Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; U.S. Marine Corps Training Exercises at Air Station Cherry Point, 19224-19243 [2013-07305]

Download as PDF 19224 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 61 / Friday, March 29, 2013 / Notices likely overestimates the actual take that would occur; no marine mammal takes were observed during 28 days of survey activity in 2012. No affected marine mammals are listed under the ESA or considered strategic under the MMPA. Marine mammals are expected to avoid the survey area, thereby reducing exposure and impacts. No disruption to reproductive behavior is anticipated and there is no anticipated effect on annual rates of recruitment or survival of affected marine mammals. 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 determines that CWA’s survey activities may result in the incidental take of small numbers of marine mammals, by Level B harassment, and that the total taking will have a negligible impact on the affected species or stocks. Impact on Availability of Affected Species for Taking for Subsistence Uses There are no relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals implicated by this action. Endangered Species Act (ESA) No marine mammal species listed under the ESA are anticipated to occur within the action area. Therefore, section 7 consultation under the ESA is not required. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 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, NMFS prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) to consider the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects to marine mammals and other applicable environmental resources resulting from issuance of a 1year IHA to and the potential issuance of additional authorization for incidental harassment. This analysis is still considered relevant for the proposed IHA because the applicant’s proposed activity has not changed. The EA is available on the NMFS Web site listed in the beginning of this document concurrently with this notice. VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:34 Mar 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 Dated: March 25, 2013. Helen M. Golde, Acting Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2013–07304 Filed 3–28–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XC486 Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; U.S. Marine Corps Training Exercises at Air Station Cherry Point National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; proposed incidental harassment authorization; receipt of application for letter of authorization; request for comments. AGENCY: SUMMARY: We have received an application from the U.S. Marine Corps (Marine Corps) requesting an incidental harassment authorization (Authorization) to take marine mammals incidental to various training exercises at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point Range Complex, North Carolina for a period of one year. The Marine Corps’ activities are military readiness activities pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), as amended by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2004. Per the MMPA, we are requesting comments on our proposal to issue an authorization to the Marine Corps to incidentally harass by Level B harassment only, bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), during the training exercises that would occur within the proposed effective period of May 20, 2013 through May 19, 2014. We are also requesting comments on our intent to promulgate regulations governing the take of marine mammals over a 5-year period incidental to the activities described in this notice. DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than April 29, 2013. ADDRESSES: Comments on the application should be addressed 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. The mailbox address for providing email comments is ITP.Cody@noaa.gov. Please include 0648–XC486 in the subject line. We are not responsible for PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 email comments sent to addresses other than the one provided here. Comments sent via email, including all attachments, must not exceed a 25megabyte file size. Instructions: All submitted comments are a part of the public record and we would post 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. To obtain an electronic copy of the application, write to the previously mentioned address, telephone the contact listed here (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT), or visit the internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications. The following associated document is also available at the same internet address: The Marine Corps’ Environmental Assessment (EA) titled, ‘‘Environmental Assessment MCAS Cherry Point Range Operations,’’ for their federal action of supporting and conducting current and emerging training operations. Their EA evaluates the effects of the proposed training operations on the human environment including impacts to marine mammals and their 2009 Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the activities. This notice and the referenced document present detailed information on the scope of our federal action and resultant environmental impacts for purposes of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) (i.e., potential impacts to marine mammals from issuing the proposed Authorization including measures for mitigation, and monitoring). We solicit and would consider comments submitted in response to this notice when determining whether to prepare additional NEPA analysis. Documents cited in this notice may also 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 to authorize, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of E:\FR\FM\29MRN1.SGM 29MRN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 61 / Friday, March 29, 2013 / Notices 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, after notice of a proposed authorization to the public for review and public comment: (1) We make certain findings; and (2) the taking is limited to harassment. We shall grant authorization for the incidental taking of small numbers of marine mammals if we find 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 taking. We have 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 our 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, we must either issue or deny the authorization and must publish a notice in the Federal Register within 30 days of our determination to issue or deny the authorization. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2004 (NDAA; (Public Law 108– 136)) amended section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA by removing the small numbers and specified geographic region provisions; revising the definition of harassment as it applies to a military readiness activity; and explicitly requiring that our determination of ‘‘least practicable adverse impact’’ include consideration of: (1) Personnel safety; (2) the practicality of implementation; and (3) impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity. The NDAA’s definition of harassment as it applies to a military readiness activity is: (i) any act that injures or has VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:34 Mar 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 the significant potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A Harassment]; or (ii) any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered [Level B Harassment]. Summary of Request We received a request from the Marine Corps on January 28, 2013, requesting that we issue we issue an Incidental Harassment Authorization (Authorization) for the take, by Level B harassment only, of small numbers of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) incidental to air-to-surface and surface-to-surface training exercises conducted around two bombing targets within southern Pamlico Sound, North Carolina, at MCAS Cherry Point. We received a complete and adequate application requesting Authorization on March 19, 2013. To date, we have issued two, 1-year Authorizations to the Marine Corps for the conduct of the same activities from 2010 to 2012 (75 FR 72807, November 26, 2010; 77 FR January 3, 2012). This is the Marine Corps’ third request for an Authorization. We intend to proceed to rulemaking after a final determination is made on whether or not to issue this Authorization. This document also serves as Notice of Receipt of a request for rulemaking and subsequent Letter of Authorization. Project Purpose—The Marine Corps plan to conduct weapon delivery training at two bombing targets: Brant Island Target (BT–9) and Piney Island Bombing Range (BT–11). Training at BT–9 would involve air-to-surface (from aircraft to in-water targets) and surfaceto-surface (from vessels to in-water targets) warfare training, including bombing, strafing, special (laser systems) weapons; surface fires using non-explosive and explosive ordnance; and mine laying exercises (inert). Training at BT–11 would involve air- tosurface exercises to provide training in the delivery of conventional (nonexplosive) and special (laser systems) weapons. Surface-to-surface training by small military watercraft would also be executed here. The types of ordnances proposed for use at BT–9 and BT–11 include small arms, large arms, bombs, rockets, missiles, and pyrotechnics. All munitions used at BT–11 are inert, practice rounds. No live firing occurs at BT–11. Training for any activity may PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 19225 occur year-round. Active sonar is not a component of these specified training exercises; therefore, we have not included a discussion of marine mammal harassment from active sonar operations within this notice. Description of the Specified Activity The Marine Corps is requesting authorization to harass bottlenose dolphins from ammunition firing conducted at two bombing targets within MCAS Cherry Point. The authorization would be valid for a period of one year from the date of issuance. The bombing targets are located at the convergence of the Neuse River and Pamlico Sound, North Carolina. BT–9 is a water-based target located approximately 52 kilometers (km) (32.3 miles (mi); 28 nautical miles (nm)) northeast of MCAS Cherry Point. The BT–9 target area ranges in depth from 1.2 to 6.1 meters (m) (3.9 to 20 feet (ft)), with the shallow areas concentrated along the Brandt Island Shoal (which runs down the middle of the restricted area in a northwest to southeast orientation). The target itself consists of three ship hulls grounded on Brant Island Shoals, located approximately 4.8 km (3.0 mi) southeast of Goose Creek Island. Inert (non-explosive) ordnance up to 454 kilograms (kg) (1,000 pounds (lbs) and live (explosive) ordnance up to 45.4 kg (100 lbs) trinitrotoluene (TNT) equivalent, including ordnance released during strafing, are authorized for use at this target range. The target is defined by a 6 statute-mile diameter prohibited area designated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Wilmington District (33 CFR 334.420). Non-military vessels are not permitted within the prohibited area, which is delineated by large signs located on pilings surrounding the perimeter of the BT. BT–9 also provides a mining exercise area; however, all mine exercises are simulation only and do not involve detonations. BT–9 standard operating procedures limit live ordnance deliveries to a maximum explosive weight of 100 lbs TNT equivalent. The USMC estimates that it could conduct up to approximately 1,554 aircraft-based and 322 vesselbased sorties, annually, at BT–9. The standard sortie consists of two aircraft per bombing run or an average of two and maximum of six vessels. BT–11 is a 50.6 square kilometers (km2) (19.5 square miles (mi2)) complex of land- and water-based targets on Piney Island. The BT–11 target area ranges in depth from 0.3 m (1.0 ft) along the shoreline to 3.1 m (10.1 ft) in the center of Rattan Bay (BA, 2001). The inwater stationary targets of BT–11 consist E:\FR\FM\29MRN1.SGM 29MRN1 19226 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 61 / Friday, March 29, 2013 / Notices of a barge and patrol (PT) boat located in roughly the center of Rattan Bay. The barge target is approximately 41.1 by 12.2 m (135 by 40 ft) in dimension. The PT boat is approximately 33.5 by 10.7 ft (110 ft by 35 ft) in dimension. Water depths in the center of Rattan Bay are estimated as 2.4 to 3 m (8 to 10 ft) with bottom depths ranging from 0.3 to 1.5 m (1 to 5 ft) adjacent to the shoreline of Piney Island. A shallow ledge, with substrate expected to be hard-packed to hard bottom, surrounds Piney Island. No live firing occurs at BT–11; all munitions used are inert, non-explosive practice rounds. Only 36 percent of all munitions fired at BT–11 occur over water; the remaining munitions are fired to land based targets on Piney Island. The USMC estimates that it could conduct up to approximately 6,727 aircraft-based and 51 vessel-based sorties, annually, at BT–11. All inert and live-fire exercises at MCAS Cherry Point ranges are conducted so that all ammunition and other ordnances strike and/or fall on the land or water based target or within the existing danger zones or water restricted areas. A danger zone is a defined water area that is closed to the public on an intermittent or full-time basis for use by military forces for hazardous operations such as target practice and ordnance firing. A water restricted area is a defined water area where public access is prohibited or limited in order to provide security for government property and/or to protect the public from the risks of injury or damage that could occur from the government’s use of that area (33 CFR 334.2). Surface danger zones are designated areas of rocket firing, target practice, or other surface firing activities. Typical munitions would be 7.62 millimeter (mm) or .50 caliber (cal) machine guns; and/or 40 mm grenade machine guns. This exercise is usually a live-fire exercise, but at times blanks would be used so that the boat crews could practice their ship handling skills. The goal of training is to hit the targets; however, some munitions may bounce off the targets and land in the water or miss the target entirely. Additionally, the personnel would use G911 concussion hand grenades (inert and live); however, these are not aimed at targets, as the goal is to learn how to throw them into the water. Table 1 includes the estimated amount of munitions expended at BT– 9 and BT–11 in 2011 and 2012. Historically, boat sorties have been conducted at BT–9 and BT–11 year round with equal distribution of training effort throughout the seasons. Live fires constitute approximately 90 percent of all surface-to-surface gunnery events. The majority of sorties originated and practiced at BT–9 as no live fire is conducted at BT–11. The Marine Corps has indicated a comparable number of sorties would occur throughout the IHA timeframe. There is no specific schedule associated with the use of ranges by the small boat teams. However, exercises tend to be scheduled for 5-day blocks with exercises at various times throughout that timeframe. There is no specific time of year or month training occurs as variables such as deployment status, range availability, and completion of crew specific training requirements influence schedules. hazardous operations (33 CFR 334.420). The surface danger zone (prohibited area) for BT–9 is a 4.8 km (3.0 mi) radius centered on the south side of Brant Island Shoal. The surface danger zone for BT–11 is a 2.9 km (1.8 mi) radius centered on a barge target in Rattan Bay. According to the application, the Marine Corps is requesting take of marine mammals incidental to specified activities at MCAS Cherry Point Range Complex, located within Pamlico Sound, North Carolina. These activities include gunnery; mine laying; bombing; or rocket exercises and are classified into two categories here based on delivery method: (1) Surface-to-surface gunnery and (2) air-to-surface bombing. Exercises may occur year round, day or night (approximately 15 percent of training occurs at night). Surface-to-Surface Gunnery Exercises Surface-to-surface fires are fires from boats at sea to targets at sea. These can be direct (targets are within sight) or indirect (targets are not within sight). Gunnery exercise employing only direct fire is the only category of surface-tosurface activity currently conducted within the MCAS Cherry Point bombing targets. An average of two and maximum of six small boats (7.3–26.0 m; 24–85 ft), or fleet of boats, typically operated by Special Boat Team personnel, use a machine gun to attack and disable or destroy a surface target that simulates another ship, boat, swimmer, floating mine or near shore land targets. Vessels would travel between 0–20 knots (kts) (0–23 miles per hour (mph)) with an average of two vessels actually conducting surface-to- TABLE 1—AIRCRAFT AND BOAT SORTIES, BY MISSION TYPE, CONDUCTED IN 2011 AND 2012 BT–9 BT–11 Mission type 2011 2012 2011 2012 1,554 223 ........................ 322 4,251 105 ........................ 106 Total .......................................................................................................... mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Air-to-Surface ................................................................................................... Surface-to-Surface ........................................................................................... 1,777 ........................ 4,356 ........................ A number of different types of boats are used during surface-to-surface exercises depending on the unit using the boat and their mission and include versions of Small Unit River Craft, Combat Rubber Raiding Craft, Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats, Patrol Craft. They are inboard or outboard, diesel or gasoline engines with either propeller or water jet propulsion. Boat crews approach, at a maximum of 20 kts (23 mph), and engage targets simulating VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:34 Mar 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 other boats, swimmers, floating mines, or near shore land targets with 7.62 mm or .50 cal machine guns; 40 mm grenade machine guns; or M3A2 concussion hand grenades (approximately 200, 800, 10, and 10 rounds respectively). Vessels typically travel in linear paths and do not operate erratically. Other vessels may be located within the BTs; however, these are support craft and do not participate in munitions expenditures. The purpose of the PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 support craft is to remotely control High Speed Maneuvering Surface Targets (HSMSTs) or to conduct maintenance on electronic equipment located in the towers at BT–9. Support craft are typically anchored or tied to marker pilings during HSMST operations or tied to equipment towers. When underway, vessels do not typically travel faster than 12–18 kts (13.8–20.7 mph) or in an erratic manner. E:\FR\FM\29MRN1.SGM 29MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 61 / Friday, March 29, 2013 / Notices Air-to-Surface Air-to-surface training involves ordnance delivered from aircraft and aimed at targets on the water’s surface or on land in the case of BT–11. We provide a description of the types of targets used at MCAS Cherry Point in the previous section. There are four types of air-to-surface activities conducted within the MCAS Cherry Point BTs: mine laying; bombing, gunnery, or rocket exercises which are carried out via fixed- or rotary-wing aircraft. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Mine Laying Exercises Mine warfare includes the strategic, operational, and tactical use of mines and mine countermine measures. Mine warfare is divided into two basic subdivisions: (a) The laying of mines to degrade the enemy’s capabilities to wage land, air, and maritime warfare, and (b) the countering of enemy-laid mines to permit friendly maneuver or use of selected land or sea areas (DoN, 2007). MCAS Cherry Point would only engage in mine laying exercises as described below in the waters around BT–9. No detonations of any mine device are involved with this training. During mine laying, a fixed-wing or maritime patrol aircraft (P–3 or P–8) typically drops a series of about four inert mine shapes in an offensive or defensive pattern, making multiple passes along a pre-determined flight azimuth, and dropping one or more shapes each time. Mine simulation shapes include MK76, MK80 series, and BDU practice bombs ranging from 25 to 2,000 pounds in weight. There is an attempt to fly undetected to the area where the mines are laid with either a low or high altitude tactic flight. The shapes are scored for accuracy as they enter the water and the aircrew is later debriefed on their performance. The training shapes are inert (no detonations occur) and expendable. Bombing Exercises The purpose of bombing exercises is to train pilots in destroying or disabling enemy ships or boats. During training, fixed wing or rotary wing aircraft deliver bombs against surface maritime targets at BT–9 or BT–11,day or night, using either unguided or precisionguided munitions. Unguided munitions include MK–76 and BDU–45 inert training bombs, and MK–80 series of inert bombs (no cluster munitions authorized). Precision-guided munitions consist of laser-guided bombs (inert) and laser-guided training rounds (inert). VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:34 Mar 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 Typically, two aircraft approach the target (principally BT–9) from an altitude of approximately 914 m (3,000 ft) up to 4,572 m (15,000 ft) and, when on an established range, the aircraft adhere to designated ingress and egress routes. Typical bomb release altitude is 914 m (3,000 ft) for unguided munitions or above 4,572 m (15,000 ft) and in excess of 1.8 km (1 nm) for precisionguided munitions. However, the lowest minimum altitude for ordnance delivery (inert bombs) would be 152 m (500 ft). Onboard laser designators or laser designators from a support aircraft or ground support personnel are used to illuminate certified targets for use when using laser guided weapons. Due to target maintenance issues, live bombs have not been dropped at the BT–9 targets for the past few years although these munitions are authorized for use. For the effective IHA timeframe, the Marine Corps would not use live bombs. Live rockets and grenades; however, have been expended at BT–9. Air-to-surface bombing exercises have the potential to occur on a daily basis. The standard sortie consists of two aircraft per bombing run. The frequency of these exercises is dependent on squadron level training requirements, deployment status, and range availability; therefore, there is no set pattern or specific time of year or month when this training occurs. Normal operating hours for the range are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Friday; however, the range is available for use 365 days per year. Gunnery Exercises During gunnery training, fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft expend smaller munitions targeted at the bombing targets with the purpose of hitting them. However, some small arms may land in the water. Rotary wing exercises involve either CH–53, UH–1, CH–46, MV–22, or H–60 rotary-wing aircraft with mounted 7.62 mm or .50 cal machine guns. Each gunner expends approximately 800 rounds of 7.62 mm and 200 rounds of .50 cal ammunition in each exercise. These may be live or inert. Fixed wing gunnery exercises involve the flight of two aircraft that begin to descend to the target from an altitude of approximately 914 m (3,000 ft) while still several miles away. Within a distance of 1,219 m (4,000 ft) from the target, each aircraft fires a burst of approximately 30 rounds before reaching an altitude of 305 m (1,000 ft), then breaks off and repositions for another strafing run until each aircraft PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 19227 expends its exercise ordnance allowance of approximately 250 rounds. In total, about 8–12 passes are made by each aircraft per exercise. Typically these fixed wing exercise events involve an F/A–18 and AH–1 with Vulcan M61A1/A2, 20 mm cannon; AV–8 with GAU–12, 25 mm cannon. Rocket Exercises Rocket exercises are carried out similar to bombing exercises. Fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft crews launch rockets at surface maritime targets, day and night, to train for destroying or disabling enemy ships or boats. These operations employ 2.75-inch and 5-inch rockets. Generally, the average number of rockets delivered per sortie is approximately 14. As with the bombing exercise, there is no set level or pattern of amount of sorties conducted. Munitions Descriptions We refer the reader to Tables 2 and 3 for a complete list of the ordnance authorized for use at BT–9 and BT–11, respectively. There are several varieties and net explosive weights (for live munition used at BT–9) can vary according to the variety. All practice bombs are inert and used to simulate the same ballistic properties of service type bombs. They are manufactured as either solid cast metal bodies or thin sheet metal containers. Since practice bombs contain no explosive filler, a practice bomb signal cartridge (smoke) is used for visual observation of weapon target impact. Practice bombs provide a low cost training device for pilot and ground handling crews. Due to the relatively small amount of explosive material in practice bombs (small signal charge), the availability of ranges for training is greatly increased. When a high explosive detonates, it is converted almost instantly into a gas at very high pressure and temperature. Under the pressure of the gases thus generated, the weapon case expands and breaks into fragments. The air surrounding the casing is compressed and shock (blast) wave is transmitted into it. Typical initial values for a highexplosive weapon are 200 kilobars of pressure (1 bar = 1 atmosphere) and 5,000 degrees Celsius (9,032 degrees Fahrenheit). There are five types of explosive sources used at BT–9: 2.75inch Rocket High Explosives, 5-inch Rocket High Explosives, 30 mm High Explosives, 40 mm High Explosives, and G911 grenades. No live munitions are used at BT–11. E:\FR\FM\29MRN1.SGM 29MRN1 19228 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 61 / Friday, March 29, 2013 / Notices TABLE 2—DESCRIPTION OF MUNITIONS USED AT BT–9 Ordnance Description Net explosive weight MK–76 Practice Bomb (inert) ................... 25-pound teardrop-shaped cast metal bomb, with a bore tube for installation of a signal cartridge. Air Force MK 76 practice bomb ............................................ 10-pound metal cylindrical bomb body with a bore tube for installation of a signal cartridge. 500-pound metal bomb either sand or water filled. Two signal cartridges.. 500-pound metal bomb either sand or water filled. Two signal cartridges.. 250-pound bomb ................................................................... 500-pound bomb ................................................................... 1,000-pound bomb configured like BDU 45 ......................... 2,000-pound bomb configured like BDU 45 ......................... (of signal cartridge) varies, maximum 0.083800 lbs. same as above. same as above. Unguided 2.75 inch diameter rocket ..................................... Unguided 5 inch diameter rocket .......................................... Unguided 5-inch diameter rocket .......................................... 2.75-inch rocket containing white phosphorous ................... High Explosive, 2.75 inch rocket .......................................... Machine gun rounds ............................................................. 0. 0. 15 lbs. 0. 4.8 lbs. 0. High Explosive Incendiary, Live machine gun rounds .......... Aerial flare ............................................................................. 18-pound chaff canister ........................................................ 30-pound high intensity illumination flare ............................. 89-pound inert training bomblet ............................................ 0.269 lbs. 0. 0. 0. 0. BDU–33 Practice Bomb (inert) ................ BDU–48 Practice Bomb (inert) ................ BDU–45 Practice Bomb (inert) ................ BDU–50 Practice Bomb (inert) ................ MK–81 Practice Bomb (inert) ................... MK–82 Practice Bomb (inert) ................... MK–83 Practice Bomb (inert) ................... MK–84 Practice Bomb (inert) (special exception use only). 2.75-inch (inert) ........................................ 5-inch Zuni (inert) ..................................... 5-inch Zuni (live) ...................................... 2.75wp (inert) ........................................... 2.75HE ..................................................... 0.50 cal (inert) .......................................... 7.62 mm (inert) 20 mm (inert) 25mm (inert) 30 mm (inert) 40 mm (inert) 25 mm HE (live) ....................................... Self Protection Flare ................................ Chaff ......................................................... LUU–2 ...................................................... Laser Guided Training Round (LGTR) (inert). (of signal cartridges, total 0.1676 lbs. same as above. 0. 0. 0.1676 lbs. 0.1676 lbs. TABLE 3—DESCRIPTION OF MUNITIONS USED AT BT–11 Ordnance Description MK76 Practice Bomb ................................................................................ 25-pound teardrop-shaped cast metal bomb body, with a bore tube for installation of a signal cartridge. Air Force designation for MK 76 practice bomb. 10-pound metal cylindrical bomb body with a bore tube for installation of a signal cartridge. 500-pound metal bomb body either sand or water filled. Configured with either low drag conical tail fins or high drag tail fins for retarded weapons delivery. Two signal cartridges installed. 250-pound inert bomb 500-pound inert bomb. Unguided 2.75 inch diameter rocket. 5 inch diameter rocket. White phosphorous 7-pound rocket. Inert machine gun rounds. BDU 33 Practice Bomb ............................................................................ BDU 48 Practice Bomb ............................................................................ BDU 45 Practice Bomb ............................................................................ mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES MK 81 Practice Bomb .............................................................................. MK 82 Practice Bomb .............................................................................. 2.75-inch ................................................................................................... 5-inch Zuni ................................................................................................ WP–2.75-inch ........................................................................................... 0.50 cal ..................................................................................................... 7.62 mm 5.56 mm 20 mm 30 mm 40 mm TOW ......................................................................................................... Self Protection Flare ................................................................................. SMD SAMS .............................................................................................. LUU–2 ....................................................................................................... Laser Guided Training Round (LGTR) ..................................................... The amounts of all ordnance to be expended at BT–9 and BT–11 (both surface-to-surface and air-to-surface) are VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:34 Mar 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 Wire guided 56-pound anti-tank missile. Aerial flare. 1.5-pound smoking flare. 30-pound high-intensity illumination flare. 89-pound inert training bomblet. 1,225,815 and 1,254,684 rounds, respectively (see Table 4 and 5). PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\29MRN1.SGM 29MRN1 19229 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 61 / Friday, March 29, 2013 / Notices TABLE 4—AMOUNT OF LIVE AND INERT MUNITIONS THAT WOULD BE EXPENDED AT BT–9, ANNUALLY Proposed munitions 1 Proposed total No. of rounds Proposed number of explosive rounds having an impact on the water Small Arms Rounds Excluding .50 cal ...................................... .50 Cal ....................................................................................... Large Arms Rounds—Live ........................................................ Large Arms Rounds—Inert ....................................................... Rockets—Live ........................................................................... 525,610 ................................... 568,515 ................................... 5,000 ....................................... 117,051 ................................... 48 ............................................ 20 ............................................ 876 .......................................... 0 .............................................. 4,199 ....................................... 4,496 ....................................... 1,225,815 ................................ N/A .......................................... N/A .......................................... 40mm HE: 5,000 .................... N/A .......................................... 2.75’’ Rocket: 48 .................... 5’’ Rocket: 20 ......................... N/A .......................................... G911 Grenade: N/A ............... N/A .......................................... N/A .......................................... ................................................. Rockets—Inert ........................................................................... Bombs and Grenades—Live ..................................................... Bombs and Grenades—Inert .................................................... Pyrotechnics .............................................................................. Total ................................................................................... 