Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the U.S. Air Force 86 Fighter Weapons Squadron Conducting Long Range Strike Weapon Systems Evaluation Program at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii, 44277-44298 [2016-16114]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices return or destruction of proprietary information disclosed under APO in accordance with 19 CFR 351.305. Timely notification of the return or destruction of APO materials or conversion to judicial protective orders is hereby requested. Failure to comply with the regulations and terms of an APO is a violation which is subject to sanction. We are issuing and publishing the results and notice in accordance with sections 751(c), 752(c), and 777(i)(1) of the Act. Dated: June 28, 2016. Paul Piquado, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. [FR Doc. 2016–16053 Filed 7–6–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–DS–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A–570–042] Stainless Steel Sheet and Strip From the People’s Republic of China: Postponement of Preliminary Determination of Antidumping Duty Investigation Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce. AGENCY: DATES: Effective Date: July 7, 2016. Toni Page at (202) 482–1398 or Lingjun Wang at (202) 482–2316, AD/CVD Operations, Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Background On March 3, 2016, the Department of Commerce (Department) initiated an antidumping duty (AD) investigation of imports of stainless steel sheet and strip from the People’s Republic of China.1 The notice of initiation stated that, in accordance with section 733(b)(1)(A) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act), and 19 CFR 351.205(b)(1), we would issue our preliminary determination no later than 140 days after the date of initiation, unless postponed. Currently, the preliminary determination is due no later than July 21, 2016. Postponement of Preliminary Determinations Dated: June 30, 2016. Ronald K. Lorentzen, Acting Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. [FR Doc. 2016–16134 Filed 7–6–16; 8:45 am] 1 See Stainless Steel Sheet and Strip From the People’s Republic of China: Initiation of Less Than Fair Value Investigations, 81 FR 12711 (March 10, 2016). VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Sections 733(c)(1)(B)(i) and (ii) of the Act permit the Department to postpone the time limit for the preliminary determination if it concludes that the parties concerned are cooperating and determines that the case is extraordinarily complicated by reason of the number and complexity of the transactions to be investigated or adjustments to be considered, the novelty of the issues presented, or the number of firms whose activities must be investigated, and additional time is necessary to make the preliminary determination. Under this section of the Act, the Department may postpone the preliminary determination until no later than 190 days after the date on which the Department initiated the investigation. The Department determines that the parties involved in this investigation are cooperating, and that the investigation is extraordinarily complicated. Additional time is required to analyze the questionnaire responses and issue any appropriate requests for clarification and additional information. Therefore, in accordance with section 733(c)(1)(B) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(f)(1), the Department is postponing the time period for the preliminary determination of this investigation by 50 days, to September 9, 2016. Pursuant to section 735(a)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.210(b)(1), the deadline for the final determination will continue to be 75 days after the date of the preliminary determination, unless postponed at a later date. This notice is issued and published pursuant to section 733(c)(2) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(f)(1). BILLING CODE 3510–DS–P PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 44277 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XE675 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the U.S. Air Force 86 Fighter Weapons Squadron Conducting Long Range Strike Weapon Systems Evaluation Program at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; proposed incidental harassment authorization; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS (hereinafter, ‘‘we’’ or ‘‘our’’) received an application from the U.S. Department of the Air Force, 86 Fighter Weapons Squadron (86 FWS), requesting an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to a Long Range Strike Weapon Systems Evaluation Program (LRS WSEP) in the Barking Sands Underwater Range Extension (BSURE) area of the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) at Kauai, Hawaii. 86 FWS’s activities are military readiness activities per the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), as amended by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2004. Pursuant to the MMPA, NMFS requests comments on its proposal to issue an IHA to 86 FWS to incidentally take, by Level A and Level B harassment, two species of marine mammals, the dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima) and pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps) during the specified activity. SUMMARY: NMFS must receive comments and information no later than August 8, 2016. ADDRESSES: Comments on the application 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 email address for providing email comments is ITP.McCue@noaa.gov. Please include 0648–XE675 in the subject line. Comments sent via email, including all attachments, must not exceed a 25-megabyte file size. NMFS is not responsible for comments sent to addresses other than the one provided in this notice. DATES: E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 44278 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices Instructions: All submitted comments are a part of the public record, and generally we will post them to http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental/military.htm 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. An electronic copy of the application may be obtained by writing to the address specified above, telephoning the contact listed below (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT), or visiting the internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ pr/permits/incidental/military.htm. The following associated documents are also available at the same internet address: List of the references used in this document, and 86 FWS’s Environmental Assessment (EA) titled, ‘‘Environmental Assessment/Overseas Environmental Assessment for the Long Range Strike Weapon Systems Evaluation Program Operational Evaluations.’’ Documents cited in this notice may also be viewed, by appointment, during regular business hours, at the aforementioned address. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Laura McCue, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Background Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA(16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals of a species or population stock, 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 either 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 for marine mammals 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 taking are set forth. NMFS has defined ‘‘negligible impact’’ in 50 CFR 216.103 as ‘‘an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.’’ The NDAA of 2004 (Pub. L. 108–136) removed the ‘‘small numbers’’ and ‘‘specified geographical region’’ limitations indicated earlier and amended the definition of harassment as it applies to a ‘‘military readiness activity’’ to read as follows (Section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA): (i) Any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A Harassment]; or (ii) any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered [Level B Harassment]. Summary of Request On May 12, 2016, NMFS received an application from 86 FWS for the taking of marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to the LRS WSEP within the PMRF in Kauai, Hawaii from September 1, 2016 through August 31, 2017. 86 FWS submitted a revised version of the renewal request on June 9, 2016 and June 20, 2016, which we considered adequate and complete. The proposed LRS WSEP training activities would occur on September 1, 2016, with a backup date of September 2, 2016. 86 FWS proposes actions that include LRS WSEP test missions of the Joint AirTo-Surface Stand-off Missile (JASSM) and the Small Diameter Bomb–I/II (SDB–I/II) including detonations at the water surface. These activities qualify as a military readiness activities under the MMPA and NDAA. The following aspects of the proposed LRS WSEP training activities have the potential to take marine mammals: Munition strikes and detonation effects (overpressure and acoustic components). Take, by Level B harassment of individuals of dwarf sperm whale and pygmy sperm whale could potentially result from the specified activity. Additionally, although NMFS does not expect it to occur, 86 FWS has also requested authorization for Level A Harassment of one individual dwarf sperm whale. Therefore, 86 FWS has requested authorization to take individuals of two cetacean species by Level A and Level B harassment. 86 FWS’s LRS WSEP training activities may potentially impact marine mammals at or near the water surface in PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 the absence of mitigation. Marine mammals could potentially be harassed, injured, or killed by exploding and nonexploding projectiles, falling debris, or ingestion of military expended materials. However, based on analyses provided in 86 FWS’s 2016 application, 2016 Environmental Assessment (EA), and for reasons discussed later in this document, we do not anticipate that 86 FWS’s LRS WSEP activities would result in any serious injury or mortality to marine mammals. Description of the Specified Activity Overview 86 FWS proposes to conduct air-tosurface mission in the BSURE area of the PMRF. The LRS WSEP test objective is to conduct operational evaluations of long range strike weapons and other munitions as part of LRS WSEP operations to properly train units to execute requirements within Designed Operational Capability Statements, which describe units’ real-world operational expectations in a time of war. Due to threats to national security, increased missions involving air-tosurface activities have been directed by the Department of Defense (DoD). Accordingly, the U.S. Air Force seeks the ability to conduct operational evaluations of all phases of long range strike weapons within the U.S. Navy’s Hawaii Range Complex (HRC). The actions would fulfill the Air Force’s requirement to evaluate full-scale maneuvers for such weapons, including scoring capabilities under operationally realistic scenarios. LRS WSEP objectives are to evaluate air-to-surface and maritime weapon employment data, evaluate tactics, techniques, and procedures in an operationally realistic environment, and to determine the impact of tactics, techniques, and procedures on combat Air Force training. The munitions associated with the proposed activities are not part of a typical unit’s training allocations, and prior to attending a WSEP evaluation, most pilots and weapon systems officers have only dropped weapons in simulators or used the aircraft’s simulation mode. Without WSEP operations, pilots would be using these weapons for the first time in combat. On average, half of the participants in each unit drop an actual weapon for the first time during a WSEP evaluation. Consequently, WSEP is a military readiness activity and is the last opportunity for squadrons to receive operational training and evaluations before they deploy. E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices Dates and Duration 86 FWS proposes to schedule the LRS WSEP training missions over one day on September 1, 2016, with a backup day the following day. The proposed missions would occur on a weekday during daytime hours only, with all missions occurring in one day. This IHA would be valid from September 1, 2016 through August 31, 2017. Specified Geographic Region The specific planned impact area is approximately 44 nautical miles (nm)(81 kilometers (km)) offshore of Kauai, Hawaii, in a water depth of about 15,240 feet (ft) (4,645 meters (m)) (see Figure 2–2 of 86 FWS’s application). All activities will take place within the PMRF, which is located in Hawaii off the western shores of the island of Kauai and includes broad ocean areas to the north, south, and west (see Figure 2–1 of 86 FWS’s application). Within the PMRF, activities would occur in the BSURE area, which lies in Warning Area 188 (W–188). The BSURE consists of about 900 nm2 of instrumented underwater ranges, encompassing the deepwater portion of the PMRF and providing over 80 percent of PMRF’s underwater scoring capability. The BSURE facilitates training, tactics, development, and test and evaluation for air, surface, and subsurface weapons systems in deep water. It provides a full spectrum of range support, including radar, underwater instrumentation, telemetry, electronic warfare, remote target command and control, communications, data display and processing, and target/ weapon launching and recovery facilities. The underwater tracking system begins 9 nm (17 km) from the north shore of Kauai and extends out to 40 nm (74 km) from shore. LRS WSEP missions would employ live weapons with long flight paths requiring large amounts of airspace and conclude with weapon impact and surface detonations within the BSURE instrumented range. srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Detailed Description of Activities The LRS WSEP training missions, classified as military readiness activities, refer to the deployment of live (containing explosive charges) missiles from aircraft toward the water surface. The actions include air-to-surface test missions of the JASSM and the SDB–I/ II including detonations at the water surface. Aircraft used for munition releases would include bombers and fighter aircraft. Additional airborne assets, such as the P–3 Orion or the P–8 Poseidon, would be used to relay telemetry (TM) VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 and flight termination system (FTS) streams between the weapon and ground stations. Other support aircraft would be associated with range clearance activities before and during the mission and with air-to-air refueling operations. All weapon delivery aircraft would originate from an out base and fly into military-controlled airspace prior to employment. Due to long transit times between the out base and mission location, air-to-air refueling may be conducted in either W–188 or W–189. Bombers, such as the B–1, would deliver the weapons, conduct air-to-air refueling, and return to their originating base as part of one sortie. However, when fighter aircraft are used, the distance and corresponding transit time to the various potential originating bases would make return flights after each mission day impractical. In these cases, the aircraft would temporarily (less than one week) park overnight at Hickam Air Force Base (HAFB) and would return to their home base at the conclusion of each mission set. Multiple weapon release aircraft would be used during some missions, each potentially releasing multiple munitions. The LRS WSEP missions scheduled for 2016 are proposed to occur in one day, with the following day reserved as a back-up day. Approximately 10 Air Force personnel would be on temporary duty to support the mission. Aircraft flight maneuver operations and weapon release would be conducted in W–188A boundaries of PMRF. Chase aircraft may be used to evaluate weapon release and to track weapons. Flight operations and weapons delivery would be in accordance with published Air Force directives and weapon operational release parameters, as well as all applicable Navy safety regulations and criteria established specifically for PMRF. Aircraft supporting LSR WSEP missions would primarily operate at high altitudes—only flying below 3,000 feet for a limited time as needed for escorting non-military vessels outside the hazard area or for monitoring the area for protected marine species (e.g., marine mammals, sea turtles). Protected marine species aerial surveys would be temporary and would focus on an area surrounding the weapon impact point on the water. Post-mission surveys would focus on the area down current of the weapon impact location. Range clearance procedures for each mission would cover a much larger area for human safety. Weapon release parameters would be conducted as approved by PMRF Range Safety. Daily mission briefs would specify planned release PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 44279 conditions for each mission. Aircraft and weapons would be tracked for time, space, and position information. The 86 FWS test director would coordinate with the PMRF Range Safety Officer, Operations Conductor, Range Facility Control Officer, and other applicable mission control personnel for aircraft control, range clearance, and mission safety. Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-Off Missile/ Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-Off MissileExtended Range (JASSM/JASSM–ER) The JASSM is a stealthy precision cruise missile designed for launch outside area defenses against hardened, medium-hardened, soft, and area type targets. The JASSM has a range of more than 200 nm (370 km) and carries a 1,000-pound (lb) warhead with approximately 300 lbs of 2,4,6trinitrotoluene (TNT) equivalent net explosive weight (NEW). The specific explosive used is AFX–757, a type of plastic bonded explosive (PBX). The weapon has the capability to fly a preprogrammed route from launch to a target, using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology and an internal navigation system (INS) combined with a Terminal Area Model when available. Additionally, the weapon has a Common Low Observable Auto-Routing function that gives the weapon the ability to find the route that best utilizes the low observable qualities of the JASSM. In either case, these routes can be modeled prior to weapon release. The JASSM–ER has additional fuel and a different engine for a greater range than the JASSM (500 nm (926 km)) but maintains the same functionality of the JASSM. Small Diameter Bomb–I/Small Diameter Bomb–II (SDB–I/SDB–II) The SDB–I is a 250-lb air-launched GPS–INS guided weapon for fixed soft to hardened targets. SDB–II expands the SDB–I capability with network enabling and uses a tri-mode sensor infrared, millimeter, and semi-active laser to attack both fixed and movable targets. Both munitions have a range of up to 60 NM (111 km). The SDB–I contains 37 lbs of TNT-equivalent NEW, and the SDB–II contains 23 lbs NEW. The explosive used in both SDB–I and SDB– II is AFX–757. Initial phases of the LRS WSEP operational evaluations are proposed for September 2016 and would consist of releasing only one live JASSM/JASSM– ER and up to eight SDBs in military controlled airspace (Table 1). Immediate evaluations for JASSM/JASSM–ER and SDB–I are needed; therefore, they are the only munitions being proposed for E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 44280 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices summer 2016 missions. Weapon release parameters for 2016 missions would involve a B–1 bomber releasing one live JASSM and fighter aircraft, such as F– 15, F–16, or F–22, releasing live SDB– I. Up to four SDB–I munitions would be released simultaneously, similar to a ripple effect, each hitting the water surface within a few seconds of each other; however, the SDB–I releases would occur separate from the JASSM. All releases would occur on the same mission day. TABLE 1—SUMMARY OF PROPOSED TESTING AT PMRF IN 2016 Net explosive weight (lb) Munition Fusing option JASSM/JASSM–ER ................................... SDB–I ........................................................ Live/Instantaneous .................................... Live/Instantaneous .................................... 300 37 Detonation scenario Annual total number of munitions Surface .................... Surface .................... 1 8 ER = Extended Range; JASSM = Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missile; lb = pounds; SDB = Small Diameter Bomb. srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES A typical mission day would consist of pre-mission checks, safety review, crew briefings, weather checks, clearing airspace, range clearance, mitigations/ monitoring efforts, and other military protocols prior to launch of weapons. Potential delays could be the result of multiple factors including, but not limited to; adverse weather conditions leading to unsafe take-off, landing, and aircraft operations, inability to clear the range of non-mission vessels or aircraft, mechanical issues with mission aircraft or munitions, or presence of protected species in the impact area. If the mission is cancelled due to any of these, one back-up day has also been scheduled as a contingency. These standard operating procedures are usually done in the morning, and live range time may begin in late morning once all checks are complete and approval is granted from range control. The range would be closed to the public for a maximum of four hours per mission day. Each long range strike weapon would be released in W–188A and would follow a given flight path with programmed GPS waypoints to mark its course in the air. Long range strike weapons would complete their maximum flight range (up to 500 nm distance for JASSM–ER) at an altitude of approximately 18,000 ft (equivalent in kms) mean sea level (MSL) and terminate at a specified location for scoring of the impact. The cruise time would vary among the munitions but would be about 45 minutes for JASSM/ JASSM–ER and 10 minutes for SDB–I/ II. The time frame between employments of successive munitions VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 would vary, but releases could be spaced by approximately one hour to account for the JASSM cruise time. The routes and associated safety profiles would be contained within W–188A boundaries. The objective of the route designs is to complete full-scale evasive maneuvers that avoid simulated threats and would, therefore, not consist of a standard ‘‘paper clip’’ or regularly shaped route. The final impact point on the water surface would be programmed into the munitions for weapons scoring and evaluations. All missions would be conducted in accordance with applicable flight safety, hazard area, and launch parameter requirements established for PMRF. A weapon hazard region would be established, with the size and shape determined by the maximum distance a weapon could travel in any direction during its descent. The hazard area is typically adjusted for potential wind speed and direction, resulting in a maximum composite safety footprint for each mission (each footprint boundary is at least 10 nm from the Kauai coastline). This information is used to establish a Launch Exclusion Area and Aircraft Hazard Area. These exclusion areas must be verified to be clear of all non-mission and non-essential vessels and aircraft before live weapons are released. In addition, a buffer area must also be clear on the water surface so that vessels do not enter the exclusion area during the launch window. Prior to weapon release, a range sweep of the hazard area would be conducted by participating mission aircraft or other appropriate aircraft, potentially including S–61N helicopter, C–26 PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 aircraft, fighter aircraft (F–15E, F–16, F– 22), or the Coast Guard’s C–130 aircraft. PMRF has used small water craft docked at the Port Allen public pier to keep nearshore areas clear of tour boats for some mission launch areas. However, for missions with large hazard areas that occur far offshore from Kauai, it would be impractical for these smaller vessels to conduct range clearance activities. The composite safety footprint weapons associated with LRS WSEP missions is anticipated to be rather large; therefore, it is likely that range clearing activities would be conducted solely by aircraft. The Range Facility Control Officer is responsible for establishing hazard clearance areas, directing clearance and surveillance assets, and reporting range status to the Operations Conductor. The Control Officer is also responsible for submitting all Notice to Airmen (NOTAMs) and Notice to Mariners (NOTMARs), and for requesting all Federal Aviation Administration airspace clearances. Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity There are 25 marine mammal species with potential or confirmed occurrence in the proposed activity area; however, not all of these species occur in this region during the project timeframe. Table 2 lists and summarizes key information regarding stock status and abundance of these species. Please see NMFS’ 2015 Stock Assessment Reports (SAR), available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ pr/sars for more detailed accounts of these stocks’ status and abundance. E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices 44281 TABLE 2—MARINE MAMMALS THAT COULD OCCUR IN THE BSURE AREA Species ESA/MMPA Status; Strategic (Y/N) 1 Stock Stock abundance (CV, Nmin, most recent abundance survey) 2 PBR 3 Occurrence in BSURE Area Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Mysticeti (baleen whales) Family: Balaenopteridae Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae).4 Central North Pacific ............ Y; Y 10,103 (0.300; 7,890; 2006) 83 Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus). Central North Pacific ............ Y; Y 81 (1.14; 38; 2010) 0.1 Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus. Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis). Hawaii ................................... Y; Y 0.1 Hawaii ................................... Y; Y 58 (1.12; 27; 2010) 178 (0.90; 93; 2010) Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera brydei/edeni). Hawaii ................................... -; N 798 (0.28; 633; 2010) 6.3 Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata). Hawaii ................................... -; N n/a (n/a; n/a; 2010) Undet. 0.2 Seasonal; throughout known breeding grounds during winter and spring (most common November through April). Seasonal; infrequent winter migrant; few sightings, mainly fall and winter; considered rare. Seasonal, mainly fall and winter; considered rare. Rare; limited sightings of seasonal migrants that feed at higher latitudes. Uncommon; distributed throughout the Hawaiian EEZ. Regular but seasonal (October–April). Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family: Physeteridae Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus). Hawaii ................................... Y; Y 3,354 (0.34; 2,539; 2010) 10.2 Widely distributed year round; more likely in waters >1,000 m depth, most often >2,000 m. Widely distributed year round; more likely in waters >1,000 m depth. Widely distributed year round; more likely in waters >500 m depth. Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family: Kogiidae Pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps). Hawaii ................................... -; N n/a (n/a; n/a; 2010) Undet. Dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima). Hawaii ................................... -; N n/a (n/a; n/a; 2010) Undet. Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family delphinidae Hawaii ................................... -; N False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens). srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Killer whale (Orcinus orca) .... Hawaii Pelagic NWHI Stock -; N -; N Pygmy killer whale (Feresa attenuata). Short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus). Hawaii ................................... -; N Hawaii ................................... -; N Melon headed whale (Peponocephala electra). Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). Pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata). Hawaii Islands stock ............. -; N Hawaii pelagic ...................... -; N Hawaii pelagic ...................... -; N VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 101 (1.00; 50; 2010) 1,540 (0.66; 928; 2010) 617 (1.11; 290; 2010) 3,433 (0.52; 2,274; 2010) 12,422 (0.43; 8,872; 2010) 5,794 4,904; 5,950 3,755; 15,917 11,508; (0.20; 2010) (0.59; 2010) (0.40; 2010) E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 1 9.3 2.3 Uncommon; infrequent sightings. Regular. Regular. 23 Year-round resident. 70 Commonly observed around Main Hawaiian Islands and Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Regular. 4 38 115 07JYN1 Common in deep offshore waters. Common; primary occurrence between 100 and 4,000 m depth. 