Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Operation, Maintenance, and Repair of the Northeast Gateway Liquefied Natural Gas Port and the Algonquin Pipeline Lateral Facilities in Massachusetts Bay, 60142-60149 [2014-23764]

Download as PDF 60142 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 193 / Monday, October 6, 2014 / Notices program through Amendment 22 and updates on stock assessments for hogfish, mutton snapper, red snapper and gray triggerfish. The AP will receive updates on electronic reporting efforts, the Council’s Visioning and Strategic Planning Project for the snapper grouper fishery, and address other business as necessary. Although non-emergency issues not contained in this agenda may come before this group for discussion, those issues may not be the subject of formal action during the meeting. Action will be restricted to those issues specifically listed in this notice and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, provided the public has been notified of the Council’s intent to take final action to address the emergency. (Algonquin), for authorization under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to operating, maintaining, and repairing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) port and the Algonquin Pipeline Lateral (Pipeline Lateral) facilities by NEG and Algonquin, in Massachusetts Bay, with changes to the proposed monitoring measures only. Due to the proposed revision, the IHA would be effective later than originally anticipated, although it still would be effective for a one-year period. NMFS is requesting comments on changes to the proposed monitoring in its proposal to issue an authorization to Northeast Gateway to incidentally take, by harassment, small numbers of marine mammals for a period of 1 year. Special Accommodations The meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for auxiliary aids should be directed to the Council office (see ADDRESSES) 3 days prior to the meeting. ADDRESSES: Note: The times and sequence specified in this agenda are subject to change. Dated: October 1, 2014. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2014–23752 Filed 10–3–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XC228 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Operation, Maintenance, and Repair of the Northeast Gateway Liquefied Natural Gas Port and the Algonquin Pipeline Lateral Facilities in Massachusetts Bay National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; revised proposed incidental harassment authorization; request for comments. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES AGENCY: NMFS received a revised application from Excelerate Energy, L.P. (Excelerate) and Tetra Tech, Inc. (Tetra Tech), on behalf of the Northeast Gateway® Energy BridgeTM, L.P. (Northeast Gateway or NEG) and Algonquin Gas Transmission, L.L.C. SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:17 Oct 03, 2014 Jkt 235001 Comments and information must be received no later than November 5, 2014. DATES: Comments should be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 EastWest Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. The mailbox address for providing email comments on this action is ITP.Guan@noaa.gov. Comments sent via email, including all attachments, must not exceed a 10megabyte file size. A copy of the application and a list of references used in this document may be obtained by writing to this address, and is also available at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications. Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental.htm#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. The Maritime Administration (MARAD) and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) on the Northeast Gateway Energy Bridge LNG Deepwater Port license application is available for viewing at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shane Guan, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Background Sections 101(a)(5)(A) (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional taking of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are made and regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, a notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the public for review. An authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings are set forth. NMFS has defined ‘‘negligible impact’’ in 50 CFR 216.103 as ‘‘. . . an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.’’ Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA established an expedited process by which citizens of the U.S. can apply for a one-year authorization to incidentally take small numbers of marine mammals by harassment, provided that there is no potential for serious injury or mortality to result from the activity. Section 101(a)(5)(D) establishes a 45-day time limit for NMFS review of an application followed by a 30-day public notice and comment period on any proposed authorizations for the incidental harassment of marine mammals. Within 45 days of the close of the comment period, NMFS must either issue or deny the authorization. Summary of Request On January 18, 2013, NMFS received an application from Excelerate and Tetra Tech, on behalf of Northeast Gateway and Algonquin, for an authorization to take 14 species of marine mammals by Level B harassment incidental to operations, maintenance, and repair of an LNG port and the Pipeline Lateral facilities in Massachusetts Bay. They are: North Atlantic right whale, humpback whale, fin whale, sei whale, minke whale, longfinned pilot whale, Atlantic white-sided dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, shortbeaked common dolphin, killer whale, Risso’s dolphin, harbor porpoise, harbor E:\FR\FM\06OCN1.SGM 06OCN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 193 / Monday, October 6, 2014 / Notices seal, and gray seal. Since LNG Port and Pipeline Lateral operation, maintenance, and repair activities have the potential to take marine mammals, a marine mammal take authorization under the MMPA is warranted. In response to the IHA application, NMFS published a Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA on November 18, 2013 (78 FR 69049), which included proposed mitigation and monitoring measures to minimize and monitor potential impacts to marine mammals that could result from the proposed LNG Port and Pipeline Lateral operation, maintenance, and repair activities. After the close of the public comment period, Northeast Gateway notified NMFS that it does not intend to use marine autonomous recording units (MARUs) for long-term passive acoustic monitoring (PAM), as was described in the November 18, 2013, proposed IHA Federal Register notice, the IHA application, and marine mammal monitoring plan, except under certain levels of LNG port activity, and requested NMFS to modify the monitoring measures in the proposed IHA to use alternative acoustic monitoring, with triggers for additional long-term monitoring during higher levels of LNG port activity (which would require reinstallation of MARUs). Following discussions with NMFS’ Office of Protected Resources, the NMFS Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO), and National Ocean Service’s Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, on June 20, 2014, Excelerate and Tetra Tech submitted a revised IHA application with tiered PAM measures corresponding to different levels of LNG Port and Pipeline Lateral operation, maintenance, and repair activities. Details of the revised PAM are discussed in this notice. This Federal Register notice sets forth the proposed PAM measures as revised. There are no other changes to Excelerate and Tetra Tech’s application or our proposed IHA as described in the November 18, 2013, Federal Register notice of a proposed IHA: the specified activity; description of marine mammals in the area of the specified activity; potential effects on marine mammals and their habitat; proposed mitigation and related monitoring used to implement mitigation; proposed reporting; estimated take by incidental harassment; negligible impact and small numbers analyses and determinations; and impact on availability of affected species or stocks for subsistence uses remain unchanged and are herein incorporated by reference. Public comments we received on those aspects VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:17 Oct 03, 2014 Jkt 235001 of the proposed IHA during the previous 30-day public comment period will be considered before we make a final decision on whether to issue an IHA. Proposed Revised Monitoring Measures In order to issue an ITA for an activity, section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth ‘‘requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking.’’ The MMPA implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104(a)(13) indicate that requests for ITAs 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 in the proposed action area. Our November 18, 2013, initial Federal Register notice of the proposed IHA described several proposed monitoring efforts: Vessel-based visual monitoring to detect marine mammals in real-time (in part to trigger mitigation measures); and two types of acoustic monitoring: 19 MARUs in Massachusetts Bay near the Port (to collect long-term data during Port and Pipeline Lateral related activities) and 10 acoustic buoys (‘‘ABs’’) in the Separation Zone of the Boston Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) to detect, in real-time, calling North Atlantic right whales within 5 nm of an AB (to assist in implementing mitigation). The proposed revisions to the monitoring plan, which are the subject of this Federal Register notice, concern only the MARU requirement. We fully retain our original proposal for the vesselbased monitoring and the 10 ABs. Please refer to the November 18, 2013, Federal Register notice for a description of those other two elements of monitoring. MARUs—Background: Beginning in April 2007, Northeast Gateway monitored the noise environment in Massachusetts Bay in the vicinity of the NEG Port and Algonquin Pipeline Lateral using an array of 19 MARUs to collect data during the preconstruction and active construction phases of the NEG Port and Algonquin Pipeline Lateral. As a condition of the Deepwater Port License, the MARU array remained in place for a period of five years following the commissioning of the NEG Port. Previous IHAs for the NE Gateway Port and Pipeline Lateral operations included the MARUs as a monitoring requirement, as did the proposed IHA noticed in the November 18, 2013, Federal Register notice. However, the five-year stipulated period of operation PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 60143 of the MARU array for the NEG Port ended in February 2013. This, coupled with the transfer of operational responsibility of the MARU array to Neptune LNG, which suspended operation of their Deepwater Port on June 26, 2013, led to the removal of the MARU array in July 2013, meaning the MARUs were not available for routine acoustic monitoring after that date. The MARUs collected archived noise data and were not designed to provide real-time or near-real-time information about vocalizing whales. The acoustic data collected by the MARUs were analyzed by the Bioacoustics Research Program (BRP) at Cornell University to document the seasonal occurrences and overall distributions of whales (primarily fin, humpback, and right whales) within approximately 10 nautical miles of the NEG Port, and to measure and document the noise ‘‘budget’’ of Massachusetts Bay so as to eventually assist in determining whether an overall increase in noise in the Bay associated with the NEG Port and Algonquin Pipeline Lateral might be having a potentially negative impact on marine mammals. Northeast Gateway and Algonquin state that continued monitoring utilizing the MARU array is no longer warranted for a number of reasons: 1. The MARU array system was designed for monitoring for the maximum operational scenario with the NEG Port receiving 65 cargo deliveries per year. Anticipated deliveries to the Port during the next IHA period will be significantly smaller scale and, though dependent on market rates, will likely be confined to the winter heating season. 