Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Navy Training Conducted at the Silver Strand Training Complex, San Diego Bay, 19231-19242 [2012-7593]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 62 / Friday, March 30, 2012 / Notices H. Discussions. 6. Improving ACL specifications and stock assessments. A. Overview of the ACL process and FY2012 specification. B. Report on the Council—NMFS ACL Revisited Workshop. C. Surplus production model using biomass, catch, and natural mortality estimates. D. Length-based estimation of fishing and natural mortality in Hawaii coral reef fishes. E. Kona crab stock assessment. F. Update on the kumu stock assessment. G. Use of fish trap CPUE as proxy for estimating stock abundance. H. Discussions. April 20, 2012—8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. 7. Data collection and reporting issues. A. Report on the Non-Commercial Data Workshop. B. Report on the Pacific Island Regional Office data contracts. C. Report on the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation boat registry survey. D. Discussion on potential improvements in the Hawaii data collection. E. Annual Archipelagic Fishery Ecosystem Reports. F. Discussions. 8. Essential Fish Habitat/Habitat Area of Particular Concern. A. Hawaii coral reef EFH project. B. Hawaii EFH and HAPC for coral reef, pelagic and precious corals. C. Discussions. 9. Protected species issues. A. List of fisheries 2012: Marine Mammal Protection Act issues. 10. Developing Cooperative Research priorities. 11. Discussions. 12. Other Business. 13. Public Comment. 14. HI–PRIA PT recommendations. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Special Accommodations These meetings are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Kitty M. Simonds, (808) 522–8220 (voice) or (808) 522– 8226 (fax), at least 5 days prior to the meeting date. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: March 27, 2012. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2012–7660 Filed 3–29–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:11 Mar 29, 2012 Jkt 226001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XB129 New England Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; public meeting. AGENCY: The New England Fishery Management Council (Council) is scheduling a public meeting of its Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) to consider actions affecting New England fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Recommendations from this group will be brought to the full Council for formal consideration and action, if appropriate. DATES: This meeting will be held on Monday, April 16, 2012 at 8 a.m. ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held at the Hotel Providence, 137 Mathewson Street, Providence, RI 02903; telephone: (401) 861–8000; fax: (401) 861–8002. Council address: New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul J. Howard, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council; telephone: (978) 465–0492. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The NEFMC’s Scientific and Statistical Committee will: a. Complete development of fishing year 2013 and 2014 ABC recommendations for redfish, Georges Bank haddock, Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank windowpane flounder, Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic windowpane flounder, ocean pout, wolffish and halibut, for recommendations not completed from the March 28, 2012 SSC meeting. b. Review assessments and develop fishing year 2013 and 2014 ABC recommendations for Georges Bank cod, Gulf of Maine haddock, Cape Cod/Gulf of Maine yellowtail flounder, American plaice, witch flounder and Georges Bank/Gulf of Maine white hake. c. Other business may be discussed. The public is invited to participate in the SSC meeting via webinar. For online access to the meeting, please reserve your webinar seat now at https:// www3.gotomeeting.com/register/ 309803270. Although non-emergency issues not contained in this agenda may come before this group for discussion, th ose SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 19231 issues may not be the subject of formal action during this meeting. Action will be restricted to those issues specifically listed in this notice and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, provided the public has been notified of the Council’s intent to take final action to address the emergency. Special Accommodations This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Paul J. Howard, Executive Director, at (978) 465–0492, at least 5 days prior to the meeting date. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: March 27, 2012. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2012–7658 Filed 3–29–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XZ14 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Navy Training Conducted at the Silver Strand Training Complex, San Diego Bay National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; additional information for the proposed incidental harassment authorization; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS has received an application from the U.S. Navy (Navy) for an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to conducting training exercises at the Silver Strand Training Complex (SSTC) in the vicinity of San Diego Bay, California. Subsequently, additional information on marine mammals and proposed improvement on marine mammal monitoring and mitigation measures was received from the Navy. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an IHA to the Navy to incidentally harass, by Level B Harassment only, eight species of marine mammals during the specified activity. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\30MRN1.SGM 30MRN1 19232 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 62 / Friday, March 30, 2012 / Notices Background 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.’’ The National Defense Authorization Act of 2004 (NDAA) (Public Law 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]. 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. Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional taking of small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) 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 shall 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 subsistence uses (where relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the Summary of Request NMFS received an application on March 3, 2010, and subsequently, a revised application on September 13, 2010, from the Navy for the taking, by harassment, of marine mammals incidental to conducting training exercises at the Navy’s Silver Strand Training Complex (SSTC) in the vicinity of San Diego Bay, California. On October 19, 2010, NMFS published a Federal Register notice (75 FR 64276) requesting comments from the public concerning the Navy’s proposed training activities along with NMFS’ proposed IHA. However, on March 4, 2011, three long-beaked common dolphins were found dead following the Navy’s mine neutralization training exercise involving time-delayed firing devices (TDFDs) at SSTC, and were suspected to be killed by the detonation. In short, a Comments and information must be received no later than April 30, 2012. ADDRESSES: Comments on the application should be addressed to Tammy C. Adams, Acting 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.guan@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 will generally be posted to http:// 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 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: http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental.htm. Documents cited in this notice may also be viewed, by appointment, during regular business hours, at the aforementioned address. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shane Guan, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8418. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES DATES: VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:11 Mar 29, 2012 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 TDFD device begins a countdown to a detonation event that cannot be stopped, for example, with a 10-min TDFD, once the detonation has been initiated, 10 minutes pass before the detonation occurs and the event cannot be cancelled during that 10 minutes. Subsequently, NMFS suspended the IHA process for SSTC and worked with the Navy to come up with more robust monitoring and mitigation measures to prevent such incidents. On July 22, 2011, the Navy submitted an addendum to its IHA application which includes additional information and additional mitigation and monitoring measures for its proposed mine neutralization training exercises using TDFDs at SSTC to ensure that the potential for injury or mortality is minimized. Description of the Specific Activity A detailed description of the Navy’s proposed training activities at the SSTC is provided in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (75 FR 64276; October 19, 2010), Specifically, major training activities at SSTC include underwater detonation and elevated causeway system (ELCAS) training. There are no changes on the description of the ELCAS training from the original proposed IHA (75 FR 64276; October 19, 2010), therefore, it is not repeated here. However, the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA did not include a description of TDFDs, which are used to detonate the explosives in the majority of the proposed underwater detonation training related to mine neutralization instead of directly detonating the explosives using positive control (which was described)). A TDFD device begins a countdown to a detonation event with a time-delaying device. For example, with a 10-min TDFD, the actual detonation will be started 10 minutes after the device is set. In addition, there is no mechanism to stop (abort) the preset explosion once the device has been set. The following is a detailed description regarding the justification and procedures for underwater detonation using TDFDs. The Need for Underwater Detonation Using TDFDs The Navy uses both timed-delayed and positive control to initiate a particular underwater detonation depending on the training event in question and in particular, the training objectives applicable to that underwater detonation. TDFDs are the simplest, safest, most operationally sound method of initiating a demolition charge on a floating mine or mine at depth. TDFDs are used because of their light weight ease of employment and low magnetic E:\FR\FM\30MRN1.SGM 30MRN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 62 / Friday, March 30, 2012 / Notices signature in cases of mines sensitive to magnetic fields. In addition, TDFD are HERO safe (‘‘hazards of electromagnetic radiation to ordnance’’ safe), meaning there is reduced risk of accidental detonations from nearby radios or other electromagnetic radiation producing devices. The use of TDFD eliminates the need to re-deploy swimmers from a helicopter or boat to recover equipment used with positive control firing devices such as the RFD. The TDFD also allows sufficient time for EOD personnel to swim outside of the detonation plume radius and human safety buffer zone after the timer is set. Although other detonation initiation devices, such as an RFD (a type of positive control device) can be used to initiate an underwater detonation, it is not normally preferred as the primary firing device due to HERO (see above) concerns with electric detonators, Operational Risk Management (i.e., safety) considerations, and established Navy tactical procedures. Current Navy RFD uses a radio signal to remotely detonate a charge. By using electronic positive control devices such as the RFD as the only alternative to a TDFD, additional electronic signals, and metal from the receiver and wiring is unnecessarily introduced into an influence ordnance operating environment. It is not consistent with sound safety principles or good demolition practice to combine different firing circuits to a demolition charge. For instance, in a live mine field, Navy dive platoons expect there to be additional risks, such as unknown mines with different types of influence firing circuits (i.e., detonated by contact, magnetic field, or certain sounds) in close proximity to a mine they are trying to destroy. The use of a TDFD reduces these risks by limiting the possibility of unintentionally triggering detonation from unknown mine types. Underwater demolition needs to be kept as simple and streamlined as possible, especially when divers and influence ordnance are considered. In an open ocean environment, universal use of RFDs would greatly increase the risk of misfire due to component failure, and put unnecessary stress on all needed connections and devices (adding 600– 1,000 feet of firing wire; building\deploying an improvised, bulky, floating system for the RFD receiver; adding another 180 feet of detonating cord plus 10 feet of additional material). While positive control devices do allow for instantaneous detonation of a charge and are used for some SSTC training events, exclusive use of RFD would introduce operationally unsound VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:11 Mar 29, 2012 Jkt 226001 tactics, thereby increasing future risks to Navy dive teams. Therefore, it is essential that EOD and NSW platoons qualify annually with necessary timedelay certification, maintain proficiency, and train to face real-world scenarios requiring use of TDFDs. General Underwater Detonation Procedures Prior to getting underway, all Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and Naval Special Warfare (NSW) units conduct a detailed safety and procedure briefing to familiarize everyone with the goals, objectives, and safety requirements (including mitigation zones) applicable to the particular training event. Underwater detonations only occur during daylight. Underwater detonations are only conducted in sea-states equal to or less than Beaufort 3 (presence of large wavelets, crests beginning to break, presence of glassy foam, and/or perhaps scattered whitecaps). Applicable mitigation zones are established and visual survey commences for 30 minutes before detonation. Divers enter the water to conduct the training objective which could include searching for a training object such as a simulated mine or mine-like shape. For the detonation part of the training, the explosive charge and associate charge initiating device are taken to the detonation point. The explosives Navy EOD and NSW use are military forms of C–4 explosives. In order to detonate C– 4 explosives, a fusing and initiating device is required. The two main types of Navy charge initiating devices are discussed in a subsequent section. Following a particular underwater detonation, additional personnel in the support boats (or helicopter) keep watch within the mitigation zone for 30 minutes. Other changes the Navy proposed since the previous proposed IHA was issued include the addition of a new point sub-area Training Area-Kilo (TA– K), which is designated 500 yards west of the SSTC–SOUTH boat lanes with a 500 m radius (Table 1–1, Figure 1–1, of the Navy’s Addendum). The TA–K area would be used to conduct small charge weight (< 20 lbs) underwater detonations. Additional information concerning underwater detonations is also provided in the Navy’s Addendum, and is included below: PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 19233 Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity Common marine mammal species occurring regularly in the vicinity of the SSTC training area include the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus), Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardsii), California coastal stock of bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), and more infrequently gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus). Detailed descriptions of these species are provided in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (75 FR 64276; October 19, 2010) and are not repeated here. In addition to these four common species, the additional four dolphin species listed below have been sighted in the vicinity of the SSTC training area, but much less frequently. None are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Further information on these species can also be found in the NMFS Stock Assessment Reports (SAR). The Pacific 2010 SAR is available at: http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/sars/ po2010.pdf. Long-Beaked Common Dolphin (Delphinus capensis), California Stock Long-beaked common dolphins (Delphis capensis) are found year-round in the waters off California (Carretta et al. 2000; Bearzi 2005; DoN 2009, 2010). The distribution and abundance of longbeaked common dolphins appears to be variable based on inter-annual and seasonal time scales (Dohl et al. 1986; Heyning and Perrin 1994; Barlow 1995; Forney et al. 1995; Forney and Barlow 2007). As oceanographic conditions change, long-beaked common dolphins may move between Mexican and U.S. waters, and therefore a multi-year average abundance estimate is the most appropriate for management within the U.S. waters (Carretta et al. 2010). California waters represent the northern limit for this stock and animal’s likely movement between U.S. and Mexican waters. No information on trends in abundance is available for this stock because of high inter-annual variability in line-transect abundance estimates (Carretta et al. 2010). Heyning and Perrin (1994) detected changes in the proportion of short-beaked to longbeaked common dolphins stranding along the California coast, with the short-beaked common dolphin stranding more frequently prior to the ˜ 1982–83 El Nino (which increased water temperatures off California), and the long-beaked common dolphin more frequently observed for several years afterwards. Thus, it appears that both E:\FR\FM\30MRN1.SGM 30MRN1 19234 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 62 / Friday, March 30, 2012 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES relative and absolute abundance of these species off California may change with varying oceanographic conditions (Carretta et al. 2010). Common dolphin distributions may be