44282 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices TABLE 2—MARINE MAMMALS THAT COULD OCCUR IN THE BSURE AREA—Continued Species ESA/MMPA Status; Strategic (Y/N) 1 Stock Stock abundance (CV, Nmin, most recent abundance survey) 2 PBR 3 Occurrence in BSURE Area Striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoala). Hawaii ................................... -; N 20,650 (0.36; 15,391; 2010) 154 Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris). Rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis). Hawaii pelagic ...................... -; N Undet. Hawaii stock ......................... -; N n/a (n/a; n/a; 2010) 6,288 (0.39; 4,581; 2010) Fraser’s dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei). Hawaii ................................... -; N 16,992 (0.66; 10,241; 2010) 102 Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus). Hawaii ................................... -; N 7,256 (0.41; 5,207; 2010) 42 46 Occurs regularly year round but infrequent sighting during survey. Common year-round in offshore waters. Common throughout the Main Hawaiian Islands and Hawaiian Islands EEZ. Tropical species only recently documented within Hawaiian Islands EEZ (2002 survey). Previously considered rare but multiple sightings in Hawaiian Islands EEZ during various surveys conducted from 2002–2012. Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family: Ziphiidae Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris). Hawaii ................................... -; N 1,941 (n/a; 1,142; 2010) 11.4 Blainville’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon densirostris). Hawaii ................................... -; N 2,338 (1.13; 1,088; 2010) 11 Longman’s beaked whale (Indopacetus pacificus). Hawaii ................................... -; N 4,571 (0.65; 2,773; 2010) 28 Year-round occurrence but difficult to detect due to diving behavior. Year-round occurrence but difficult to detect due to diving behavior. Considered rare; however, multiple sightings during 2010 survey. Order—Carnivora—Superfamily Pinnipedia (seals, sea lions) Family: Phocidae Hawaiian monk seal (Neomonachus schauinslandi). Hawaii ................................... Y; Y 1,112 (n/a; 1,088; 2013) Undet. Predominantly occur at Northwestern Hawaiian Islands; approximately 138 individuals in Main Hawaiian Islands. srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 1 ESA status: Endangered (E), Threatened (T)/MMPA status: Depleted (D). A dash (-) indicates that the species is not listed under the ESA or designated as depleted under the MMPA. Under the MMPA, a strategic stock is one for which the level of direct human-caused mortality exceeds PBR (see footnote 3) or which is determined to be declining and likely to be listed under the ESA within the foreseeable future. Any species or stock listed under the ESA is automatically designated under the MMPA as depleted and as a strategic stock. 2 CV is coefficient of variation; N min is the minimum estimate of stock abundance. In some cases, CV is not applicable. For certain stocks, abundance estimates are actual counts of animals and there is no associated CV. The most recent abundance survey that is reflected in the abundance estimate is presented; there may be more recent surveys that have not yet been incorporated into the estimate. All values presented here are from the 2015 Pacific SARs, except humpback whales—see comment 4. 3 Potential biological removal, defined by the MMPA as the maximum number of animals, not including natural mortalities, that may be removed from a marine mammal stock while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable population size (OSP). 4 Values for humpback whales are from the 2015 Alaska SAR. Of these 25 species, six are listed as endangered under the ESA and as depleted throughout its range under the MMPA. These are: humpback whale, blue whale, fin whale, sei whale, sperm whale, and the Hawaiian monk seal. Of the 25 species that may occur in Hawaiian waters, only certain stocks occur in the impact area, while others are island-associated or do not occur at the depths of the impact area (e.g. false VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 killer whale insular stock, islandassociated stocks of bottlenose, spinner, and spotted dolphins). Only two species are considered likely to be in the impact area during the one day of project activities (dwarf sperm whale and pygmy sperm whale). Other species are seasonal and only occur in these waters in the fall or winter (humpback whale, blue whale, fin whale, sei whale, minke whale, killer whale); some are rare in PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 the area (Longman’s beaked whale, Bryde’s whale); and others are unlikely to be impacted due to small density estimates (False killer whale, pygmy killer whale, short-finned pilot whale, melon-headed whale, bottlenose dolphin, Pantropical spotted dolphin, striped dolphin, spinner dolphin, rough-toothed dolphin, Fraser’s dolphin, Risso’s dolphin, Cuvier’s beaked whale, Blainville’s beaked E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES whale, and Hawaiian monk seal). Because these 22 species are unlikely to occur within the BSURE area, 86 FWS has not requested and NMFS has not proposed the issuance of take authorizations for them. Thus, NMFS does not consider these species further in this notice. We have reviewed 86 FWS’s species descriptions, including life history information, distribution, regional distribution, diving behavior, and acoustics and hearing, for accuracy and completeness. We refer the reader to Sections 3 and 4 of 86 FWS’s application and to Chapter 3 in 86 FWS’s EA rather than reprinting the information here. Below, for those species that are likely to be taken by the activities described, we offer a brief introduction to the species and relevant stock as well as available information regarding population trends and threats, and describe any information regarding local occurrence. Dwarf Sperm Whale Dwarf sperm whales are found throughout the world in tropical to warm-temperate waters (Caretta et al., 2014). They are usually found in waters deeper than 500 m, most often sighted in depths between 500 and 1,000 m, but they have been documented in depths as shallow as 106 m and as deep as 4,700 m (Baird, in press). This species is often alone or in small groups of up to two to four individuals (average group size of 2.7 individuals), with a maximum group size observed of eight individuals (Baird, in press). When there are more than two animals together, they are often loosely associated, with up to several hundred meters between pairs of individuals (Baird, in press). There is one stock of dwarf sperm whales in Hawaii. Sighting data suggests a small resident population off Hawaii Island (Baird, in press). There are no current abundance estimates for this stock. In 2002, a survey off Hawaii estimated the abundance at 17,159; however, this data is outdated and is no longer used. PBR cannot be calculated due to insufficient data. It has been suggested that this species is probably one of the more abundant species of cetaceans in Hawaiian waters (Baird, in press). One of their main threats is interactions with fisheries; however, dwarf sperm whales are also sensitive to high-intensity underwater sounds and navy sonar testing. This stock is not listed as endangered under the ESA and is not considered strategic or designated as depleted under the MMPA (Caretta et al., 2013). VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 Pygmy Sperm Whale Pygmy killer whales are found in tropical and subtropical waters throughout the world (Ross and Leatherwood 1994). This species prefers deeper waters, with observations of this species in greater than 4,000 m depth (Baird et al., 2013); and, based on stomach contents from stranded individuals, pygmy sperm whales forage between 600 and 1,200 m depth (Baird, in press). Sightings are rare of this species, but observations include lone individuals or pairs, with an average group size of 1.5 individuals (Baird, in press). There is a single stock of Pygmy killer whales in Hawaii. Current abundance estimates for this stock are unknown. A 2002 survey in Hawaii estimated 7,138 animals; however, this data is outdated and is no longer used. PBR cannot be calculated due to insufficient data. (Caretta et al., 2014). The main threats to this species are fisheries interactions and effects from underwater sounds such as active sonar (Caretta et al., 2014). This stock is not listed as endangered under the ESA, and is not considered strategic or designated as depleted under the MMPA (Caretta et al., 2014). Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat This section includes a summary and discussion of the ways that components (e.g., munition strikes and detonation effects) of the specified activity, including mitigation, may impact marine mammals and their habitat. The Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment section later in this document will include a quantitative analysis of the number of individuals that we expect 86 FWS to take during this activity. The Negligible Impact Analysis section will include the analysis of how this specific activity would impact marine mammals, and will consider the content of this section, the Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment section and the Proposed Mitigation section to draw conclusions regarding the likely impacts of these activities on the reproductive success or survivorship of individuals and from that on the affected marine mammal populations or stocks. In the following discussion, we provide general background information on sound and marine mammal hearing before considering potential effects to marine mammals from sound produced by surface detonations. PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 44283 Description of Sound Sources and WSEP Sound Types Sound travels in waves, the basic components of which are frequency, wavelength, velocity, and amplitude. Frequency is the number of pressure waves that pass by a reference point per unit of time and is measured in hertz (Hz) or cycles per second. Wavelength is the distance between two peaks of a sound wave. Amplitude is the height of the sound pressure wave or the ‘‘loudness’’ of a sound and is typically measured using the decibel (dB) scale. A dB is the ratio between a measured pressure (with sound) and a reference pressure (sound at a constant pressure, established by scientific standards). It is a logarithmic unit that accounts for large variations in amplitude; therefore, relatively small changes in dB ratings correspond to large changes in sound pressure. When referring to sound pressure levels (SPLs; the sound force per unit area), sound is referenced in the context of underwater sound pressure to 1 microPascal (mPa). One pascal is the pressure resulting from a force of one newton exerted over an area of one square meter. The source level (SL) represents the sound level at a distance of 1 m from the source (referenced to 1 mPa). The received level is the sound level at the listener’s position. Note that we reference all underwater sound levels in this document to a pressure of 1 mPa and all airborne sound levels in this document are referenced to a pressure of 20 mPa. Root mean square (rms) is the quadratic mean sound pressure over the duration of an impulse. Rms is calculated by squaring all of the sound amplitudes, averaging the squares, and then taking the square root of the average (Urick, 1983). Rms accounts for both positive and negative values; squaring the pressures makes all values positive so that one can account for the values in the summation of pressure levels (Hastings and Popper, 2005). This measurement is often used in the context of discussing behavioral effects, in part because behavioral effects, which often result from auditory cues, may be better expressed through averaged units than by peak pressures. When underwater objects vibrate or activity occurs, sound-pressure waves are created. These waves alternately compress and decompress the water as the sound wave travels. Underwater sound waves radiate in all directions away from the source (similar to ripples on the surface of a pond), except in cases where the source is directional. The compressions and decompressions associated with sound waves are E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 44284 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices detected as changes in pressure by aquatic life and man-made sound receptors such as hydrophones. Even in the absence of sound from the specified activity, the underwater environment is typically loud due to ambient sound. Ambient sound is defined as environmental background sound levels lacking a single source or point (Richardson et al., 1995), and the sound level of a region is defined by the total acoustical energy being generated by known and unknown sources. These sources may include physical (e.g., waves, earthquakes, ice, atmospheric sound), biological (e.g., sounds produced by marine mammals, fish, and invertebrates), and anthropogenic sound (e.g., vessels, dredging, aircraft, construction). A number of sources contribute to ambient sound, including the following (Richardson et al., 1995): • Wind and waves: The complex interactions between wind and water surface, including processes such as breaking waves and wave-induced bubble oscillations and cavitation, are a main source of naturally occurring ambient noise for frequencies between 200 Hz and 50 kHz (Mitson, 1995). In general, ambient sound levels tend to increase with increasing wind speed and wave height. Surf noise becomes important near shore, with measurements collected at a distance of 8.5 km from shore showing an increase of 10 dB in the 100 to 700 Hz band during heavy surf conditions. • Precipitation: Sound from rain and hail impacting the water surface can become an important component of total noise at frequencies above 500 Hz, and possibly down to 100 Hz during quiet times. • Biological: Marine mammals can contribute significantly to ambient noise levels, as can some fish and shrimp. The frequency band for biological contributions is from approximately 12 Hz to over 100 kHz. • Anthropogenic: Sources of ambient noise related to human activity include transportation (surface vessels and aircraft), dredging and construction, oil and gas drilling and production, seismic surveys, sonar, explosions, and ocean acoustic studies. Shipping noise typically dominates the total ambient noise for frequencies between 20 and 300 Hz. In general, the frequencies of anthropogenic sounds are below 1 kHz and, if higher frequency sound levels are created, they attenuate rapidly (Richardson et al., 1995). Sound from identifiable anthropogenic sources other than the activity of interest (e.g., a passing vessel) is sometimes termed background sound, as opposed to ambient sound. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 The sum of the various natural and anthropogenic sound sources at any given location and time—which comprise ‘‘ambient’’ or ‘‘background’’ sound—depends not only on the source levels (as determined by current weather conditions and levels of biological and shipping activity) but also on the ability of sound to propagate through the environment. In turn, sound propagation is dependent on the spatially and temporally varying properties of the water column and sea floor, and is frequency-dependent. As a result of the dependence on a large number of varying factors, ambient sound levels can be expected to vary widely over both coarse and fine spatial and temporal scales. Sound levels at a given frequency and location can vary by 10–20 dB from day to day (Richardson et al., 1995). The result is that, depending on the source type and its intensity, sound from the specified activity may be a negligible addition to the local environment or could form a distinctive signal that may affect marine mammals. The sounds produced by the proposed WSEP activities are considered impulsive, which is one of two general sound types, the other being nonpulsed. The distinction between these two sound types is important because they have differing potential to cause physical effects, particularly with regard to hearing (e.g., Ward, 1997 in Southall et al., 2007). Please see Southall et al. (2007) for an in-depth discussion of these concepts. Impulsive sound sources (e.g., explosions, gunshots, sonic booms, impact pile driving) produce signals that are brief (typically considered to be less than one second), broadband, atonal transients (ANSI, 1986; Harris, 1998; NIOSH, 1998; ISO, 2003) and occur either as isolated events or repeated in some succession. These sounds have a relatively rapid rise from ambient pressure to a maximal pressure value followed by a rapid decay period that may include a period of diminishing, oscillating maximal and minimal pressures, and generally have an increased capacity to induce physical injury as compared with sounds that lack these features. Marine Mammal Hearing Hearing is the most important sensory modality for marine mammals, and exposure to sound can have deleterious effects. To appropriately assess these potential effects, it is necessary to understand the frequency ranges marine mammals are able to hear. Current data indicate that not all marine mammal species have equal hearing capabilities PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 (e.g., Richardson et al., 1995; Wartzok and Ketten, 1999; Au and Hastings, 2008). To reflect this, Southall et al. (2007) recommended that marine mammals be divided into functional hearing groups based on measured or estimated hearing ranges on the basis of available behavioral data, audiograms derived using auditory evoked potential techniques, anatomical modeling, and other data. The lower and/or upper frequencies for some of these functional hearing groups have been modified from those designated by Southall et al. (2007). The functional groups and the associated frequencies are indicated below (note that these frequency ranges do not necessarily correspond to the range of best hearing, which varies by species): • Low frequency cetaceans (13 species of mysticetes): functional hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 7 Hz and 25 kHz (up to 30 kHz in some species), with best hearing estimated to be from 100 Hz to 8 kHz (Watkins, 1986; Ketten, 1998; Houser et al., 2001; Au et al., 2006; Lucifredi and Stein, 2007; Ketten et al., 2007; Parks et al., 2007a; Ketten and Mountain, 2009; Tubelli et al., 2012); • Mid-frequency cetaceans (32 species of dolphins, six species of larger toothed whales, and 19 species of beaked and bottlenose whales): functional hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 150 Hz and 160 kHz with best hearing from 10 to less than 100 kHz (Johnson, 1967; White, 1977; Richardson et al., 1995; Szymanski et al., 1999; Kastelein et al., 2003; Finneran et al., 2005a, 2009; Nachtigall et al., 2005, 2008; Yuen et al., 2005; Popov et al., 2007; Au and Hastings, 2008; Houser et al., 2008; Pacini et al., 2010, 2011; Schlundt et al., 2011); • High frequency cetaceans (eight species of true porpoises, six species of river dolphins, and members of the genera Kogia and Cephalorhynchus; now considered to include two members of the genus Lagenorhynchus on the basis of recent echolocation data and genetic data [May-Collado and Agnarsson, 2006; Kyhn et al., 2009, 2010; Tougaard et al., 2010]): functional hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 200 Hz and 180 kHz (Popov and Supin, 1990a,b; Kastelein et al., 2002; Popov et al., 2005); • Phocid pinnipeds in Water: functional hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 75 Hz and 100 kHz with best hearing between 1–50 kHz (M<hl, 1968; Terhune and Ronald, 1971, 1972; Richardson et al., 1995; Kastak and Schusterman, 1999; E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices Reichmuth, 2008; Kastelein et al., 2009); and • Otariid pinnipeds in Water: functional hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 100 Hz and 48 kHz, with best hearing between 2–48 kHz (Schusterman et al., 1972; Moore and Schusterman, 1987; Babushina et al., 1991; Richardson et al., 1995; Kastak and Schusterman, 1998; Kastelein et al., 2005a; Mulsow and Reichmuth, 2007; Mulsow et al., 2011a, b). The pinniped functional hearing group was modified from Southall et al. (2007) on the basis of data indicating that phocid species have consistently demonstrated an extended frequency range of hearing compared to otariids, especially in the higher frequency range ¨ (Hemila et al., 2006; Kastelein et al., 2009; Reichmuth et al., 2013). There are two marine mammal species (both cetaceans, the dwarf and pygmy sperm whale) with expected potential to co-occur with 86 FWS WSEP military readiness activities. The Kogia species are classified as highfrequency cetaceans. A species’ functional hearing group is a consideration when we analyze the effects of exposure to sound on marine mammals. srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Acoustic Impacts Please refer to the information given previously (Description of Sound Sources) regarding sound, characteristics of sound types, and metrics used in this document. Anthropogenic sounds cover a broad range of frequencies and sound levels and can have a range of highly variable impacts on marine life, from none or minor to potentially severe responses, depending on received levels, duration of exposure, behavioral context, and various other factors. The potential effects of underwater sound from active acoustic sources can potentially result in one or more of the following: temporary or permanent hearing impairment, non-auditory physical or physiological effects, behavioral disturbance, stress, and masking (Richardson et al., 1995; Gordon et al., 2004; Nowacek et al., 2007; Southall et ¨ al., 2007; Gotz et al., 2009). The degree of effect is intrinsically related to the signal characteristics, received level, distance from the source, and duration of the sound exposure. In general, sudden, high level sounds can cause hearing loss, as can longer exposures to lower level sounds. Temporary or permanent loss of hearing will occur almost exclusively for noise within an animal’s hearing range. We first describe specific manifestations of acoustic VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 effects before providing discussion specific to 86 FWS’s activities. Richardson et al. (1995) described zones of increasing intensity of effect that might be expected to occur, in relation to distance from a source and assuming that the signal is within an animal’s hearing range. First is the area within which the acoustic signal would be audible (potentially perceived) to the animal, but not strong enough to elicit any overt behavioral or physiological response. The next zone corresponds with the area where the signal is audible to the animal and of sufficient intensity to elicit behavioral or physiological responsiveness. Third is a zone within which, for signals of high intensity, the received level is sufficient to potentially cause discomfort or tissue damage to auditory or other systems. Overlaying these zones to a certain extent is the area within which masking (i.e., when a sound interferes with or masks the ability of an animal to detect a signal of interest that is above the absolute hearing threshold) may occur; the masking zone may be highly variable in size. We describe the more severe effects (i.e., certain non-auditory physical or physiological effects and mortality) only briefly as we do not expect that there is a reasonable likelihood that 86 FWS’s activities may result in such effects (see below for further discussion). Marine mammals exposed to high-intensity sound, or to lower-intensity sound for prolonged periods, can experience hearing threshold shift (TS), which is the loss of hearing sensitivity at certain frequency ranges (Kastak et al., 1999; Schlundt et al., 2000; Finneran et al., 2002, 2005b). TS can be permanent (PTS), in which case the loss of hearing sensitivity is not fully recoverable, or temporary (TTS), in which case the animal’s hearing threshold would recover over time (Southall et al., 2007). Repeated sound exposure that leads to TTS could cause PTS. In severe cases of PTS, there can be total or partial deafness, while in most cases the animal has an impaired ability to hear sounds in specific frequency ranges (Kryter, 1985). When PTS occurs, there is physical damage to the sound receptors in the ear (i.e., tissue damage), whereas TTS represents primarily tissue fatigue and is reversible (Southall et al., 2007). In addition, other investigators have suggested that TTS is within the normal bounds of physiological variability and tolerance and does not represent physical injury (e.g., Ward, 1997). Therefore, NMFS does not consider TTS to constitute auditory injury. PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 44285 Relationships between TTS and PTS thresholds have not been studied in marine mammals—PTS data exists only for a single harbor seal (Kastak et al., 2008)—but are assumed to be similar to those in humans and other terrestrial mammals. PTS typically occurs at exposure levels at least several decibels above (a 40–dB threshold shift approximates PTS onset; e.g., Kryter et al., 1966; Miller, 1974) that inducing mild TTS (a 6–dB threshold shift approximates TTS onset; e.g., Southall et al., 2007). Based on data from terrestrial mammals, a precautionary assumption is that the PTS thresholds for impulse sounds (such as bombs) are at least 6 dB higher than the TTS threshold on a peak-pressure basis and PTS cumulative sound exposure level thresholds are 15 to 20 dB higher than TTS cumulative sound exposure level thresholds (Southall et al., 2007). Given the higher level of sound or longer exposure duration necessary to cause PTS as compared with TTS, it is considerably less likely that PTS could occur. Non-auditory physiological effects or injuries that theoretically might occur in marine mammals exposed to high level underwater sound or as a secondary effect of extreme behavioral reactions (e.g., change in dive profile as a result of an avoidance reaction) caused by exposure to sound include neurological effects, bubble formation, resonance effects, and other types of organ or tissue damage (Cox et al., 2006; Southall et al., 2007; Zimmer and Tyack, 2007). 86 FWS’s activities involve the use of devices such as explosives that are associated with these types of effects; however, severe injury to marine mammals is not anticipated from these activities. When a live or dead marine mammal swims or floats onto shore and is incapable of returning to sea, the event is termed a ‘‘stranding’’ (16 U.S.C. 1421h(3)). Marine mammals are known to strand for a variety of reasons, such as infectious agents, biotoxicosis, starvation, fishery interaction, ship strike, unusual oceanographic or weather events, sound exposure, or combinations of these stressors sustained concurrently or in series (e.g., Geraci et al., 1999). However, the cause or causes of most strandings are unknown (e.g., Best, 1982). Combinations of dissimilar stressors may combine to kill an animal or dramatically reduce its fitness, even though one exposure without the other would not be expected to produce the same outcome (e.g., Sih et al., 2004). For further description of stranding events E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 44286 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices see, e.g., Southall et al., 2006; Jepson et al., 2013; Wright et al., 2013. 1. Temporary threshold shift—TTS is the mildest form of hearing impairment that can occur during exposure to sound (Kryter, 1985). While experiencing TTS, the hearing threshold rises, and a sound must be at a higher level in order to be heard. In terrestrial and marine mammals, TTS can last from minutes or hours to days (in cases of strong TTS). In many cases, hearing sensitivity recovers rapidly after exposure to the sound ends. Few data on sound levels and durations necessary to elicit mild TTS have been obtained for marine mammals, and none of the data published at the time of this writing concern TTS elicited by exposure to multiple pulses of sound. Marine mammal hearing plays a critical role in communication with conspecifics, and interpretation of environmental cues for purposes such as predator avoidance and prey capture. Depending on the degree (elevation of threshold in dB), duration (i.e., recovery time), and frequency range of TTS, and the context in which it is experienced, TTS can have effects on marine mammals ranging from discountable to serious. For example, a marine mammal may be able to readily compensate for a brief, relatively small amount of TTS in a non-critical frequency range that occurs during a time where ambient noise is lower and there are not as many competing sounds present. Alternatively, a larger amount and longer duration of TTS sustained during time when communication is critical for successful mother/calf interactions could have more serious impacts. Currently, TTS data only exist for four species of cetaceans (bottlenose dolphin, beluga whale [Delphinapterus leucas], harbor porpoise [Phocoena phocoena], and Yangtze finless porpoise [Neophocoena asiaeorientalis]) and three species of pinnipeds (northern elephant seal [Mirounga angustirostris], harbor seal [Phoca vitulina], and California sea lion [Zalophus californianus]) exposed to a limited number of sound sources (i.e., mostly tones and octave-band noise) in laboratory settings (e.g., Finneran et al., 2002; Nachtigall et al., 2004; Kastak et al., 2005; Lucke et al., 2009; Popov et al., 2011). In general, harbor seals (Kastak et al., 2005; Kastelein et al., 2012a) and harbor porpoises (Lucke et al., 2009; Kastelein et al., 2012b) have a lower TTS onset than other measured pinniped or cetacean species. Additionally, the existing marine mammal TTS data come from a limited number of individuals within these species. There are no data available on VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 noise-induced hearing loss for mysticetes. For summaries of data on TTS in marine mammals or for further discussion of TTS onset thresholds, please see Southall et al. (2007) and Finneran and Jenkins (2012). 