2. The purpose of the MARU data was principally intended to determine the daily occurrence of acoustically active fin whales, humpback whales, and right whales with nineteen MARUs deployed. A secondary purpose was to evaluate the extent to which operations sounds were evident throughout the region and the relative contribution of those sounds to the acoustic environment in the region. The majority of the MARUs were positioned at separation distances too large to meet this secondary objective. In comparison, the revised passive acoustic monitoring program described below is intended to provide empirical measurements of specific operational and maintenance events and ‘‘groundtruth’’ the acoustic model algorithms employed. By targeting these specific events, and positioning sensors within the water column in proximity to the Port, the resultant dataset should provide a clearer picture of the actual acoustic footprint of the Port. E:\FR\FM\06OCN1.SGM 06OCN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 60144 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 193 / Monday, October 6, 2014 / Notices 3. The static recorders and real-time hydrophone arrays that will be employed in the revised proposed passive acoustic monitoring program (see below) are designed specifically for empirical measurement and recording of underwater sound. With National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST) traceable calibration certificates for the entire measurement chain, the data will provide an absolute measurement of received sound levels, ensuring the highest degree of accuracy possible for an offshore measurement program. Revised Proposed PAM: In place of the MARUs, Northeast Gateway developed a proposed field program to measure underwater sound during the initial Energy Bridge Regasification Vessel (EBRV) delivery for the 2014 winter season, during certain maintenance and repair, and additional long-term PAM in the vicinity of the LNG Port using devices such as MARUs if the anticipated LNG deliveries exceed 5 shipments in a 30-day period or 20 shipments in a six-month period. The intent of the proposed PAM program is to provide better information about the acoustic footprint associated with operation of the NEG Port in Massachusetts Bay. The modeled underwater acoustic impacts presented in the IHA application relied primarily on estimated source levels derived from the similar vessels and operations. This proposed monitoring plan will measure the actual sound levels that are introduced into the underwater environment, reducing uncertainty associated with source levels used as modeling inputs for the analysis presented in this and any future IHAs. Underwater noise monitoring will be conducted to obtain a representative acoustic signature of vessel transit, docking, maintenance, onboard regasification operational scenarios, and maintenance activities. NEG will conduct the short-term hydroacoustic monitoring to document sound levels during the initial operational event for the 2014–2015 heating season. In addition, the short-term hydroacoustic monitoring will be utilized for any maintenance or repair activities with the potential to result in significant noise levels (i.e. DP thrusters) or for any delivery that may occur outside the identified winter heating season. Autonomous Marine Recording (AMAR) units will be deployed one day prior to the identified monitoring events and retrieved one day after these events, utilizing a vessel similar to that described for MARU deployment and retrieval. Information pertaining to forecasted delivery levels at or above the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:17 Oct 03, 2014 Jkt 235001 stated trigger will be provided to NEG in advance, giving adequate time for monitoring systems to be put in place prior to the first forecasted delivery event. The field monitoring program will be used to verify actual distances to thresholds and these values will be compared to the impact distances predicted from modeling. To reiterate, the remaining proposed monitoring measures, including vesselbased visual monitoring and the realtime autonomous buoys (ABs), are the same as described in the initial Federal Register notice (78 FR 69049; November 18, 2013) for the proposed IHA. Moreover, these proposed changes will have no bearing on the specified activity, its impacts, and our proposed mitigation and mitigation-related monitoring requirements. Proposed Reporting Measures As indicated above, no changes are proposed to the reporting measures described in the initial Federal Register notice of the proposed IHA (78 FR 69049; November 18, 2013). However, NMFS has requested that Northeast Gateway make all acoustic data collected by the MARUs during prior construction, operations, and maintenance and repair activities available to NOAA. Endangered Species Act (ESA) Our November 18, 2013, Federal Register notice of proposed IHA described the history and status of Endangered Species Act (ESA) compliance for the NE Gateway LNG facility. As explained in that notice, the biological opinions for construction and operation of the facility only analyzed ESA-listed species for activities under the initial short construction period and during operations, and did not take into consideration potential impacts to marine mammals that could result from the subsequent LNG Port and Pipeline Lateral maintenance and repair activities. In addition, NEG also revealed that significantly more water usage and vessel operating air emissions are needed from what was originally evaluated for the LNG Port operation. NMFS PR1 initiated consultation with NMFS Greater Atlantic Region Fisheries Office under section 7 of the ESA on the issuance of an IHA to NEG under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA for the proposed activities that include increased NEG Port and Algonquin Pipeline Lateral maintenance and repair and water usage for the LNG Port operations this activity. Consultation will be concluded prior to a determination on the issuance of an IHA. PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 National Environmental Policy Act Our November 18, 2013, Federal Register notice of proposed IHA described the history and status of National Environmental Policy Act compliance for the NE Gateway LNG facility. Please refer to that notice. Proposed Incidental Harassment Authorization Our November 18, 2013, Federal Register notice provided a draft of the IHA itself. Here we provide the language of the proposed IHA with the proposed revisions to the monitoring measures. No other changes have been made. (1) This Authorization is valid from November 1, 2014, through October 31, 2015. (2) This Authorization is valid only for activities associated with Northeast Gateway’s LNG Port and Algonquin’s Pipeline Lateral operations and maintenance and repair activities in the Massachusetts Bay. The specific area of the activities is shown in Figure 2–1 of the Excelerate Energy, L.P. and Tetra Tech, Inc.’s IHA application. (3)(a) The species authorized for incidental harassment takings, Level B harassment only, are: right whales (Eubalaena glacialis); fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus); humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae); minke whales (B. acutorostrata); sei whales (B. borealis); long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas); Atlantic white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus); bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus); short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis); Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus); killer whales (Orcinus orca); harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena); harbor seals (Phoca vitulina); and gray seals (Halichoerus grypus). (3)(b) The authorization for taking by harassment is limited to the following acoustic sources and from the following activities: (i) NEG Port operations; (ii) NEG Port maintenance and repair; and (iii) Algonquin Pipeline Lateral operations and maintenance. (3)(c) The taking of any marine mammal in a manner prohibited under this Authorization must be reported within 24 hours of the taking to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Northeast Regional Administrator (978–281–9300) or his designee (978–282–8468), NMFS Headquarter Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, at (301– 427–8401), or his designee (301–427– 8418). E:\FR\FM\06OCN1.SGM 06OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 193 / Monday, October 6, 2014 / Notices (4) Prohibitions (a) The taking, by incidental harassment only, is limited to the species listed under condition 3(a) above and by the numbers listed in Table 3. The taking by Level A harassment, injury or death of these species or the taking by harassment, injury or death of any other species of marine mammal is prohibited and may result in the modification, suspension, or revocation of this Authorization. (b) The taking of any marine mammal is prohibited whenever the required mitigation measures under (5) of this authorization are not implemented. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES (5) Mitigation (a) General Marine Mammal Avoidance Measures (i) All vessels shall utilize the International Maritime Organization (IMO)-approved Boston Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) on their approach to and departure from the NEG Port and/or the repair/maintenance area at the earliest practicable point of transit in order to avoid the risk of whale strikes. (ii) Upon entering the TSS and areas where North Atlantic right whales are known to occur, including the Great South Channel Seasonal Management Area (GSC–SMA) and the SBNMS, the EBRV shall go into ‘‘Heightened Awareness’’ as described below. (A) Prior to entering and navigating the modified TSS the Master of the vessel shall: (I) Consult Navigational Telex (NAVTEX), NOAA Weather Radio, the NOAA Right Whale Sighting Advisory System (SAS) or other means to obtain current right whale sighting information as well as the most recent Cornell acoustic monitoring buoy data for the potential presence of marine mammals; (II) Post a look-out to visually monitor for the presence of marine mammals; (III) Provide the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) required 96-hour notification of an arriving EBRV to allow the NEG Port Manager to notify Cornell of vessel arrival. (B) The look-out shall concentrate his/ her observation efforts within the 2-mile radius zone of influence (ZOI) from the maneuvering EBRV. (C) If marine mammal detection was reported by NAVTEX, NOAA Weather Radio, SAS and/or an acoustic monitoring buoy, the look-out shall concentrate visual monitoring efforts towards the areas of the most recent detection. (D) If the look-out (or any other member of the crew) visually detects a marine mammal within the 2-mile VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:00 Oct 03, 2014 Jkt 235001 radius ZOI of a maneuvering EBRV, he/ she will take the following actions: (I) The Officer-of-the-Watch shall be notified immediately; who shall then relay the sighting information to the Master of the vessel to ensure action(s) can be taken to avoid physical contact with marine mammals. (II) The sighting shall be recorded in the sighting log by the designated lookout. (iii) In accordance with 50 CFR 224.103(c), all vessels associated with NEG Port and Pipeline Lateral activities shall not approach closer than 500 yards (460 m) to a North Atlantic right whale and 100 yards (91 m) to other whales to the extent physically feasible given navigational constraints. In addition, when approaching and departing the project area, vessels shall be operated so as to remain at least 1 km away from any visually-detected North Atlantic right whales. (iv) In response to active right whale sightings and active acoustic detections, and taking into account exceptional circumstances, EBRVs, repair and maintenance vessels shall take appropriate actions to minimize the risk of striking whales. Specifically vessels shall: (A) Respond to active right whale sightings and/or DMAs reported on the Mandatory Ship Reporting (MSR) or SAS by concentrating monitoring efforts towards the area of most recent detection and reducing speed to 10 knots or less if the vessel is within the boundaries of a DMA (50 CFR 224.105) or within the circular area centered on an area 8 nm in radius from a sighting location; (B) Respond to active acoustic detections by concentrating monitoring efforts towards the area of most recent detection and reducing speed to 10 knots or less within an area 5 nm in radius centered on the detecting AB; and (C) Respond to additional sightings made by the designated look-outs within a 2-mile radius of the vessel by slowing the vessel to 10 knots or less and concentrating monitoring efforts towards the area of most recent sighting. (v) All vessels operated under NEG and Algonquin must follow the established specific speed restrictions when calling at the NEG Port. The specific speed restrictions required for all vessels (i.e., EBRVs and vessels associated with maintenance and repair) consist of the following: (A) Vessels shall reduce their maximum transit speed while in the TSS from 12 knots or less to 10 knots or less from March 1 to April 30 in all waters bounded by straight lines PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 60145 connecting the following points in the order stated below unless an emergency situation dictates for an alternate speed. This area shall hereafter be referred to as the Off Race Point Seasonal Management Area (ORP–SMA) and tracks NMFS regulations at 50 CFR 224.105: 42°30′ N 70°30′ W, 41°40′ N 69°57′ W, 42°30′ N 69°45′ W, 42°12′ N 70°15′ W, 41°40′ N 69°45′ W, 42°12′ N 70°30′ W, 42°04.8′ N 70°10′ W, 42°30′ N 70°30′ W. (B) Vessels shall reduce their maximum transit speed while in the TSS to 10 knots or less unless an emergency situation dictates for an alternate speed from April 1 to July 31 in all waters bounded by straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated below. This area shall hereafter be referred to as the GSC–SMA and tracks NMFS regulations at 50 CFR 224.105: 42°30′ N 69°45′ W, 41°40′ N 69°45′ W, 42°30′ N 67°27′ W, 42°30′ N 69°45′ W, 42°09′ N 67°08.4′ W, 41°00′ N 69°05′ W. (C) Vessels are not expected to transit the Cape Cod Bay or the Cape Cod Canal; however, in the event that transit through the Cape Cod Bay or the Cape Cod Canal is required, vessels shall reduce maximum transit speed to 10 knots or less from January 1 to May 15 in all waters in Cape Cod Bay, extending to all shorelines of Cape Cod Bay, with a northern boundary of 42°12′ N latitude and the Cape Cod Canal. This area shall hereafter be referred to as the Cape Cod Bay Seasonal Management Area (CCB– SMA). (D) All Vessels transiting to and from the project area shall report their activities to the mandatory reporting Section of the USCG to remain apprised of North Atlantic right whale movements within the area. All vessels entering and exiting the MSRA shall report their activities to WHALESNORTH. Vessel operators shall contact the USCG by standard procedures promulgated through the Notice to Mariner system. (E) All Vessels greater than or equal to 300 gross tons (GT) shall maintain a speed of 10 knots or less, unless an emergency situation requires speeds greater than 10 knots. (F) All Vessels less than 300 GT traveling between the shore and the project area that are not generally restricted to 10 knots will contact the Mandatory Ship Reporting (MSR) system, the USCG, or the project site before leaving shore for reports of active DMAs and/or recent right whale sightings and, consistent with navigation safety, restrict speeds to 10 knots or less within 5 miles (8 kilometers) of any sighting