related to bathymetry (Hui 1979). Long-beaked common dolphins are usually found within 50 nautical miles (nm) (92.5 km) of shore with significantly more occurrence near canyons, escarpments, and slopes (Heyning and Perrin 1994; Barlow et al. 1997; Bearzi 2005, 2006). Group size ranges from less than a dozen to several thousand individuals (Barlow and Forney 2007; Barlow et al. 2010). Sparse information is available on the life history of long-beaked common dolphins, however, some information is provided for short-beaked common dolphins which may also apply to long-beaked dolphins. North Pacific short-beaked common dolphin females and males reach sexual maturity at roughly 8 and 10 years, respectively (Ferrero and Walker 1995). Peak calving season for common dolphins in the eastern North Pacific may be spring and early summer (Forney 1994). Barlow (2010) reported average group size for long-beaked common dolphins within a Southern California-specific stratum as 195 individuals from a 2008 survey along the U.S. West Coast. The geometric mean abundance estimate in NMFS’ annual stock assessment for the entire California stock of long-beaked common dolphins, based on two ship surveys conducted in 2005 and 2008, is 27,046 (CV=0.59) (Forney 2007; Barlow 2010; Carretta et al. 2010). Using a more stratified approach, Barlow et al. (2010) estimated abundance within a Southern California-specific strata of 16,480 (CV=0.41) long-beaked common dolphins based on analysis of pooled sighting data from 1991–2008. Pacific White-Sided Dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens), California/Oregon/Washington Stock While Pacific white-sided dolphins could potentially occur year-round in Southern California, surveys suggest a seasonal north-south movement in the eastern North Pacific, with animals found primarily off California during the colder water months and shifting northward into Oregon and Washington as water temperatures increase during late spring and summer (Green et al. 1992, 1993; Forney 1994; Forney and Barlow 2007; Barlow 2010). Salvadeo et al. (2010) propose that increased global warming may increase a northward shift in Pacific white-sided dolphins. The Pacific white-sided dolphin is most common in waters over the continental shelf and slope, however, sighting records and captures in pelagic driftnets VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:11 Mar 29, 2012 Jkt 226001 indicate that this species also occurs in oceanic waters well beyond the shelf and slope (Leatherwood et al. 1984; DoN 2009, 2010). Soldevilla et al. (2010a) reported the possibility of two distinct eco-types of Pacific white-sided dolphins occurring in Southern California based on passive acoustic detection of two distinct echolocation click patterns. No population trends have been observed in California or adjacent waters. Barlow (2010) reported average group size for Pacific whitesided dolphins within a Southern California-specific stratum as 17 from a 2008 survey along the U.S. West Coast. The size of the entire California/Oregon/ Washington Stock is estimated to be 26,930 (CV=0.28) individuals (Forney 2007, Barlow, 2010). Using a more stratified approach, Barlow et al. (2010) estimated abundance within a Southern California-specific strata of 1,914 (CV=0.39) Pacific white-sided dolphins based on analysis of pooled sighting data from 1991–2008. Risso’s Dolphin (Grampus griseus), California/Oregon/Washington Stock Off the U.S. West coast, Risso’s dolphins are commonly seen on the shelf off Southern California and in slope and offshore waters of California, Oregon and Washington (Soldevilla et al. 2010b; Carretta et al. 2010). Animals found off California during the colder water months are thought to shift northward into Oregon and Washington as water temperatures increase in late spring and summer (Green et al. 1992). The southern end of this population’s range is not well documented, but previous surveys have shown a conspicuous 500 nm distributional gap between these animals and Risso’s dolphins sighted south of Baja California and in the Gulf of California (Mangels and Gerrodette 1994). Thus this population appears distinct from animals found in the eastern tropical Pacific and the Gulf of California (Carretta et al. 2010). As oceanographic conditions vary, Risso’s dolphins may spend time outside the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. Barlow (2010) reported average group size for Risso’s dolphins within a Southern California-specific stratum as 23 from a 2008 survey along the U.S. West Coast. The size of the California/Oregon/Washington Stock is estimated to be 6,272 (CV=0.30) individuals (Forney 2007; Barlow 2010; Carretta et al. 2010). Using a more stratified approach, Barlow et al. (2010) estimated abundance within a Southern California-specific strata of 3,974 (CV=0.39) Risso’s dolphins based on analysis of pooled sighting data from 1991–2008. PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Short-Beaked Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis), California/Oregon/ Washington Stock Short-beaked common dolphins are the most abundant cetacean off California, and are widely distributed between the coast and at least 300 nm distance from shore (Dohl et al. 1981; Forney et al. 1995; Barlow 2010; Carretta et al. 2010). Along the U.S. West Coast, portions of the short-beaked common dolphins’ distribution overlap with that of the long-beaked common dolphin. The northward extent of shortbeaked common dolphin distribution appears to vary inter-annually and with changing oceanographic conditions (Forney and Barlow 1998). Barlow (2010) reported average group size for short-beaked common dolphins within a Southern California-specific stratum as 122 from a 2008 survey along the U.S. West Coast. The size of the California/ Oregon/Washington Stock is estimated to be 411,211 (CV=0.21) individuals (Carretta et al. 2010). Using a more stratified approach, Barlow et al. (2010) estimated abundance within a Southern California-specific strata of 152,000 (CV=0.17) Risso’s dolphins based on analysis of pooled sighting data from 1991–2008. Potential Effects on Marine Mammals Anticipated impacts resulting from the Navy’s proposed SSTC training activities include disturbance from underwater detonation events and pile driving from the Elevated Causeway System (ELCAS) training events, if marine mammals are in the vicinity of these action areas. Detailed description and comprehensive analysis of the overall potential effects on marine mammals that could result from the Navy’s proposed exercises involving ELCAS training events at the SSTC action area are provided in the Federal Register notice for the original proposed IHA (75 FR 64276; October 19, 2010). The anticipated impacts from marine mammal exposure to explosive detonations and pile-driving remain unchanged, however, the nature of potential exposure has changed due to the inclusion of TDFDs and is described and analyzed below. As noted earlier, the use of TDFDs was not addressed in the original FEDERAL REGISTER notice regarding the proposed IHA (75 FR 64276; October 19, 2010). As mentioned earlier, a TDFD begins a countdown to a detonation event with a time-delaying device, and there is no mechanism to stop (abort) the pre-set explosion once the device has been set. Therefore, in the absence of any E:\FR\FM\30MRN1.SGM 30MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 62 / Friday, March 30, 2012 / Notices additional mitigation, the potential danger exists in the scenario that during the brief period after the exclusion zone is cleared and before the charges are detonated, marine mammals could enter the exclusion zone and approach close enough to the explosive to be injured or killed upon detonation. Nevertheless, the anticipated level of impacts to marine mammals without any mitigation and monitoring measures, which is assessed solely based on the density and distribution of the animals within the vicinity of the action, remains the same as analyzed in the proposed IHA. To address, and ultimately reduce and minimize the risks from underwater detonations that involve TDFDs, the Navy and NMFS developed a set of robust monitoring and mitigation measures (such as increasing the size of exclusion zones to account for the distance that a marine mammal might travel during the TDFD delay and increased pre-exercise monitoring). With the implementation of these monitoring and mitigation measures, NMFS believes that the potential effects to marine mammals that would result from the proposed SSTC training activities will remain the same as analyzed in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (75 FR 64276; October 19, 2010). These monitoring and mitigation measures are further discussed in detail below, as well as the estimated number of takes. Specific analysis on additional species with infrequent occurrence that could be affected is provided below, since they were not included in the initial proposed IHA (75 FR 64276; October 19, 2010). mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Long-Beaked Common Dolphins With the implementation of enhanced monitoring and mitigation measures (see below), there is no predicted mortality or Level A injury for longbeaked common dolphins. Modeling predicted there would potentially be 52 Level B exposures from underwater explosions and 54 Level B exposures from ELCAS pile driving and removal. Of all the relatively rare species within SSTC, the long-beaked common dolphin is the most possible given its more nearshore coastal distribution (Bearzi 2005; Carretta et al. 2010). Given low site fidelity to areas without significant bathymetric relief such as the low slope sandy bottom under the SSTC boat lanes (Hui 1979; Heyning and Perrin 1994; Bearzi 2005; 2006), NMFS believes that pre-detonation mitigation would detect long-beaked common dolphins and avoid exposure to pressure or energy VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:11 Mar 29, 2012 Jkt 226001 levels associated with injury or mortality. Pacific White-Side Dolphins With the implementation of enhanced monitoring and mitigation measures (see below), there is no predicted mortality or Level A injury for Pacific white-sided dolphins. Modeling predicted there would potentially be 13 Level B exposures from underwater explosions and 12 Level B exposures from ELCAS pile driving and removal. There is limited empirical data available to confirm Pacific white-sided dolphin species occurrence in the near shore water adjacent to the SSTC boat lanes. Movement of Pacific white-side dolphins into the SSTC boat lanes would likely be rare to very infrequent and limited in duration. NMFS believes that pre-detonation mitigation would detect Pacific white-sided dolphins, if present at all, and avoid exposure to energy or pressure levels associated with injury or mortality. Risso’s Dolphins With the implementation of enhanced monitoring and mitigation measures (see below), there is no predicted mortality or Level A injury for Risso’s dolphins. Modeling predicted there would potentially be 32 Level B exposures from underwater explosions and 30 Level B exposures from ELCAS pile driving and removal. There is limited empirical data available to confirm Risso’s dolphin species occurrence in the near shore water adjacent to the SSTC boat lanes. More Risso’s dolphin sightings occur further offshore (DoN 2009; Barlow 2010; Carretta et al. 2010; DoN 2010a). Movement of Risso’s dolphins into the SSTC boat lanes would likely be rare to very infrequent and limited in duration. NMFS believes that pre-detonation mitigation would detect Risso’s dolphins, if present at all, and avoid exposure to energy or pressure levels associated with injury or mortality. Short-Beaked Common Dolphins With the implementation of enhanced monitoring and mitigation measures (see below), there is no predicted mortality or Level A injury for shortbeaked common dolphins. Modeling predicted there would potentially be 448 Level B exposures from underwater explosions and 542 Level B exposures from ELCAS pile driving and removal. There is limited empirical data available to confirm short-beaked common dolphin species occurrence in the near shore water adjacent to the SSTC boat lanes. More short-beaked common dolphin sightings occur further offshore PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 19235 (Bearzi 2005; DoN 2009; Barlow 2010; Carretta et al. 2010; DoN 2010a). Movement of short-beaked common dolphins into the SSTC boat lanes would likely be rare to very infrequent and limited in duration. NMFS believes that pre-detonation mitigation would detect short-beaked common dolphins, if present at all, and avoid exposure to energy or pressure levels associated with injury or mortality. Anticipated Effects on Habitat Detailed description and comprehensive analysis of the overall potential effects on marine mammal habitat that could result from the Navy’s proposed training exercises at the SSTC action area are provided in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (75 FR 64276; October 19, 2010). There is no change to the original assessment of the overall potential environmental effects, therefore, they are not repeated here. Proposed Additional Mitigation Measures In order to issue an incidental take authorization 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, and on the availability of such species or stock for taking for certain subsistence uses. For the Navy’s proposed SSTC training activities, the Navy worked with NMFS and proposed a set of monitoring and mitigation measures to reduce potential impacts to marine mammals. These initial monitoring and mitigation measures were published in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA published on October 19, 2010 (75 FR 64276). Those monitoring and mitigation measures were based on the Navy’s training protocols for mine detonation that had been used over decades. As a consequence of the March 4, 2011, incident, in which long-beaked common dolphins were killed during these exercises, NMFS suspended the processing of the proposed IHA and began to re-evaluate its marine mammal effects analysis and the monitoring and mitigation measures. NMFS worked with the Navy to develop monitoring and mitigation measures to address the use of TDFDs by accounting for dolphin swim speed with an enlarged safety zone and by increasing monitoring efforts. These revised monitoring and mitigation measures are proposed specifically for underwater mine E:\FR\FM\30MRN1.SGM 30MRN1 19236 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 62 / Friday, March 30, 2012 / Notices In essence, this should allow sighting of marine mammals outside of a final mitigation zone swimming into the zone prior to starting a timed-delay detonation. Final TDFD mitigation zones are determined in a three step process: First, the distance that a dolphin could swim during the length of an individual time-delay is calculated based on swim speed. Onto this distance, another 200 yds is added as an additional buffer to account for varying individual swim speed. Second, the potential distance traveled during a time-delay is added to SSTC specific model results showing range distances to the applicable NMFS injury criteria for underwater detonations. Third, the Navy rounds the range distances calculated in Step 2 to neutralization using TDFDs, in addition to overarching general monitoring and mitigation measures developed for the Navy’s general training activities at the SSTC study area, which were described in detail in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (75 FR 64276; October 19, 2010). The derivation and description of the revised monitoring and mitigation measures are set forth below. Derivation of Timed Delayed Mitigation Zones To increase the effectiveness of the shallow water mitigation zone when using time-delayed detonations (i.e., TDFD), the existing Navy modeled zone of influence (ZOI) for a particular charge weight is enlarged to account for the distance an animal could swim during the time delay given known dolphin speed. appropriate mitigation ranges more likely to be practical in the field. A detailed discussion on each of these steps is provided below. (1) Swim Speed Estimation Using an average swim speed of 3 knots (102 yd/min) for a delphinid, the Navy provided the approximate distance that an animal would typically travel within a given time-delay period (Table 1). To account for differences between species or faster swimming by individuals within a species, the Navy and NMFS also agreed to add still another 200 yds to the original 3 knot derived ranges to account for variation in individual swim speeds. Table 1 shows both the initial 3 knot range plus the additional 200 yard buffer. TABLE 1—POTENTIAL DISTANCE TRAVELED BASED ON SWIM SPEED AND LENGTH OF TIME-DELAY AND ADDITIONAL 200 YARDS BUFFER Swim speed Delphinid ................................. 102 yd/min .............................. (2) ZOI and Swim Speed-Time-Buffer Addition 5 6 7 8 9 10 charge weight, potential dolphin travel distances by time at 3 knots plus buffer can be added to event specific ZOI to produce a matrix of charge weight, selected delay time, and applicable buffer zone (Table 2). Based on acoustic propagation modeling and anticipated zones of influences (ZOI) to NMFS injury criteria (13 psi-msec) by training event type and Potential distance traveled with additional 200 (yds) buffer (yd) Potential distance traveled (yd) Time-delay (min) Species group 510 612 714 816 918 1,020 710 812 914 1,016 1,118 1,220 As long as animals are not observed within a given time-delayed mitigation zone before the time-delay detonation is set, then the animals would be unlikely to swim into the injury zone from outside the zone within the time-delay window. TABLE 2—REVISED RADIUS FOR TIMED-DELAY FIRING DEVICES BASED ON CHARGE SIZE, LENGTH OF TIME DELAY, AND ADDITIONAL BUFFER FROM TABLE 1 Navy modeled ZOI to injury (13 psi-msec) Charge weight (NEW) mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 5 lb ................. 10 lb ............... 