1 30 5 1 TABLE 10—DISTANCES TO NMFS HARASSMENT THRESHOLDS FROM EXPLOSIVE ORDNANCES Behavioral disturbance (177 dB Energy) 2.75″ Rocket HE ................ 5″ Rocket HE ..................... 30 mm HE ......................... 40 mm HE ......................... G911 Grenade ................... N/A N/A 209 144 N/A .................................... .................................... m (686 ft) ................... m (472 ft) ................... .................................... mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES To calculate take, the distances to which animals may be harassed were considered along with dolphin density. The density estimate from Read et al. (2003) was used to calculate take from munition firing. As described in the Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity section above, this density, 0.183/km2, was derived from boat based surveys in 2000 which covered all inland North Carolina waters. Note that estimated density of dolphins at BT–9 and BT–11, specifically, were calculated to be 0.11 dolphins/km2, and 1.23 dolphins/km2 respectively (Maher 2003), based on VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:44 Nov 17, 2011 Jkt 226001 Level A (13 psi-msec) TTS (23 psi) 172 m (564 ft) ................... 255 m (837 ft) ................... N/A .................................... N/A .................................... 83 m (272 ft) ..................... 47 61 10 10 21 m m m m m (154 ft) ..................... (200 ft) ..................... (33 ft) ....................... (33 ft) ....................... (33 ft) ....................... boat surveys conducted from July 2002 through June 2003 (excluding April, May, Sept. and Jan.). However, the USMC chose to estimate take of dolphins based on the higher density reported from the summer 2000 surveys (0.183/km2). Additionally, take calculations for munition firing are based on 100 percent water detonation, although the goal of training is to hit the targets, and no pre-exercise monitoring or mitigation. Therefore, take estimates can be considered conservative. Based on dolphin density and amount of munitions expended, there is very low potential for Level A harassment PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Mortality (31 psi-ms) 27 m (89 ft). 39 m (128 ft). 5 m (16 ft). 5 m (16 ft). 10 m (33 ft). and mortality and monitoring and mitigation measures are anticipated to further negate this potential. Accordingly, NMFS is not proposing to issue these levels of take. As portrayed in Table 9, the largest harassment zone (Level B) is within 209 m of a detonation in water; however, the USMC has implemented a 1000 m ‘‘foul’’ zone for BT–9 and anywhere within Rattan Bay for BT–11. In total, from firing of explosive ordnances, the USMC is requesting, and NMFS is proposing to issue, the incidental take of 25 bottlenose dolphins from Level B harassment (Table 11). E:\FR\FM\18NON1.SGM 18NON1 71552 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 223 / Friday, November 18, 2011 / Notices TABLE 11—NUMBER OF DOLPHINS POTENTIALLY TAKEN FROM EXPOSURE TO EXPLOSIVES BASED ON THRESHOLD CRITERIA Level B— Behavioral (177dB re 1 microPa2-s) Ordnance type Level B—TTS (23 psi) Level A— Injurious (205 dB re 1 microPa2-s or 13 psi) Mortality (30.5 psi) 2.75″ Rocket HE .............................................................................. 5″ Rocket HE ................................................................................... 30 mm HE ........................................................................................ 40 mm HE ........................................................................................ G911 Grenade ................................................................................. N/A N/A 2.55 12.60 N/A 4.97 3.39 N/A N/A 0.87 0.17 0.09 0.05 0.16 0.03 0.06 0.03 0.00 0.01 0.01 Total .......................................................................................... 15.15 9.23 0.5 0.11 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Take From Direct Hit The potential risk of a direct hit to an animal in the target area is estimated to be so low it is discountable. A Range Air Installation Compatible Use Zone (RAICUZ) study generated the surface area or footprints of weapon impact areas associated with air-to-ground ordnance delivery (USMC 2001). Statistically, a weapon safety footprint describes the area needed to contain 99.99 percent of initial and ricochet impacts at the 95-percent confidence interval for each type of aircraft and ordnance utilized on the BTs. At both BT–9 and BT–11 the probability of deployed ordnance landing in the impact footprint is essentially 1.0, since the footprints were designed to contain 99.99 percent of impacts, including ricochets. However, only 36 percent of the weapon footprint for BT–11 is over water in Rattan Bay, so the likelihood of a weapon striking an animal at the BT in Rattan Bay is 64 percent less. Water depths in Rattan Bay range from 3 m (10 ft) in the deepest part of the bay to 0.5 m (1.6 m) close to shore, so that nearly the entire habitat in Rattan Bay is suitable for marine mammal use (or 36 percent of the weapon footprint). The estimated potential risk of a direct hit to an animal in the target area is extremely low. The probability of hitting a bottlenose dolphin at the BTs can be derived as follows: Probability = dolphin’s dorsal surface area * density of dolphins. The estimated dorsal surface area of a bottlenose dolphin is 1.425 m2 (or the average length of 2.85 m times the average body width of 0.5 m). Thus, using Read et al. (2003)’s density estimate of 0.183 dolphins/km2, without consideration of mitigation and monitoring implementation, the probability of a dolphin being hit in the waters of BT–9 is 2.61 × 10¥7 and of BT–11 is 9.4 × 10¥8. Using the proposed levels of ordnance expenditures at each in-water BT (Tables 4 and 5) and taking into account that only 36 percent of the VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:44 Nov 17, 2011 Jkt 226001 ordnance deployed at BT–11 is over water, as described in the application, the estimated potential number of ordnance strikes on a marine mammal per year is 0.263 at BT–9 and 0.034 at BT–11. It would take approximately three years of ordnance deployment at the BTs before it would be likely or probable that one bottlenose dolphin would be struck by deployed inert ordnance. Again, these estimates are without consideration to proposed monitoring and mitigation measures. Take From Vessel and Aircraft Presence Vessel movement is associated with surface-to-surface exercises, as described in the Specified Activities section above, which primarily occurs within BT–11. The USMC is not requesting takes specific to the act of maneuvering small boats within the BTs; however, NMFS has analyzed the potential for take from this activity. The potential impacts from exposure to vessels are described in the Vessel and Aircraft Presence section above. Interactions with vessels are not a new experience for bottlenose dolphins in Pamlico Sound. Pamlico Sound is heavily used by recreational, commercial (fishing, daily ferry service, tugs, etc.), and military (including the Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard) vessels year-round. The NMFS’ Southeast Regional Office has developed marine mammal viewing guidelines to educate the public on how to responsibly view marine mammals in the wild and avoid causing a take (https://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/ education/southeast). The guidelines recommend that vessels should remain a minimum of 50 yards from a dolphin, operate vessels in a predictable manner, avoid excessive speed or sudden changes in speed or direction in the vicinity of animals, and not to pursue, chase, or separate a group of animals. The USMC would abide by these guidelines to the fullest extent practicable. The USMC would not PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 engage in high speed exercises should a marine mammal be detected within the immediate area of the BTs prior to training commencement and would never closely approach, chase, or pursue dolphins. Detection of marine mammals would be facilitated by personnel monitoring on the vessels and those marking success rate of target hits and monitoring of remote camera on the BTs (see Proposed Monitoring and Reporting section). Based on the description of the action, the other activities regularly occurring in the area, the species that may be exposed to the activity and their observed behaviors in the presence of vessel traffic, and the implementation of measures to avoid vessel strikes, NMFS believes it is unlikely that the operation of vessels during surface-to-surface maneuvers will result in the take of any marine mammals, in the form of either behavioral harassment or injury. Aircraft would move swiftly through the area and would typically fly approximately 914 m from the water’s surface before dropping unguided munitions and above 4,572 m for precision-guided munition bombing. While the aircraft may approach as low as 152 m (500 ft) to drop a bomb this is not the norm and would never been done around marine mammals. Regional whale watching guidelines advise aircraft to maintain a minimum altitude of 300 m (1,000 ft) above all marine mammals, including small odontocetes, and to not circle or hover over the animals to avoid harassment. NMFS’ approach regulations limit aircraft from flying below 300 m (1,000 ft) over a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Hawaii, a known calving ground, and limit aircraft from flying over North Atlantic right whales closer than 460 m (1509 ft). Given USMC aircraft would not fly below 300 m on the approach, would not engage in hovering or circling the animals, and would not drop to the minimal altitude of 152 m if a marine mammal is in the E:\FR\FM\18NON1.SGM 18NON1 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 223 / Friday, November 18, 2011 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES area, NMFS believes it is unlikely that the operation of aircraft, as described above, will result in take of bottlenose dolphins in Pamlico Sound. Negligible Impact Analysis and Preliminary Determination Pursuant to NMFS’ regulations implementing the MMPA, an applicant is required to estimate the number of animals that will be ‘‘taken’’ by the specified activities (i.e., takes by harassment only, or takes by harassment, injury, and/or death). This estimate informs the analysis that NMFS must perform to determine whether the activity will have a ‘‘negligible impact’’ on the species or stock. 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.’’ A negligible impact finding is based on the lack of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., population-level effects). An estimate of the number and manner of takes, alone, is not enough information on which to base a negligible impact determination. NMFS must also consider other factors, such as the likely nature of any responses (their intensity, duration, etc.), the context of any responses (critical reproductive time or location, migration, etc.), or any of the other variables mentioned in the first paragraph (if known), as well as the number and nature of estimated Level A takes, the number of estimated mortalities, and effects on habitat. The USMC has been conducting gunnery and bombing training exercises at BT–9 and BT–11 for years and, to date, no dolphin injury or mortality has been attributed these military training exercises. The USMC has a history of notifying the NMFS stranding network when any injured or stranded animal comes ashore or is spotted by personnel on the water. Therefore, stranded animals have been examined by stranding responders, further confirming that it is unlikely training contributes to marine mammal injuries or deaths. Due to the implementation of the aforementioned mitigation measures, no take by Level A harassment or serious injury or mortality is anticipated nor would any be authorized in the IHA. NMFS is proposing; however, to authorize 25 Level B harassment takes associated with training exercises. The USMC has proposed a 1000 yard (914 m) safety zone around BT–9 despite the fact that the distance to VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:44 Nov 17, 2011 Jkt 226001 NMFS explosive Level B harassment threshold is 228 yards (209 m). They also would consider an area fouled if any dolphins are spotted within Raritan Bay (where BT–11 is located). The Level B harassment takes allowed for in the IHA would be of very low intensity and would likely result in dolphins being temporarily behaviorally affected by bombing or gunnery exercises. In addition, takes may be attributed to animals not using the area when exercises are occurring; however, this is difficult to calculate. Instead, NMFS looks to if the specified activities occur during and within habitat important to vital life functions to better inform its negligible impact determination. Read et al. (2003) concluded that dolphins rarely occur in open waters in the middle of North Carolina sounds and large estuaries, but instead are concentrated in shallow water habitats along shorelines. However, no specific areas have been identified as vital reproduction or foraging habitat. Scientific boat based surveys conducted throughout Pamlico Sound conclude that dolphins use the areas around the BTs more frequently than other portions of Pamlico Sound (Maher, 2003) despite the USMC actively training in a manner identical to the specified activities described here for years. As described in the Affected Species section of this notice, bottlenose dolphin stock segregation is complex with stocks overlapping throughout the coastal and estuarine waters of North Carolina. It is not possible for the USMC to determine to which stock any individual dolphin taken during training activities belong as this can only be accomplished through genetic testing. However, it is likely that many of the dolphins encountered would belong to the NNCE or SNCE stock. These stocks have a population estimate of 1,387 and 2,595, respectively. NMFS is proposing to authorize 25 takes of bottlenose dolphins in total; therefore, this number represents 1.8 and 1.0 percent, respectively, of those populations. Based on the analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into consideration the implementation of the mitigation and monitoring measures, NMFS preliminarily finds that the specified USMC AS Cherry Point BT–9 and BT–11 training activities will result in the incidental take of marine mammals, by Level B harassment only, and that the total taking from will have a negligible impact on the affected species or stocks. PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 71553 Subsistence Harvest of Marine Mammals Marine mammals are not taken for subsistence use within Pamlico Sound; therefore, issuance of an IHA to the USMC for MCAS Cherry Point training exercises would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the affected species or stocks for subsistence use. Endangered Species Act (ESA) No ESA-listed marine mammals are known to occur within the action area. Therefore, there is no requirement for NMFS to consult under Section 7 of the ESA on the issuance of an IHA under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA. However, ESA-listed sea turtles may be present within the action area. On September 27, 2002, NMFS issued a Biological Opinion (BiOp) on Ongoing Ordnance Delivery at Bombing Target 9 (BT–9) and Bombing Target 11 (BT–11) at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina. The BiOp, which is still in effect, concluded that the USMC’s proposed action will not result in adverse impacts to any ESA-listed marine mammals and is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the endangered green turtle (Chelonia mydas), leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Kemp’s ridley turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), or threatened loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta). No critical habitat has been designated for these species in the action area; therefore, none will be affected. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) On February 11, 2009, the USMC issued a Finding of No Significant Impact for its Environmental Assessment (EA) on MCAS Cherry Point Range Operations. Based on the analysis of the EA, the USMC determined that the proposed action will not have a significant impact on the human environment. NMFS adopted USMC’s EA and signed a FONSI on August 31, 2010. NMFS has reviewed the proposed application and preliminarily determined that there are no substantial changes to the proposed action or new environmental impacts or concerns. Therefore, NMFS has determined that a new or supplemental EA or Environmental Impact Statement is likely unnecessary. Before making a final determination in this regard, NMFS will review public comments and information submitted by the public and others in response to this notice. The EA referenced above is available for review at https://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/ permits/incidental.htm. E:\FR\FM\18NON1.SGM 18NON1 71554 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 223 / Friday, November 18, 2011 / Notices Dated: November 14, 2011. James H. Lecky, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. 3. There are no known regulatory alternatives which would accomplish the objectives of the Javits-WagnerO’Day Act (41 U.S.C. 46–48c) in connection with the products proposed for addition to the Procurement List. Comments on this certification are invited. Commenters should identify the statement(s) underlying the certification on which they are providing additional information. [FR Doc. 2011–29851 Filed 11–17–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P COMMITTEE FOR PURCHASE FROM PEOPLE WHO ARE BLIND OR SEVERELY DISABLED Procurement List; Proposed Additions Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled. ACTION: Proposed Additions to the Procurement List. AGENCY: The Committee is proposing to add products to the Procurement List that will be furnished by the nonprofit agency employing persons who are blind or have other severe disabilities. DATES: Comments Must Be Received On or Before: 12/19/2011. ADDRESSES: Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled, Jefferson Plaza 2, Suite 10800, 1421 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, Virginia 22202–3259. SUMMARY: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION OR TO SUBMIT COMMENTS CONTACT: Patricia Briscoe, Telephone: (703) 603–7740, Fax: (703) 603–0655, or email CMTEFedReg@AbilityOne.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice is published pursuant to 41 U.S.C. 47(a)(2) and 41 CFR 51–2.3. Its purpose is to provide interested persons an opportunity to submit comments on the proposed actions. End of Certification The following products are proposed for addition to the Procurement List for production by the nonprofit agency listed: Products NSN: 8920–00–NSH–0130—Sweet Roll Mix, 6—5 lb bags. NSN: 8920–00–NSH–0131—Sweet Roll Mix, 6—4 lb cans. NSN: 8920–00–NSH–0132—Hot Roll Mix, 6—5 lb bags. NSN: 8920–00–NSH–0133—Hot Roll Mix, 6—4 lb cans. NPA: Transylvania Vocational Services, Inc., Brevard, NC. Contracting Activity: Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, PA. Coverage: C-List for 100% of the requirement of the Department of Defense, as aggregated by the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, PA. Patricia Briscoe, Deputy Director, Business Operations, (Pricing and Information Management). [FR Doc. 2011–29827 Filed 11–17–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6353–01–P mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Additions If the Committee approves the proposed additions, the entities of the Federal Government identified in this notice will be required to procure the products listed below from the nonprofit agency employing persons who are blind or have other severe disabilities. CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification I certify that the following action will not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities. The major factors considered for this certification were: 1. If approved, the action will not result in any additional reporting, recordkeeping or other compliance requirements for small entities other than the small organization that will furnish the products to the Government. 2. If approved, the action will result in authorizing small entities to furnish the products to the Government. SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:44 Nov 17, 2011 Jkt 226001 Civil Penalties; Notice of Adjusted Maximum Amounts Consumer Product Safety Commission. ACTION: Notice of adjusted maximum civil penalty amounts. AGENCY: In 1990, Congress enacted statutory amendments that provided for periodic adjustments to the maximum civil penalty amounts authorized under the Consumer Product Safety Act, the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, and the Flammable Fabrics Act. On August 14, 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) increased the maximum civil penalty amounts to $100,000 for each violation and $15,000,000 for any related series of violations. The CPSIA also revised the starting date, from December 1, 1994 to December 1, 2011, on which the PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Commission must prescribe and publish in the Federal Register the schedule of maximum authorized penalties. As calculated in accordance with the amendments, the new amounts are $100,000 for each violation, and $15,150,000 for any related series of violations. DATES: The new amounts will become effective on January 1, 2012. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Amy S. Colvin, Attorney, Office of the General Counsel, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814; telephone (301) 504–7639; email acolvin@cpsc.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 1990 (Improvement Act), Public Law 101–608, 104 Stat. 3110 (November 16, 1990), and the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), Public Law 110–314, 122 Stat. 3016 (August 14, 2008), amended the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA), and the Flammable Fabrics Act (FFA). The Improvement Act added civil penalty authority to the FHSA and FFA, which previously contained only criminal penalties. 15 U.S.C. 1264(c) and 1194(e). The Improvement Act also increased the maximum civil penalty amounts applicable to civil penalties under the CPSA and set the same maximum amounts for the newly created FHSA and FFA civil penalties. 15 U.S.C. 2069(a)(1), 1264(c)(1), and 1194(e)(1). The Improvement Act directed the Commission to adjust the maximum civil penalty amounts periodically for inflation: (A) The maximum penalty amounts authorized in paragraph (1) shall be adjusted for inflation as provided in this paragraph. (B) Not later than December 1, 1994, and December 1 of each fifth calendar year thereafter, the Commission shall prescribe and publish in the Federal Register a schedule of maximum authorized penalties that shall apply for violations that occur after January 1 of the year immediately following such publication. (C) The schedule of maximum authorized penalties shall be prescribed by increasing each of the amounts referred to in paragraph (1) by the costof-living adjustment for the preceding 5 years. Any increase determined under the preceding sentence shall be rounded to— (i) In the case of penalties greater than $1,000 but less than or equal to $10,000, the nearest multiple of $1,000; E:\FR\FM\18NON1.SGM 18NON1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 223 (Friday, November 18, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 71535-71554]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-29851]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XA800


Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; U.S. 
Marine Corps Training Exercises at Air Station Cherry Point

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

ACTION: Notice; proposed incidental harassment authorization; request 
for comments.

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SUMMARY: NMFS has received an application from the U.S. Marine Corps 
(USMC) requesting authorization to take marine mammals incidental to 
various training exercises at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry 
Point Range Complex, North Carolina. The USMC's activities are 
considered military readiness activities pursuant to the Marine Mammal 
Protection Act (MMPA), as amended by the National Defense Authorization 
Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2004. Pursuant to the MMPA, NMFS is 
requesting comments on its proposal to issue an incidental harassment 
authorization (IHA) to the USMC to take bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops 
truncatus), by Level B harassment only, from specified activities.

DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than December 
19, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Comments on the application should be addressed to Michael 
Payne, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected 
Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, 
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3225. The mailbox address for providing email 
comments is ITP.Laws@noaa.gov. NMFS is not responsible for email 
comments sent to addresses other than the one provided here. Comments 
sent via email, including all attachments, must not exceed a 10-
megabyte file size.
    Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record 
and may be posted to https://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm 
without change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, 
name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be 
publicly accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or 
otherwise sensitive or protected information.
    A copy of the application containing a list of the references used 
in this

[[Page 71536]]

document may be obtained by writing to the address specified above, 
telephoning the contact listed below (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT), or visiting the Internet at: https://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm. The following associated document is also 
available at the same Internet address: Environmental Assessment MCAS 
Cherry Point Range Operations (USMC 2009). Documents cited in this 
notice may also be viewed, by appointment, during regular business 
hours, at the aforementioned address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ben Laws, Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) 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 marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage 
in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) if certain 
findings are made and regulations are issued or, if the taking is 
limited to harassment, notice of a proposed authorization is provided 
to the public for review.
    Authorization for incidental takings may be granted if NMFS finds 
that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or 
stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the 
availability of the species or stock(s) for certain subsistence uses, 
and if 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. 
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 marine 
mammals. Within 45 days of the close of the comment period, NMFS must 
either issue or deny the authorization.
    The NDAA (Pub. L. 108-136) removed the ``small numbers'' and 
``specified geographical region'' limitations and amended the 
definition of ``harassment'' as it applies to a ``military readiness 
activity'' to read as follows (Section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA):

    (i) Any act that injures or has the significant potential to 
injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A 
Harassment]; or (ii) Any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a 
marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing 
disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not 
limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or 
sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned 
or significantly altered [Level B Harassment].

Summary of Request

    On September 22, 2011, NMFS received an application from the USMC 
requesting an IHA for the harassment of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins 
(Tursiops truncatus) incidental to air-to-surface and surface-to-
surface training exercises conducted around two bombing targets (BTs) 
within southern Pamlico Sound, North Carolina, at MCAS Cherry Point. 
NMFS first issued an IHA to the USMC for the same activities that was 
valid for a period of one year, beginning December 1, 2011 (75 FR 
72807; November 26, 2010).
    Weapon delivery training would occur at two BTs: Brant Island 
Target (BT-9) and Piney Island Bombing Range (BT-11). Training at BT-9 
would involve air-to-surface (from aircraft to in-water targets) and 
surface-to-surface (from vessels to in-water targets) warfare training, 
including bombing, strafing, special (laser systems) weapons; surface 
fires using non-explosive and explosive ordnance; and mine laying 
exercises (inert). Training at BT-11 would involve air- to-surface 
exercises to provide training in the delivery of conventional (non-
explosive) and special (laser systems) weapons. Surface-to-surface 
training by small military watercraft would also be executed here. The 
types of ordnances proposed for use at BT-9 and BT-11 include small 
arms, large arms, bombs, rockets, missiles, and pyrotechnics. All 
munitions used at BT-11 are inert, practice rounds. No live firing 
occurs at BT-11. Training for any activity may occur year-round. Active 
sonar is not a component of these specified training exercises; 
therefore, discussion of marine mammal harassment from active sonar 
operations is not included within this notice.

Description of the Specified Activity

    The USMC is requesting authorization to harass bottlenose dolphins 
from ammunition firing conducted at two BTs within MCAS Cherry Point. 
The authorization would be valid for a period of one year from the date 
of issuance. The BTs are located at the convergence of the Neuse River 
and Pamlico Sound, North Carolina. BT-9 is a water-based target located 
approximately 52 km (28 nautical miles [nm]) northeast of MCAS Cherry 
Point. The BT-9 target area ranges in depth from 1.2 m to 6.1 m, with 
the shallow areas concentrated along the Brandt Island Shoal (which 
runs down the middle of the restricted area in a northwest to southeast 
orientation). The target itself consists of three ship hulls grounded 
on Brant Island Shoals, located approximately 4.8 km (3 miles [mi]) 
southeast of Goose Creek Island. Inert (non-explosive) ordnance up to 
454 kilograms (kg) (1,000 lbs) and live (explosive) ordnance up to 45.4 
kg (100 lbs) TNT equivalent, including ordnance released during 
strafing, are authorized for use at this target range. The target is 
defined by a 6 statute-mile (SM) diameter prohibited area designated by 
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Wilmington District (33 CFR 334.420). 
Non-military vessels are not permitted within the prohibited area, 
which is delineated by large signs located on pilings surrounding the 
perimeter of the BT. BT-9 also provides a mining exercise area; 
however, all mine exercises are simulation only and do not involve 
detonations. BT-9 standard operating procedures limit live ordnance 
deliveries to a maximum explosive weight of 100 lbs TNT equivalent. The 
USMC estimates that it would conduct approximately 1,539 aircraft-based 
and 165 vessel-based sorties, annually, at BT-9. The standard sortie 
consists of two aircraft per bombing run or an average of two and 
maximum of six vessels.
    BT-11 is a 50.6 square kilometers (sq km) (19.5 square miles [sq 
mi]) complex of land- and water-based targets on Piney Island. The BT-
11 target area ranges in depth from 0.3 m along the shoreline to 3.1 m 
in the center of Rattan Bay (BA 2001). The in-water stationary targets 
of BT-11 consist of a barge and patrol (PT) boat located in roughly the 
center of Rattan Bay. The barge target is approximately 135 ft by 40 ft 
in dimension. The PT boat is approximately 110 ft by 35 ft in 
dimension. Water depths in the center of Rattan Bay are estimated as 
2.4 to 3 m (8 to 10 ft) with bottom depths ranging from 0.3 to 1.5 m (1 
to 5 ft) adjacent to the shoreline of Piney Island. A shallow ledge, 
with substrate expected to be hard-packed to hard bottom, surrounds 
Piney Island. No live firing occurs at BT-11; all munitions used are 
inert,

[[Page 71537]]

non-explosive practice rounds. Only 36 percent of all munitions fired 
at BT-11 occur over water; the remaining munitions are fired to land 
based targets on Piney Island. The USMC estimates that it would conduct 
approximately 6,727 aircraft-based and 51 vessel-based sorties, 
annually, at BT-11.
    All inert and live-fire exercises at MCAS Cherry Point ranges are 
conducted so that all ammunition and other ordnances strike and/or fall 
on the land or water based target or within the existing danger zones 
or water restricted areas. A danger zone is a defined water area that 
is closed to the public on an intermittent or full-time basis for use 
by military forces for hazardous operations such as target practice and 
ordnance firing. A water restricted area is a defined water area where 
public access is prohibited or limited in order to provide security for 
Government property and/or to protect the public from the risks of 
injury or damage that could occur from the government's use of that 
area (33 CFR 334.2). Surface danger zones are designated areas of 
rocket firing, target practice, or other hazardous operations (33 CFR 
334.420). The surface danger zone (prohibited area) for BT-9 is a 4.8 
km radius centered on the south side of Brant Island Shoal. The surface 
danger zone for BT-11 is a 2.9 km radius centered on a barge target in 
Rattan Bay.
    According to the application, the USMC is requesting take of marine 
mammals incidental to specified activities at MCAS Cherry Point Range 
Complex, located within Pamlico Sound, North Carolina. These activities 
include gunnery; mine laying; bombing; or rocket exercises and are 
classified into two categories here based on delivery method: (1) 
Surface-to-surface gunnery and (2) air-to-surface bombing. Exercises 
may occur year round, day or night (approximately 15 percent of 
training occurs at night).

