Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Fisheries Research, 25703-25704 [2013-10442]

Download as PDF sroberts on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 85 / Thursday, May 2, 2013 / Notices the Southwest Region. The SWFSC conducts research and provides scientific advice to manage fisheries and conserve protected species along the U.S. West Coast in the California Current Ecosystem (CCE), throughout the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP) Ocean, and in the Scotia Sea area off Antarctica. Research is aimed at monitoring fish stock recruitment, survival and biological rates, abundance and geographic distribution of species and stocks, and providing other scientific information needed to improve our understanding of complex marine ecological processes. Primary research activities include: mid-water trawl surveys to support assessments of coastal pelagic species, salmon and groundfish in the CCE; longline surveys for life history studies of sablefish in the CCE and highly migratory species tagging in the CCE and ETP; deep-set buoy surveys for tagging swordfish in the CCE; ecosystem surveys using active acoustic systems, plankton nets, and other oceanographic equipment in the CCE and ETP; and bottom trawl and ecosystem surveys in the Antarctic Research Area. NMFS has prepared the DPEA under NEPA to evaluate several alternatives for conducting and funding fisheries and ecosystem research activities as the primary federal action. Additionally in the DPEA, NMFS evaluates a related action—also called a ‘‘connected action’’ under 40 CFR 1508.25 of the Council on Environmental Quality’s regulations for implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.)—which is the proposed promulgation of regulations and authorization of the take of marine mammals incidental to the fisheries research under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). Additionally, because the proposed research activities occur in areas inhabited by species of marine mammals, birds, sea turtles, and fish listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as threatened or endangered, this DPEA evaluates activities that could result in unintentional takes of ESA-listed marine species. The following four alternatives are currently evaluated in the DPEA: • No-Action/Status Quo Alternative— Conduct Federal Fisheries and Ecosystem Research with Scope and Protocols Similar to Past Effort • Preferred Alternative—Conduct Federal Fisheries and Ecosystem Research (New Suite of Research) with Mitigation for MMPA and ESA Compliance • Modified Research Alternative— Conduct Federal Fisheries and VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:50 May 01, 2013 Jkt 229001 Ecosystem Research (New Suite of Research) with Additional Mitigation • No Research Alternative—No Fieldwork for Federal Fisheries and Ecosystem Research Conducted or Funded by SWFSC The first three alternatives include a program of fisheries and ecosystem research projects conducted or funded by the SWFSC as the primary federal action. Because this primary action is connected to a secondary federal action (also called a connected action under NEPA), to consider authorizing incidental take of marine mammals under the MMPA, NMFS must identify as part of this evaluation ‘‘(t)he means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the species or stock and its habitat.’’ (Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA [16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.]). NMFS must therefore identify and evaluate a reasonable range of mitigation measures to minimize impacts to protected species that occur in SWFSC research areas. These mitigation measures are considered as part of the identified alternatives in order to evaluate their effectiveness to minimize potential adverse environmental impacts. The three action alternatives also include mitigation measures intended to minimize potentially adverse interactions with other protected species that occur within the action area. Protected species include all marine mammals, which are covered under the MMPA, all species listed under the ESA, and bird species protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. NMFS is also evaluating a second type of no-action alternative that considers no federal funding for field fisheries and ecosystem research activities. This is called the No Research Alternative to distinguish it from the No-Action/Status Quo Alternative. The No-Action/Status Quo Alternative will be used as the baseline to compare all of the other alternatives. Potential direct and indirect effects on the environment are evaluated under each alternative in the DPEA. The environmental effects on the following resources are considered: physical environment, special resource areas, fish, marine mammals, birds, sea turtles, invertebrates, and the social and economic environment. Cumulative effects of external actions and the contribution of fisheries research activities to the overall cumulative impact on the aforementioned resources is also evaluated in the DPEA for the three main geographic regions in which SWFSC surveys are conducted. NMFS requests comments on the DPEA for Fisheries Research Conducted PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 25703 and Funded by the National Marine Fisheries Service, Southwest Fisheries Science Center. Please include, with your comments, any supporting data or literature citations that may be informative in substantiating your comment. Dated: April 25, 2013. Francisco E. Werner, Director, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2013–10441 Filed 5–1–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XC336 Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Fisheries Research National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; receipt of application for letter of authorization; request for comments and information. AGENCY: SUMMARY: NMFS’ Office of Protected Resources has received a request from the NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) for authorization to take small numbers of marine mammals incidental to conducting fisheries research, over the course of five years from the date of issuance. Pursuant to regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is announcing receipt of SWFSC’s request under section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA for the development and implementation of regulations governing the incidental taking of marine mammals. We invite information, suggestions, and comments on SWFSC’s application and request. DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than June 3, 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.Laws@noaa.gov. 