location, E:\FR\FM\06OCN1.SGM 06OCN1 60146 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 193 / Monday, October 6, 2014 / Notices (c) Planned and Unplanned Maintenance and Repair Activities when traveling in any of the seasonal management areas (SMAs) or when traveling in any active dynamic management area (DMA). mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES (b) NEG Port-Specific Operations (i) In addition to the general marine mammal avoidance requirements identified in (5)(a) above, vessels calling on the NEG Port must comply with the following additional requirements: (A) EBRVs shall travel at 10 knots maximum speed when transiting to/ from the TSS or to/from the NEG Port/ Pipeline Lateral area. For EBRVs, at 1.86 miles (3 km) from the NEG Port, speed will be reduced to 3 knots and to less than 1 knot at 1,640 ft (500 m) from the NEG buoys, unless an emergency situation dictates the need for an alternate speed. (B) EBRVs that are approaching or departing from the NEG Port and are within the ATBA5 surrounding the NEG Port, shall remain at least 1 km away from any visually-detected North Atlantic right whale and at least 100 yards (91 m) away from all other visually-detected whales unless an emergency situation requires that the vessel stay its course. During EBRV maneuvering, the Vessel Master shall designate at least one look-out to be exclusively and continuously monitoring for the presence of marine mammals at all times while the EBRV is approaching or departing from the NEG Port. (C) During NEG Port operations, in the event that a whale is visually observed within 1 km of the NEG Port or a confirmed acoustic detection is reported on either of the two ABs closest to the NEG Port (western-most in the TSS array), departing EBRVs shall delay their departure from the NEG Port, unless an emergency situation requires that departure is not delayed. This departure delay shall continue until either the observed whale has been visually (during daylight hours) confirmed as more than 1 km from the NEG Port or 30 minutes have passed without another confirmed detection either acoustically within the acoustic detection range of the two ABs closest to the NEG Port, or visually within 1 km from the NEG Port. (ii) Vessel captains shall focus on reducing dynamic positioning (DP) thruster power to the maximum extent practicable, taking into account vessel and Port safety, during the operation activities. Vessel captains will shut down thrusters whenever they are not needed. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:17 Oct 03, 2014 Jkt 235001 (i) NEG Port (A) The Northeast Gateway shall conduct empirical source level measurements on all noise emitting construction equipment and all vessels that are involved in maintenance/repair work. (B) If dynamic positioning (DP) systems are to be employed and/or activities will emit noise with a source level of 139 dB re 1 mPa at 1 m, activities shall be conducted in accordance with the requirements for DP systems listed in (5)(b)(ii). (C) Northeast Gateway shall provide the NMFS Headquarters Office of the Protected Resources, NMFS Northeast Region Ship Strike Coordinator, and SBNMS with a minimum of 30 days notice prior to any planned repair and/ or maintenance activity. For any unplanned/emergency repair/ maintenance activity, Northeast Gateway shall notify the agencies as soon as it determines that repair work must be conducted. Northeast Gateway shall continue to keep the agencies apprised of repair work plans as further details (e.g., the time, location, and nature of the repair) become available. A final notification shall be provided to agencies 72 hours prior to crews being deployed into the field. (ii) Pipeline Lateral (A) Pipeline maintenance/repair vessels less than 300 GT traveling between the shore and the maintenance/ repair area that are not generally restricted to 10 knots shall contact the MSR system, the USCG, or the project site before leaving shore for reports of active DMAs and/or recent right whale sightings and, consistent with navigation safety, restrict speeds to 10 knots or less within 5 miles (8 km) of any sighting location, when travelling in any of the seasonal management areas (SMAs) as defined above. (B) Maintenance/repair vessels greater than 300 GT shall not exceed 10 knots, unless an emergency situation that requires speeds greater than 10 knots. (C) Planned maintenance and repair activities shall be restricted to the period between May 1 and November 30. (D) Unplanned/emergency maintenance and repair activities shall be conducted utilizing anchor-moored dive vessel whenever operationally possible. (E) Algonquin shall also provide the NMFS Office of the Protected Resources, NMFS Northeast Region Ship Strike Coordinator, and Stellwagen Bank PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 National Marine Sanctuary (SBNMS) with a minimum of 30-day notice prior to any planned repair and/or maintenance activity. For any unplanned/emergency repair/ maintenance activity, Northeast Gateway shall notify the agencies as soon as it determines that repair work must be conducted. Algonquin shall continue to keep the agencies apprised of repair work plans as further details (e.g., the time, location, and nature of the repair) become available. A final notification shall be provided to agencies 72 hours prior to crews being deployed into the field. (F) If dynamic positioning (DP) systems are to be employed and/or activities will emit noise with a source level of 139 dB re 1 mPa at 1 m, activities shall be conducted in accordance with the requirements for DP systems listed in (5)(b)(ii). (G) In the event that a whale is visually observed within 0.5 mile (0.8 kilometers) of a repair or maintenance vessel, the vessel superintendent or ondeck supervisor shall be notified immediately. The vessel’s crew shall be put on a heightened state of alert and the marine mammal shall be monitored constantly to determine if it is moving toward the repair or maintenance area. (H) Repair/maintenance vessel(s) must cease any movement and/or cease all activities that emit noises with source level of 139 dB re 1 mPa @ 1 m or higher when a right whale is sighted within or approaching at 500 yd (457 m) from the vessel. Repair and maintenance work may resume after the marine mammal is positively reconfirmed outside the established zones (500 yd [457 m]) or 30 minutes have passed without a redetection. Any vessels transiting the maintenance area, such as barges or tugs, must also maintain these separation distances. (I) Repair/maintenance vessel(s) must cease any movement and/or cease all activities that emit noises with source level of 139 dB re 1 mPa @ 1 m or higher when a marine mammal other than a right whale is sighted within or approaching at 100 yd (91 m) from the vessel. Repair and maintenance work may resume after the marine mammal is positively reconfirmed outside the established zones (100 yd [91 m]) or 30 minutes have passed without a redetection. Any vessels transiting the maintenance area, such as barges or tugs, must also maintain these separation distances. (J) Algonquin and associated contractors shall also comply with the following: (I) Operations involving excessively noisy equipment (source level E:\FR\FM\06OCN1.SGM 06OCN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 193 / Monday, October 6, 2014 / Notices exceeding 139 dB re 1 mPa @ 1 m) shall ‘‘ramp-up’’ sound sources, allowing whales a chance to leave the area before sounds reach maximum levels. In addition, Northeast Gateway, Algonquin, and other associated contractors shall maintain equipment to manufacturers’ specifications, including any sound-muffling devices or engine covers in order to minimize noise effects. Noisy construction equipment shall only be used as needed and equipment shall be turned off when not in operation. (II) Any material that has the potential to entangle marine mammals (e.g., anchor lines, cables, rope or other construction debris) shall only be deployed as needed and measures shall be taken to minimize the chance of entanglement. (III) For any material that has the potential to entangle marine mammals, such material shall be removed from the water immediately unless such action jeopardizes the safety of the vessel and crew as determined by the Captain of the vessel. (IV) In the event that a marine mammal becomes entangled, the marine mammal coordinator and/or PSO will notify NMFS (if outside the SBNMS), and SBNMS staff (if inside the SBNMS) immediately so that a rescue effort may be initiated. (K) All maintenance/repair activities shall be scheduled to occur between May 1 and November 30; however, in the event of unplanned/emergency repair work that cannot be scheduled during the preferred May through November work window, the following additional measures shall be followed for Pipeline Lateral maintenance and repair related activities between December and April: (I) Between December 1 and April 30, if on-board PSOs do not have at least 0.5-mile visibility, they shall call for a shutdown. At the time of shutdown, the use of thrusters must be minimized. If there are potential safety problems due to the shutdown, the captain will decide what operations can safely be shut down. (II) Prior to leaving the dock to begin transit, the barge shall contact one of the PSOs on watch to receive an update of sightings within the visual observation area. If the PSO has observed a North Atlantic right whale within 30 minutes of the transit start, the vessel shall hold for 30 minutes and again get a clearance to leave from the PSOs on board. PSOs shall assess whale activity and visual observation ability at the time of the transit request to clear the barge for release. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:17 Oct 03, 2014 Jkt 235001 (III) Transit route, destination, sea conditions and any marine mammal sightings/mitigation actions during watch shall be recorded in the log book. Any whale sightings within 1,000 m of the vessel shall result in a high alert and slow speed of 4 knots or less and a sighting within 750 m shall result in idle speed and/or ceasing all movement. (IV) The material barges and tugs used in repair and maintenance shall transit from the operations dock to the work sites during daylight hours when possible provided the safety of the vessels is not compromised. Should transit at night be required, the maximum speed of the tug shall be 5 knots. (V) All repair vessels must maintain a speed of 10 knots or less during daylight hours. All vessels shall operate at 5 knots or less at all times within 5 km of the repair area. (d) Acoustic Monitoring Related Activities (i) Vessels associated with maintaining the AB network operating as part of the mitigation/monitoring protocols shall adhere to the following speed restrictions and marine mammal monitoring requirements. (A) In accordance with NOAA Regulation 50 CFR 224.103 (c), all vessels associated with NEG Port activities shall not approach closer than 500 yards (460 meters) to a North Atlantic right whale. (B) All vessels shall obtain the latest DMA or right whale sighting information via the NAVTEX, MSR, SAS, NOAA Weather Radio, or other available means prior to operations to determine if there are right whales present in the operational area. (6) Monitoring (a) Vessel-Based Visual Monitoring (i) Vessel-based monitoring for marine mammals shall be done by trained lookouts during NEG LNG Port and Pipeline Lateral operations and maintenance and repair activities. The observers shall monitor the occurrence of marine mammals near the vessels during LNG Port and Pipeline Lateral related activities. Lookout duties include watching for and identifying marine mammals; recording their numbers, distances, and reactions to the activities; and documenting ‘‘take by harassment’’. (ii) The vessel look-outs assigned to visually monitor for the presence of marine mammals and shall be provided with the following: (A) Recent NAVTEX, NOAA Weather Radio, SAS and/or acoustic monitoring buoy detection data; PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 60147 (B) Binoculars to support observations; (C) Marine mammal detection guide sheets; and (D) Sighting log. (b) NEG LNG Port Operations (i) All individuals onboard the EBRVs responsible for the navigation duties and any other personnel that could be assigned to monitor for marine mammals shall receive training on marine mammal sighting/reporting and vessel strike avoidance measures. (ii) While an EBRV is navigating within the designated TSS, there shall be three people with look-out duties on or near the bridge of the ship including the Master, the Officer-of-the-Watch and the Helmsman-on-watch. In addition to the standard watch procedures, while the EBRV is transiting within the designated TSS, maneuvering within the Area to be Avoided (ATBA), and/or while actively engaging in the use of thrusters, an additional look-out shall be designated to exclusively and continuously monitor for marine mammals. (iii) All sightings of marine mammals by the designated look-out, individuals posted to navigational look-out duties and/or any other crew member while the EBRV is transiting within the TSS, maneuvering within the ATBA and/or when actively engaging in the use of thrusters, shall be immediately reported to the Officer-of-the-Watch who shall then alert the Master. The Master or Officer-of-the-Watch shall ensure the required reporting procedures are followed and the designated marine mammal look-out records all pertinent information relevant to the sighting. (iv) Visual sightings made by lookouts from the EBRVs shall be recorded using a standard sighting log form. Estimated locations shall be reported for each individual and/or group of individuals categorized by species when known. This data shall be entered into a database and a summary of monthly sighting activity shall be provided to NMFS. Estimates of take and copies of these log sheets shall also be included in the reports to NMFS. (c) Planned and Unplanned