Surface-to-Surface Gunnery Exercises

    Surface-to-surface fires are fires from boats at sea to targets at 
sea. These can be direct (targets are within sight) or indirect 
(targets are not within sight). Gunnery exercise employing only direct 
fire is the only category of surface-to-surface activity currently 
conducted within the MCAS Cherry Point BTs. An average of two and 
maximum of six small boats (24-85 ft), or fleet of boats, typically 
operated by Special Boat Team personnel, use a machine gun to attack 
and disable or destroy a surface target that simulates another ship, 
boat, swimmer, floating mine or near shore land targets. Vessels travel 
between 0-20 kts with an average of two vessels actually conducting 
surface-to-surface firing activities. Typical munitions are 7.62 
millimeter (mm) or .50 caliber (cal) machine guns; and/or 40 mm Grenade 
machine guns. This exercise is usually a live-fire exercise, but at 
times blanks may be used so that the boat crews can practice their ship 
handling skills. The goal of training is to hit the targets; however, 
some munitions may bounce off the targets and land in the water or miss 
the target entirely. Additionally, G911 Concussion hand grenades (inert 
and live) are used; however, these are not aimed at targets, as the 
goal is to learn how to throw them into the water.
    The estimated amount of munitions expended at BT-9 and BT-11 during 
this training can be found in Table 1 below. Historically, boat sorties 
have been conducted at BT-9 and BT-11 year round with equal 
distribution of training effort throughout the seasons. Live fires 
constitute approximately 90 percent of all surface-to-surface gunnery 
events. The majority of sorties originated and practiced at BT-9 as no 
live fire is conducted at BT-11. The USMC has indicated a comparable 
number of sorties would occur throughout the IHA timeframe. There is no 
specific schedule associated with the use of ranges by the small boat 
teams. However, exercises tend to be scheduled for 5-day blocks with 
exercises at various times throughout that timeframe. There is no 
specific time of year or month training occurs as variables such as 
deployment status, range availability, and completion of crew specific 
training requirements influence schedules.
    A number of different types of boats are used during surface-to-
surface exercises depending on the unit using the boat and their 
mission and include versions of Small Unit River Craft, Combat Rubber 
Raiding Craft, Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats, Patrol Craft. They are 
inboard or outboard, diesel or gasoline engines with either propeller 
or water jet propulsion. Boat crews approach, at a maximum of 20 kts, 
and engage targets simulating other boats, swimmers, floating mines, or 
near shore land targets with 7.62 mm or .50 cal machine guns; 40 mm 
grenade machine guns; or M3A2 Concussion hand grenades (approximately 
200, 800, 10, and 10 rounds respectively). Vessels typically travel in 
linear paths and do not operate erratically. Other vessels may be 
located within the BTs; however, these are support craft and do not 
participate in munitions expenditures. The purpose of the support craft 
is to remotely control High Speed Maneuvering Surface Targets (HSMSTs) 
or to conduct maintenance on electronic equipment located in the towers 
at BT-9. Support craft are typically anchored or tied to marker pilings 
during HSMST operations or tied to equipment towers. When underway, 
vessels do not typically travel faster than 12-18 kts or in an erratic 
manner.

      Table 1--Type and Amount of Munitions Expended at BT-9 and BT-11 During Surface-to-Surface Exercises
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                    Munitions
                   Range                     Annual number             Munitions type                expended
                                             of sorties \1\                                          annually
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BT-9......................................              165  5.56 mm...........................            1,468
                                            ...............  7.62 mm...........................          218,500
                                            ...............  .50 cal...........................          166,900
                                            ...............  40 mm Grenade--Inert..............           15,734
                                            ...............  40 mm Grenade--Live (HE)..........            9,472
                                            ...............  G911 Grenade......................              144
BT-11.....................................               51  7.62 mm...........................           44,100
                                            ...............  .40 cal...........................            4,600
                                            ...............  40 mm Grenade--Inert..............            1,517
                                            ...............  40 mm Illumination-Inert..........                9
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Sorties are from FY 2007 CURRS data.


[[Page 71538]]

Air-to-Surface

    Air-to-surface training involves ordnance delivered from aircraft 
and aimed at targets on the water's surface or on land in the case of 
BT-11. A description of the types of targets used at MCAS Cherry Point 
is provided in the section on BTs above. There are four types of air-
to-surface activities conducted within the MCAS Cherry Point BTs: Mine 
laying; bombing; gunnery or rocket exercises which are carried out via 
fixed wing or rotary wing aircraft.

Mine Laying Exercises

    Mine Warfare (MIW) includes the strategic, operational, and 
tactical use of mines and mine countermine measures. MIW is divided 
into two basic subdivisions: (a) The laying of mines to degrade the 
enemy's capabilities to wage land, air, and maritime warfare, and (b) 
the countering of enemy-laid mines to permit friendly maneuver or use 
of selected land or sea areas (DoN, 2007). MCAS Cherry Point would only 
engage in mine laying exercises as described below. No detonations of 
any mine device are involved with this training.
    During mine laying, a fixed-wing or maritime patrol aircraft (P-3 
or P-8) typically drops a series of about four inert mine shapes in an 
offensive or defensive pattern, making multiple passes along a pre-
determined flight azimuth, and dropping one or more shapes each time. 
Mine simulation shapes include MK76, MK80 series, and BDU practice 
bombs ranging from 25 to 2,000 pounds in weight, There is an attempt to 
fly undetected to the area where the mines are laid with either a low 
or high altitude tactic flight. The shapes are scored for accuracy as 
they enter the water and the aircrew is later debriefed on their 
performance. The training shapes are inert (no detonations occur) and 
expendable. Mine laying operations are regularly conducted in the water 
in the vicinity of BT-9.

Bombing Exercises

    The purpose of bombing exercises is to train pilots in destroying 
or disabling enemy ships or boats. During training, fixed wing or 
rotary wing aircraft deliver bombs against surface maritime targets at 
BT-9 or BT-11, day or night, using either unguided or precision-guided 
munitions. Unguided munitions include MK-76 and BDU-45 inert training 
bombs, and MK-80 series of inert bombs (no cluster munitions 
authorized). Precision-guided munitions consist of laser-guided bombs 
(inert) and laser-guided training rounds (inert). Typically, two 
aircraft approach the target (principally BT-9) from an altitude of 
approximately 914 m (3,000 ft) up to 4,572 m (15,000 ft) and, when on 
an established range, the aircraft adhere to designated ingress and 
egress routes. Typical bomb release altitude is 914 m (3,000 ft) for 
unguided munitions or above 4,572 m (15,000 ft) and in excess of 1.8 km 
(1 nm) for precision-guided munitions. However, the lowest minimum 
altitude for ordnance delivery (inert bombs) would be 152 m (500 ft).
    Onboard laser designators or laser designators from a support 
aircraft or ground support personnel are used to illuminate certified 
targets for use when using laser guided weapons. Due to target 
maintenance issues, live bombs have not been dropped at the BT-9 
targets for the past few years although these munitions are authorized 
for use. For the effective IHA timeframe, no live bombs would be 
utilized. Live rockets and grenades; however, have been expended at BT-
9.
    Air-to-Surface bombing exercises have the potential to occur on a 
daily basis. The standard sortie consists of two aircraft per bombing 
run. The frequency of these exercises is dependent on squadron level 
training requirements, deployment status, and range availability; 
therefore, there is no set pattern or specific time of year or month 
when this training occurs. Normal operating hours for the range are 
0800-2300, Monday through Friday; however, the range is available for 
use 365 days per year.

Rocket Exercises

    Rocket exercises are carried out similar to bombing exercises. 
Fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft crews launch rockets at surface 
maritime targets, day and night, to train for destroying or disabling 
enemy ships or boats. These operations employ 2.75-inch and 5-inch 
rockets.
    The average number of rockets delivered per sortie is approximately 
14. As with the bombing exercise, there is no set level or pattern of 
amount of sorties conducted.