2. Behavioral effects—Behavioral disturbance may include a variety of effects, including subtle changes in behavior (e.g., minor or brief avoidance of an area or changes in vocalizations), more conspicuous changes in similar behavioral activities, and more sustained and/or potentially severe reactions, such as displacement from or abandonment of high-quality habitat. Behavioral responses to sound are highly variable and context-specific and any reactions depend on numerous intrinsic and extrinsic factors (e.g., species, state of maturity, experience, current activity, reproductive state, auditory sensitivity, time of day), as well as the interplay between factors (e.g., Richardson et al., 1995; Wartzok et al., 2003; Southall et al., 2007; Weilgart, 2007; Archer et al., 2010). Behavioral reactions can vary not only among individuals but also within an individual, depending on previous experience with a sound source, context, and numerous other factors (Ellison et al., 2012), and can vary depending on characteristics associated with the sound source (e.g., whether it is moving or stationary, number of sources, distance from the source). Please see Appendices B–C of Southall et al. (2007) for a review of studies involving marine mammal behavioral responses to sound. Habituation can occur when an animal’s response to a stimulus wanes with repeated exposure, usually in the absence of unpleasant associated events (Wartzok et al., 2003). Animals are most likely to habituate to sounds that are predictable and unvarying. It is important to note that habituation is appropriately considered as a ‘‘progressive reduction in response to stimuli that are perceived as neither aversive nor beneficial,’’ rather than as, more generally, moderation in response to human disturbance (Bejder et al., 2009). The opposite process is sensitization, when an unpleasant experience leads to subsequent responses, often in the form of avoidance, at a lower level of exposure. As noted, behavioral state may affect the type of response. For example, animals that are resting may show greater behavioral change in response to disturbing sound levels than animals that are highly motivated to remain in an area for feeding (Richardson et al., 1995; NRC, 2003; Wartzok et al., 2003). Controlled experiments with captive PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 marine mammals have shown pronounced behavioral reactions, including avoidance of loud sound sources (Ridgway et al., 1997; Finneran et al., 2003). Observed responses of wild marine mammals to loud pulsed sound sources (typically seismic airguns or acoustic harassment devices) have been varied but often consist of avoidance behavior or other behavioral changes suggesting discomfort (Morton and Symonds, 2002; see also Richardson et al., 1995; Nowacek et al., 2007). Available studies show wide variation in response to underwater sound; therefore, it is difficult to predict specifically how any given sound in a particular instance might affect marine mammals perceiving the signal. If a marine mammal does react briefly to an underwater sound by changing its behavior or moving a small distance, the impacts of the change are unlikely to be significant to the individual, let alone the stock or population. However, if a sound source displaces marine mammals from an important feeding or breeding area for a prolonged period, impacts on individuals and populations could be significant (e.g., Lusseau and Bejder, 2007; Weilgart, 2007; NRC, 2005). However, there are broad categories of potential response, which we describe in greater detail here, that include alteration of dive behavior, alteration of foraging behavior, effects to breathing, interference with or alteration of vocalization, avoidance, and flight. Changes in dive behavior can vary widely and may consist of increased or decreased dive times and surface intervals as well as changes in the rates of ascent and descent during a dive (e.g., Frankel and Clark, 2000; Costa et al., 2003; Ng and Leung, 2003; Nowacek et al.; 2004; Goldbogen et al., 2013a,b). Variations in dive behavior may reflect interruptions in biologically significant activities (e.g., foraging) or they may be of little biological significance. The impact of an alteration to dive behavior resulting from an acoustic exposure depends on what the animal is doing at the time of the exposure and the type and magnitude of the response. Disruption of feeding behavior can be difficult to correlate with anthropogenic sound exposure, so it is usually inferred by observed displacement from known foraging areas, the appearance of secondary indicators (e.g., bubble nets or sediment plumes), or changes in dive behavior. As for other types of behavioral response, the frequency, duration, and temporal pattern of signal presentation, as well as differences in species sensitivity, are likely contributing factors to differences in response in any given circumstance E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices (e.g., Croll et al., 2001; Nowacek et al.; 2004; Madsen et al., 2006; Yazvenko et al., 2007). A determination of whether foraging disruptions incur fitness consequences would require information on or estimates of the energetic requirements of the affected individuals and the relationship between prey availability, foraging effort and success, and the life history stage of the animal. Variations in respiration naturally vary with different behaviors and alterations to breathing rate as a function of acoustic exposure can be expected to co-occur with other behavioral reactions, such as a flight response or an alteration in diving. However, respiration rates in and of themselves may be representative of annoyance or an acute stress response. Various studies have shown that respiration rates may either be unaffected or could increase, depending on the species and signal characteristics, again highlighting the importance in understanding species differences in the tolerance of underwater noise when determining the potential for impacts resulting from anthropogenic sound exposure (e.g., Kastelein et al., 2001, 2005b, 2006; Gailey et al., 2007). Marine mammals vocalize for different purposes and across multiple modes, such as whistling, echolocation click production, calling, and singing. Changes in vocalization behavior in response to anthropogenic noise can occur for any of these modes and may result from a need to compete with an increase in background noise or may reflect increased vigilance or a startle response. For example, in the presence of potentially masking signals, humpback whales and killer whales have been observed to increase the length of their songs (Miller et al., 2000; Fristrup et al., 2003; Foote et al., 2004), while right whales have been observed to shift the frequency content of their calls upward while reducing the rate of calling in areas of increased anthropogenic noise (Parks et al., 2007b). In some cases, animals may cease sound production during production of aversive signals (Bowles et al., 1994). Avoidance is the displacement of an individual from an area or migration path as a result of the presence of a sound or other stressors, and is one of the most obvious manifestations of disturbance in marine mammals (Richardson et al., 1995). For example, gray whales are known to change direction—deflecting from customary migratory paths—in order to avoid noise from seismic surveys (Malme et al., 1984). Avoidance may be short-term, VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 with animals returning to the area once the noise has ceased (e.g., Bowles et al., 1994; Goold, 1996; Stone et al., 2000; Morton and Symonds, 2002; Gailey et al., 2007). Longer-term displacement is possible, however, which may lead to changes in abundance or distribution patterns of the affected species in the affected region if habituation to the presence of the sound does not occur (e.g., Blackwell et al., 2004; Bejder et al., 2006; Teilmann et al., 2006). A flight response is a dramatic change in normal movement to a directed and rapid movement away from the perceived location of a sound source. The flight response differs from other avoidance responses in the intensity of the response (e.g., directed movement, rate of travel). Relatively little information on flight responses of marine mammals to anthropogenic signals exist, although observations of flight responses to the presence of predators have occurred (Connor and Heithaus, 1996). The result of a flight response could range from brief, temporary exertion and displacement from the area where the signal provokes flight to, in extreme cases, marine mammal strandings (Evans and England, 2001). However, it should be noted that response to a perceived predator does not necessarily invoke flight (Ford and Reeves, 2008), and whether individuals are solitary or in groups may influence the response. Behavioral disturbance can also impact marine mammals in more subtle ways. Increased vigilance may result in costs related to diversion of focus and attention (i.e., when a response consists of increased vigilance, it may come at the cost of decreased attention to other critical behaviors such as foraging or resting). These effects have generally not been demonstrated for marine mammals, but studies involving fish and terrestrial animals have shown that increased vigilance may substantially reduce feeding rates (e.g., Beauchamp and Livoreil, 1997; Fritz et al., 2002; Purser and Radford, 2011). In addition, chronic disturbance can cause population declines through reduction of fitness (e.g., decline in body condition) and subsequent reduction in reproductive success, survival, or both (e.g., Harrington and Veitch, 1992; Daan et al., 1996; Bradshaw et al., 1998). However, Ridgway et al. (2006) reported that increased vigilance in bottlenose dolphins exposed to sound over a fiveday period did not cause any sleep deprivation or stress effects. Many animals perform vital functions, such as feeding, resting, traveling, and socializing, on a diel cycle (24-hour cycle). Disruption of such functions PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 44287 resulting from reactions to stressors such as sound exposure are more likely to be significant if they last more than one diel cycle or recur on subsequent days (Southall et al., 2007). Consequently, a behavioral response lasting less than one day and not recurring on subsequent days is not considered particularly severe unless it could directly affect reproduction or survival (Southall et al., 2007). Note that there is a difference between multi-day substantive behavioral reactions and multi-day anthropogenic activities. For example, just because an activity lasts for multiple days does not necessarily mean that individual animals are either exposed to activity-related stressors for multiple days or, further, exposed in a manner resulting in sustained multi-day substantive behavioral responses. 3. Stress responses—An animal’s perception of a threat may be sufficient to trigger stress responses consisting of some combination of behavioral responses, autonomic nervous system responses, neuroendocrine responses, or immune responses (e.g., Seyle, 1950; Moberg, 2000). In many cases, an animal’s first and sometimes most economical (in terms of energetic costs) response is behavioral avoidance of the potential stressor. Autonomic nervous system responses to stress typically involve changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and gastrointestinal activity. These responses have a relatively short duration and may or may not have a significant long-term effect on an animal’s fitness. Neuroendocrine stress responses often involve the hypothalamus-pituitaryadrenal system. Virtually all neuroendocrine functions that are affected by stress—including immune competence, reproduction, metabolism, and behavior—are regulated by pituitary hormones. Stress-induced changes in the secretion of pituitary hormones have been implicated in failed reproduction, altered metabolism, reduced immune competence, and behavioral disturbance (e.g., Moberg, 1987; Blecha, 2000). Increases in the circulation of glucocorticoids are also equated with stress (Romano et al., 2004). The primary distinction between stress (which is adaptive and does not normally place an animal at risk) and ‘‘distress’’ is the cost of the response. During a stress response, an animal uses glycogen stores that can be quickly replenished once the stress is alleviated. In such circumstances, the cost of the stress response would not pose serious fitness consequences. However, when an animal does not have sufficient energy reserves to satisfy the energetic costs of a stress response, energy E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 44288 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices resources must be diverted from other functions. This state of distress will last until the animal replenishes its energetic reserves sufficient to restore normal function. Relationships between these physiological mechanisms, animal behavior, and the costs of stress responses are well-studied through controlled experiments and for both laboratory and free-ranging animals (e.g., Holberton et al., 1996; Hood et al., 1998; Jessop et al., 2003; Krausman et al., 2004; Lankford et al., 2005). Stress responses due to exposure to anthropogenic sounds or other stressors and their effects on marine mammals have also been reviewed (Fair and Becker, 2000; Romano et al., 2002b) and, more rarely, studied in wild populations (e.g., Romano et al., 2002a). For example, Rolland et al. (2012) found that noise reduction from reduced ship traffic in the Bay of Fundy was associated with decreased stress in North Atlantic right whales. These and other studies lead to a reasonable expectation that some marine mammals will experience physiological stress responses upon exposure to acoustic stressors and that it is possible that some of these would be classified as ‘‘distress.’’ In addition, any animal experiencing TTS would likely also experience stress responses (NRC, 2003). 4. Auditory masking—Sound can disrupt behavior through masking, or interfering with, an animal’s ability to detect, recognize, or discriminate between acoustic signals of interest (e.g., those used for intraspecific communication and social interactions, prey detection, predator avoidance, navigation) (Richardson et al., 1995). Masking occurs when the receipt of a sound is interfered with by another coincident sound at similar frequencies and at similar or higher intensity, and may occur whether the sound is natural (e.g., snapping shrimp, wind, waves, precipitation) or anthropogenic (e.g., shipping, sonar, seismic exploration) in origin. The ability of a noise source to mask biologically important sounds depends on the characteristics of both the noise source and the signal of interest (e.g., signal-to-noise ratio, temporal variability, direction), in relation to each other and to an animal’s hearing abilities (e.g., sensitivity, frequency range, critical ratios, frequency discrimination, directional discrimination, age or TTS hearing loss), and existing ambient noise and propagation conditions. Under certain circumstances, marine mammals experiencing significant masking could also be impaired from VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 maximizing their performance fitness in survival and reproduction. Therefore, when the coincident (masking) sound is man-made, it may be considered harassment when disrupting or altering critical behaviors. It is important to distinguish TTS and PTS, which persist after the sound exposure, from masking, which occurs during the sound exposure. Because masking (without resulting in TS) is not associated with abnormal physiological function, it is not considered a physiological effect, but rather a potential behavioral effect. The frequency range of the potentially masking sound is important in determining any potential behavioral impacts. For example, low-frequency signals may have less effect on highfrequency echolocation sounds produced by odontocetes but are more likely to affect detection of mysticete communication calls and other potentially important natural sounds such as those produced by surf and some prey species. The masking of communication signals by anthropogenic noise may be considered as a reduction in the communication space of animals (e.g., Clark et al., 2009) and may result in energetic or other costs as animals change their vocalization behavior (e.g., Miller et al., 2000; Foote et al., 2004; Parks et al., 2007b; Di Iorio and Clark, 2009; Holt et al., 2009). Masking can be reduced in situations where the signal and noise come from different directions (Richardson et al., 1995), through amplitude modulation of the signal, or through other compensatory behaviors (Houser and Moore, 2014). Masking can be tested directly in captive species (e.g., Erbe, 2008), but in wild populations it must be either modeled or inferred from evidence of masking compensation. There are few studies addressing real-world masking sounds likely to be experienced by marine mammals in the wild (e.g., Branstetter et al., 2013). Masking affects both senders and receivers of acoustic signals and can potentially have long-term chronic effects on marine mammals at the population level as well as at the individual level. Low-frequency ambient sound levels have increased by as much as 20 dB (more than three times in terms of SPL) in the world’s ocean from pre-industrial periods, with most of the increase from distant commercial shipping (Hildebrand, 2009). All anthropogenic sound sources, but especially chronic and lower-frequency signals (e.g., from vessel traffic), contribute to elevated ambient sound levels, thus intensifying masking. PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 The LRS WSEP training exercises proposed for the incidental take of marine mammals have the potential to take marine mammals by exposing them to impulsive noise and pressure waves generated by live ordnance detonation at the surface of the water. Exposure to energy, pressure, or direct strike by ordnance has the potential to result in non-lethal injury (Level A harassment), disturbance (Level B harassment), serious injury, and/or mortality. In addition, NMFS also considered the potential for harassment from vessel and aircraft operations. Acoustic Effects, Underwater Explosive detonations at the water surface send a shock wave and sound energy through the water and can release gaseous by-products, create an oscillating bubble, or cause a plume of water to shoot up from the water surface. The shock wave and accompanying noise are of most concern to marine animals. Depending on the intensity of the shock wave and size, location, and depth of the animal, an animal can be injured, killed, suffer non-lethal physical effects, experience hearing related effects with or without behavioral responses, or exhibit temporary behavioral responses or tolerance from hearing the blast sound. Generally, exposures to higher levels of impulse and pressure levels would result in greater impacts to an individual animal. The effects of underwater detonations on marine mammals are dependent on several factors, including the size, type, and depth of the animal; the depth, intensity, and duration of the sound; the depth of the water column; the substrate of the habitat; the standoff distance between activities and the animal; and the sound propagation properties of the environment. Thus, we expect impacts to marine mammals from LRS WSEP activities to result primarily from acoustic pathways. As such, the degree of the effect relates to the received level and duration of the sound exposure, as influenced by the distance between the animal and the source. The further away from the source, the less intense the exposure should be. The potential effects of underwater detonations from the proposed LRS WSEP training activities may include one or more of the following: temporary or permanent hearing impairment, nonauditory physical or physiological effects, behavioral disturbance, and masking (Richardson et al., 1995; Gordon et al., 2004; Nowacek et al., 2007; Southall et al., 2007). However, the effects of noise on marine mammals are highly variable, often depending on E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices species and contextual factors (based on Richardson et al., 1995). In the absence of mitigation, impacts to marine species could result from physiological and behavioral responses to both the type and strength of the acoustic signature (Viada et al., 2008). The type and severity of behavioral impacts are more difficult to define due to limited studies addressing the behavioral effects of impulsive sounds on marine mammals. Hearing Impairment and Other Physical Effects—Marine mammals exposed to high intensity sound repeatedly or for prolonged periods can experience hearing threshold shift. Given the available data, the received level of a single pulse (with no frequency weighting) might need to be approximately 186 dB re 1 mPa2-s (i.e., 186 dB sound exposure level (SEL) or approximately 221–226 dB p-p (peak)) in order to produce brief, mild TTS. Exposure to several strong pulses that each have received levels near 190 dB rms (175–180 dB SEL) might result in cumulative exposure of approximately 186 dB SEL and thus slight TTS in a small odontocete, assuming the TTS threshold is (to a first approximation) a function of the total received pulse energy. Non-auditory Physiological Effects— Non-auditory physiological effects or injuries that theoretically might occur in marine mammals exposed to strong underwater sound include stress and other types of organ or tissue damage (Cox et al., 2006; Southall et al., 2007). Serious Injury/Mortality: 86 FWS proposes to use surface detonations in its training exercises. The explosions from these weapons would send a shock wave and blast noise through the water, release gaseous by-products, create an oscillating bubble, and cause a plume of water to shoot up from the water surface. The shock wave and blast noise are of most concern to marine animals. In general, potential impacts from explosive detonations can range from brief effects (such as short term behavioral disturbance), tactile perception, physical discomfort, slight injury of the internal organs, and death of the animal (Yelverton et al., 1973; O’Keeffe and Young, 1984; DoN, 2001). The effects of an underwater explosion on a marine mammal depend on many factors, including: the size, type, and depth of both the animal and the explosive charge; the depth of the water column; the standoff distance between the charge and the animal, and the sound propagation properties of the environment. Physical damage of tissues resulting from a shock wave (from an explosive detonation) constitutes an VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 injury. Blast effects are greatest at the gas-liquid interface (Landsberg, 2000) and gas containing organs, particularly the lungs and gastrointestinal tract, are especially susceptible to damage (Goertner, 1982; Yelverton et al., 1973). Nasal sacs, larynx, pharynx, trachea, and lungs may be damaged by compression/expansion caused by the oscillations of the blast gas bubble (Reidenberg and Laitman, 2003). Severe damage (from the shock wave) to the ears can include tympanic membrane rupture, fracture of the ossicles, cochlear damage, hemorrhage, and cerebrospinal fluid leakage into the middle ear. Non-lethal injury includes slight injury to internal organs and the auditory system; however, delayed lethality can be a result of individual or cumulative sublethal injuries (DoN, 2001). Immediate lethal injury would be a result of massive combined trauma to internal organs as a direct result of proximity to the point of detonation (DoN, 2001). Disturbance Reactions Disturbance includes a variety of effects, including subtle changes in behavior, more conspicuous changes in activities, and displacement. Numerous studies have shown that underwater sounds are often readily detectable by marine mammals in the water at distances of many kilometers. However, other studies have shown that marine mammals at distances more than a few kilometers away often show no apparent response to activities of various types (Miller et al., 2005). This is often true even in cases when the sounds must be readily audible to the animals based on measured received levels and the hearing sensitivity of that mammal group. Although various baleen whales, toothed whales, and (less frequently) pinnipeds have been shown to react behaviorally to underwater sound from impulsive sources such as airguns, at other times, mammals of all three types have shown no overt reactions (e.g., Malme et al., 1986; Richardson et al., 1995; Madsen and Mohl, 2000; Croll et al., 2001; Jacobs and Terhune, 2002; Madsen et al., 2002; MacLean and Koski, 2005; Miller et al., 2005; Bain and Williams, 2006). Controlled experiments with captive marine mammals showed pronounced behavioral reactions, including avoidance of loud sound sources (Ridgway et al., 1997; Finneran et al., 2003). Observed responses of wild marine mammals to loud pulsed sound sources (typically seismic guns or acoustic harassment devices) have been varied but often consist of avoidance PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 44289 behavior or other behavioral changes suggesting discomfort (Morton and Symonds, 2002; Thorson and Reyff, 2006; see also Gordon et al., 2004; Wartzok et al., 2003; Nowacek et al., 2007). Because the few available studies show wide variation in response to underwater sound, it is difficult to quantify exactly how sound from the LRS WSEP operational testing would affect marine mammals. It is likely that the onset of surface detonations could result in temporary, short term changes in an animal’s typical behavior and/or avoidance of the affected area. These behavioral changes may include (Richardson et al., 1995): changing durations of surfacing and dives, number of blows per surfacing, or moving direction and/or speed; reduced/increased vocal activities; changing/cessation of certain behavioral activities (such as socializing or feeding); visible startle response or aggressive behavior (such as tail/fluke slapping or jaw clapping); or avoidance of areas where sound sources are located. The biological significance of any of these behavioral disturbances is difficult to predict, especially if the detected disturbances appear minor. However generally, one could expect the consequences of behavioral modification to be biologically significant if the change affects growth, survival, or reproduction. Significant behavioral modifications that could potentially lead to effects on growth, survival, or reproduction include: • Drastic changes in diving/surfacing patterns (such as those thought to cause beaked whale stranding due to exposure to military mid-frequency tactical sonar); • Habitat abandonment due to loss of desirable acoustic environment; and • Cessation of feeding or social interaction. The onset of behavioral disturbance from anthropogenic sound depends on both external factors (characteristics of sound sources and their paths) and the specific characteristics of the receiving animals (hearing, motivation, experience, demography) and is difficult to predict (Southall et al., 2007). Auditory Masking Natural and artificial sounds can disrupt behavior by masking, or interfering with, a marine mammal’s ability to hear other sounds. Masking occurs when the receipt of a sound interferes with by another coincident sound at similar frequencies and at similar or higher levels (Clark et al., 2009). While it may occur temporarily, E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 44290 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES we do not expect auditory masking to result in detrimental impacts to an individual’s or population’s survival, fitness, or reproductive