1 Munitions Proposed munitions 1 Small Arms Rounds Excluding .50 Cal ......................... .50 Cal .................................. Large Arms Rounds ............. Rockets ................................. Bombs and Grenades .......... Pyrotechnics ......................... Total ............................... The specified activity has the potential to affect only one marine mammal species under our jurisdiction: the bottlenose dolphin. We refer the public to Waring et al. (2011) for general 610,957 information on this species which is 366,775 240,334 presented below this section. The 5,592 publication is available at http:// 22,114 www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/sars/ 8,912 ao2011.pdf. We present a summary of information on the species below this 1,254,684 section. Proposed total No. of rounds 1 Munitions may be expended from aircraft or small boats. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES N/A. N/A. 0.1199. N/A. 4.8 15.0. N/A. 0.5. N/A. N/A. N/A. may be expended from aircraft or small boats. are oceanic in distribution and do not TABLE 5—AMOUNT OF INERT MUNITIONS THAT WOULD BE EXPENDED venture into the shallow, brackish waters of southern Pamlico Sound. AT BT–11 Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity Forty marine mammal species occur within the nearshore and offshore waters of North Carolina; however, the majority of these species are solely oceanic in distribution. Only one marine mammal species, the bottlenose dolphin, has been repeatedly sighted in Pamlico Sound, while an additional species, the endangered West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), has been sighted rarely (Lefebvre et al, 2001; DoN 2003). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversees management of the manatee; therefore, we would not include a proposed authorization to harass manatees and we will not discuss this species further in this notice. No sightings of the endangered North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) or other large whales have been observed within Pamlico Sound or in vicinity of the bombing targets (Kenney, 2006). No suitable habitat exists for these species in the shallow Pamlico Sound or bombing target vicinity; therefore, whales would not be affected by the specified activities. Thus, we will not discuss them further in this notice. Other dolphins, such as Atlantic spotted (Stenella frontalis) and common dolphins (Delphinus delphis), VerDate Mar<15>2010 Net explosive weight (lb) 17:34 Mar 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 Bottlenose Dolphin California sea lions are not listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), however, they are categorized as depleted (and thus strategic) under the MMPA. Four out of the seven designated coastal stocks for bottlenose dolphins may occur in North Carolina waters at some part of the year: the Northern Migratory stock (NM; winter); the Southern Migratory stock (SM; winter); the Northern North Carolina Estuarine stock (NNCE; resident, year round); and the more recently identified Southern North Carolina Estuarine stock (SNCE; resident, year round). Dolphins encountered at the BTs likely belong to the NNCE and SNCE stock; however, this may not always be the case. NMFS’ 2011 stock assessment report provides further detail on stock delineation. NMFS provides abundance estimates for the four aforementioned migratory and resident coastal stocks in its 2011 stock assessment report. The best available abundance estimate for the NNCE stock is the combined abundance from estuarine (Read et al., 2003) and coastal (aerial survey data dating from 2002) waters. This combined estimate is 1,387 (Waring et al., 2011). Similarly, the best available abundance estimate PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 for the SNCE stock is the combined abundance from estuarine and coastal waters. This combined estimate is 2,454 (Waring et al., 2011). The best abundance estimate for the NM stock, resulting from 2002 aerial surveys, is 9,604 (Waring et al., 2011). Using the same information, the resulting best abundance estimate for the SM stock is 12,482 (Waring et al., 2011). From July 2004 through April 2006, the Services Southeast Fisheries Science Center conducted 41 aerial surveys to document the seasonal distribution and estimated density of sea turtles and dolphins within Core Sound and portions of Pamlico Sound, and coastal waters extending one mile offshore (Goodman et al, 2007). Pamlico Sound was divided into two survey areas: western (encompassing BT–9 and BT– 11) and eastern (including Core Sound and the eastern portion of restricted air space R–5306). In total, 281 dolphins were sighted in the western range. To account for animals likely missed during sightings (i.e., those below the surface), Goodman et al. (2007) estimate that, in reality, 415 dolphins were present. Densities for bottlenose dolphins in the western part of Pamlico Sound were calculated to be 0.0272 per square kilometer (km2) in winter and 0.2158 per km2 in autumn. Dolphins were sighted throughout the entire range when mean sea surface temperature was 7.60° C to 30.82° C (45.6 to 87.5 °F), with fewer dolphins sighted as water temperatures increased. Like in Mayer (2003), dolphins were found in higher numbers around BT–11, a range where no live firing occurs. In 2000, Duke University Marine Lab (DUML), conducted a boat-based markrecapture survey throughout the estuaries, bays and sounds of North Carolina (Read et al., 2003). This summer survey yielded a dolphin density of 0.183/km2 (0.071 mi2) based on an estimate of 919 dolphins for the northern inshore waters divided by an E:\FR\FM\29MRN1.SGM 29MRN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 19230 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 61 / Friday, March 29, 2013 / Notices estimated 5,015 km2 (1,936 mi2) survey area. Additionally, from July 2002–June 2003, the USMC supported DUML to conduct dolphin surveys specifically in and around BT–9 and BT–11. During these surveys, one sighting in the restricted area surrounding BT–9 and two sightings in proximity to BT–11 were observed, as well as seven sightings in waters adjacent to the BTs. In total, 276 bottlenose dolphins were sighted ranging in group size from two to 70 animals with mean dolphin density in BT–11 more than twice as large as the density of any of the other areas; however, the daily densities were not significantly different (Maher, 2003). Estimated dolphin density at BT–9 and BT–11 based on these surveys were calculated to be 0.11 dolphins/km2, and 1.23 dolphins/km2, respectively, based on boat surveys conducted from July 2002 through June 2003 (excluding April, May, Sept. and Jan.). However, the Marine Corps choose to estimate take of dolphins based on the higher density reported from the summer 2000 surveys (0.183/km2). Although the aerial surveys were conducted year round and therefore provide for seasonal density estimates, the average year-round density from the aerial surveys is 0.0936, lower than the 0.183/km2 density chosen to calculate take for purposes of this MMPA authorization. Additionally, Goodman et al. (2007) acknowledged that boat based density estimates may be more accurate than the uncorrected estimates derived from the aerial surveys. In Pamlico Sound, bottlenose dolphins concentrate in shallow water habitats along shorelines, and few, if any, individuals are present in the central portions of the sounds (Gannon, 2003; Read et al., 2003a, 2003b). The dolphins utilize shallow habitats, such as tributary creeks and the edges of the Neuse River, where the bottom depth is less than 3.5 m (Gannon, 2003). Finescale distribution of dolphins seems to relate to the presence of topography or vertical structure, such as the steeplysloping bottom near the shore and oyster reefs, which may be used to facilitate prey capture (Gannon, 2003). Results of a passive acoustic monitoring effort conducted from 2006–2007 by Duke University researchers validated this information. Vocalizations of dolphins in the BT–11 vicinity were higher in August and September than vocalization detection at BT–9, an open water area (Read et al., 2007). Additionally, detected vocalizations of dolphins were more frequent at night for the BT–9 area and during early morning hours at BT–11. VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:34 Mar 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 Unlike migrating whales which display strong temporal foraging and mating/birthing periods, many bottlenose dolphins in Pamlico Sound are residents and mate year round. However, dolphins in the southeast U.S. do display some reproductive seasonality. Based on neonate stranding records, sighting data, and births by known females, the populations of dolphins that frequent the North Carolina estuarine waters have calving peaks in spring but calving continues throughout the summer and is followed by a smaller number of fall births (Thayer et al., 2003). Bottlenose dolphins can typically hear within a broad frequency range of 0.04 to 160 kiloHertz (kHz) (Au, 1993; Turl, 1993). Electrophysiological experiments suggest that the bottlenose dolphin brain has a dual analysis system: one specialized for ultrasonic clicks and another for lower-frequency sounds, such as whistles (Ridgway, 2000). Scientists have reported a range of highest sensitivity between 25 and 70 kHz, with peaks in sensitivity at 25 and 50 kHz (Nachtigall et al., 2000). Recent research on the same individuals indicates that auditory thresholds obtained by electrophysiological methods correlate well with those obtained in behavior studies, except at some lower (10 kHz) and higher (80 and 100 kHz) frequencies (Finneran and Houser, 2006). Sounds emitted by bottlenose dolphins have been classified into two broad categories: pulsed sounds (including clicks and burst-pulses) and narrow-band continuous sounds (whistles), which usually are frequency modulated. Clicks have a dominant frequency range of 110 to 130 kHz and a source level of 218 to 228 decibels (dB) re: 1 mPa (peak-to-peak) (Au, 1993) and 3.4 to 14.5 kHz at 125 to 173 dB re 1 mPa (peak-to-peak) (Ketten, 1998). Whistles are primarily associated with communication and can serve to identify specific individuals (i.e., signature whistles) (Caldwell and Caldwell, 1965; Janik et al., 2006). Up to 52 percent of whistles produced by bottlenose dolphin groups with mothercalf pairs can be classified as signature whistles (Cook et al., 2004). Sound production is also influenced by group type (single or multiple individuals), habitat, and behavior (Nowacek, 2005). Bray calls (low-frequency vocalizations; majority of energy below 4 kHz), for example, are used when capturing fish, specifically sea trout (Salmo trutta) and Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), in some regions (i.e., Moray Firth, Scotland) (Janik, 2000). Additionally, whistle production has been observed to PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 increase while feeding (Acevedo´ Gutierrez and Stienessen, 2004; Cook et al., 2004). Potential Effects on Marine Mammals As mentioned previously, with respect to military readiness activities, Section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA defines ‘‘harassment’’ as: (i) Any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A Harassment]; or (ii) any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered [Level B Harassment]. The Marine Corps concluded that Level B harassment to marine mammals may occur incidental to munitions firing noise and pressure at the bombing targets. These military readiness activities would result in increased noise levels, explosions, and munitions debris within bottlenose dolphin habitat. In addition, we also considered the potential for harassment from vessel and aircraft operation. Our analysis of potential impacts from these factors, including consideration of the Marine Corps’ analysis in its application, is outlined in the following sections. Anthropogenic Sound Marine mammals respond to various types of anthropogenic sounds introduced in the ocean environment. Responses are highly variable and depend on a suite of internal and external factors which in turn results in varying degrees of significance (NRC, 2003; Southall et al., 2007). Internal factors include: (1) Individual hearing sensitivity, activity pattern, and motivational and behavioral state (e.g., feeding, traveling) at the time it receives the stimulus; (2) past exposure of the animal to the noise, which may lead to habituation or sensitization; (3) individual noise tolerance; and (4) demographic factors such as age, sex, and presence of dependent offspring. External factors include: (1) nonacoustic characteristics of the sound source (e.g., if it is moving or stationary); (2) environmental variables (e.g., substrate) which influence sound transmission; and (3) habitat characteristics and location (e.g., open ocean vs. confined area). To determine whether an animal perceives the sound, the received level, frequency, and duration of the sound are compared to ambient noise levels and the species’ E:\FR\FM\29MRN1.SGM 29MRN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 61 / Friday, March 29, 2013 / Notices hearing sensitivity range. That is, if the frequency of an introduced sound is outside of the species’ frequency hearing range, it cannot be heard. Similarly, if the frequency is on the upper or lower end of the species hearing range, the sound must be louder in order to be heard. Marine mammal responses to anthropogenic noise are typically subtle and can include visible and acoustic reactions such as avoidance, altered dive patterns and cessation of preexposure activities and vocalization reactions such as increasing or decreasing call rates or shifting call frequency. Responses can also be unobservable, such as stress hormone production and auditory trauma or fatigue. It is not always known how these behavioral and physiological responses relate to significant effects (e.g., long-term effects or individual/ population consequences); however, individuals and populations can be monitored to provide some insight into the consequences of exposing marine mammals to noise. For example, Haviland-Howell et al. (2007) compared sighting rates of bottlenose dolphins within the Wilmington, NC stretch of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) on weekends, when recreational vessel traffic was high, to weekdays, when vessel traffic was relatively minimal. The authors found that dolphins were less often sighted in the ICW during times of increased boat traffic (i.e., on weekends) and theorized that because vessel noise falls within the frequencies of dolphin communication whistles and primary energy of most fish vocalizations, the continuous vessel traffic along that stretch of the ICW could result in social and foraging impacts. However, the extent to which these impacts affect individual health and population structure is unknown. A full assessment of marine mammal responses and disturbances when exposed to anthropogenic sound can be found in our proposed rulemaking for the Navy Cherry Point Range Complex (74 FR 11057, March 16, 2009). That rulemaking was made final on June 15, 2009 (74 FR 28370). In summary, sound exposure may result in physiological impacts, stress responses, and behavioral responses which could affect proximate or ultimate life functions. Proximate life history functions are the functions that the animal is engaged in at the time of acoustic exposure. The ultimate life functions are those that enable an animal to contribute to the population (or stock, or species, etc.). VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:34 Mar 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 I. Physiology-Hearing Threshold Shift In mammals, high-intensity sound may rupture the eardrum, damage the small bones in the middle ear, or over stimulate the electromechanical hair cells that convert the fluid motions caused by sound into neural impulses that are sent to the brain. Lower level exposures may cause a loss of hearing sensitivity, termed a threshold shift (TS) (Miller, 1974). Incidence of TS may be either permanent, referred to as permanent threshold shift (PTS), or temporary, referred to as temporary threshold shift (TTS). The amplitude, duration, frequency, and temporal pattern, and energy distribution of sound exposure all affect the amount of associated TS and the frequency range in which it occurs. As amplitude and duration of sound exposure increase, generally, so does the amount of TS and recovery time. Human non-impulsive noise exposure guidelines are based on exposures of equal energy (the same SEL) producing equal amounts of hearing impairment regardless of how the sound energy is distributed in time (NIOSH 1998). Until recently, previous marine mammal TTS studies have also generally supported this equal energy relationship (Southall et al., 2007). Three newer studies, two by Mooney et al. (2009a, 2009b) on a single bottlenose dolphin either exposed to playbacks of Navy MFAS or octave-band noise (4–8 kHz) and one by Kastak et al. (2007) on a single California sea lion exposed to airborne octave-band noise (centered at 2.5 kHz), concluded that for all noise exposure situations the equal energy relationship may not be the best indicator to predict TTS onset levels. Generally, with sound exposures of equal energy, those that were quieter (lower sound pressure level [SPL]) with longer duration were found to induce TTS onset more than those of louder (higher SPL) and shorter duration (more similar to noise from AS Cherry Point exercises). For intermittent sounds, less TS will occur than from a continuous exposure with the same energy (some recovery will occur between exposures) (Kryter et al., 1966; Ward, 1997). Additionally, though TTS is temporary, very prolonged exposure to sound strong enough to elicit TTS, or shorterterm exposure to sound levels well above the TTS threshold, can cause PTS, at least in terrestrial mammals (Kryter, 1985). However, these studies highlight the inherent complexity of predicting TTS onset in marine mammals, as well as the importance of considering exposure duration when assessing potential impacts. PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 19231 PTS consists of non-recoverable physical damage to the sound receptors in the ear, which can include total or partial deafness, or an impaired ability to hear sounds in specific frequency ranges; PTS is considered Level A harassment. TTS is recoverable and is considered to result from temporary, non-injurious impacts to hearing-related tissues; TTS is considered Level B harassment. Permanent Threshold Shift Auditory trauma represents direct mechanical injury to hearing related structures, including tympanic membrane rupture, disarticulation of the middle ear ossicles, and trauma to the inner ear structures such as the organ of Corti and the associated hair cells. Auditory trauma is irreversible and considered to be an injury that could result in PTS. PTS results from exposure to intense sounds that cause a permanent loss of inner or outer cochlear hair cells or exceed the elastic limits of certain tissues and membranes in the middle and inner ears and result in changes in the chemical composition of the inner ear fluids. In some cases, there can be total or partial deafness across all frequencies, whereas in other cases, the animal has an impaired ability to hear sounds in specific frequency ranges. There is no empirical data for onset of PTS in any marine mammal, and therefore, PTS-onset must be estimated from TTS-onset measurements and from the rate of TTS growth with increasing exposure levels above the level eliciting TTS-onset. PTS is presumed to be likely if the hearing threshold is reduced by ≥ 40 dB (i.e., 40 dB of TTS). Relationships between TTS and PTS thresholds have not been studied in marine mammals, but are assumed to be similar to those in humans and other terrestrial mammals. Temporary Threshold Shift TTS is the mildest form of hearing impairment that can occur during exposure to a loud sound (Kryter, 1985). Southall et al. (2007) indicate that although PTS is a tissue injury, TTS is not because the reduced hearing sensitivity following exposure to intense sound results primarily from fatigue, not loss, of cochlear hair cells and supporting structures and is reversible. Accordingly, NMFS classifies TTS as Level B Harassment, not Level A Harassment (injury); however, NMFS does not consider the onset of TTS to be the lowest level at which Level B Harassment may occur (see III. Behavior section below this section). Southall et al. (2007) considers a 6 dB TTS (i.e., baseline hearing thresholds E:\FR\FM\29MRN1.SGM 29MRN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 19232 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 61 / Friday, March 29, 2013 / Notices are elevated by 6 dB) sufficient to be recognized as an unequivocal deviation and thus a sufficient definition of TTS onset. TTS in bottlenose dolphin hearing have been experimentally induced. For example, Finneran et al. (2002) exposed a trained captive bottlenose dolphin to a seismic watergun simulator with a single acoustic pulse. No TTS was observed in the dolphin at the highest exposure condition (peak: 207 kPa [30psi]; peakto-peak: 228 dB re: 1 microPa; SEL: 188 dB re 1 microPa2-s). Schludt et al. (2000) demonstrated temporary shifts in masked hearing thresholds in five bottlenose dolphins occurring generally between 192 and 201 dB rms (192 and 201 dB SEL) after exposure to intense, non-pulse, 1–s tones at, 3kHz, 10kHz, and 20 kHz. TTS onset occurred at mean sound exposure level of 195 dB rms (195 dB SEL). At 0.4 kHz, no subjects exhibited threshold shifts after SPL exposures of 193dB re: 1 microPa (192 dB re: 1 microPa2-s). In the same study, at 75 kHz, one dolphin exhibited a TTS after exposure at 182 dB SPL re: 1 microPa but not at higher exposure levels. Another dolphin experienced no threshold shift after exposure to maximum SPL levels of 193 dB re: 1 microPa at the same frequency. Frequencies of explosives used at MCAS Cherry Point range from 1–25 kHz; the range where dolphin TTS onset occurred at 195 dB rms in the Schlundt et al. (2000) study. Preliminary research indicates that TTS and recovery after noise exposure are frequency dependent and that an inverse relationship exists between exposure time and sound pressure level associated with exposure (Mooney et al., 2005; Mooney, 2006). For example, Nachtigall et al. (2003) measured TTS in a bottlenose dolphin and found an average 11 dB shift following a 30 minute net exposure to OBN at a 7.5 kHz center frequency (max SPL of 179 dB re: 1 microPa; SEL: 212–214 dB re:1 microPa2-s). No TTS was observed after exposure to the same duration and frequency noise with maximum SPLs of 165 and 171 dB re:1 microPa. After 50 minutes of exposure to the same 7.5 kHz frequency OBN, Natchigall et al. (2004) measured a 4–8 dB shift (max SPL: 160dB re 1microPa; SEL: 193–195 dB re:1 microPa2-s). Finneran et al. (2005) concluded that a sound exposure level of 195 dB re 1 mPa2-s is a reasonable threshold for the onset of TTS in bottlenose dolphins exposed to midfrequency tones. II. Stress Response An acoustic source is considered a potential stressor if, by its action on the VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:34 Mar 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 animal, via auditory or non-auditory means, it may produce a stress response in the animal. Here, the stress response will refer to an increase in energetic expenditure that results from exposure to the stressor and which is predominantly characterized by either the stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) or the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis (Reeder and Kramer, 2005). The SNS response to a stressor is immediate and acute and is characterized by the release of the catecholamine neurohormones norepinephrine and epinephrine (i.e., adrenaline). These hormones produce elevations in the heart and respiration rate, increase awareness, and increase the availability of glucose and lipids for energy. The HPA response is ultimately defined by increases in the secretion of the glucocorticoid steroid hormones, predominantly cortisol in mammals. The presence and magnitude of a stress response in an animal depends on a number of factors. These include the animal’s life history stage (e.g., neonate, juvenile, adult), the environmental conditions, reproductive or developmental state, and experience with the stressor. Not only will these factors be subject to individual variation, but they will also vary within an individual over time. The stress response may or may not result in a behavioral change, depending on the characteristics of the exposed animal. However, provided a stress response occurs, we assume that some contribution is made to the animal’s allostatic load. Any immediate effect of exposure that produces an injury is assumed to also produce a stress response and contribute to the allostatic load. Allostasis is the ability of an animal to maintain stability through change by adjusting its physiology in response to both predictable and unpredictable events (McEwen and Wingfield, 2003). If the acoustic source does not produce tissue effects, is not perceived by the animal, or does not produce a stress response by any other means, we assume that the exposure does not contribute to the allostatic load. Additionally, without a stress response or auditory masking, it is assumed that there can be no behavioral change. III. Behavior Changes in marine mammal behavior in response to anthropogenic noise may include altered travel directions, increased swimming speeds, changes in dive, surfacing, respiration and feeding patterns, and changes in vocalizations. As described above, lower level PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 physiological stress responses could also co-occur with altered behavior; however, stress responses are more difficult to detect and fewer data exist relative to specific received levels of sound. Acoustic Masking Marine mammals use acoustic signals for a variety of purposes, which differ among species, but include communication between individuals, navigation, foraging, reproduction, and learning about their environment (Erbe and Farmer, 2000; Tyack, 2000). Masking, or auditory interference, generally occurs when sounds in the environment are louder than, and of a similar frequency as, auditory signals an animal is trying to receive. Masking is a phenomenon that affects animals that are trying to receive acoustic information about their environment, including sounds from other members of their species, predators, prey, and sounds that allow them to orient in their environment. Masking these acoustic signals can disturb the behavior of individual animals, groups of animals, or entire populations. Southall et al. (2007) defines auditory masking as the partial or complete reduction in the audibility of signals due to the presence of interfering noise with the degree of masking depending on the spectral, temporal, and spatial relationships between signals and masking noise, as well as the respective received levels. Masking of sender communication space can be considered as the amount of change in a sender’s communication space caused by the presence of other sounds, relative to a pre-industrial ambient noise condition (Clark et al., 2009). Unlike auditory fatigue, which always results in a stress response because the sensory tissues are being stimulated beyond their normal physiological range, masking may or may not result in a stress response, depending on the degree and duration of the masking effect. Masking may also result in a unique circumstance where an animal’s ability to detect other sounds is compromised without the animal’s knowledge. This could conceivably result in sensory impairment and subsequent behavior change; in this case, the change in behavior is the lack of a response that would normally be made if sensory impairment did not occur. For this reason, masking also may lead directly to behavior change without first causing a stress response. Projecting noise into the marine environment which causes acoustic masking is considered Level B harassment as it can disrupt natural behavioral patterns by interrupting or E:\FR\FM\29MRN1.SGM 29MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 61 / Friday, March 29, 2013 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES limiting the marine mammal’s receipt or transmittal of important information or environmental cues. To compensate for masking, marine mammals, including bottlenose dolphins, are known to increase their levels of vocalization as a function of background noise by increasing call repetition and amplitude, shifting calls higher frequencies, and/or changing the structure of call content (Lesage et al., 1999; Scheifele et al., 2005; McIwem, 2006). While it may occur temporarily, we do not expect auditory masking to result in detrimental impacts to an individual’s or population’s survival, fitness, or reproductive success. Dolphins are not confined to the BT ranges; allowing for movement out of area to avoid masking impacts. The Marine Corps would also conduct visual sweeps of the area before any training exercise and implement training delay mitigation measures if a dolphin is sighted within designated zones (see Proposed Mitigation Measures section). As discussed previously, the Marine Corps has been working with DUML to collect baseline information on dolphins in Pamlico Sound, specifically dolphin abundance and habitat use around the BTs. Assessment of Marine Mammal Impacts from Explosive Ordnances MCAS Cherry Point plans to use five types of explosive sources during its training exercises: 2.75-inch Rocket High Explosives, 5-inch Rocket High Explosives, 30 mm High Explosives, 40 mm High Explosives, and G911 grenades. The underwater explosions from these weapons would send a shock wave and blast noise through the water, release gaseous by-products, create an oscillating bubble, and cause a plume of water to shoot up from the water surface. The shock wave and blast noise are of most concern to marine animals. In general, potential impacts from explosive detonations can range from brief effects (such as short term behavioral disturbance), tactile perception, physical discomfort, slight injury of the internal organs and the auditory system, to death of the animal (Yelverton et al., 1973; O’Keeffe and Young, 1984; DoN, 2001). Explosives produce significant acoustic energy across several frequency decades of bandwidth (i.e., broadband). Propagation loss is sufficiently sensitive to frequency as to require model estimates at several frequencies over such a wide band. The effects of an underwater explosion on a marine mammal depend on many factors, including the size, type, and depth of VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:34 Mar 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 both the animal and the explosive charge; the depth of the water column; and the standoff distance between the charge and the animal, as well as the sound propagation properties of the environment. The net explosive weight (or NEW) of an explosive is the weight of TNT required to produce an equivalent explosive power. The detonation depth of an explosive is particularly important due to a propagation effect known as surfaceimage interference. For sources located near the sea surface, a distinct interference pattern arises from the coherent sum of the two paths that differ only by a single reflection from the pressure-release surface. As the source depth and/or the source frequency decreases, these two paths increasingly, destructively interfere with each other, reaching total cancellation at the surface (barring surface-reflection scattering loss). Marine Corps conservatively estimates that all explosives would detonate at a 1.2 m (3.9 ft) water depth. This is the worst case scenario as the purpose of training is to hit the target, resulting in an in-air explosion. The firing sequence for some of the munitions consists of a number of rapid bursts, often lasting a second or less. The maximum firing time is 10–15 second bursts. Due to the tight spacing in time, each burst can be treated as a single detonation. For the energy metrics, the impact area of a burst is computed using a source energy spectrum that is the source spectrum for a single detonation scaled by the number of rounds in a burst. For the pressure metrics, the impact area for a burst is the same as the impact area of a single round. For all metrics, the cumulative impact area of an event consisting of a certain number of bursts is merely the product of the impact area of a single burst and the number of bursts, as would be the case if the bursts are sufficiently spaced in time or location as to insure that each burst is affecting a different set of marine wildlife. Physical damage of tissues resulting from a shock wave (from an explosive detonation) is classified as an injury. Blast effects are greatest at the gas-liquid interface (Landsberg, 2000) and gas containing organs, particularly the lungs and gastrointestinal tract, are especially susceptible to damage (Goertner, 1982; Hill 1978; Yelverton et al., 1973). Nasal sacs, larynx, pharynx, trachea, and lungs may be damaged by compression/ expansion caused by the oscillations of the blast gas bubble (Reidenberg and Laitman, 2003). Severe damage (from the shock wave) to the ears can include PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 19233 tympanic membrane rupture, fracture of the ossicles, damage to the cochlea, hemorrhage, and cerebrospinal fluid leakage into the middle ear. Non-lethal injury includes slight injury to internal organs and the auditory system; however, delayed lethality can be a result of individual or cumulative sublethal injuries (DoN, 2001). Immediate lethal injury would be a result of massive combined trauma to internal organs as a direct result of proximity to the point of detonation (DoN, 2001). Exposure to distance explosions could result only in behavioral changes. Masked underwater hearing thresholds in two bottlenose dolphins and one beluga whale have been measured before and after exposure to impulsive underwater sounds with waveforms resembling distant signatures of underwater explosions (Finneran et al., 2000). The authors found no temporary shifts in masked-hearing thresholds, defined as a 6–dB or larger increase in threshold over pre-exposure levels, had been observed at the highest impulse level generated (500 kg at 1.7 km, peak pressure 70 kPa); however, disruptions of the animals’ trained behaviors began to occur at exposures corresponding to 5 kg at 9.3 km and 5 kg at 1.5 km for the dolphins and 500 kg at 1.9 km for the beluga whale. Generally, the higher the level of impulse and pressure level exposure, the more severe the impact to an individual. While, in general, dolphins could sustain injury or mortality if within very close proximity to in-water explosion, monitoring and mitigation measures employed by the Marine Corps before and during training exercises, as would be required under any Authorization issued, are designed to avoid any firing if a marine mammal is sighted within designated BT zones (see Proposed Mitigation and Monitoring section). No marine mammal injury or death has been attributed to the specified activities described in the application. As such, and due to implementation of the proposed mitigation and monitoring measures, bottlenose dolphin injury, serious injury or mortality is not anticipated nor would any be authorized. Inert Ordnances The potential risk to marine mammals from non-explosive ordnance entails two possible sources of impacts: elevated sound levels or the ordnance physically hitting an animal. The latter is discussed below in the Munition Presence section. The USMC provided information that the noise fields E:\FR\FM\29MRN1.SGM 29MRN1 19234 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 61 / Friday, March 29, 2013 / Notices generated in water by the firing of nonexplosive ordnance indicate that the energy radiated is about 1 to 2 percent of the total kinetic energy of the impact. This energy level (and likely peak pressure levels) is well below the TTSenergy threshold, even at 1-m from the impact and is not expected to be audible to marine mammals. As such, the noise generated by the in-water impact of nonexplosive ordnance will not result in take of marine mammals. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Training Debris In addition to behavioral and physiological impacts from live fire and ammunition testing, we have preliminarily analyzed impacts from presence of munition debris in the water, as described in the Marine Corps’ application and 2009 EA. These impacts include falling debris, ingestion of expended ordnance, and entanglement in parachute debris. Ingestion of marine debris by marine mammals can cause digestive tract blockages or damage the digestive system (Gorzelany, 1998; Stamper et al., 2006). Debris could be either the expended ordnance or non-munition related products such as chaff and self protection flares. Expended ordnance would be small and sink to the bottom. Chaff is composed of either aluminum foil or aluminum-coated glass fibers designed to act as a visual smoke screen; hiding the aircraft from enemy radar. Chaff also serves as a decoy for radar detection, allowing aircraft to maneuver or egress from the area. The foil type currently used is no longer manufactured, although it remains in the inventory and is used primarily by B–52 bombers. Both types of chaff are cut into dipoles ranging in length from 0.3 to over 2.0 inches. The aluminum foil dipoles are 0.45 mils (0.00045 inches) thick and 6 to 8 mils wide. The glass fiber dipoles are generally 1 mil (25.4 microns) in diameter, including the aluminum coating. Chaff is packed into about 4-ounce bundles. The major components of chaff are silica, aluminum, and stearic acid; all naturally prevalent in the environment. Based on the dispersion characteristics of chaff, concentrations around the BTs would be low. For example, Hullar et al. (1999) calculated that a 4.97-mile by 7.46-mile area (37.1 km2) would be affected by deployment of a single cartridge containing 150 grams of chaff; however, concentration would only be about 5.4 grams per square nautical mile. This corresponds to fewer than 179,000 fibers per square nautical mile or fewer than 0.005 fibers per square foot. VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:34 Mar 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 Self-protection flares are deployed to mislead or confuse heat-sensitive or heat-seeking anti-aircraft systems. The flares are magnesium pellets that, when ignited, burn for a short period of time (less than 10 seconds) at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Air-deployed LUU–2 highintensity illumination flares are used to illuminate targets, enhancing a pilot’s ability to see targets while using Night Vision Goggles. The LUU–2B Flare has a light output rating of 1.8 x 10(6) candlepower and at 1,000 feet altitude illuminates a circle on the ground of 500 meters. The LUU–2 is housed in a pod or canister and is deployed by ejection. The mechanism has a timer on it that deploys the parachute and ignites the flare candle. The flare candle burns magnesium at high temperature, emitting an intense bright white light. The LUU–2 has a burn time of approximately 5 minutes while suspended from a parachute. The pyrotechnic candle consumes the flare housing, reducing flare weight, which in turn slows the rate of fall during the last 2 minutes of burn time. At candle burnout an explosive bolt is fired, releasing one parachute support cable, which causes the parachute to collapse. Ingestion of debris by dolphins is not likely, as dolphins typically eat fish and other moving prey items. We solicited information on evidence of debris ingestion from two marine mammal veterinarians who have performed many necropsies on the protected species of North Carolina’s waters. In their experience, no necropsies of bottlenose dolphins have revealed evidence of munition, parachute, or chaff ingestion (pers. comm., Drs. C. Harms and D. Rostein, November 14, 2009). However, it was noted evidence of chaff ingestion would be difficult to detect. In the chance that dolphins do ingest chaff, the filaments are so fine they would likely pass through the digestive system without complication. However, if the chaff is durable enough, it might act as a linear foreign body. In such case, the intestines bunch up on the line restricting movement of the line resulting in an obstruction. The peristalsis on an immovable thin line can cause intestinal lacerations and perforations (pers. comm., C. Harms, November 14, 2009). This is a wellknown complication in cats when they ingest thread and which occurs occasionally with sea turtles ingesting fishing line. The longevity of chaff filaments, based upon dispersion rates, is unclear. Chaff exposed to synthetic seawater and aqueous environments in the pH range of 4–10 exhibited varying levels of degradation suggesting a short PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 lifespan for the outer aluminum coating (Farrell and Siciliano, 1998). The underlying filament is a flexible silica core and composed of primarily silica dioxide. While no studies have been conducted to evaluate the effects of chaff ingestion on marine mammals, the effects are expected to be negligible based upon chaff concentration in the environment, size of fibers, and available toxicity data on fiberglass and aluminum. Given that the size of chaff fibers are no more than 2 inches long, tidal flushing reduces concentration in the environment, and chaff degradation rate, the chance of chaff ingestions is unlikely; however, if swallowed, impacts would be negligible. Given that there is no evidence that dolphins ingest military debris; dolphins in the Sound forage on moving prey suspended in the water column while expended munition would sink; the property and dispersion characteristics of chaff make potential for ingestion discountable; and that Pamlico Sound is a tidal body of water with continuing flushing, we have preliminarily determined that the presence of training debris would not have an effect on dolphins in Pamlico Sound. Although sometimes large, expended parachutes (e.g., those from the flares) are flimsy and structurally simple. Thus, we have preliminarily determined that the probability of entanglement with a dolphin is low. There are no known reports of live or stranded dolphins entangled in parachute gear; fishing gear is usually the culprit of reported entanglements. The Service’s Marine Mammal Stranding Network (Network) has established protocol for reporting marine mammals in peril. Should any injured, stranded or entangled marine mammal be observed by USMC personnel during training exercises, the sighting would be reported to the Network within 24 hours of the observation. Vessel and Aircraft Presence The marine mammals most vulnerable to vessel strikes are slow-moving and/or spend extended periods of time at the surface in order to restore oxygen levels within their tissues after deep dives (e.g., right whales, fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus), and sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus)). Smaller marine mammals such as bottlenose dolphins (the only marine mammal that would be encountered at the BTs) are agile and move more quickly through the water, making them less susceptible to ship strikes. We are not aware of any vessel strikes of bottlenose dolphins in Pamlico Sound E:\FR\FM\29MRN1.SGM 29MRN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 61 / Friday, March 29, 2013 / Notices during training operations. Therefore, we do not anticipate that Marine Corps vessels engaged in the specified activity would strike any marine mammals and no take from ship strike would be authorized in the proposed Authorization. Behaviorally, marine mammals may or may not respond to the operation of vessels and associated noise. Responses to vessels vary widely among marine mammals in general, but also among different species of small cetaceans. Responses may include attraction to the vessel (Richardson et al., 1995); altering travel patterns to avoid vessels (Constantine, 2001; Nowacek et al., 2001; Lusseau, 2003, 2006); relocating to other areas (Allen and Read, 2000); cessation of feeding, resting, and social interaction (Baker et al., 1983; Bauer and Herman, 1986; Hall, 1982; Krieger and Wing, 1984; Lusseau, 2003; Constantine et al., 2004); abandoning feeding, resting, and nursing areas (Jurasz and Jurasz 1979; Dean et al., 1985; Glockner-Ferrari and Ferrari 1985, 1990; Lusseau, 2005; Norris et al., 1985; Salden, 1988; Forest, 2001; Morton and Symonds, 2002; Courbis, 2004; Bejder, 2006); stress (Romano et al., 2004); and changes in acoustic behavior (Van Parijs and Corkeron, 2001). However, in some studies marine mammals display no reaction to vessels (Watkins, 1986; Nowacek et al., 2003) and many odontocetes show considerable tolerance to vessel traffic (Richardson et al., 1995). Dolphins may actually reduce the energetic cost of traveling by riding the bow or stern waves of vessels (Williams et al., 1992; Richardson et al., 1995). Dolphins within Pamlico Sound are continually exposed to recreational, commercial, and military vessels. Richardson et al. (1995) addresses in detail three responses that marine mammals may experience when exposed to anthropogenic activities: tolerance; habituation; and sensitization. More recent publications provide variations on these themes rather than new data (NRC, 2003). Marine mammals are often seen in regions with much human activity; thus, certain individuals or populations exhibit some tolerance of anthropogenic noise and other stimuli. Animals will tolerate a stimulus they might otherwise avoid if the benefits in terms of feeding, mating, migrating to traditional habitats, or other factors outweigh the negative aspects of the stimulus (NRC, 2003). In many cases, tolerance develops as a result of habituation. The NRC (2003) defines habituation as a gradual waning of behavioral responsiveness over time as animals learn that a repeated or VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:34 Mar 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 ongoing stimulus lacks significant consequences for the animals. Contrarily, sensitization occurs when an animal links a stimulus with some degree of negative consequence and as a result increases responsiveness to that human activity over time (Richardson et al., 1995). For example, seals and whales are known to avoid previously encountered vessels involved in subsistence hunts (Walker, 1949; Ash, 1962; Terhune, 1985) and bottlenose dolphins that had previously been captured and released from a 7.3 m boat involved in health studies were documented to flee when that boat approached closer than 400 m, whereas dolphins that had not been involved in the capture did not display signs of avoidance of the vessel (Irvine et al., 1981). Because dolphins in Pamlico Sound are continually exposed to vessel traffic that does not present immediate danger to them, it is likely animals are both tolerant and habituated to vessels. The specified activities also involve aircraft, which marine mammals are known to react (Richardson et al., 1995). Aircraft produce noise at frequencies that are well within the frequency range of cetacean hearing and also produce visual signals such as the aircraft itself and its shadow (Richardson et al., 1995, ¨ Richardson & Wursig, 1997). A major difference between aircraft noise and noise caused by other anthropogenic sources is that the sound is generated in the air, transmitted through the water surface and then propagates underwater to the receiver, diminishing the received levels to significantly below what is heard above the water’s surface. Sound transmission from air to water is greatest in a sound cone 26 degrees directly under the aircraft. Reactions of odontocetes to aircraft have been reported less often than those of pinnipeds. Responses to aircraft include diving, slapping the water with pectoral fins or tail fluke, or swimming away from the track of the aircraft (Richardson et al., 1995). The nature and degree of the response, or the lack thereof, are dependent upon nature of the flight (e.g., type of aircraft, altitude, straight vs. circular flight pattern). ¨ Wursig et al. (1998) assessed the responses of cetaceans to aerial surveys in the northcentral and western Gulf of Mexico using a DeHavilland Twin Otter fixed-wing airplane. The plane flew at an altitude of 229 m at 204 km/hr. A minimum of 305 m straight line distance from the cetaceans was maintained. Water depth was 100– 1000m. Bottlenose dolphins most commonly responded by diving (48 percent), while 14 percent responded by moving away. Other species (e.g., beluga PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 19235 whale (Delphinapterus leucas), sperm whale) show considerable variation in reactions to aircraft but diving or swimming away from the aircraft are the most common reactions to low flights (less than 500 m). Anticipated Effects on Habitat Detonations of live ordnance would result in temporary modification to water properties. As described above, an underwater explosion from these weapon would send a shock wave and blast noise through the water, release gaseous by-products, create an oscillating bubble, and cause a plume of water to shoot up from the water surface. However, these would be temporary and not expected to last more than a few seconds. Because dolphins are not expected to be in the area during live firing, due to monitoring and mitigation measure implementation, they would not be subject to any short term habitat alterations. Similarly, no long term impacts with regard to hazardous constituents are expected to occur. MCAS Cherry Point has an active Range Environmental Vulnerability Assessment (REVA) program in place to monitor impacts to habitat from its activities. One goal of REVA is to determine the horizontal and vertical concentration profiles of heavy metals, explosives constituents, perchlorate nutrients, and dissolved salts in the sediment and seawater surrounding BT–9 and BT–11. The preliminary results of the sampling indicate that explosive constituents (e.g., trinitrotoluene (TNT), cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine (RDX), and hexahydro-trinitro-triazine (HMX), as described in Hazardous Constituents [Subchapter 3.2.7.2] of the MCAS Cherry Point Range Operations EA, were not detected in any sediment or water sample surrounding the BTs. Metals were not present above toxicity screening values. Perchlorate was detected in a few sediment samples above the detection limit (0.21 ppm), but below the reporting limit (0.6 ppm). The ongoing REVA would continue to evaluate potential munitions constituent migration from operational range areas to off-range areas and MCAS Cherry Point. While it is anticipated that the specified activity may result in marine mammals avoiding certain areas due to temporary ensonification, this impact to habitat and prey resources is temporary and reversible and considered in further detail earlier in this document, as behavioral modification. The main impact associated with the proposed activity would be temporarily elevated noise levels and the associated direct E:\FR\FM\29MRN1.SGM 29MRN1 19236 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 61 / Friday, March 29, 2013 / Notices effects on marine mammals, previously discussed in this notice. Summary of Previous Monitoring The Marine Corps complied with the mitigation and monitoring required under the previous authorizations (2010–2012). In accordance with the 2010–11 IHA, USMC submitted a final monitoring report, which described the activities conducted and observations made. USMC did not record observations of any marine mammals during training exercises. The only recorded observations—which were of bottlenose dolphins—were on two occasions by maintenance vessels engaged in target maintenance. No marine mammals were observed during range sweeps, air to ground activities, surface to surface activities (small boats), or ad hoc via range cameras. Table 6 details the number of sorties conducted, by air and water, at each target. The number of sorties conducted does not relate to the total amount of munitions expended, as the training requirements for the specific military unit conducting the sortie determine the munitions loading for the air platform or watercraft during each sortie. In addition, munitions expenditures may be determined by the loading specifications of the specific aircraft and vessels used in the training exercise. TABLE 6—SORTIES CONDUCTED AT BT–9 AND BT–11 Mission type BT–9 BT–11 Air-to-surface ............... Surface-to-surface (water-to-water) ....... 1,554 4,251 223 105 Total ......................... 1,777 The total amount of ordnance expended at BT–9 and BT–11 under the 2010–11 IHA was 878,625 and 693,612 respectively (Table 7). These amounts represent 98 and 62 percent of the estimated annual maximum ordnance expenditures. The amounts of ordnance expended at the BTs account for all use of the targets. There are five types of explosive sources used at BT–9: 2.75-inc Rocket High Explosives, 5-inch Rocket High Explosives, 30 mm High Explosives, 40 mm High Explosives, and G911 grenades. No explosive munitions are used at BT–11. Based on this information, the Marine Corps did not exceed the authorized level of take. 4,356 TABLE 7—ORDNANCE USAGE AT BT–9 Total rounds Percentage of maximum Munitions expenditures BT–9 BT–11 BT–9 BT–11 Small arms, excluding .50 cal ................................................. .50 cal ..................................................................................... Large arms (Live) .................................................................... Large arms (Inert) ................................................................... Rockets (Live) ......................................................................... Rockets (Inert) ........................................................................ Bombs/Grenades (Live) .......................................................... Bombs/Grenades (Inert) ......................................................... Pyrotechnics ............................................................................ 355,718 .................................. 410,815 .................................. 480 (all 40 mm) ...................... 108,811 .................................. 48 (all 2.75 in) ........................ 185 ......................................... 0 ............................................. 2,086 ...................................... 482 ......................................... 363,899 246,255 N/A 79,531 N/A 2,018 N/A 1,697 212 68 160 4 117 20 26 0 51 11 72 75 N/A 33 N/A 44 N/A 8 2 Total ................................................................................. 878,625 .................................. 693,612 98 62 The Marine Corps will submit a monitoring report for the 2012 training season which expired on December 31, 2012, to us no later than March 31, 2013. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Proposed Mitigation In order to issue an incidental take authorization under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, we 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 the availability of such species or stock for taking for certain subsistence uses. The NDAA of 2004 amended the MMPA as it relates to military-readiness activities and the ITA process such that ‘‘least practicable adverse impact’’ shall include consideration of personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity. The training VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:34 Mar 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 activities described in the Marine Corp’s application are considered military readiness activities. The Marine Corps, in collaboration with us, has worked to identify potential practicable and effective mitigation measures, which include a careful balancing of the likely benefit of any particular measure to the marine mammals with the likely effect of that measure on personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the ‘‘military-readiness activity’’. These proposed mitigation measures are listed below. (1) Range Sweeps: The VMR–1 squadron, stationed at MCAS Cherry Point, includes three specially equipped HH–46D helicopters. The primary mission of these aircraft, known as PEDRO, is to provide search and rescue for downed 2d Marine Air Wing aircrews. On-board are a pilot, co-pilot, crew chief, search and rescue swimmer, and a medical corpsman. Each crew member has received extensive training in search and rescue techniques, and is PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 therefore particularly capable at spotting objects floating in the water. PEDRO crew would conduct a range sweep the morning of each exercise day prior to the commencement of range operations. The primary goal of the preexercise sweep is to ensure that the target area is clear of fisherman, other personnel, and protected species. The sweep is flown at 100–300 meters above the water surface, at airspeeds between 60–100 knots. The path of the sweep runs down the western side of BT–11, circles around BT–9 and then continues down the eastern side of BT–9 before leaving. The sweep typically takes 20– 30 minutes to complete. The PEDRO crew is able to communicate directly with range personnel and can provide immediate notification to range operators. The PEDRO aircraft would remain in the area of a sighting until clear if possible or as mission requirements dictate. If marine mammals are sighted during a range sweep, sighting data will be collected and entered into the US E:\FR\FM\29MRN1.SGM 29MRN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 61 / Friday, March 29, 2013 / Notices Marine Corps sighting database, webinterface, or report generator and this information would be relayed to the training Commander. Sighting data includes the following (collected to the best of the observer’s ability): (1) Species identification; (2) group size; (3) the behavior of marine mammals (e.g., milling, travel, social, foraging); (4) location and relative distance from the BT; (5) date, time and visual conditions (e.g., Beaufort sea state, weather) associated with each observation; (6) direction of travel relative to the BT; and (7) duration of the observation. (2) Cold Passes: All aircraft participating in an air-to-surface exercise would be required to perform a ‘‘cold pass’’ immediately prior to ordnance delivery at the BTs both day and night. That is, prior to granting a ‘‘First Pass Hot’’ (use of ordnance), pilots would be directed to perform a low, cold (no ordnance delivered) first pass which serves as a visual sweep of the targets prior to ordnance delivery to determine if unauthorized civilian vessels or personnel, or protected species, are present. The cold pass is conducted with the aircraft (helicopter or fixed-winged) flying straight and level at altitudes of 200–3000 feet over the target area. The viewing angle is approximately 15 degrees. A blind spot exists to the immediate rear of the aircraft. Based upon prevailing visibility, a pilot can see more than one mile forward upon approach. The aircrew and range personnel make every attempt to ensure clearance of the area via visual inspection and remotely operated camera operations (see Proposed Monitoring and Reporting section). The Range Controller may deny or approve the First Pass Hot clearance as conditions warrant. (3) Delay of Exercises: An active range would be considered ‘‘fouled’’ and not available for use if a marine mammal is present within 1000 yards (914 m) of the target area at BT–9 or anywhere within Rattan Bay (BT–11). Therefore, if a marine mammal is sighted within 1000 yards (914 m) of the target at BT–9 or anywhere within Rattan Bay at BT–11 during the cold pass or from range camera detection, training would be delayed until the marine mammal moves beyond and on a path away from 1000 yards (914 m) from the BT–9 target or out of Rattan Bay at BT–11. This mitigation applies to both air-to-surface and surface-to-surface exercises. (4) Range Camera Use: To increase the safety of persons or property near the targets, Range Operation and Control personnel monitor the target area through tower mounted safety and surveillance cameras. The remotely VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:34 Mar 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 operated range cameras are high resolution and, according to range personnel, allow a clear visual of a duck floating near the target. The cameras allow viewers to see animals at the surface and breaking the surface, but not underwater. A new, enhanced camera system has been purchased and will be installed on BT–11 towers 3 and 7, and on both towers at BT–9. The new camera system has night vision capabilities with resolution levels near those during daytime. Lenses on the camera system have focal lengths of 40 mm to 2200 mm (56x), with view angles of 18° 10′ and 13° 41′, respectively. The field of view when zoomed in on the Rattan Bay targets will be 23 ft wide by 17 ft high, and on the mouth of Rattan Bay itself 87 ft wide by 66 ft high. Again, in the event that a marine mammal is sighted within 1000 yards (914 m) of the BT–9 target, or anywhere within Rattan Bay, the target would be declared fouled. Operations may commence in the fouled area after the animal(s) have moved 1000 yards (914 m) from the BT–9 target and/or out of Rattan Bay. (5) Vessel Operation: All vessels used during training operations would abide by the Service’s Southeast Regional Viewing Guidelines designed to prevent harassment to marine mammals (http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/education/ southeast/). (6) Stranding Network Coordination: The USMC would coordinate with the local NMFS Stranding Coordinator for any unusual marine mammal behavior and any stranding, beached live/dead, or floating marine mammals that may occur at any time during training activities or within 24 hours after completion of training. Proposed Monitoring and Reporting In order to issue an ITA for an activity, section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA states that we must set forth ‘‘requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking’’. The MMPA implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104 (a)(13) indicate that requests for IHAs must include the suggested means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the species and of the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals that are expected to be present. Proposed Monitoring The Marine Corps proposes to conduct the following to fulfill the necessary monitoring and reporting that would result in increased knowledge of PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 19237 the species and of the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals expected to be present within the action area: (1) Protected Species Observer Training: Pilots, operators of small boats, and other personnel monitoring for marine mammals would be required to take the Marine Species Awareness Training (Version 2), maintained and promoted by the Department of the Navy. This training would make personnel knowledgeable of marine mammals, protected species, and visual cues related to the presence of marine mammals and protected species. (2) Weekly and Post-Exercise Monitoring: Post-exercise monitoring would be conducted concomitant to the next regularly scheduled pre-exercise sweep. Weekly monitoring events would include a maximum of five preexercise and four post-exercise sweeps. The maximum number of days that would elapse between pre- and postexercise monitoring events would be approximately three days, and would normally occur on weekends. If marine mammals are observed during this monitoring, sighting data identical to those collected by PEDRO crew would be recorded. (3) Long-term Monitoring: The Marine Corps has awarded DUML duties to obtain abundance, group dynamics (e.g., group size, age census), behavior, habitat use, and acoustic data on the bottlenose dolphins which inhabit Pamlico Sound, specifically those around BT–9 and BT–11. DUML began conducting boat-based surveys and passive acoustic monitoring of bottlenose dolphins in Pamlico Sound in 2000 (Read et al., 2003) and specifically at BT–9 and BT–11 in 2003 (Mayer, 2003). To date, boat-based surveys indicate that bottlenose dolphins may be resident to Pamlico Sound and use BT restricted areas on a frequent basis. Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) is providing more detailed insight into how dolphins use the two ranges, by monitoring for their vocalizations year-round, regardless of weather conditions or darkness. In addition to these surveys, DUML scientists are testing a real-time passive acoustic monitoring system at BT–9 that will allow automated detection of bottlenose dolphin whistles, providing yet another method of detecting dolphins prior to training operations. Although it is unlikely this PAM system would be active for purposes of implementing mitigation measures before an exercise prior to expiration of the proposed Authorization, it could be operational for future MMPA incidental take authorizations and would be E:\FR\FM\29MRN1.SGM 29MRN1 19238 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 61 / Friday, March 29, 2013 / Notices evaluated for effectiveness at the appropriate time. (4) Reporting: The Marine Corps would submit a report to us within 90 days after expiration of the Authorization or, if a subsequent incidental take authorization is requested, within 120 days prior to expiration of the Authorization. The report would summarize the type and amount of training exercises conducted, all marine mammal observations made during monitoring, and if mitigation measures were implemented. The report would also address the effectiveness of the monitoring plan in detecting marine mammals. General Notification of Injured or Dead Marine Mammals The Marine Corps would systematically observe training operations for injured or disabled marine mammals. In addition, the Marine Corps would monitor the principal marine mammal stranding networks and other media to correlate analysis of any dolphin strandings that could potentially be associated with MCAS Cherry Point training operations. Marine Corps personnel would ensure that we are notified immediately or as soon as clearance procedures allow if an injured, stranded, or dead marine mammal is found during or shortly after, and in the vicinity of, any training operations. The Marine Corps would provide us with species or description of the animal(s), the condition of the animal(s) (including carcass condition if the animal is dead), location, time of first discovery, observed behaviors (if alive), and photo or video (if available). In the event that an injured, stranded, or dead marine mammal is found by Marine Corps personnel that is not in the vicinity of, or found during or shortly after operations, the Marine Corps personnel would report the same information as listed above as soon as operationally feasible and clearance procedures allow. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES General Notification of a Ship Strike In the event of a vessel strike, at any time or place, the Marine Corps shall do the following: • Immediately report to us the species identification (if known), location (lat/ long) of the animal (or the strike if the animal has disappeared), and whether the animal is alive or dead (or unknown); • Report to us as soon as operationally feasible the size and length of the animal, an estimate of the injury status (e.g., dead, injured but alive, injured and moving, unknown, VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:34 Mar 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 etc.), vessel class/type and operational status; • Report to us the vessel length, speed, and heading as soon as feasible; and • Provide us a photo or video, if equipment is available. Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment The following provides the Marine Corps’ model for take of dolphins from explosives (without consideration of mitigation and the conservative assumption that all explosives would land in the water and not on the targets or land) and potential for direct hits and our analysis of potential harassment from small vessel and aircraft operations. Acoustic Take Criteria For the purposes of an MMPA incidental take authorization, three levels of take are identified: Level B harassment; Level A harassment; and mortality (or serious injury leading to mortality). The categories of marine mammal responses (physiological and behavioral) that fall into harassment categories were described previously in this notice. A method to estimate the number of individuals that will be taken, pursuant to the MMPA, based on the proposed action has been derived. To this end, we use acoustic criteria that estimate at what received level Level B harassment, Level A harassment, and mortality (or serious injury) of marine mammals would occur. The acoustic criteria for underwater detonations are comprehensively explained in our proposed and final rulemakings for the U.S. Navy’s Cherry Point Range Operations (74 FR 11057; 74 FR 28370). We summarize them here: Criteria and thresholds for estimating the exposures from a single explosive activity on marine mammals were established for the Seawolf Submarine Shock Test Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) (‘‘Seawolf’’) and subsequently used in the USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) Ship Shock FEIS (‘‘Churchill’’) (DoN, 1998 and 2001). We adopted these criteria and thresholds in final rule on the unintentional taking of marine animals occurring incidental to the shock testing which involved large explosives (65 FR 77546; December 12, 2000). Because no large explosives (greater than 1000 lbs NEW) would be used at Cherry Point during the specified activities, a revised acoustic criterion for small underwater explosions (i.e., 23 pounds per square inch [psi] instead of previous acoustic criteria of 12 psi for peak pressure over all exposures) has been established to predict onset of TTS. PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 I.1. Thresholds and Criteria for Injurious Physiological Impacts I.1.a. Single Explosion For injury, NMFS uses dual criteria, eardrum rupture (i.e. tympanicmembrane injury) and onset of slight lung injury, to indicate the onset of injury. The threshold for tympanicmembrane (TM) rupture corresponds to a 50 percent rate of rupture (i.e., 50 percent of animals exposed to the level are expected to suffer TM rupture). This value is stated in terms of an Energy Flux Density Level (EL) value of 1.17 inch pounds per square inch (in-lb/in2), approximately 205 dB re 1 microPa2sec. The threshold for onset of slight lung injury is calculated for a small animal (a dolphin calf weighing 26.9 lbs), and is given in terms of the ‘‘Goertner modified positive impulse,’’ indexed to 13 psi-msec (DoN, 2001). This threshold is conservative since the positive impulse needed to cause injury is proportional to animal mass, and therefore, larger animals require a higher impulse to cause the onset of injury. This analysis assumed the marine species populations were 100 percent small animals. The criterion with the largest potential impact range (most conservative), either TM rupture (energy threshold) or onset of slight lung injury (peak pressure), will be used in the analysis to determine Level A exposures for single explosive events. For mortality and serious injury, we use the criterion corresponding to the onset of extensive lung injury. This is conservative in that it corresponds to a 1 percent chance of mortal injury, and yet any animal experiencing onset severe lung injury is counted as a lethal exposure. For small animals, the threshold is given in terms of the Goertner modified positive impulse, indexed to 30.5 psi-msec. Since the Goertner approach depends on propagation, source/animal depths, and animal mass in a complex way, the actual impulse value corresponding to the 30.5 psi-msec index is a complicated calculation. To be conservative, the analysis used the mass of a calf dolphin (at 26.9 lbs) for 100 percent of the populations. I.1.b. Multiple Explosions For multiple explosions, the Churchill approach had to be extended to cover multiple sound events at the same training site. For multiple exposures, accumulated energy over the entire training time is the natural extension for energy thresholds since energy accumulates with each subsequent shot (detonation); this is consistent with the E:\FR\FM\29MRN1.SGM 29MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 61 / Friday, March 29, 2013 / Notices treatment of multiple arrivals in Churchill. For positive impulse, it is consistent with the Churchill final rule to use the maximum value over all impulses received. I.2. Thresholds and Criteria for NonInjurious Physiological Effects To determine the onset of TTS (noninjurious harassment)—a slight, recoverable loss of hearing sensitivity, there are dual criteria: an energy threshold and a peak pressure threshold. The criterion with the largest potential impact range (most conservative), either the energy or peak pressure threshold, will be used in the analysis to determine Level B TTS exposures. We refer the reader to the following sections for descriptions of the thresholds for each criterion. I.2.a. Single Explosion—TTS-Energy Threshold The TTS energy threshold for explosives is derived from the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) pure-tone tests for TTS (Schlundt et al., 2000; Finneran and Schlundt, 2004). The pure-tone threshold (192 dB as the lowest value) is modified for explosives by (a) interpreting it as an energy metric, (b) reducing it by 10 dB to account for the time constant of the mammal ear, and (c) measuring the energy in 1/3-octave bands, the natural filter band of the ear. The resulting threshold is 182 dB re 1 microPa2-sec in any 1/3-octave band. I.2.b. Single Explosion—TTS-Peak Pressure Threshold The second threshold applies to all species and is stated in terms of peak pressure at 23 psi (about 225 dB re 1 mPa). This criterion was adopted for Precision Strike Weapons (PSW) Testing and Training by Eglin Air Force Base in the Gulf of Mexico (NMFS, 2005). It is important to note that for small shots near the surface (such as in this analysis), the 23-psi peak pressure threshold generally will produce longer impact ranges than the 182-dB energy metric. Furthermore, it is not unusual for the TTS impact range for the 23-psi pressure metric to actually exceed the without-TTS (behavioral change without onset of TTS) impact range for the 177-dB energy metric. I.3. Thresholds and Criteria for Behavioral Effects I.3.a. Single Explosion For a single explosion, to be consistent with Churchill, TTS is the criterion for Level B harassment. In other words, because behavioral disturbance for a single explosion is likely to be limited to a short-lived startle reaction, use of the TTS criterion is considered sufficient protection and therefore behavioral effects (Level B behavioral harassment without onset of TTS) are not expected for single explosions. I.3.b. Multiple Explosions—Without TTS For multiple explosions, the Churchill approach had to be extended to cover multiple sound events at the same training site. For multiple exposures, accumulated energy over the entire uninterrupted firing time is the natural extension for energy thresholds since energy accumulates with each subsequent shot (detonation); this is consistent with the treatment of multiple arrivals in Churchill. Because 19239 multiple explosions could occur within a discrete time period, a new acoustic criterion-behavioral disturbance without TTS is used to account for behavioral effects significant enough to be judged as harassment, but occurring at lower noise levels than those that may cause TTS. The threshold is based on test results published in Schlundt et al. (2000), with derivation following the approach of the Churchill FEIS for the energy-based TTS threshold. The original Schlundt et al. (2000) data and the report of Finneran and Schlundt (2004) are the basis for thresholds for behavioral disturbance without TTS. During this study, instances of altered behavior sometimes began at lower exposures than those causing TTS; however, there were many instances when subjects exhibited no altered behavior at levels above the onset-TTS levels. Regardless of reactions at higher or lower levels, all instances of altered behavior were included in the statistical summary. The behavioral disturbance without TTS threshold for tones is derived from the SSC tests, and is found to be 5 dB below the threshold for TTS, or 177 dB re 1 microPa2-sec maximum energy flux density level in any 1⁄3-octave band at frequencies above 100 Hz for cetaceans. II. Summary of Thresholds and Criteria for Impulsive Sounds The effects, criteria, and thresholds used in the assessment for impulsive sounds are summarized in Table 8. The criteria for behavioral effects without physiological effects used in this analysis are based on use of multiple explosives from live, explosive firing at BT–9 only; no live firing occurs at BT– 11. TABLE 8—EFFECTS, CRITERIA, AND THRESHOLDS FOR IMPULSIVE SOUNDS Effect Criteria Metric Threshold Mortality ......................... Onset of Extensive Lung Injury. Goertner modified positive impulse ...................... Injurious Physiological ... 50 percent Tympanic Membrane Rupture. Onset Slight Lung Injury Energy flux density ............................................... Non-injurious Physiological. TTS ................................ Non-injurious Physiological. Non-injurious Behavioral TTS ................................ Greatest energy flux density level in any 1/3-octave band (> 100 Hz for toothed whales and > 10 Hz for baleen whales)—for total energy over all exposures. Peak pressure over all exposures ........................ indexed to 30.5 psi-msec (assumes 100 percent small animal at 26.9 lbs). 1.17 in-lb/in2 (about 205 dB re 1 microPa2-sec). indexed to 13 psi-msec (assumes 100 percent small animal at 26.9 lbs). 182 dB re 1 microPa2sec. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Injurious Physiological ... VerDate Mar<15>2010 Multiple Explosions Without TTS. 17:34 Mar 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 PO 00000 Goertner modified positive impulse ...................... Greatest energy flux density level in any 1/3-octave (> 100 Hz for toothed whales and > 10 Hz for baleen whales)—for total energy over all exposures (multiple explosions only). Frm 00061 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\29MRN1.SGM Effect Mortality. Level A. Level A. Level B. 23 psi .............................. Level B. 177 dB re 1 microPa2sec. Level B. 29MRN1 19240 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 61 / Friday, March 29, 2013 / Notices Take from Explosives The Marine Corps conservatively modeled that all explosives would detonate at a 1.2 m (3.9 ft) water depth despite the training goal of hitting the target, resulting in an above water or on land explosion. For sources that are account. Properties of explosive sources used at BT–9, including NEW, peak onethird-octave (OTO) source level, the approximate frequency at which the peak occurs, and rounds per burst are described in Table 9. Refer to Table 10 for distances to our harassment threshold levels from these sources. detonated at shallow depths, it is frequently the case that the explosion may breech the surface with some of the acoustic energy escaping the water column. The source levels presented in the table above have not been adjusted for possible venting nor does the subsequent analysis take this into TABLE 9—SOURCE WEIGHTS AND PEAK SOURCE LEVELS Source type New Peak OTO SL 2.75-inch Rocket ........................ 5-inch Rocket ............................. 30 mm ........................................ 40 mm ........................................ G911 Grenade ........................... 4.8 lbs ....................................... 15.0 lbs ..................................... 0.1019 lbs ................................. 0.1199 lbs ................................. 0.5 ............................................. 223.9 228.9 212.1 227.8 213.9 dB dB dB dB dB re: re: re: re: re: Frequency of Peak OTO SL 1μPa .................... 1μPa .................... 1μPa .................... 1μPa .................... 1 μPa ................... ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ 1500 1000 2500 1100 2500 Rounds per burst Hertz (Hz) ..................... Hz ................................. Hz ................................. Hz ................................. Hz ................................. 1 1 30 5 1 TABLE 10—DISTANCES TO OUR HARASSMENT THRESHOLDS FROM EXPLOSIVE ORDNANCES Behavioral disturbance (177 dB energy) 2.75-inch Rocket HE ................................................................ 5’’ Rocket HE ........................................................................... 30mm HE ................................................................................. 40mm HE ................................................................................. G911 Grenade ......................................................................... To calculate take, the distances to which animals may be harassed were considered along with dolphin density. The density estimate from Read et al. (2003) was used to calculate take from munitions firing. As described in the Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity section, this density, 0.183/km2, was derived from boat based surveys in 2000 which covered all inland North Carolina waters. Note that estimated density of dolphins at BT–9 and BT–11, specifically, were calculated to be 0.11 dolphins/km2, and 1.23 dolphins/km2 respectively (Maher 2003), based on N/A N/A 209 m (686 ft) 144 m (472 ft) N/A TTS (23 psi) Level A (13 psi-msec) 172 m (564 ft) 255 m (837 ft) N/A N/A 83 m (272 ft) boat surveys conducted from July 2002 through June 2003 (excluding April, May, Sept. and Jan.). However, the USMC chose to estimate take of dolphins based on the higher density reported from the summer 2000 surveys (0.183/km2). Additionally, take calculations for munition firing are based on 100 percent water detonation, although the goal of training is to hit the targets, and no pre-exercise monitoring or mitigation. Therefore, take estimates can be considered conservative. Based on dolphin density and amount of munitions expended, there is very low potential for Level A harassment, 47 m (154 61 m (200 10 m (33 10 m (33 21 m (33 Mortality (31 psi-ms) ft) ft) ft) ft) ft) 27 m (89 39 m (128 5 m (16 5 m (16 10 m (33 ft) ft) ft) ft) ft) serious injury, and mortality and monitoring and mitigation measures are anticipated to further negate this potential. Accordingly, we are not proposing to issue these levels of take. As portrayed in Table 9, the largest harassment zone (Level B) is within 209 m of a detonation in water; however, the Marine Corps has implemented a 1,000 m ‘‘foul’’ zone for BT–9 and anywhere within Raritan Bay for BT–11. In total, from firing of explosive ordnances, the USMC is requesting, and NMFS is proposing to issue, the incidental take of 25 bottlenose dolphins from Level B harassment (Table 11). TABLE 11—NUMBER OF DOLPHINS POTENTIALLY TAKEN FROM EXPOSURE TO EXPLOSIVES BASED ON THRESHOLD CRITERIA Level B— behavioral (177dB re 1microPa2-s) mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Ordnance type Level B—TTS (23 psi) Level A— Injurious (205 dB re 1microPa2-s or 13 psi) Mortality (30.5 psi) 2.75″ Rocket HE .............................................................................................. 5″ Rocket HE ................................................................................................... 30mm HE ......................................................................................................... 40mm HE ......................................................................................................... G911 Grenade ................................................................................................. N/A N/A 2.55 12.60 N/A 4.97 3.39 N/A N/A 0.87 0.17 0.09 0.05 0.16 0.03 0.06 0.03 0.00 0.01 0.01 Total .......................................................................................................... 15.15 9.23 0.5 0.11 VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:34 Mar 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 PO 00000 Frm 00062 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\29MRN1.SGM 29MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 61 / Friday, March 29, 2013 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Take from Direct Hit The potential risk of a direct hit to an animal in the target area is estimated to be so low it is discountable. A Range Air Installation Compatible Use Zone (RAICUZ) study generated the surface area or footprints of weapon impact areas associated with air-to-ground ordnance delivery (USMC 2001). Statistically, a weapon safety footprint describes the area needed to contain 99.99 percent of initial and ricochet impacts at the 95-percent confidence interval for each type of aircraft and ordnance utilized on the BTs. At both BT–9 and BT–11 the probability of deployed ordnance landing in the impact footprint is essentially 1.0, since the footprints were designed to contain 99.99 percent of impacts, including ricochets. However, only 36 percent of the weapon footprint for BT–11 is over water in Rattan Bay, so the likelihood of a weapon striking an animal at the BT in Rattan Bay is 64 percent less. Water depths in Rattan Bay range from 3 m (10 ft) in the deepest part of the bay to 0.5 m (1.6 m) close to shore, so that nearly the entire habitat in Rattan Bay is suitable for marine mammal use (or 36 percent of the weapon footprint). The estimated potential risk of a direct hit to an animal in the target area is extremely low. The probability of hitting a bottlenose dolphin at the BTs can be derived as follows: Probability = dolphin’s dorsal surface area * density of dolphins. The estimated dorsal surface area of a bottlenose dolphin is 1.425 m2 (or the average length of 2.85 m times the average body width of 0.5 m). Thus, using Read et al. (2003)’s density estimate of 0.183 dolphins/km2, without consideration of mitigation and monitoring implementation, the probability of a dolphin being hit in the waters of BT–9 is 2.61 × 10¥7 and of BT–11 is 9.4 × 10¥8. Using the proposed levels of ordnance expenditures at each in-water BT (Tables 4 and 5) and taking into account that only 36 percent of the ordnance deployed at BT–11 is over water, as described in the application, the estimated potential number of ordnance strikes on a marine mammal per year is 0.263 at BT–9 and 0.034 at BT–11. It would take approximately three years of ordnance deployment at the BTs before it would be likely or probable that one bottlenose dolphin would be struck by deployed inert ordnance. Again, these estimates are without consideration to proposed monitoring and mitigation measures. Take from Vessel and Aircraft Presence Vessel movement is associated with surface-to-surface exercises, as VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:34 Mar 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 described in the Specified Activities section above, which primarily occurs within BT–11. The USMC is not requesting takes specific to the act of maneuvering small boats within the BTs; however, NMFS has analyzed the potential for take from this activity. The potential impacts from exposure to vessels are described in the Vessel and Aircraft Presence section above. Interactions with vessels are not a new experience for bottlenose dolphins in Pamlico Sound. Pamlico Sound is heavily used by recreational, commercial (fishing, daily ferry service, tugs, etc.), and military (including the Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard) vessels year-round. The NMFS’ Southeast Regional Office has developed marine mammal viewing guidelines to educate the public on how to responsibly view marine mammals in the wild and avoid causing a take (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/ education/southeast). The guidelines recommend that vessels should remain a minimum of 50 yards from a dolphin, operate vessels in a predictable manner, avoid excessive speed or sudden changes in speed or direction in the vicinity of animals, and not to pursue, chase, or separate a group of animals. The Marine Corps would abide by these guidelines to the fullest extent practicable. The Marine Corps would not engage in high speed exercises should a marine mammal be detected within the immediate area of the BTs prior to training commencement and would never closely approach, chase, or pursue dolphins. Detection of marine mammals would be facilitated by personnel monitoring on the vessels and those marking success rate of target hits and monitoring of remote camera on the BTs (see Proposed Monitoring and Reporting section). Based on the description of the action, the other activities regularly occurring in the area, the species that may be exposed to the activity and their observed behaviors in the presence of vessel traffic, and the implementation of measures to avoid vessel strikes, we determined that it is unlikely that the operation of vessels during surface-tosurface maneuvers will result in the take of any marine mammals, in the form of either behavioral harassment, injury, serious injury, or mortality. Aircraft would move swiftly through the area and would typically fly approximately 914 m from the water’s surface before dropping unguided munitions and above 4,572 m for precision-guided munitions bombing. While the aircraft may approach as low as 152 m (500 ft) to drop a bomb this is not the norm and would never be PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 19241 done around marine mammals. Regional whale watching guidelines advise aircraft to maintain a minimum altitude of 300 m (1,000 ft) above all marine mammals, including small odontocetes, and to not circle or hover over the animals to avoid harassment. Our approach regulations limit aircraft from flying below 300 m (1,000 ft) over a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Hawaii, a known calving ground, and limit aircraft from flying over North Atlantic right whales closer than 460 m (1509 ft). Given that Marine Corps aircraft would not fly below 300 m on the approach, would not engage in hovering or circling the animals, and would not drop to the minimal altitude of 152 m if a marine mammal is in the area, we believe it unlikely that the operation of aircraft, as described above, will result in take of bottlenose dolphins in Pamlico Sound in any manner. Negligible Impact Analysis and Preliminary Determination 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]. The NDAA’s definition of harassment as it applies to a military readiness activity is: (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]. We propose to authorize take by Level B harassment for the proposed training operations. Acoustic stimuli generated during training operations may have the potential to result in the behavioral disturbance of some marine mammals. There is no evidence that planned activities could result in injury, serious injury, or mortality within the specified geographic area for the requested authorization. The required mitigation and monitoring measures would E:\FR\FM\29MRN1.SGM 29MRN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 19242 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 61 / Friday, March 29, 2013 / Notices minimize any potential risk for serious injury or mortality. Pursuant to our 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 we must perform to determine whether the activity will have a ‘‘negligible impact’’ on the species or stock. We have defined ‘‘negligible impact’’ in 50 CFR 216.103 as: ‘‘an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.’’ A negligible impact finding is based on the lack of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., population-level effects). An estimate of the number and manner of takes, alone, is not enough information on which to base a negligible impact determination. We must also consider other factors, such as the likely nature of any responses (their intensity, duration, etc.), the context of any responses (critical reproductive time or location, migration, etc.), or any of the other variables mentioned in the first paragraph (if known), as well as the number and nature of estimated Level A takes, the number of estimated mortalities, and effects on habitat. The Marine Corps has been conducting gunnery and bombing training exercises at BT–9 and BT–11 for several years and, to date, no dolphin injury, serious injury, or mortality has been attributed these military training exercises. The Marine Corps has a history of notifying the NMFS stranding network when any injured or stranded animal comes ashore or is spotted by personnel on the water. Therefore, stranded animals have been examined by stranding responders, further confirming that it is unlikely training contributes to marine mammal injuries or deaths. Due to the implementation of the aforementioned proposed mitigation measures, no take by Level A harassment or serious injury or mortality is anticipated nor would any be authorized in the IHA. We are proposing; however, to authorize 25 Level B harassment takes associated with training exercises. The Marine Corps has proposed a 1000 yard (914 m) safety zone around BT–9 despite the fact that the distance to NMFS explosive Level B harassment threshold is 228 yards (209 m). They also would consider an area fouled if any dolphins are spotted within Raritan VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:34 Mar 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 Bay (where BT–11 is located). The Level B harassment takes allowed for in the IHA would be of very low intensity and would likely result in dolphins being temporarily behaviorally affected by bombing or gunnery exercises. In addition, takes may be attributed to animals not using the area when exercises are occurring; however, this is difficult to calculate. Instead, we look if the specified activities occur during and within habitat important to vital life functions to better inform its negligible impact determination. Read et al. (2003) concluded that dolphins rarely occur in open waters in the middle of North Carolina sounds and large estuaries, but instead are concentrated in shallow water habitats along shorelines. However, no specific areas have been identified as vital reproduction or foraging habitat. Scientific boat based surveys conducted throughout Pamlico Sound conclude that dolphins use the areas around the BTs more frequently than other portions of Pamlico Sound (Maher, 2003) despite the Marine Corps actively training in a manner identical to the specified activities described here for years. As described in the Affected Species section of this notice, bottlenose dolphin stock segregation is complex with stocks overlapping throughout the coastal and estuarine waters of North Carolina. It is not possible for the Marine Corps to determine to which stock any individual dolphin taken during training activities belong as this can only be accomplished through genetic testing. However, it is likely that many of the dolphins encountered would belong to the NNCE or SNCE stock. These stocks have a population estimate of 1,387 and 2,454, respectively. We are proposing to authorize 25 takes of bottlenose dolphins in total; therefore, this number represents 1.8 and 1.0 percent, respectively, of those populations. This species is not listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA 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, we preliminarily find that the specified USMC AS Cherry Point BT–9 and BT– 11 training activities will result in the incidental take of marine mammals, by Level B harassment only, and that the total taking from will have a negligible impact on the affected species or stocks. PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Subsistence Harvest of Marine Mammals Marine mammals are not taken for subsistence uses within Pamlico Sound; therefore, issuance of an IHA to the USMC for MCAS Cherry Point training exercises would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the affected species or stocks for subsistence use. Endangered Species Act (ESA) No ESA-listed marine mammals are known to occur within the action area. Therefore, there is no requirement for NMFS to consult under Section 7 of the ESA on the issuance of an Authorization under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA. However, ESA-listed sea turtles may be present within the action area. On September 27, 2002, NMFS issued a Biological Opinion (BiOp) on Ongoing Ordnance Delivery at Bombing Target 9 (BT–9) and Bombing Target 11 (BT–11) at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina. The BiOp, which is still in effect, concluded that that the USMC’s proposed action will not result in adverse impacts to any ESA-listed marine mammals and is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the endangered green turtle (Chelonia mydas), leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Kemp’s ridley turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), or threatened loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta). The proposed IHA will not result in effects beyond those considered in the 2002 BiOp and NMFS does not anticipate the need for further Section 7 consultation for the Authorization or the underlying activities proposed by the Marines. No critical habitat has been designated for these species in the action area; therefore, none will be affected. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) On February 11, 2009, the Marine Corps issued a Finding of No Significant Impact for its Environmental Assessment (EA) on MCAS Cherry Point Range Operations. Based on the analysis of the EA, the Marine Corps determined that the proposed action will not have a significant impact on the human environment. We adopted the Marine Corps’ EA and signed a Finding of No Significant Impact on August 31, 2010. We have again reviewed the proposed application and preliminarily determined that there are no substantial changes to the proposed action or new environmental impacts or concerns. Therefore, we have determined that a new or supplemental EA or Environmental Impact Statement is likely unnecessary. Before making a E:\FR\FM\29MRN1.SGM 29MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 61 / Friday, March 29, 2013 / Notices final determination in this regard, we will review public comments and information submitted by the public and others in response to this notice. The EA referenced above is available for review at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/ permits/incidental.htm. Dated: March 26, 2013. Helen M. Golde, Acting Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2013–07305 Filed 3–28–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE United States Patent and Trademark Office Privacy Act of 1974; System of Records United States Patent and Trademark Office, Commerce. ACTION: Notice of amendment of Privacy Act system of records. AGENCY: SUMMARY: In accordance with the requirements of the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is amending the system of records currently listed under ‘‘COMMERCE/ PAT–TM–7 Patent Application Files.’’ This action is being taken to update the Privacy Act notice. We invite the public to comment on the amendments noted in this publication. DATES: Written comments must be received no later than April 29, 2013. The amendments will become effective as proposed on April 29, 2013, unless the USPTO receives comments that would result in a contrary determination. You may submit written comments by any of the following methods: • Email: Raul.Tamayo@uspto.gov. Include ‘‘Privacy Act PAT–TM–7 comment’’ in the subject line of the message. • Fax: (571) 273–7728, marked to the attention of Raul Tamayo. • Mail: Raul Tamayo, Office of Patent Legal Administration, Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy, United States Patent and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313–1450. • Federal Rulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. All comments received will be available for public inspection at the Federal rulemaking portal located at www.regulations.gov. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES ADDRESSES: VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:34 Mar 28, 2013 Jkt 229001 19243 Raul Tamayo, Office of Patent Legal Administration, Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy, United States Patent and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313–1450, (571) 272– 7728. 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[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 61 (Friday, March 29, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 19224-19243]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-07305]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XC486


