Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Construction of the Block Island Transmission System, 67731-67732 [2015-27974]

Download as PDF mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 212 / Tuesday, November 3, 2015 / Notices environments that are the foundation for thriving communities and stable economies. One of the many ways ONMS ensures public participation in the designation and management of national marine sanctuaries is through the formation of advisory councils. National marine sanctuary advisory councils are community-based advisory groups established to provide advice and recommendations to the superintendents of the national marine sanctuaries on issues including management, science, service, and stewardship; and to serve as liaisons between their constituents in the community and the sanctuary. Additional information on ONMS and its advisory councils can be found at http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov. Information related to the purpose, policies and operational requirements for advisory councils can be found in the charter for a particular advisory council (http:// sanctuaries.noaa.gov/management/ac/ council_charters.html) and the National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council Implementation Handbook (http://www. sanctuaries.noaa.gov/management/ac/ acref.html). The following is a list of the vacant seats, including positions (i.e., primary member or alternate), for each of the advisory councils currently seeking applications for members and alternates: Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: Public Youth (alternate). Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: Citizen-at-large (alternate); Education (alternate); Fishing (primary); Fishing (alternate); Hawai‘i County (primary); Hawai‘i County (alternate); Honolulu County (primary); Kaua‘i County (primary); Kaua‘i County ¯ (alternate); Lana‘i Island (alternate); Research (primary); Maui County (primary); Maui County (alternate); Moloka‘i Island (alternate); Tourism (alternate); Whale Watching (primary); and Whale Watching (alternate). Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: At-Large (alternate). National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa Advisory Council: Business/Industry (primary). Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council: Education (primary); Education (alternate); Fishing (primary); Fishing (alternate); Marine Resources Committee (primary); Marine Resources Committee (alternate); and Tourism/Economic Development (alternate). Authority: 16 U.S.C. Sections 1431, et seq. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:04 Nov 02, 2015 Jkt 238001 (Federal Domestic Assistance Catalog Number 11.429 Marine Sanctuary Program) Dated: September 30, 2015. John Armor, Acting Director, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. [FR Doc. 2015–27987 Filed 11–2–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–NK–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XD131 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Construction of the Block Island Transmission System National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; issuance of a revised incidental harassment authorization. AGENCY: Notice is hereby given that we have revised an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) issued to The Narragansett Electric Company, doing business as National Grid (TNEC), to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to construction of the Block Island Transmission System (BITS). The project has been delayed and the effective dates revised accordingly. DATES: This authorization is now effective from October 30, 2015, through October 29, 2016. ADDRESSES: A copy of this revised IHA is available by writing to Jolie Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. An electronic copy of this revised IHA may be obtained by visiting the Internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/ permits/incidental/. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Fiorentino, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8477. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: Background On November 1, 2014, NMFS issued an IHA to Deepwater Wind Block Island Transmission, LLC (DWBIT) to take marine mammals, by Level B harassment, incidental to construction of the BITS, effective from November 1, 2014 through October 31, 2015 (79 FR 51314). On January 30, 2015, DWBIT PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 67731 sold the BITS, in its entirety, to The Narragansett Electric Company, doing business as National Grid (TNEC). We issued a revised IHA reflecting this change in the name of the holder on June 3, 2015, with the dates of effectiveness of the IHA, and all mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements, remaining unchanged. The BITS, a bi-directional submarine transmission cable, will interconnect Block Island to TNEC’s existing distribution system in Narragansett, Rhode Island. In-water work associated with the project was expected to be completed within the one-year timeframe of the IHA (effective dates originally November 1, 2014 through October 31, 2015). The following specific aspects of the planned activities are likely to result in the take of marine mammals: Vibratory pile driving and the use of dynamically positioned (DP) vessel thrusters. Take, by Level B Harassment only, of individuals of nine species (Atlantic white-sided dolphin, short-beaked common dolphin, harbor porpoise, minke whale, fin whale, humpback whale, North Atlantic right whale, gray seal, and harbor seal) is anticipated to result from the specified activity. Summary of the Activity TNEC plans to construct a bidirectional submarine transmission cable that will run from Block Island to the Rhode Island mainland. Construction of the marine portion of the BITS will involve three activities: Cable landfall construction on Block Island using a short-distance horizontal directional drill (HDD) from a temporary excavated trench box on Crescent Beach; cable landfall construction on Scarborough State Beach in Narragansett, Rhode Island using a longdistance HDD from a temporary offshore cofferdam; and installation of the submarine BITS cable. The BITS will interconnect Block Island to the existing Narragansett Electric Company National Grid distribution system on the Rhode Island mainland. Cable landfall construction may require the installation and removal of a temporary offshore cofferdam, which will involve vibratory pile driving. The generation of underwater noise from vibratory pile driving and the DP vessel thruster may result in the incidental take of small numbers of marine mammals. Summary of the Revision Construction activities have been delayed for the project due to a construction schedule dependent upon receipt of all environmental permits and licenses, procurement and completion E:\FR\FM\03NON1.SGM 03NON1 67732 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 212 / Tuesday, November 3, 2015 / Notices mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES of final engineering design. The final permit approval and contractor award were issued in late Winter 2015 and final engineering design was not completed until Fall 2015. Therefore, construction activities have not commenced to date. No in-water work has occurred, including all aspects of the specified activity considered in our issuance of the IHA. The IHA, as issued, is a one-year IHA with no consideration of seasonality in timing any component of the specified activity. Findings Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA)—As required by the MMPA in order to issue an IHA, we determined that (1) the required mitigation measures are sufficient to reduce the effects of the specified activities to the level of least practicable impact; (2) the authorized takes will have a negligible impact on the affected marine mammal species; (3) the authorized takes represent small numbers relative to the affected stock abundances; and (4) TNEC’s activities will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on taking for subsistence purposes as no relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals are implicated by this action. Shifting the effective dates of the IHA to accommodate TNEC’s delayed schedule for this project has no effect on our analysis of project impacts and does not affect our findings. There are no changes to any construction methodologies. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)—In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), as implemented by the regulations published by the Council on Environmental Quality (40 CFR parts 1500–1508), and NOAA Administrative Order 216–6, NMFS prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) analyzing the potential impacts of the issuance of an IHA for the BITS construction. The final EA was prepared in July 2014 and NMFS made a Finding of No Significant Impact for this action on August 19, 2014. These documents are available on our Web site at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental/energy_other.htm. The potential environmental impacts of the revision to the BITS IHA are within the scope of the environmental impacts analyzed in the EA. NMFS has determined that there are no substantial changes to the action and that there are no new direct, indirect, or cumulative effects to the human environment resulting from the revision to the IHA. Therefore, NMFS has determined that new or supplemental EAs or Environmental Impact Statements are VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:04 Nov 02, 2015 Jkt 238001 unnecessary, and reaffirms the existing FONSI for this action. Endangered Species Act (ESA)— There are three marine mammal species that are listed as endangered under the ESA: Fin whale, humpback whale, and North Atlantic right whale. Under section 7 of the ESA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the federal permitting agency for the actual BITS construction) consulted with NMFS on the proposed BITS project. NMFS also consulted internally on the issuance of an IHA under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA for this activity. NMFS Northeast Region (now known as the Greater Atlantic Regional Office (GARFO)) issued a Biological Opinion on January 30, 2014, concluding that the Block Island Wind Farm project (which includes the BITS) and NMFS’ issuance of an IHA may adversely affect but are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of fin whale, humpback whale, or North Atlantic right whale. The Biological Opinion further concluded that critical habitat would not be affected by the proposed action since it did not occur in the action area. NMFS determined the revision to the IHA to change the authorization period of effectiveness to October 30, 2015, through October 29, 2016 falls within the scope of what was analyzed in the Biological Opinion and does not change the basis for NMFS’ original determinations. In a memo dated October 21, 2015, NMFS made the determination that a re-initiation of a section 7 formal consultation was not necessary. In summary, no new information is available that would substantively affect our analyses under the MMPA, NEPA, or ESA. All mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures described in our notice of issuance of the IHA remain in effect. The species for which take was authorized and the numbers of incidences of take authorized are unchanged. As a result of the foregoing, we have revised the IHA issued to TNEC for construction of the BITS. The IHA is now effective from October 30, 2015, through October 29, 2016. With these revised dates, TNEC can perform the installation of the cofferdam and submarine cable intended to meet the Block Island Wind Farm operational deadline of December 2016. Dated: October 29, 2015. Perry F. Gayaldo, Deputy Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2015–27974 Filed 11–2–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XE288 New England Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; public meeting. AGENCY: The New England Fishery Management Council (Council) is scheduling a public meeting of its Scallop Committee Meeting on Thursday, November 19, 2015 to consider actions affecting New England fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Recommendations from this group will be brought to the full Council for formal consideration and action, if appropriate. SUMMARY: This meeting will be held on Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 9 a.m. ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held at the Radisson Airport Hotel, 2081 Post Road, Warwick, RI 02886; telephone: (401) 739–3000; fax: (401) 732–9309. Council address: New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council; telephone: (978) 465–0492. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: DATES: Agenda The Committee will review Amendment 19 alternatives, analyses, and public comments received to date and make final recommendations. Amendment 19 was developed to consider measures to better align fishery allocations with the start of the scallop fishing year. They will also review Framework 27 alternatives and analyses and make final recommendations. Framework 27 was developed to consider fishery allocations for fishing year 2016 and default measures for fishing year 2017. The Committee will review progress to date and potentially provide input on a future Council sponsored workshop related to concerns raised about inshore scallop fishing patterns. Finally, the Committee will review and potentially provide input on draft guidance prepared by NMFS related to the Magnuson Act requirement to evaluate limited access privilege programs within five years after adoption. Other business may be discussed if time permits. E:\FR\FM\03NON1.SGM 03NON1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 212 (Tuesday, November 3, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 67731-67732]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-27974]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XD131


Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; 
Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Construction of the Block Island 
Transmission System

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

ACTION: Notice; issuance of a revised incidental harassment 
authorization.

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

SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given that we have revised an incidental 
harassment authorization (IHA) issued to The Narragansett Electric 
Company, doing business as National Grid (TNEC), to take marine 
mammals, by harassment, incidental to construction of the Block Island 
Transmission System (BITS). The project has been delayed and the 
effective dates revised accordingly.

DATES: This authorization is now effective from October 30, 2015, 
through October 29, 2016.

ADDRESSES: A copy of this revised IHA is available by writing to Jolie 
Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected 
Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, 
Silver Spring, MD 20910.
    An electronic copy of this revised IHA may be obtained by visiting 
the Internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Fiorentino, Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8477.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    On November 1, 2014, NMFS issued an IHA to Deepwater Wind Block 
Island Transmission, LLC (DWBIT) to take marine mammals, by Level B 
harassment, incidental to construction of the BITS, effective from 
November 1, 2014 through October 31, 2015 (79 FR 51314). On January 30, 
2015, DWBIT sold the BITS, in its entirety, to The Narragansett 
Electric Company, doing business as National Grid (TNEC). We issued a 
revised IHA reflecting this change in the name of the holder on June 3, 
2015, with the dates of effectiveness of the IHA, and all mitigation, 
monitoring, and reporting requirements, remaining unchanged. The BITS, 
a bi-directional submarine transmission cable, will interconnect Block 
Island to TNEC's existing distribution system in Narragansett, Rhode 
Island. In-water work associated with the project was expected to be 
completed within the one-year timeframe of the IHA (effective dates 
originally November 1, 2014 through October 31, 2015). The following 
specific aspects of the planned activities are likely to result in the 
take of marine mammals: Vibratory pile driving and the use of 
dynamically positioned (DP) vessel thrusters. Take, by Level B 
Harassment only, of individuals of nine species (Atlantic white-sided 
dolphin, short-beaked common dolphin, harbor porpoise, minke whale, fin 
whale, humpback whale, North Atlantic right whale, gray seal, and 
harbor seal) is anticipated to result from the specified activity.

Summary of the Activity

    TNEC plans to construct a bi-directional submarine transmission 
cable that will run from Block Island to the Rhode Island mainland. 
Construction of the marine portion of the BITS will involve three 
activities: Cable landfall construction on Block Island using a short-
distance horizontal directional drill (HDD) from a temporary excavated 
trench box on Crescent Beach; cable landfall construction on 
Scarborough State Beach in Narragansett, Rhode Island using a long-
distance HDD from a temporary offshore cofferdam; and installation of 
the submarine BITS cable. The BITS will interconnect Block Island to 
the existing Narragansett Electric Company National Grid distribution 
system on the Rhode Island mainland. Cable landfall construction may 
require the installation and removal of a temporary offshore cofferdam, 
which will involve vibratory pile driving. The generation of underwater 
noise from vibratory pile driving and the DP vessel thruster may result 
in the incidental take of small numbers of marine mammals.