success. Dolphin movement is not restricted within the BSURE area, allowing for movement out of the area to avoid masking impacts and the sound resulting from the detonations is short in duration. Also, masking is typically of greater concern for those marine mammals that utilize low frequency communications, such as baleen whales and, as such, is not likely to occur for marine mammals in the BSURE area. Vessel and Aircraft Presence The marine mammals most vulnerable to vessel strikes are slow-moving and/or spend extended periods of time at the surface in order to restore oxygen levels within their tissues after deep dives (e.g., North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis), fin whales, and sperm whales). Smaller marine mammals are agile and move more quickly through the water, making them less susceptible to ship strikes. NMFS and 86 FWS are not aware of any vessel strikes of dwarf and pygmy sperm whales within in BSURE area during training operations, and both parties do not anticipate that potential 86 FWS vessels engaged in the specified activity would strike any marine mammals. Dolphins within Hawaiian waters are exposed to recreational, commercial, and military vessels. Behaviorally, marine mammals may or may not respond to the operation of vessels and associated noise. Responses to vessels vary widely among marine mammals in general, but also among different species of small cetaceans. Responses may include attraction to the vessel (Richardson et al., 1995); altering travel patterns to avoid vessels (Constantine, 2001; Nowacek et al., 2001; Lusseau, 2003, 2006); relocating to other areas (Allen and Read, 2000); cessation of feeding, resting, and social interaction (Baker et al., 1983; Bauer and Herman, 1986; Hall, 1982; Krieger and Wing, 1984; Lusseau, 2003; Constantine et al., 2004); abandoning feeding, resting, and nursing areas (Jurasz and Jurasz 1979; Dean et al., 1985; Glockner-Ferrari and Ferrari, 1985, 1990; Lusseau, 2005; Norris et al., 1985; Salden, 1988; Forest, 2001; Morton and Symonds, 2002; Courbis, 2004; Bejder, 2006); stress (Romano et al., 2004); and changes in acoustic behavior (Van Parijs and Corkeron, 2001). However, in some studies marine mammals display no reaction to vessels (Watkins, 1986; Nowacek et al., 2003) and many odontocetes show considerable tolerance to vessel traffic (Richardson et VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 al., 1995). Dolphins may actually reduce the energetic cost of traveling by riding the bow or stern waves of vessels (Williams et al., 1992; Richardson et al., 1995). Aircraft produce noise at frequencies that are well within the frequency range of cetacean hearing and also produce visual signals such as the aircraft itself and its shadow (Richardson et al., 1995, Richardson and Wursig, 1997). A major difference between aircraft noise and noise caused by other anthropogenic sources is that the sound is generated in the air, transmitted through the water surface and then propagates underwater to the receiver, diminishing the received levels significantly below what is heard above the water’s surface. Sound transmission from air to water is greatest in a sound cone 26 degrees directly under the aircraft. There are fewer reports of reactions of odontocetes to aircraft than those of pinnipeds. Responses to aircraft by pinnipeds include diving, slapping the water with pectoral fins or tail fluke, or swimming away from the track of the aircraft (Richardson et al., 1995). The nature and degree of the response, or the lack thereof, are dependent upon the nature of the flight (e.g., type of aircraft, altitude, straight vs. circular flight pattern). Wursig et al. (1998) assessed the responses of cetaceans to aerial surveys in the north central and western Gulf of Mexico using a DeHavilland Twin Otter fixed-wing airplane. The plane flew at an altitude of 229 m (751.3 ft) at 204 km/hr (126.7 mph) and maintained a minimum of 305 m (1,000 ft) straight line distance from the cetaceans. Water depth was 100 to 1,000 m (328 to 3,281 ft). Bottlenose dolphins most commonly responded by diving (48 percent), while 14 percent responded by moving away. Other species (e.g., beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) and sperm whales) show considerable variation in reactions to aircraft but diving or swimming away from the aircraft are the most common reactions to low flights (less than 500 m; 1,640 ft). Direct Strike by Ordnance Another potential risk to marine mammals is direct strike by ordnance, in which the ordnance physically hits an animal. While strike from an item at the surface of the water while the animals is at the surface is possible, the potential risk of a direct hit to an animal within the target area would be so low because marine mammals spend the majority of their time below the surface of the water, and the potential for one bomb or missile to hit that animal at that specific time is highly unlikely PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 since there are only a total of eight bombs on one day. Anticipated Effects on Habitat Detonations of live ordnance would result in temporary changes to the water environment. An explosion on the surface of the water from these weapons could send a shock wave and blast noise through the water, release gaseous byproducts, create an oscillating bubble, and cause a plume of water to shoot up from the water surface. However, these effects would be temporary and not expected to last more than a few seconds. Similarly, 86 FWS does not expect any long-term impacts with regard to hazardous constituents to occur. 86 FWS considered the introduction of fuel, debris, ordnance, and chemical materials into the water column within its EA and determined the potential effects of each to be insignificant. We summarize 86 FWS’s analyses in the following paragraphs (for a complete discussion of potential effects, please refer to section 3.0 in 86 FWS’s EA). Metals typically used to construct bombs and missiles include aluminum, steel, and lead, among others. Aluminum is also present in some explosive materials. These materials would settle to the seafloor after munitions detonate. Metal ions would slowly leach into the substrate and the water column, causing elevated concentrations in a small area around the munitions fragments. Some of the metals, such as aluminum, occur naturally in the ocean at varying concentrations and would not necessarily impact the substrate or water column. Other metals, such as lead, could cause toxicity in microbial communities in the substrate. However, such effects would be localized to a very small distance around munitions fragments and would not significantly affect the overall habitat quality of sediments in the BSURE area. In addition, metal fragments would corrode, degrade, and become encrusted over time. Chemical materials include explosive byproducts and also fuel, oil, and other fluids associated with remotely controlled target boats. Explosive byproducts would be introduced into the water column through detonation of live munitions. Explosive materials would include 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) and research department explosive (RDX), among others. Various byproducts are produced during and immediately after detonation of TNT and RDX. During the very brief time that a detonation is in progress, intermediate products may include carbon ions, E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices nitrogen ions, oxygen ions, water, hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen gas, nitrous oxide, cyanic acid, and carbon dioxide (Becker, 1995). However, reactions quickly occur between the intermediates, and the final products consist mainly of water, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen gas, although small amounts of other compounds are typically produced as well. Chemicals introduced into the water column would be quickly dispersed by waves, currents, and tidal action, and eventually become uniformly distributed. A portion of the carbon compounds such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide would likely become integrated into the carbonate system (alkalinity and pH buffering capacity of seawater). Some of the nitrogen and carbon compounds, including petroleum products, would be metabolized or assimilated by phytoplankton and bacteria. Most of the gas products that do not react with the water or become assimilated by organisms would be released into the atmosphere. Due to dilution, mixing, and transformation, none of these chemicals are expected to have significant impacts on the marine environment. Explosive material that is not consumed in a detonation could sink to the substrate and bind to sediments. However, the quantity of such materials is expected to be inconsequential. Research has shown that if munitions function properly, nearly full combustion of the explosive materials will occur, and only extremely small amounts of raw material will remain. In addition, any remaining materials would be naturally degraded. TNT decomposes when exposed to sunlight (ultraviolet radiation), and is also degraded by microbial activity (Becker, 1995). Several types of microorganisms have been shown to metabolize TNT. Similarly, RDX decomposes by hydrolysis, ultraviolet radiation exposure, and biodegradation. While we anticipate that the specified activity may result in marine mammals avoiding certain areas due to temporary ensonification, this impact to habitat and prey resources would be temporary and reversible. The main impact associated with the proposed activity would be temporarily elevated noise levels and the associated direct effects on marine mammals, previously discussed in this notice. Marine mammals are anticipated to temporarily vacate the area of live detonations. However, these events are usually of short duration, and animals are anticipated to return to the activity area VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 during periods of non-activity. Thus, based on the preceding discussion, we do not anticipate that the proposed activity would have any habitat-related effects that could cause significant or long-term consequences for individual marine mammals or their populations. Proposed Mitigation In order to issue an incidental take authorization under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, NMFS must set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to such activity, and other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and the availability of such species or stock for taking for certain subsistence uses (where relevant). The NDAA of 2004 amended the MMPA as it relates to military-readiness activities and the incidental take authorization process such that ‘‘least practicable adverse impact’’ shall include consideration of personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity. NMFS and 86 FWS have worked to identify potential practicable and effective mitigation measures, which include a careful balancing of the likely benefit of any particular measure to the marine mammals with the likely effect of that measure on personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the ‘‘military-readiness activity.’’ We refer the reader to Section 11 of 86 FWS’s application for more detailed information on the proposed mitigation measures which include the following: Visual Aerial Surveys: For the LRS WSEP activities, mitigation procedures consist of visual aerial surveys of the impact area for the presence of protected marine species (including marine mammals). During aerial observation, Navy test range personnel may survey the area from an S–61N helicopter or C–62 aircraft that is based at the PMRF land facility (typically when missions are located relatively close to shore). Alternatively, when missions are located farther offshore, surveys may be conducted from mission aircraft (typically jet aircraft such as F– 15E, F–16, or F–22) or a U.S. Coast Guard C–130 aircraft. Protected species surveys typically begin within one hour of weapon release and as close to the impact time as feasible, given human safety requirements. Survey personnel must depart the human hazard zone before weapon release, in accordance with PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 44291 Navy safety standards. Personnel conduct aerial surveys within an area defined by an approximately 2–NM (3,704 m) radius around the impact point, with surveys typically flown in a star pattern. This survey distance is consistent with requirements already in place for similar actions at PMRF and encompasses the entire TTS threshold ranges (SEL) for mid-frequency cetaceans (Table 5). For species in which potential exposures have been calculated (dwarf sperm whale and pygmy sperm whale), the survey distance would cover over half of the PTS SEL range. Given operational constraints, surveying these larger areas would not be feasible. Observers would consist of aircrew operating the C–26, S–61N, and C–130 aircraft from PMRF and the Coast Guard. These aircrew are trained and experienced at conducting aerial marine mammal surveys and have provided similar support for other missions at PMRF. Aerial surveys are typically conducted at an altitude of about 200 feet, but altitude may vary somewhat depending on sea state and atmospheric conditions. If adverse weather conditions preclude the ability for aircraft to safely operate, missions would either be delayed until the weather clears or cancelled for the day. For 2016 Long Range Strike WSEP missions, one day has been designated as a weather back-up day. The C–26 and other aircraft would generally be operated at a slightly higher altitude than the helicopter. The observers will be provided with the GPS location of the impact area. Once the aircraft reaches the impact area, pre-mission surveys typically last for 30 minutes, depending on the survey pattern. The fixed-wing aircraft are faster than the helicopter; and, therefore, protected species may be more difficult to spot. However, to compensate for the difference in speed, the aircraft may fly the survey pattern multiple times. If a protected species is observed in the impact area, weapon release would be delayed until one of the following conditions is met: (1) The animal is observed exiting the impact area; (2) the animal is thought to have exited the impact area based on its course and speed; or (3) the impact area has been clear of any additional sightings for a period of 30 minutes. All weapons will be tracked and their water entry points will be documented. Post-mission surveys would begin immediately after the mission is complete and the Range Safety Officer declares the human safety area is reopened. Approximate transit time from the perimeter of the human safety E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 44292 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices area to the weapon impact area would depend on the size of the human safety area and vary between aircraft but is expected to be less than 30 minutes. Post-mission surveys would be conducted by the same aircraft and aircrew that conducted the pre-mission surveys and would follow the same patterns as pre-mission surveys but would focus on the area down current of the weapon impact area to determine if protected species were affected by the mission (observation of dead or injured animals). If an injury or mortality occurs to a protected species due to LRS WSEP missions, NMFS would be notified immediately. A typical mission day would consist of pre-mission checks, safety review, crew briefings, weather checks, clearing airspace, range clearance, mitigations/ monitoring efforts, and other military protocols prior to launch of weapons. Potential delays could be the result of multiple factors including, but not limited to, adverse weather conditions leading to unsafe take-off, landing, and aircraft operations, inability to clear the range of non-mission vessels or aircraft, mechanical issues with mission aircraft or munitions, or presence of protected species in the impact area. If the mission is cancelled due to any of these, one back-up day has also been scheduled as a contingency. These standard operating procedures are usually done in the morning, and live range time may begin in late morning once all checks are complete and approval is granted from range control. The range would be closed to the public for a maximum of four hours per mission day. Determination of the Zone of Influence: The zone of influence is defined as the area or volume of ocean in which marine mammals could be exposed to various pressure or acoustic energy levels caused by exploding ordnance. Refer to Appendix A of the application for a description of the method used to calculate impact areas for explosives. The pressure and energy levels considered to be of concern are defined in terms of metrics, criteria, and thresholds. A metric is a technical standard of measurement that describes the acoustic environment (e.g., frequency duration, temporal pattern, and amplitude) and pressure at a given location. Criteria are the resulting types of possible impact and include mortality, injury, and harassment. A threshold is the level of pressure or noise above which the impact criteria are reached. Standard impulsive and acoustic metrics were used for the analysis of underwater energy and pressure waves VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 in this document. Several different metrics are important for understanding risk assessment analysis of impacts to marine mammals: SPL is the ratio of the absolute sound pressure to a reference level, SEL is measure of sound intensity and duration, and positive impulse is the time integral of the pressure over the initial positive phase of an arrival. The criteria and thresholds used to estimate potential pressure and acoustic impacts to marine mammals resulting from detonations were obtained from Finneran and Jenkins (2012) and include mortality, injurious harassment (Level A), and non-injurious harassment (Level B). In some cases, separate thresholds have been developed for different species groups or functional hearing groups. Functional hearing groups included in the analysis are lowfrequency cetaceans, mid-frequency cetaceans, high-frequency cetaceans, and phocids. Based on the ranges presented in Table 5 and factoring operational limitations associated with the mission, 86 FWS estimates that during premission surveys, the proposed monitoring area would be approximately 2 km (3.7 miles) from the target area radius around the impact point, with surveys typically flown in a star pattern, which is consistent with requirements already in place for similar actions at PMRF and encompasses the entire TTS threshold ranges (SEL) for mid-frequency cetaceans. For species in which potential exposures have been calculated (dwarf sperm whale and pygmy sperm whale), the survey distance would cover over half of the PTS SEL range. Given operational constraints, surveying these larger areas would not be feasible. Post-Mission Monitoring Post-mission monitoring determines the effectiveness of pre-mission mitigation by reporting sightings of any marine mammals. Post-mission monitoring surveys will commence once the mission has ended or, if required, as soon as personnel declare the mission area safe. Post-mission monitoring will be identical to pre-mission surveys and will occur approximately 30 minutes after the munitions have been detonated, concentrating on the area down-current of the test site. Observers will document and report any marine mammal species, number, location, and behavior of any animals observed. We have carefully evaluated 86 FWS’s proposed mitigation measures in the context of ensuring that we prescribe the means of effecting the least practicable impact on the affected PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 marine mammal species and stocks and their habitat. Our evaluation of potential measures included consideration of the following factors in relation to one another: • The manner in which, and the degree to which, the successful implementation of the measure is expected to minimize adverse impacts to marine mammals; • The proven or likely efficacy of the specific measure to minimize adverse impacts as planned; and • The practicability of the measure for applicant implementation. Any mitigation measure(s) prescribed by NMFS should be able to accomplish, have a reasonable likelihood of accomplishing (based on current science), or contribute to the accomplishment of one or more of the general goals listed here: 1. Avoidance or minimization of injury or death of marine mammals wherever possible (goals 2, 3, and 4 may contribute to this goal). 2. A reduction in the numbers of marine mammals (total number or number at biologically important time or location) exposed to stimuli expected to result in incidental take (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing takes by behavioral harassment only). 3. A reduction in the number of times (total number or number at biologically important time or location) individuals would be exposed to stimuli that we expect to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing harassment takes only). 4. A reduction in the intensity of exposures (either total number or number at biologically important time or location) to training exercises that we expect to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing the severity of harassment takes only). 5. Avoidance or minimization of adverse effects to marine mammal habitat, paying special attention to the food base, activities that block or limit passage to or from biologically important areas, permanent destruction of habitat, or temporary destruction/ disturbance of habitat during a biologically important time. 6. For monitoring directly related to mitigation—an increase in the probability of detecting marine mammals, thus allowing for more effective implementation of the mitigation. Based on our evaluation of 86 FWS’s proposed measures, as well as other measures that may be relevant to the specified activity, we have preliminarily E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices determined that the proposed mitigation measures, including visual aerial surveys and mission delays if protected species are observed in the impact area, provide the means of effecting the least practicable impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance (while also considering personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and the impact of effectiveness of the military readiness activity). srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Proposed Monitoring and Reporting In order to issue an Authorization for an activity, section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA states that we must set forth ‘‘requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking.’’ The MMPA implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104(a)(13) indicate that requests for an authorization must include the suggested means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the species and our expectations of the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals present in the proposed action area. 86 FWS submitted marine mammal monitoring and reporting measures in their IHA application. We may modify or supplement these measures based on comments or new information received from the public during the public comment period. Any monitoring requirement we prescribe should improve our understanding of one or more of the following: • Occurrence of marine mammal species in action area (e.g., presence, abundance, distribution, density). • Nature, scope, or context of likely marine mammal exposure to potential stressors/impacts (individual or cumulative, acute or chronic), through better understanding of: (1) Action or environment (e.g., source characterization, propagation, ambient noise); (2) Affected species (e.g., life history, dive patterns); (3) Cooccurrence of marine mammal species with the action; or (4) Biological or behavioral context of exposure (e.g., age, calving or feeding areas). • Individual responses to acute stressors, or impacts of chronic exposures (behavioral or physiological). • How anticipated responses to stressors impact either: (1) Long-term fitness and survival of an individual; or (2) Population, species, or stock. • Effects on marine mammal habitat and resultant impacts to marine mammals. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 • Mitigation and monitoring effectiveness. NMFS proposes to include the following measures in the LRS WSEP Authorization (if issued). They are: (1) 86 FWS will track the use of the PMRF for missions and protected species observations, through the use of mission reporting forms. (2) 86 FWS will submit a summary report of marine mammal observations and LRS WSEP activities to the NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO) and the Office of Protected Resources 90 days after expiration of the current Authorization. This report must include the following information: (i) Date and time of each LRS WSEP exercise; (ii) a complete description of the pre-exercise and post-exercise activities related to mitigating and monitoring the effects of LRS WSEP exercises on marine mammal populations; and (iii) results of the LRS WSEP exercise monitoring, including number of marine mammals (by species) that may have been harassed due to presence within the activity zone. (3) 86 FWS will monitor for marine mammals in the proposed action area. If 86 FWS personnel observe or detect any dead or injured marine mammals prior to testing, or detects any injured or dead marine mammal during live fire exercises, 86 FWS must cease operations and submit a report to NMFS within 24 hours. (4) 86 FWS must immediately report any unauthorized takes of marine mammals (i.e., serious injury or mortality) to NMFS and to the respective Pacific Islands Region stranding network representative. 86 FWS must cease operations and submit a report to NMFS within 24 hours. Estimated Numbers of Marine Mammals Taken by Harassment The NDAA amended the definition of harassment as it applies to a ‘‘military readiness activity’’ to read as follows (Section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA): (i) Any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A Harassment]; or (ii) any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered [Level B Harassment]. NMFS’ analysis identified the physiological responses, and behavioral responses that could potentially result from exposure to explosive detonations. In this section, we will relate the PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 44293 potential effects to marine mammals from detonation of explosives to the MMPA regulatory definitions of Level A and Level B harassment. This section will also quantify the effects that might occur from the proposed military readiness activities in PMRF BSURE area. 86 FWS thresholds used for onset of temporary threshold shift (TTS; Level B Harassment) and onset of permanent threshold shift (PTS; Level A Harassment) are consistent with the thresholds outlined in the Navy’s report titled, ‘‘Criteria and Thresholds for U.S. Navy Acoustic and Explosive Effects Analysis Technical Report,’’ which the Navy coordinated with NMFS. NMFS believes that the thresholds outlined in the Navy’s report represent the best available science. The report is available on the internet at: http://nwtteis.com/ Portals/NWTT/DraftEIS2014/ SupportingDocs/NWTT_NMSDD_ Technical_Report_23_January%202014_ reduced.pdf. Level B Harassment Of the potential effects described earlier in this document, the following are the types of effects that fall into the Level B harassment category: Behavioral Harassment—Behavioral disturbance that rises to the level described in the above definition, when resulting from exposures to nonimpulsive or impulsive sound, is Level B harassment. Some of the lower level physiological stress responses discussed earlier would also likely co-occur with the predicted harassments, although these responses are more difficult to detect and fewer data exist relating these responses to specific received levels of sound. When predicting Level B harassment based on estimated behavioral responses, those takes may have a stress-related physiological component. Temporary Threshold Shift—As discussed previously, TTS can affect how an animal behaves in response to the environment, including conspecifics, predators, and prey. NMFS classifies TTS (when resulting from exposure to explosives and other impulsive sources) as Level B harassment, not Level A harassment (injury). Level A Harassment Of the potential effects that were described earlier, the following are the types of effects that fall into the Level A Harassment category: Permanent Threshold Shift—PTS (resulting from exposure to explosive detonations) is irreversible and NMFS considers this to be an injury. E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 44294 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices Authorization when addressing noise impacts from explosives. 