Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal School Training Operations at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, 25435-25437 [2012-10376]

Download as PDF mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 83 / Monday, April 30, 2012 / Notices percent for transient killer whales, and 1.3 percent for harbor porpoises; the proposed numbers are less than 1 percent for the remaining species. However, even these low numbers represent potential instances of take, not the number of individuals taken. That is, it is likely that a relatively small subset of Hood Canal harbor seals, which is itself a small subset of the regional stock, would be harassed by project activities. For example, while the available information and formula estimate that as many as 737 exposures of harbor seals to stimuli constituting Level B harassment could occur, that number represents some portion of the approximately 1,088 harbor seals resident in Hood Canal (approximately 7 percent of the regional stock) that could potentially be exposed to sound produced by pile removal activities on multiple days during the project. No rookeries are present in the project area, there are no haul-outs other than those provided opportunistically by manmade objects, and the project area is not known to provide foraging habitat of any special importance. Repeated exposures of individuals to levels of sound that may cause Level B harassment are unlikely to result in hearing impairment or to significantly disrupt foraging behavior. Thus, even repeated Level B harassment of some small subset of the overall stock is unlikely to result in any significant realized decrease in viability for Hood Canal harbor seals, and thus would not result in any adverse impact to the stock as a whole. NMFS has preliminarily determined that the impact of the previously described wharf rehabilitation project may result, at worst, in a temporary modification in behavior (Level B harassment) of small numbers of marine mammals. No injury, serious injury, or mortality is anticipated as a result of the specified activity, and none is proposed to be authorized. Additionally, animals in the area are not expected to incur hearing impairment (i.e., TTS or PTS) or non-auditory physiological effects. For pinnipeds, the absence of any major rookeries and only a few isolated and opportunistic haul-out areas near or adjacent to the project site means that potential takes by disturbance would have an insignificant short-term effect on individuals and would not result in population-level impacts. Similarly, for cetacean species the absence of any known regular occurrence adjacent to the project site means that potential takes by disturbance would have an insignificant short-term effect on individuals and would not result in VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:59 Apr 27, 2012 Jkt 226001 population-level impacts. Due to the nature, degree, and context of behavioral harassment anticipated, the activity is not expected to impact rates of recruitment or survival. While the number of marine mammals potentially incidentally harassed would depend on the distribution and abundance of marine mammals in the vicinity of the survey activity, the number of potential harassment takings is estimated to be small relative to regional stock or population number, and has been mitigated to the lowest level practicable through incorporation of the proposed mitigation and monitoring measures mentioned previously in this document. This activity is expected to result in a negligible impact on the affected species or stocks. The eastern DPS of the Steller sea lion is listed as threatened under the ESA; no other species for which take authorization is requested are either ESA-listed or considered depleted under the MMPA. Based on the analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into consideration the implementation of the mitigation and monitoring measures, NMFS preliminarily finds that the proposed wharf construction project would result in the incidental take of small numbers of marine mammals, by Level B harassment only, and that the total taking from the activity would have a negligible impact on the affected species or stocks. Impact on Availability of Affected Species or Stock for Taking for Subsistence Uses No tribal subsistence hunts are held in the vicinity of the project area; thus, temporary behavioral impacts to individual animals would not affect any subsistence activity. Further, no population or stock level impacts to marine mammals are anticipated or authorized. As a result, no impacts to the availability of the species or stock to the Pacific Northwest treaty tribes are expected as a result of the proposed activities. Therefore, no relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals are implicated by this action. Endangered Species Act (ESA) There are two ESA-listed marine mammal species with known occurrence in the project area: The eastern DPS of the Steller sea lion, listed as threatened, and the humpback whale, listed as endangered. Because of the potential presence of these species, the Navy has requested a formal consultation with the NMFS Northwest PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 25435 Regional Office under section 7 of the ESA. NMFS’ Office of Protected Resources has also initiated formal consultation on its authorization of incidental take of Steller sea lions. These consultations are in progress. These species do not have critical habitat in the action area. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), as implemented by the regulations published by the Council on Environmental Quality (40 CFR parts 1500–1508), and NOAA Administrative Order 216–6, the Navy prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) to consider the direct, indirect and cumulative effects to the human environment resulting from the pile replacement project. NMFS adopted that EA in order to assess the impacts to the human environment of issuance of an IHA to the Navy. NMFS signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) on May 17, 2011. On the basis of new information related to the occurrence of marine mammals in the Hood Canal, the Navy is preparing a supplement to that EA. NMFS will review that document and, if appropriate, issue a new FONSI. Proposed Authorization As a result of these preliminary determinations, NMFS proposes to authorize the take of marine mammals incidental to the Navy’s wharf rehabilitation project, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements are incorporated. Dated: April 24, 2012. Helen M. Golde, Acting Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2012–10370 Filed 4–27–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XB109 Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal School Training Operations at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. AGENCY: E:\FR\FM\30APN1.SGM 30APN1 25436 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 83 / Monday, April 30, 2012 / Notices Background commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are made and regulations are issued. Alternatively, if the taking is limited to harassment, certain determinations are made and the authorization does not exceed one year, an IHA may be issued. Upon making a finding that an application for incidental take is adequate and complete, NMFS commences the incidental take authorization process by publishing in the Federal Register a notice of receipt of an application for the implementation of regulations or a proposed IHA initiating a period for public review and comment. An authorization for the incidental takings may be granted if NMFS finds that the taking during the period for the authorization will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s) of marine mammals, will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant), and if permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring, and reporting of such takings are set forth to achieve the least practicable adverse impact. 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) (Pub. L. 108–36) modified the MMPA by removing the ‘‘small numbers’’ and ‘‘specified geographic 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 behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered (Level B harassment).’’ Paragraphs 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary), upon request, to allow for a period of not more than five years, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than Summary of Request On November 6, 2009, NMFS received an application from the U.S. Air Force requesting an authorization for the take of marine mammals incidental to NEODS training operations. These training operations are properly considered ‘‘military readiness activity’’ Notice; issuance of a Letter of Authorization (LOA). ACTION: In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and implementing regulations, notification is hereby given that a LOA has been issued to the U.S. Department of the Air Force, Headquarters 96th Air Base Wing (U.S. Air Force), Eglin Air Force Base (Eglin AFB) to take marine mammals, by Level B harassment, incidental to Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal School (NEODS) training operations at Eglin AFB, Florida from approximately April, 2012, to April, 2017. The U.S. Air Force activities are considered military readiness activities pursuant to the MMPA, as amended by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2004 (NDAA). DATES: Effective April 23, 2012, through April 24, 2017. ADDRESSES: The LOA and supporting documentation are available by writing to P. Michael Payne, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910– 3225, by telephoning one of the contacts listed here (see FOR INFORMATION CONTACT), or online at: http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental.htm. Documents cited in this notice may be viewed, by appointment, during regular business hours, at the aforementioned address. NMFS has prepared an Environmental Assessment titled ‘‘Environmental Assessment on the Promulgation of Regulations and the Issuance of Letters of Authorization to Take Marine Mammals, by Level B Harassment, Incidental to Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal School Training Operations at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida’’ (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) as implemented by regulations published by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Howard Goldstein or Jolie Harrison, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 301–427–8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:59 Apr 27, 2012 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 under the provisions of the NDAA. On January, 15, 2010, NMFS published notification of receipt (75 FR 2490) in the Federal Register for the U.S. Air Force’s NEODS training operations and determined that its application was adequate and complete. The Federal Register notice solicited comments from the public. After the close of the public comment period and review of comments, NMFS, on October 1, 2010, NMFS published a notification of a proposed rule (75 FR 60694) with the text of the proposed rule in the Federal Register for the U.S. Air Force’s NEODS training operations. The Federal Register notice solicited public comments on the preliminary approach taken in the proposed rule. On November 30, 2010, NMFS received a revised application from the U.S. Air Force which addressed public comments received during the comment period for the proposed rule. The application re-estimated the Zones of Influence (ZOI) and associated takes on revised thresholds for Level A and Level B harassment. On December 5, 2011, NMFS received a revised application from the U.S. Air Force with revised monitoring and mitigation measures to reduce the potential for lethal take of bottlenose dolphins due to an event involving the mortality of common dolphins associated with similar explosive training operations at the U.S. Navy’s Silver Strand Training Complex near San Diego, California. On March 22, 2012, NMFS published a notice of final rule (77 FR 16718) and final regulation in the Federal Register authorizing take by Level B harassment of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) incidental to the U.S. Air Force’s NEODS training operations. The final regulations are codified in the Code of Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 217.80–89. Pursuant to these regulations, NMFS is issuing this LOA to authorize the take, by Level B (behavioral) harassment, of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins incidental to conducting NEODS training operations and testing at Eglin Gulf Test and Training Range (EGTTR) at property off Santa Rosa Island, FL, in the northern Gulf of Mexico (GOM) in accordance with the issuance of one or more Letters of Authorization over a 5-year period. Estimated take would average approximately 10 animals per year; approximately 50 animals over the 5-year period. Specified Activities The specified activities covered by this 5-year LOA are identical to those covered in the regulations. NEODS E:\FR\FM\30APN1.SGM 30APN1 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 83 / Monday, April 30, 2012 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES missions involve underwater detonations of small, live explosive charges adjacent to inert mines. The NEODS may conduct up to eight twoday demolition training events annually; these missions may occur at any time of the year. Each demolition training event involves a maximum