Gunnery Exercises

    During gunnery training, fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft expend 
smaller munitions targeted at the BTs with the purpose of hitting them. 
However, some small arms may land in the water. Rotary wing exercises 
involve either CH-53, UH-1, CH-46, MV-22, or H-60 rotary-wing aircraft 
with mounted 7.62 mm or .50 cal machine guns. Each gunner expends 
approximately 800 rounds of 7.62 mm and 200 rounds of .50 cal 
ammunition in each exercise. These may be live or inert.
    Fixed wing gunnery exercises involve the flight of two aircraft 
that begin to descend to the target from an altitude of approximately 
914 meters (m) (3,000 feet [ft]) while still several miles away. Within 
a distance of 1,219 m (4,000 ft) from the target, each aircraft fires a 
burst of approximately 30 rounds before reaching an altitude of 305 m 
(1,000 ft), then breaks off and repositions for another strafing run 
until each aircraft expends its exercise ordnance allowance of 
approximately 250 rounds. In total, about 8-12 passes are made by each 
aircraft per exercise. Typically these fixed wing exercise events 
involve an F/A-18 and AH-1 with Vulcan M61A1/A2, 20 mm cannon; AV-8 
with GAU-12, 25 mm cannon.

Munition Descriptions

    A complete list of the ordnance authorized for use at BT-9 and BT-
11 can be found in Tables 2 and 3, respectively. There are several 
varieties and net explosive weights (for live munition used at BT-9) 
can vary according to the variety. All practice bombs are inert and 
used to simulate the same ballistic properties of service type bombs. 
They are manufactured as either solid cast metal bodies or thin sheet 
metal containers. Since practice bombs contain no explosive filler, a 
practice bomb signal cartridge (smoke) is used for visual observation 
of weapon target impact. Practice bombs provide a low cost training 
device for pilot and ground handling crews. Due to the relatively small 
amount of explosive material in practice bombs (small signal charge), 
the availability of ranges for training is greatly increased.
    When a high explosive detonates, it is converted almost instantly 
into a gas at very high pressure and temperature. Under the pressure of 
the gases thus generated, the weapon case expands and breaks into 
fragments. The air surrounding the casing is compressed and shock 
(blast) wave is transmitted into it. Typical initial values for a high-
explosive weapon are 200 kilobars of pressure (1 bar = 1 atmosphere) 
and 5,000 degrees Celsius. There are five types of explosive sources 
used at BT-9: 2.75'' Rocket High Explosives, 5'' Rocket High 
Explosives, 30 mm High Explosives, 40 mm High Explosives, and G911 
grenades. No live munitions are used at BT-11.

[[Page 71539]]



             Table 2--Description of Munitions Used at BT-9
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Net explosive
           Ordnance                   Description            weight
------------------------------------------------------------------------
MK76 Practice Bomb (inert)....  25-pound teardrop-      (of signal
                                 shaped cast metal       cartridge)
                                 bomb, with a bore       varies, maximum
                                 tube for installation   0.083800 lbs.
                                 of a signal cartridge.
BDU 33 Practice Bomb (inert)..  Air Force MK 76         same as above.
                                 practice bomb.
BDU 48 Practice Bomb (inert)..  10-pound metal          same as above.
                                 cylindrical bomb body
                                 with a bore tube for
                                 installation of a
                                 signal cartridge.
BDU 45 Practice Bomb (inert)..  500-pound metal bomb    (of signal
                                 either sand or water    cartridges,
                                 filled. Two signal      total 0.1676
                                 cartridges.             lbs.
BDU 50 Practice Bomb (inert)..  500-pound metal bomb    same as above.
                                 either sand or water
                                 filled. Two signal
                                 cartridges.
MK 81 Practice Bomb (inert)...  250-pound bomb........  0.
MK 82 Practice Bomb (inert)...  500-pound bomb........  0.
MK 83 Practice Bomb (inert)...  1000-pound bomb         0.1676 lbs.
                                 configured like BDU
                                 45.
MK 84 Practice Bomb (inert)     2000-pound bomb         0.1676 lbs.
 (special exception use only).   configured like BDU
                                 45.
2.75-inch (inert).............  Unguided 2.75-inch      0.
                                 diameter rocket.
5-inch Zuni (inert)...........  Unguided 5-inch         0.
                                 diameter rocket.
5-inch Zuni (live)............  Unguided 5-inch         15 lbs.
                                 diameter rocket.
2.75wp (inert)................  2.75-inch rocket        0.
                                 containing white
                                 phosphorous.
2.75HE........................  High Explosive, 2.75-   4.8 lbs.
                                 inch rocket.
0.50 cal (inert)..............  Machine gun rounds....  0.
7.62 mm (inert)
20 mm (inert)
25mm (inert)
30 mm (inert)
40 mm (inert)
25 mm HE (live)...............  High Explosive          0.269 lbs.
                                 Incendiary, Live
                                 machine gun rounds.
Self Protection Flare.........  Aerial flare..........  0.
Chaff.........................  18-pound chaff          0.
                                 canister.
LUU-2.........................  30-pound high           0.
                                 intensity
                                 illumination flare.
Laser Guided Training Round     89-pound inert          0.
 (LGTR) (inert).                 training bomblet.
------------------------------------------------------------------------


             Table 3--Description of Munitions Used at BT-11
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Ordnance                           Description
------------------------------------------------------------------------
MK76 Practice Bomb.....................  25-pound teardrop-shaped cast
                                          metal bomb body, with a bore
                                          tube for installation of a
                                          signal cartridge.
BDU 33 Practice Bomb...................  Air Force designation for MK 76
                                          practice bomb.
BDU 48 Practice Bomb...................  10-pound metal cylindrical bomb
                                          body with a bore tube for
                                          installation of a signal
                                          cartridge.
BDU45 Practice Bomb....................  500-pound metal bomb body
                                          either sand or water filled.
                                          Configured with either low
                                          drag conical tail fins or high
                                          drag tail fins for retarded
                                          weapons delivery. Two signal
                                          cartridges installed.
MK 81 Practice Bomb....................  250-pound inert bomb.
MK 82 Practice Bomb....................  500-pound inert bomb.
2.75-inch..............................  Unguided 2.75 inch diameter
                                          rocket.
5-inch Zuni............................  5 inch diameter rocket.
WP-2.75-inch...........................  White phosphorous 7-pound
                                          rocket.
0.50 cal...............................  Inert machine gun rounds
7.62 mm
5.56 mm
20 mm
30 mm
40 mm
TOW....................................  Wire guided 56-pound anti-tank
                                          missile.
Self Protection Flare..................  Aerial flare.
SMD SAMS...............................  1.5-pound smoking flare.
LUU-2..................................  30-pound high-intensity
                                          illumination flare.
Laser Guided Training Round (LGTR).....  89-pound inert training
                                          bomblet.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The amounts of all ordnance to be expended at BT-9 and BT-11 (both 
surface-to-surface and air-to-surface) are 897,932 and 1,109,955 
rounds, respectively (see Table 4 and 5 below).

[[Page 71540]]



                      Table 4--Amount of Live and Inert Munitions Expended at BT-9 Per Year
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                 Proposed number of explosive
           Proposed munitions \1\              Proposed total   rounds having an impact on the    Net explosive
                                              number of rounds               water                 weight (lb)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Small Arms Rounds Excluding .50 cal.........           525,610  N/A...........................               N/A
.50 Cal.....................................           257,067  N/A...........................               N/A
Large Arms Rounds--Live.....................            12,592  30mm HE: 3,120................            0.1019
                                                                40mm HE: 9,472................            0.1199
Large Arms Rounds--Inert....................            93,024  N/A...........................               N/A
Rockets--Live...............................               241  2.75'' Rocket: 184............               4.8
                                                                5'' Rocket: 57................              15.0
Rockets--Inert..............................               703  N/A...........................               N/A
Bombs and Grenades--Live....................               144  G911 Grenade: 144.............               0.5
Bombs and Grenades--Inert...................             4,055  N/A...........................               N/A
Pyrotechnics................................             4,496  N/A...........................               N/A
                                             -------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total...................................           897,932  12,977........................               N/A
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Munitions may be expended from aircraft or small boats.


          Table 5--Amount of Inert Munitions Expended at BT-11
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Proposed total
                 Proposed munitions \1\                      number of
                                                            rounds \2\
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Small Arms Rounds Excluding .50 Cal.....................         507,812
.50 Cal.................................................         326,234
Large Arms Rounds.......................................         240,334
Rockets.................................................           4,549
Bombs and Grenades......................................          22,114
Pyrotechnics............................................           8,912
                                                         ---------------
    Total...............................................       1,109,955
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Munitions may be expended from aircraft or small boats.
\2\ Munitions estimated using FY 2007 CURRS data on a per sortie-
  operation basis.

Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity

    Forty marine mammal species occur within the nearshore and offshore 
waters of North Carolina; however, the majority of these species are 
solely oceanic in distribution. Only one marine mammal species, the 
bottlenose dolphin, has been repeatedly sighted in Pamlico Sound, while 
an additional species, the endangered West Indian manatee (Trichechus 
manatus), has been sighted rarely (Lefebvre et al., 2001; DoN 2003). 
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversees management of the manatee; 
therefore, authorization to harass manatees would not be included in 
any NMFS' authorization and will not be discussed further.
    No sightings of the endangered North Atlantic right whale 
(Eubalaena glacialis) or other large whales have been observed within 
Pamlico Sound or in vicinity of the BTs (Kenney 2006). No suitable 
habitat exists for these species in the shallow Pamlico Sound or BT 
vicinity; therefore, whales would not be affected by the specified 
activities and will not be discussed further. Other dolphins, such as 
Atlantic spotted (Stenella frontalis) and common dolphins (Delphinus 
delphis), are oceanic in distribution and do not venture into the 
shallow, brackish waters of southern Pamlico Sound. Therefore, the 
specified activity has the potential to affect one marine mammal 
species under NMFS' jurisdiction: the bottlenose dolphin.
    Coastal (or nearshore) and offshore stocks of bottlenose dolphins 
in the Western North Atlantic can be distinguished by genetics, diet, 
blood characteristics, and outward appearance (Duffield et al., 1983; 
Hersh and Duffield, 1990; Mead and Potter, 1995; Curry and Smith, 
1997). Initially, a single stock of coastal morphotype bottlenose 
dolphins was thought to migrate seasonally between New Jersey (summer 
months) and central Florida based on seasonal patterns in strandings 
during a large scale mortality event occurring during 1987-1988 (Scott 
et al., 1988). However, re-analysis of stranding data (McLellan et al., 
2003) and extensive analysis of genetic, photo-identification, 
satellite telemetry, and stable isotope studies demonstrate a complex 
mosaic of coastal bottlenose dolphin stocks (NMFS 2001) which may be 
migratory or resident (they do not migrate and occur within an area 
year round). Four out of the seven designated coastal stocks may occur 
in North Carolina waters at some part of the year: The Northern 
Migratory stock (NM; winter); the Southern Migratory stock (SM; 
winter); the Northern North Carolina Estuarine stock (NNCE; resident, 
year round); and the more recently identified Southern North Carolina 
Estuarine stock (SNCE; resident, year round). Stable isotope depleted 
oxygen signature (hypoxic conditions routinely develops during summer 
in North Carolina waters) (Cortese, 2000), satellite telemetry, and 
photo-identification (NMFS, 2001) support stock structure analysis. 
Dolphins encountered at the BTs likely belong to the NNCE and SNCE 
stock; however, this may not always be the case. NMFS' 2010 stock 
assessment report provides further detail on stock delineation. All 
stocks discussed here are considered depleted (and thus strategic) 
under the MMPA (Waring et al., 2010).
    NMFS provides abundance estimates for the four aforementioned 
migratory and resident coastal stocks in its 2010 stock assessment 
report. The best available abundance estimate for the NNCE stock is the 
combined abundance from estuarine (Read et al., 2003) and coastal 
(aerial survey data dating from 2002) waters. This combined estimate is 
1,387 (Waring et al., 2010). Similarly, the best available abundance 
estimate for the SNCE stock is the combined abundance from estuarine 
and coastal waters. This combined estimate is 2,595 (Waring et al., 
2010). The best abundance estimate for the NM stock, resulting from 
2002 aerial surveys, is 9,604 (Waring et al., 2010). Using the same 
information, the resulting best abundance estimate for the SM stock is 
12,482 (Waring et al., 2010).
    From July 2004 through April 2006, the NMFS' SEFSC conducted 41 
aerial surveys to document the seasonal distribution and estimated 
density of sea turtles and dolphins within Core Sound and portions of 
Pamlico Sound, and coastal waters extending one mile offshore (Goodman 
et al., 2007). Pamlico Sound was divided into two survey areas: western 
(encompassing BT-9 and BT-11) and eastern (including Core Sound and the 
eastern portion of restricted air space R-5306). In total, 281 dolphins 
were sighted in the western range. To account for animals likely missed 
during sightings (i.e., those below the surface), Goodman et al. (2007) 
estimate that, in reality, 415

[[Page 71541]]

dolphins were present. Densities for bottlenose dolphins in the western 
part of Pamlico Sound were calculated to be 0.0272/km\2\ in winter; 
0.2158/km\2\ in autumn; 0.0371/km\2\ in summer; and 0.0946/km\2\ in 
summer (Goodman et al., 2007). Dolphins were sighted throughout the 
entire range when mean sea surface temperature (SST) was 7.60 [deg]C to 
30.82 [deg]C, with fewer dolphins sighted as water temperatures 
increased. Like in Mayer (2003), dolphins were found in higher numbers 
around BT-11, a range where no live firing occurs.
    In 2000, Duke University Marine Lab (DUML), conducted a boat-based 
mark-recapture survey throughout the estuaries, bays and sounds of 
North Carolina (Read et al., 2003). This summer survey yielded a 
dolphin density of 0.183/km\2\ (0.071 mi\2\) based on an estimate of 
919 dolphins for the northern inshore waters divided by an estimated 
5,015 km\2\ (1,936 mi\2\) survey area. Additionally, from July 2002-
June 2003, the USMC supported DUML to conduct dolphin surveys 
specifically in and around BT-9 and BT-11. During these surveys, one 
sighting in the restricted area surrounding BT-9 and two sightings in 
proximity to BT-11 were observed, as well as seven sightings in waters 
adjacent to the BTs. In total, 276 bottlenose dolphins were sighted 
ranging in group size from two to 70 animals with mean dolphin density 
in BT-11 more than twice as large as the density of any of the other 
areas; however, the daily densities were not significantly different 
(Maher, 2003). Estimated dolphin density at BT-9 and BT-11 based on 
these surveys were calculated to be 0.11 dolphins/km\2\, and 1.23 
dolphins/km\2\, respectively, based on boat surveys conducted from July 
2002 through June 2003 (excluding April, May, Sept. and Jan.). However, 
the USMC choose to estimate take of dolphins based on the higher 
density reported from the summer 2000 surveys (0.183/km\2\). Although 
the aerial surveys were conducted year round and therefore provide for 
seasonal density estimates, the average year-round density from the 
aerial surveys is 0.0936, lower than the 0.183/km\2\ density chosen to 
calculate take for purposes of this MMPA authorization. Additionally, 
Goodman et al. (2007) acknowledged that boat based density estimates 
may be more accurate than the uncorrected estimates derived from the 
aerial surveys.
    In Pamlico Sound, bottlenose dolphins concentrate in shallow water 
habitats along shorelines, and few, if any, individuals are present in 
the central portions of the sounds (Gannon, 2003; Read et al., 2003a, 
2003b). The dolphins utilize shallow habitats, such as tributary creeks 
and the edges of the Neuse River, where the bottom depth is less than 
3.5 m (Gannon, 2003). Fine-scale distribution of dolphins seems to 
relate to the presence of topography or vertical structure, such as the 
steeply-sloping bottom near the shore and oyster reefs, which may be 
used to facilitate prey capture (Gannon, 2003). Results of a passive 
acoustic monitoring effort conducted from 2006-2007 by Duke University 
researchers validated this information. Vocalizations of dolphins in 
the BT-11 vicinity were higher in August and September than 
vocalization detection at BT-9, an open water area (Read et al., 2007). 
Additionally, detected vocalizations of dolphins were more frequent at 
night for the BT-9 area and during early morning hours at BT-11.
    Unlike migrating whales which display strong temporal foraging and 
mating/birthing periods, many bottlenose dolphins in Pamlico Sound are 
residents and mate year round. However, dolphins in the southeast U.S. 
do display some reproductive seasonality. Based on neonate stranding 
records, sighting data, and births by known females, the populations of 
dolphins that frequent the North Carolina estuarine waters have calving 
peaks in spring but calving continues throughout the summer and is 
followed by a smaller number of fall births (Thayer et al., 2003).
    Bottlenose dolphins can typically hear within a broad frequency 
range of 0.04 to 160 kHz (Au, 1993; Turl, 1993). Electrophysiological 
experiments suggest that the bottlenose dolphin brain has a dual 
analysis system: one specialized for ultrasonic clicks and another for 
lower-frequency sounds, such as whistles (Ridgway, 2000). Scientists 
have reported a range of highest sensitivity between 25 and 70 kHz, 
with peaks in sensitivity at 25 and 50 kHz (Nachtigall et al., 2000). 
Recent research on the same individuals indicates that auditory 
thresholds obtained by electrophysiological methods correlate well with 
those obtained in behavior studies, except at some lower (10 kHz) and 
higher (80 and 100 kHz) frequencies (Finneran and Houser, 2006).
    Sounds emitted by bottlenose dolphins have been classified into two 
broad categories: pulsed sounds (including clicks and burst-pulses) and 
narrow-band continuous sounds (whistles), which usually are frequency 
modulated. Clicks have a dominant frequency range of 110 to 130 
kiloHertz (kHz) and a source level of 218 to 228 dB re 1 [mu]Pa (peak-
to-peak) (Au, 1993) and 3.4 to 14.5 kHz at 125 to 173 dB re 1 [mu]Pa 
(peak-to-peak) (Ketten, 1998). Whistles are primarily associated with 
communication and can serve to identify specific individuals (i.e., 
signature whistles) (Caldwell and Caldwell, 1965; Janik et al., 2006). 
Up to 52 percent of whistles produced by bottlenose dolphin groups with 
mother-calf pairs can be classified as signature whistles (Cook et al., 
2004). Sound production is also influenced by group type (single or 
multiple individuals), habitat, and behavior (Nowacek, 2005). Bray 
calls (low-frequency vocalizations; majority of energy below 4 kHz), 
for example, are used when capturing fish, specifically sea trout 
(Salmo trutta) and Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), in some regions 
(i.e., Moray Firth, Scotland) (Janik, 2000). Additionally, whistle 
production has been observed to increase while feeding (Acevedo-
Guti[eacute]rrez and Stienessen, 2004; Cook et al., 2004).