86 FWS completed acoustic modeling to determine the distances to NMFS’s explosive thresholds from their explosive ordnance, which was then used with each species’ density to determine number of exposure estimates. Below is a summary of those modeling efforts. The maximum estimated range, or radius, from the detonation point to which the various thresholds extend for all munitions proposed to be released in a 24-hour time period was calculated based on explosive acoustic characteristics, sound propagation, and sound transmission loss in the Study Area, which incorporates water depth, sediment type, wind speed, bathymetry, and temperature/salinity profiles (Table 5). The ranges were used to calculate the total area (circle) of the zones of influence for each criterion/threshold. To eliminate ‘‘double-counting’’ of animals, impact areas from higher impact categories (e.g., mortality) were subtracted from areas associated with lower impact categories (e.g., Level A harassment). The estimated number of marine mammals potentially exposed to the various impact thresholds was then calculated as the product of the adjusted impact area, scaled animal density, and number of events. Since the model accumulates the energy from all detonations within a 24-hour timeframe, it is assumed that the same population of animals is being impacted within that time period. The population would refresh after 24 hours. In this case, only one mission day is planned for 2016, and therefore, only one event is modeled that would impact the same population of animals. Details of the acoustic modeling method are provided in Appendix A of the application. The resulting total number of marine mammals potentially exposed to the various levels of thresholds is shown in Table 7. An animal is considered ‘‘exposed’’ to a sound if the received sound level at the animal’s location is above the background ambient acoustic VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 level within a similar frequency band. The exposure calculations from the model output resulted in decimal values, suggesting in most cases that a fraction of an animal was exposed. To eliminate this, the acoustic model results were rounded to the nearest whole animal to obtain the exposure estimates from 2016 missions. Furthermore, to eliminate ‘‘doublecounting’’ of animals, exposure results from higher impact categories (e.g., mortality) were subtracted from lower impact categories (e.g., Level A harassment). For impact categories with multiple criteria and/or thresholds (e.g., three criteria and four thresholds associated with Level A harassment), numbers in the table are based on the threshold resulting in the greatest number of exposures. These exposure estimates do not take into account the required mitigation and monitoring measures, which may decrease the potential for impacts. E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 EN07JY16.000</GPH> srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Table 4 outlines the explosive thresholds used by NMFS for this 44295 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices TABLE 5—DISTANCES (m) TO EXPLOSIVE THRESHOLDS FROM 86 FWS’S EXPLOSIVE ORDNANCE Level A Harassment 2 Species Humpback Whale ............. Blue Whale ....................... Fin Whale ......................... Sei Whale ......................... Bryde’s Whale .................. Minke Whale .................... Sperm Whale ................... Pygmy Sperm Whale ....... Dwarf Sperm Whale ......... Killer Whale ...................... False Killer Whale ............ Pygmy Killer Whale .......... Short-finned Pilot Whale .. Melon-headed Whale ....... Bottlenose Dolphin ........... Pantropical Spotted Dolphin ............................... Striped Dolphin ................ Spinner Dolphin ............... Rough-toothed Dolphin .... Fraser’s Dolphin ............... Risso’s Dolphin ................ Cuvier’s Beaked Whale ... Blainville’s Beaked Whale Longman’s Beaked Whale Hawaiian Monk Seal ........ Mortality 1 Level B Harassment GI tract injury Slight lung injury 237 dB SPL PTS Applicable SEL* TTS Applicable SPL* Behavioral Applicable SEL* Applicable SPL* Applicable SEL* 38 28 28 38 38 55 33 105 121 59 72 147 91 121 121 81 59 62 83 81 118 72 206 232 126 153 277 186 228 232 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 2,161 2,161 2,161 2,161 2,161 2,161 753 6,565 6,565 753 753 753 753 753 753 330 330 330 330 330 330 330 3,450 3,450 330 330 330 330 330 330 6,565 6,565 6,565 6,565 6,565 6,565 3,198 20,570 20,570 3,198 3,198 3,198 3,198 3,198 3,198 597 597 597 597 597 597 597 6,565 6,565 597 597 597 597 597 597 13,163 13,163 13,163 13,163 13,163 13,163 4,206 57,109 57,109 4,206 4,206 4,206 4,206 4,206 4,206 147 147 147 121 110 85 51 79 52 135 277 277 277 232 216 175 110 166 113 256 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 753 753 753 753 753 753 753 753 753 1,452 330 330 330 330 330 330 330 330 330 1,107 3,198 3,198 3,198 3,198 3,198 3,198 3,198 3,198 3,198 3,871 597 597 597 597 597 597 597 597 597 1,881 4,206 4,206 4,206 4,206 4,206 4,206 4,206 4,206 4,206 6,565 1 Based on Goertner (1982). on Richmond et al. (1973). *Based on the applicable Functional Hearing Group. 2 Based Density Estimation Density estimates for marine mammals were derived from the Navy’s 2014 Marine Species Density Database (NMSDD). NMFS refers the reader to Section 3 of 86 FWS’s application for detailed information on all equations used to calculate densities presented in Table 6. TABLE 6—MARINE MAMMAL DENSITY ESTIMATES WITHIN 86 FWS’S PMRF Density (animals/km2) Species Dwarf sperm whale ............... Pygmy sperm whale ............. 0.00714 0.00291 Take Estimation Table 7 indicates the modeled potential for lethality, injury, and non- injurious harassment (including behavioral harassment) to marine mammals in the absence of mitigation measures. 86 FWS and NMFS estimate that one marine mammal species could be exposed to injurious Level A harassment noise levels (187 dB SEL) and two species could be exposed to Level B harassment (TTS and Behavioral) noise levels in the absence of mitigation measures. TABLE 7—MODELED NUMBER OF MARINE MAMMALS POTENTIALLY AFFECTED BY LRS WSEP OPERATIONS Species srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Dwarf sperm whale .......................................................................................... Pygmy sperm whale ........................................................................................ TOTAL ............................................................................................................. Based on the mortality exposure estimates calculated by the acoustic model, zero marine mammals are expected to be affected by pressure levels associated with mortality or serious injury. Zero marine mammals are expected to be exposed to pressure levels associated with slight lung injury or gastrointestinal tract injury. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 Level A harassment (PTS only) Mortality 0 0 0 NMFS generally considers PTS to fall under the injury category (Level A Harassment). An animal would need to stay very close to the sound source for an extended amount of time to incur a serious degree of PTS, which could increase the probability of mortality. In this case, it would be highly unlikely for this scenario to unfold given the nature PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Level B harassment (TTS) 1 0 1 9 3 12 Level B harassment (behavioral) 64 26 90 of any anticipated acoustic exposures that could potentially result from a mobile marine mammal that NMFS generally expects to exhibit avoidance behavior to loud sounds within the BSURE area. NMFS has relied on the best available scientific information to support the issuance of 86 FWS’s authorization. In E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 44296 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES the case of authorizing Level A harassment, NMFS has estimated that one dwarf sperm whale could, although unlikely, experience minor permanent threshold shifts of hearing sensitivity (PTS). The available data and analyses, as described more fully in this notice include extrapolation results of many studies on marine mammal noiseinduced temporary threshold shifts of hearing sensitivities. An extensive review of TTS studies and experiments prompted NMFS to conclude that possibility of minor PTS in the form of slight upward shift of hearing threshold at certain frequency bands by one individual marine mammal is extremely low, but not unlikely. Negligible Impact Analysis and Preliminary Determinations 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.’’ A negligible impact finding is based on the lack of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., populationlevel effects). An estimate of the number of Level B harassment takes alone is not enough information on which to base an impact determination. In addition to considering estimates of the number of marine mammals that might be ‘‘taken’’ through behavioral harassment, we consider other factors, such as the likely nature of any responses (e.g., intensity, duration), the context of any responses (e.g., critical reproductive time or location, migration), as well as the number and nature of estimated Level A harassment takes, the number of estimated mortalities, and effects on habitat. To avoid repetition, the discussion below applies to all the species listed in Table 7 for which we propose to authorize incidental take for 86 FWS’s activities. In making a negligible impact determination, we consider: • The number of anticipated injuries, serious injuries, or mortalities; • The number, nature, and intensity, and duration of Level B harassment; • The context in which the takes occur (e.g., impacts to areas of significance, impacts to local populations, and cumulative impacts when taking into account successive/ contemporaneous actions when added to baseline data); • The status of stock or species of marine mammals (i.e., depleted, not depleted, decreasing, increasing, stable, VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 impact relative to the size of the population); • Impacts on habitat affecting rates of recruitment/survival; and • The effectiveness of monitoring and mitigation measures to reduce the number or severity of incidental take. For reasons stated previously in this document and based on the following factors, 86 FWS’s specified activities are not likely to cause long-term behavioral disturbance, serious injury, or death. The takes from Level B harassment would be due to potential behavioral disturbance and TTS. The takes from Level A harassment would be due to potential PTS. Activities would only occur over a timeframe of one day in September, 2016. Noise-induced threshold shifts (TS, which includes PTS) are defined as increases in the threshold of audibility (i.e., the sound has to be louder to be detected) of the ear at a certain frequency or range of frequencies (ANSI 1995; Yost 2007). Several important factors relate to the magnitude of TS, such as level, duration, spectral content (frequency range), and temporal pattern (continuous, intermittent) of exposure (Yost 2007; Henderson et al., 2008). TS occurs in terms of frequency range (Hz or kHz), hearing threshold level (dB), or both frequency and hearing threshold level. In addition, there are different degrees of PTS: Ranging from slight/mild to moderate and from severe to profound. Profound PTS or the complete loss of the ability to hear in one or both ears is commonly referred to as deafness. Highfrequency PTS, presumably as a normal process of aging that occurs in humans and other terrestrial mammals, has also been demonstrated in captive cetaceans (Ridgway and Carder, 1997; Yuen et al. 2005; Finneran et al., 2005; Houser and Finneran, 2006; Finneran et al., 2007; Schlundt et al., 2011) and in stranded individuals (Mann et al., 2010). In terms of what is analyzed for the potential PTS (Level A harassment) in one marine mammal as a result of 86 FWS’s LRS WSEP operations, if it occurs, NMFS has determined that the levels would be slight/mild because research shows that most cetaceans show relatively high levels of avoidance. Further, it is uncommon to sight marine mammals within the target area, especially for prolonged durations. Avoidance varies among individuals and depends on their activities or reasons for being in the area. NMFS’ predicted estimates for Level A harassment take (Table 7) are likely overestimates of the likely injury that will occur. NMFS expects that successful implementation of the PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 required aerial-based mitigation measures could avoid Level A take. Also, NMFS expects that some individuals would avoid the source at levels expected to result in injury. Nonetheless, although NMFS expects that Level A harassment is unlikely to occur at the numbers proposed to be authorized, because it is difficult to quantify the degree to which the mitigation and avoidance will reduce the number of animals that might incur PTS, we are proposing to authorize (and analyze) the modeled number of Level A takes (one), which does not take the mitigation or avoidance into consideration. However, we anticipate that any PTS incurred because of mitigation and the likely short duration of exposures, would be in the form of only a small degree of permanent threshold shift and not total deafness. While animals may be impacted in the immediate vicinity of the activity, because of the short duration of the actual individual explosions themselves (versus continual sound source operation) combined with the short duration of the LRS WSEP operations, NMFS has preliminarily determined that there will not be a substantial impact on marine mammals or on the normal functioning of the nearshore or offshore waters off Kauai and its ecosystems. We do not expect that the proposed activity would impact rates of recruitment or survival of marine mammals since we do not expect mortality (which would remove individuals from the population) or serious injury to occur. In addition, the proposed activity would not occur in areas (and/or times) of significance for the marine mammal populations potentially affected by the exercises (e.g., feeding or resting areas, reproductive areas), and the activities would only occur in a small part of their overall range, so the impact of any potential temporary displacement would be negligible and animals would be expected to return to the area after the cessations of activities. Although the proposed activity could result in Level A (PTS only, not slight lung injury or gastrointestinal tract injury) and Level B (behavioral disturbance and TTS) harassment of marine mammals, the level of harassment is not anticipated to impact rates of recruitment or survival of marine mammals because the number of exposed animals is expected to be low due to the short-term (i.e., four hours a day or less on one day) and sitespecific nature of the activity. We do not anticipate that the effects would be detrimental to rates of recruitment and survival because we do not expect E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices serious of extended behavioral responses that would result in energetic effects at the level to impact fitness. Moreover, the mitigation and monitoring measures proposed for the IHA (described earlier in this document) are expected to further minimize the potential for harassment. The protected species surveys would require 86 FWS to search the area for marine mammals, and if any are found in the impact zone, then the exercise would be suspended until the animal(s) has left the area or relocated outside of the zone. Furthermore, LRS WSEP missions may be delayed or rescheduled for adverse weather conditions. Based on the preliminary analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into consideration the implementation of the mitigation and monitoring measures, NMFS finds that 86 FWS’s LRS WSEP operations will result in the incidental take of marine mammals, by Level A and Level B harassment only, and that the taking from the LRS WSEP exercises will have a negligible impact on the affected species or stocks. Impact on Availability of Affected Species or Stock for Taking for Subsistence Uses There are no relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals implicated by this action. Therefore, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the total taking of affected species or stocks would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of such species or stocks for taking for subsistence purposes. srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Endangered Species Act (ESA) No marine mammal species listed under the ESA are expected to be affected by these activities. Therefore, NMFS has determined that a section 7 consultation under the ESA is not required. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) In 2015, 86 FWS provided NMFS with an EA titled, Environmental Assessment/Overseas Environmental Assessment for the Long Range Strick Weapon Systems Evaluation Program Operational Evaluations. The EA analyzed the direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental impacts of the specified activities on marine mammals. NMFS will review and evaluate the 86 FWS EA for consistency with the regulations published by the Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) and NOAA Administrative Order 216–6, Environmental Review Procedures for VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:30 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 Implementing the National Environmental Policy Act, and determine whether or not to adopt it. Information in 86 FWS’s application, EA, and this notice collectively provide the environmental information related to proposed issuance of the IHA for public review and comment. We will review all comments submitted in response to this notice as we complete the NEPA process, including decision of whether to sign a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), prior to a final decision on the IHA request. The 2016 NEPA documents are available for review at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/ permits/incidental/military.html. Proposed Authorization As a result of these preliminary determinations, we propose to issue an IHA to 86 FWS for conducting LRS WSEP activities, for a period of one year from the date of issuance, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements are incorporated. The proposed Authorization language is provided in the next section. The wording contained in this section is proposed for inclusion in the Authorization (if issued). 1. This Authorization is valid for a period of one year from the date of issuance. 2. This Authorization is valid only for activities associated with the LRS WSEP operations utilizing munitions identified in the Attachment. 3. The incidental taking, by Level A and Level B harassment, is limited to: Dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima) and Pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps) as specified in Table 1 of this notice. TABLE 1—AUTHORIZED TAKE NUMBERS. Level A takes Level B takes Dwarf sperm whale ......................... Pygmy sperm whale ........................ 1 0 73 29 Total ......................................... 1 102 Species The taking by serious injury or death of these species, the taking of these species in violation of the conditions of this Incidental Harassment Authorization, or the taking by harassment, serious injury or death of any other species of marine mammal is prohibited and may result in the modification, suspension or revocation of this Authorization. 4. Mitigation When conducting this activity, the following mitigation measures must be undertaken: PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 44297 • If daytime weather and/or sea conditions preclude adequate monitoring for detecting marine mammals and other marine life, LRS WSEP strike operations must be delayed until adequate sea conditions exist for monitoring to be undertaken. • On the morning of the LRS WSEP strike mission, the test director and safety officer will confirm that there are no issues that would preclude mission execution and that the weather is adequate to support monitoring and mitigation measures. • If post-mission surveys determine that an injury or lethal take of a marine mammal has occurred, the next mission will be suspended until the test procedure and the monitoring methods have been reviewed with NMFS and appropriate changes made. 5. Monitoring The holder of this Authorization is required to cooperate with the National Marine Fisheries Service and any other Federal, state or local agency monitoring the impacts of the activity on marine mammals. The holder of this Authorization will track their use of the PMRF BSURE area for the LRS WSEP missions and marine mammal observations, through the use of mission reporting forms. Aerial surveys: Pre- and post- mission will be conducted. Pre-mission surveys would begin approximately one hour prior to detonation. Post-detonation monitoring surveys will commence once the mission has ended or, if required, as soon as personnel declare the mission area safe. Proposed monitoring area would be approximately 2 km (3.7 miles) from the target area radius around the impact point, with surveys typically flown in a star pattern. Aerial surveys would be conducted at an altitude of about 200 feet, but altitude may vary somewhat depending on sea state and atmospheric conditions. If adverse weather conditions preclude the ability for aircraft to safely operate, missions would either be delayed until the weather clears or cancelled for the day. The observers will be provided with the GPS location of the impact area. Once the aircraft reaches the impact area, premission surveys typically last for 30 minutes, depending on the survey pattern. The aircraft may fly the survey pattern multiple times. 6. Reporting The holder of this Authorization is required to: (a) Submit a draft report on all monitoring conducted under the IHA within 90 days of the completion of E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1 srobinson on DSK5SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 44298 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 130 / Thursday, July 7, 2016 / Notices marine mammal monitoring, or 60 days prior to the issuance of any subsequent IHA for projects at PMRF, whichever comes first. A final report shall be prepared and submitted within 30 days following resolution of comments on the draft report from NMFS. This report must contain the informational elements described in the Monitoring Plan, at minimum (see www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/ permits/incidental/construction.htm), and shall also include: 1. Date and time of each LRS WSEP mission; 2. A complete description of the preexercise and post-exercise activities related to mitigating and monitoring the effects of LRS WSEP missions on marine mammal populations; and 3. Results of the monitoring program, including numbers by species/stock of any marine mammals noted injured or killed as a result of the LRS WSEP mission and number of marine mammals (by species if possible) that may have been harassed due to presence within the zone of influence. The draft report will be subject to review and comment by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Any recommendations made by the National Marine Fisheries Service must be addressed in the final report prior to acceptance by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The draft report will be considered the final report for this activity under this Authorization if the National Marine Fisheries Service has not provided comments and recommendations within 90 days of receipt of the draft report. (b) Reporting injured or dead marine mammals: i. In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by this IHA, such as an injury for species not authorized (Level A harassment), serious injury, or mortality, 86 FWS shall immediately cease the specified activities and report the incident to the Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the Pacific Islands Regional Stranding Coordinator, NMFS. The report must include the following information: A. Time and date of the incident; B. Description of the incident; C. Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility); D. Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 hours preceding the incident; E. Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved; F. Fate of the animal(s); and G. Photographs or video footage of the animal(s). VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:23 Jul 06, 2016 Jkt 238001 Activities shall not resume until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS will work with 86 FWS to determine what measures are necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. 86 FWS may not resume their activities until notified by NMFS. ii. In the event that 86 FWS discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead observer determines that the cause of the injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (e.g., in less than a moderate state of decomposition), 86 FWS shall immediately report the incident to the Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the Pacific Islands Regional Stranding Coordinator, NMFS. The report must include the same information identified in 6(b)(i) of this IHA. Activities may continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS will work with 86 FWS to determine whether additional mitigation measures or modifications to the activities are appropriate. iii. In the event that 86 FWS discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead observer determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the activities authorized in the IHA (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, scavenger damage), 86 FWS shall report the incident to the Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the Pacific Islands Regional Stranding Coordinator, NMFS, within 24 hours of the discovery. 86 FWS shall provide photographs or video footage or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS. 7. Additional Conditions • The holder of this Authorization must inform the Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, (301–427–8400) or designee (301–427–8401) prior to the initiation of any changes to the monitoring plan for a specified mission activity. • A copy of this Authorization must be in the possession of the safety officer on duty each day that long range strike missions are conducted. • This Authorization may be modified, suspended or withdrawn if the holder fails to abide by the conditions prescribed herein, or if NMFS determines the authorized taking is having more than a negligible impact on the species or stock of affected marine mammals. PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Request for Public Comments We request comment on our analysis, the draft authorization, and any other aspect of this Federal Register notice of proposed Authorization. Please include with your comments any supporting data or literature citations to help inform our final decision on 86 FWS’s renewal request for an MMPA authorization. Dated: July 1, 2016. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–16114 Filed 7–6–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XE461 Marine Mammals; Pinniped Removal Authority; Approval of Application National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Commerce (NOAA). ACTION: Notice of availability. AGENCY: NMFS announces approval of an application for a Letter of Authorization (LOA) from the states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho for lethal removal of individually identifiable predatory California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) in the vicinity of Bonneville Dam to minimize pinniped predation on Pacific salmon and steelhead (Oncorhynchus spp.) listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon. This authorization is pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). NMFS also announces availability of decision documents and other information relied upon in making this determination. ADDRESSES: Additional information about our determination may be obtained by visiting the NMFS West Coast Region’s Web site: http:// www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov, or by writing to us at: NMFS West Coast Region, Protected Resources Division, 1201 Lloyd Blvd., Suite 1100, Portland, OR 97232. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Robert Anderson at the above address, by phone at (503) 231–2226, or by email at robert.c.anderson@noa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\07JYN1.SGM 07JYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 130 (Thursday, July 7, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 44277-44298]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-16114]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XE675


Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; 
Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the U.S. Air Force 86 Fighter 
Weapons Squadron Conducting Long Range Strike Weapon Systems Evaluation 
Program at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii

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

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

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

SUMMARY: NMFS (hereinafter, ``we'' or ``our'') received an application 
from the U.S. Department of the Air Force, 86 Fighter Weapons Squadron 
(86 FWS), requesting an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to 
take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to a Long Range Strike 
Weapon Systems Evaluation Program (LRS WSEP) in the Barking Sands 
Underwater Range Extension (BSURE) area of the Pacific Missile Range 
Facility (PMRF) at Kauai, Hawaii. 86 FWS's activities are military 
readiness activities per the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), as 
amended by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal 
Year 2004. Pursuant to the MMPA, NMFS requests comments on its proposal 
to issue an IHA to 86 FWS to incidentally take, by Level A and Level B 
harassment, two species of marine mammals, the dwarf sperm whale (Kogia 
sima) and pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps) during the specified 
activity.

DATES: NMFS must receive comments and information no later than August 
8, 2016.

ADDRESSES: Comments on the application 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 email address for providing email comments 
is ITP.McCue@noaa.gov. Please include 0648-XE675 in the subject line. 
Comments sent via email, including all attachments, must not exceed a 
25-megabyte file size. NMFS is not responsible for comments sent to 
addresses other than the one provided in this notice.

[[Page 44278]]

    Instructions: All submitted comments are a part of the public 
record, and generally we will post them to http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/military.htm 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.
    An electronic copy of the application may be obtained by writing to 
the address specified above, telephoning the contact listed below (see 
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT), or visiting the internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/military.htm. The following 
associated documents are also available at the same internet address: 
List of the references used in this document, and 86 FWS's 
Environmental Assessment (EA) titled, ``Environmental Assessment/
Overseas Environmental Assessment for the Long Range Strike Weapon 
Systems Evaluation Program Operational Evaluations.'' Documents cited 
in this notice may also be viewed, by appointment, during regular 
business hours, at the aforementioned address.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA(16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) 
direct the Secretary of Commerce to allow, upon request, the 
incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine 
mammals of a species or population stock, 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 either 
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 for marine mammals 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 taking 
are set forth. NMFS has defined ``negligible impact'' in 50 CFR 216.103 
as ``an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be 
reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely 
affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of 
recruitment or survival.''
    The NDAA of 2004 (Pub. L. 108-136) removed the ``small numbers'' 
and ``specified geographical region'' limitations indicated earlier and 
amended the definition of harassment as it applies to a ``military 
readiness activity'' to read as follows (Section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA): 
(i) Any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a 
marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A Harassment]; 
or (ii) any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal 
or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural 
behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, 
surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where 
such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered [Level 
B Harassment].

Summary of Request

    On May 12, 2016, NMFS received an application from 86 FWS for the 
taking of marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to the LRS WSEP 
within the PMRF in Kauai, Hawaii from September 1, 2016 through August 
31, 2017. 86 FWS submitted a revised version of the renewal request on 
June 9, 2016 and June 20, 2016, which we considered adequate and 
complete.
    The proposed LRS WSEP training activities would occur on September 
1, 2016, with a backup date of September 2, 2016.
    86 FWS proposes actions that include LRS WSEP test missions of the 
Joint Air-To-Surface Stand-off Missile (JASSM) and the Small Diameter 
Bomb-I/II (SDB-I/II) including detonations at the water surface. These 
activities qualify as a military readiness activities under the MMPA 
and NDAA.
    The following aspects of the proposed LRS WSEP training activities 
have the potential to take marine mammals: Munition strikes and 
detonation effects (overpressure and acoustic components). Take, by 
Level B harassment of individuals of dwarf sperm whale and pygmy sperm 
whale could potentially result from the specified activity. 
Additionally, although NMFS does not expect it to occur, 86 FWS has 
also requested authorization for Level A Harassment of one individual 
dwarf sperm whale. Therefore, 86 FWS has requested authorization to 
take individuals of two cetacean species by Level A and Level B 
harassment.
    86 FWS's LRS WSEP training activities may potentially impact marine 
mammals at or near the water surface in the absence of mitigation. 
Marine mammals could potentially be harassed, injured, or killed by 
exploding and non-exploding projectiles, falling debris, or ingestion 
of military expended materials. However, based on analyses provided in 
86 FWS's 2016 application, 2016 Environmental Assessment (EA), and for 
reasons discussed later in this document, we do not anticipate that 86 
FWS's LRS WSEP activities would result in any serious injury or 
mortality to marine mammals.

Description of the Specified Activity

Overview

    86 FWS proposes to conduct air-to-surface mission in the BSURE area 
of the PMRF. The LRS WSEP test objective is to conduct operational 
evaluations of long range strike weapons and other munitions as part of 
LRS WSEP operations to properly train units to execute requirements 
within Designed Operational Capability Statements, which describe 
units' real-world operational expectations in a time of war. Due to 
threats to national security, increased missions involving air-to-
surface activities have been directed by the Department of Defense 
(DoD). Accordingly, the U.S. Air Force seeks the ability to conduct 
operational evaluations of all phases of long range strike weapons 
within the U.S. Navy's Hawaii Range Complex (HRC). The actions would 
fulfill the Air Force's requirement to evaluate full-scale maneuvers 
for such weapons, including scoring capabilities under operationally 
realistic scenarios. LRS WSEP objectives are to evaluate air-to-surface 
and maritime weapon employment data, evaluate tactics, techniques, and 
procedures in an operationally realistic environment, and to determine 
the impact of tactics, techniques, and procedures on combat Air Force 
training. The munitions associated with the proposed activities are not 
part of a typical unit's training allocations, and prior to attending a 
WSEP evaluation, most pilots and weapon systems officers have only 
dropped weapons in simulators or used the aircraft's simulation mode. 
Without WSEP operations, pilots would be using these weapons for the 
first time in combat. On average, half of the participants in each unit 
drop an actual weapon for the first time during a WSEP evaluation. 
Consequently, WSEP is a military readiness activity and is the last 
opportunity for squadrons to receive operational training and 
evaluations before they deploy.

[[Page 44279]]

Dates and Duration

    86 FWS proposes to schedule the LRS WSEP training missions over one 
day on September 1, 2016, with a backup day the following day. The 
proposed missions would occur on a weekday during daytime hours only, 
with all missions occurring in one day. This IHA would be valid from 
September 1, 2016 through August 31, 2017.

Specified Geographic Region

    The specific planned impact area is approximately 44 nautical miles 
(nm)(81 kilometers (km)) offshore of Kauai, Hawaii, in a water depth of 
about 15,240 feet (ft) (4,645 meters (m)) (see Figure 2-2 of 86 FWS's 
application). All activities will take place within the PMRF, which is 
located in Hawaii off the western shores of the island of Kauai and 
includes broad ocean areas to the north, south, and west (see Figure 2-
1 of 86 FWS's application).
    Within the PMRF, activities would occur in the BSURE area, which 
lies in Warning Area 188 (W-188). The BSURE consists of about 900 nm\2\ 
of instrumented underwater ranges, encompassing the deepwater portion 
of the PMRF and providing over 80 percent of PMRF's underwater scoring 
capability. The BSURE facilitates training, tactics, development, and 
test and evaluation for air, surface, and subsurface weapons systems in 
deep water. It provides a full spectrum of range support, including 
radar, underwater instrumentation, telemetry, electronic warfare, 
remote target command and control, communications, data display and 
processing, and target/weapon launching and recovery facilities. The 
underwater tracking system begins 9 nm (17 km) from the north shore of 
Kauai and extends out to 40 nm (74 km) from shore. LRS WSEP missions 
would employ live weapons with long flight paths requiring large 
amounts of airspace and conclude with weapon impact and surface 
detonations within the BSURE instrumented range.

Detailed Description of Activities

    The LRS WSEP training missions, classified as military readiness 
activities, refer to the deployment of live (containing explosive 
charges) missiles from aircraft toward the water surface. The actions 
include air-to-surface test missions of the JASSM and the SDB-I/II 
including detonations at the water surface.
    Aircraft used for munition releases would include bombers and 
fighter aircraft. Additional airborne assets, such as the P-3 Orion or 
the P-8 Poseidon, would be used to relay telemetry (TM) and flight 
termination system (FTS) streams between the weapon and ground 
stations. Other support aircraft would be associated with range 
clearance activities before and during the mission and with air-to-air 
refueling operations. All weapon delivery aircraft would originate from 
an out base and fly into military-controlled airspace prior to 
employment. Due to long transit times between the out base and mission 
location, air-to-air refueling may be conducted in either W-188 or W-
189. Bombers, such as the B-1, would deliver the weapons, conduct air-
to-air refueling, and return to their originating base as part of one 
sortie. However, when fighter aircraft are used, the distance and 
corresponding transit time to the various potential originating bases 
would make return flights after each mission day impractical. In these 
cases, the aircraft would temporarily (less than one week) park 
overnight at Hickam Air Force Base (HAFB) and would return to their 
home base at the conclusion of each mission set. Multiple weapon 
release aircraft would be used during some missions, each potentially 
releasing multiple munitions. The LRS WSEP missions scheduled for 2016 
are proposed to occur in one day, with the following day reserved as a 
back-up day. Approximately 10 Air Force personnel would be on temporary 
duty to support the mission.
    Aircraft flight maneuver operations and weapon release would be 
conducted in W-188A boundaries of PMRF. Chase aircraft may be used to 
evaluate weapon release and to track weapons. Flight operations and 
weapons delivery would be in accordance with published Air Force 
directives and weapon operational release parameters, as well as all 
applicable Navy safety regulations and criteria established 
specifically for PMRF. Aircraft supporting LSR WSEP missions would 
primarily operate at high altitudes--only flying below 3,000 feet for a 
limited time as needed for escorting non-military vessels outside the 
hazard area or for monitoring the area for protected marine species 
(e.g., marine mammals, sea turtles). Protected marine species aerial 
surveys would be temporary and would focus on an area surrounding the 
weapon impact point on the water.
    Post-mission surveys would focus on the area down current of the 
weapon impact location. Range clearance procedures for each mission 
would cover a much larger area for human safety. Weapon release 
parameters would be conducted as approved by PMRF Range Safety. Daily 
mission briefs would specify planned release conditions for each 
mission. Aircraft and weapons would be tracked for time, space, and 
position information. The 86 FWS test director would coordinate with 
the PMRF Range Safety Officer, Operations Conductor, Range Facility 
Control Officer, and other applicable mission control personnel for 
aircraft control, range clearance, and mission safety.

Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-Off Missile/Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-Off 
Missile-Extended Range (JASSM/JASSM-ER)

    The JASSM is a stealthy precision cruise missile designed for 
launch outside area defenses against hardened, medium-hardened, soft, 
and area type targets. The JASSM has a range of more than 200 nm (370 
km) and carries a 1,000-pound (lb) warhead with approximately 300 lbs 
of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) equivalent net explosive weight (NEW). 
The specific explosive used is AFX-757, a type of plastic bonded 
explosive (PBX). The weapon has the capability to fly a preprogrammed 
route from launch to a target, using Global Positioning System (GPS) 
technology and an internal navigation system (INS) combined with a 
Terminal Area Model when available. Additionally, the weapon has a 
Common Low Observable Auto-Routing function that gives the weapon the 
ability to find the route that best utilizes the low observable 
qualities of the JASSM. In either case, these routes can be modeled 
prior to weapon release. The JASSM-ER has additional fuel and a 
different engine for a greater range than the JASSM (500 nm (926 km)) 
but maintains the same functionality of the JASSM.