of five detonations. Up to 20 five-pound (lb) charges (five lbs net explosive weight [NEW] per charge) and 20 ten-lb charges (ten lbs NEW per charge) would be detonated annually in the GOM, approximately three nautical miles (5.6 kilometers) offshore of Eglin AFB. Detonations would be conducted on the sea floor, adjacent to an inert mine, at a depth of approximately 60 feet (18.3 meters). Additional information on the NEODS training operations is contained in the application and final rule, which is available upon request (see ADDRESSES). Mitigation and Monitoring The mitigation and monitoring included in this LOA are identical to those required by the governing regulations. In summary, they include: (1) The time of detonation will be limited to daylight hours (i.e., an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset); (2) NEODS missions would be delayed if the Beaufort sea state is greater than scale number three (i.e., if whitecaps cover more than 50 percent of the surface or waves are greater than 0.9 meters (m) (3 feet [ft]) to ensure visibility of marine mammals to observers); (3) Time delays longer than 10 minutes will not be used and initiation of the timer device will not start until the mitigation-monitoring zone is clear of marine mammals for 30 minutes; (4) Observers on boats and/or helicopters will conduct monitoring pre-mission, throughout the mission, and post-mission for the presence of marine mammals and other protected species indicators; (5) NEODS mission would be postponed or suspended if marine mammals and/or large concentrations of protected species indicators are observed within or about to enter the mitigation-monitoring zone: (6) After a delay due to the aforementioned wildlife being detected in the mitigation-monitoring zone, the mission would not be continued until the wildlife in question is confirmed to be outside the mitigation-monitoring zone, the animal(s) are moving away from the mission area, and the animal(s) does not re-enter the mitigationmonitoring zone for 30 minutes; and (7) Post-mission monitoring would be conducted to report any injured, VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:59 Apr 27, 2012 Jkt 226001 seriously injured, or dead marine mammals. Negligible Impact Determination As analyzed and described in further detail in the preamble to the final regulations, taking authorized under the regulations will have a negligible impact on the affected species and stocks of marine mammals. Authorization Accordingly, NMFS has issued an LOA to the U.S. Air Force authorizing takes of marine mammals incidental to NEODS training operations at Eglin AFB. Issuance of this LOA was based on NMFS’s determination that the total number of marine mammals taken by the activity as a whole shall have no more than a negligible impact on the affected marine mammal species, Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. The basis for this determination is described in the preamble to the final rule (77 FR 16718, March 22, 2012). NMFS also determined that the LOA will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the affected marine mammal stocks for subsistence uses. Dated: April 24, 2012. Helen M. Golde, Acting Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2012–10376 Filed 4–27–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P BUREAU OF CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. ACTION: Notice and request for comments. AGENCY: The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (Bureau), as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104–13 (44 U.S.C. 3507(a)(1)(D)). The Bureau is soliciting comments regarding the information collection requirements relating to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act that have been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget for review and approval. A copy of the submission may be obtained by contacting the agency contact listed below. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 25437 Written comments are encouraged and must be received on or before May 30, 2012 to be assured of consideration. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by OMB number 3170–0013, by any of the following methods: • Agency Contact: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Attention: PRA Office), 1700 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20552: (202) 435–7741: CFPB_Public_PRA@cfpb.gov. • OMB Reviewer: Shagufta Ahmed, Office of Management and Budget, New Executive Office Building, Room 10235, Washington, DC 20503; (202) 395–7873. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Requests for additional information should be directed to Joseph Durbala, (202) 435–7893, at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, (Attention: Joseph Durbala, PRA Office) 1700 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20552, or through the internet at CFPB_Public_PRA@cfpb.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Title: Equal Credit Opportunity Act (Regulation B) 12 CFR Part 1002. OMB Number: 3170–0013. Abstract: Federal and state enforcement agencies and private litigants use recordkeeping information to, for example, compare accepted and rejected applicants or the terms and conditions of accepted applicants in order to determine whether applicants are treated less favorably on the basis of race, sex, age, or other prohibited bases under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA). Information derived from these records provides an important piece of evidence of law violations in ECOA enforcement actions brought by Federal agencies. Self-testing records (including for corrective action) are used by creditors to identify potential violations and reflect their efforts to correct the problem. Absent the Regulation B requirement that creditors retain monitoring information, the CFPB’s and other agencies’ ability to detect unlawful discrimination and enforce the ECOA would be significantly impaired. The CFPB, other agencies, and private litigants use adverse action notices, appraisal reports, and other information in the application file to compare applicants in order to determine whether any applicants are discriminated against on the basis of race/national origin, sex, marital status, age, or other prohibited bases under the ECOA. The adverse action notice requirement apprises applicants of their rights under the ECOA and of the basis for a creditor’s decision. Applicants use their copy of the appraisal to review (and possibly challenge) the accuracy DATES: E:\FR\FM\30APN1.SGM 30APN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 83 (Monday, April 30, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 25435-25437]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-10376]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XB109


Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Naval Explosive Ordnance 
Disposal School Training Operations at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida

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

[[Page 25436]]


ACTION: Notice; issuance of a Letter of Authorization (LOA).

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

SUMMARY: In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and 
implementing regulations, notification is hereby given that a LOA has 
been issued to the U.S. Department of the Air Force, Headquarters 96th 
Air Base Wing (U.S. Air Force), Eglin Air Force Base (Eglin AFB) to 
take marine mammals, by Level B harassment, incidental to Naval 
Explosive Ordnance Disposal School (NEODS) training operations at Eglin 
AFB, Florida from approximately April, 2012, to April, 2017. The U.S. 
Air Force activities are considered military readiness activities 
pursuant to the MMPA, as amended by the National Defense Authorization 
Act of 2004 (NDAA).

DATES: Effective April 23, 2012, through April 24, 2017.

ADDRESSES: The LOA and supporting documentation are available by 
writing to P. Michael Payne, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, 
Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 
East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910-3225, by telephoning one of 
the contacts listed here (see FOR INFORMATION CONTACT), or online at: 
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm. Documents cited in 
this notice may be viewed, by appointment, during regular business 
hours, at the aforementioned address. NMFS has prepared an 
Environmental Assessment titled ``Environmental Assessment on the 
Promulgation of Regulations and the Issuance of Letters of 
Authorization to Take Marine Mammals, by Level B Harassment, Incidental 
to Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal School Training Operations at 
Eglin Air Force Base, Florida'' (EA) and Finding of No Significant 
Impact (FONSI) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA) as implemented by regulations published by the Council on 
Environmental Quality (CEQ).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Howard Goldstein or Jolie Harrison, 
Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 301-427-8401.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Paragraphs 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et 
seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary), upon request, to 
allow for a period of not more than five years, the incidental, but not 
intentional, taking of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a 
specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified 
geographical region if certain findings are made and regulations are 
issued. Alternatively, if the taking is limited to harassment, certain 
determinations are made and the authorization does not exceed one year, 
an IHA may be issued. Upon making a finding that an application for 
incidental take is adequate and complete, NMFS commences the incidental 
take authorization process by publishing in the Federal Register a 
notice of receipt of an application for the implementation of 
regulations or a proposed IHA initiating a period for public review and 
comment.
    An authorization for the incidental takings may be granted if NMFS 
finds that the taking during the period for the authorization will have 
a negligible impact on the species or stock(s) of marine mammals, will 
not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the 
species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant), and if 
permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the 
mitigation, monitoring, and reporting of such takings are set forth to 
achieve the least practicable adverse impact.
    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) (Pub. L. 108-
36) modified the MMPA by removing the ``small numbers'' and ``specified 
geographic 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 behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered 
(Level B harassment).''