15–29 lb ......... Time-delay 5 min (yd) 80 160 360 790 870 1,070 (3) Final TDFD Detonation Mitigation Zones Table 3 shows the final mitigation zones and application for SSTC TDFD VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:11 Mar 29, 2012 Jkt 226001 6 min (yd) 7 min (yd) 892 972 1,172 994 1,074 1,274 underwater detonations. This required in most cases rounding (mostly upward) the calculated ranges from Table 2 to the appropriate range category (1,000, 1,400, and 1,500 yds). As long as animals are PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 8 min (yd) 9 min (yd) 1,006 1,176 1,376 1,198 1,278 1,478 10 min (yd) 1,300 1,380 1,580 not observed within the buffer zones before the time-delay detonation is set, then the animals would be unlikely to swim into the injury zone from outside the area within the time-delay window. E:\FR\FM\30MRN1.SGM 30MRN1 19237 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 62 / Friday, March 30, 2012 / Notices TABLE 3—UPDATED BUFFER ZONE RADIUS (YD) FOR TDFDS BASED ON SIZE OF CHARGE AND LENGTH OF TIME-DELAY, WITH ADDITIONAL BUFFER ADDED TO ACCOUNT FOR FASTER SWIM SPEEDS Time-delay Charge Size (lb NEW) 5 min (yd) 5 lb ............................................... 10 lb ............................................. 15–29 lb ....................................... 6 min (yd) 1,000 1,000 1,000 7 min (yd) 1,000 1,000 1,400 1,000 1,000 1,400 8 min (yd) 9 min (yd) 1,000 1,400 1,400 1,400 1,400 1,500 10 min (yd) 1,400 1,400 1,500 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 1,000 yds: minimum of 2 observation boats. 1,400/1,500 yds: minimum of 3 observation boats or 2 boats and 1 helicopter. Finally, to create a marine mammal mitigation regime that is more likely to achieve success in practical execution, Navy worked with NMFS and divided the span of training events associated with different charge weights (as derived in Table 2) into those requiring a 1,000 yard buffer zone (with 2 boats monitoring), and those requiring greater than a 1,400 yard buffer zone (3 boats monitoring, or 2 boats and 1 helicopter). Proposed monitoring measures that support these mitigation zones and monitoring protocols are described in detail in the following sections for different types of charges in different environments. While the buffer zones vary between the different types of underwater detonation, the Navy proposes three broad types of monitoring and mitigation protocols based on different types of training events and environments, and the practicability and effectiveness of monitoring and mitigation measures in different environmental settings. These monitoring and mitigation protocols are: • Very shallow water (VSW, <24 feet) underwater detonation monitoring and mitigation: • Shallow water (>24 feet) underwater detonation monitoring and mitigation; and • ELCAS pile driving and removal monitoring and mitigation. Although these mitigation protocols were discussed extensively in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (75 FR 64276; October 19, 2010), except for the ELCAS pile driving and removal mitigation, there are significant revisions to the other two mitigation measure protocols to reduce and minimize the risks from underwater detonation events involving TDFDs, as discussed above. Therefore, the proposed revised monitoring and mitigation measures for VSW underwater detonation and shallow water underwater events are listed below in their entireties. VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:11 Mar 29, 2012 Jkt 226001 Proposed Mitigation and Monitoring Measures for Underwater Detonations in Very Shallow Water (VSW, Water Depth <24 ft) (1) Mitigation and Monitoring Measures for VSW Underwater Detonations Using Positive Control 1. Underwater detonations using positive control (remote firing devices) will only be conducted during daylight. 2. Easily visible anchored floats will be positioned on 700 yard radius of a roughly semi-circular zone (the shoreward half being bounded by shoreline and immediate off-shore water) around the detonation location for small explosive exercises at the SSTC. These mark the outer limits of the mitigation zone. 3. For each VSW underwater detonation event, a safety-boat with a minimum of one observer is launched 30 or more minutes prior to detonation and moves through the area around the detonation site. The task of the safety observer is to exclude humans from coming into the area and to augment a shore observer’s visual search of the mitigation zone for marine mammals. The safety-boat observer is in constant radio communication with the exercise coordinator and shore observer discussed below. 4. A shore-based observer will also be deployed for VSW detonations in addition to boat based observers. The shore observer will indicate that the area is clear of marine mammals after 10 or more minutes of continuous observation with no marine mammals having been seen in the mitigation zone or moving toward it. 5. At least 10 minutes prior to the planned initiation of the detonation event-sequence, the shore observer, on an elevated on-shore position, begins a continuous visual search with binoculars of the mitigation zone. At this time, the safety-boat observer informs the shore observer if any marine mammal has been seen in the zone and, together, both search the surface within and beyond the mitigation zone for marine mammals. PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 6. The observers (boat and shore based) will indicate that the area is not clear any time a marine mammal is sighted in the mitigation zone or moving toward it and, subsequently, indicate that the area is clear of marine mammals when the animal is out and moving away and no other marine mammals have been sited. 7. Initiation of the detonation sequence will only begin on final receipt of an indication from the shore observer that the area is clear of marine mammals and will be postponed on receipt of an indication from any observer that the area is not clear of marine mammals. 8. Following the detonation, visual monitoring of the mitigation zone continues for 30 minutes for the appearance of any marine mammal in the zone. Any marine mammal appearing in the area will be observed for signs of possible injury. 9. Any marine mammal observed after a VSW underwater detonation either injured or exhibiting signs of distress will be reported via operational chain of command to Navy environmental representatives from U.S. Pacific Fleet, Environmental Office, San Diego Detachment. Using Marine Mammal Stranding communication trees and contact procedures established for the Southern California Range Complex, the Navy will report these events to the Stranding Coordinator of NMFS’ Southwest Regional Office. These voice or email reports will contain the date and time of the sighting, location (or if precise latitude and longitude is not currently available, then the approximate location in reference to an established SSTC beach feature), species description (if known), and indication of the animal’s status. (2) Mitigation and Monitoring Measures for VSW Underwater Detonations Using Time-Delay (TDFD Only) 1. Underwater detonations using timed delay devices will only be conducted during daylight. 2. Time-delays longer than 10 minutes will not be used. The initiation of the E:\FR\FM\30MRN1.SGM 30MRN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 19238 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 62 / Friday, March 30, 2012 / Notices device will not start until the mitigation area below is clear for a full 30 minutes prior to initiation of the timer. 3. A mitigation zone will be established around each underwater detonation location as indicated in Table 3 (1,000 or 1,400 yards) based on charge weight and length of time delay used. 4. VSW ranges 1,000 yds: • For each VSW underwater detonation event with a mitigation zone of 1,000 yds, a safety boat with a minimum of one observer is launched 30 or more minutes prior to detonation and moves through the area around the detonation site at the seaward edge of the mitigation zone. The task of the boat is to exclude humans from coming into the area and to augment a shore observer’s visual search of the mitigation zone for marine mammals. The safety-boat observer is in constant radio communication with the exercise coordinator and shore observer discussed below. To the best extent practical, boats will try to maintain a 10 knot search speed. • A shore-based observer will also be deployed for VSW detonations in addition to boat based observers. At least 10 minutes prior to the planned initiation of the detonation eventsequence, the shore observer, on an elevated on-shore position, begins a continuous visual search with binoculars of the mitigation zone. At this time, the safety-boat observer informs the shore observer if any marine mammal has been seen in the zone and, together, both search the surface within and beyond the mitigation zone for marine mammals. The shore observer will indicate that the area is clear of marine mammals after 10 or more minutes of continuous observation with no marine mammals having been seen in the mitigation zone or moving toward it. 5. VSW ranges larger than 1,400 yards: • A minimum of 2 boats will be used to survey for marine mammals at mitigation ranges larger than 1,400 yards. • When conducting the surveys within a mitigation zone >1,400 yds, boats will position themselves near the mid-point of the mitigation zone radius (but always outside the detonation plume radius/human safety zone) and travel in a semi-circular pattern around the detonation location surveying both the inner (toward detonation site) and outer (away from detonation site) areas. When using 2 boats, each boat will be positioned on opposite sides of the detonation location, separated by 180 degrees. If using more than 2 boats, each VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:11 Mar 29, 2012 Jkt 226001 boat will be positioned equidistant from one another (120 degrees separation for 3 boats, 90 degrees separation for 4 boats, etc.). If available, aerial visual survey support from Navy helicopters can be utilized, so long as it will not jeopardize safety of flight. Helicopters will travel in a circular pattern around the detonation location. 6. A mitigation zone will be surveyed from 30 minutes prior to the detonation and for 30 minutes after the detonation. 7. Other personnel besides boat observers can also maintain situational awareness on the presence of marine mammals within the mitigation zone to the best extent practical given dive safety considerations. Divers placing the charges on mines will observe the immediate underwater area around a detonation site for marine mammals and report sightings to surface observers. 8. If a marine mammal is sighted within an established mitigation zone or moving towards it, underwater detonation events will be suspended until the marine mammal has voluntarily left the area and the area is clear of marine mammals for at least 30 minutes. 9. Immediately following the detonation, visual monitoring for affected marine mammals within the mitigation zone will continue for 30 minutes. 10. Any marine mammal observed after an underwater detonation either injured or exhibiting signs of distress will be reported via Navy operational chain of command to Navy environmental representatives from U.S. Pacific Fleet, Environmental Office, San Diego Detachment. Using Marine Mammal Stranding communication trees and contact procedures established for the Southern California Range Complex, the Navy will report these events to the Stranding Coordinator of NMFS’ Southwest Regional Office. These voice or email reports will contain the date and time of the sighting, location (or if precise latitude and longitude is not currently available, then the approximate location in reference to an established SSTC beach feature), species description (if known), and indication of the animal’s status. PO 00000 Frm 00062 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Proposed Mitigation and Monitoring Measures for Underwater Detonations in Shallow Water (>24 Feet) (1) Mitigation and Monitoring Measures for Underwater Detonations Using Positive Control (Except SWAG and Timed Detonations) 1. Underwater detonations using positive control devices will only be conducted during daylight. 2. A mitigation zone of 700 yards will be established around each underwater detonation point. 3. A minimum of two boats, including but not limited to small zodiacs and 7m Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIB) will be deployed. One boat will act as an observer platform, while the other boat is typically the diver support boat. 4. Two observers with binoculars on one small craft/boat will survey the detonation area and the mitigation zone for marine mammals from at least 30 minutes prior to commencement of the scheduled explosive event and until at least 30 minutes after detonation. 5. In addition to the dedicated observers, all divers and boat operators engaged in detonation events can potentially monitor the area immediately surrounding the point of detonation for marine mammals. 6. If a marine mammal is sighted within the 700 yard mitigation zone or moving towards it, underwater detonation events will be suspended until the marine mammal has voluntarily left the area and the area is clear of marine mammals for at least 30 minutes. 7. Immediately following the detonation, visual monitoring for marine mammals within the mitigation zone will continue for 30 minutes. Any marine mammal observed after an underwater detonation either injured or exhibiting signs of distress will be reported via Navy operational chain of command to Navy environmental representatives from U.S. Pacific Fleet, Environmental Office, San Diego Detachment. Using Marine Mammal Stranding communication trees and contact procedures established for the Southern California Range Complex, the Navy will report these events to the Stranding Coordinator of NMFS’ Southwest Regional Office. These voice or email reports will contain the date and time of the sighting, location (or if precise latitude and longitude is not currently available, then the approximate location in reference to an established SSTC beach feature), species description (if known), and indication of the animals status. E:\FR\FM\30MRN1.SGM 30MRN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 62 / Friday, March 30, 2012 / Notices (2) Mitigation and Monitoring Measures for Underwater Detonations Using Time-Delay (TDFD Detonations Only) 1. Underwater detonations using timed delay devices will only be conducted during daylight. 2. Time-delays longer than 10 minutes will not be used. The initiation of the device will not start until the mitigation area below is clear for a full 30 minutes prior to initiation of the timer. 3. A mitigation zone will be established around each underwater detonation location as indicated in Table 3 based on charge weight and length of time-delay used. When conducting the surveys within a mitigation zone (either 1,000 or 1,400 yds), boats will position themselves near the mid-point of the mitigation zone radius (but always outside the detonation plume radius/human safety zone) and travel in a circular pattern around the detonation location surveying both the inner (toward detonation site) and outer (away from detonation site) areas. 4. Shallow water TDFD detonations range 1,000 yds: • A minimum of 2 boats will be used to survey for marine mammals at mitigation ranges of 1,000 yds. • When using 2 boats, each boat will be positioned on opposite sides of the detonation location, separated by 180 degrees. • Two observers in each of the boats will conduct continuous visual survey of the mitigation zone for the entire duration of a training event. • To the best extent practical, boats will try to maintain a 10 knot search speed. This search speed was added to ensure adequate coverage of the buffer zone during observation periods. While weather conditions and sea states may require slower speeds in some instances, 10 knots is a prudent, safe, and executable speed that will allow for adequate surveillance. For a 1,000 yd radius buffer zone a boat travelling at 10 knots and 500 yds away from the detonation point would circle the detonation point 3.22 times during a 30 minute survey period. By using 2 boats, 6.44 circles around the detonation point would be completed in a 30 minute span. 5. Shallow water TDFD detonations greater than 1,400 yds: • A minimum of 3 boats or 2 boats and 1 helicopter will be used to survey for marine mammals at mitigation ranges of 1,400 yds. • When using 3 (or more) boats, each boat will be positioned equidistant from one another (120 degrees separation for 3 boats, 90 degrees separation for 4 boats, etc.). VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:11 Mar 29, 2012 Jkt 226001 • For a 1,400 yd radius mitigation zone, a 10 knot speed results in 2.3 circles for each of the three boats, or nearly 7 circles around the detonation point over a 30 minute span. • If available, aerial visual survey support from Navy helicopters can be utilized, so long as it will not jeopardize safety of flight. • Helicopters, if available, can be used in lieu of one of the boat requirements. Navy helicopter pilots are trained to conduct searches for relatively small objects in the water, such as a missing person. A helicopter search pattern is dictated by standard Navy protocols and accounts for multiple variables, such as the size and shape of the search area, size of the object being searched for, and local environmental conditions, among others. 6. A mitigation zone will be surveyed from 30 minutes prior to the detonation and for 30 minutes after the detonation. 7. Other personnel besides boat observers can also maintain situational awareness on the presence of marine mammals within the mitigation zone to the best extent practical given dive safety considerations. Divers placing the charges on mines will observe the immediate underwater area around a detonation site for marine mammals and report sightings to surface observers. 8. If a marine mammal is sighted within an established mitigation zone or moving towards it, underwater detonation events will be suspended until the marine mammal has voluntarily left the area and the area is clear of marine mammals for at least 30 minutes. 9. Immediately following the detonation, visual monitoring for affected marine mammals within the mitigation zone will continue for 30 minutes. 