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

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

ACTION: Notice; proposed incidental harassment authorization; receipt 
of application for letter of authorization; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: We have received an application from the U.S. Marine Corps 
(Marine Corps) requesting an incidental harassment authorization 
(Authorization) to take marine mammals incidental to various training 
exercises at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point Range 
Complex, North Carolina for a period of one year.
    The Marine Corps' activities are military readiness activities 
pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), as amended by the 
National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2004. Per the 
MMPA, we are requesting comments on our proposal to issue an 
authorization to the Marine Corps to incidentally harass by Level B 
harassment only, bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), during the 
training exercises that would occur within the proposed effective 
period of May 20, 2013 through May 19, 2014. We are also requesting 
comments on our intent to promulgate regulations governing the take of 
marine mammals over a 5-year period incidental to the activities 
described in this notice.

DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than April 
29, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Comments on the application should be addressed 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. The mailbox address for 
providing email comments is ITP.Cody@noaa.gov. Please include 0648-
XC486 in the subject line. We are 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 25-megabyte file 
size.
    Instructions: All submitted comments are a part of the public 
record and we would post 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.
    To obtain an electronic copy of the application, write to the 
previously mentioned address, telephone the contact listed here (see 
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT), or visit the internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications.
    The following associated document is also available at the same 
internet address: The Marine Corps' Environmental Assessment (EA) 
titled, ``Environmental Assessment MCAS Cherry Point Range 
Operations,'' for their federal action of supporting and conducting 
current and emerging training operations. Their EA evaluates the 
effects of the proposed training operations on the human environment 
including impacts to marine mammals and their 2009 Finding of No 
Significant Impact (FONSI) for the activities.
    This notice and the referenced document present detailed 
information on the scope of our federal action and resultant 
environmental impacts for purposes of the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969 (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) (i.e., potential impacts to 
marine mammals from issuing the proposed Authorization including 
measures for mitigation, and monitoring). We solicit and would consider 
comments submitted in response to this notice when determining whether 
to prepare additional NEPA analysis. Documents cited in this notice may 
also 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 to authorize, upon request, the incidental, but not 
intentional, taking of

[[Page 19225]]

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, after 
notice of a proposed authorization to the public for review and public 
comment: (1) We make certain findings; and (2) the taking is limited to 
harassment.
    We shall grant authorization for the incidental taking of small 
numbers of marine mammals if we find 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 taking. We have 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 
our 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, we must either issue or deny the 
authorization and must publish a notice in the Federal Register within 
30 days of our determination to issue or deny the authorization.
    The National Defense Authorization Act of 2004 (NDAA; (Public Law 
108-136)) amended section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA by removing the 
small numbers and specified geographic region provisions; revising the 
definition of harassment as it applies to a military readiness 
activity; and explicitly requiring that our determination of ``least 
practicable adverse impact'' include consideration of: (1) Personnel 
safety; (2) the practicality of implementation; and (3) impact on the 
effectiveness of the military readiness activity.
    The NDAA's definition of harassment as it applies to a military 
readiness activity is: (i) any act that injures or has the significant 
potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild 
[Level A Harassment]; or (ii) any act that disturbs or is likely to 
disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing 
disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited 
to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to 
a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly 
altered [Level B Harassment].

Summary of Request

    We received a request from the Marine Corps on January 28, 2013, 
requesting that we issue we issue an Incidental Harassment 
Authorization (Authorization) for the take, by Level B harassment only, 
of small numbers of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) 
incidental to air-to-surface and surface-to-surface training exercises 
conducted around two bombing targets within southern Pamlico Sound, 
North Carolina, at MCAS Cherry Point. We received a complete and 
adequate application requesting Authorization on March 19, 2013.
    To date, we have issued two, 1-year Authorizations to the Marine 
Corps for the conduct of the same activities from 2010 to 2012 (75 FR 
72807, November 26, 2010; 77 FR January 3, 2012). This is the Marine 
Corps' third request for an Authorization. We intend to proceed to 
rulemaking after a final determination is made on whether or not to 
issue this Authorization. This document also serves as Notice of 
Receipt of a request for rulemaking and subsequent Letter of 
Authorization.
    Project Purpose--The Marine Corps plan to conduct weapon delivery 
training at two bombing targets: Brant Island Target (BT-9) and Piney 
Island Bombing Range (BT-11). Training at BT-9 would involve air-to-
surface (from aircraft to in-water targets) and surface-to-surface 
(from vessels to in-water targets) warfare training, including bombing, 
strafing, special (laser systems) weapons; surface fires using non-
explosive and explosive ordnance; and mine laying exercises (inert). 
Training at BT-11 would involve air- to-surface exercises to provide 
training in the delivery of conventional (non-explosive) and special 
(laser systems) weapons. Surface-to-surface training by small military 
watercraft would also be executed here. The types of ordnances proposed 
for use at BT-9 and BT-11 include small arms, large arms, bombs, 
rockets, missiles, and pyrotechnics. All munitions used at BT-11 are 
inert, practice rounds. No live firing occurs at BT-11. Training for 
any activity may occur year-round. Active sonar is not a component of 
these specified training exercises; therefore, we have not included a 
discussion of marine mammal harassment from active sonar operations 
within this notice.

Description of the Specified Activity

    The Marine Corps is requesting authorization to harass bottlenose 
dolphins from ammunition firing conducted at two bombing targets within 
MCAS Cherry Point. The authorization would be valid for a period of one 
year from the date of issuance. The bombing targets are located at the 
convergence of the Neuse River and Pamlico Sound, North Carolina.
    BT-9 is a water-based target located approximately 52 kilometers 
(km) (32.3 miles (mi); 28 nautical miles (nm)) northeast of MCAS Cherry 
Point. The BT-9 target area ranges in depth from 1.2 to 6.1 meters (m) 
(3.9 to 20 feet (ft)), with the shallow areas concentrated along the 
Brandt Island Shoal (which runs down the middle of the restricted area 
in a northwest to southeast orientation). The target itself consists of 
three ship hulls grounded on Brant Island Shoals, located approximately 
4.8 km (3.0 mi) southeast of Goose Creek Island. Inert (non-explosive) 
ordnance up to 454 kilograms (kg) (1,000 pounds (lbs) and live 
(explosive) ordnance up to 45.4 kg (100 lbs) trinitrotoluene (TNT) 
equivalent, including ordnance released during strafing, are authorized 
for use at this target range. The target is defined by a 6 statute-mile 
diameter prohibited area designated by the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers, Wilmington District (33 CFR 334.420). Non-military vessels 
are not permitted within the prohibited area, which is delineated by 
large signs located on pilings surrounding the perimeter of the BT. BT-
9 also provides a mining exercise area; however, all mine exercises are 
simulation only and do not involve detonations. BT-9 standard operating 
procedures limit live ordnance deliveries to a maximum explosive weight 
of 100 lbs TNT equivalent. The USMC estimates that it could conduct up 
to approximately 1,554 aircraft-based and 322 vessel-based sorties, 
annually, at BT-9. The standard sortie consists of two aircraft per 
bombing run or an average of two and maximum of six vessels.
    BT-11 is a 50.6 square kilometers (km\2\) (19.5 square miles 
(mi\2\)) complex of land- and water-based targets on Piney Island. The 
BT-11 target area ranges in depth from 0.3 m (1.0 ft) along the 
shoreline to 3.1 m (10.1 ft) in the center of Rattan Bay (BA, 2001). 
The in-water stationary targets of BT-11 consist

[[Page 19226]]

of a barge and patrol (PT) boat located in roughly the center of Rattan 
Bay. The barge target is approximately 41.1 by 12.2 m (135 by 40 ft) in 
dimension. The PT boat is approximately 33.5 by 10.7 ft (110 ft by 35 
ft) in dimension. Water depths in the center of Rattan Bay are 
estimated as 2.4 to 3 m (8 to 10 ft) with bottom depths ranging from 
0.3 to 1.5 m (1 to 5 ft) adjacent to the shoreline of Piney Island. A 
shallow ledge, with substrate expected to be hard-packed to hard 
bottom, surrounds Piney Island. No live firing occurs at BT-11; all 
munitions used are inert, non-explosive practice rounds. Only 36 
percent of all munitions fired at BT-11 occur over water; the remaining 
munitions are fired to land based targets on Piney Island. The USMC 
estimates that it could conduct up to approximately 6,727 aircraft-
based and 51 vessel-based sorties, annually, at BT-11.
    All inert and live-fire exercises at MCAS Cherry Point ranges are 
conducted so that all ammunition and other ordnances strike and/or fall 
on the land or water based target or within the existing danger zones 
or water restricted areas. A danger zone is a defined water area that 
is closed to the public on an intermittent or full-time basis for use 
by military forces for hazardous operations such as target practice and 
ordnance firing. A water restricted area is a defined water area where 
public access is prohibited or limited in order to provide security for 
government property and/or to protect the public from the risks of 
injury or damage that could occur from the government's use of that 
area (33 CFR 334.2). Surface danger zones are designated areas of 
rocket firing, target practice, or other hazardous operations (33 CFR 
334.420). The surface danger zone (prohibited area) for BT-9 is a 4.8 
km (3.0 mi) radius centered on the south side of Brant Island Shoal. 
The surface danger zone for BT-11 is a 2.9 km (1.8 mi) radius centered 
on a barge target in Rattan Bay.
    According to the application, the Marine Corps is requesting take 
of marine mammals incidental to specified activities at MCAS Cherry 
Point Range Complex, located within Pamlico Sound, North Carolina. 
These activities include gunnery; mine laying; bombing; or rocket 
exercises and are classified into two categories here based on delivery 
method: (1) Surface-to-surface gunnery and (2) air-to-surface bombing. 
Exercises may occur year round, day or night (approximately 15 percent 
of training occurs at night).

Surface-to-Surface Gunnery Exercises

    Surface-to-surface fires are fires from boats at sea to targets at 
sea. These can be direct (targets are within sight) or indirect 
(targets are not within sight). Gunnery exercise employing only direct 
fire is the only category of surface-to-surface activity currently 
conducted within the MCAS Cherry Point bombing targets. An average of 
two and maximum of six small boats (7.3-26.0 m; 24-85 ft), or fleet of 
boats, typically operated by Special Boat Team personnel, use a machine 
gun to attack and disable or destroy a surface target that simulates 
another ship, boat, swimmer, floating mine or near shore land targets. 
Vessels would travel between 0-20 knots (kts) (0-23 miles per hour 
(mph)) with an average of two vessels actually conducting surface-to-
surface firing activities. Typical munitions would be 7.62 millimeter 
(mm) or .50 caliber (cal) machine guns; and/or 40 mm grenade machine 
guns. This exercise is usually a live-fire exercise, but at times 
blanks would be used so that the boat crews could practice their ship 
handling skills. The goal of training is to hit the targets; however, 
some munitions may bounce off the targets and land in the water or miss 
the target entirely. Additionally, the personnel would use G911 
concussion hand grenades (inert and live); however, these are not aimed 
at targets, as the goal is to learn how to throw them into the water.
    Table 1 includes the estimated amount of munitions expended at BT-9 
and BT-11 in 2011 and 2012. Historically, boat sorties have been 
conducted at BT-9 and BT-11 year round with equal distribution of 
training effort throughout the seasons. Live fires constitute 
approximately 90 percent of all surface-to-surface gunnery events. The 
majority of sorties originated and practiced at BT-9 as no live fire is 
conducted at BT-11. The Marine Corps has indicated a comparable number 
of sorties would occur throughout the IHA timeframe. There is no 
specific schedule associated with the use of ranges by the small boat 
teams. However, exercises tend to be scheduled for 5-day blocks with 
exercises at various times throughout that timeframe. There is no 
specific time of year or month training occurs as variables such as 
deployment status, range availability, and completion of crew specific 
training requirements influence schedules.

                 Table 1--Aircraft and Boat Sorties, by Mission Type, Conducted in 2011 and 2012
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               BT-9                            BT-11
                  Mission type                   ---------------------------------------------------------------
                                                       2011            2012            2011            2012
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Air-to-Surface..................................           1,554  ..............           4,251  ..............
Surface-to-Surface..............................             223             322             105             106
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................           1,777  ..............           4,356  ..............
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A number of different types of boats are used during surface-to-
surface exercises depending on the unit using the boat and their 
mission and include versions of Small Unit River Craft, Combat Rubber 
Raiding Craft, Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats, Patrol Craft. They are 
inboard or outboard, diesel or gasoline engines with either propeller 
or water jet propulsion. Boat crews approach, at a maximum of 20 kts 
(23 mph), and engage targets simulating other boats, swimmers, floating 
mines, or near shore land targets with 7.62 mm or .50 cal machine guns; 
40 mm grenade machine guns; or M3A2 concussion hand grenades 
(approximately 200, 800, 10, and 10 rounds respectively). Vessels 
typically travel in linear paths and do not operate erratically. Other 
vessels may be located within the BTs; however, these are support craft 
and do not participate in munitions expenditures. The purpose of the 
support craft is to remotely control High Speed Maneuvering Surface 
Targets (HSMSTs) or to conduct maintenance on electronic equipment 
located in the towers at BT-9. Support craft are typically anchored or 
tied to marker pilings during HSMST operations or tied to equipment 
towers. When underway, vessels do not typically travel faster than 12-
18 kts (13.8-20.7 mph) or in an erratic manner.

[[Page 19227]]

Air-to-Surface

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

Mine Laying Exercises

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

Bombing Exercises

    The purpose of bombing exercises is to train pilots in destroying 
or disabling enemy ships or boats. During training, fixed wing or 
rotary wing aircraft deliver bombs against surface maritime targets at 
BT-9 or BT-11,day or night, using either unguided or precision-guided 
munitions. Unguided munitions include MK-76 and BDU-45 inert training 
bombs, and MK-80 series of inert bombs (no cluster munitions 
authorized). Precision-guided munitions consist of laser-guided bombs 
(inert) and laser-guided training rounds (inert). Typically, two 
aircraft approach the target (principally BT-9) from an altitude of 
approximately 914 m (3,000 ft) up to 4,572 m (15,000 ft) and, when on 
an established range, the aircraft adhere to designated ingress and 
egress routes. Typical bomb release altitude is 914 m (3,000 ft) for 
unguided munitions or above 4,572 m (15,000 ft) and in excess of 1.8 km 
(1 nm) for precision-guided munitions. However, the lowest minimum 
altitude for ordnance delivery (inert bombs) would be 152 m (500 ft).
    Onboard laser designators or laser designators from a support 
aircraft or ground support personnel are used to illuminate certified 
targets for use when using laser guided weapons. Due to target 
maintenance issues, live bombs have not been dropped at the BT-9 
targets for the past few years although these munitions are authorized 
for use. For the effective IHA timeframe, the Marine Corps would not 
use live bombs. Live rockets and grenades; however, have been expended 
at BT-9.
    Air-to-surface bombing exercises have the potential to occur on a 
daily basis. The standard sortie consists of two aircraft per bombing 
run. The frequency of these exercises is dependent on squadron level 
training requirements, deployment status, and range availability; 
therefore, there is no set pattern or specific time of year or month 
when this training occurs. Normal operating hours for the range are 8 
a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Friday; however, the range is available 
for use 365 days per year.

Gunnery Exercises

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

Rocket Exercises

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

Munitions Descriptions

    We refer the reader to Tables 2 and 3 for a complete list of the 
ordnance authorized for use at BT-9 and BT-11, respectively. There are 
several varieties and net explosive weights (for live munition used at 
BT-9) can vary according to the variety. All practice bombs are inert 
and used to simulate the same ballistic properties of service type 
bombs. They are manufactured as either solid cast metal bodies or thin 
sheet metal containers. Since practice bombs contain no explosive 
filler, a practice bomb signal cartridge (smoke) is used for visual 
observation of weapon target impact. Practice bombs provide a low cost 
training device for pilot and ground handling crews. Due to the 
relatively small amount of explosive material in practice bombs (small 
signal charge), the availability of ranges for training is greatly 
increased.
    When a high explosive detonates, it is converted almost instantly 
into a gas at very high pressure and temperature. Under the pressure of 
the gases thus generated, the weapon case expands and breaks into 
fragments. The air surrounding the casing is compressed and shock 
(blast) wave is transmitted into it. Typical initial values for a high-
explosive weapon are 200 kilobars of pressure (1 bar = 1 atmosphere) 
and 5,000 degrees Celsius (9,032 degrees Fahrenheit). There are five 
types of explosive sources used at BT-9: 2.75-inch Rocket High 
Explosives, 5-inch Rocket High Explosives, 30 mm High Explosives, 40 mm 
High Explosives, and G911 grenades. No live munitions are used at BT-
11.

[[Page 19228]]



                                 Table 2--Description of Munitions Used at BT-9
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
               Ordnance                                Description                     Net explosive weight
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
MK-76 Practice Bomb (inert)...........  25-pound teardrop-shaped cast metal       (of signal cartridge) varies,
                                         bomb, with a bore tube for installation   maximum 0.083800 lbs.
                                         of a signal cartridge.
BDU-33 Practice Bomb (inert)..........  Air Force MK 76 practice bomb...........  same as above.
BDU-48 Practice Bomb (inert)..........  10-pound metal cylindrical bomb body      same as above.
                                         with a bore tube for installation of a
                                         signal cartridge.
BDU-45 Practice Bomb (inert)..........  500-pound metal bomb either sand or       (of signal cartridges, total
                                         water filled. Two signal cartridges..     0.1676 lbs.
BDU-50 Practice Bomb (inert)..........  500-pound metal bomb either sand or       same as above.
                                         water filled. Two signal cartridges..
MK-81 Practice Bomb (inert)...........  250-pound bomb..........................  0.
MK-82 Practice Bomb (inert)...........  500-pound bomb..........................  0.
MK-83 Practice Bomb (inert)...........  1,000-pound bomb configured like BDU 45.  0.1676 lbs.
MK-84 Practice Bomb (inert) (special    2,000-pound bomb configured like BDU 45.  0.1676 lbs.
 exception use only).
2.75-inch (inert).....................  Unguided 2.75 inch diameter rocket......  0.
5-inch Zuni (inert)...................  Unguided 5 inch diameter rocket.........  0.
5-inch Zuni (live)....................  Unguided 5-inch diameter rocket.........  15 lbs.
2.75wp (inert)........................  2.75-inch rocket containing white         0.
                                         phosphorous.
2.75HE................................  High Explosive, 2.75 inch rocket........  4.8 lbs.
0.50 cal (inert)......................  Machine gun rounds......................  0.
7.62 mm (inert).......................
20 mm (inert).........................
25mm (inert)..........................
30 mm (inert).........................
40 mm (inert).........................
25 mm HE (live).......................  High Explosive Incendiary, Live machine   0.269 lbs.
                                         gun rounds.
Self Protection Flare.................  Aerial flare............................  0.
Chaff.................................  18-pound chaff canister.................  0.
LUU-2.................................  30-pound high intensity illumination      0.
                                         flare.
Laser Guided Training Round (LGTR)      89-pound inert training bomblet.........  0.
 (inert).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


             Table 3--Description of Munitions Used at BT-11
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Ordnance                           Description
------------------------------------------------------------------------
MK76 Practice Bomb.....................  25-pound teardrop-shaped cast
                                          metal bomb body, with a bore
                                          tube for installation of a
                                          signal cartridge.
BDU 33 Practice Bomb...................  Air Force designation for MK 76
                                          practice bomb.
BDU 48 Practice Bomb...................  10-pound metal cylindrical bomb
                                          body with a bore tube for
                                          installation of a signal
                                          cartridge.
BDU 45 Practice Bomb...................  500-pound metal bomb body
                                          either sand or water filled.
                                          Configured with either low
                                          drag conical tail fins or high
                                          drag tail fins for retarded
                                          weapons delivery. Two signal
                                          cartridges installed.
MK 81 Practice Bomb....................  250-pound inert bomb
MK 82 Practice Bomb....................  500-pound inert bomb.
2.75-inch..............................  Unguided 2.75 inch diameter
                                          rocket.
5-inch Zuni............................  5 inch diameter rocket.
WP-2.75-inch...........................  White phosphorous 7-pound
                                          rocket.
0.50 cal...............................  Inert machine gun rounds.
7.62 mm................................
5.56 mm................................
20 mm..................................
30 mm..................................
40 mm..................................
TOW....................................  Wire guided 56-pound anti-tank
                                          missile.
Self Protection Flare..................  Aerial flare.
SMD SAMS...............................  1.5-pound smoking flare.
LUU-2..................................  30-pound high-intensity
                                          illumination flare.
Laser Guided Training Round (LGTR).....  89-pound inert training
                                          bomblet.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The amounts of all ordnance to be expended at BT-9 and BT-11 (both 
surface-to-surface and air-to-surface) are 1,225,815 and 1,254,684 
rounds, respectively (see Table 4 and 5).

[[Page 19229]]



              Table 4--Amount of Live and Inert Munitions That Would Be Expended at BT-9, Annually
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                   Proposed number of
        Proposed munitions \1\          Proposed total No. of   explosive rounds having    Net explosive weight
                                                rounds           an impact on the water            (lb)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Small Arms Rounds Excluding .50 cal..  525,610................  N/A....................  N/A.
.50 Cal..............................  568,515................  N/A....................  N/A.
Large Arms Rounds--Live..............  5,000..................  40mm HE: 5,000.........  0.1199.
Large Arms Rounds--Inert.............  117,051................  N/A....................  N/A.
Rockets--Live........................  48.....................  2.75'' Rocket: 48......  4.8
                                       20.....................  5'' Rocket: 20.........  15.0.
Rockets--Inert.......................  876....................  N/A....................  N/A.
Bombs and Grenades--Live.............  0......................  G911 Grenade: N/A......  0.5.
Bombs and Grenades--Inert............  4,199..................  N/A....................  N/A.
Pyrotechnics.........................  4,496..................  N/A....................  N/A.
    Total............................  1,225,815..............  .......................  N/A.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Munitions may be expended from aircraft or small boats.


   Table 5--Amount of Inert Munitions That Would Be Expended at BT-11
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Proposed total
                 Proposed munitions \1\                    No. of rounds
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Small Arms Rounds Excluding .50 Cal.....................         610,957
.50 Cal.................................................         366,775
Large Arms Rounds.......................................         240,334
Rockets.................................................           5,592
Bombs and Grenades......................................          22,114
Pyrotechnics............................................           8,912
                                                         ---------------
    Total...............................................       1,254,684
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Munitions may be expended from aircraft or small boats.

Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity

    Forty marine mammal species occur within the nearshore and offshore 
waters of North Carolina; however, the majority of these species are 
solely oceanic in distribution. Only one marine mammal species, the 
bottlenose dolphin, has been repeatedly sighted in Pamlico Sound, while 
an additional species, the endangered West Indian manatee (Trichechus 
manatus), has been sighted rarely (Lefebvre et al, 2001; DoN 2003). The 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversees management of the manatee; 
therefore, we would not include a proposed authorization to harass 
manatees and we will not discuss this species further in this notice.
    No sightings of the endangered North Atlantic right whale 
(Eubalaena glacialis) or other large whales have been observed within 
Pamlico Sound or in vicinity of the bombing targets (Kenney, 2006). No 
suitable habitat exists for these species in the shallow Pamlico Sound 
or bombing target vicinity; therefore, whales would not be affected by 
the specified activities. Thus, we will not discuss them further in 
this notice. Other dolphins, such as Atlantic spotted (Stenella 
frontalis) and common dolphins (Delphinus delphis), are oceanic in 
distribution and do not venture into the shallow, brackish waters of 
southern Pamlico Sound.
    The specified activity has the potential to affect only one marine 
mammal species under our jurisdiction: the bottlenose dolphin. We refer 
the public to Waring et al. (2011) for general information on this 
species which is presented below this section. The publication is 
available at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/sars/ao2011.pdf. We 
present a summary of information on the species below this section.