Maintenance and Repair (i) Two (2) qualified and NMFSapproved protected species observers (PSOs) shall be assigned to each vessel that will use dynamic positioning (DP) systems during maintenance and repair related activities. PSOs shall operate individually in designated shifts to accommodate adequate rest schedules. Additional PSOs shall be assigned to additional vessels if auto-detection buoy E:\FR\FM\06OCN1.SGM 06OCN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 60148 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 193 / Monday, October 6, 2014 / Notices (AB) data indicates that sound levels exceed 120 dB re 1 mPa, further than 100 meters (328 feet) from these vessels. (ii) All PSOs shall receive NMFSapproved marine mammal observer training and be approved in advance by NMFS after review of their resume. All PSOs shall have direct field experience on marine mammal vessels and/or aerial surveys in the Atlantic Ocean/Gulf of Mexico. (iii) PSOs (one primary and one secondary) shall be responsible for visually locating marine mammals at the ocean’s surface and, to the extent possible, identifying the species. The primary PSO shall act as the identification specialist and the secondary PSO will serve as data recorder and also assist with identification. Both PSOs shall have responsibility for monitoring for the presence of marine mammals and sea turtles. Specifically PSO’s shall: (A) Monitor at all hours of the day, scanning the ocean surface by eye for a minimum of 40 minutes every hour. (B) Monitor the area where maintenance and repair work is conducted beginning at daybreak using 25x power binoculars and/or hand-held binoculars. Night vision devices must be provided as standard equipment for monitoring during low-light hours and at night. (C) Conduct general 360° visual monitoring during any given watch period and target scanning by the observer shall occur when alerted of a whale presence. (D) Alert the vessel superintendent or construction crew supervisor of visual detections within 2 miles (3.31 kilometers) immediately. (E) Record all sightings on marine mammal field sighting logs. Specifically, all data shall be entered at the time of observation, notes of activities will be kept, and a daily report prepared and attached to the daily field sighting log form. The basic reporting requirements include the following: • Beaufort sea state; • Wind speed; • Wind direction; • Temperature; • Precipitation; • Glare; • Percent cloud cover; • Number of animals; • Species; • Position; • Distance; • Behavior; • Direction of movement; and • Apparent reaction to construction activity. (iv) In the event that a whale is visually observed within the 2-mile VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:17 Oct 03, 2014 Jkt 235001 (3.31-kilometers) zone of influence (ZOI) of a DP vessel or other construction vessel that has shown to emit noise with source level in excess of 139 dB re 1 mPa @1 m, the PSO will notify the repair/maintenance construction crew to minimize the use of thrusters until the animal has moved away, unless there are divers in the water or an ROV is deployed. (d) Acoustic Monitoring (i) Northeast Gateway shall deploy 10 ABs within the Separation Zone of the TSS for the operational life of the Project. (ii) The ABs shall be used to detect a calling North Atlantic right whale an average of 5 nm from each AB. The AB system shall be the primary detection mechanism that alerts the EBRV Master to the occurrence of right whales, heightens EBRV awareness, and triggers necessary mitigation actions as described in section (5) above. (iii) Northeast Gateway shall conduct short-term passive acoustic monitoring to document sound levels during the initial operational events in the 2014– 2015 winter heating season, and during both regular deliveries outside the winter heating season should such deliveries occur, and during scheduled and unscheduled maintenance and repair activities. (iv) Northeast Gateway shall conduct long-term monitoring of the noise environment in Massachusetts Bay in the vicinity of the NEG Port and Pipeline Lateral using marine autonomous recording units (MARUs) when there is anticipated to be more than 5 LNG shipments in a 30-day period or over 20 shipments in a sixmonth period. (v) The acoustic data collected in 6(d)(ii) shall be analyzed to document the seasonal occurrences and overall distributions of whales (primarily fin, humpback and right whales) within approximately 10 nm of the NEG Port and shall measure and document the noise ‘‘budget’’ of Massachusetts Bay so as to eventually assist in determining whether or not an overall increase in noise in the Bay associated with the Project might be having a potentially negative impact on marine mammals. (vi) Northeast Gateway shall make all acoustic data, including data previously collected by the MARUs during prior construction, operations, and maintenance and repair activities, available to NOAA. Data storage will be the responsibility of NOAA. PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 (e) Acoustic Whale Detection and Response Plan (i) NEG Port Operations (A) Ten (10) ABs that have been deployed since 2007 shall be used to continuously screen the low-frequency acoustic environment (less than 1,000 Hertz) for right whale contact calls occurring within an approximately 5nm radius from each buoy (the AB’s detection range). (B) Once a confirmed detection is made, the Master of any EBRVs operating in the area will be alerted immediately. (ii) NEG Port and Pipeline Lateral Planned and Unplanned/Emergency Repair and Maintenance Activities. (A) If the repair/maintenance work is located outside of the detectible range of the 10 project area ABs, Northeast Gateway and Algonquin shall consult with NOAA (NMFS and SBNMS) to determine if the work to be conducted warrants the temporary installation of an additional AB(s) to help detect and provide early warnings for potential occurrence of right whales in the vicinity of the repair area. (B) The number of ABs installed around the activity site shall be commensurate with the type and spatial extent of maintenance/repair work required, but must be sufficient to detect vocalizing right whales within the 120dB impact zone. (C) Should acoustic monitoring be deemed necessary during a planned or unplanned/emergency repair and/or maintenance event, active monitoring for right whale calls shall begin 24 hours prior to the start of activities. (D) Revised noise level data from the acoustic recording units deployed in the NEG Port and/or Pipeline Lateral maintenance and repair area shall be provided to NMFS. (7) Reporting (a) Throughout NEG Port and Pipeline Lateral operations, Northeast Gateway and Algonquin shall provide a monthly Monitoring Report. The Monitoring Report shall include: (i) Both copies of the raw visual EBRV lookout sighting information of marine mammals that occurred within 2 miles of the EBRV while the vessel transits within the TSS, maneuvers within the ATBA, and/or when actively engaging in the use of thrusters, and a summary of the data collected by the look-outs over each reporting period. (ii) Copies of the raw PSO sightings information on marine mammals gathered during pipeline repair or maintenance activities. This visual sighting data shall then be correlated to E:\FR\FM\06OCN1.SGM 06OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 193 / Monday, October 6, 2014 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES periods of thruster activity to provide estimates of marine mammal takes (per species/species class) that took place during each reporting period. (iii) Conclusion of any planned or unplanned/emergency repair and/or maintenance period, a report shall be submitted to NMFS summarizing the repair/maintenance activities, marine mammal sightings (both visual and acoustic), empirical source-level measurements taken during the repair work, and any mitigation measures taken. (b) During the maintenance and repair of NEG Port components, weekly status reports shall be provided to NOAA (both NMFS and SBNMS) using standardized reporting forms. The weekly reports shall include data collected for each distinct marine mammal species observed in the repair/ maintenance area during the period that maintenance and repair activities were taking place. The weekly reports shall include the following information: (i) Location (in longitude and latitude coordinates), time, and the nature of the maintenance and repair activities; (ii) Indication of whether a DP system was operated, and if so, the number of thrusters being used and the time and duration of DP operation; (iii) Marine mammals observed in the area (number, species, age group, and initial behavior); (iv) The distance of observed marine mammals from the maintenance and repair activities; (v) Changes, if any, in marine mammal behaviors during the observation; (vi) A description of any mitigation measures (power-down, shutdown, etc.) implemented; (vii) Weather condition (Beaufort sea state, wind speed, wind direction, ambient temperature, precipitation, and percent cloud cover etc.); (viii) Condition of the observation (visibility and glare); and (ix) Details of passive acoustic detections and any action taken in response to those detections. (d) Injured/Dead Protected Species Reporting (i) In the unanticipated event that survey operations clearly cause the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by the proposed IHA, such as an injury (Level A harassment), serious injury or mortality (e.g., ship-strike, gear interaction, and/or entanglement), NEG and/or Algonquin shall immediately cease activities and immediately report the incident to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, at 301– VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:17 Oct 03, 2014 Jkt 235001 427–8401 and/or by email to Jolie.Harrison@noaa.gov and Shane.Guan@noaa.gov and the Northeast Regional Stranding Coordinators (Mendy.Garron@noaa.gov) or by phone at 978–281–9300. The report must include the following information: (A) Time, date, and location (latitude/ longitude) of the incident; (B) The name and type of vessel involved; (C) The vessel’s speed during and leading up to the incident; (D) Description of the incident; (E) Status of all sound source use in the 24 hours preceding the incident; (F) Water depth; (G) Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility); (H) Description of marine mammal observations in the 24 hours preceding the incident; (I) Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved; (J) The fate of the animal(s); and (K) Photographs or video footage of the animal (if equipment is available). Activities shall not resume until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS shall work with NEG and/or Algonquin to determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. NEG and/or Algonquin may not resume their activities until notified by NMFS via letter, email, or telephone. (ii) In the event that NEG and/or Algonquin discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead PSO determines that the cause of the injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (i.e., in less than a moderate state of decomposition as described in the next paragraph), NEG and/or Algonquin will immediately report the incident to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, at 301– 427–8401, and/or by email to Jolie.Harrison@noaa.gov and Shane.Guan@noaa.gov and the NMFS Northeast Stranding Coordinators (Mendy.Garron@noaa.gov) or by phone at 978–281–9300, within 24 hours of the discovery. The report must include the same information identified above. Activities may continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS will work with NEG and/or Algonquin to determine whether modifications in the activities are appropriate. (iii) In the event that NEG or Algonquin discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead PSO PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 60149 determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the activities authorized (if the IHA is issued) (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), NEG and/or Algonquin shall report the incident to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, at 301– 427–8401, and/or by email to Jolie.Harrison@noaa.gov and Shane.Guan@noaa.gov and the NMFS Northeast Stranding Coordinators (Mendy.Garron@noaa.gov) or by phone at 978–281–9300, within 24 hours of the discovery. NEG and/or Algonquin shall provide photographs or video footage (if available) or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. NEG and/or Algonquin can continue its operations under such a case. Request for Public Comments NMFS requests comment on the revised proposed PAM monitoring for NMFS proposed IHA for Northeast Gateway’s LNG Port and Pipeline Lateral operations and maintenance and repair activities, as described in this notice and in Tetratech’s June 20, 2014, application (see ADDRESSES). Please include with your comments any supporting data or literature citations to help inform our final decision. Dated: September 30, 2014. Donna Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2014–23764 Filed 10–3–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket No.: ED–2014–ICCD–0069] Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; E-Complaint Form Office of Management (OM), Department of Education (ED). ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 3501 et seq.), ED is proposing a new information collection. DATES: Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before November 3, 2014. ADDRESSES: Comments submitted in response to this notice should be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http:// SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\06OCN1.SGM 06OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 193 (Monday, October 6, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 60142-60149]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-23764]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XC228


Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; 
Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Operation, Maintenance, and Repair 
of the Northeast Gateway Liquefied Natural Gas Port and the Algonquin 
Pipeline Lateral Facilities in Massachusetts Bay

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

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

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SUMMARY: NMFS received a revised application from Excelerate Energy, 
L.P. (Excelerate) and Tetra Tech, Inc. (Tetra Tech), on behalf of the 
Northeast Gateway[supreg] Energy BridgeTM, L.P. (Northeast 
Gateway or NEG) and Algonquin Gas Transmission, L.L.C. (Algonquin), for 
authorization under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to take 
marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to operating, maintaining, 
and repairing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) port and the Algonquin 
Pipeline Lateral (Pipeline Lateral) facilities by NEG and Algonquin, in 
Massachusetts Bay, with changes to the proposed monitoring measures 
only. Due to the proposed revision, the IHA would be effective later 
than originally anticipated, although it still would be effective for a 
one-year period. NMFS is requesting comments on changes to the proposed 
monitoring in its proposal to issue an authorization to Northeast 
Gateway to incidentally take, by harassment, small numbers of marine 
mammals for a period of 1 year.

DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than November 
5, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief, 
Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, 
National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver 
Spring, MD 20910. The mailbox address for providing email comments on 
this action is ITP.Guan@noaa.gov. Comments sent via email, including 
all attachments, must not exceed a 10-megabyte file size. A copy of the 
application and a list of references used in this document may be 
obtained by writing to this address, and is also available at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications.
    Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record 
and will generally be posted to http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#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.
    The Maritime Administration (MARAD) and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) 
Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) on the Northeast 
Gateway Energy Bridge LNG Deepwater Port license application is 
available for viewing at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm#applications.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) 
direct the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to allow, upon request, 
the incidental, but not intentional taking of marine mammals by U.S. 
citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial 
fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are 
made and regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to 
harassment, a notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the 
public for review.
    An authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS 
finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or 
stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the 
availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where 
relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements 
pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings 
are set forth. NMFS has defined ``negligible impact'' in 50 CFR 216.103 
as ``. . . an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot 
be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely 
affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of 
recruitment or survival.''
    Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA established an expedited process 
by which citizens of the U.S. can apply for a one-year authorization to 
incidentally take small numbers of marine mammals by harassment, 
provided that there is no potential for serious injury or mortality to 
result from the activity. Section 101(a)(5)(D) establishes a 45-day 
time limit for NMFS review of an application followed by a 30-day 
public notice and comment period on any proposed authorizations for the 
incidental harassment of marine mammals. Within 45 days of the close of 
the comment period, NMFS must either issue or deny the authorization.

Summary of Request

    On January 18, 2013, NMFS received an application from Excelerate 
and Tetra Tech, on behalf of Northeast Gateway and Algonquin, for an 
authorization to take 14 species of marine mammals by Level B 
harassment incidental to operations, maintenance, and repair of an LNG 
port and the Pipeline Lateral facilities in Massachusetts Bay. They 
are: North Atlantic right whale, humpback whale, fin whale, sei whale, 
minke whale, long-finned pilot whale, Atlantic white-sided dolphin, 
bottlenose dolphin, short-beaked common dolphin, killer whale, Risso's 
dolphin, harbor porpoise, harbor

[[Page 60143]]

seal, and gray seal. Since LNG Port and Pipeline Lateral operation, 
maintenance, and repair activities have the potential to take marine 
mammals, a marine mammal take authorization under the MMPA is 
warranted.
    In response to the IHA application, NMFS published a Federal 
Register notice for the proposed IHA on November 18, 2013 (78 FR 
69049), which included proposed mitigation and monitoring measures to 
minimize and monitor potential impacts to marine mammals that could 
result from the proposed LNG Port and Pipeline Lateral operation, 
maintenance, and repair activities. After the close of the public 
comment period, Northeast Gateway notified NMFS that it does not intend 
to use marine autonomous recording units (MARUs) for long-term passive 
acoustic monitoring (PAM), as was described in the November 18, 2013, 
proposed IHA Federal Register notice, the IHA application, and marine 
mammal monitoring plan, except under certain levels of LNG port 
activity, and requested NMFS to modify the monitoring measures in the 
proposed IHA to use alternative acoustic monitoring, with triggers for 
additional long-term monitoring during higher levels of LNG port 
activity (which would require reinstallation of MARUs).
    Following discussions with NMFS' Office of Protected Resources, the 
NMFS Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO), and National 
Ocean Service's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, on June 20, 
2014, Excelerate and Tetra Tech submitted a revised IHA application 
with tiered PAM measures corresponding to different levels of LNG Port 
and Pipeline Lateral operation, maintenance, and repair activities. 
Details of the revised PAM are discussed in this notice.
    This Federal Register notice sets forth the proposed PAM measures 
as revised. There are no other changes to Excelerate and Tetra Tech's 
application or our proposed IHA as described in the November 18, 2013, 
Federal Register notice of a proposed IHA: the specified activity; 
description of marine mammals in the area of the specified activity; 
potential effects on marine mammals and their habitat; proposed 
mitigation and related monitoring used to implement mitigation; 
proposed reporting; estimated take by incidental harassment; negligible 
impact and small numbers analyses and determinations; and impact on 
availability of affected species or stocks for subsistence uses remain 
unchanged and are herein incorporated by reference. Public comments we 
received on those aspects of the proposed IHA during the previous 30-
day public comment period will be considered before we make a final 
decision on whether to issue an IHA.

Proposed Revised Monitoring Measures

    In order to issue an ITA for an activity, section 101(a)(5)(D) of 
the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth ``requirements pertaining to 
the monitoring and reporting of such taking.'' The MMPA implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR 216.104(a)(13) indicate that requests for ITAs 
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 in the proposed action area.
    Our November 18, 2013, initial Federal Register notice of the 
proposed IHA described several proposed monitoring efforts: Vessel-
based visual monitoring to detect marine mammals in real-time (in part 
to trigger mitigation measures); and two types of acoustic monitoring: 
19 MARUs in Massachusetts Bay near the Port (to collect long-term data 
during Port and Pipeline Lateral related activities) and 10 acoustic 
buoys (``ABs'') in the Separation Zone of the Boston Traffic Separation 
Scheme (TSS) to detect, in real-time, calling North Atlantic right 
whales within 5 nm of an AB (to assist in implementing mitigation). The 
proposed revisions to the monitoring plan, which are the subject of 
this Federal Register notice, concern only the MARU requirement. We 
fully retain our original proposal for the vessel-based monitoring and 
the 10 ABs. Please refer to the November 18, 2013, Federal Register 
notice for a description of those other two elements of monitoring.
    MARUs--Background: Beginning in April 2007, Northeast Gateway 
monitored the noise environment in Massachusetts Bay in the vicinity of 
the NEG Port and Algonquin Pipeline Lateral using an array of 19 MARUs 
to collect data during the preconstruction and active construction 
phases of the NEG Port and Algonquin Pipeline Lateral. As a condition 
of the Deepwater Port License, the MARU array remained in place for a 
period of five years following the commissioning of the NEG Port. 
Previous IHAs for the NE Gateway Port and Pipeline Lateral operations 
included the MARUs as a monitoring requirement, as did the proposed IHA 
noticed in the November 18, 2013, Federal Register notice. However, the 
five-year stipulated period of operation of the MARU array for the NEG 
Port ended in February 2013. This, coupled with the transfer of 
operational responsibility of the MARU array to Neptune LNG, which 
suspended operation of their Deepwater Port on June 26, 2013, led to 
the removal of the MARU array in July 2013, meaning the MARUs were not 
available for routine acoustic monitoring after that date.
    The MARUs collected archived noise data and were not designed to 
provide real-time or near-real-time information about vocalizing 
whales. The acoustic data collected by the MARUs were analyzed by the 
Bioacoustics Research Program (BRP) at Cornell University to document 
the seasonal occurrences and overall distributions of whales (primarily 
fin, humpback, and right whales) within approximately 10 nautical miles 
of the NEG Port, and to measure and document the noise ``budget'' of 
Massachusetts Bay so as to eventually assist in determining whether an 
overall increase in noise in the Bay associated with the NEG Port and 
Algonquin Pipeline Lateral might be having a potentially negative 
impact on marine mammals.
    Northeast Gateway and Algonquin state that continued monitoring 
utilizing the MARU array is no longer warranted for a number of 
reasons:
    1. The MARU array system was designed for monitoring for the 
maximum operational scenario with the NEG Port receiving 65 cargo 
deliveries per year. Anticipated deliveries to the Port during the next 
IHA period will be significantly smaller scale and, though dependent on 
market rates, will likely be confined to the winter heating season.
    2. The purpose of the MARU data was principally intended to 
determine the daily occurrence of acoustically active fin whales, 
humpback whales, and right whales with nineteen MARUs deployed. A 
secondary purpose was to evaluate the extent to which operations sounds 
were evident throughout the region and the relative contribution of 
those sounds to the acoustic environment in the region. The majority of 
the MARUs were positioned at separation distances too large to meet 
this secondary objective. In comparison, the revised passive acoustic 
monitoring program described below is intended to provide empirical 
measurements of specific operational and maintenance events and 
``ground-truth'' the acoustic model algorithms employed. By targeting 
these specific events, and positioning sensors within the water column 
in proximity to the Port, the resultant dataset should provide a 
clearer picture of the actual acoustic footprint of the Port.

[[Page 60144]]

    3. The static recorders and real-time hydrophone arrays that will 
be employed in the revised proposed passive acoustic monitoring program 
(see below) are designed specifically for empirical measurement and 
recording of underwater sound. With National Institute of Standards and 
Technologies (NIST) traceable calibration certificates for the entire 
measurement chain, the data will provide an absolute measurement of 
received sound levels, ensuring the highest degree of accuracy possible 
for an offshore measurement program.
    Revised Proposed PAM: In place of the MARUs, Northeast Gateway 
developed a proposed field program to measure underwater sound during 
the initial Energy Bridge Regasification Vessel (EBRV) delivery for the 
2014 winter season, during certain maintenance and repair, and 
additional long-term PAM in the vicinity of the LNG Port using devices 
such as MARUs if the anticipated LNG deliveries exceed 5 shipments in a 
30-day period or 20 shipments in a six-month period.
    The intent of the proposed PAM program is to provide better 
information about the acoustic footprint associated with operation of 
the NEG Port in Massachusetts Bay. The modeled underwater acoustic 
impacts presented in the IHA application relied primarily on estimated 
source levels derived from the similar vessels and operations. This 
proposed monitoring plan will measure the actual sound levels that are 
introduced into the underwater environment, reducing uncertainty 
associated with source levels used as modeling inputs for the analysis 
presented in this and any future IHAs.
    Underwater noise monitoring will be conducted to obtain a 
representative acoustic signature of vessel transit, docking, 
maintenance, onboard regasification operational scenarios, and 
maintenance activities. NEG will conduct the short-term hydroacoustic 
monitoring to document sound levels during the initial operational 
event for the 2014-2015 heating season. In addition, the short-term 
hydroacoustic monitoring will be utilized for any maintenance or repair 
activities with the potential to result in significant noise levels 
(i.e. DP thrusters) or for any delivery that may occur outside the 
identified winter heating season.
    Autonomous Marine Recording (AMAR) units will be deployed one day 
prior to the identified monitoring events and retrieved one day after 
these events, utilizing a vessel similar to that described for MARU 
deployment and retrieval. Information pertaining to forecasted delivery 
levels at or above the stated trigger will be provided to NEG in 
advance, giving adequate time for monitoring systems to be put in place 
prior to the first forecasted delivery event. The field monitoring 
program will be used to verify actual distances to thresholds and these 
values will be compared to the impact distances predicted from 
modeling.
    To reiterate, the remaining proposed monitoring measures, including 
vessel-based visual monitoring and the real-time autonomous buoys 
(ABs), are the same as described in the initial Federal Register notice 
(78 FR 69049; November 18, 2013) for the proposed IHA. Moreover, these 
proposed changes will have no bearing on the specified activity, its 
impacts, and our proposed mitigation and mitigation-related monitoring 
requirements.

Proposed Reporting Measures

    As indicated above, no changes are proposed to the reporting 
measures described in the initial Federal Register notice of the 
proposed IHA (78 FR 69049; November 18, 2013). However, NMFS has 
requested that Northeast Gateway make all acoustic data collected by 
the MARUs during prior construction, operations, and maintenance and 
repair activities available to NOAA.