10. Any marine mammal observed after an underwater detonation either injured or exhibiting signs of distress will be reported via Navy operational chain of command to Navy environmental representatives from U.S. Pacific Fleet, Environmental Office, San Diego Detachment or Pearl Harbor. Using Marine Mammal Stranding protocols and communication trees established for the Southern California and Hawaii Range Complexes, the Navy will report these events to the Stranding Coordinator of NMFS’ Southwest or Pacific Islands Regional Office. These voice or email reports will contain the date and time of the sighting, location (or if precise latitude and longitude is not currently available, then the approximate location in reference to an PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 19239 established SSTC beach feature), species description (if known), and indication of the animal’s status. (3) Proposed Mitigation and Monitoring Measures for Underwater SWAG Detonations (SWAG Only) A modified set of mitigation measures would be implemented for SWAG detonations, which involve much smaller charges of 0.03 lbs NEW. 1. Underwater detonations using SWAG will only be conducted during daylight. 2. A mitigation zone of 60 yards will be established around each SWAG detonation site. 3. A minimum of two boats, including but not limited to small zodiacs and 7m Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIB) will be deployed. One boat will act as an observer platform, while the other boat is typically the diver support boat. 4. Two observers with binoculars on one small craft\boat will survey the detonation area and the mitigation zone for marine mammals for at least 10 minutes prior to commencement of the scheduled explosive event and until at least 10 minutes after detonation. 5. In addition to the dedicated observers, all divers and boat operators engaged in detonation events can potentially monitor the area immediately surrounding the point of detonation for marine mammals. 6. Divers and personnel in support boats would monitor for marine mammals out to the 60 yard mitigation zone for 10 minutes prior to any detonation. 7. After the detonation, visual monitoring for marine mammals would continue for 10 minutes. Any marine mammal observed after an underwater detonation either injured or exhibiting signs of distress will be reported via Navy operational chain of command to Navy environmental representatives from U.S. Pacific Fleet, Environmental Office, San Diego Detachment. Using Marine Mammal Stranding communication trees and contact procedures established for the Southern California Range Complex, the Navy will report these events to the Stranding Coordinator of NMFS’ Southwest Regional Office. These voice or email reports will contain the date and time of the sighting, location (or if precise latitude and longitude is not currently available, then the approximate location in reference to an established SSTC beach feature), species description (if known), and indication of the animal’s status. E:\FR\FM\30MRN1.SGM 30MRN1 19240 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 62 / Friday, March 30, 2012 / Notices Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment There is no change for marine mammal take estimates for the four marine mammal species analyzed in the Federal Register for the proposed IHA (75 FR 64276; October 19, 2010) for underwater detonations and from ELCAS trainings at the SSTC Study Area. Take estimates were based on marine mammal densities and distribution data in the action areas, computed with modeled explosive sources and the sizes of the buffer zones. Without the inclusion of additional mitigation measures, the use of TDFDs could increase the likelihood that marine mammals are exposed to explosive detonations at injurious levels—however, with the enlarged exclusion zone to account for the distance that an animal might swim during the timed delay, this likelihood is minimized. The same methodology was used for calculating take estimates for the additional four dolphin species. The estimated takes are presented in Tables 4 and 5 below. TABLE 4—SSTC MODELED ESTIMATES OF SPECIES EXPOSED TO UNDERWATER DETONATIONS WITHOUT IMPLEMENTATION OF MITIGATION MEASURES Annual marine mammal exposure (all sources) Level B behavior (multiple successive explosive events only) Level B TTS Level A Mortality 177 dB re 1 μPa 182 dB re 1 μPa2s/23 psi 205 dB re 1 μPa2s/13.0 psi-ms 30.5 psi-ms .............................. 0 .............................. 0 .............................. 0 .............................. 0 30 40 43 55 0 0 0 0 4 40 4 51 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 14 7 21 10 0 0 0 0 2 3 3 4 0 0 0 0 3 11 4 15 0 0 0 0 123 62 177 86 0 0 0 0 453 626 0 0 Species Gray Whale: Warm ................................................................................ Cold .................................................................................. Bottlenose Dolphin: Warm ................................................................................ Cold .................................................................................. California Sea Lion: Warm ................................................................................ Cold .................................................................................. Harbor Seal: Warm ................................................................................ Cold .................................................................................. Long-beaked common dolphin: Warm ................................................................................ Cold .................................................................................. Pacific white-sided dolphin: Warm ................................................................................ Cold .................................................................................. Risso’s dolphin: Warm ................................................................................ Cold .................................................................................. Short-beaked common dolphin: Warm ................................................................................ Cold .................................................................................. Total Annual Exposures ............................................ TABLE 5—EXPOSURE ESTIMATES FROM ELCAS PILE DRIVING AND REMOVAL PRIOR TO IMPLEMENTATION OF MITIGATION MEASURES Annual marine mammal exposure (all sources) Level B behavior (non-impulse) Level B behavior (impulse) Level A (cetacean) Level A (pinniped) 120 dBrms re 1 μPa 120 dBrms re 1 μPa 120 dBrms re 1 μPa 120 dBrms re 1 μPa mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Species Gray Whale: Installation ................................. Removal .................................... Bottlenose Dolphin: Installation ................................. Removal .................................... California Sea Lion: Installation ................................. Removal .................................... Harbor Seal: Installation ................................. Removal .................................... Long-beaked common dolphin: Installation ................................. Removal .................................... VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:11 Mar 29, 2012 Jkt 226001 N/A 6 0 0 0 0 N/A 168 40 N/A 0 0 0 0 N/A 102 20 N/A 0 0 0 0 N/A 12 0 N/A 0 0 0 0 N/A 54 PO 00000 0 N/A 0 N/A 0 0 0 0 Frm 00064 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\30MRN1.SGM 30MRN1 19241 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 62 / Friday, March 30, 2012 / Notices TABLE 5—EXPOSURE ESTIMATES FROM ELCAS PILE DRIVING AND REMOVAL PRIOR TO IMPLEMENTATION OF MITIGATION MEASURES—Continued Annual marine mammal exposure (all sources) Level B behavior (non-impulse) Level B behavior (impulse) Level A (cetacean) Level A (pinniped) 120 dBrms re 1 μPa 120 dBrms re 1 μPa 120 dBrms re 1 μPa 120 dBrms re 1 μPa Species Pacific white-sided dolphin: Installation ................................. Removal .................................... Risso’s dolphin: Installation ................................. Removal .................................... Short-beaked common dolphin: Installation ................................. Removal .................................... Total Annual Exposures .... N/A 12 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:11 Mar 29, 2012 Jkt 226001 0 N/A 0 0 0 0 80 N/A 0 0 0 0 846 Negligible Impact and Small Numbers Analysis and 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 0 0 N/A 462 Subsistence Harvest of Marine Mammals NMFS has preliminarily determined the Navy’s proposed training activities at the SSTC would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the affected species or stocks for subsistence use since there are no such uses in the specified area. 0 0 N/A 30 In summary, for all underwater detonations and ELCAS pile driving activities, the Navy’s impact model predicted that no mortality and/or Level A harassment (injury) would occur to marine mammal species and stocks within the proposed action area. For non-sequential (i.e., single detonation) training events, the Navy’s impact model predicted a total of 473 annual exposures that could result in Level B harassment (TTS), which include 98, 55, 31, 7, 19, and 263 annual exposures to bottlenose dolphins, California sea lions, long-beaked common dolphins, Pacific white-sided dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, and shortbeaked common dolphins, respectively. For sequential (Multiple Successive Explosive events) training events, the Navy’s impact model predicted a total of 339 annual exposures that could result in Level B behavioral harassment, which include 70, 44, 21, 5, 14, and 185 annual exposures to bottlenose dolphins, California sea lions, longbeaked common dolphins, Pacific white-sided dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, and short-beaked common dolphins, respectively. 0 N/A 140 0 0 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. Level B (behavioral) harassment occurs at the level of the individual(s) and does not assume any resulting population-level consequences, though there are known avenues through which behavioral disturbance of individuals can result in population-level effects. A negligible impact finding is based on the lack of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., populationlevel effects). An estimate of the number of Level B harassment takes, alone, is not enough information on which to base an impact determination. In addition to considering estimates of the number of marine mammals that might be ‘‘taken’’ through behavioral harassment, NMFS must 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. A detailed description on the negligible impacts and small number analyses and determination was provided in the Federal Register for the proposed IHA (75 FR 64276; October 19, 2010), and is not repeated here. This section provides additional analysis on the use of TDFD during the Navy’s underwater detonation training activities. The aforementioned additional mitigation and monitoring measures will increase the buffer zone to account PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 for marine mammal movement during the delay time of the detonation by TDFDs and increase marine mammal visual monitoring efforts to ensure that no marine mammal would be in a zone where injury and/or mortality could occur as a result of time-delayed detonation. In addition, the estimated exposures are based on the probability of the animals occurring in the area when a training event is occurring, and this probability does not change based on the use of TDFDs or implementation of mitigation measures (i.e., the exposure model does not account for how the charge is initiated and assumes no mitigation is being implemented). Other potential effects to marine mammal species and stocks as a result of the proposed mine neutralization training activities remain the same as those analyzed in the proposed IHA (75 FR 64276; October 19, 2010). Based on the analyses of the potential impacts from the proposed underwater detonation training exercises conducted within the Navy’s SSTC action area, including the consideration of TDFD use and the implementation of the improved marine mammal monitoring and mitigation measures, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the modification of the Navy’s proposed activities that include taking of marine mammals incidental to underwater detonation using TDFD within the SSTC action area will have a negligible impact on the marine mammal species and stocks, provided that additional mitigation and monitoring measures are implemented. Endangered Species Act (ESA) No marine mammal species are listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA with confirmed or possible E:\FR\FM\30MRN1.SGM 30MRN1 19242 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 62 / Friday, March 30, 2012 / Notices occurrence in the study area. Therefore, section 7 consultation under the ESA for NMFS’s proposed issuance of an MMPA authorization is not warranted. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) The Navy has prepared a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed SSTC training activities. The FEIS was released in January 2011 and it is available at http://www.silverstrandtraining complexeis.com/EIS.aspx/. NMFS is a cooperating agency (as defined by the Council on Environmental Quality (40 CFR 1501.6)) in the preparation of the EIS. NMFS has subsequently adopted the FEIS for the SSTC training activities. Dated: March 20, 2012. James H. Lecky, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2012–7593 Filed 3–29–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XB048 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Low-Energy Marine Geophysical Survey in the Central Pacific Ocean, May Through June, 2012 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 Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (L-DEO), a part of Columbia University, for an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to conducting a low-energy marine geophysical survey in the central Pacific Ocean, May through June, 2012. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an IHA to L-DEO to incidentally harass, by Level B harassment only, 16 species of marine mammals during the specified activity. DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than April 28, 2012. ADDRESSES: Comments on the application should be addressed to P. Michael Payne, Chief, Permits and mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:11 Mar 29, 2012 Jkt 226001 Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. The mailbox address for providing email comments is ITP.Cody@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. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/ permits/incidental.htm#applications 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. An electronic copy of the application containing a list of the references used in this document may be obtained by writing to the above address, telephoning the contact listed here (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT) or visiting the internet at: http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental.htm#applications. The following associated documents are also available at the same internet address: The U.S. National Science Foundation’s (NSF) draft Environmental Assessment (EA) Pursuant To The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Executive Order 12114. The draft EA incorporates an ‘‘Environmental Assessment of a Marine Geophysical Survey by the R/V Marcus G. Langseth in the central Pacific Ocean, May 2012,’’ prepared by LGL Ltd., Environmental Research Associates (LGL), on behalf of NSF. Documents cited in this notice may be viewed, by appointment, during regular business hours, at the aforementioned address. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeannine Cody, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 301–427–8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) directs the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to authorize, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals of a species or population stock, by United States citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are made and, if the taking is limited to PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 harassment, NMFS provides a notice of a proposed authorization to the public for review. Authorization for the incidental taking of small numbers of marine mammals shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant). The authorization must set forth the permissible methods of taking, other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the species or stock and its habitat, and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings. 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) of the MMPA establishes a 45-day time limit for NMFS’s review of an application followed by a 30-day public notice and comment period on any proposed authorizations for the incidental harassment of small numbers of marine mammals. Within 45 days of the close of the public comment period, NMFS must either issue or deny the authorization. NMFS must publish a notice in the Federal Register within 30 days of its determination to issue or deny the authorization. Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the MMPA defines ‘‘harassment’’ as: ‘‘* * * any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A harassment]; or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering [Level B harassment].’’ Summary of Request NMFS received an application on December 12, 2012, from L-DEO for the taking by harassment, of marine mammals, incidental to conducting a low-energy marine seismic survey in the central Pacific Ocean. Upon receipt of additional information, NMFS E:\FR\FM\30MRN1.SGM 30MRN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 62 (Friday, March 30, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 19231-19242]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-7593]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XZ14


Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Navy 
Training Conducted at the Silver Strand Training Complex, San Diego Bay

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

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

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

SUMMARY: NMFS has received an application from the U.S. Navy (Navy) for 
an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to take marine mammals, by 
harassment, incidental to conducting training exercises at the Silver 
Strand Training Complex (SSTC) in the vicinity of San Diego Bay, 
California. Subsequently, additional information on marine mammals and 
proposed improvement on marine mammal monitoring and mitigation 
measures was received from the Navy. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal 
Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to 
issue an IHA to the Navy to incidentally harass, by Level B Harassment 
only, eight species of marine mammals during the specified activity.

[[Page 19232]]


DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than April 
30, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Comments on the application should be addressed to Tammy C. 
Adams, Acting 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.guan@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 will generally be posted to http://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 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: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm. Documents cited in this 
notice may also be viewed, by appointment, during regular business 
hours, at the aforementioned address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shane Guan, Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8418.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) 
direct the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to allow, upon request, 
the incidental, but not intentional taking of small numbers of marine 
mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than 
commercial fishing) 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 shall 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 subsistence uses (where 
relevant), 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.''
    The National Defense Authorization Act of 2004 (NDAA) (Public Law 
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].
    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.

Summary of Request

    NMFS received an application on March 3, 2010, and subsequently, a 
revised application on September 13, 2010, from the Navy for the 
taking, by harassment, of marine mammals incidental to conducting 
training exercises at the Navy's Silver Strand Training Complex (SSTC) 
in the vicinity of San Diego Bay, California. On October 19, 2010, NMFS 
published a Federal Register notice (75 FR 64276) requesting comments 
from the public concerning the Navy's proposed training activities 
along with NMFS' proposed IHA. However, on March 4, 2011, three long-
beaked common dolphins were found dead following the Navy's mine 
neutralization training exercise involving time-delayed firing devices 
(TDFDs) at SSTC, and were suspected to be killed by the detonation. In 
short, a TDFD device begins a countdown to a detonation event that 
cannot be stopped, for example, with a 10-min TDFD, once the detonation 
has been initiated, 10 minutes pass before the detonation occurs and 
the event cannot be cancelled during that 10 minutes. Subsequently, 
NMFS suspended the IHA process for SSTC and worked with the Navy to 
come up with more robust monitoring and mitigation measures to prevent 
such incidents. On July 22, 2011, the Navy submitted an addendum to its 
IHA application which includes additional information and additional 
mitigation and monitoring measures for its proposed mine neutralization 
training exercises using TDFDs at SSTC to ensure that the potential for 
injury or mortality is minimized.

Description of the Specific Activity

    A detailed description of the Navy's proposed training activities 
at the SSTC is provided in the Federal Register notice for the proposed 
IHA (75 FR 64276; October 19, 2010), Specifically, major training 
activities at SSTC include underwater detonation and elevated causeway 
system (ELCAS) training. There are no changes on the description of the 
ELCAS training from the original proposed IHA (75 FR 64276; October 19, 
2010), therefore, it is not repeated here.
    However, the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA did not 
include a description of TDFDs, which are used to detonate the 
explosives in the majority of the proposed underwater detonation 
training related to mine neutralization instead of directly detonating 
the explosives using positive control (which was described)). A TDFD 
device begins a countdown to a detonation event with a time-delaying 
device. For example, with a 10-min TDFD, the actual detonation will be 
started 10 minutes after the device is set. In addition, there is no 
mechanism to stop (abort) the pre-set explosion once the device has 
been set. The following is a detailed description regarding the 
justification and procedures for underwater detonation using TDFDs.

The Need for Underwater Detonation Using TDFDs

    The Navy uses both timed-delayed and positive control to initiate a 
particular underwater detonation depending on the training event in 
question and in particular, the training objectives applicable to that 
underwater detonation. TDFDs are the simplest, safest, most 
operationally sound method of initiating a demolition charge on a 
floating mine or mine at depth. TDFDs are used because of their light 
weight ease of employment and low magnetic

[[Page 19233]]

signature in cases of mines sensitive to magnetic fields. In addition, 
TDFD are HERO safe (``hazards of electromagnetic radiation to 
ordnance'' safe), meaning there is reduced risk of accidental 
detonations from nearby radios or other electromagnetic radiation 
producing devices. The use of TDFD eliminates the need to re-deploy 
swimmers from a helicopter or boat to recover equipment used with 
positive control firing devices such as the RFD. The TDFD also allows 
sufficient time for EOD personnel to swim outside of the detonation 
plume radius and human safety buffer zone after the timer is set.
    Although other detonation initiation devices, such as an RFD (a 
type of positive control device) can be used to initiate an underwater 
detonation, it is not normally preferred as the primary firing device 
due to HERO (see above) concerns with electric detonators, Operational 
Risk Management (i.e., safety) considerations, and established Navy 
tactical procedures. Current Navy RFD uses a radio signal to remotely 
detonate a charge. By using electronic positive control devices such as 
the RFD as the only alternative to a TDFD, additional electronic 
signals, and metal from the receiver and wiring is unnecessarily 
introduced into an influence ordnance operating environment. It is not 
consistent with sound safety principles or good demolition practice to 
combine different firing circuits to a demolition charge. For instance, 
in a live mine field, Navy dive platoons expect there to be additional 
risks, such as unknown mines with different types of influence firing 
circuits (i.e., detonated by contact, magnetic field, or certain 
sounds) in close proximity to a mine they are trying to destroy. The 
use of a TDFD reduces these risks by limiting the possibility of 
unintentionally triggering detonation from unknown mine types. 
Underwater demolition needs to be kept as simple and streamlined as 
possible, especially when divers and influence ordnance are considered. 
In an open ocean environment, universal use of RFDs would greatly 
increase the risk of misfire due to component failure, and put 
unnecessary stress on all needed connections and devices (adding 600-
1,000 feet of firing wire; building\deploying an improvised, bulky, 
floating system for the RFD receiver; adding another 180 feet of 
detonating cord plus 10 feet of additional material).
    While positive control devices do allow for instantaneous 
detonation of a charge and are used for some SSTC training events, 
exclusive use of RFD would introduce operationally unsound tactics, 
thereby increasing future risks to Navy dive teams. Therefore, it is 
essential that EOD and NSW platoons qualify annually with necessary 
time-delay certification, maintain proficiency, and train to face real-
world scenarios requiring use of TDFDs.

General Underwater Detonation Procedures

    Prior to getting underway, all Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) 
and Naval Special Warfare (NSW) units conduct a detailed safety and 
procedure briefing to familiarize everyone with the goals, objectives, 
and safety requirements (including mitigation zones) applicable to the 
particular training event.
    Underwater detonations only occur during daylight.
    Underwater detonations are only conducted in sea-states equal to or 
less than Beaufort 3 (presence of large wavelets, crests beginning to 
break, presence of glassy foam, and/or perhaps scattered whitecaps).
    Applicable mitigation zones are established and visual survey 
commences for 30 minutes before detonation. Divers enter the water to 
conduct the training objective which could include searching for a 
training object such as a simulated mine or mine-like shape.
    For the detonation part of the training, the explosive charge and 
associate charge initiating device are taken to the detonation point. 
The explosives Navy EOD and NSW use are military forms of C-4 
explosives. In order to detonate C-4 explosives, a fusing and 
initiating device is required. The two main types of Navy charge 
initiating devices are discussed in a subsequent section.
    Following a particular underwater detonation, additional personnel 
in the support boats (or helicopter) keep watch within the mitigation 
zone for 30 minutes.
    Other changes the Navy proposed since the previous proposed IHA was 
issued include the addition of a new point sub-area Training Area-Kilo 
(TA-K), which is designated 500 yards west of the SSTC-SOUTH boat lanes 
with a 500 m radius (Table 1-1, Figure 1-1, of the Navy's Addendum). 
The TA-K area would be used to conduct small charge weight (< 20 lbs) 
underwater detonations.
    Additional information concerning underwater detonations is also 
provided in the Navy's Addendum, and is included below:

Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity

    Common marine mammal species occurring regularly in the vicinity of 
the SSTC training area include the California sea lion (Zalophus 
californianus), Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardsii), 
California coastal stock of bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), 
and more infrequently gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus). Detailed 
descriptions of these species are provided in the Federal Register 
notice for the proposed IHA (75 FR 64276; October 19, 2010) and are not 
repeated here.
    In addition to these four common species, the additional four 
dolphin species listed below have been sighted in the vicinity of the 
SSTC training area, but much less frequently. None are listed as 
threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 
Further information on these species can also be found in the NMFS 
Stock Assessment Reports (SAR). The Pacific 2010 SAR is available at: 
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/sars/po2010.pdf.

Long-Beaked Common Dolphin (Delphinus capensis), California Stock

    Long-beaked common dolphins (Delphis capensis) are found year-round 
in the waters off California (Carretta et al. 2000; Bearzi 2005; DoN 
2009, 2010). The distribution and abundance of long-beaked common 
dolphins appears to be variable based on inter-annual and seasonal time 
scales (Dohl et al. 1986; Heyning and Perrin 1994; Barlow 1995; Forney 
et al. 1995; Forney and Barlow 2007). As oceanographic conditions 
change, long-beaked common dolphins may move between Mexican and U.S. 
waters, and therefore a multi-year average abundance estimate is the 
most appropriate for management within the U.S. waters (Carretta et al. 
2010). California waters represent the northern limit for this stock 
and animal's likely movement between U.S. and Mexican waters. No 
information on trends in abundance is available for this stock because 
of high inter-annual variability in line-transect abundance estimates 
(Carretta et al. 2010). Heyning and Perrin (1994) detected changes in 
the proportion of short-beaked to long-beaked common dolphins stranding 
along the California coast, with the short-beaked common dolphin 
stranding more frequently prior to the 1982-83 El Ni[ntilde]o (which 
increased water temperatures off California), and the long-beaked 
common dolphin more frequently observed for several years afterwards. 
Thus, it appears that both

[[Page 19234]]

relative and absolute abundance of these species off California may 
change with varying oceanographic conditions (Carretta et al. 2010). 
Common dolphin distributions may be related to bathymetry (Hui 1979). 
Long-beaked common dolphins are usually found within 50 nautical miles 
(nm) (92.5 km) of shore with significantly more occurrence near 
canyons, escarpments, and slopes (Heyning and Perrin 1994; Barlow et 
al. 1997; Bearzi 2005, 2006). Group size ranges from less than a dozen 
to several thousand individuals (Barlow and Forney 2007; Barlow et al. 
2010). Sparse information is available on the life history of long-
beaked common dolphins, however, some information is provided for 
short-beaked common dolphins which may also apply to long-beaked 
dolphins. North Pacific short-beaked common dolphin females and males 
reach sexual maturity at roughly 8 and 10 years, respectively (Ferrero 
and Walker 1995). Peak calving season for common dolphins in the 
eastern North Pacific may be spring and early summer (Forney 1994). 
Barlow (2010) reported average group size for long-beaked common 
dolphins within a Southern California-specific stratum as 195 
individuals from a 2008 survey along the U.S. West Coast. The geometric 
mean abundance estimate in NMFS' annual stock assessment for the entire 
California stock of long-beaked common dolphins, based on two ship 
surveys conducted in 2005 and 2008, is 27,046 (CV=0.59) (Forney 2007; 
Barlow 2010; Carretta et al. 2010). Using a more stratified approach, 
Barlow et al. (2010) estimated abundance within a Southern California-
specific strata of 16,480 (CV=0.41) long-beaked common dolphins based 
on analysis of pooled sighting data from 1991-2008.