Bottlenose Dolphin

    California sea lions are not listed as threatened or endangered 
under the Endangered Species Act (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), 
however, they are categorized as depleted (and thus strategic) under 
the MMPA.
    Four out of the seven designated coastal stocks for bottlenose 
dolphins may occur in North Carolina waters at some part of the year: 
the Northern Migratory stock (NM; winter); the Southern Migratory stock 
(SM; winter); the Northern North Carolina Estuarine stock (NNCE; 
resident, year round); and the more recently identified Southern North 
Carolina Estuarine stock (SNCE; resident, year round).
    Dolphins encountered at the BTs likely belong to the NNCE and SNCE 
stock; however, this may not always be the case. NMFS' 2011 stock 
assessment report provides further detail on stock delineation.
    NMFS provides abundance estimates for the four aforementioned 
migratory and resident coastal stocks in its 2011 stock assessment 
report. The best available abundance estimate for the NNCE stock is the 
combined abundance from estuarine (Read et al., 2003) and coastal 
(aerial survey data dating from 2002) waters. This combined estimate is 
1,387 (Waring et al., 2011). Similarly, the best available abundance 
estimate for the SNCE stock is the combined abundance from estuarine 
and coastal waters. This combined estimate is 2,454 (Waring et al., 
2011). The best abundance estimate for the NM stock, resulting from 
2002 aerial surveys, is 9,604 (Waring et al., 2011). Using the same 
information, the resulting best abundance estimate for the SM stock is 
12,482 (Waring et al., 2011).
    From July 2004 through April 2006, the Services Southeast Fisheries 
Science Center conducted 41 aerial surveys to document the seasonal 
distribution and estimated density of sea turtles and dolphins within 
Core Sound and portions of Pamlico Sound, and coastal waters extending 
one mile offshore (Goodman et al, 2007). Pamlico Sound was divided into 
two survey areas: western (encompassing BT-9 and BT-11) and eastern 
(including Core Sound and the eastern portion of restricted air space 
R-5306). In total, 281 dolphins were sighted in the western range. To 
account for animals likely missed during sightings (i.e., those below 
the surface), Goodman et al. (2007) estimate that, in reality, 415 
dolphins were present. Densities for bottlenose dolphins in the western 
part of Pamlico Sound were calculated to be 0.0272 per square kilometer 
(km\2\) in winter and 0.2158 per km\2\ in autumn. Dolphins were sighted 
throughout the entire range when mean sea surface temperature was 
7.60[deg] C to 30.82[deg] C (45.6 to 87.5[emsp14][deg]F), with fewer 
dolphins sighted as water temperatures increased. Like in Mayer (2003), 
dolphins were found in higher numbers around BT-11, a range where no 
live firing occurs.
    In 2000, Duke University Marine Lab (DUML), conducted a boat-based 
mark-recapture survey throughout the estuaries, bays and sounds of 
North Carolina (Read et al., 2003). This summer survey yielded a 
dolphin density of 0.183/km\2\ (0.071 mi\2\) based on an estimate of 
919 dolphins for the northern inshore waters divided by an

[[Page 19230]]

estimated 5,015 km\2\ (1,936 mi\2\) survey area. Additionally, from 
July 2002-June 2003, the USMC supported DUML to conduct dolphin surveys 
specifically in and around BT-9 and BT-11. During these surveys, one 
sighting in the restricted area surrounding BT-9 and two sightings in 
proximity to BT-11 were observed, as well as seven sightings in waters 
adjacent to the BTs. In total, 276 bottlenose dolphins were sighted 
ranging in group size from two to 70 animals with mean dolphin density 
in BT-11 more than twice as large as the density of any of the other 
areas; however, the daily densities were not significantly different 
(Maher, 2003). Estimated dolphin density at BT-9 and BT-11 based on 
these surveys were calculated to be 0.11 dolphins/km\2\, and 1.23 
dolphins/km\2\, respectively, based on boat surveys conducted from July 
2002 through June 2003 (excluding April, May, Sept. and Jan.). However, 
the Marine Corps choose to estimate take of dolphins based on the 
higher density reported from the summer 2000 surveys (0.183/km\2\). 
Although the aerial surveys were conducted year round and therefore 
provide for seasonal density estimates, the average year-round density 
from the aerial surveys is 0.0936, lower than the 0.183/km\2\ density 
chosen to calculate take for purposes of this MMPA authorization. 
Additionally, Goodman et al. (2007) acknowledged that boat based 
density estimates may be more accurate than the uncorrected estimates 
derived from the aerial surveys.
    In Pamlico Sound, bottlenose dolphins concentrate in shallow water 
habitats along shorelines, and few, if any, individuals are present in 
the central portions of the sounds (Gannon, 2003; Read et al., 2003a, 
2003b). The dolphins utilize shallow habitats, such as tributary creeks 
and the edges of the Neuse River, where the bottom depth is less than 
3.5 m (Gannon, 2003). Fine-scale distribution of dolphins seems to 
relate to the presence of topography or vertical structure, such as the 
steeply-sloping bottom near the shore and oyster reefs, which may be 
used to facilitate prey capture (Gannon, 2003). Results of a passive 
acoustic monitoring effort conducted from 2006-2007 by Duke University 
researchers validated this information. Vocalizations of dolphins in 
the BT-11 vicinity were higher in August and September than 
vocalization detection at BT-9, an open water area (Read et al., 2007). 
Additionally, detected vocalizations of dolphins were more frequent at 
night for the BT-9 area and during early morning hours at BT-11.
    Unlike migrating whales which display strong temporal foraging and 
mating/birthing periods, many bottlenose dolphins in Pamlico Sound are 
residents and mate year round. However, dolphins in the southeast U.S. 
do display some reproductive seasonality. Based on neonate stranding 
records, sighting data, and births by known females, the populations of 
dolphins that frequent the North Carolina estuarine waters have calving 
peaks in spring but calving continues throughout the summer and is 
followed by a smaller number of fall births (Thayer et al., 2003).
    Bottlenose dolphins can typically hear within a broad frequency 
range of 0.04 to 160 kiloHertz (kHz) (Au, 1993; Turl, 1993). 
Electrophysiological experiments suggest that the bottlenose dolphin 
brain has a dual analysis system: one specialized for ultrasonic clicks 
and another for lower-frequency sounds, such as whistles (Ridgway, 
2000). Scientists have reported a range of highest sensitivity between 
25 and 70 kHz, with peaks in sensitivity at 25 and 50 kHz (Nachtigall 
et al., 2000). Recent research on the same individuals indicates that 
auditory thresholds obtained by electrophysiological methods correlate 
well with those obtained in behavior studies, except at some lower (10 
kHz) and higher (80 and 100 kHz) frequencies (Finneran and Houser, 
2006).
    Sounds emitted by bottlenose dolphins have been classified into two 
broad categories: pulsed sounds (including clicks and burst-pulses) and 
narrow-band continuous sounds (whistles), which usually are frequency 
modulated. Clicks have a dominant frequency range of 110 to 130 kHz and 
a source level of 218 to 228 decibels (dB) re: 1 [mu]Pa (peak-to-peak) 
(Au, 1993) and 3.4 to 14.5 kHz at 125 to 173 dB re 1 [mu]Pa (peak-to-
peak) (Ketten, 1998). Whistles are primarily associated with 
communication and can serve to identify specific individuals (i.e., 
signature whistles) (Caldwell and Caldwell, 1965; Janik et al., 2006). 
Up to 52 percent of whistles produced by bottlenose dolphin groups with 
mother-calf pairs can be classified as signature whistles (Cook et al., 
2004). Sound production is also influenced by group type (single or 
multiple individuals), habitat, and behavior (Nowacek, 2005). Bray 
calls (low-frequency vocalizations; majority of energy below 4 kHz), 
for example, are used when capturing fish, specifically sea trout 
(Salmo trutta) and Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), in some regions 
(i.e., Moray Firth, Scotland) (Janik, 2000). Additionally, whistle 
production has been observed to increase while feeding (Acevedo-
Guti[eacute]rrez and Stienessen, 2004; Cook et al., 2004).

Potential Effects on Marine Mammals

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

Anthropogenic Sound

    Marine mammals respond to various types of anthropogenic sounds 
introduced in the ocean environment. Responses are highly variable and 
depend on a suite of internal and external factors which in turn 
results in varying degrees of significance (NRC, 2003; Southall et al., 
2007). Internal factors include: (1) Individual hearing sensitivity, 
activity pattern, and motivational and behavioral state (e.g., feeding, 
traveling) at the time it receives the stimulus; (2) past exposure of 
the animal to the noise, which may lead to habituation or 
sensitization; (3) individual noise tolerance; and (4) demographic 
factors such as age, sex, and presence of dependent offspring. External 
factors include: (1) non-acoustic characteristics of the sound source 
(e.g., if it is moving or stationary); (2) environmental variables 
(e.g., substrate) which influence sound transmission; and (3) habitat 
characteristics and location (e.g., open ocean vs. confined area). To 
determine whether an animal perceives the sound, the received level, 
frequency, and duration of the sound are compared to ambient noise 
levels and the species'

[[Page 19231]]

hearing sensitivity range. That is, if the frequency of an introduced 
sound is outside of the species' frequency hearing range, it cannot be 
heard. Similarly, if the frequency is on the upper or lower end of the 
species hearing range, the sound must be louder in order to be heard.
    Marine mammal responses to anthropogenic noise are typically subtle 
and can include visible and acoustic reactions such as avoidance, 
altered dive patterns and cessation of pre-exposure activities and 
vocalization reactions such as increasing or decreasing call rates or 
shifting call frequency. Responses can also be unobservable, such as 
stress hormone production and auditory trauma or fatigue. It is not 
always known how these behavioral and physiological responses relate to 
significant effects (e.g., long-term effects or individual/population 
consequences); however, individuals and populations can be monitored to 
provide some insight into the consequences of exposing marine mammals 
to noise. For example, Haviland-Howell et al. (2007) compared sighting 
rates of bottlenose dolphins within the Wilmington, NC stretch of the 
Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) on weekends, when recreational 
vessel traffic was high, to weekdays, when vessel traffic was 
relatively minimal. The authors found that dolphins were less often 
sighted in the ICW during times of increased boat traffic (i.e., on 
weekends) and theorized that because vessel noise falls within the 
frequencies of dolphin communication whistles and primary energy of 
most fish vocalizations, the continuous vessel traffic along that 
stretch of the ICW could result in social and foraging impacts. 
However, the extent to which these impacts affect individual health and 
population structure is unknown.
    A full assessment of marine mammal responses and disturbances when 
exposed to anthropogenic sound can be found in our proposed rulemaking 
for the Navy Cherry Point Range Complex (74 FR 11057, March 16, 2009). 
That rulemaking was made final on June 15, 2009 (74 FR 28370). In 
summary, sound exposure may result in physiological impacts, stress 
responses, and behavioral responses which could affect proximate or 
ultimate life functions. Proximate life history functions are the 
functions that the animal is engaged in at the time of acoustic 
exposure. The ultimate life functions are those that enable an animal 
to contribute to the population (or stock, or species, etc.).
I. Physiology-Hearing Threshold Shift
    In mammals, high-intensity sound may rupture the eardrum, damage 
the small bones in the middle ear, or over stimulate the 
electromechanical hair cells that convert the fluid motions caused by 
sound into neural impulses that are sent to the brain. Lower level 
exposures may cause a loss of hearing sensitivity, termed a threshold 
shift (TS) (Miller, 1974). Incidence of TS may be either permanent, 
referred to as permanent threshold shift (PTS), or temporary, referred 
to as temporary threshold shift (TTS). The amplitude, duration, 
frequency, and temporal pattern, and energy distribution of sound 
exposure all affect the amount of associated TS and the frequency range 
in which it occurs. As amplitude and duration of sound exposure 
increase, generally, so does the amount of TS and recovery time. Human 
non-impulsive noise exposure guidelines are based on exposures of equal 
energy (the same SEL) producing equal amounts of hearing impairment 
regardless of how the sound energy is distributed in time (NIOSH 1998). 
Until recently, previous marine mammal TTS studies have also generally 
supported this equal energy relationship (Southall et al., 2007). Three 
newer studies, two by Mooney et al. (2009a, 2009b) on a single 
bottlenose dolphin either exposed to playbacks of Navy MFAS or octave-
band noise (4-8 kHz) and one by Kastak et al. (2007) on a single 
California sea lion exposed to airborne octave-band noise (centered at 
2.5 kHz), concluded that for all noise exposure situations the equal 
energy relationship may not be the best indicator to predict TTS onset 
levels. Generally, with sound exposures of equal energy, those that 
were quieter (lower sound pressure level [SPL]) with longer duration 
were found to induce TTS onset more than those of louder (higher SPL) 
and shorter duration (more similar to noise from AS Cherry Point 
exercises). For intermittent sounds, less TS will occur than from a 
continuous exposure with the same energy (some recovery will occur 
between exposures) (Kryter et al., 1966; Ward, 1997). Additionally, 
though TTS is temporary, very prolonged exposure to sound strong enough 
to elicit TTS, or shorter-term exposure to sound levels well above the 
TTS threshold, can cause PTS, at least in terrestrial mammals (Kryter, 
1985). However, these studies highlight the inherent complexity of 
predicting TTS onset in marine mammals, as well as the importance of 
considering exposure duration when assessing potential impacts.
    PTS consists of non-recoverable physical damage to the sound 
receptors in the ear, which can include total or partial deafness, or 
an impaired ability to hear sounds in specific frequency ranges; PTS is 
considered Level A harassment. TTS is recoverable and is considered to 
result from temporary, non-injurious impacts to hearing-related 
tissues; TTS is considered Level B harassment.

Permanent Threshold Shift

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

Temporary Threshold Shift

    TTS is the mildest form of hearing impairment that can occur during 
exposure to a loud sound (Kryter, 1985). Southall et al. (2007) 
indicate that although PTS is a tissue injury, TTS is not because the 
reduced hearing sensitivity following exposure to intense sound results 
primarily from fatigue, not loss, of cochlear hair cells and supporting 
structures and is reversible. Accordingly, NMFS classifies TTS as Level 
B Harassment, not Level A Harassment (injury); however, NMFS does not 
consider the onset of TTS to be the lowest level at which Level B 
Harassment may occur (see III. Behavior section below this section).
    Southall et al. (2007) considers a 6 dB TTS (i.e., baseline hearing 
thresholds

[[Page 19232]]

are elevated by 6 dB) sufficient to be recognized as an unequivocal 
deviation and thus a sufficient definition of TTS onset. TTS in 
bottlenose dolphin hearing have been experimentally induced. For 
example, Finneran et al. (2002) exposed a trained captive bottlenose 
dolphin to a seismic watergun simulator with a single acoustic pulse. 
No TTS was observed in the dolphin at the highest exposure condition 
(peak: 207 kPa [30psi]; peak-to-peak: 228 dB re: 1 microPa; SEL: 188 dB 
re 1 microPa\2\-s). Schludt et al. (2000) demonstrated temporary shifts 
in masked hearing thresholds in five bottlenose dolphins occurring 
generally between 192 and 201 dB rms (192 and 201 dB SEL) after 
exposure to intense, non-pulse, 1-s tones at, 3kHz, 10kHz, and 20 kHz. 
TTS onset occurred at mean sound exposure level of 195 dB rms (195 dB 
SEL). At 0.4 kHz, no subjects exhibited threshold shifts after SPL 
exposures of 193dB re: 1 microPa (192 dB re: 1 microPa\2\-s). In the 
same study, at 75 kHz, one dolphin exhibited a TTS after exposure at 
182 dB SPL re: 1 microPa but not at higher exposure levels. Another 
dolphin experienced no threshold shift after exposure to maximum SPL 
levels of 193 dB re: 1 microPa at the same frequency. Frequencies of 
explosives used at MCAS Cherry Point range from 1-25 kHz; the range 
where dolphin TTS onset occurred at 195 dB rms in the Schlundt et al. 
(2000) study.
    Preliminary research indicates that TTS and recovery after noise 
exposure are frequency dependent and that an inverse relationship 
exists between exposure time and sound pressure level associated with 
exposure (Mooney et al., 2005; Mooney, 2006). For example, Nachtigall 
et al. (2003) measured TTS in a bottlenose dolphin and found an average 
11 dB shift following a 30 minute net exposure to OBN at a 7.5 kHz 
center frequency (max SPL of 179 dB re: 1 microPa; SEL: 212-214 dB re:1 
microPa\2\-s). No TTS was observed after exposure to the same duration 
and frequency noise with maximum SPLs of 165 and 171 dB re:1 microPa. 
After 50 minutes of exposure to the same 7.5 kHz frequency OBN, 
Natchigall et al. (2004) measured a 4-8 dB shift (max SPL: 160dB re 
1microPa; SEL: 193-195 dB re:1 microPa\2\-s). Finneran et al. (2005) 
concluded that a sound exposure level of 195 dB re 1 [mu]Pa2-s is a 
reasonable threshold for the onset of TTS in bottlenose dolphins 
exposed to mid-frequency tones.
II. Stress Response
    An acoustic source is considered a potential stressor if, by its 
action on the animal, via auditory or non-auditory means, it may 
produce a stress response in the animal. Here, the stress response will 
refer to an increase in energetic expenditure that results from 
exposure to the stressor and which is predominantly characterized by 
either the stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) or the 
hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis (Reeder and Kramer, 2005). 
The SNS response to a stressor is immediate and acute and is 
characterized by the release of the catecholamine neurohormones 
norepinephrine and epinephrine (i.e., adrenaline). These hormones 
produce elevations in the heart and respiration rate, increase 
awareness, and increase the availability of glucose and lipids for 
energy. The HPA response is ultimately defined by increases in the 
secretion of the glucocorticoid steroid hormones, predominantly 
cortisol in mammals. The presence and magnitude of a stress response in 
an animal depends on a number of factors. These include the animal's 
life history stage (e.g., neonate, juvenile, adult), the environmental 
conditions, reproductive or developmental state, and experience with 
the stressor. Not only will these factors be subject to individual 
variation, but they will also vary within an individual over time. The 
stress response may or may not result in a behavioral change, depending 
on the characteristics of the exposed animal. However, provided a 
stress response occurs, we assume that some contribution is made to the 
animal's allostatic load. Any immediate effect of exposure that 
produces an injury is assumed to also produce a stress response and 
contribute to the allostatic load. Allostasis is the ability of an 
animal to maintain stability through change by adjusting its physiology 
in response to both predictable and unpredictable events (McEwen and 
Wingfield, 2003). If the acoustic source does not produce tissue 
effects, is not perceived by the animal, or does not produce a stress 
response by any other means, we assume that the exposure does not 
contribute to the allostatic load. Additionally, without a stress 
response or auditory masking, it is assumed that there can be no 
behavioral change.
III. Behavior
    Changes in marine mammal behavior in response to anthropogenic 
noise may include altered travel directions, increased swimming speeds, 
changes in dive, surfacing, respiration and feeding patterns, and 
changes in vocalizations. As described above, lower level physiological 
stress responses could also co-occur with altered behavior; however, 
stress responses are more difficult to detect and fewer data exist 
relative to specific received levels of sound.

Acoustic Masking

    Marine mammals use acoustic signals for a variety of purposes, 
which differ among species, but include communication between 
individuals, navigation, foraging, reproduction, and learning about 
their environment (Erbe and Farmer, 2000; Tyack, 2000). Masking, or 
auditory interference, generally occurs when sounds in the environment 
are louder than, and of a similar frequency as, auditory signals an 
animal is trying to receive. Masking is a phenomenon that affects 
animals that are trying to receive acoustic information about their 
environment, including sounds from other members of their species, 
predators, prey, and sounds that allow them to orient in their 
environment. Masking these acoustic signals can disturb the behavior of 
individual animals, groups of animals, or entire populations.
    Southall et al. (2007) defines auditory masking as the partial or 
complete reduction in the audibility of signals due to the presence of 
interfering noise with the degree of masking depending on the spectral, 
temporal, and spatial relationships between signals and masking noise, 
as well as the respective received levels. Masking of sender 
communication space can be considered as the amount of change in a 
sender's communication space caused by the presence of other sounds, 
relative to a pre-industrial ambient noise condition (Clark et al., 
2009). Unlike auditory fatigue, which always results in a stress 
response because the sensory tissues are being stimulated beyond their 
normal physiological range, masking may or may not result in a stress 
response, depending on the degree and duration of the masking effect. 
Masking may also result in a unique circumstance where an animal's 
ability to detect other sounds is compromised without the animal's 
knowledge. This could conceivably result in sensory impairment and 
subsequent behavior change; in this case, the change in behavior is the 
lack of a response that would normally be made if sensory impairment 
did not occur. For this reason, masking also may lead directly to 
behavior change without first causing a stress response. Projecting 
noise into the marine environment which causes acoustic masking is 
considered Level B harassment as it can disrupt natural behavioral 
patterns by interrupting or

[[Page 19233]]

limiting the marine mammal's receipt or transmittal of important 
information or environmental cues. To compensate for masking, marine 
mammals, including bottlenose dolphins, are known to increase their 
levels of vocalization as a function of background noise by increasing 
call repetition and amplitude, shifting calls higher frequencies, and/
or changing the structure of call content (Lesage et al., 1999; 
Scheifele et al., 2005; McIwem, 2006).
    While it may occur temporarily, we do not expect auditory masking 
to result in detrimental impacts to an individual's or population's 
survival, fitness, or reproductive success. Dolphins are not confined 
to the BT ranges; allowing for movement out of area to avoid masking 
impacts. The Marine Corps would also conduct visual sweeps of the area 
before any training exercise and implement training delay mitigation 
measures if a dolphin is sighted within designated zones (see Proposed 
Mitigation Measures section). As discussed previously, the Marine Corps 
has been working with DUML to collect baseline information on dolphins 
in Pamlico Sound, specifically dolphin abundance and habitat use around 
the BTs.

Assessment of Marine Mammal Impacts from Explosive Ordnances

    MCAS Cherry Point plans to use five types of explosive sources 
during its training exercises: 2.75-inch Rocket High Explosives, 5-inch 
Rocket High Explosives, 30 mm High Explosives, 40 mm High Explosives, 
and G911 grenades. The underwater explosions from these weapons would 
send a shock wave and blast noise through the water, release gaseous 
by-products, create an oscillating bubble, and cause a plume of water 
to shoot up from the water surface. The shock wave and blast noise are 
of most concern to marine animals. In general, potential impacts from 
explosive detonations can range from brief effects (such as short term 
behavioral disturbance), tactile perception, physical discomfort, 
slight injury of the internal organs and the auditory system, to death 
of the animal (Yelverton et al., 1973; O'Keeffe and Young, 1984; DoN, 
2001).
    Explosives produce significant acoustic energy across several 
frequency decades of bandwidth (i.e., broadband). Propagation loss is 
sufficiently sensitive to frequency as to require model estimates at 
several frequencies over such a wide band. The effects of an underwater 
explosion on a marine mammal depend on many factors, including the 
size, type, and depth of both the animal and the explosive charge; the 
depth of the water column; and the standoff distance between the charge 
and the animal, as well as the sound propagation properties of the 
environment. The net explosive weight (or NEW) of an explosive is the 
weight of TNT required to produce an equivalent explosive power. The 
detonation depth of an explosive is particularly important due to a 
propagation effect known as surface-image interference. For sources 
located near the sea surface, a distinct interference pattern arises 
from the coherent sum of the two paths that differ only by a single 
reflection from the pressure-release surface. As the source depth and/
or the source frequency decreases, these two paths increasingly, 
destructively interfere with each other, reaching total cancellation at 
the surface (barring surface-reflection scattering loss). Marine Corps 
conservatively estimates that all explosives would detonate at a 1.2 m 
(3.9 ft) water depth. This is the worst case scenario as the purpose of 
training is to hit the target, resulting in an in-air explosion.
    The firing sequence for some of the munitions consists of a number 
of rapid bursts, often lasting a second or less. The maximum firing 
time is 10-15 second bursts. Due to the tight spacing in time, each 
burst can be treated as a single detonation. For the energy metrics, 
the impact area of a burst is computed using a source energy spectrum 
that is the source spectrum for a single detonation scaled by the 
number of rounds in a burst. For the pressure metrics, the impact area 
for a burst is the same as the impact area of a single round. For all 
metrics, the cumulative impact area of an event consisting of a certain 
number of bursts is merely the product of the impact area of a single 
burst and the number of bursts, as would be the case if the bursts are 
sufficiently spaced in time or location as to insure that each burst is 
affecting a different set of marine wildlife.
    Physical damage of tissues resulting from a shock wave (from an 
explosive detonation) is classified as an injury. Blast effects are 
greatest at the gas-liquid interface (Landsberg, 2000) and gas 
containing organs, particularly the lungs and gastrointestinal tract, 
are especially susceptible to damage (Goertner, 1982; Hill 1978; 
Yelverton et al., 1973). Nasal sacs, larynx, pharynx, trachea, and 
lungs may be damaged by compression/expansion caused by the 
oscillations of the blast gas bubble (Reidenberg and Laitman, 2003). 
Severe damage (from the shock wave) to the ears can include tympanic 
membrane rupture, fracture of the ossicles, damage to the cochlea, 
hemorrhage, and cerebrospinal fluid leakage into the middle ear.
    Non-lethal injury includes slight injury to internal organs and the 
auditory system; however, delayed lethality can be a result of 
individual or cumulative sublethal injuries (DoN, 2001). Immediate 
lethal injury would be a result of massive combined trauma to internal 
organs as a direct result of proximity to the point of detonation (DoN, 
2001). Exposure to distance explosions could result only in behavioral 
changes. Masked underwater hearing thresholds in two bottlenose 
dolphins and one beluga whale have been measured before and after 
exposure to impulsive underwater sounds with waveforms resembling 
distant signatures of underwater explosions (Finneran et al., 2000). 
The authors found no temporary shifts in masked-hearing thresholds, 
defined as a 6-dB or larger increase in threshold over pre-exposure 
levels, had been observed at the highest impulse level generated (500 
kg at 1.7 km, peak pressure 70 kPa); however, disruptions of the 
animals' trained behaviors began to occur at exposures corresponding to 
5 kg at 9.3 km and 5 kg at 1.5 km for the dolphins and 500 kg at 1.9 km 
for the beluga whale.
    Generally, the higher the level of impulse and pressure level 
exposure, the more severe the impact to an individual. While, in 
general, dolphins could sustain injury or mortality if within very 
close proximity to in-water explosion, monitoring and mitigation 
measures employed by the Marine Corps before and during training 
exercises, as would be required under any Authorization issued, are 
designed to avoid any firing if a marine mammal is sighted within 
designated BT zones (see Proposed Mitigation and Monitoring section). 
No marine mammal injury or death has been attributed to the specified 
activities described in the application. As such, and due to 
implementation of the proposed mitigation and monitoring measures, 
bottlenose dolphin injury, serious injury or mortality is not 
anticipated nor would any be authorized.

Inert Ordnances

    The potential risk to marine mammals from non-explosive ordnance 
entails two possible sources of impacts: elevated sound levels or the 
ordnance physically hitting an animal. The latter is discussed below in 
the Munition Presence section. The USMC provided information that the 
noise fields

[[Page 19234]]

generated in water by the firing of non-explosive ordnance indicate 
that the energy radiated is about 1 to 2 percent of the total kinetic 
energy of the impact. This energy level (and likely peak pressure 
levels) is well below the TTS-energy threshold, even at 1-m from the 
impact and is not expected to be audible to marine mammals. As such, 
the noise generated by the in-water impact of non-explosive ordnance 
will not result in take of marine mammals.