Endangered Species Act (ESA)

    Our November 18, 2013, Federal Register notice of proposed IHA 
described the history and status of Endangered Species Act (ESA) 
compliance for the NE Gateway LNG facility. As explained in that 
notice, the biological opinions for construction and operation of the 
facility only analyzed ESA-listed species for activities under the 
initial short construction period and during operations, and did not 
take into consideration potential impacts to marine mammals that could 
result from the subsequent LNG Port and Pipeline Lateral maintenance 
and repair activities. In addition, NEG also revealed that 
significantly more water usage and vessel operating air emissions are 
needed from what was originally evaluated for the LNG Port operation. 
NMFS PR1 initiated consultation with NMFS Greater Atlantic Region 
Fisheries Office under section 7 of the ESA on the issuance of an IHA 
to NEG under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA for the proposed 
activities that include increased NEG Port and Algonquin Pipeline 
Lateral maintenance and repair and water usage for the LNG Port 
operations this activity. Consultation will be concluded prior to a 
determination on the issuance of an IHA.

National Environmental Policy Act

    Our November 18, 2013, Federal Register notice of proposed IHA 
described the history and status of National Environmental Policy Act 
compliance for the NE Gateway LNG facility. Please refer to that 
notice.

Proposed Incidental Harassment Authorization

    Our November 18, 2013, Federal Register notice provided a draft of 
the IHA itself. Here we provide the language of the proposed IHA with 
the proposed revisions to the monitoring measures. No other changes 
have been made.
    (1) This Authorization is valid from November 1, 2014, through 
October 31, 2015.
    (2) This Authorization is valid only for activities associated with 
Northeast Gateway's LNG Port and Algonquin's Pipeline Lateral 
operations and maintenance and repair activities in the Massachusetts 
Bay. The specific area of the activities is shown in Figure 2-1 of the 
Excelerate Energy, L.P. and Tetra Tech, Inc.'s IHA application.
    (3)(a) The species authorized for incidental harassment takings, 
Level B harassment only, are: right whales (Eubalaena glacialis); fin 
whales (Balaenoptera physalus); humpback whales (Megaptera 
novaeangliae); minke whales (B. acutorostrata); sei whales (B. 
borealis); long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas); Atlantic 
white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus); bottlenose dolphins 
(Tursiops truncatus); short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis); 
Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus); killer whales (Orcinus orca); harbor 
porpoises (Phocoena phocoena); harbor seals (Phoca vitulina); and gray 
seals (Halichoerus grypus).
    (3)(b) The authorization for taking by harassment is limited to the 
following acoustic sources and from the following activities:
    (i) NEG Port operations;
    (ii) NEG Port maintenance and repair; and
    (iii) Algonquin Pipeline Lateral operations and maintenance.
    (3)(c) The taking of any marine mammal in a manner prohibited under 
this Authorization must be reported within 24 hours of the taking to 
the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Northeast Regional 
Administrator (978-281-9300) or his designee (978-282-8468), NMFS 
Headquarter Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of 
Protected Resources, NMFS, at (301-427-8401), or his designee (301-427-
8418).

[[Page 60145]]

(4) Prohibitions
    (a) The taking, by incidental harassment only, is limited to the 
species listed under condition 3(a) above and by the numbers listed in 
Table 3. The taking by Level A harassment, injury or death of these 
species or the taking by harassment, injury or death of any other 
species of marine mammal is prohibited and may result in the 
modification, suspension, or revocation of this Authorization.
    (b) The taking of any marine mammal is prohibited whenever the 
required mitigation measures under (5) of this authorization are not 
implemented.
(5) Mitigation
(a) General Marine Mammal Avoidance Measures
    (i) All vessels shall utilize the International Maritime 
Organization (IMO)-approved Boston Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) on 
their approach to and departure from the NEG Port and/or the repair/
maintenance area at the earliest practicable point of transit in order 
to avoid the risk of whale strikes.
    (ii) Upon entering the TSS and areas where North Atlantic right 
whales are known to occur, including the Great South Channel Seasonal 
Management Area (GSC-SMA) and the SBNMS, the EBRV shall go into 
``Heightened Awareness'' as described below.
    (A) Prior to entering and navigating the modified TSS the Master of 
the vessel shall:
    (I) Consult Navigational Telex (NAVTEX), NOAA Weather Radio, the 
NOAA Right Whale Sighting Advisory System (SAS) or other means to 
obtain current right whale sighting information as well as the most 
recent Cornell acoustic monitoring buoy data for the potential presence 
of marine mammals;
    (II) Post a look-out to visually monitor for the presence of marine 
mammals;
    (III) Provide the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) required 96-hour 
notification of an arriving EBRV to allow the NEG Port Manager to 
notify Cornell of vessel arrival.
    (B) The look-out shall concentrate his/her observation efforts 
within the 2-mile radius zone of influence (ZOI) from the maneuvering 
EBRV.
    (C) If marine mammal detection was reported by NAVTEX, NOAA Weather 
Radio, SAS and/or an acoustic monitoring buoy, the look-out shall 
concentrate visual monitoring efforts towards the areas of the most 
recent detection.
    (D) If the look-out (or any other member of the crew) visually 
detects a marine mammal within the 2-mile radius ZOI of a maneuvering 
EBRV, he/she will take the following actions:
    (I) The Officer-of-the-Watch shall be notified immediately; who 
shall then relay the sighting information to the Master of the vessel 
to ensure action(s) can be taken to avoid physical contact with marine 
mammals.
    (II) The sighting shall be recorded in the sighting log by the 
designated look-out.
    (iii) In accordance with 50 CFR 224.103(c), all vessels associated 
with NEG Port and Pipeline Lateral activities shall not approach closer 
than 500 yards (460 m) to a North Atlantic right whale and 100 yards 
(91 m) to other whales to the extent physically feasible given 
navigational constraints. In addition, when approaching and departing 
the project area, vessels shall be operated so as to remain at least 1 
km away from any visually-detected North Atlantic right whales.
    (iv) In response to active right whale sightings and active 
acoustic detections, and taking into account exceptional circumstances, 
EBRVs, repair and maintenance vessels shall take appropriate actions to 
minimize the risk of striking whales. Specifically vessels shall:
    (A) Respond to active right whale sightings and/or DMAs reported on 
the Mandatory Ship Reporting (MSR) or SAS by concentrating monitoring 
efforts towards the area of most recent detection and reducing speed to 
10 knots or less if the vessel is within the boundaries of a DMA (50 
CFR 224.105) or within the circular area centered on an area 8 nm in 
radius from a sighting location;
    (B) Respond to active acoustic detections by concentrating 
monitoring efforts towards the area of most recent detection and 
reducing speed to 10 knots or less within an area 5 nm in radius 
centered on the detecting AB; and
    (C) Respond to additional sightings made by the designated look-
outs within a 2-mile radius of the vessel by slowing the vessel to 10 
knots or less and concentrating monitoring efforts towards the area of 
most recent sighting.
    (v) All vessels operated under NEG and Algonquin must follow the 
established specific speed restrictions when calling at the NEG Port. 
The specific speed restrictions required for all vessels (i.e., EBRVs 
and vessels associated with maintenance and repair) consist of the 
following:
    (A) Vessels shall reduce their maximum transit speed while in the 
TSS from 12 knots or less to 10 knots or less from March 1 to April 30 
in all waters bounded by straight lines connecting the following points 
in the order stated below unless an emergency situation dictates for an 
alternate speed. This area shall hereafter be referred to as the Off 
Race Point Seasonal Management Area (ORP-SMA) and tracks NMFS 
regulations at 50 CFR 224.105: 42[deg]30' N 70[deg]30' W, 41[deg]40' N 
69[deg]57' W, 42[deg]30' N 69[deg]45' W, 42[deg]12' N 70[deg]15' W, 
41[deg]40' N 69[deg]45' W, 42[deg]12' N 70[deg]30' W, 42[deg]04.8' N 
70[deg]10' W, 42[deg]30' N 70[deg]30' W.
    (B) Vessels shall reduce their maximum transit speed while in the 
TSS to 10 knots or less unless an emergency situation dictates for an 
alternate speed from April 1 to July 31 in all waters bounded by 
straight lines connecting the following points in the order stated 
below. This area shall hereafter be referred to as the GSC-SMA and 
tracks NMFS regulations at 50 CFR 224.105: 42[deg]30' N 69[deg]45' W, 
41[deg]40' N 69[deg]45' W, 42[deg]30' N 67[deg]27' W, 42[deg]30' N 
69[deg]45' W, 42[deg]09' N 67[deg]08.4' W, 41[deg]00' N 69[deg]05' W.
    (C) Vessels are not expected to transit the Cape Cod Bay or the 
Cape Cod Canal; however, in the event that transit through the Cape Cod 
Bay or the Cape Cod Canal is required, vessels shall reduce maximum 
transit speed to 10 knots or less from January 1 to May 15 in all 
waters in Cape Cod Bay, extending to all shorelines of Cape Cod Bay, 
with a northern boundary of 42[deg]12' N latitude and the Cape Cod 
Canal. This area shall hereafter be referred to as the Cape Cod Bay 
Seasonal Management Area (CCB-SMA).
    (D) All Vessels transiting to and from the project area shall 
report their activities to the mandatory reporting Section of the USCG 
to remain apprised of North Atlantic right whale movements within the 
area. All vessels entering and exiting the MSRA shall report their 
activities to WHALESNORTH. Vessel operators shall contact the USCG by 
standard procedures promulgated through the Notice to Mariner system.
    (E) All Vessels greater than or equal to 300 gross tons (GT) shall 
maintain a speed of 10 knots or less, unless an emergency situation 
requires speeds greater than 10 knots.
    (F) All Vessels less than 300 GT traveling between the shore and 
the project area that are not generally restricted to 10 knots will 
contact the Mandatory Ship Reporting (MSR) system, the USCG, or the 
project site before leaving shore for reports of active DMAs and/or 
recent right whale sightings and, consistent with navigation safety, 
restrict speeds to 10 knots or less within 5 miles (8 kilometers) of 
any sighting location,