Small Diameter Bomb-I/Small Diameter Bomb-II (SDB-I/SDB-II)

    The SDB-I is a 250-lb air-launched GPS-INS guided weapon for fixed 
soft to hardened targets. SDB-II expands the SDB-I capability with 
network enabling and uses a tri-mode sensor infrared, millimeter, and 
semi-active laser to attack both fixed and movable targets. Both 
munitions have a range of up to 60 NM (111 km). The SDB-I contains 37 
lbs of TNT-equivalent NEW, and the SDB-II contains 23 lbs NEW. The 
explosive used in both SDB-I and SDB-II is AFX-757.
    Initial phases of the LRS WSEP operational evaluations are proposed 
for September 2016 and would consist of releasing only one live JASSM/
JASSM-ER and up to eight SDBs in military controlled airspace (Table 
1). Immediate evaluations for JASSM/JASSM-ER and SDB-I are needed; 
therefore, they are the only munitions being proposed for

[[Page 44280]]

summer 2016 missions. Weapon release parameters for 2016 missions would 
involve a B-1 bomber releasing one live JASSM and fighter aircraft, 
such as F-15, F-16, or F-22, releasing live SDB-I. Up to four SDB-I 
munitions would be released simultaneously, similar to a ripple effect, 
each hitting the water surface within a few seconds of each other; 
however, the SDB-I releases would occur separate from the JASSM. All 
releases would occur on the same mission day.

                              Table 1--Summary of Proposed Testing at PMRF in 2016
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                   Annual total
             Munition                   Fusing option       Net explosive   Detonation scenario      number of
                                                             weight (lb)                             munitions
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
JASSM/JASSM-ER....................  Live/Instantaneous...             300  Surface..............               1
SDB-I.............................  Live/Instantaneous...              37  Surface..............               8
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ER = Extended Range; JASSM = Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missile; lb = pounds; SDB = Small Diameter Bomb.

    A typical mission day would consist of pre-mission checks, safety 
review, crew briefings, weather checks, clearing airspace, range 
clearance, mitigations/monitoring efforts, and other military protocols 
prior to launch of weapons. Potential delays could be the result of 
multiple factors including, but not limited to; adverse weather 
conditions leading to unsafe take-off, landing, and aircraft 
operations, inability to clear the range of non-mission vessels or 
aircraft, mechanical issues with mission aircraft or munitions, or 
presence of protected species in the impact area. If the mission is 
cancelled due to any of these, one back-up day has also been scheduled 
as a contingency. These standard operating procedures are usually done 
in the morning, and live range time may begin in late morning once all 
checks are complete and approval is granted from range control. The 
range would be closed to the public for a maximum of four hours per 
mission day.
    Each long range strike weapon would be released in W-188A and would 
follow a given flight path with programmed GPS waypoints to mark its 
course in the air. Long range strike weapons would complete their 
maximum flight range (up to 500 nm distance for JASSM-ER) at an 
altitude of approximately 18,000 ft (equivalent in kms) mean sea level 
(MSL) and terminate at a specified location for scoring of the impact. 
The cruise time would vary among the munitions but would be about 45 
minutes for JASSM/JASSM-ER and 10 minutes for SDB-I/II. The time frame 
between employments of successive munitions would vary, but releases 
could be spaced by approximately one hour to account for the JASSM 
cruise time. The routes and associated safety profiles would be 
contained within W-188A boundaries. The objective of the route designs 
is to complete full-scale evasive maneuvers that avoid simulated 
threats and would, therefore, not consist of a standard ``paper clip'' 
or regularly shaped route. The final impact point on the water surface 
would be programmed into the munitions for weapons scoring and 
evaluations.
    All missions would be conducted in accordance with applicable 
flight safety, hazard area, and launch parameter requirements 
established for PMRF. A weapon hazard region would be established, with 
the size and shape determined by the maximum distance a weapon could 
travel in any direction during its descent. The hazard area is 
typically adjusted for potential wind speed and direction, resulting in 
a maximum composite safety footprint for each mission (each footprint 
boundary is at least 10 nm from the Kauai coastline). This information 
is used to establish a Launch Exclusion Area and Aircraft Hazard Area. 
These exclusion areas must be verified to be clear of all non-mission 
and non-essential vessels and aircraft before live weapons are 
released. In addition, a buffer area must also be clear on the water 
surface so that vessels do not enter the exclusion area during the 
launch window. Prior to weapon release, a range sweep of the hazard 
area would be conducted by participating mission aircraft or other 
appropriate aircraft, potentially including S-61N helicopter, C-26 
aircraft, fighter aircraft (F-15E, F-16, F-22), or the Coast Guard's C-
130 aircraft.
    PMRF has used small water craft docked at the Port Allen public 
pier to keep nearshore areas clear of tour boats for some mission 
launch areas. However, for missions with large hazard areas that occur 
far offshore from Kauai, it would be impractical for these smaller 
vessels to conduct range clearance activities. The composite safety 
footprint weapons associated with LRS WSEP missions is anticipated to 
be rather large; therefore, it is likely that range clearing activities 
would be conducted solely by aircraft.
    The Range Facility Control Officer is responsible for establishing 
hazard clearance areas, directing clearance and surveillance assets, 
and reporting range status to the Operations Conductor. The Control 
Officer is also responsible for submitting all Notice to Airmen 
(NOTAMs) and Notice to Mariners (NOTMARs), and for requesting all 
Federal Aviation Administration airspace clearances.

Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity

    There are 25 marine mammal species with potential or confirmed 
occurrence in the proposed activity area; however, not all of these 
species occur in this region during the project timeframe. Table 2 
lists and summarizes key information regarding stock status and 
abundance of these species. Please see NMFS' 2015 Stock Assessment 
Reports (SAR), available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars for more detailed 
accounts of these stocks' status and abundance.

[[Page 44281]]



                           Table 2--Marine Mammals That Could Occur in the BSURE Area
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                      Stock
                                                    ESA/MMPA     abundance (CV,
                                                     Status;       Nmin, most                     Occurrence in
           Species                   Stock        Strategic (Y/      recent          PBR \3\        BSURE Area
                                                     N) \1\         abundance
                                                                   survey) \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                      Order Cetartiodactyla--Cetacea--Superfamily Mysticeti (baleen whales)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family: Balaenopteridae
Humpback whale (Megaptera      Central North               Y; Y  10,103 (0.300;              83  Seasonal;
 novaeangliae).\4\              Pacific.                           7,890; 2006)                   throughout
                                                                                                  known breeding
                                                                                                  grounds during
                                                                                                  winter and
                                                                                                  spring (most
                                                                                                  common
                                                                                                  November
                                                                                                  through
                                                                                                  April).
Blue Whale (Balaenoptera       Central North               Y; Y   81 (1.14; 38;             0.1  Seasonal;
 musculus).                     Pacific.                                  2010)                   infrequent
                                                                                                  winter
                                                                                                  migrant; few
                                                                                                  sightings,
                                                                                                  mainly fall
                                                                                                  and winter;
                                                                                                  considered
                                                                                                  rare.
Fin whale (Balaenoptera        Hawaii..........            Y; Y   58 (1.12; 27;             0.1  Seasonal,
 physalus.                                                                2010)                   mainly fall
                                                                                                  and winter;
                                                                                                  considered
                                                                                                  rare.
Sei whale (Balaenoptera        Hawaii..........            Y; Y  178 (0.90; 93;             0.2  Rare; limited
 borealis).                                                               2010)                   sightings of
                                                                                                  seasonal
                                                                                                  migrants that
                                                                                                  feed at higher
                                                                                                  latitudes.
Bryde's whale (Balaenoptera    Hawaii..........            -; N      798 (0.28;             6.3  Uncommon;
 brydei/edeni).                                                      633; 2010)                   distributed
                                                                                                  throughout the
                                                                                                  Hawaiian EEZ.
Minke whale (Balaenoptera      Hawaii..........            -; N  n/a (n/a; n/a;          Undet.  Regular but
 acutorostrata).                                                          2010)                   seasonal
                                                                                                  (October-April
                                                                                                  ).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Order Cetartiodactyla--Cetacea--Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family: Physeteridae
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sperm whale (Physeter          Hawaii..........            Y; Y    3,354 (0.34;            10.2  Widely
 macrocephalus).                                                   2,539; 2010)                   distributed
                                                                                                  year round;
                                                                                                  more likely in
                                                                                                  waters >1,000
                                                                                                  m depth, most
                                                                                                  often >2,000
                                                                                                  m.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Order Cetartiodactyla--Cetacea--Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family: Kogiidae
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pygmy sperm whale (Kogia       Hawaii..........            -; N  n/a (n/a; n/a;          Undet.  Widely
 breviceps).                                                              2010)                   distributed
                                                                                                  year round;
                                                                                                  more likely in
                                                                                                  waters >1,000
                                                                                                  m depth.
Dwarf sperm whale (Kogia       Hawaii..........            -; N  n/a (n/a; n/a;          Undet.  Widely
 sima).                                                                   2010)                   distributed
                                                                                                  year round;
                                                                                                  more likely in
                                                                                                  waters >500 m
                                                                                                  depth.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Order Cetartiodactyla--Cetacea--Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family delphinidae
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Killer whale (Orcinus orca)..  Hawaii..........            -; N  101 (1.00; 50;               1  Uncommon;
                                                                          2010)                   infrequent
                                                                                                  sightings.
False killer whale (Pseudorca  Hawaii Pelagic              -; N    1,540 (0.66;             9.3  Regular.
 crassidens).                   NWHI Stock.                -; N      928; 2010)             2.3  Regular.
                                                                     617 (1.11;
                                                                     290; 2010)
Pygmy killer whale (Feresa     Hawaii..........            -; N    3,433 (0.52;              23  Year-round
 attenuata).                                                       2,274; 2010)                   resident.
Short-finned pilot whale       Hawaii..........            -; N   12,422 (0.43;              70  Commonly
 (Globicephala macrorhynchus).                                     8,872; 2010)                   observed
                                                                                                  around Main
                                                                                                  Hawaiian
                                                                                                  Islands and
                                                                                                  Northwestern
                                                                                                  Hawaiian
                                                                                                  Islands.
Melon headed whale             Hawaii Islands              -; N    5,794 (0.20;               4  Regular.
 (Peponocephala electra).       stock.                             4,904; 2010)
Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops   Hawaii pelagic..            -; N    5,950 (0.59;              38  Common in deep
 truncatus).                                                       3,755; 2010)                   offshore
                                                                                                  waters.
Pantropical spotted dolphin    Hawaii pelagic..            -; N   15,917 (0.40;             115  Common; primary
 (Stenella attenuata).                                            11,508; 2010)                   occurrence
                                                                                                  between 100
                                                                                                  and 4,000 m
                                                                                                  depth.

[[Page 44282]]

 
Striped dolphin (Stenella      Hawaii..........            -; N   20,650 (0.36;             154  Occurs
 coeruleoala).                                                    15,391; 2010)                   regularly year
                                                                                                  round but
                                                                                                  infrequent
                                                                                                  sighting
                                                                                                  during survey.
Spinner dolphin (Stenella      Hawaii pelagic..            -; N  n/a (n/a; n/a;          Undet.  Common year-
 longirostris).                                                           2010)                   round in
                                                                                                  offshore
                                                                                                  waters.
Rough-toothed dolphins (Steno  Hawaii stock....            -; N    6,288 (0.39;              46  Common
 bredanensis).                                                     4,581; 2010)                   throughout the
                                                                                                  Main Hawaiian
                                                                                                  Islands and
                                                                                                  Hawaiian
                                                                                                  Islands EEZ.
Fraser's dolphin               Hawaii..........            -; N   16,992 (0.66;             102  Tropical
 (Lagenodelphis hosei).                                           10,241; 2010)                   species only
                                                                                                  recently
                                                                                                  documented
                                                                                                  within
                                                                                                  Hawaiian
                                                                                                  Islands EEZ
                                                                                                  (2002 survey).
Risso's dolphin (Grampus       Hawaii..........            -; N    7,256 (0.41;              42  Previously
 griseus).                                                         5,207; 2010)                   considered
                                                                                                  rare but
                                                                                                  multiple
                                                                                                  sightings in
                                                                                                  Hawaiian
                                                                                                  Islands EEZ
                                                                                                  during various
                                                                                                  surveys
                                                                                                  conducted from
                                                                                                  2002-2012.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Order Cetartiodactyla--Cetacea--Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family: Ziphiidae
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cuvier's beaked whale          Hawaii..........            -; N     1,941 (n/a;            11.4  Year-round
 (Ziphius cavirostris).                                            1,142; 2010)                   occurrence but
                                                                                                  difficult to
                                                                                                  detect due to
                                                                                                  diving
                                                                                                  behavior.
Blainville's beaked whale      Hawaii..........            -; N    2,338 (1.13;              11  Year-round
 (Mesoplodon densirostris).                                        1,088; 2010)                   occurrence but
                                                                                                  difficult to
                                                                                                  detect due to
                                                                                                  diving
                                                                                                  behavior.
Longman's beaked whale         Hawaii..........            -; N    4,571 (0.65;              28  Considered
 (Indopacetus pacificus).                                          2,773; 2010)                   rare; however,
                                                                                                  multiple
                                                                                                  sightings
                                                                                                  during
                                                                                                 2010 survey.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                           Order--Carnivora--Superfamily Pinnipedia (seals, sea lions)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Family: Phocidae
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hawaiian monk seal             Hawaii..........            Y; Y     1,112 (n/a;          Undet.  Predominantly
 (Neomonachus schauinslandi).                                      1,088; 2013)                   occur at
                                                                                                  Northwestern
                                                                                                  Hawaiian
                                                                                                  Islands;
                                                                                                  approximately
                                                                                                  138
                                                                                                  individuals in
                                                                                                  Main Hawaiian
                                                                                                  Islands.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ ESA status: Endangered (E), Threatened (T)/MMPA status: Depleted (D). A dash (-) indicates that the species
  is not listed under the ESA or designated as depleted under the MMPA. Under the MMPA, a strategic stock is one
  for which the level of direct human-caused mortality exceeds PBR (see footnote 3) or which is determined to be
  declining and likely to be listed under the ESA within the foreseeable future. Any species or stock listed
  under the ESA is automatically designated under the MMPA as depleted and as a strategic stock.
\2\ CV is coefficient of variation; Nmin is the minimum estimate of stock abundance. In some cases, CV is not
  applicable. For certain stocks, abundance estimates are actual counts of animals and there is no associated
  CV. The most recent abundance survey that is reflected in the abundance estimate is presented; there may be
  more recent surveys that have not yet been incorporated into the estimate. All values presented here are from
  the 2015 Pacific SARs, except humpback whales--see comment 4.
\3\ Potential biological removal, defined by the MMPA as the maximum number of animals, not including natural
  mortalities, that may be removed from a marine mammal stock while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its
  optimum sustainable population size (OSP).
\4\ Values for humpback whales are from the 2015 Alaska SAR.

    Of these 25 species, six are listed as endangered under the ESA and 
as depleted throughout its range under the MMPA. These are: humpback 
whale, blue whale, fin whale, sei whale, sperm whale, and the Hawaiian 
monk seal.
    Of the 25 species that may occur in Hawaiian waters, only certain 
stocks occur in the impact area, while others are island-associated or 
do not occur at the depths of the impact area (e.g. false killer whale 
insular stock, island-associated stocks of bottlenose, spinner, and 
spotted dolphins). Only two species are considered likely to be in the 
impact area during the one day of project activities (dwarf sperm whale 
and pygmy sperm whale). Other species are seasonal and only occur in 
these waters in the fall or winter (humpback whale, blue whale, fin 
whale, sei whale, minke whale, killer whale); some are rare in the area 
(Longman's beaked whale, Bryde's whale); and others are unlikely to be 
impacted due to small density estimates (False killer whale, pygmy 
killer whale, short-finned pilot whale, melon-headed whale, bottlenose 
dolphin, Pantropical spotted dolphin, striped dolphin, spinner dolphin, 
rough-toothed dolphin, Fraser's dolphin, Risso's dolphin, Cuvier's 
beaked whale, Blainville's beaked

[[Page 44283]]

whale, and Hawaiian monk seal). Because these 22 species are unlikely 
to occur within the BSURE area, 86 FWS has not requested and NMFS has 
not proposed the issuance of take authorizations for them. Thus, NMFS 
does not consider these species further in this notice.
    We have reviewed 86 FWS's species descriptions, including life 
history information, distribution, regional distribution, diving 
behavior, and acoustics and hearing, for accuracy and completeness. We 
refer the reader to Sections 3 and 4 of 86 FWS's application and to 
Chapter 3 in 86 FWS's EA rather than reprinting the information here.
    Below, for those species that are likely to be taken by the 
activities described, we offer a brief introduction to the species and 
relevant stock as well as available information regarding population 
trends and threats, and describe any information regarding local 
occurrence.

Dwarf Sperm Whale

    Dwarf sperm whales are found throughout the world in tropical to 
warm-temperate waters (Caretta et al., 2014). They are usually found in 
waters deeper than 500 m, most often sighted in depths between 500 and 
1,000 m, but they have been documented in depths as shallow as 106 m 
and as deep as 4,700 m (Baird, in press). This species is often alone 
or in small groups of up to two to four individuals (average group size 
of 2.7 individuals), with a maximum group size observed of eight 
individuals (Baird, in press). When there are more than two animals 
together, they are often loosely associated, with up to several hundred 
meters between pairs of individuals (Baird, in press).
    There is one stock of dwarf sperm whales in Hawaii. Sighting data 
suggests a small resident population off Hawaii Island (Baird, in 
press). There are no current abundance estimates for this stock. In 
2002, a survey off Hawaii estimated the abundance at 17,159; however, 
this data is outdated and is no longer used. PBR cannot be calculated 
due to insufficient data. It has been suggested that this species is 
probably one of the more abundant species of cetaceans in Hawaiian 
waters (Baird, in press). One of their main threats is interactions 
with fisheries; however, dwarf sperm whales are also sensitive to high-
intensity underwater sounds and navy sonar testing. This stock is not 
listed as endangered under the ESA and is not considered strategic or 
designated as depleted under the MMPA (Caretta et al., 2013).

Pygmy Sperm Whale

    Pygmy killer whales are found in tropical and subtropical waters 
throughout the world (Ross and Leatherwood 1994). This species prefers 
deeper waters, with observations of this species in greater than 4,000 
m depth (Baird et al., 2013); and, based on stomach contents from 
stranded individuals, pygmy sperm whales forage between 600 and 1,200 m 
depth (Baird, in press). Sightings are rare of this species, but 
observations include lone individuals or pairs, with an average group 
size of 1.5 individuals (Baird, in press).
    There is a single stock of Pygmy killer whales in Hawaii. Current 
abundance estimates for this stock are unknown. A 2002 survey in Hawaii 
estimated 7,138 animals; however, this data is outdated and is no 
longer used. PBR cannot be calculated due to insufficient data. 
(Caretta et al., 2014). The main threats to this species are fisheries 
interactions and effects from underwater sounds such as active sonar 
(Caretta et al., 2014). This stock is not listed as endangered under 
the ESA, and is not considered strategic or designated as depleted 
under the MMPA (Caretta et al., 2014).

Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals and Their 
Habitat

    This section includes a summary and discussion of the ways that 
components (e.g., munition strikes and detonation effects) of the 
specified activity, including mitigation, may impact marine mammals and 
their habitat. The Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment section 
later in this document will include a quantitative analysis of the 
number of individuals that we expect 86 FWS to take during this 
activity. The Negligible Impact Analysis section will include the 
analysis of how this specific activity would impact marine mammals, and 
will consider the content of this section, the Estimated Take by 
Incidental Harassment section and the Proposed Mitigation section to 
draw conclusions regarding the likely impacts of these activities on 
the reproductive success or survivorship of individuals and from that 
on the affected marine mammal populations or stocks. In the following 
discussion, we provide general background information on sound and 
marine mammal hearing before considering potential effects to marine 
mammals from sound produced by surface detonations.