Training Debris

    In addition to behavioral and physiological impacts from live fire 
and ammunition testing, we have preliminarily analyzed impacts from 
presence of munition debris in the water, as described in the Marine 
Corps' application and 2009 EA. These impacts include falling debris, 
ingestion of expended ordnance, and entanglement in parachute debris.
    Ingestion of marine debris by marine mammals can cause digestive 
tract blockages or damage the digestive system (Gorzelany, 1998; 
Stamper et al., 2006). Debris could be either the expended ordnance or 
non-munition related products such as chaff and self protection flares. 
Expended ordnance would be small and sink to the bottom. Chaff is 
composed of either aluminum foil or aluminum-coated glass fibers 
designed to act as a visual smoke screen; hiding the aircraft from 
enemy radar. Chaff also serves as a decoy for radar detection, allowing 
aircraft to maneuver or egress from the area. The foil type currently 
used is no longer manufactured, although it remains in the inventory 
and is used primarily by B-52 bombers. Both types of chaff are cut into 
dipoles ranging in length from 0.3 to over 2.0 inches. The aluminum 
foil dipoles are 0.45 mils (0.00045 inches) thick and 6 to 8 mils wide. 
The glass fiber dipoles are generally 1 mil (25.4 microns) in diameter, 
including the aluminum coating. Chaff is packed into about 4-ounce 
bundles. The major components of chaff are silica, aluminum, and 
stearic acid; all naturally prevalent in the environment.
    Based on the dispersion characteristics of chaff, concentrations 
around the BTs would be low. For example, Hullar et al. (1999) 
calculated that a 4.97-mile by 7.46-mile area (37.1 km\2\) would be 
affected by deployment of a single cartridge containing 150 grams of 
chaff; however, concentration would only be about 5.4 grams per square 
nautical mile. This corresponds to fewer than 179,000 fibers per square 
nautical mile or fewer than 0.005 fibers per square foot.
    Self-protection flares are deployed to mislead or confuse heat-
sensitive or heat-seeking anti-aircraft systems. The flares are 
magnesium pellets that, when ignited, burn for a short period of time 
(less than 10 seconds) at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Air-deployed LUU-2 
high-intensity illumination flares are used to illuminate targets, 
enhancing a pilot's ability to see targets while using Night Vision 
Goggles. The LUU-2B Flare has a light output rating of 1.8 x 10(6) 
candlepower and at 1,000 feet altitude illuminates a circle on the 
ground of 500 meters. The LUU-2 is housed in a pod or canister and is 
deployed by ejection. The mechanism has a timer on it that deploys the 
parachute and ignites the flare candle. The flare candle burns 
magnesium at high temperature, emitting an intense bright white light. 
The LUU-2 has a burn time of approximately 5 minutes while suspended 
from a parachute. The pyrotechnic candle consumes the flare housing, 
reducing flare weight, which in turn slows the rate of fall during the 
last 2 minutes of burn time. At candle burnout an explosive bolt is 
fired, releasing one parachute support cable, which causes the 
parachute to collapse.
    Ingestion of debris by dolphins is not likely, as dolphins 
typically eat fish and other moving prey items. We solicited 
information on evidence of debris ingestion from two marine mammal 
veterinarians who have performed many necropsies on the protected 
species of North Carolina's waters. In their experience, no necropsies 
of bottlenose dolphins have revealed evidence of munition, parachute, 
or chaff ingestion (pers. comm., Drs. C. Harms and D. Rostein, November 
14, 2009). However, it was noted evidence of chaff ingestion would be 
difficult to detect. In the chance that dolphins do ingest chaff, the 
filaments are so fine they would likely pass through the digestive 
system without complication. However, if the chaff is durable enough, 
it might act as a linear foreign body. In such case, the intestines 
bunch up on the line restricting movement of the line resulting in an 
obstruction. The peristalsis on an immovable thin line can cause 
intestinal lacerations and perforations (pers. comm., C. Harms, 
November 14, 2009). This is a well-known complication in cats when they 
ingest thread and which occurs occasionally with sea turtles ingesting 
fishing line. The longevity of chaff filaments, based upon dispersion 
rates, is unclear. Chaff exposed to synthetic seawater and aqueous 
environments in the pH range of 4-10 exhibited varying levels of 
degradation suggesting a short lifespan for the outer aluminum coating 
(Farrell and Siciliano, 1998). The underlying filament is a flexible 
silica core and composed of primarily silica dioxide. While no studies 
have been conducted to evaluate the effects of chaff ingestion on 
marine mammals, the effects are expected to be negligible based upon 
chaff concentration in the environment, size of fibers, and available 
toxicity data on fiberglass and aluminum. Given that the size of chaff 
fibers are no more than 2 inches long, tidal flushing reduces 
concentration in the environment, and chaff degradation rate, the 
chance of chaff ingestions is unlikely; however, if swallowed, impacts 
would be negligible.
    Given that there is no evidence that dolphins ingest military 
debris; dolphins in the Sound forage on moving prey suspended in the 
water column while expended munition would sink; the property and 
dispersion characteristics of chaff make potential for ingestion 
discountable; and that Pamlico Sound is a tidal body of water with 
continuing flushing, we have preliminarily determined that the presence 
of training debris would not have an effect on dolphins in Pamlico 
Sound.
    Although sometimes large, expended parachutes (e.g., those from the 
flares) are flimsy and structurally simple. Thus, we have preliminarily 
determined that the probability of entanglement with a dolphin is low. 
There are no known reports of live or stranded dolphins entangled in 
parachute gear; fishing gear is usually the culprit of reported 
entanglements. The Service's Marine Mammal Stranding Network (Network) 
has established protocol for reporting marine mammals in peril. Should 
any injured, stranded or entangled marine mammal be observed by USMC 
personnel during training exercises, the sighting would be reported to 
the Network within 24 hours of the observation.

Vessel and Aircraft Presence

    The marine mammals most vulnerable to vessel strikes are slow-
moving and/or spend extended periods of time at the surface in order to 
restore oxygen levels within their tissues after deep dives (e.g., 
right whales, fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus), and sperm whales 
(Physeter macrocephalus)). Smaller marine mammals such as bottlenose 
dolphins (the only marine mammal that would be encountered at the BTs) 
are agile and move more quickly through the water, making them less 
susceptible to ship strikes. We are not aware of any vessel strikes of 
bottlenose dolphins in Pamlico Sound

[[Page 19235]]

during training operations. Therefore, we do not anticipate that Marine 
Corps vessels engaged in the specified activity would strike any marine 
mammals and no take from ship strike would be authorized in the 
proposed Authorization.
    Behaviorally, marine mammals may or may not respond to the 
operation of vessels and associated noise. Responses to vessels vary 
widely among marine mammals in general, but also among different 
species of small cetaceans. Responses may include attraction to the 
vessel (Richardson et al., 1995); altering travel patterns to avoid 
vessels (Constantine, 2001; Nowacek et al., 2001; Lusseau, 2003, 2006); 
relocating to other areas (Allen and Read, 2000); cessation of feeding, 
resting, and social interaction (Baker et al., 1983; Bauer and Herman, 
1986; Hall, 1982; Krieger and Wing, 1984; Lusseau, 2003; Constantine et 
al., 2004); abandoning feeding, resting, and nursing areas (Jurasz and 
Jurasz 1979; Dean et al., 1985; Glockner-Ferrari and Ferrari 1985, 
1990; Lusseau, 2005; Norris et al., 1985; Salden, 1988; Forest, 2001; 
Morton and Symonds, 2002; Courbis, 2004; Bejder, 2006); stress (Romano 
et al., 2004); and changes in acoustic behavior (Van Parijs and 
Corkeron, 2001). However, in some studies marine mammals display no 
reaction to vessels (Watkins, 1986; Nowacek et al., 2003) and many 
odontocetes show considerable tolerance to vessel traffic (Richardson 
et al., 1995). Dolphins may actually reduce the energetic cost of 
traveling by riding the bow or stern waves of vessels (Williams et al., 
1992; Richardson et al., 1995).
    Dolphins within Pamlico Sound are continually exposed to 
recreational, commercial, and military vessels. Richardson et al. 
(1995) addresses in detail three responses that marine mammals may 
experience when exposed to anthropogenic activities: tolerance; 
habituation; and sensitization. More recent publications provide 
variations on these themes rather than new data (NRC, 2003). Marine 
mammals are often seen in regions with much human activity; thus, 
certain individuals or populations exhibit some tolerance of 
anthropogenic noise and other stimuli. Animals will tolerate a stimulus 
they might otherwise avoid if the benefits in terms of feeding, mating, 
migrating to traditional habitats, or other factors outweigh the 
negative aspects of the stimulus (NRC, 2003). In many cases, tolerance 
develops as a result of habituation. The NRC (2003) defines habituation 
as a gradual waning of behavioral responsiveness over time as animals 
learn that a repeated or ongoing stimulus lacks significant 
consequences for the animals. Contrarily, sensitization occurs when an 
animal links a stimulus with some degree of negative consequence and as 
a result increases responsiveness to that human activity over time 
(Richardson et al., 1995). For example, seals and whales are known to 
avoid previously encountered vessels involved in subsistence hunts 
(Walker, 1949; Ash, 1962; Terhune, 1985) and bottlenose dolphins that 
had previously been captured and released from a 7.3 m boat involved in 
health studies were documented to flee when that boat approached closer 
than 400 m, whereas dolphins that had not been involved in the capture 
did not display signs of avoidance of the vessel (Irvine et al., 1981). 
Because dolphins in Pamlico Sound are continually exposed to vessel 
traffic that does not present immediate danger to them, it is likely 
animals are both tolerant and habituated to vessels.
    The specified activities also involve aircraft, which marine 
mammals are known to react (Richardson et al., 1995). Aircraft produce 
noise at frequencies that are well within the frequency range of 
cetacean hearing and also produce visual signals such as the aircraft 
itself and its shadow (Richardson et al., 1995, Richardson & 
W[uuml]rsig, 1997). A major difference between aircraft noise and noise 
caused by other anthropogenic sources is that the sound is generated in 
the air, transmitted through the water surface and then propagates 
underwater to the receiver, diminishing the received levels to 
significantly below what is heard above the water's surface. Sound 
transmission from air to water is greatest in a sound cone 26 degrees 
directly under the aircraft.
    Reactions of odontocetes to aircraft have been reported less often 
than those of pinnipeds. Responses to aircraft include diving, slapping 
the water with pectoral fins or tail fluke, or swimming away from the 
track of the aircraft (Richardson et al., 1995). The nature and degree 
of the response, or the lack thereof, are dependent upon nature of the 
flight (e.g., type of aircraft, altitude, straight vs. circular flight 
pattern). W[uuml]rsig et al. (1998) assessed the responses of cetaceans 
to aerial surveys in the northcentral and western Gulf of Mexico using 
a DeHavilland Twin Otter fixed-wing airplane. The plane flew at an 
altitude of 229 m at 204 km/hr. A minimum of 305 m straight line 
distance from the cetaceans was maintained. Water depth was 100-1000m. 
Bottlenose dolphins most commonly responded by diving (48 percent), 
while 14 percent responded by moving away. Other species (e.g., beluga 
whale (Delphinapterus leucas), sperm whale) show considerable variation 
in reactions to aircraft but diving or swimming away from the aircraft 
are the most common reactions to low flights (less than 500 m).

Anticipated Effects on Habitat

    Detonations of live ordnance would result in temporary modification 
to water properties. As described above, an underwater explosion from 
these weapon would send a shock wave and blast noise through the water, 
release gaseous by-products, create an oscillating bubble, and cause a 
plume of water to shoot up from the water surface. However, these would 
be temporary and not expected to last more than a few seconds. Because 
dolphins are not expected to be in the area during live firing, due to 
monitoring and mitigation measure implementation, they would not be 
subject to any short term habitat alterations.
    Similarly, no long term impacts with regard to hazardous 
constituents are expected to occur. MCAS Cherry Point has an active 
Range Environmental Vulnerability Assessment (REVA) program in place to 
monitor impacts to habitat from its activities. One goal of REVA is to 
determine the horizontal and vertical concentration profiles of heavy 
metals, explosives constituents, perchlorate nutrients, and dissolved 
salts in the sediment and seawater surrounding BT-9 and BT-11. The 
preliminary results of the sampling indicate that explosive 
constituents (e.g., trinitrotoluene (TNT), 
cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine (RDX), and hexahydro-trinitro-triazine 
(HMX), as described in Hazardous Constituents [Subchapter 3.2.7.2] of 
the MCAS Cherry Point Range Operations EA, were not detected in any 
sediment or water sample surrounding the BTs. Metals were not present 
above toxicity screening values. Perchlorate was detected in a few 
sediment samples above the detection limit (0.21 ppm), but below the 
reporting limit (0.6 ppm). The ongoing REVA would continue to evaluate 
potential munitions constituent migration from operational range areas 
to off-range areas and MCAS Cherry Point.
    While it is anticipated that the specified activity may result in 
marine mammals avoiding certain areas due to temporary ensonification, 
this impact to habitat and prey resources is temporary and reversible 
and considered in further detail earlier in this document, as 
behavioral modification. The main impact associated with the proposed 
activity would be temporarily elevated noise levels and the associated 
direct

[[Page 19236]]

effects on marine mammals, previously discussed in this notice.

Summary of Previous Monitoring

    The Marine Corps complied with the mitigation and monitoring 
required under the previous authorizations (2010-2012). In accordance 
with the 2010-11 IHA, USMC submitted a final monitoring report, which 
described the activities conducted and observations made. USMC did not 
record observations of any marine mammals during training exercises. 
The only recorded observations--which were of bottlenose dolphins--were 
on two occasions by maintenance vessels engaged in target maintenance. 
No marine mammals were observed during range sweeps, air to ground 
activities, surface to surface activities (small boats), or ad hoc via 
range cameras. Table 6 details the number of sorties conducted, by air 
and water, at each target. The number of sorties conducted does not 
relate to the total amount of munitions expended, as the training 
requirements for the specific military unit conducting the sortie 
determine the munitions loading for the air platform or watercraft 
during each sortie. In addition, munitions expenditures may be 
determined by the loading specifications of the specific aircraft and 
vessels used in the training exercise.

              Table 6--Sorties Conducted at BT-9 and BT-11
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                 Mission type                       BT-9        BT-11
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Air-to-surface................................        1,554        4,251
Surface-to-surface (water-to-water)...........          223          105
                                               -------------------------
  Total.......................................        1,777        4,356
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The total amount of ordnance expended at BT-9 and BT-11 under the 
2010-11 IHA was 878,625 and 693,612 respectively (Table 7). These 
amounts represent 98 and 62 percent of the estimated annual maximum 
ordnance expenditures. The amounts of ordnance expended at the BTs 
account for all use of the targets. There are five types of explosive 
sources used at BT-9: 2.75-inc Rocket High Explosives, 5-inch Rocket 
High Explosives, 30 mm High Explosives, 40 mm High Explosives, and G911 
grenades. No explosive munitions are used at BT-11. Based on this 
information, the Marine Corps did not exceed the authorized level of 
take.

                                         Table 7--Ordnance Usage at BT-9
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                      Total rounds                     Percentage of maximum
        Munitions expenditures         -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  BT-9                 BT-11           BT-9            BT-11
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Small arms, excluding .50 cal.........  355,718.................         363,899              68              72
.50 cal...............................  410,815.................         246,255             160              75
Large arms (Live).....................  480 (all 40 mm).........             N/A               4             N/A
Large arms (Inert)....................  108,811.................          79,531             117              33
Rockets (Live)........................  48 (all 2.75 in)........             N/A              20             N/A
Rockets (Inert).......................  185.....................           2,018              26              44
Bombs/Grenades (Live).................  0.......................             N/A               0             N/A
Bombs/Grenades (Inert)................  2,086...................           1,697              51               8
Pyrotechnics..........................  482.....................             212              11               2
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.............................  878,625.................         693,612              98              62
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Marine Corps will submit a monitoring report for the 2012 
training season which expired on December 31, 2012, to us no later than 
March 31, 2013.

Proposed Mitigation

    In order to issue an incidental take authorization under section 
101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, we 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 the availability of such species or 
stock for taking for certain subsistence uses.
    The NDAA of 2004 amended the MMPA as it relates to military-
readiness activities and the ITA process such that ``least practicable 
adverse impact'' shall include consideration of personnel safety, 
practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the 
military readiness activity. The training activities described in the 
Marine Corp's application are considered military readiness activities.
    The Marine Corps, in collaboration with us, has worked to identify 
potential practicable and effective mitigation measures, which include 
a careful balancing of the likely benefit of any particular measure to 
the marine mammals with the likely effect of that measure on personnel 
safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the ``military-
readiness activity''. These proposed mitigation measures are listed 
below.
    (1) Range Sweeps: The VMR-1 squadron, stationed at MCAS Cherry 
Point, includes three specially equipped HH-46D helicopters. The 
primary mission of these aircraft, known as PEDRO, is to provide search 
and rescue for downed 2d Marine Air Wing aircrews. On-board 
are a pilot, co-pilot, crew chief, search and rescue swimmer, and a 
medical corpsman. Each crew member has received extensive training in 
search and rescue techniques, and is therefore particularly capable at 
spotting objects floating in the water.
    PEDRO crew would conduct a range sweep the morning of each exercise 
day prior to the commencement of range operations. The primary goal of 
the pre-exercise sweep is to ensure that the target area is clear of 
fisherman, other personnel, and protected species. The sweep is flown 
at 100-300 meters above the water surface, at airspeeds between 60-100 
knots. The path of the sweep runs down the western side of BT-11, 
circles around BT-9 and then continues down the eastern side of BT-9 
before leaving. The sweep typically takes 20-30 minutes to complete. 
The PEDRO crew is able to communicate directly with range personnel and 
can provide immediate notification to range operators. The PEDRO 
aircraft would remain in the area of a sighting until clear if possible 
or as mission requirements dictate.
    If marine mammals are sighted during a range sweep, sighting data 
will be collected and entered into the US

[[Page 19237]]

Marine Corps sighting database, web-interface, or report generator and 
this information would be relayed to the training Commander. Sighting 
data includes the following (collected to the best of the observer's 
ability): (1) Species identification; (2) group size; (3) the behavior 
of marine mammals (e.g., milling, travel, social, foraging); (4) 
location and relative distance from the BT; (5) date, time and visual 
conditions (e.g., Beaufort sea state, weather) associated with each 
observation; (6) direction of travel relative to the BT; and (7) 
duration of the observation.
    (2) Cold Passes: All aircraft participating in an air-to-surface 
exercise would be required to perform a ``cold pass'' immediately prior 
to ordnance delivery at the BTs both day and night. That is, prior to 
granting a ``First Pass Hot'' (use of ordnance), pilots would be 
directed to perform a low, cold (no ordnance delivered) first pass 
which serves as a visual sweep of the targets prior to ordnance 
delivery to determine if unauthorized civilian vessels or personnel, or 
protected species, are present. The cold pass is conducted with the 
aircraft (helicopter or fixed-winged) flying straight and level at 
altitudes of 200-3000 feet over the target area. The viewing angle is 
approximately 15 degrees. A blind spot exists to the immediate rear of 
the aircraft. Based upon prevailing visibility, a pilot can see more 
than one mile forward upon approach. The aircrew and range personnel 
make every attempt to ensure clearance of the area via visual 
inspection and remotely operated camera operations (see Proposed 
Monitoring and Reporting section). The Range Controller may deny or 
approve the First Pass Hot clearance as conditions warrant.
    (3) Delay of Exercises: An active range would be considered 
``fouled'' and not available for use if a marine mammal is present 
within 1000 yards (914 m) of the target area at BT-9 or anywhere within 
Rattan Bay (BT-11). Therefore, if a marine mammal is sighted within 
1000 yards (914 m) of the target at BT-9 or anywhere within Rattan Bay 
at BT-11 during the cold pass or from range camera detection, training 
would be delayed until the marine mammal moves beyond and on a path 
away from 1000 yards (914 m) from the BT-9 target or out of Rattan Bay 
at BT-11. This mitigation applies to both air-to-surface and surface-
to-surface exercises.
    (4) Range Camera Use: To increase the safety of persons or property 
near the targets, Range Operation and Control personnel monitor the 
target area through tower mounted safety and surveillance cameras. The 
remotely operated range cameras are high resolution and, according to 
range personnel, allow a clear visual of a duck floating near the 
target. The cameras allow viewers to see animals at the surface and 
breaking the surface, but not underwater.
    A new, enhanced camera system has been purchased and will be 
installed on BT-11 towers 3 and 7, and on both towers at BT-9. The new 
camera system has night vision capabilities with resolution levels near 
those during daytime. Lenses on the camera system have focal lengths of 
40 mm to 2200 mm (56x), with view angles of 18[deg] 10' and 13[deg] 
41', respectively. The field of view when zoomed in on the Rattan Bay 
targets will be 23 ft wide by 17 ft high, and on the mouth of Rattan 
Bay itself 87 ft wide by 66 ft high.
    Again, in the event that a marine mammal is sighted within 1000 
yards (914 m) of the BT-9 target, or anywhere within Rattan Bay, the 
target would be declared fouled. Operations may commence in the fouled 
area after the animal(s) have moved 1000 yards (914 m) from the BT-9 
target and/or out of Rattan Bay.
    (5) Vessel Operation: All vessels used during training operations 
would abide by the Service's Southeast Regional Viewing Guidelines 
designed to prevent harassment to marine mammals (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/education/southeast/).
    (6) Stranding Network Coordination: The USMC would coordinate with 
the local NMFS Stranding Coordinator for any unusual marine mammal 
behavior and any stranding, beached live/dead, or floating marine 
mammals that may occur at any time during training activities or within 
24 hours after completion of training.

Proposed Monitoring and Reporting

    In order to issue an ITA for an activity, section 101(a)(5)(D) of 
the MMPA states that we must set forth ``requirements pertaining to the 
monitoring and reporting of such taking''. The MMPA implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR 216.104 (a)(13) indicate that requests for IHAs 
must include the suggested means of accomplishing the necessary 
monitoring and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the 
species and of the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine 
mammals that are expected to be present.

Proposed Monitoring

    The Marine Corps proposes to conduct the following to fulfill the 
necessary monitoring and reporting that would result in increased 
knowledge of the species and of the level of taking or impacts on 
populations of marine mammals expected to be present within the action 
area:
    (1) Protected Species Observer Training: Pilots, operators of small 
boats, and other personnel monitoring for marine mammals would be 
required to take the Marine Species Awareness Training (Version 2), 
maintained and promoted by the Department of the Navy. This training 
would make personnel knowledgeable of marine mammals, protected 
species, and visual cues related to the presence of marine mammals and 
protected species.
    (2) Weekly and Post-Exercise Monitoring: Post-exercise monitoring 
would be conducted concomitant to the next regularly scheduled pre-
exercise sweep. Weekly monitoring events would include a maximum of 
five pre-exercise and four post-exercise sweeps. The maximum number of 
days that would elapse between pre- and post-exercise monitoring events 
would be approximately three days, and would normally occur on 
weekends. If marine mammals are observed during this monitoring, 
sighting data identical to those collected by PEDRO crew would be 
recorded.
    (3) Long-term Monitoring: The Marine Corps has awarded DUML duties 
to obtain abundance, group dynamics (e.g., group size, age census), 
behavior, habitat use, and acoustic data on the bottlenose dolphins 
which inhabit Pamlico Sound, specifically those around BT-9 and BT-11. 
DUML began conducting boat-based surveys and passive acoustic 
monitoring of bottlenose dolphins in Pamlico Sound in 2000 (Read et 
al., 2003) and specifically at BT-9 and BT-11 in 2003 (Mayer, 2003). To 
date, boat-based surveys indicate that bottlenose dolphins may be 
resident to Pamlico Sound and use BT restricted areas on a frequent 
basis. Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) is providing more detailed 
insight into how dolphins use the two ranges, by monitoring for their 
vocalizations year-round, regardless of weather conditions or darkness. 
In addition to these surveys, DUML scientists are testing a real-time 
passive acoustic monitoring system at BT-9 that will allow automated 
detection of bottlenose dolphin whistles, providing yet another method 
of detecting dolphins prior to training operations. Although it is 
unlikely this PAM system would be active for purposes of implementing 
mitigation measures before an exercise prior to expiration of the 
proposed Authorization, it could be operational for future MMPA 
incidental take authorizations and would be

[[Page 19238]]

evaluated for effectiveness at the appropriate time.
    (4) Reporting: The Marine Corps would submit a report to us within 
90 days after expiration of the Authorization or, if a subsequent 
incidental take authorization is requested, within 120 days prior to 
expiration of the Authorization. The report would summarize the type 
and amount of training exercises conducted, all marine mammal 
observations made during monitoring, and if mitigation measures were 
implemented. The report would also address the effectiveness of the 
monitoring plan in detecting marine mammals.

General Notification of Injured or Dead Marine Mammals

    The Marine Corps would systematically observe training operations 
for injured or disabled marine mammals. In addition, the Marine Corps 
would monitor the principal marine mammal stranding networks and other 
media to correlate analysis of any dolphin strandings that could 
potentially be associated with MCAS Cherry Point training operations.
    Marine Corps personnel would ensure that we are notified 
immediately or as soon as clearance procedures allow if an injured, 
stranded, or dead marine mammal is found during or shortly after, and 
in the vicinity of, any training operations. The Marine Corps would 
provide us with species or description of the animal(s), the condition 
of the animal(s) (including carcass condition if the animal is dead), 
location, time of first discovery, observed behaviors (if alive), and 
photo or video (if available).
    In the event that an injured, stranded, or dead marine mammal is 
found by Marine Corps personnel that is not in the vicinity of, or 
found during or shortly after operations, the Marine Corps personnel 
would report the same information as listed above as soon as 
operationally feasible and clearance procedures allow.

General Notification of a Ship Strike

    In the event of a vessel strike, at any time or place, the Marine 
Corps shall do the following:
     Immediately report to us the species identification (if 
known), location (lat/long) of the animal (or the strike if the animal 
has disappeared), and whether the animal is alive or dead (or unknown);
     Report to us as soon as operationally feasible the size 
and length of the animal, an estimate of the injury status (e.g., dead, 
injured but alive, injured and moving, unknown, etc.), vessel class/
type and operational status;
     Report to us the vessel length, speed, and heading as soon 
as feasible; and
     Provide us a photo or video, if equipment is available.
    Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment
    The following provides the Marine Corps' model for take of dolphins 
from explosives (without consideration of mitigation and the 
conservative assumption that all explosives would land in the water and 
not on the targets or land) and potential for direct hits and our 
analysis of potential harassment from small vessel and aircraft 
operations.