Potential Effects on Marine Mammals

    As mentioned previously, with respect to military readiness 
activities, Section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA defines ``harassment'' as: (i) 
Any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a 
marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A Harassment]; 
or (ii) any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal 
or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural 
behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, 
surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where 
such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered [Level 
B Harassment].
    The USMC has concluded that harassment to marine mammals may occur 
incidental to munitions firing noise and pressure at the BTs. These 
military readiness activities would result in increased noise levels, 
explosions, and munition debris within bottlenose dolphin habitat. NMFS 
also considered the potential for harassment from vessel and aircraft 
operation. NMFS' analysis of potential impacts from these factors, 
including consideration of the USMC's analysis in its application, is 
outlined below.

Anthropogenic Sound

    Marine mammals respond to various types of anthropogenic sounds 
introduced in the ocean environment. Responses are highly variable and 
depend on a suite of internal and external factors which in turn 
results in varying degrees of significance (NRC, 2003; Southall et al., 
2007). Internal factors include: (1) Individual hearing

[[Page 71542]]

sensitivity, activity pattern, and motivational and behavioral state 
(e.g., feeding, traveling) at the time it receives the stimulus; (2) 
past exposure of the animal to the noise, which may lead to habituation 
or sensitization; (3) individual noise tolerance; and (4) demographic 
factors such as age, sex, and presence of dependent offspring. External 
factors include: (1) Non-acoustic characteristics of the sound source 
(e.g., if it is moving or stationary); (2) environmental variables 
(e.g., substrate) which influence sound transmission; and (3) habitat 
characteristics and location (e.g., open ocean vs. confined area). To 
determine whether an animal perceives the sound, the received level, 
frequency, and duration of the sound are compared to ambient noise 
levels and the species' hearing sensitivity range. That is, if the 
frequency of an introduced sound is outside of the species' frequency 
hearing range, it cannot be heard. Similarly, if the frequency is on 
the upper or lower end of the species hearing range, the sound must be 
louder in order to be heard.
    Marine mammal responses to anthropogenic noise are typically subtle 
and can include visible and acoustic reactions such as avoidance, 
altered dive patterns and cessation of pre-exposure activities and 
vocalization reactions such as increasing or decreasing call rates or 
shifting call frequency. Responses can also be unobservable, such as 
stress hormone production and auditory trauma or fatigue. It is not 
always known how these behavioral and physiological responses relate to 
significant effects (e.g., long-term effects or individual/population 
consequences); however, individuals and populations can be monitored to 
provide some insight into the consequences of exposing marine mammals 
to noise. For example, Haviland-Howell et al. (2007) compared sighting 
rates of bottlenose dolphins within the Wilmington, NC stretch of the 
Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) on weekends, when recreational 
vessel traffic was high, to weekdays, when vessel traffic was 
relatively minimal. The authors found that dolphins were less often 
sighted in the ICW during times of increased boat traffic (i.e., on 
weekends) and theorized that because vessel noise falls within the 
frequencies of dolphin communication whistles and primary energy of 
most fish vocalizations, the continuous vessel traffic along that 
stretch of the ICW could result in social and foraging impacts. 
However, the extent to which these impacts affect individual health and 
population structure is unknown.
    A full assessment of marine mammal responses and disturbances when 
exposed to anthropogenic sound can be found in NMFS' proposed 
rulemaking for the Navy Cherry Point Range Complex (74 FR 11057, March 
16, 2009). That rulemaking was made final on June 15, 2009 (74 FR 
28370). In summary, sound exposure may result in physiological impacts, 
stress responses, and behavioral responses which could affect proximate 
or ultimate life functions. Proximate life history functions are the 
functions that the animal is engaged in at the time of acoustic 
exposure. The ultimate life functions are those that enable an animal 
to contribute to the population (or stock, or species, etc.).

I. Physiology-Hearing Threshold Shift

    In mammals, high-intensity sound may rupture the eardrum, damage 
the small bones in the middle ear, or over stimulate the 
electromechanical hair cells that convert the fluid motions caused by 
sound into neural impulses that are sent to the brain. Lower level 
exposures may cause a loss of hearing sensitivity, termed a threshold 
shift (TS) (Miller, 1974). Incidence of TS may be either permanent, 
referred to as permanent threshold shift (PTS), or temporary, referred 
to as temporary threshold shift (TTS). The amplitude, duration, 
frequency, and temporal pattern, and energy distribution of sound 
exposure all affect the amount of associated TS and the frequency range 
in which it occurs. As amplitude and duration of sound exposure 
increase, generally, so does the amount of TS and recovery time. Human 
non-impulsive noise exposure guidelines are based on exposures of equal 
energy (the same SEL) producing equal amounts of hearing impairment 
regardless of how the sound energy is distributed in time (NIOSH 1998). 
Until recently, previous marine mammal TTS studies have also generally 
supported this equal energy relationship (Southall et al., 2007). Three 
newer studies, two by Mooney et al. (2009a, 2009b) on a single 
bottlenose dolphin either exposed to playbacks of Navy MFAS or octave-
band noise (4-8 kHz) and one by Kastak et al. (2007) on a single 
California sea lion exposed to airborne octave-band noise (centered at 
2.5 kHz), concluded that for all noise exposure situations the equal 
energy relationship may not be the best indicator to predict TTS onset 
levels. Generally, with sound exposures of equal energy, those that 
were quieter (lower sound pressure level [SPL]) with longer duration 
were found to induce TTS onset more than those of louder (higher SPL) 
and shorter duration (more similar to noise from AS Cherry Point 
exercises). For intermittent sounds, less TS will occur than from a 
continuous exposure with the same energy (some recovery will occur 
between exposures) (Kryter et al., 1966; Ward, 1997). Additionally, 
though TTS is temporary, very prolonged exposure to sound strong enough 
to elicit TTS, or shorter-term exposure to sound levels well above the 
TTS threshold, can cause PTS, at least in terrestrial mammals (Kryter, 
1985). However, these studies highlight the inherent complexity of 
predicting TTS onset in marine mammals, as well as the importance of 
considering exposure duration when assessing potential impacts.
    PTS consists of non-recoverable physical damage to the sound 
receptors in the ear, which can include total or partial deafness, or 
an impaired ability to hear sounds in specific frequency ranges; PTS is 
considered Level A harassment. TTS is recoverable and is considered to 
result from temporary, non-injurious impacts to hearing-related 
tissues; TTS is considered Level B harassment.

Permanent Threshold Shift

    Auditory trauma represents direct mechanical injury to hearing 
related structures, including tympanic membrane rupture, 
disarticulation of the middle ear ossicles, and trauma to the inner ear 
structures such as the organ of Corti and the associated hair cells. 
Auditory trauma is irreversible and considered to be an injury that 
could result in PTS. PTS results from exposure to intense sounds that 
cause a permanent loss of inner or outer cochlear hair cells or exceed 
the elastic limits of certain tissues and membranes in the middle and 
inner ears and result in changes in the chemical composition of the 
inner ear fluids. In some cases, there can be total or partial deafness 
across all frequencies, whereas in other cases, the animal has an 
impaired ability to hear sounds in specific frequency ranges. There is 
no empirical data for onset of PTS in any marine mammal, and therefore, 
PTS- onset must be estimated from TTS-onset measurements and from the 
rate of TTS growth with increasing exposure levels above the level 
eliciting TTS-onset. PTS is presumed to be likely if the hearing 
threshold is reduced by >= 40 dB (i.e., 40 dB of TTS). Relationships 
between TTS and PTS thresholds have not been studied in marine mammals, 
but are assumed to be similar to those in humans and other terrestrial 
mammals.