Pacific White-Sided Dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens), California/
Oregon/Washington Stock

    While Pacific white-sided dolphins could potentially occur year-
round in Southern California, surveys suggest a seasonal north-south 
movement in the eastern North Pacific, with animals found primarily off 
California during the colder water months and shifting northward into 
Oregon and Washington as water temperatures increase during late spring 
and summer (Green et al. 1992, 1993; Forney 1994; Forney and Barlow 
2007; Barlow 2010). Salvadeo et al. (2010) propose that increased 
global warming may increase a northward shift in Pacific white-sided 
dolphins. The Pacific white-sided dolphin is most common in waters over 
the continental shelf and slope, however, sighting records and captures 
in pelagic driftnets indicate that this species also occurs in oceanic 
waters well beyond the shelf and slope (Leatherwood et al. 1984; DoN 
2009, 2010). Soldevilla et al. (2010a) reported the possibility of two 
distinct eco-types of Pacific white-sided dolphins occurring in 
Southern California based on passive acoustic detection of two distinct 
echolocation click patterns. No population trends have been observed in 
California or adjacent waters. Barlow (2010) reported average group 
size for Pacific white-sided dolphins within a Southern California-
specific stratum as 17 from a 2008 survey along the U.S. West Coast. 
The size of the entire California/Oregon/Washington Stock is estimated 
to be 26,930 (CV=0.28) individuals (Forney 2007, Barlow, 2010). Using a 
more stratified approach, Barlow et al. (2010) estimated abundance 
within a Southern California-specific strata of 1,914 (CV=0.39) Pacific 
white-sided dolphins based on analysis of pooled sighting data from 
1991-2008.

Risso's Dolphin (Grampus griseus), California/Oregon/Washington Stock

    Off the U.S. West coast, Risso's dolphins are commonly seen on the 
shelf off Southern California and in slope and offshore waters of 
California, Oregon and Washington (Soldevilla et al. 2010b; Carretta et 
al. 2010). Animals found off California during the colder water months 
are thought to shift northward into Oregon and Washington as water 
temperatures increase in late spring and summer (Green et al. 1992). 
The southern end of this population's range is not well documented, but 
previous surveys have shown a conspicuous 500 nm distributional gap 
between these animals and Risso's dolphins sighted south of Baja 
California and in the Gulf of California (Mangels and Gerrodette 1994). 
Thus this population appears distinct from animals found in the eastern 
tropical Pacific and the Gulf of California (Carretta et al. 2010). As 
oceanographic conditions vary, Risso's dolphins may spend time outside 
the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. Barlow (2010) reported average group 
size for Risso's dolphins within a Southern California-specific stratum 
as 23 from a 2008 survey along the U.S. West Coast. The size of the 
California/Oregon/Washington Stock is estimated to be 6,272 (CV=0.30) 
individuals (Forney 2007; Barlow 2010; Carretta et al. 2010). Using a 
more stratified approach, Barlow et al. (2010) estimated abundance 
within a Southern California-specific strata of 3,974 (CV=0.39) Risso's 
dolphins based on analysis of pooled sighting data from 1991-2008.

Short-Beaked Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis), California/Oregon/
Washington Stock

    Short-beaked common dolphins are the most abundant cetacean off 
California, and are widely distributed between the coast and at least 
300 nm distance from shore (Dohl et al. 1981; Forney et al. 1995; 
Barlow 2010; Carretta et al. 2010). Along the U.S. West Coast, portions 
of the short-beaked common dolphins' distribution overlap with that of 
the long-beaked common dolphin. The northward extent of short-beaked 
common dolphin distribution appears to vary inter-annually and with 
changing oceanographic conditions (Forney and Barlow 1998). Barlow 
(2010) reported average group size for short-beaked common dolphins 
within a Southern California-specific stratum as 122 from a 2008 survey 
along the U.S. West Coast. The size of the California/Oregon/Washington 
Stock is estimated to be 411,211 (CV=0.21) individuals (Carretta et al. 
2010). Using a more stratified approach, Barlow et al. (2010) estimated 
abundance within a Southern California-specific strata of 152,000 
(CV=0.17) Risso's dolphins based on analysis of pooled sighting data 
from 1991-2008.

Potential Effects on Marine Mammals

    Anticipated impacts resulting from the Navy's proposed SSTC 
training activities include disturbance from underwater detonation 
events and pile driving from the Elevated Causeway System (ELCAS) 
training events, if marine mammals are in the vicinity of these action 
areas. Detailed description and comprehensive analysis of the overall 
potential effects on marine mammals that could result from the Navy's 
proposed exercises involving ELCAS training events at the SSTC action 
area are provided in the Federal Register notice for the original 
proposed IHA (75 FR 64276; October 19, 2010). The anticipated impacts 
from marine mammal exposure to explosive detonations and pile-driving 
remain unchanged, however, the nature of potential exposure has changed 
due to the inclusion of TDFDs and is described and analyzed below.
    As noted earlier, the use of TDFDs was not addressed in the 
original Federal Register notice regarding the proposed IHA (75 FR 
64276; October 19, 2010).
    As mentioned earlier, a TDFD begins a countdown to a detonation 
event with a time-delaying device, and there is no mechanism to stop 
(abort) the pre-set explosion once the device has been set. Therefore, 
in the absence of any

[[Page 19235]]

additional mitigation, the potential danger exists in the scenario that 
during the brief period after the exclusion zone is cleared and before 
the charges are detonated, marine mammals could enter the exclusion 
zone and approach close enough to the explosive to be injured or killed 
upon detonation. Nevertheless, the anticipated level of impacts to 
marine mammals without any mitigation and monitoring measures, which is 
assessed solely based on the density and distribution of the animals 
within the vicinity of the action, remains the same as analyzed in the 
proposed IHA.
    To address, and ultimately reduce and minimize the risks from 
underwater detonations that involve TDFDs, the Navy and NMFS developed 
a set of robust monitoring and mitigation measures (such as increasing 
the size of exclusion zones to account for the distance that a marine 
mammal might travel during the TDFD delay and increased pre-exercise 
monitoring). With the implementation of these monitoring and mitigation 
measures, NMFS believes that the potential effects to marine mammals 
that would result from the proposed SSTC training activities will 
remain the same as analyzed in the Federal Register notice for the 
proposed IHA (75 FR 64276; October 19, 2010). These monitoring and 
mitigation measures are further discussed in detail below, as well as 
the estimated number of takes.
    Specific analysis on additional species with infrequent occurrence 
that could be affected is provided below, since they were not included 
in the initial proposed IHA (75 FR 64276; October 19, 2010).

Long-Beaked Common Dolphins

    With the implementation of enhanced monitoring and mitigation 
measures (see below), there is no predicted mortality or Level A injury 
for long-beaked common dolphins. Modeling predicted there would 
potentially be 52 Level B exposures from underwater explosions and 54 
Level B exposures from ELCAS pile driving and removal. Of all the 
relatively rare species within SSTC, the long-beaked common dolphin is 
the most possible given its more near-shore coastal distribution 
(Bearzi 2005; Carretta et al. 2010). Given low site fidelity to areas 
without significant bathymetric relief such as the low slope sandy 
bottom under the SSTC boat lanes (Hui 1979; Heyning and Perrin 1994; 
Bearzi 2005; 2006), NMFS believes that pre-detonation mitigation would 
detect long-beaked common dolphins and avoid exposure to pressure or 
energy levels associated with injury or mortality.

Pacific White-Side Dolphins

    With the implementation of enhanced monitoring and mitigation 
measures (see below), there is no predicted mortality or Level A injury 
for Pacific white-sided dolphins. Modeling predicted there would 
potentially be 13 Level B exposures from underwater explosions and 12 
Level B exposures from ELCAS pile driving and removal. There is limited 
empirical data available to confirm Pacific white-sided dolphin species 
occurrence in the near shore water adjacent to the SSTC boat lanes. 
Movement of Pacific white-side dolphins into the SSTC boat lanes would 
likely be rare to very infrequent and limited in duration. NMFS 
believes that pre-detonation mitigation would detect Pacific white-
sided dolphins, if present at all, and avoid exposure to energy or 
pressure levels associated with injury or mortality.

Risso's Dolphins

    With the implementation of enhanced monitoring and mitigation 
measures (see below), there is no predicted mortality or Level A injury 
for Risso's dolphins. Modeling predicted there would potentially be 32 
Level B exposures from underwater explosions and 30 Level B exposures 
from ELCAS pile driving and removal. There is limited empirical data 
available to confirm Risso's dolphin species occurrence in the near 
shore water adjacent to the SSTC boat lanes. More Risso's dolphin 
sightings occur further offshore (DoN 2009; Barlow 2010; Carretta et 
al. 2010; DoN 2010a). Movement of Risso's dolphins into the SSTC boat 
lanes would likely be rare to very infrequent and limited in duration. 
NMFS believes that pre-detonation mitigation would detect Risso's 
dolphins, if present at all, and avoid exposure to energy or pressure 
levels associated with injury or mortality.

Short-Beaked Common Dolphins

    With the implementation of enhanced monitoring and mitigation 
measures (see below), there is no predicted mortality or Level A injury 
for short-beaked common dolphins. Modeling predicted there would 
potentially be 448 Level B exposures from underwater explosions and 542 
Level B exposures from ELCAS pile driving and removal. There is limited 
empirical data available to confirm short-beaked common dolphin species 
occurrence in the near shore water adjacent to the SSTC boat lanes. 
More short-beaked common dolphin sightings occur further offshore 
(Bearzi 2005; DoN 2009; Barlow 2010; Carretta et al. 2010; DoN 2010a). 
Movement of short-beaked common dolphins into the SSTC boat lanes would 
likely be rare to very infrequent and limited in duration. NMFS 
believes that pre-detonation mitigation would detect short-beaked 
common dolphins, if present at all, and avoid exposure to energy or 
pressure levels associated with injury or mortality.

Anticipated Effects on Habitat

    Detailed description and comprehensive analysis of the overall 
potential effects on marine mammal habitat that could result from the 
Navy's proposed training exercises at the SSTC action area are provided 
in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (75 FR 64276; 
October 19, 2010). There is no change to the original assessment of the 
overall potential environmental effects, therefore, they are not 
repeated here.

Proposed Additional Mitigation Measures

    In order to issue an incidental take authorization 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, and on the availability of such species 
or stock for taking for certain subsistence uses.
    For the Navy's proposed SSTC training activities, the Navy worked 
with NMFS and proposed a set of monitoring and mitigation measures to 
reduce potential impacts to marine mammals. These initial monitoring 
and mitigation measures were published in the Federal Register notice 
for the proposed IHA published on October 19, 2010 (75 FR 64276). Those 
monitoring and mitigation measures were based on the Navy's training 
protocols for mine detonation that had been used over decades. As a 
consequence of the March 4, 2011, incident, in which long-beaked common 
dolphins were killed during these exercises, NMFS suspended the 
processing of the proposed IHA and began to re-evaluate its marine 
mammal effects analysis and the monitoring and mitigation measures. 
NMFS worked with the Navy to develop monitoring and mitigation measures 
to address the use of TDFDs by accounting for dolphin swim speed with 
an enlarged safety zone and by increasing monitoring efforts. These 
revised monitoring and mitigation measures are proposed specifically 
for underwater mine

[[Page 19236]]

neutralization using TDFDs, in addition to overarching general 
monitoring and mitigation measures developed for the Navy's general 
training activities at the SSTC study area, which were described in 
detail in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (75 FR 
64276; October 19, 2010). The derivation and description of the revised 
monitoring and mitigation measures are set forth below.

Derivation of Timed Delayed Mitigation Zones

    To increase the effectiveness of the shallow water mitigation zone 
when using time-delayed detonations (i.e., TDFD), the existing Navy 
modeled zone of influence (ZOI) for a particular charge weight is 
enlarged to account for the distance an animal could swim during the 
time delay given known dolphin speed.
    In essence, this should allow sighting of marine mammals outside of 
a final mitigation zone swimming into the zone prior to starting a 
timed-delay detonation.
    Final TDFD mitigation zones are determined in a three step process:
    First, the distance that a dolphin could swim during the length of 
an individual time-delay is calculated based on swim speed. Onto this 
distance, another 200 yds is added as an additional buffer to account 
for varying individual swim speed.
    Second, the potential distance traveled during a time-delay is 
added to SSTC specific model results showing range distances to the 
applicable NMFS injury criteria for underwater detonations.
    Third, the Navy rounds the range distances calculated in Step 2 to 
appropriate mitigation ranges more likely to be practical in the field.
    A detailed discussion on each of these steps is provided below.
(1) Swim Speed Estimation
    Using an average swim speed of 3 knots (102 yd/min) for a 
delphinid, the Navy provided the approximate distance that an animal 
would typically travel within a given time-delay period (Table 1).
    To account for differences between species or faster swimming by 
individuals within a species, the Navy and NMFS also agreed to add 
still another 200 yds to the original 3 knot derived ranges to account 
for variation in individual swim speeds. Table 1 shows both the initial 
3 knot range plus the additional 200 yard buffer.

                    Table 1--Potential Distance Traveled Based on Swim Speed and Length of Time-Delay and Additional 200 Yards Buffer
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                                    Potential distance
                                                                                                           Potential distance         traveled with
                Species group                            Swim speed               Time-delay  (min)          traveled (yd)        additional  200 (yds)
                                                                                                                                       buffer (yd)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Delphinid...................................  102 yd/min.....................                        5                      510                      710
                                                                                                     6                      612                      812
                                                                                                     7                      714                      914
                                                                                                     8                      816                    1,016
                                                                                                     9                      918                    1,118
                                                                                                    10                    1,020                    1,220
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(2) ZOI and Swim Speed-Time-Buffer Addition
    Based on acoustic propagation modeling and anticipated zones of 
influences (ZOI) to NMFS injury criteria (13 psi-msec) by training 
event type and charge weight, potential dolphin travel distances by 
time at 3 knots plus buffer can be added to event specific ZOI to 
produce a matrix of charge weight, selected delay time, and applicable 
buffer zone (Table 2).
    As long as animals are not observed within a given time-delayed 
mitigation zone before the time-delay detonation is set, then the 
animals would be unlikely to swim into the injury zone from outside the 
zone within the time-delay window.