Acoustic Take Criteria

    For the purposes of an MMPA incidental take authorization, three 
levels of take are identified: Level B harassment; Level A harassment; 
and mortality (or serious injury leading to mortality). The categories 
of marine mammal responses (physiological and behavioral) that fall 
into harassment categories were described previously in this notice. A 
method to estimate the number of individuals that will be taken, 
pursuant to the MMPA, based on the proposed action has been derived. To 
this end, we use acoustic criteria that estimate at what received level 
Level B harassment, Level A harassment, and mortality (or serious 
injury) of marine mammals would occur. The acoustic criteria for 
underwater detonations are comprehensively explained in our proposed 
and final rulemakings for the U.S. Navy's Cherry Point Range Operations 
(74 FR 11057; 74 FR 28370). We summarize them here:
    Criteria and thresholds for estimating the exposures from a single 
explosive activity on marine mammals were established for the Seawolf 
Submarine Shock Test Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) 
(``Seawolf'') and subsequently used in the USS Winston S. Churchill 
(DDG 81) Ship Shock FEIS (``Churchill'') (DoN, 1998 and 2001). We 
adopted these criteria and thresholds in final rule on the 
unintentional taking of marine animals occurring incidental to the 
shock testing which involved large explosives (65 FR 77546; December 
12, 2000). Because no large explosives (greater than 1000 lbs NEW) 
would be used at Cherry Point during the specified activities, a 
revised acoustic criterion for small underwater explosions (i.e., 23 
pounds per square inch [psi] instead of previous acoustic criteria of 
12 psi for peak pressure over all exposures) has been established to 
predict onset of TTS.
I.1. Thresholds and Criteria for Injurious Physiological Impacts
I.1.a. Single Explosion
    For injury, NMFS uses dual criteria, eardrum rupture (i.e. 
tympanic-membrane injury) and onset of slight lung injury, to indicate 
the onset of injury. The threshold for tympanic-membrane (TM) rupture 
corresponds to a 50 percent rate of rupture (i.e., 50 percent of 
animals exposed to the level are expected to suffer TM rupture). This 
value is stated in terms of an Energy Flux Density Level (EL) value of 
1.17 inch pounds per square inch (in-lb/in2), approximately 205 dB re 1 
microPa\2\- sec.
    The threshold for onset of slight lung injury is calculated for a 
small animal (a dolphin calf weighing 26.9 lbs), and is given in terms 
of the ``Goertner modified positive impulse,'' indexed to 13 psi-msec 
(DoN, 2001). This threshold is conservative since the positive impulse 
needed to cause injury is proportional to animal mass, and therefore, 
larger animals require a higher impulse to cause the onset of injury. 
This analysis assumed the marine species populations were 100 percent 
small animals. The criterion with the largest potential impact range 
(most conservative), either TM rupture (energy threshold) or onset of 
slight lung injury (peak pressure), will be used in the analysis to 
determine Level A exposures for single explosive events.
    For mortality and serious injury, we use the criterion 
corresponding to the onset of extensive lung injury. This is 
conservative in that it corresponds to a 1 percent chance of mortal 
injury, and yet any animal experiencing onset severe lung injury is 
counted as a lethal exposure. For small animals, the threshold is given 
in terms of the Goertner modified positive impulse, indexed to 30.5 
psi-msec. Since the Goertner approach depends on propagation, source/
animal depths, and animal mass in a complex way, the actual impulse 
value corresponding to the 30.5 psi-msec index is a complicated 
calculation. To be conservative, the analysis used the mass of a calf 
dolphin (at 26.9 lbs) for 100 percent of the populations.
I.1.b. Multiple Explosions
    For multiple explosions, the Churchill approach had to be extended 
to cover multiple sound events at the same training site. For multiple 
exposures, accumulated energy over the entire training time is the 
natural extension for energy thresholds since energy accumulates with 
each subsequent shot (detonation); this is consistent with the

[[Page 19239]]

treatment of multiple arrivals in Churchill. For positive impulse, it 
is consistent with the Churchill final rule to use the maximum value 
over all impulses received.
I.2. Thresholds and Criteria for Non-Injurious Physiological Effects
    To determine the onset of TTS (non-injurious harassment)--a slight, 
recoverable loss of hearing sensitivity, there are dual criteria: an 
energy threshold and a peak pressure threshold. The criterion with the 
largest potential impact range (most conservative), either the energy 
or peak pressure threshold, will be used in the analysis to determine 
Level B TTS exposures. We refer the reader to the following sections 
for descriptions of the thresholds for each criterion.
I.2.a. Single Explosion--TTS-Energy Threshold
    The TTS energy threshold for explosives is derived from the Space 
and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) pure-tone tests for TTS 
(Schlundt et al., 2000; Finneran and Schlundt, 2004). The pure-tone 
threshold (192 dB as the lowest value) is modified for explosives by 
(a) interpreting it as an energy metric, (b) reducing it by 10 dB to 
account for the time constant of the mammal ear, and (c) measuring the 
energy in 1/3-octave bands, the natural filter band of the ear. The 
resulting threshold is 182 dB re 1 microPa\2\-sec in any 1/3-octave 
band.
I.2.b. Single Explosion--TTS-Peak Pressure Threshold
    The second threshold applies to all species and is stated in terms 
of peak pressure at 23 psi (about 225 dB re 1 [mu]Pa). This criterion 
was adopted for Precision Strike Weapons (PSW) Testing and Training by 
Eglin Air Force Base in the Gulf of Mexico (NMFS, 2005). It is 
important to note that for small shots near the surface (such as in 
this analysis), the 23-psi peak pressure threshold generally will 
produce longer impact ranges than the 182-dB energy metric. 
Furthermore, it is not unusual for the TTS impact range for the 23-psi 
pressure metric to actually exceed the without-TTS (behavioral change 
without onset of TTS) impact range for the 177-dB energy metric.
I.3. Thresholds and Criteria for Behavioral Effects
I.3.a. Single Explosion
    For a single explosion, to be consistent with Churchill, TTS is the 
criterion for Level B harassment. In other words, because behavioral 
disturbance for a single explosion is likely to be limited to a short-
lived startle reaction, use of the TTS criterion is considered 
sufficient protection and therefore behavioral effects (Level B 
behavioral harassment without onset of TTS) are not expected for single 
explosions.
I.3.b. Multiple Explosions--Without TTS
    For multiple explosions, the Churchill approach had to be extended 
to cover multiple sound events at the same training site. For multiple 
exposures, accumulated energy over the entire uninterrupted firing time 
is the natural extension for energy thresholds since energy accumulates 
with each subsequent shot (detonation); this is consistent with the 
treatment of multiple arrivals in Churchill. Because multiple 
explosions could occur within a discrete time period, a new acoustic 
criterion-behavioral disturbance without TTS is used to account for 
behavioral effects significant enough to be judged as harassment, but 
occurring at lower noise levels than those that may cause TTS.
    The threshold is based on test results published in Schlundt et al. 
(2000), with derivation following the approach of the Churchill FEIS 
for the energy-based TTS threshold. The original Schlundt et al. (2000) 
data and the report of Finneran and Schlundt (2004) are the basis for 
thresholds for behavioral disturbance without TTS. During this study, 
instances of altered behavior sometimes began at lower exposures than 
those causing TTS; however, there were many instances when subjects 
exhibited no altered behavior at levels above the onset-TTS levels. 
Regardless of reactions at higher or lower levels, all instances of 
altered behavior were included in the statistical summary. The 
behavioral disturbance without TTS threshold for tones is derived from 
the SSC tests, and is found to be 5 dB below the threshold for TTS, or 
177 dB re 1 microPa\2\-sec maximum energy flux density level in any \1/
3\-octave band at frequencies above 100 Hz for cetaceans.
II. Summary of Thresholds and Criteria for Impulsive Sounds
    The effects, criteria, and thresholds used in the assessment for 
impulsive sounds are summarized in Table 8. The criteria for behavioral 
effects without physiological effects used in this analysis are based 
on use of multiple explosives from live, explosive firing at BT-9 only; 
no live firing occurs at BT-11.

                         Table 8--Effects, Criteria, and Thresholds for Impulsive Sounds
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
             Effect                     Criteria              Metric             Threshold           Effect
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mortality.......................  Onset of Extensive   Goertner modified    indexed to 30.5     Mortality.
                                   Lung Injury.         positive impulse.    psi-msec (assumes
                                                                             100 percent small
                                                                             animal at 26.9
                                                                             lbs).
Injurious Physiological.........  50 percent Tympanic  Energy flux density  1.17 in-lb/in\2\    Level A.
                                   Membrane Rupture.                         (about 205 dB re
                                                                             1 microPa\2\-sec).
Injurious Physiological.........  Onset Slight Lung    Goertner modified    indexed to 13 psi-  Level A.
                                   Injury.              positive impulse.    msec (assumes 100
                                                                             percent small
                                                                             animal at 26.9
                                                                             lbs).
Non-injurious Physiological.....  TTS................  Greatest energy      182 dB re 1         Level B.
                                                        flux density level   microPa\2\-sec.
                                                        in any 1/3-octave
                                                        band (> 100 Hz for
                                                        toothed whales and
                                                        > 10 Hz for baleen
                                                        whales)--for total
                                                        energy over all
                                                        exposures.
Non-injurious Physiological.....  TTS................  Peak pressure over   23 psi............  Level B.
                                                        all exposures.
Non-injurious Behavioral........  Multiple Explosions  Greatest energy      177 dB re 1         Level B.
                                   Without TTS.         flux density level   microPa\2\-sec.
                                                        in any 1/3-octave
                                                        (> 100 Hz for
                                                        toothed whales and
                                                        > 10 Hz for baleen
                                                        whales)--for total
                                                        energy over all
                                                        exposures
                                                        (multiple
                                                        explosions only).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 19240]]

Take from Explosives

    The Marine Corps conservatively modeled that all explosives would 
detonate at a 1.2 m (3.9 ft) water depth despite the training goal of 
hitting the target, resulting in an above water or on land explosion. 
For sources that are detonated at shallow depths, it is frequently the 
case that the explosion may breech the surface with some of the 
acoustic energy escaping the water column. The source levels presented 
in the table above have not been adjusted for possible venting nor does 
the subsequent analysis take this into account. Properties of explosive 
sources used at BT-9, including NEW, peak one-third-octave (OTO) source 
level, the approximate frequency at which the peak occurs, and rounds 
per burst are described in Table 9. Refer to Table 10 for distances to 
our harassment threshold levels from these sources.

                                 Table 9--Source Weights and Peak Source Levels
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                          Rounds
            Source type                       New                Peak OTO SL       Frequency of Peak OTO    per
                                                                                             SL            burst
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2.75-inch Rocket...................  4.8 lbs..............  223.9 dB re: 1[mu]Pa.  ~ 1500 Hertz (Hz)....       1
5-inch Rocket......................  15.0 lbs.............  228.9 dB re: 1[mu]Pa.  ~ 1000 Hz............       1
30 mm..............................  0.1019 lbs...........  212.1 dB re: 1[mu]Pa.  ~ 2500 Hz............      30
40 mm..............................  0.1199 lbs...........  227.8 dB re: 1[mu]Pa.  ~ 1100 Hz............       5
G911 Grenade.......................  0.5..................  213.9 dB re: 1 [mu]Pa  ~ 2500 Hz............       1
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                    Table 10--Distances to Our Harassment Thresholds From Explosive Ordnances
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          Behavioral
                                      disturbance  (177     TTS (23 psi)     Level A (13 psi-  Mortality (31 psi-
                                          dB energy)                              msec)               ms)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2.75-inch Rocket HE.................                N/A     172 m (564 ft)      47 m (154 ft)       27 m (89 ft)
5'' Rocket HE.......................                N/A     255 m (837 ft)      61 m (200 ft)      39 m (128 ft)
30mm HE.............................     209 m (686 ft)                N/A       10 m (33 ft)        5 m (16 ft)
40mm HE.............................     144 m (472 ft)                N/A       10 m (33 ft)        5 m (16 ft)
G911 Grenade........................                N/A      83 m (272 ft)       21 m (33 ft)       10 m (33 ft)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     To calculate take, the distances to which animals may be harassed 
were considered along with dolphin density. The density estimate from 
Read et al. (2003) was used to calculate take from munitions firing. As 
described in the Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the 
Specified Activity section, this density, 0.183/km\2\, was derived from 
boat based surveys in 2000 which covered all inland North Carolina 
waters. Note that estimated density of dolphins at BT-9 and BT-11, 
specifically, were calculated to be 0.11 dolphins/km\2\, and 1.23 
dolphins/km\2\ respectively (Maher 2003), based on boat surveys 
conducted from July 2002 through June 2003 (excluding April, May, Sept. 
and Jan.). However, the USMC chose to estimate take of dolphins based 
on the higher density reported from the summer 2000 surveys (0.183/
km\2\). Additionally, take calculations for munition firing are based 
on 100 percent water detonation, although the goal of training is to 
hit the targets, and no pre-exercise monitoring or mitigation. 
Therefore, take estimates can be considered conservative.
    Based on dolphin density and amount of munitions expended, there is 
very low potential for Level A harassment, serious injury, and 
mortality and monitoring and mitigation measures are anticipated to 
further negate this potential. Accordingly, we are not proposing to 
issue these levels of take. As portrayed in Table 9, the largest 
harassment zone (Level B) is within 209 m of a detonation in water; 
however, the Marine Corps has implemented a 1,000 m ``foul'' zone for 
BT-9 and anywhere within Raritan Bay for BT-11. In total, from firing 
of explosive ordnances, the USMC is requesting, and NMFS is proposing 
to issue, the incidental take of 25 bottlenose dolphins from Level B 
harassment (Table 11).

     Table 11--Number of Dolphins Potentially Taken From Exposure to Explosives Based on Threshold Criteria
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                     Level A--
                                                     Level B--                    Injurious (205
                  Ordnance type                     behavioral     Level B--TTS        dB re         Mortality
                                                     (177dB re       (23 psi)      1microPa\2\-s    (30.5 psi)
                                                  1microPa\2\-s)                    or 13 psi)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2.75'' Rocket HE................................             N/A            4.97            0.17            0.06
5'' Rocket HE...................................             N/A            3.39            0.09            0.03
30mm HE.........................................            2.55             N/A            0.05            0.00
40mm HE.........................................           12.60             N/A            0.16            0.01
G911 Grenade....................................             N/A            0.87            0.03            0.01
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................................           15.15            9.23             0.5            0.11
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 19241]]

Take from Direct Hit

    The potential risk of a direct hit to an animal in the target area 
is estimated to be so low it is discountable. A Range Air Installation 
Compatible Use Zone (RAICUZ) study generated the surface area or 
footprints of weapon impact areas associated with air-to-ground 
ordnance delivery (USMC 2001). Statistically, a weapon safety footprint 
describes the area needed to contain 99.99 percent of initial and 
ricochet impacts at the 95-percent confidence interval for each type of 
aircraft and ordnance utilized on the BTs. At both BT-9 and BT-11 the 
probability of deployed ordnance landing in the impact footprint is 
essentially 1.0, since the footprints were designed to contain 99.99 
percent of impacts, including ricochets. However, only 36 percent of 
the weapon footprint for BT-11 is over water in Rattan Bay, so the 
likelihood of a weapon striking an animal at the BT in Rattan Bay is 64 
percent less. Water depths in Rattan Bay range from 3 m (10 ft) in the 
deepest part of the bay to 0.5 m (1.6 m) close to shore, so that nearly 
the entire habitat in Rattan Bay is suitable for marine mammal use (or 
36 percent of the weapon footprint).
    The estimated potential risk of a direct hit to an animal in the 
target area is extremely low. The probability of hitting a bottlenose 
dolphin at the BTs can be derived as follows: Probability = dolphin's 
dorsal surface area * density of dolphins. The estimated dorsal surface 
area of a bottlenose dolphin is 1.425 m\2\ (or the average length of 
2.85 m times the average body width of 0.5 m). Thus, using Read et al. 
(2003)'s density estimate of 0.183 dolphins/km\2\, without 
consideration of mitigation and monitoring implementation, the 
probability of a dolphin being hit in the waters of BT-9 is 2.61 x 
10-7 and of BT-11 is 9.4 x 10-8. Using the 
proposed levels of ordnance expenditures at each in-water BT (Tables 4 
and 5) and taking into account that only 36 percent of the ordnance 
deployed at BT-11 is over water, as described in the application, the 
estimated potential number of ordnance strikes on a marine mammal per 
year is 0.263 at BT-9 and 0.034 at BT-11. It would take approximately 
three years of ordnance deployment at the BTs before it would be likely 
or probable that one bottlenose dolphin would be struck by deployed 
inert ordnance. Again, these estimates are without consideration to 
proposed monitoring and mitigation measures.

Take from Vessel and Aircraft Presence

    Vessel movement is associated with surface-to-surface exercises, as 
described in the Specified Activities section above, which primarily 
occurs within BT-11. The USMC is not requesting takes specific to the 
act of maneuvering small boats within the BTs; however, NMFS has 
analyzed the potential for take from this activity.
    The potential impacts from exposure to vessels are described in the 
Vessel and Aircraft Presence section above. Interactions with vessels 
are not a new experience for bottlenose dolphins in Pamlico Sound. 
Pamlico Sound is heavily used by recreational, commercial (fishing, 
daily ferry service, tugs, etc.), and military (including the Navy, Air 
Force, and Coast Guard) vessels year-round. The NMFS' Southeast 
Regional Office has developed marine mammal viewing guidelines to 
educate the public on how to responsibly view marine mammals in the 
wild and avoid causing a take (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/education/southeast). The guidelines recommend that vessels should remain a 
minimum of 50 yards from a dolphin, operate vessels in a predictable 
manner, avoid excessive speed or sudden changes in speed or direction 
in the vicinity of animals, and not to pursue, chase, or separate a 
group of animals. The Marine Corps would abide by these guidelines to 
the fullest extent practicable. The Marine Corps would not engage in 
high speed exercises should a marine mammal be detected within the 
immediate area of the BTs prior to training commencement and would 
never closely approach, chase, or pursue dolphins. Detection of marine 
mammals would be facilitated by personnel monitoring on the vessels and 
those marking success rate of target hits and monitoring of remote 
camera on the BTs (see Proposed Monitoring and Reporting section).
    Based on the description of the action, the other activities 
regularly occurring in the area, the species that may be exposed to the 
activity and their observed behaviors in the presence of vessel 
traffic, and the implementation of measures to avoid vessel strikes, we 
determined that it is unlikely that the operation of vessels during 
surface-to-surface maneuvers will result in the take of any marine 
mammals, in the form of either behavioral harassment, injury, serious 
injury, or mortality.
    Aircraft would move swiftly through the area and would typically 
fly approximately 914 m from the water's surface before dropping 
unguided munitions and above 4,572 m for precision-guided munitions 
bombing. While the aircraft may approach as low as 152 m (500 ft) to 
drop a bomb this is not the norm and would never be done around marine 
mammals. Regional whale watching guidelines advise aircraft to maintain 
a minimum altitude of 300 m (1,000 ft) above all marine mammals, 
including small odontocetes, and to not circle or hover over the 
animals to avoid harassment. Our approach regulations limit aircraft 
from flying below 300 m (1,000 ft) over a humpback whale (Megaptera 
novaeangliae) in Hawaii, a known calving ground, and limit aircraft 
from flying over North Atlantic right whales closer than 460 m (1509 
ft). Given that Marine Corps aircraft would not fly below 300 m on the 
approach, would not engage in hovering or circling the animals, and 
would not drop to the minimal altitude of 152 m if a marine mammal is 
in the area, we believe it unlikely that the operation of aircraft, as 
described above, will result in take of bottlenose dolphins in Pamlico 
Sound in any manner.

Negligible Impact Analysis and Preliminary Determination

    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].
    The NDAA's definition of harassment as it applies to a military 
readiness activity is: (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].
    We propose to authorize take by Level B harassment for the proposed 
training operations. Acoustic stimuli generated during training 
operations may have the potential to result in the behavioral 
disturbance of some marine mammals. There is no evidence that planned 
activities could result in injury, serious injury, or mortality within 
the specified geographic area for the requested authorization. The 
required mitigation and monitoring measures would

[[Page 19242]]

minimize any potential risk for serious injury or mortality.
    Pursuant to our 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 we must perform to determine whether the activity will have a 
``negligible impact'' on the species or stock. We have defined 
``negligible impact'' in 50 CFR 216.103 as: ``an impact resulting from 
the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is 
not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through 
effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.'' A negligible 
impact finding is based on the lack of likely adverse effects on annual 
rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., population-level effects). An 
estimate of the number and manner of takes, alone, is not enough 
information on which to base a negligible impact determination. We must 
also consider other factors, such as the likely nature of any responses 
(their intensity, duration, etc.), the context of any responses 
(critical reproductive time or location, migration, etc.), or any of 
the other variables mentioned in the first paragraph (if known), as 
well as the number and nature of estimated Level A takes, the number of 
estimated mortalities, and effects on habitat.
    The Marine Corps has been conducting gunnery and bombing training 
exercises at BT-9 and BT-11 for several years and, to date, no dolphin 
injury, serious injury, or mortality has been attributed these military 
training exercises. The Marine Corps has a history of notifying the 
NMFS stranding network when any injured or stranded animal comes ashore 
or is spotted by personnel on the water. Therefore, stranded animals 
have been examined by stranding responders, further confirming that it 
is unlikely training contributes to marine mammal injuries or deaths. 
Due to the implementation of the aforementioned proposed mitigation 
measures, no take by Level A harassment or serious injury or mortality 
is anticipated nor would any be authorized in the IHA. We are 
proposing; however, to authorize 25 Level B harassment takes associated 
with training exercises.
    The Marine Corps has proposed a 1000 yard (914 m) safety zone 
around BT-9 despite the fact that the distance to NMFS explosive Level 
B harassment threshold is 228 yards (209 m). They also would consider 
an area fouled if any dolphins are spotted within Raritan Bay (where 
BT-11 is located). The Level B harassment takes allowed for in the IHA 
would be of very low intensity and would likely result in dolphins 
being temporarily behaviorally affected by bombing or gunnery 
exercises. In addition, takes may be attributed to animals not using 
the area when exercises are occurring; however, this is difficult to 
calculate. Instead, we look if the specified activities occur during 
and within habitat important to vital life functions to better inform 
its negligible impact determination.
    Read et al. (2003) concluded that dolphins rarely occur in open 
waters in the middle of North Carolina sounds and large estuaries, but 
instead are concentrated in shallow water habitats along shorelines. 
However, no specific areas have been identified as vital reproduction 
or foraging habitat. Scientific boat based surveys conducted throughout 
Pamlico Sound conclude that dolphins use the areas around the BTs more 
frequently than other portions of Pamlico Sound (Maher, 2003) despite 
the Marine Corps actively training in a manner identical to the 
specified activities described here for years.
    As described in the Affected Species section of this notice, 
bottlenose dolphin stock segregation is complex with stocks overlapping 
throughout the coastal and estuarine waters of North Carolina. It is 
not possible for the Marine Corps to determine to which stock any 
individual dolphin taken during training activities belong as this can 
only be accomplished through genetic testing. However, it is likely 
that many of the dolphins encountered would belong to the NNCE or SNCE 
stock. These stocks have a population estimate of 1,387 and 2,454, 
respectively. We are proposing to authorize 25 takes of bottlenose 
dolphins in total; therefore, this number represents 1.8 and 1.0 
percent, respectively, of those populations. This species is not listed 
as threatened or endangered under the ESA
    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, we preliminarily find that the specified USMC AS Cherry Point 
BT-9 and BT-11 training activities will result in the incidental take 
of marine mammals, by Level B harassment only, and that the total 
taking from will have a negligible impact on the affected species or 
stocks.

Subsistence Harvest of Marine Mammals

    Marine mammals are not taken for subsistence uses within Pamlico 
Sound; therefore, issuance of an IHA to the USMC for MCAS Cherry Point 
training exercises would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the 
availability of the affected species or stocks for subsistence use.

Endangered Species Act (ESA)

    No ESA-listed marine mammals are known to occur within the action 
area. Therefore, there is no requirement for NMFS to consult under 
Section 7 of the ESA on the issuance of an Authorization under section 
101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA. However, ESA-listed sea turtles may be 
present within the action area.
    On September 27, 2002, NMFS issued a Biological Opinion (BiOp) on 
Ongoing Ordnance Delivery at Bombing Target 9 (BT-9) and Bombing Target 
11 (BT-11) at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina. 
The BiOp, which is still in effect, concluded that that the USMC's 
proposed action will not result in adverse impacts to any ESA-listed 
marine mammals and is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence 
of the endangered green turtle (Chelonia mydas), leatherback turtle 
(Dermochelys coriacea), Kemp's ridley turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), or 
threatened loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta). The proposed IHA will 
not result in effects beyond those considered in the 2002 BiOp and NMFS 
does not anticipate the need for further Section 7 consultation for the 
Authorization or the underlying activities proposed by the Marines. No 
critical habitat has been designated for these species in the action 
area; therefore, none will be affected.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    On February 11, 2009, the Marine Corps issued a Finding of No 
Significant Impact for its Environmental Assessment (EA) on MCAS Cherry 
Point Range Operations. Based on the analysis of the EA, the Marine 
Corps determined that the proposed action will not have a significant 
impact on the human environment. We adopted the Marine Corps' EA and 
signed a Finding of No Significant Impact on August 31, 2010. We have 
again reviewed the proposed application and preliminarily determined 
that there are no substantial changes to the proposed action or new 
environmental impacts or concerns. Therefore, we have determined that a 
new or supplemental EA or Environmental Impact Statement is likely 
unnecessary. Before making a

[[Page 19243]]

final determination in this regard, we will review public comments and 
information submitted by the public and others in response to this 
notice. The EA referenced above is available for review at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm.

     Dated: March 26, 2013.
Helen M. Golde,
Acting Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-07305 Filed 3-28-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P