[[Page 71543]]

Temporary Threshold Shift

    TTS is the mildest form of hearing impairment that can occur during 
exposure to a loud sound (Kryter, 1985). Southall et al. (2007) 
indicate that although PTS is a tissue injury, TTS is not because the 
reduced hearing sensitivity following exposure to intense sound results 
primarily from fatigue, not loss, of cochlear hair cells and supporting 
structures and is reversible. Accordingly, NMFS classifies TTS as Level 
B Harassment, not Level A Harassment (injury); however, NMFS does not 
consider the onset of TTS to be the lowest level at which Level B 
Harassment may occur (see III. Behavior section below).
    Southall et al. (2007) considers a 6 dB TTS (i.e., baseline hearing 
thresholds are elevated by 6 dB) sufficient to be recognized as an 
unequivocal deviation and thus a sufficient definition of TTS onset. 
TTS in bottlenose dolphin hearing have been experimentally induced. For 
example, Finneran et al. (2002) exposed a trained captive bottlenose 
dolphin to a seismic watergun simulator with a single acoustic pulse. 
No TTS was observed in the dolphin at the highest exposure condition 
(peak: 207 kPa [30psi]; peak-to-peak: 228 dB re: 1 microPa; SEL: 188 dB 
re 1 microPa\2\-s). Schludt et al. (2000) demonstrated temporary shifts 
in masked hearing thresholds in five bottlenose dolphins occurring 
generally between 192 and 201 dB rms (192 and 201 dB SEL) after 
exposure to intense, non-pulse, 1-s tones at, 3kHz, 10kHz, and 20 kHz. 
TTS onset occurred at mean sound exposure level of 195 dB rms (195 dB 
SEL). At 0.4 kHz, no subjects exhibited threshold shifts after SPL 
exposures of 193dB re: 1 microPa (192 dB re: 1 microPa\2\-s). In the 
same study, at 75 kHz, one dolphin exhibited a TTS after exposure at 
182 dB SPL re: 1 microPa but not at higher exposure levels. Another 
dolphin experienced no threshold shift after exposure to maximum SPL 
levels of 193 dB re: 1 microPa at the same frequency. Frequencies of 
explosives used at MCAS Cherry Point range from 1-25 kHz; the range 
where dolphin TTS onset occurred at 195 dB rms in the Schludt et al. 
(2000) study.
    Preliminary research indicates that TTS and recovery after noise 
exposure are frequency dependent and that an inverse relationship 
exists between exposure time and sound pressure level associated with 
exposure (Mooney et al., 2005; Mooney, 2006). For example, Nachtigall 
et al. (2003) measured TTS in a bottlenose dolphin and found an average 
11 dB shift following a 30 minute net exposure to OBN at a 7.5 kHz 
center frequency (max SPL of 179 dB re: 1 microPa; SEL: 212-214 dB re: 
1 microPa\2\-s). No TTS was observed after exposure to the same 
duration and frequency noise with maximum SPLs of 165 and 171 dB re: 1 
microPa. After 50 minutes of exposure to the same 7.5 kHz frequency 
OBN, Natchigall et al. (2004) measured a 4-8 dB shift (max SPL: 160dB 
re 1microPa; SEL: 193-195 dB re:1 microPa\2\-s). Finneran et al. (2005) 
concluded that a sound exposure level of 195 dB re 1 [mu]Pa2-s is a 
reasonable threshold for the onset of TTS in bottlenose dolphins 
exposed to mid-frequency tones.

II. Stress Response

    An acoustic source is considered a potential stressor if, by its 
action on the animal, via auditory or non-auditory means, it may 
produce a stress response in the animal. Here, the stress response will 
refer to an increase in energetic expenditure that results from 
exposure to the stressor and which is predominantly characterized by 
either the stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) or the 
hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis (Reeder and Kramer, 2005). 
The SNS response to a stressor is immediate and acute and is 
characterized by the release of the catecholamine neurohormones 
norepinephrine and epinephrine (i.e., adrenaline). These hormones 
produce elevations in the heart and respiration rate, increase 
awareness, and increase the availability of glucose and lipids for 
energy. The HPA response is ultimately defined by increases in the 
secretion of the glucocorticoid steroid hormones, predominantly 
cortisol in mammals. The presence and magnitude of a stress response in 
an animal depends on a number of factors. These include the animal's 
life history stage (e.g., neonate, juvenile, adult), the environmental 
conditions, reproductive or developmental state, and experience with 
the stressor. Not only will these factors be subject to individual 
variation, but they will also vary within an individual over time. The 
stress response may or may not result in a behavioral change, depending 
on the characteristics of the exposed animal. However, provided a 
stress response occurs, we assume that some contribution is made to the 
animal's allostatic load. Any immediate effect of exposure that 
produces an injury is assumed to also produce a stress response and 
contribute to the allostatic load. Allostasis is the ability of an 
animal to maintain stability through change by adjusting its physiology 
in response to both predictable and unpredictable events (McEwen and 
Wingfield, 2003). If the acoustic source does not produce tissue 
effects, is not perceived by the animal, or does not produce a stress 
response by any other means, we assume that the exposure does not 
contribute to the allostatic load. Additionally, without a stress 
response or auditory masking, it is assumed that there can be no 
behavioral change.

III. Behavior

    Changes in marine mammal behavior in response to anthropogenic 
noise may include altered travel directions, increased swimming speeds, 
changes in dive, surfacing, respiration and feeding patterns, and 
changes in vocalizations. As described above, lower level physiological 
stress responses could also co-occur with altered behavior; however, 
stress responses are more difficult to detect and fewer data exist 
relative to specific received levels of sound.

Acoustic Masking

    Anthropogenic noise can interfere with, or mask, detection of 
acoustic signals such as communication calls, echolocation, and 
environmental sounds important to marine mammals. Southall et al. 
(2007) defines auditory masking as the partial or complete reduction in 
the audibility of signals due to the presence of interfering noise with 
the degree of masking depending on the spectral, temporal, and spatial 
relationships between signals and masking noise, as well as the 
respective received levels. Masking of sender communication space can 
be considered as the amount of change in a sender's communication space 
caused by the presence of other sounds, relative to a pre-industrial 
ambient noise condition (Clark et al., in press). Unlike auditory 
fatigue, which always results in a stress response because the sensory 
tissues are being stimulated beyond their normal physiological range, 
masking may or may not result in a stress response, depending on the 
degree and duration of the masking effect. Masking may also result in a 
unique circumstance where an animal's ability to detect other sounds is 
compromised without the animal's knowledge. This could conceivably 
result in sensory impairment and subsequent behavior change; in this 
case, the change in behavior is the lack of a response that would 
normally be made if sensory impairment did not occur. For this reason, 
masking also may lead directly to behavior change without first causing 
a stress response. Projecting noise into

[[Page 71544]]

the marine environment which causes acoustic masking is considered 
Level B harassment as it can disrupt natural behavioral patterns by 
interrupting or limiting the marine mammal's receipt or transmittal of 
important information or environmental cues. To compensate for masking, 
marine mammals, including bottlenose dolphins, are known to increase 
their levels of vocalization as a function of background noise by 
increasing call repetition and amplitude, shifting calls higher 
frequencies, and/or changing the structure of call content (Lesage et 
al., 1999; Scheifele et al., 2005; McIwem, 2006).
    While it may occur temporarily, NMFS does not expect auditory 
masking to result in detrimental impacts to an individual's or 
population's survival, fitness, or reproductive success. Dolphins are 
not confined to the BT ranges; allowing for movement out of area to 
avoid masking impacts. The USMC would also conduct visual sweeps of the 
area before any training exercise and implement training delay 
mitigation measures if a dolphin is sighted within designated zones 
(see Proposed Mitigation Measures section below). As discussed 
previously, the USMC has been working with DUML to collect baseline 
information on dolphins in Pamlico Sound, specifically dolphin 
abundance and habitat use around the BTs. The USMC has also recently 
accepted a DUML proposal to investigate methods of dolphin acoustic 
detection around the BTs. NMFS would encourage the USMC to expand 
acoustic investigations to include the impacts of training exercises on 
vocalization properties (e.g., call content, duration, frequency) and 
masking (e.g., communication and foraging impairment) of the affected 
population of dolphins in Pamlico Sound.

Assessment of Marine Mammal Impacts From Explosive Ordnances

    MCAS Cherry Point plans to use five types of explosive sources 
during its training exercises: 2.75'' Rocket High Explosives, 5'' 
Rocket High Explosives, 30 mm High Explosives, 40 mm High Explosives, 
and G911 grenades. The underwater explosions from these weapons would 
send a shock wave and blast noise through the water, release gaseous 
by-products, create an oscillating bubble, and cause a plume of water 
to shoot up from the water surface. The shock wave and blast noise are 
of most concern to marine animals. In general, potential impacts from 
explosive detonations can range from brief effects (such as short term 
behavioral disturbance), tactile perception, physical discomfort, 
slight injury of the internal organs and the auditory system, to death 
of the animal (Yelverton et al., 1973; O'Keeffe and Young, 1984; DoN, 
2001).
    Explosives produce significant acoustic energy across several 
frequency decades of bandwidth (i.e., broadband). Propagation loss is 
sufficiently sensitive to frequency as to require model estimates at 
several frequencies over such a wide band. The effects of an underwater 
explosion on a marine mammal depend on many factors, including the 
size, type, and depth of both the animal and the explosive charge; the 
depth of the water column; and the standoff distance between the charge 
and the animal, as well as the sound propagation properties of the 
environment. The net explosive weight (or NEW) of an explosive is the 
weight of TNT required to produce an equivalent explosive power. The 
detonation depth of an explosive is particularly important due to a 
propagation effec