          Table 2--Revised Radius for Timed-Delay Firing Devices Based on Charge Size, Length of Time Delay, and Additional Buffer From Table 1
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                     Navy modeled                                                Time-delay
       Charge weight  (NEW)         ZOI to injury  -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                    (13 psi-msec)     5 min  (yd)      6 min  (yd)      7 min  (yd)      8 min  (yd)      9 min  (yd)      10 min  (yd)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
5 lb.............................               80              790              892              994            1,006            1,198            1,300
10 lb............................              160              870              972            1,074            1,176            1,278            1,380
15-29 lb.........................              360            1,070            1,172            1,274            1,376            1,478            1,580
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(3) Final TDFD Detonation Mitigation Zones
    Table 3 shows the final mitigation zones and application for SSTC 
TDFD underwater detonations. This required in most cases rounding 
(mostly upward) the calculated ranges from Table 2 to the appropriate 
range category (1,000, 1,400, and 1,500 yds). As long as animals are 
not observed within the buffer zones before the time-delay detonation 
is set, then the animals would be unlikely to swim into the injury zone 
from outside the area within the time-delay window.

[[Page 19237]]



 Table 3--Updated Buffer Zone Radius (yd) for TDFDs Based on Size of Charge and Length of Time-Delay, With Additional Buffer Added To Account for Faster
                                                                       Swim Speeds
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                  Time-delay
       Charge Size  (lb NEW)        -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                        5 min (yd)       6 min (yd)       7 min (yd)       8 min (yd)       9 min (yd)      10 min (yd)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
5 lb...............................            1,000            1,000            1,000            1,000            1,400            1,400
10 lb..............................            1,000            1,000            1,000            1,400            1,400            1,400
15-29 lb...........................            1,000            1,400            1,400            1,400            1,500           1,500
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1,000 yds: minimum of 2 observation boats.
1,400/1,500 yds: minimum of 3 observation boats or 2 boats and 1 helicopter.

    Finally, to create a marine mammal mitigation regime that is more 
likely to achieve success in practical execution, Navy worked with NMFS 
and divided the span of training events associated with different 
charge weights (as derived in Table 2) into those requiring a 1,000 
yard buffer zone (with 2 boats monitoring), and those requiring greater 
than a 1,400 yard buffer zone (3 boats monitoring, or 2 boats and 1 
helicopter). Proposed monitoring measures that support these mitigation 
zones and monitoring protocols are described in detail in the following 
sections for different types of charges in different environments.
    While the buffer zones vary between the different types of 
underwater detonation, the Navy proposes three broad types of 
monitoring and mitigation protocols based on different types of 
training events and environments, and the practicability and 
effectiveness of monitoring and mitigation measures in different 
environmental settings. These monitoring and mitigation protocols are:
     Very shallow water (VSW, <24 feet) underwater detonation 
monitoring and mitigation:
     Shallow water (>24 feet) underwater detonation monitoring 
and mitigation; and
     ELCAS pile driving and removal monitoring and mitigation.
    Although these mitigation protocols were discussed extensively in 
the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (75 FR 64276; October 
19, 2010), except for the ELCAS pile driving and removal mitigation, 
there are significant revisions to the other two mitigation measure 
protocols to reduce and minimize the risks from underwater detonation 
events involving TDFDs, as discussed above. Therefore, the proposed 
revised monitoring and mitigation measures for VSW underwater 
detonation and shallow water underwater events are listed below in 
their entireties.

Proposed Mitigation and Monitoring Measures for Underwater Detonations 
in Very Shallow Water (VSW, Water Depth <24 ft)

(1) Mitigation and Monitoring Measures for VSW Underwater Detonations 
Using Positive Control
    1. Underwater detonations using positive control (remote firing 
devices) will only be conducted during daylight.
    2. Easily visible anchored floats will be positioned on 700 yard 
radius of a roughly semi-circular zone (the shoreward half being 
bounded by shoreline and immediate off-shore water) around the 
detonation location for small explosive exercises at the SSTC. These 
mark the outer limits of the mitigation zone.
    3. For each VSW underwater detonation event, a safety-boat with a 
minimum of one observer is launched 30 or more minutes prior to 
detonation and moves through the area around the detonation site. The 
task of the safety observer is to exclude humans from coming into the 
area and to augment a shore observer's visual search of the mitigation 
zone for marine mammals. The safety-boat observer is in constant radio 
communication with the exercise coordinator and shore observer 
discussed below.
    4. A shore-based observer will also be deployed for VSW detonations 
in addition to boat based observers. The shore observer will indicate 
that the area is clear of marine mammals after 10 or more minutes of 
continuous observation with no marine mammals having been seen in the 
mitigation zone or moving toward it.
    5. At least 10 minutes prior to the planned initiation of the 
detonation event-sequence, the shore observer, on an elevated on-shore 
position, begins a continuous visual search with binoculars of the 
mitigation zone. At this time, the safety-boat observer informs the 
shore observer if any marine mammal has been seen in the zone and, 
together, both search the surface within and beyond the mitigation zone 
for marine mammals.
    6. The observers (boat and shore based) will indicate that the area 
is not clear any time a marine mammal is sighted in the mitigation zone 
or moving toward it and, subsequently, indicate that the area is clear 
of marine mammals when the animal is out and moving away and no other 
marine mammals have been sited.
    7. Initiation of the detonation sequence will only begin on final 
receipt of an indication from the shore observer that the area is clear 
of marine mammals and will be postponed on receipt of an indication 
from any observer that the area is not clear of marine mammals.
    8. Following the detonation, visual monitoring of the mitigation 
zone continues for 30 minutes for the appearance of any marine mammal 
in the zone. Any marine mammal appearing in the area will be observed 
for signs of possible injury.
    9. Any marine mammal observed after a VSW underwater detonation 
either injured or exhibiting signs of distress will be reported via 
operational chain of command to Navy environmental representatives from 
U.S. Pacific Fleet, Environmental Office, San Diego Detachment. Using 
Marine Mammal Stranding communication trees and contact procedures 
established for the Southern California Range Complex, the Navy will 
report these events to the Stranding Coordinator of NMFS' Southwest 
Regional Office. These voice or email reports will contain the date and 
time of the sighting, location (or if precise latitude and longitude is 
not currently available, then the approximate location in reference to 
an established SSTC beach feature), species description (if known), and 
indication of the animal's status.
(2) Mitigation and Monitoring Measures for VSW Underwater Detonations 
Using Time-Delay (TDFD Only)
    1. Underwater detonations using timed delay devices will only be 
conducted during daylight.
    2. Time-delays longer than 10 minutes will not be used. The 
initiation of the

[[Page 19238]]

device will not start until the mitigation area below is clear for a 
full 30 minutes prior to initiation of the timer.
    3. A mitigation zone will be established around each underwater 
detonation location as indicated in Table 3 (1,000 or 1,400 yards) 
based on charge weight and length of time delay used.
    4. VSW ranges 1,000 yds:
     For each VSW underwater detonation event with a mitigation 
zone of 1,000 yds, a safety boat with a minimum of one observer is 
launched 30 or more minutes prior to detonation and moves through the 
area around the detonation site at the seaward edge of the mitigation 
zone. The task of the boat is to exclude humans from coming into the 
area and to augment a shore observer's visual search of the mitigation 
zone for marine mammals. The safety-boat observer is in constant radio 
communication with the exercise coordinator and shore observer 
discussed below. To the best extent practical, boats will try to 
maintain a 10 knot search speed.
     A shore-based observer will also be deployed for VSW 
detonations in addition to boat based observers. At least 10 minutes 
prior to the planned initiation of the detonation event-sequence, the 
shore observer, on an elevated on-shore position, begins a continuous 
visual search with binoculars of the mitigation zone. At this time, the 
safety-boat observer informs the shore observer if any marine mammal 
has been seen in the zone and, together, both search the surface within 
and beyond the mitigation zone for marine mammals. The shore observer 
will indicate that the area is clear of marine mammals after 10 or more 
minutes of continuous observation with no marine mammals having been 
seen in the mitigation zone or moving toward it.
    5. VSW ranges larger than 1,400 yards:
     A minimum of 2 boats will be used to survey for marine 
mammals at mitigation ranges larger than 1,400 yards.
     When conducting the surveys within a mitigation zone 
>1,400 yds, boats will position themselves near the mid-point of the 
mitigation zone radius (but always outside the detonation plume radius/
human safety zone) and travel in a semi-circular pattern around the 
detonation location surveying both the inner (toward detonation site) 
and outer (away from detonation site) areas. When using 2 boats, each 
boat will be positioned on opposite sides of the detonation location, 
separated by 180 degrees. If using more than 2 boats, each boat will be 
positioned equidistant from one another (120 degrees separation for 3 
boats, 90 degrees separation for 4 boats, etc.). If available, aerial 
visual survey support from Navy helicopters can be utilized, so long as 
it will not jeopardize safety of flight. Helicopters will travel in a 
circular pattern around the detonation location.
    6. A mitigation zone will be surveyed from 30 minutes prior to the 
detonation and for 30 minutes after the detonation.
    7. Other personnel besides boat observers can also maintain 
situational awareness on the presence of marine mammals within the 
mitigation zone to the best extent practical given dive safety 
considerations.
    Divers placing the charges on mines will observe the immediate 
underwater area around a detonation site for marine mammals and report 
sightings to surface observers.
    8. If a marine mammal is sighted within an established mitigation 
zone or moving towards it, underwater detonation events will be 
suspended until the marine mammal has voluntarily left the area and the 
area is clear of marine mammals for at least 30 minutes.
    9. Immediately following the detonation, visual monitoring for 
affected marine mammals within the mitigation zone will continue for 30 
minutes.
    10. Any marine mammal observed after an underwater detonation 
either injured or exhibiting signs of distress will be reported via 
Navy operational chain of command to Navy environmental representatives 
from U.S. Pacific Fleet, Environmental Office, San Diego Detachment. 
Using Marine Mammal Stranding communication trees and contact 
procedures established for the Southern California Range Complex, the 
Navy will report these events to the Stranding Coordinator of NMFS' 
Southwest Regional Office. These voice or email reports will contain 
the date and time of the sighting, location (or if precise latitude and 
longitude is not currently available, then the approximate location in 
reference to an established SSTC beach feature), species description 
(if known), and indication of the animal's status.

Proposed Mitigation and Monitoring Measures for Underwater Detonations 
in Shallow Water (>24 Feet)

(1) Mitigation and Monitoring Measures for Underwater Detonations Using 
Positive Control (Except SWAG and Timed Detonations)
    1. Underwater detonations using positive control devices will only 
be conducted during daylight.
    2. A mitigation zone of 700 yards will be established around each 
underwater detonation point.
    3. A minimum of two boats, including but not limited to small 
zodiacs and 7-m Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIB) will be deployed. 
One boat will act as an observer platform, while the other boat is 
typically the diver support boat.
    4. Two observers with binoculars on one small craft/boat will 
survey the detonation area and the mitigation zone for marine mammals 
from at least 30 minutes prior to commencement of the scheduled 
explosive event and until at least 30 minutes after detonation.
    5. In addition to the dedicated observers, all divers and boat 
operators engaged in detonation events can potentially monitor the area 
immediately surrounding the point of detonation for marine mammals.
    6. If a marine mammal is sighted within the 700 yard mitigation 
zone or moving towards it, underwater detonation events will be 
suspended until the marine mammal has voluntarily left the area and the 
area is clear of marine mammals for at least 30 minutes.
    7. Immediately following the detonation, visual monitoring for 
marine mammals within the mitigation zone will continue for 30 minutes. 
Any marine mammal observed after an underwater detonation either 
injured or exhibiting signs of distress will be reported via Navy 
operational chain of command to Navy environmental representatives from 
U.S. Pacific Fleet, Environmental Office, San Diego Detachment. Using 
Marine Mammal Stranding communication trees and contact procedures 
established for the Southern California Range Complex, the Navy will 
report these events to the Stranding Coordinator of NMFS' Southwest 
Regional Office. These voice or email reports will contain the date and 
time of the sighting, location (or if precise latitude and longitude is 
not currently available, then the approximate location in reference to 
an established SSTC beach feature), species description (if known), and 
indication of the animals status.