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 10-megabyte file size. E:\FR\FM\02MYN1.SGM 02MYN1 25704 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 85 / Thursday, May 2, 2013 / Notices Ben Laws, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: sroberts on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Availability An electronic copy of SWFSC’s application may be obtained by visiting the Internet at: http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental.htm#applications. The SWFSC is concurrently releasing a draft Environmental Assessment, prepared pursuant to requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, for the conduct of their fisheries research. A copy of the draft EA, which would also support our proposed rulemaking under the MMPA, is also available at: http://swfsc.noaa.gov/ dpea.aspx. Background Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) directs the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) if certain findings are made and regulations are issued. Incidental taking shall be allowed if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s) affected and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for taking for subsistence uses, and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such taking are set forth. NMFS has defined ‘‘negligible impact’’ in 50 CFR 216.103 as ‘‘an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.’’ Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the MMPA defines ‘‘harassment’’ as: ‘‘any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A harassment]; or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering [Level B harassment].’’ Summary of Request On April 25, 2013, we received a complete and adequate application from VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:50 May 01, 2013 Jkt 229001 SWFSC requesting authorization for take of marine mammals incidental to fisheries research conducted by SWFSC. The requested regulations would be valid for five years from the date of issuance. The SWFSC plans to conduct fisheries research surveys in the California Current Research Area (off the U.S. west coast), the Eastern Tropical Pacific Research Area, and the Antarctic Research Area (in the Antarctic Scotia Sea). It is possible that marine mammals may interact with fishing gear (e.g., trawl nets, longlines) used in SWFSC’s research, resulting in injury, serious injury, or mortality. In addition, the SWFSC operates active acoustic devices that have the potential to disturb marine mammals. Because the specified activities have the potential to take marine mammals present within these action areas, SWFSC requests authorization to take multiple species of marine mammal that may occur in these areas. Specified Activities The Federal Government has a responsibility to conserve and protect living marine resources in U.S. federal waters and has also entered into a number of international agreements and treaties related to the management of living marine resources in international waters outside the United States. NOAA has the primary responsibility for managing marine fin and shellfish species and their habitats, with that responsibility delegated within NOAA to NMFS. In order to direct and coordinate the collection of scientific information needed to make informed management decisions, Congress created six Regional Fisheries Science Centers, each a distinct organizational entity and the scientific focal point within NMFS for region-based federal fisheries-related research. This research is aimed at monitoring fish stock recruitment, abundance, survival and biological rates, geographic distribution of species and stocks, ecosystem process changes, and marine ecological research. The SWFSC is the research arm of NMFS in the Southwest Region. The SWFSC conducts research and provides scientific advice to manage fisheries and conserve protected species in three geographic research areas: the California Current Research Area (along the U.S. West Coast), the Eastern Tropical Pacific Research Area (throughout the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean), and the Antarctic Research Area (in the Scotia Sea area off Antarctica). The SWFSC provides scientific information to support the Pacific Fishery Management Council and numerous other domestic PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 and international fisheries management organizations. The SWFSC collects a wide array of information necessary to evaluate the status of exploited fishery resources and the marine environment. SWFSC scientists conduct fishery-independent research onboard NOAA-owned and operated vessels or on chartered vessels. A few surveys are conducted onboard commercial fishing vessels, but the SWFSC designs and executes the studies and funds vessel time. The SWFSC proposes to administer and conduct approximately 14 survey programs over the five-year period. The gear types used fall into several categories: pelagic trawl gear used at various levels in the water column, pelagic longlines with multiple hooks, bottom-contact trawls, and other gear. Only pelagic trawl and longline gears are likely to interact with marine mammals. The majority of these surveys also use active acoustic devices. A more detailed description of the fisheries research conducted by SWFSC may be found in their application, which is available at: http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental.htm. Information Solicited Interested persons may submit information, suggestions, and comments concerning SWFSC’s request (see ADDRESSES). We will consider all information, suggestions, and comments related to the request during the development of proposed regulations governing the incidental taking of marine mammals by SWFSC, if appropriate. Dated: April 29, 2013. Helen M. Golde, Acting Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2013–10442 Filed 5–1–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary [Docket ID: DoD–2013–OS–0083] Proposed Collection; Comment Request Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, DoD. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: SUMMARY: In compliance with Section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for E:\FR\FM\02MYN1.SGM 02MYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 85 (Thursday, May 2, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 25703-25704]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-10442]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XC336


Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals 
Incidental to Fisheries Research

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

ACTION: Notice; receipt of application for letter of authorization; 
request for comments and information.

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

SUMMARY: NMFS' Office of Protected Resources has received a request 
from the NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) for 
authorization to take small numbers of marine mammals incidental to 
conducting fisheries research, over the course of five years from the 
date of issuance. Pursuant to regulations implementing the Marine 
Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is announcing receipt of SWFSC's 
request under section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA for the development and 
implementation of regulations governing the incidental taking of marine 
mammals. We invite information, suggestions, and comments on SWFSC's 
application and request.

DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than June 3, 
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.Laws@noaa.gov. 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 
10-megabyte file size.

[[Page 25704]]


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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Availability

    An electronic copy of SWFSC's application may be obtained by 
visiting the Internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications.
    The SWFSC is concurrently releasing a draft Environmental 
Assessment, prepared pursuant to requirements of the National 
Environmental Policy Act, for the conduct of their fisheries research. 
A copy of the draft EA, which would also support our proposed 
rulemaking under the MMPA, is also available at: http://swfsc.noaa.gov/dpea.aspx.

Background

    Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) directs 
the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to allow, upon request, the 
incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine 
mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than 
commercial fishing) if certain findings are made and regulations are 
issued.
    Incidental taking shall be allowed if NMFS finds that the taking 
will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s) affected and 
will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the 
species or stock(s) for taking for subsistence uses, and if the 
permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the 
mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such taking are set forth.
    NMFS has defined ``negligible impact'' in 50 CFR 216.103 as ``an 
impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably 
expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the 
species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or 
survival.''
    Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the 
MMPA defines ``harassment'' as: ``any act of pursuit, torment, or 
annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or 
marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A harassment]; or (ii) has the 
potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild 
by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not 
limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or 
sheltering [Level B harassment].''

Summary of Request

    On April 25, 2013, we received a complete and adequate application 
from SWFSC requesting authorization for take of marine mammals 
incidental to fisheries research conducted by SWFSC. The requested 
regulations would be valid for five years from the date of issuance. 
The SWFSC plans to conduct fisheries research surveys in the California 
Current Research Area (off the U.S. west coast), the Eastern Tropical 
Pacific Research Area, and the Antarctic Research Area (in the 
Antarctic Scotia Sea). It is possible that marine mammals may interact 
with fishing gear (e.g., trawl nets, longlines) used in SWFSC's 
research, resulting in injury, serious injury, or mortality. In 
addition, the SWFSC operates active acoustic devices that have the 
potential to disturb marine mammals. Because the specified activities 
have the potential to take marine mammals present within these action 
areas, SWFSC requests authorization to take multiple species of marine 
mammal that may occur in these areas.

Specified Activities

    The Federal Government has a responsibility to conserve and protect 
living marine resources in U.S. federal waters and has also entered 
into a number of international agreements and treaties related to the 
management of living marine resources in international waters outside 
the United States. NOAA has the primary responsibility for managing 
marine fin and shellfish species and their habitats, with that 
responsibility delegated within NOAA to NMFS.
    In order to direct and coordinate the collection of scientific 
information needed to make informed management decisions, Congress 
created six Regional Fisheries Science Centers, each a distinct 
organizational entity and the scientific focal point within NMFS for 
region-based federal fisheries-related research. This research is aimed 
at monitoring fish stock recruitment, abundance, survival and 
biological rates, geographic distribution of species and stocks, 
ecosystem process changes, and marine ecological research. The SWFSC is 
the research arm of NMFS in the Southwest Region. The SWFSC conducts 
research and provides scientific advice to manage fisheries and 
conserve protected species in three geographic research areas: the 
California Current Research Area (along the U.S. West Coast), the 
Eastern Tropical Pacific Research Area (throughout the Eastern Tropical 
Pacific Ocean), and the Antarctic Research Area (in the Scotia Sea area 
off Antarctica). The SWFSC provides scientific information to support 
the Pacific Fishery Management Council and numerous other domestic and 
international fisheries management organizations.
    The SWFSC collects a wide array of information necessary to 
evaluate the status of exploited fishery resources and the marine 
environment. SWFSC scientists conduct fishery-independent research 
onboard NOAA-owned and operated vessels or on chartered vessels. A few 
surveys are conducted onboard commercial fishing vessels, but the SWFSC 
designs and executes the studies and funds vessel time. The SWFSC 
proposes to administer and conduct approximately 14 survey programs 
over the five-year period. The gear types used fall into several 
categories: pelagic trawl gear used at various levels in the water 
column, pelagic longlines with multiple hooks, bottom-contact trawls, 
and other gear. Only pelagic trawl and longline gears are likely to 
interact with marine mammals. The majority of these surveys also use 
active acoustic devices.
    A more detailed description of the fisheries research conducted by 
SWFSC may be found in their application, which is available at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm.

Information Solicited

    Interested persons may submit information, suggestions, and 
comments concerning SWFSC's request (see ADDRESSES). We will consider 
all information, suggestions, and comments related to the request 
during the development of proposed regulations governing the incidental 
taking of marine mammals by SWFSC, if appropriate.

    Dated: April 29, 2013.
Helen M. Golde,
Acting Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-10442 Filed 5-1-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P