[[Page 60146]]

when traveling in any of the seasonal management areas (SMAs) or when 
traveling in any active dynamic management area (DMA).
(b) NEG Port-Specific Operations
    (i) In addition to the general marine mammal avoidance requirements 
identified in (5)(a) above, vessels calling on the NEG Port must comply 
with the following additional requirements:
    (A) EBRVs shall travel at 10 knots maximum speed when transiting 
to/from the TSS or to/from the NEG Port/Pipeline Lateral area. For 
EBRVs, at 1.86 miles (3 km) from the NEG Port, speed will be reduced to 
3 knots and to less than 1 knot at 1,640 ft (500 m) from the NEG buoys, 
unless an emergency situation dictates the need for an alternate speed.
    (B) EBRVs that are approaching or departing from the NEG Port and 
are within the ATBA5 surrounding the NEG Port, shall remain at least 1 
km away from any visually-detected North Atlantic right whale and at 
least 100 yards (91 m) away from all other visually-detected whales 
unless an emergency situation requires that the vessel stay its course. 
During EBRV maneuvering, the Vessel Master shall designate at least one 
look-out to be exclusively and continuously monitoring for the presence 
of marine mammals at all times while the EBRV is approaching or 
departing from the NEG Port.
    (C) During NEG Port operations, in the event that a whale is 
visually observed within 1 km of the NEG Port or a confirmed acoustic 
detection is reported on either of the two ABs closest to the NEG Port 
(western-most in the TSS array), departing EBRVs shall delay their 
departure from the NEG Port, unless an emergency situation requires 
that departure is not delayed. This departure delay shall continue 
until either the observed whale has been visually (during daylight 
hours) confirmed as more than 1 km from the NEG Port or 30 minutes have 
passed without another confirmed detection either acoustically within 
the acoustic detection range of the two ABs closest to the NEG Port, or 
visually within 1 km from the NEG Port.
    (ii) Vessel captains shall focus on reducing dynamic positioning 
(DP) thruster power to the maximum extent practicable, taking into 
account vessel and Port safety, during the operation activities. Vessel 
captains will shut down thrusters whenever they are not needed.
(c) Planned and Unplanned Maintenance and Repair Activities
(i) NEG Port
    (A) The Northeast Gateway shall conduct empirical source level 
measurements on all noise emitting construction equipment and all 
vessels that are involved in maintenance/repair work.
    (B) If dynamic positioning (DP) systems are to be employed and/or 
activities will emit noise with a source level of 139 dB re 1 [mu]Pa at 
1 m, activities shall be conducted in accordance with the requirements 
for DP systems listed in (5)(b)(ii).
    (C) Northeast Gateway shall provide the NMFS Headquarters Office of 
the Protected Resources, NMFS Northeast Region Ship Strike Coordinator, 
and SBNMS with a minimum of 30 days notice prior to any planned repair 
and/or maintenance activity. For any unplanned/emergency repair/
maintenance activity, Northeast Gateway shall notify the agencies as 
soon as it determines that repair work must be conducted. Northeast 
Gateway shall continue to keep the agencies apprised of repair work 
plans as further details (e.g., the time, location, and nature of the 
repair) become available. A final notification shall be provided to 
agencies 72 hours prior to crews being deployed into the field.
(ii) Pipeline Lateral
    (A) Pipeline maintenance/repair vessels less than 300 GT traveling 
between the shore and the maintenance/repair area that are not 
generally restricted to 10 knots shall contact the MSR system, the 
USCG, or the project site before leaving shore for reports of active 
DMAs and/or recent right whale sightings and, consistent with 
navigation safety, restrict speeds to 10 knots or less within 5 miles 
(8 km) of any sighting location, when travelling in any of the seasonal 
management areas (SMAs) as defined above.
    (B) Maintenance/repair vessels greater than 300 GT shall not exceed 
10 knots, unless an emergency situation that requires speeds greater 
than 10 knots.
    (C) Planned maintenance and repair activities shall be restricted 
to the period between May 1 and November 30.
    (D) Unplanned/emergency maintenance and repair activities shall be 
conducted utilizing anchor-moored dive vessel whenever operationally 
possible.
    (E) Algonquin shall also provide the NMFS Office of the Protected 
Resources, NMFS Northeast Region Ship Strike Coordinator, and 
Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (SBNMS) with a minimum of 30-
day notice prior to any planned repair and/or maintenance activity. For 
any unplanned/emergency repair/maintenance activity, Northeast Gateway 
shall notify the agencies as soon as it determines that repair work 
must be conducted. Algonquin shall continue to keep the agencies 
apprised of repair work plans as further details (e.g., the time, 
location, and nature of the repair) become available. A final 
notification shall be provided to agencies 72 hours prior to crews 
being deployed into the field.
    (F) If dynamic positioning (DP) systems are to be employed and/or 
activities will emit noise with a source level of 139 dB re 1 [mu]Pa at 
1 m, activities shall be conducted in accordance with the requirements 
for DP systems listed in (5)(b)(ii).
    (G) In the event that a whale is visually observed within 0.5 mile 
(0.8 kilometers) of a repair or maintenance vessel, the vessel 
superintendent or on-deck supervisor shall be notified immediately. The 
vessel's crew shall be put on a heightened state of alert and the 
marine mammal shall be monitored constantly to determine if it is 
moving toward the repair or maintenance area.
    (H) Repair/maintenance vessel(s) must cease any movement and/or 
cease all activities that emit noises with source level of 139 dB re 1 
[mu]Pa @ 1 m or higher when a right whale is sighted within or 
approaching at 500 yd (457 m) from the vessel. Repair and maintenance 
work may resume after the marine mammal is positively reconfirmed 
outside the established zones (500 yd [457 m]) or 30 minutes have 
passed without a redetection. Any vessels transiting the maintenance 
area, such as barges or tugs, must also maintain these separation 
distances.
    (I) Repair/maintenance vessel(s) must cease any movement and/or 
cease all activities that emit noises with source level of 139 dB re 1 
[mu]Pa @ 1 m or higher when a marine mammal other than a right whale is 
sighted within or approaching at 100 yd (91 m) from the vessel. Repair 
and maintenance work may resume after the marine mammal is positively 
reconfirmed outside the established zones (100 yd [91 m]) or 30 minutes 
have passed without a redetection. Any vessels transiting the 
maintenance area, such as barges or tugs, must also maintain these 
separation distances.
    (J) Algonquin and associated contractors shall also comply with the 
following:
    (I) Operations involving excessively noisy equipment (source level

[[Page 60147]]

exceeding 139 dB re 1 [mu]Pa @ 1 m) shall ``ramp-up'' sound sources, 
allowing whales a chance to leave the area before sounds reach maximum 
levels. In addition, Northeast Gateway, Algonquin, and other associated 
contractors shall maintain equipment to manufacturers' specifications, 
including any sound-muffling devices or engine covers in order to 
minimize noise effects. Noisy construction equipment shall only be used 
as needed and equipment shall be turned off when not in operation.
    (II) Any material that has the potential to entangle marine mammals 
(e.g., anchor lines, cables, rope or other construction debris) shall 
only be deployed as needed and measures shall be taken to minimize the 
chance of entanglement.
    (III) For any material that has the potential to entangle marine 
mammals, such material shall be removed from the water immediately 
unless such action jeopardizes the safety of the vessel and crew as 
determined by the Captain of the vessel.
    (IV) In the event that a marine mammal becomes entangled, the 
marine mammal coordinator and/or PSO will notify NMFS (if outside the 
SBNMS), and SBNMS staff (if inside the SBNMS) immediately so that a 
rescue effort may be initiated.
    (K) All maintenance/repair activities shall be scheduled to occur 
between May 1 and November 30; however, in the event of unplanned/
emergency repair work that cannot be scheduled during the preferred May 
through November work window, the following additional measures shall 
be followed for Pipeline Lateral maintenance and repair related 
activities between December and April:
    (I) Between December 1 and April 30, if on-board PSOs do not have 
at least 0.5-mile visibility, they shall call for a shutdown. At the 
time of shutdown, the use of thrusters must be minimized. If there are 
potential safety problems due to the shutdown, the captain will decide 
what operations can safely be shut down.
    (II) Prior to leaving the dock to begin transit, the barge shall 
contact one of the PSOs on watch to receive an update of sightings 
within the visual observation area. If the PSO has observed a North 
Atlantic right whale within 30 minutes of the transit start, the vessel 
shall hold for 30 minutes and again get a clearance to leave from the 
PSOs on board. PSOs shall assess whale activity and visual observation 
ability at the time of the transit request to clear the barge for 
release.
    (III) Transit route, destination, sea conditions and any marine 
mammal sightings/mitigation actions during watch shall be recorded in 
the log book. Any whale sightings within 1,000 m of the vessel shall 
result in a high alert and slow speed of 4 knots or less and a sighting 
within 750 m shall result in idle speed and/or ceasing all movement.
    (IV) The material barges and tugs used in repair and maintenance 
shall transit from the operations dock to the work sites during 
daylight hours when possible provided the safety of the vessels is not 
compromised. Should transit at night be required, the maximum speed of 
the tug shall be 5 knots.
    (V) All repair vessels must maintain a speed of 10 knots or less 
during daylight hours. All vessels shall operate at 5 knots or less at 
all times within 5 km of the repair area.
(d) Acoustic Monitoring Related Activities
    (i) Vessels associated with maintaining the AB network operating as 
part of the mitigation/monitoring protocols shall adhere to the 
following speed restrictions and marine mammal monitoring requirements.
    (A) In accordance with NOAA Regulation 50 CFR 224.103 (c), all 
vessels associated with NEG Port activities shall not approach closer 
than 500 yards (460 meters) to a North Atlantic right whale.
    (B) All vessels shall obtain the latest DMA or right whale sighting 
information via the NAVTEX, MSR, SAS, NOAA Weather Radio, or other 
available means prior to operations to determine if there are right 
whales present in the operational area.
(6) Monitoring
(a) Vessel-Based Visual Monitoring
    (i) Vessel-based monitoring for marine mammals shall be done by 
trained look-outs during NEG LNG Port and Pipeline Lateral operations 
and maintenance and repair activities. The observers shall monitor the 
occurrence of marine mammals near the vessels during LNG Port and 
Pipeline Lateral related activities. Lookout duties include watching 
for and identifying marine mammals; recording their numbers, distances, 
and reactions to the activities; and documenting ``take by 
harassment''.
    (ii) The vessel look-outs assigned to visually monitor for the 
presence of marine mammals and shall be provided with the following:
    (A) Recent NAVTEX, NOAA Weather Radio, SAS and/or acoustic 
monitoring buoy detection data;
    (B) Binoculars to support observations;
    (C) Marine mammal detection guide sheets; and
    (D) Sighting log.
(b) NEG LNG Port Operations
    (i) All individuals onboard the EBRVs responsible for the 
navigation duties and any other personnel that could be assigned to 
monitor for marine mammals shall receive training on marine mammal 
sighting/reporting and vessel strike avoidance measures.
    (ii) While an EBRV is navigating within the designated TSS, there 
shall be three people with look-out duties on or near the bridge of the 
ship including the Master, the Officer-of-the-Watch and the Helmsman-
on-watch. In addition to the standard watch procedures, while the EBRV 
is transiting within the designated TSS, maneuvering within the Area to 
be Avoided (ATBA), and/or while actively engaging in the use of 
thrusters, an additional look-out shall be designated to exclusively 
and continuously monitor for marine mammals.
    (iii) All sightings of marine mammals by the designated look-out, 
individuals posted to navigational look-out duties and/or any other 
crew member while the EBRV is transiting within the TSS, maneuvering 
within the ATBA and/or when actively engaging in the use of thrusters, 
shall be immediately reported to the Officer-of-the-Watch who shall 
then alert the Master. The Master or Officer-of-the-Watch shall ensure 
the required reporting procedures are followed and the designated 
marine mammal look-out records all pertinent information relevant to 
the sighting.
    (iv) Visual sightings made by look-outs from the EBRVs shall be 
recorded using a standard sighting log form. Estimated locations shall 
be reported for each individual and/or group of individuals categorized 
by species when known. This data shall be entered into a database and a 
summary of monthly sighting activity shall be provided to NMFS. 
Estimates of take and copies of these log sheets shall also be included 
in the reports to NMFS.
(c) Planned and Unplanned Maintenance and Repair
    (i) Two (2) qualified and NMFS-approved protected species observers 
(PSOs) shall be assigned to each vessel that will use dynamic 
positioning (DP) systems during maintenance and repair related 
activities. PSOs shall operate individually in designated shifts to 
accommodate adequate rest schedules. Additional PSOs shall be assigned 
to additional vessels if auto-detection buoy