[[Page 19239]]

(2) Mitigation and Monitoring Measures for Underwater Detonations Using 
Time-Delay (TDFD Detonations Only)
    1. Underwater detonations using timed delay devices will only be 
conducted during daylight.
    2. Time-delays longer than 10 minutes will not be used. The 
initiation of the device will not start until the mitigation area below 
is clear for a full 30 minutes prior to initiation of the timer.
    3. A mitigation zone will be established around each underwater 
detonation location as indicated in Table 3 based on charge weight and 
length of time-delay used. When conducting the surveys within a 
mitigation zone (either 1,000 or 1,400 yds), boats will position 
themselves near the mid-point of the mitigation zone radius (but always 
outside the detonation plume radius/human safety zone) and travel in a 
circular pattern around the detonation location surveying both the 
inner (toward detonation site) and outer (away from detonation site) 
areas.
    4. Shallow water TDFD detonations range 1,000 yds:
     A minimum of 2 boats will be used to survey for marine 
mammals at mitigation ranges of 1,000 yds.
     When using 2 boats, each boat will be positioned on 
opposite sides of the detonation location, separated by 180 degrees.
     Two observers in each of the boats will conduct continuous 
visual survey of the mitigation zone for the entire duration of a 
training event.
     To the best extent practical, boats will try to maintain a 
10 knot search speed. This search speed was added to ensure adequate 
coverage of the buffer zone during observation periods. While weather 
conditions and sea states may require slower speeds in some instances, 
10 knots is a prudent, safe, and executable speed that will allow for 
adequate surveillance. For a 1,000 yd radius buffer zone a boat 
travelling at 10 knots and 500 yds away from the detonation point would 
circle the detonation point 3.22 times during a 30 minute survey 
period. By using 2 boats, 6.44 circles around the detonation point 
would be completed in a 30 minute span.
    5. Shallow water TDFD detonations greater than 1,400 yds:
     A minimum of 3 boats or 2 boats and 1 helicopter will be 
used to survey for marine mammals at mitigation ranges of 1,400 yds.
     When using 3 (or more) boats, each boat will be positioned 
equidistant from one another (120 degrees separation for 3 boats, 90 
degrees separation for 4 boats, etc.).
     For a 1,400 yd radius mitigation zone, a 10 knot speed 
results in 2.3 circles for each of the three boats, or nearly 7 circles 
around the detonation point over a 30 minute span.
     If available, aerial visual survey support from Navy 
helicopters can be utilized, so long as it will not jeopardize safety 
of flight.
     Helicopters, if available, can be used in lieu of one of 
the boat requirements. Navy helicopter pilots are trained to conduct 
searches for relatively small objects in the water, such as a missing 
person. A helicopter search pattern is dictated by standard Navy 
protocols and accounts for multiple variables, such as the size and 
shape of the search area, size of the object being searched for, and 
local environmental conditions, among others.
    6. A mitigation zone will be surveyed from 30 minutes prior to the 
detonation and for 30 minutes after the detonation.
    7. Other personnel besides boat observers can also maintain 
situational awareness on the presence of marine mammals within the 
mitigation zone to the best extent practical given dive safety 
considerations.
    Divers placing the charges on mines will observe the immediate 
underwater area around a detonation site for marine mammals and report 
sightings to surface observers.
    8. If a marine mammal is sighted within an established mitigation 
zone or moving towards it, underwater detonation events will be 
suspended until the marine mammal has voluntarily left the area and the 
area is clear of marine mammals for at least 30 minutes.
    9. Immediately following the detonation, visual monitoring for 
affected marine mammals within the mitigation zone will continue for 30 
minutes.
    10. Any marine mammal observed after an underwater detonation 
either injured or exhibiting signs of distress will be reported via 
Navy operational chain of command to Navy environmental representatives 
from U.S. Pacific Fleet, Environmental Office, San Diego Detachment or 
Pearl Harbor. Using Marine Mammal Stranding protocols and communication 
trees established for the Southern California and Hawaii Range 
Complexes, the Navy will report these events to the Stranding 
Coordinator of NMFS' Southwest or Pacific Islands Regional Office. 
These voice or email reports will contain the date and time of the 
sighting, location (or if precise latitude and longitude is not 
currently available, then the approximate location in reference to an 
established SSTC beach feature), species description (if known), and 
indication of the animal's status.
(3) Proposed Mitigation and Monitoring Measures for Underwater SWAG 
Detonations (SWAG Only)
    A modified set of mitigation measures would be implemented for SWAG 
detonations, which involve much smaller charges of 0.03 lbs NEW.
    1. Underwater detonations using SWAG will only be conducted during 
daylight.
    2. A mitigation zone of 60 yards will be established around each 
SWAG detonation site.
    3. A minimum of two boats, including but not limited to small 
zodiacs and 7-m Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIB) will be deployed. 
One boat will act as an observer platform, while the other boat is 
typically the diver support boat.
    4. Two observers with binoculars on one small craft\boat will 
survey the detonation area and the mitigation zone for marine mammals 
for at least 10 minutes prior to commencement of the scheduled 
explosive event and until at least 10 minutes after detonation.
    5. In addition to the dedicated observers, all divers and boat 
operators engaged in detonation events can potentially monitor the area 
immediately surrounding the point of detonation for marine mammals.
    6. Divers and personnel in support boats would monitor for marine 
mammals out to the 60 yard mitigation zone for 10 minutes prior to any 
detonation.
    7. After the detonation, visual monitoring for marine mammals would 
continue for 10 minutes. Any marine mammal observed after an underwater 
detonation either injured or exhibiting signs of distress will be 
reported via Navy operational chain of command to Navy environmental 
representatives from U.S. Pacific Fleet, Environmental Office, San 
Diego Detachment. Using Marine Mammal Stranding communication trees and 
contact procedures established for the Southern California Range 
Complex, the Navy will report these events to the Stranding Coordinator 
of NMFS' Southwest Regional Office. These voice or email reports will 
contain the date and time of the sighting, location (or if precise 
latitude and longitude is not currently available, then the approximate 
location in reference to an established SSTC beach feature), species 
description (if known), and indication of the animal's status.

[[Page 19240]]

Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment

    There is no change for marine mammal take estimates for the four 
marine mammal species analyzed in the Federal Register for the proposed 
IHA (75 FR 64276; October 19, 2010) for underwater detonations and from 
ELCAS trainings at the SSTC Study Area. Take estimates were based on 
marine mammal densities and distribution data in the action areas, 
computed with modeled explosive sources and the sizes of the buffer 
zones. Without the inclusion of additional mitigation measures, the use 
of TDFDs could increase the likelihood that marine mammals are exposed 
to explosive detonations at injurious levels--however, with the 
enlarged exclusion zone to account for the distance that an animal 
might swim during the timed delay, this likelihood is minimized.
    The same methodology was used for calculating take estimates for 
the additional four dolphin species. The estimated takes are presented 
in Tables 4 and 5 below.

     Table 4--SSTC Modeled Estimates of Species Exposed to Underwater Detonations Without Implementation of
                                               Mitigation Measures
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                      Annual marine mammal exposure (all sources)
                                     ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                       Level B behavior     Level B TTS          Level A           Mortality
                                          (multiple     --------------------------------------------------------
                                          successive
               Species                 explosive events
                                            only)           182 dB re 1        205 dB re 1
                                     -------------------   [mu]Pa\2\-s/23    [mu]Pa\2\-s/13.0     30.5 psi-ms
                                         177 dB re 1            psi               psi-ms
                                            [mu]Pa
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gray Whale:
    Warm............................  .................  .................  .................  .................
    Cold............................                  0                  0                  0                  0
Bottlenose Dolphin:
    Warm............................                 30                 43                  0                  0
    Cold............................                 40                 55                  0                  0
California Sea Lion:
    Warm............................                  4                  4                  0                  0
    Cold............................                 40                 51                  0                  0
Harbor Seal:
    Warm............................                  0                  0                  0                  0
    Cold............................                  0                  0                  0                  0
Long-beaked common dolphin:
    Warm............................                 14                 21                  0                  0
    Cold............................                  7                 10                  0                  0
Pacific white-sided dolphin:
    Warm............................                  2                  3                  0                  0
    Cold............................                  3                  4                  0                  0
Risso's dolphin:
    Warm............................                  3                  4                  0                  0
    Cold............................                 11                 15                  0                  0
Short-beaked common dolphin:
    Warm............................                123                177                  0                  0
    Cold............................                 62                 86                  0                  0
                                     ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total Annual Exposures......                453                626                  0                  0
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                     Table 5--Exposure Estimates From ELCAS Pile Driving and Removal Prior to Implementation of Mitigation Measures
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                  Annual marine mammal exposure (all sources)
                                                     ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                      Level B behavior  (non-      Level B behavior       Level A  (cetacean)      Level A  (pinniped)
                       Species                                impulse)                (impulse)        -------------------------------------------------
                                                     --------------------------------------------------
                                                       120 dBrms re 1 [mu]Pa    120 dBrms re 1 [mu]Pa    120 dBrms re 1 [mu]Pa    120 dBrms re 1 [mu]Pa
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gray Whale:
    Installation....................................                      N/A                        0                        0                        0
    Removal.........................................                        6                      N/A                        0                        0
Bottlenose Dolphin:
    Installation....................................                      N/A                       40                        0                        0
    Removal.........................................                      168                      N/A                        0                        0
California Sea Lion:
    Installation....................................                      N/A                       20                        0                        0
    Removal.........................................                      102                      N/A                        0                        0
Harbor Seal:
    Installation....................................                      N/A                        0                        0                        0
    Removal.........................................                       12                      N/A                        0                        0
Long-beaked common dolphin:
    Installation....................................                      N/A                        0                        0                        0
    Removal.........................................                       54                      N/A                        0                        0

[[Page 19241]]

 
Pacific white-sided dolphin:
    Installation....................................                      N/A                        0                        0                        0
    Removal.........................................                       12                      N/A                        0                        0
Risso's dolphin:
    Installation....................................                      N/A                        0                        0                        0
    Removal.........................................                       30                      N/A                        0                        0
Short-beaked common dolphin:
    Installation....................................                      N/A                       80                        0                        0
    Removal.........................................                      462                      N/A                        0                        0
                                                     ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Total Annual Exposures......................                      846                      140                        0                        0
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In summary, for all underwater detonations and ELCAS pile driving 
activities, the Navy's impact model predicted that no mortality and/or 
Level A harassment (injury) would occur to marine mammal species and 
stocks within the proposed action area.
    For non-sequential (i.e., single detonation) training events, the 
Navy's impact model predicted a total of 473 annual exposures that 
could result in Level B harassment (TTS), which include 98, 55, 31, 7, 
19, and 263 annual exposures to bottlenose dolphins, California sea 
lions, long-beaked common dolphins, Pacific white-sided dolphins, 
Risso's dolphins, and short-beaked common dolphins, respectively.
    For sequential (Multiple Successive Explosive events) training 
events, the Navy's impact model predicted a total of 339 annual 
exposures that could result in Level B behavioral harassment, which 
include 70, 44, 21, 5, 14, and 185 annual exposures to bottlenose 
dolphins, California sea lions, long-beaked common dolphins, Pacific 
white-sided dolphins, Risso's dolphins, and short-beaked common 
dolphins, respectively.

Subsistence Harvest of Marine Mammals

    NMFS has preliminarily determined the Navy's proposed training 
activities at the SSTC would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on 
the availability of the affected species or stocks for subsistence use 
since there are no such uses in the specified area.

Negligible Impact and Small Numbers Analysis and 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. Level B (behavioral) 
harassment occurs at the level of the individual(s) and does not assume 
any resulting population-level consequences, though there are known 
avenues through which behavioral disturbance of individuals can result 
in population-level effects. 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 of 
Level B harassment takes, alone, is not enough information on which to 
base an impact determination. In addition to considering estimates of 
the number of marine mammals that might be ``taken'' through behavioral 
harassment, NMFS must 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.
    A detailed description on the negligible impacts and small number 
analyses and determination was provided in the Federal Register for the 
proposed IHA (75 FR 64276; October 19, 2010), and is not repeated here. 
This section provides additional analysis on the use of TDFD during the 
Navy's underwater detonation training activities.
    The aforementioned additional mitigation and monitoring measures 
will increase the buffer zone to account for marine mammal movement 
during the delay time of the detonation by TDFDs and increase marine 
mammal visual monitoring efforts to ensure that no marine mammal would 
be in a zone where injury and/or mortality could occur as a result of 
time-delayed detonation.
    In addition, the estimated exposures are based on the probability 
of the animals occurring in the area when a training event is 
occurring, and this probability does not change based on the use of 
TDFDs or implementation of mitigation measures (i.e., the exposure 
model does not account for how the charge is initiated and assumes no 
mitigation is being implemented). Other potential effects to marine 
mammal species and stocks as a result of the proposed mine 
neutralization training activities remain the same as those analyzed in 
the proposed IHA (75 FR 64276; October 19, 2010).
    Based on the analyses of the potential impacts from the proposed 
underwater detonation training exercises conducted within the Navy's 
SSTC action area, including the consideration of TDFD use and the 
implementation of the improved marine mammal monitoring and mitigation 
measures, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the modification of 
the Navy's proposed activities that include taking of marine mammals 
incidental to underwater detonation using TDFD within the SSTC action 
area will have a negligible impact on the marine mammal species and 
stocks, provided that additional mitigation and monitoring measures are 
implemented.

Endangered Species Act (ESA)

    No marine mammal species are listed as endangered or threatened 
under the ESA with confirmed or possible

[[Page 19242]]

occurrence in the study area. Therefore, section 7 consultation under 
the ESA for NMFS's proposed issuance of an MMPA authorization is not 
warranted.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    The Navy has prepared a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) 
for the proposed SSTC training activities. The FEIS was released in 
January 2011 and it is available at  http://www.silverstrandtrainingcomplexeis.com/EIS.aspx/. NMFS is a cooperating 
agency (as defined by the Council on Environmental Quality (40 CFR 
1501.6)) in the preparation of the EIS. NMFS has subsequently adopted 
the FEIS for the SSTC training activities.

    Dated: March 20, 2012.
James H. Lecky,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-7593 Filed 3-29-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P