Summary of the Revision

    Construction activities have been delayed for the project due to a 
construction schedule dependent upon receipt of all environmental 
permits and licenses, procurement and completion

[[Page 67732]]

of final engineering design. The final permit approval and contractor 
award were issued in late Winter 2015 and final engineering design was 
not completed until Fall 2015. Therefore, construction activities have 
not commenced to date. No in-water work has occurred, including all 
aspects of the specified activity considered in our issuance of the 
IHA. The IHA, as issued, is a one-year IHA with no consideration of 
seasonality in timing any component of the specified activity.

Findings

    Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA)--As required by the MMPA in 
order to issue an IHA, we determined that (1) the required mitigation 
measures are sufficient to reduce the effects of the specified 
activities to the level of least practicable impact; (2) the authorized 
takes will have a negligible impact on the affected marine mammal 
species; (3) the authorized takes represent small numbers relative to 
the affected stock abundances; and (4) TNEC's activities will not have 
an unmitigable adverse impact on taking for subsistence purposes as no 
relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals are implicated by this 
action. Shifting the effective dates of the IHA to accommodate TNEC's 
delayed schedule for this project has no effect on our analysis of 
project impacts and does not affect our findings. There are no changes 
to any construction methodologies.
    National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)--In compliance with the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), as 
implemented by the regulations published by the Council on 
Environmental Quality (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), and NOAA Administrative 
Order 216-6, NMFS prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) analyzing 
the potential impacts of the issuance of an IHA for the BITS 
construction. The final EA was prepared in July 2014 and NMFS made a 
Finding of No Significant Impact for this action on August 19, 2014. 
These documents are available on our Web site at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/energy_other.htm.
    The potential environmental impacts of the revision to the BITS IHA 
are within the scope of the environmental impacts analyzed in the EA. 
NMFS has determined that there are no substantial changes to the action 
and that there are no new direct, indirect, or cumulative effects to 
the human environment resulting from the revision to the IHA. 
Therefore, NMFS has determined that new or supplemental EAs or 
Environmental Impact Statements are unnecessary, and reaffirms the 
existing FONSI for this action.
    Endangered Species Act (ESA)--There are three marine mammal species 
that are listed as endangered under the ESA: Fin whale, humpback whale, 
and North Atlantic right whale. Under section 7 of the ESA, the U.S. 
Army Corps of Engineers (the federal permitting agency for the actual 
BITS construction) consulted with NMFS on the proposed BITS project. 
NMFS also consulted internally on the issuance of an IHA under section 
101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA for this activity. NMFS Northeast Region (now 
known as the Greater Atlantic Regional Office (GARFO)) issued a 
Biological Opinion on January 30, 2014, concluding that the Block 
Island Wind Farm project (which includes the BITS) and NMFS' issuance 
of an IHA may adversely affect but are not likely to jeopardize the 
continued existence of fin whale, humpback whale, or North Atlantic 
right whale. The Biological Opinion further concluded that critical 
habitat would not be affected by the proposed action since it did not 
occur in the action area. NMFS determined the revision to the IHA to 
change the authorization period of effectiveness to October 30, 2015, 
through October 29, 2016 falls within the scope of what was analyzed in 
the Biological Opinion and does not change the basis for NMFS' original 
determinations. In a memo dated October 21, 2015, NMFS made the 
determination that a re-initiation of a section 7 formal consultation 
was not necessary.
    In summary, no new information is available that would 
substantively affect our analyses under the MMPA, NEPA, or ESA. All 
mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures described in our notice 
of issuance of the IHA remain in effect. The species for which take was 
authorized and the numbers of incidences of take authorized are 
unchanged.
    As a result of the foregoing, we have revised the IHA issued to 
TNEC for construction of the BITS. The IHA is now effective from 
October 30, 2015, through October 29, 2016. With these revised dates, 
TNEC can perform the installation of the cofferdam and submarine cable 
intended to meet the Block Island Wind Farm operational deadline of 
December 2016.

    Dated: October 29, 2015.
Perry F. Gayaldo,
Deputy Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-27974 Filed 11-2-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P