[[Page 60148]]

(AB) data indicates that sound levels exceed 120 dB re 1 [micro]Pa, 
further than 100 meters (328 feet) from these vessels.
    (ii) All PSOs shall receive NMFS-approved marine mammal observer 
training and be approved in advance by NMFS after review of their 
resume. All PSOs shall have direct field experience on marine mammal 
vessels and/or aerial surveys in the Atlantic Ocean/Gulf of Mexico.
    (iii) PSOs (one primary and one secondary) shall be responsible for 
visually locating marine mammals at the ocean's surface and, to the 
extent possible, identifying the species. The primary PSO shall act as 
the identification specialist and the secondary PSO will serve as data 
recorder and also assist with identification. Both PSOs shall have 
responsibility for monitoring for the presence of marine mammals and 
sea turtles. Specifically PSO's shall:
    (A) Monitor at all hours of the day, scanning the ocean surface by 
eye for a minimum of 40 minutes every hour.
    (B) Monitor the area where maintenance and repair work is conducted 
beginning at daybreak using 25x power binoculars and/or hand-held 
binoculars. Night vision devices must be provided as standard equipment 
for monitoring during low-light hours and at night.
    (C) Conduct general 360[deg] visual monitoring during any given 
watch period and target scanning by the observer shall occur when 
alerted of a whale presence.
    (D) Alert the vessel superintendent or construction crew supervisor 
of visual detections within 2 miles (3.31 kilometers) immediately.
    (E) Record all sightings on marine mammal field sighting logs. 
Specifically, all data shall be entered at the time of observation, 
notes of activities will be kept, and a daily report prepared and 
attached to the daily field sighting log form. The basic reporting 
requirements include the following:
     Beaufort sea state;
     Wind speed;
     Wind direction;
     Temperature;
     Precipitation;
     Glare;
     Percent cloud cover;
     Number of animals;
     Species;
     Position;
     Distance;
     Behavior;
     Direction of movement; and
     Apparent reaction to construction activity.
    (iv) In the event that a whale is visually observed within the 2-
mile (3.31-kilometers) zone of influence (ZOI) of a DP vessel or other 
construction vessel that has shown to emit noise with source level in 
excess of 139 dB re 1 [micro]Pa @1 m, the PSO will notify the repair/
maintenance construction crew to minimize the use of thrusters until 
the animal has moved away, unless there are divers in the water or an 
ROV is deployed.
(d) Acoustic Monitoring
    (i) Northeast Gateway shall deploy 10 ABs within the Separation 
Zone of the TSS for the operational life of the Project.
    (ii) The ABs shall be used to detect a calling North Atlantic right 
whale an average of 5 nm from each AB. The AB system shall be the 
primary detection mechanism that alerts the EBRV Master to the 
occurrence of right whales, heightens EBRV awareness, and triggers 
necessary mitigation actions as described in section (5) above.
    (iii) Northeast Gateway shall conduct short-term passive acoustic 
monitoring to document sound levels during the initial operational 
events in the 2014-2015 winter heating season, and during both regular 
deliveries outside the winter heating season should such deliveries 
occur, and during scheduled and unscheduled maintenance and repair 
activities.
    (iv) Northeast Gateway shall conduct long-term monitoring of the 
noise environment in Massachusetts Bay in the vicinity of the NEG Port 
and Pipeline Lateral using marine autonomous recording units (MARUs) 
when there is anticipated to be more than 5 LNG shipments in a 30-day 
period or over 20 shipments in a six-month period.
    (v) The acoustic data collected in 6(d)(ii) shall be analyzed to 
document the seasonal occurrences and overall distributions of whales 
(primarily fin, humpback and right whales) within approximately 10 nm 
of the NEG Port and shall measure and document the noise ``budget'' of 
Massachusetts Bay so as to eventually assist in determining whether or 
not an overall increase in noise in the Bay associated with the Project 
might be having a potentially negative impact on marine mammals.
    (vi) Northeast Gateway shall make all acoustic data, including data 
previously collected by the MARUs during prior construction, 
operations, and maintenance and repair activities, available to NOAA. 
Data storage will be the responsibility of NOAA.
(e) Acoustic Whale Detection and Response Plan
(i) NEG Port Operations
    (A) Ten (10) ABs that have been deployed since 2007 shall be used 
to continuously screen the low-frequency acoustic environment (less 
than 1,000 Hertz) for right whale contact calls occurring within an 
approximately 5-nm radius from each buoy (the AB's detection range).
    (B) Once a confirmed detection is made, the Master of any EBRVs 
operating in the area will be alerted immediately.
    (ii) NEG Port and Pipeline Lateral Planned and Unplanned/Emergency 
Repair and Maintenance Activities.
    (A) If the repair/maintenance work is located outside of the 
detectible range of the 10 project area ABs, Northeast Gateway and 
Algonquin shall consult with NOAA (NMFS and SBNMS) to determine if the 
work to be conducted warrants the temporary installation of an 
additional AB(s) to help detect and provide early warnings for 
potential occurrence of right whales in the vicinity of the repair 
area.
    (B) The number of ABs installed around the activity site shall be 
commensurate with the type and spatial extent of maintenance/repair 
work required, but must be sufficient to detect vocalizing right whales 
within the 120-dB impact zone.
    (C) Should acoustic monitoring be deemed necessary during a planned 
or unplanned/emergency repair and/or maintenance event, active 
monitoring for right whale calls shall begin 24 hours prior to the 
start of activities.
    (D) Revised noise level data from the acoustic recording units 
deployed in the NEG Port and/or Pipeline Lateral maintenance and repair 
area shall be provided to NMFS.
(7) Reporting
    (a) Throughout NEG Port and Pipeline Lateral operations, Northeast 
Gateway and Algonquin shall provide a monthly Monitoring Report. The 
Monitoring Report shall include:
    (i) Both copies of the raw visual EBRV lookout sighting information 
of marine mammals that occurred within 2 miles of the EBRV while the 
vessel transits within the TSS, maneuvers within the ATBA, and/or when 
actively engaging in the use of thrusters, and a summary of the data 
collected by the look-outs over each reporting period.
    (ii) Copies of the raw PSO sightings information on marine mammals 
gathered during pipeline repair or maintenance activities. This visual 
sighting data shall then be correlated to

[[Page 60149]]

periods of thruster activity to provide estimates of marine mammal 
takes (per species/species class) that took place during each reporting 
period.
    (iii) Conclusion of any planned or unplanned/emergency repair and/
or maintenance period, a report shall be submitted to NMFS summarizing 
the repair/maintenance activities, marine mammal sightings (both visual 
and acoustic), empirical source-level measurements taken during the 
repair work, and any mitigation measures taken.
    (b) During the maintenance and repair of NEG Port components, 
weekly status reports shall be provided to NOAA (both NMFS and SBNMS) 
using standardized reporting forms. The weekly reports shall include 
data collected for each distinct marine mammal species observed in the 
repair/maintenance area during the period that maintenance and repair 
activities were taking place. The weekly reports shall include the 
following information:
    (i) Location (in longitude and latitude coordinates), time, and the 
nature of the maintenance and repair activities;
    (ii) Indication of whether a DP system was operated, and if so, the 
number of thrusters being used and the time and duration of DP 
operation;
    (iii) Marine mammals observed in the area (number, species, age 
group, and initial behavior);
    (iv) The distance of observed marine mammals from the maintenance 
and repair activities;
    (v) Changes, if any, in marine mammal behaviors during the 
observation;
    (vi) A description of any mitigation measures (power-down, 
shutdown, etc.) implemented;
    (vii) Weather condition (Beaufort sea state, wind speed, wind 
direction, ambient temperature, precipitation, and percent cloud cover 
etc.);
    (viii) Condition of the observation (visibility and glare); and
    (ix) Details of passive acoustic detections and any action taken in 
response to those detections.
(d) Injured/Dead Protected Species Reporting
    (i) In the unanticipated event that survey operations clearly cause 
the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by the proposed IHA, 
such as an injury (Level A harassment), serious injury or mortality 
(e.g., ship-strike, gear interaction, and/or entanglement), NEG and/or 
Algonquin shall immediately cease activities and immediately report the 
incident to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of 
Protected Resources, NMFS, at 301-427-8401 and/or by email to 
Jolie.Harrison@noaa.gov and Shane.Guan@noaa.gov and the Northeast 
Regional Stranding Coordinators (Mendy.Garron@noaa.gov) or by phone at 
978-281-9300. The report must include the following information:
    (A) Time, date, and location (latitude/longitude) of the incident;
    (B) The name and type of vessel involved;
    (C) The vessel's speed during and leading up to the incident;
    (D) Description of the incident;
    (E) Status of all sound source use in the 24 hours preceding the 
incident;
    (F) Water depth;
    (G) Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, 
Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility);
    (H) Description of marine mammal observations in the 24 hours 
preceding the incident;
    (I) Species identification or description of the animal(s) 
involved;
    (J) The fate of the animal(s); and
    (K) Photographs or video footage of the animal (if equipment is 
available).
    Activities shall not resume until NMFS is able to review the 
circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS shall work with NEG and/or 
Algonquin to determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of 
further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. NEG and/or 
Algonquin may not resume their activities until notified by NMFS via 
letter, email, or telephone.
    (ii) In the event that NEG and/or Algonquin discovers an injured or 
dead marine mammal, and the lead PSO determines that the cause of the 
injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (i.e., in 
less than a moderate state of decomposition as described in the next 
paragraph), NEG and/or Algonquin will immediately report the incident 
to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS, at 301-427-8401, and/or by email to 
Jolie.Harrison@noaa.gov and Shane.Guan@noaa.gov and the NMFS Northeast 
Stranding Coordinators (Mendy.Garron@noaa.gov) or by phone at 978-281-
9300, within 24 hours of the discovery. The report must include the 
same information identified above. Activities may continue while NMFS 
reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS will work with NEG and/
or Algonquin to determine whether modifications in the activities are 
appropriate.
    (iii) In the event that NEG or Algonquin discovers an injured or 
dead marine mammal, and the lead PSO determines that the injury or 
death is not associated with or related to the activities authorized 
(if the IHA is issued) (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with 
moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), NEG and/or 
Algonquin shall report the incident to the Chief, Permits and 
Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, at 301-427-
8401, and/or by email to Jolie.Harrison@noaa.gov and 
Shane.Guan@noaa.gov and the NMFS Northeast Stranding Coordinators 
(Mendy.Garron@noaa.gov) or by phone at 978-281-9300, within 24 hours of 
the discovery. NEG and/or Algonquin shall provide photographs or video 
footage (if available) or other documentation of the stranded animal 
sighting to NMFS and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. NEG and/or 
Algonquin can continue its operations under such a case.

Request for Public Comments

    NMFS requests comment on the revised proposed PAM monitoring for 
NMFS proposed IHA for Northeast Gateway's LNG Port and Pipeline Lateral 
operations and maintenance and repair activities, as described in this 
notice and in Tetratech's June 20, 2014, application (see ADDRESSES). 
Please include with your comments any supporting data or literature 
citations to help inform our final decision.

    Dated: September 30, 2014.
Donna Wieting,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-23764 Filed 10-3-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P