Summary of Request

    On November 6, 2009, NMFS received an application from the U.S. Air 
Force requesting an authorization for the take of marine mammals 
incidental to NEODS training operations. These training operations are 
properly considered ``military readiness activity'' under the 
provisions of the NDAA. On January, 15, 2010, NMFS published 
notification of receipt (75 FR 2490) in the Federal Register for the 
U.S. Air Force's NEODS training operations and determined that its 
application was adequate and complete. The Federal Register notice 
solicited comments from the public. After the close of the public 
comment period and review of comments, NMFS, on October 1, 2010, NMFS 
published a notification of a proposed rule (75 FR 60694) with the text 
of the proposed rule in the Federal Register for the U.S. Air Force's 
NEODS training operations. The Federal Register notice solicited public 
comments on the preliminary approach taken in the proposed rule. On 
November 30, 2010, NMFS received a revised application from the U.S. 
Air Force which addressed public comments received during the comment 
period for the proposed rule. The application re-estimated the Zones of 
Influence (ZOI) and associated takes on revised thresholds for Level A 
and Level B harassment. On December 5, 2011, NMFS received a revised 
application from the U.S. Air Force with revised monitoring and 
mitigation measures to reduce the potential for lethal take of 
bottlenose dolphins due to an event involving the mortality of common 
dolphins associated with similar explosive training operations at the 
U.S. Navy's Silver Strand Training Complex near San Diego, California. 
On March 22, 2012, NMFS published a notice of final rule (77 FR 16718) 
and final regulation in the Federal Register authorizing take by Level 
B harassment of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) 
incidental to the U.S. Air Force's NEODS training operations. The final 
regulations are codified in the Code of Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 
217.80-89.
    Pursuant to these regulations, NMFS is issuing this LOA to 
authorize the take, by Level B (behavioral) harassment, of Atlantic 
bottlenose dolphins incidental to conducting NEODS training operations 
and testing at Eglin Gulf Test and Training Range (EGTTR) at property 
off Santa Rosa Island, FL, in the northern Gulf of Mexico (GOM) in 
accordance with the issuance of one or more Letters of Authorization 
over a 5-year period. Estimated take would average approximately 10 
animals per year; approximately 50 animals over the 5-year period.

Specified Activities

    The specified activities covered by this 5-year LOA are identical 
to those covered in the regulations. NEODS

[[Page 25437]]

missions involve underwater detonations of small, live explosive 
charges adjacent to inert mines. The NEODS may conduct up to eight two-
day demolition training events annually; these missions may occur at 
any time of the year. Each demolition training event involves a maximum 
of five detonations. Up to 20 five-pound (lb) charges (five lbs net 
explosive weight [NEW] per charge) and 20 ten-lb charges (ten lbs NEW 
per charge) would be detonated annually in the GOM, approximately three 
nautical miles (5.6 kilometers) offshore of Eglin AFB. Detonations 
would be conducted on the sea floor, adjacent to an inert mine, at a 
depth of approximately 60 feet (18.3 meters). Additional information on 
the NEODS training operations is contained in the application and final 
rule, which is available upon request (see ADDRESSES).

Mitigation and Monitoring

    The mitigation and monitoring included in this LOA are identical to 
those required by the governing regulations. In summary, they include:
    (1) The time of detonation will be limited to daylight hours (i.e., 
an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset);
    (2) NEODS missions would be delayed if the Beaufort sea state is 
greater than scale number three (i.e., if whitecaps cover more than 50 
percent of the surface or waves are greater than 0.9 meters (m) (3 feet 
[ft]) to ensure visibility of marine mammals to observers);
    (3) Time delays longer than 10 minutes will not be used and 
initiation of the timer device will not start until the mitigation-
monitoring zone is clear of marine mammals for 30 minutes;
    (4) Observers on boats and/or helicopters will conduct monitoring 
pre-mission, throughout the mission, and post-mission for the presence 
of marine mammals and other protected species indicators;
    (5) NEODS mission would be postponed or suspended if marine mammals 
and/or large concentrations of protected species indicators are 
observed within or about to enter the mitigation-monitoring zone:
    (6) After a delay due to the aforementioned wildlife being detected 
in the mitigation-monitoring zone, the mission would not be continued 
until the wildlife in question is confirmed to be outside the 
mitigation-monitoring zone, the animal(s) are moving away from the 
mission area, and the animal(s) does not re-enter the mitigation-
monitoring zone for 30 minutes; and
    (7) Post-mission monitoring would be conducted to report any 
injured, seriously injured, or dead marine mammals.

Negligible Impact Determination

    As analyzed and described in further detail in the preamble to the 
final regulations, taking authorized under the regulations will have a 
negligible impact on the affected species and stocks of marine mammals.

Authorization

    Accordingly, NMFS has issued an LOA to the U.S. Air Force 
authorizing takes of marine mammals incidental to NEODS training 
operations at Eglin AFB. Issuance of this LOA was based on NMFS's 
determination that the total number of marine mammals taken by the 
activity as a whole shall have no more than a negligible impact on the 
affected marine mammal species, Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. The basis 
for this determination is described in the preamble to the final rule 
(77 FR 16718, March 22, 2012). NMFS also determined that the LOA will 
not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the 
affected marine mammal stocks for subsistence uses.

    Dated: April 24, 2012.
Helen M. Golde,
Acting Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-10376 Filed 4-27-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P