Description of Sound Sources and WSEP Sound Types

    Sound travels in waves, the basic components of which are 
frequency, wavelength, velocity, and amplitude. Frequency is the number 
of pressure waves that pass by a reference point per unit of time and 
is measured in hertz (Hz) or cycles per second. Wavelength is the 
distance between two peaks of a sound wave. Amplitude is the height of 
the sound pressure wave or the ``loudness'' of a sound and is typically 
measured using the decibel (dB) scale. A dB is the ratio between a 
measured pressure (with sound) and a reference pressure (sound at a 
constant pressure, established by scientific standards). It is a 
logarithmic unit that accounts for large variations in amplitude; 
therefore, relatively small changes in dB ratings correspond to large 
changes in sound pressure. When referring to sound pressure levels 
(SPLs; the sound force per unit area), sound is referenced in the 
context of underwater sound pressure to 1 microPascal ([mu]Pa). One 
pascal is the pressure resulting from a force of one newton exerted 
over an area of one square meter. The source level (SL) represents the 
sound level at a distance of 1 m from the source (referenced to 1 
[mu]Pa). The received level is the sound level at the listener's 
position. Note that we reference all underwater sound levels in this 
document to a pressure of 1 [micro]Pa and all airborne sound levels in 
this document are referenced to a pressure of 20 [micro]Pa.
    Root mean square (rms) is the quadratic mean sound pressure over 
the duration of an impulse. Rms is calculated by squaring all of the 
sound amplitudes, averaging the squares, and then taking the square 
root of the average (Urick, 1983). Rms accounts for both positive and 
negative values; squaring the pressures makes all values positive so 
that one can account for the values in the summation of pressure levels 
(Hastings and Popper, 2005). This measurement is often used in the 
context of discussing behavioral effects, in part because behavioral 
effects, which often result from auditory cues, may be better expressed 
through averaged units than by peak pressures.
    When underwater objects vibrate or activity occurs, sound-pressure 
waves are created. These waves alternately compress and decompress the 
water as the sound wave travels. Underwater sound waves radiate in all 
directions away from the source (similar to ripples on the surface of a 
pond), except in cases where the source is directional. The 
compressions and decompressions associated with sound waves are

[[Page 44284]]

detected as changes in pressure by aquatic life and man-made sound 
receptors such as hydrophones.
    Even in the absence of sound from the specified activity, the 
underwater environment is typically loud due to ambient sound. Ambient 
sound is defined as environmental background sound levels lacking a 
single source or point (Richardson et al., 1995), and the sound level 
of a region is defined by the total acoustical energy being generated 
by known and unknown sources. These sources may include physical (e.g., 
waves, earthquakes, ice, atmospheric sound), biological (e.g., sounds 
produced by marine mammals, fish, and invertebrates), and anthropogenic 
sound (e.g., vessels, dredging, aircraft, construction). A number of 
sources contribute to ambient sound, including the following 
(Richardson et al., 1995):
     Wind and waves: The complex interactions between wind and 
water surface, including processes such as breaking waves and wave-
induced bubble oscillations and cavitation, are a main source of 
naturally occurring ambient noise for frequencies between 200 Hz and 50 
kHz (Mitson, 1995). In general, ambient sound levels tend to increase 
with increasing wind speed and wave height. Surf noise becomes 
important near shore, with measurements collected at a distance of 8.5 
km from shore showing an increase of 10 dB in the 100 to 700 Hz band 
during heavy surf conditions.
     Precipitation: Sound from rain and hail impacting the 
water surface can become an important component of total noise at 
frequencies above 500 Hz, and possibly down to 100 Hz during quiet 
times.
     Biological: Marine mammals can contribute significantly to 
ambient noise levels, as can some fish and shrimp. The frequency band 
for biological contributions is from approximately 12 Hz to over 100 
kHz.
     Anthropogenic: Sources of ambient noise related to human 
activity include transportation (surface vessels and aircraft), 
dredging and construction, oil and gas drilling and production, seismic 
surveys, sonar, explosions, and ocean acoustic studies. Shipping noise 
typically dominates the total ambient noise for frequencies between 20 
and 300 Hz. In general, the frequencies of anthropogenic sounds are 
below 1 kHz and, if higher frequency sound levels are created, they 
attenuate rapidly (Richardson et al., 1995). Sound from identifiable 
anthropogenic sources other than the activity of interest (e.g., a 
passing vessel) is sometimes termed background sound, as opposed to 
ambient sound.
    The sum of the various natural and anthropogenic sound sources at 
any given location and time--which comprise ``ambient'' or 
``background'' sound--depends not only on the source levels (as 
determined by current weather conditions and levels of biological and 
shipping activity) but also on the ability of sound to propagate 
through the environment. In turn, sound propagation is dependent on the 
spatially and temporally varying properties of the water column and sea 
floor, and is frequency-dependent. As a result of the dependence on a 
large number of varying factors, ambient sound levels can be expected 
to vary widely over both coarse and fine spatial and temporal scales. 
Sound levels at a given frequency and location can vary by 10-20 dB 
from day to day (Richardson et al., 1995). The result is that, 
depending on the source type and its intensity, sound from the 
specified activity may be a negligible addition to the local 
environment or could form a distinctive signal that may affect marine 
mammals.
    The sounds produced by the proposed WSEP activities are considered 
impulsive, which is one of two general sound types, the other being 
non-pulsed. The distinction between these two sound types is important 
because they have differing potential to cause physical effects, 
particularly with regard to hearing (e.g., Ward, 1997 in Southall et 
al., 2007). Please see Southall et al. (2007) for an in-depth 
discussion of these concepts.
    Impulsive sound sources (e.g., explosions, gunshots, sonic booms, 
impact pile driving) produce signals that are brief (typically 
considered to be less than one second), broadband, atonal transients 
(ANSI, 1986; Harris, 1998; NIOSH, 1998; ISO, 2003) and occur either as 
isolated events or repeated in some succession. These sounds have a 
relatively rapid rise from ambient pressure to a maximal pressure value 
followed by a rapid decay period that may include a period of 
diminishing, oscillating maximal and minimal pressures, and generally 
have an increased capacity to induce physical injury as compared with 
sounds that lack these features.

Marine Mammal Hearing

    Hearing is the most important sensory modality for marine mammals, 
and exposure to sound can have deleterious effects. To appropriately 
assess these potential effects, it is necessary to understand the 
frequency ranges marine mammals are able to hear. Current data indicate 
that not all marine mammal species have equal hearing capabilities 
(e.g., Richardson et al., 1995; Wartzok and Ketten, 1999; Au and 
Hastings, 2008). To reflect this, Southall et al. (2007) recommended 
that marine mammals be divided into functional hearing groups based on 
measured or estimated hearing ranges on the basis of available 
behavioral data, audiograms derived using auditory evoked potential 
techniques, anatomical modeling, and other data. The lower and/or upper 
frequencies for some of these functional hearing groups have been 
modified from those designated by Southall et al. (2007). The 
functional groups and the associated frequencies are indicated below 
(note that these frequency ranges do not necessarily correspond to the 
range of best hearing, which varies by species):
     Low frequency cetaceans (13 species of mysticetes): 
functional hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 7 Hz and 
25 kHz (up to 30 kHz in some species), with best hearing estimated to 
be from 100 Hz to 8 kHz (Watkins, 1986; Ketten, 1998; Houser et al., 
2001; Au et al., 2006; Lucifredi and Stein, 2007; Ketten et al., 2007; 
Parks et al., 2007a; Ketten and Mountain, 2009; Tubelli et al., 2012);
     Mid-frequency cetaceans (32 species of dolphins, six 
species of larger toothed whales, and 19 species of beaked and 
bottlenose whales): functional hearing is estimated to occur between 
approximately 150 Hz and 160 kHz with best hearing from 10 to less than 
100 kHz (Johnson, 1967; White, 1977; Richardson et al., 1995; Szymanski 
et al., 1999; Kastelein et al., 2003; Finneran et al., 2005a, 2009; 
Nachtigall et al., 2005, 2008; Yuen et al., 2005; Popov et al., 2007; 
Au and Hastings, 2008; Houser et al., 2008; Pacini et al., 2010, 2011; 
Schlundt et al., 2011);
     High frequency cetaceans (eight species of true porpoises, 
six species of river dolphins, and members of the genera Kogia and 
Cephalorhynchus; now considered to include two members of the genus 
Lagenorhynchus on the basis of recent echolocation data and genetic 
data [May-Collado and Agnarsson, 2006; Kyhn et al., 2009, 2010; 
Tougaard et al., 2010]): functional hearing is estimated to occur 
between approximately 200 Hz and 180 kHz (Popov and Supin, 1990a,b; 
Kastelein et al., 2002; Popov et al., 2005);
     Phocid pinnipeds in Water: functional hearing is estimated 
to occur between approximately 75 Hz and 100 kHz with best hearing 
between 1-50 kHz (M[oslash]hl, 1968; Terhune and Ronald, 1971, 1972; 
Richardson et al., 1995; Kastak and Schusterman, 1999;

[[Page 44285]]

Reichmuth, 2008; Kastelein et al., 2009); and
     Otariid pinnipeds in Water: functional hearing is 
estimated to occur between approximately 100 Hz and 48 kHz, with best 
hearing between 2-48 kHz (Schusterman et al., 1972; Moore and 
Schusterman, 1987; Babushina et al., 1991; Richardson et al., 1995; 
Kastak and Schusterman, 1998; Kastelein et al., 2005a; Mulsow and 
Reichmuth, 2007; Mulsow et al., 2011a, b).
    The pinniped functional hearing group was modified from Southall et 
al. (2007) on the basis of data indicating that phocid species have 
consistently demonstrated an extended frequency range of hearing 
compared to otariids, especially in the higher frequency range 
(Hemil[auml] et al., 2006; Kastelein et al., 2009; Reichmuth et al., 
2013).
    There are two marine mammal species (both cetaceans, the dwarf and 
pygmy sperm whale) with expected potential to co-occur with 86 FWS WSEP 
military readiness activities. The Kogia species are classified as 
high-frequency cetaceans. A species' functional hearing group is a 
consideration when we analyze the effects of exposure to sound on 
marine mammals.

Acoustic Impacts

    Please refer to the information given previously (Description of 
Sound Sources) regarding sound, characteristics of sound types, and 
metrics used in this document. Anthropogenic sounds cover a broad range 
of frequencies and sound levels and can have a range of highly variable 
impacts on marine life, from none or minor to potentially severe 
responses, depending on received levels, duration of exposure, 
behavioral context, and various other factors. The potential effects of 
underwater sound from active acoustic sources can potentially result in 
one or more of the following: temporary or permanent hearing 
impairment, non-auditory physical or physiological effects, behavioral 
disturbance, stress, and masking (Richardson et al., 1995; Gordon et 
al., 2004; Nowacek et al., 2007; Southall et al., 2007; G[ouml]tz et 
al., 2009). The degree of effect is intrinsically related to the signal 
characteristics, received level, distance from the source, and duration 
of the sound exposure. In general, sudden, high level sounds can cause 
hearing loss, as can longer exposures to lower level sounds. Temporary 
or permanent loss of hearing will occur almost exclusively for noise 
within an animal's hearing range. We first describe specific 
manifestations of acoustic effects before providing discussion specific 
to 86 FWS's activities.
    Richardson et al. (1995) described zones of increasing intensity of 
effect that might be expected to occur, in relation to distance from a 
source and assuming that the signal is within an animal's hearing 
range. First is the area within which the acoustic signal would be 
audible (potentially perceived) to the animal, but not strong enough to 
elicit any overt behavioral or physiological response. The next zone 
corresponds with the area where the signal is audible to the animal and 
of sufficient intensity to elicit behavioral or physiological 
responsiveness. Third is a zone within which, for signals of high 
intensity, the received level is sufficient to potentially cause 
discomfort or tissue damage to auditory or other systems. Overlaying 
these zones to a certain extent is the area within which masking (i.e., 
when a sound interferes with or masks the ability of an animal to 
detect a signal of interest that is above the absolute hearing 
threshold) may occur; the masking zone may be highly variable in size.
    We describe the more severe effects (i.e., certain non-auditory 
physical or physiological effects and mortality) only briefly as we do 
not expect that there is a reasonable likelihood that 86 FWS's 
activities may result in such effects (see below for further 
discussion). Marine mammals exposed to high-intensity sound, or to 
lower-intensity sound for prolonged periods, can experience hearing 
threshold shift (TS), which is the loss of hearing sensitivity at 
certain frequency ranges (Kastak et al., 1999; Schlundt et al., 2000; 
Finneran et al., 2002, 2005b). TS can be permanent (PTS), in which case 
the loss of hearing sensitivity is not fully recoverable, or temporary 
(TTS), in which case the animal's hearing threshold would recover over 
time (Southall et al., 2007). Repeated sound exposure that leads to TTS 
could cause PTS. In severe cases of PTS, there can be total or partial 
deafness, while in most cases the animal has an impaired ability to 
hear sounds in specific frequency ranges (Kryter, 1985).
    When PTS occurs, there is physical damage to the sound receptors in 
the ear (i.e., tissue damage), whereas TTS represents primarily tissue 
fatigue and is reversible (Southall et al., 2007). In addition, other 
investigators have suggested that TTS is within the normal bounds of 
physiological variability and tolerance and does not represent physical 
injury (e.g., Ward, 1997). Therefore, NMFS does not consider TTS to 
constitute auditory injury.
    Relationships between TTS and PTS thresholds have not been studied 
in marine mammals--PTS data exists only for a single harbor seal 
(Kastak et al., 2008)--but are assumed to be similar to those in humans 
and other terrestrial mammals. PTS typically occurs at exposure levels 
at least several decibels above (a 40-dB threshold shift approximates 
PTS onset; e.g., Kryter et al., 1966; Miller, 1974) that inducing mild 
TTS (a 6-dB threshold shift approximates TTS onset; e.g., Southall et 
al., 2007). Based on data from terrestrial mammals, a precautionary 
assumption is that the PTS thresholds for impulse sounds (such as 
bombs) are at least 6 dB higher than the TTS threshold on a peak-
pressure basis and PTS cumulative sound exposure level thresholds are 
15 to 20 dB higher than TTS cumulative sound exposure level thresholds 
(Southall et al., 2007). Given the higher level of sound or longer 
exposure duration necessary to cause PTS as compared with TTS, it is 
considerably less likely that PTS could occur.
    Non-auditory physiological effects or injuries that theoretically 
might occur in marine mammals exposed to high level underwater sound or 
as a secondary effect of extreme behavioral reactions (e.g., change in 
dive profile as a result of an avoidance reaction) caused by exposure 
to sound include neurological effects, bubble formation, resonance 
effects, and other types of organ or tissue damage (Cox et al., 2006; 
Southall et al., 2007; Zimmer and Tyack, 2007). 86 FWS's activities 
involve the use of devices such as explosives that are associated with 
these types of effects; however, severe injury to marine mammals is not 
anticipated from these activities.
    When a live or dead marine mammal swims or floats onto shore and is 
incapable of returning to sea, the event is termed a ``stranding'' (16 
U.S.C. 1421h(3)). Marine mammals are known to strand for a variety of 
reasons, such as infectious agents, biotoxicosis, starvation, fishery 
interaction, ship strike, unusual oceanographic or weather events, 
sound exposure, or combinations of these stressors sustained 
concurrently or in series (e.g., Geraci et al., 1999). However, the 
cause or causes of most strandings are unknown (e.g., Best, 1982). 
Combinations of dissimilar stressors may combine to kill an animal or 
dramatically reduce its fitness, even though one exposure without the 
other would not be expected to produce the same outcome (e.g., Sih et 
al., 2004). For further description of stranding events

[[Page 44286]]

see, e.g., Southall et al., 2006; Jepson et al., 2013; Wright et al., 
2013.
    1. Temporary threshold shift--TTS is the mildest form of hearing 
impairment that can occur during exposure to sound (Kryter, 1985). 
While experiencing TTS, the hearing threshold rises, and a sound must 
be at a higher level in order to be heard. In terrestrial and marine 
mammals, TTS can last from minutes or hours to days (in cases of strong 
TTS). In many cases, hearing sensitivity recovers rapidly after 
exposure to the sound ends. Few data on sound levels and durations 
necessary to elicit mild TTS have been obtained for marine mammals, and 
none of the data published at the time of this writing concern TTS 
elicited by exposure to multiple pulses of sound.
    Marine mammal hearing plays a critical role in communication with 
conspecifics, and interpretation of environmental cues for purposes 
such as predator avoidance and prey capture. Depending on the degree 
(elevation of threshold in dB), duration (i.e., recovery time), and 
frequency range of TTS, and the context in which it is experienced, TTS 
can have effects on marine mammals ranging from discountable to 
serious. For example, a marine mammal may be able to readily compensate 
for a brief, relatively small amount of TTS in a non-critical frequency 
range that occurs during a time where ambient noise is lower and there 
are not as many competing sounds present. Alternatively, a larger 
amount and longer duration of TTS sustained during time when 
communication is critical for successful mother/calf interactions could 
have more serious impacts.
    Currently, TTS data only exist for four species of cetaceans 
(bottlenose dolphin, beluga whale [Delphinapterus leucas], harbor 
porpoise [Phocoena phocoena], and Yangtze finless porpoise [Neophocoena 
asiaeorientalis]) and three species of pinnipeds (northern elephant 
seal [Mirounga angustirostris], harbor seal [Phoca vitulina], and 
California sea lion [Zalophus californianus]) exposed to a limited 
number of sound sources (i.e., mostly tones and octave-band noise) in 
laboratory settings (e.g., Finneran et al., 2002; Nachtigall et al., 
2004; Kastak et al., 2005; Lucke et al., 2009; Popov et al., 2011). In 
general, harbor seals (Kastak et al., 2005; Kastelein et al., 2012a) 
and harbor porpoises (Lucke et al., 2009; Kastelein et al., 2012b) have 
a lower TTS onset than other measured pinniped or cetacean species. 
Additionally, the existing marine mammal TTS data come from a limited 
number of individuals within these species. There are no data available 
on noise-induced hearing loss for mysticetes. For summaries of data on 
TTS in marine mammals or for further discussion of TTS onset 
thresholds, please see Southall et al. (2007) and Finneran and Jenkins 
(2012).
    2. Behavioral effects--Behavioral disturbance may include a variety 
of effects, including subtle changes in behavior (e.g., minor or brief 
avoidance of an area or changes in vocalizations), more conspicuous 
changes in similar behavioral activities, and more sustained and/or 
potentially severe reactions, such as displacement from or abandonment 
of high-quality habitat. Behavioral responses to sound are highly 
variable and context-specific and any reactions depend on numerous 
intrinsic and extrinsic factors (e.g., species, state of maturity, 
experience, current activity, reproductive state, auditory sensitivity, 
time of day), as well as the interplay between factors (e.g., 
Richardson et al., 1995; Wartzok et al., 2003; Southall et al., 2007; 
Weilgart, 2007; Archer et al., 2010). Behavioral reactions can vary not 
only among individuals but also within an individual, depending on 
previous experience with a sound source, context, and numerous other 
factors (Ellison et al., 2012), and can vary depending on 
characteristics associated with the sound source (e.g., whether it is 
moving or stationary, number of sources, distance from the source). 
Please see Appendices B-C of Southall et al. (2007) for a review of 
studies involving marine mammal behavioral responses to sound.
    Habituation can occur when an animal's response to a stimulus wanes 
with repeated exposure, usually in the absence of unpleasant associated 
events (Wartzok et al., 2003). Animals are most likely to habituate to 
sounds that are predictable and unvarying. It is important to note that 
habituation is appropriately considered as a ``progressive reduction in 
response to stimuli that are perceived as neither aversive nor 
beneficial,'' rather than as, more generally, moderation in response to 
human disturbance (Bejder et al., 2009). The opposite process is 
sensitization, when an unpleasant experience leads to subsequent 
responses, often in the form of avoidance, at a lower level of 
exposure. As noted, behavioral state may affect the type of response. 
For example, animals that are resting may show greater behavioral 
change in response to disturbing sound levels than animals that are 
highly motivated to remain in an area for feeding (Richardson et al., 
1995; NRC, 2003; Wartzok et al., 2003). Controlled experiments with 
captive marine mammals have shown pronounced behavioral reactions, 
including avoidance of loud sound sources (Ridgway et al., 1997; 
Finneran et al., 2003). Observed responses of wild marine mammals to 
loud pulsed sound sources (typically seismic airguns or acoustic 
harassment devices) have been varied but often consist of avoidance 
behavior or other behavioral changes suggesting discomfort (Morton and 
Symonds, 2002; see also Richardson et al., 1995; Nowacek et al., 2007).
    Available studies show wide variation in response to underwater 
sound; therefore, it is difficult to predict specifically how any given 
sound in a particular instance might affect marine mammals perceiving 
the signal. If a marine mammal does react briefly to an underwater 
sound by changing its behavior or moving a small distance, the impacts 
of the change are unlikely to be significant to the individual, let 
alone the stock or population. However, if a sound source displaces 
marine mammals from an important feeding or breeding area for a 
prolonged period, impacts on individuals and populations could be 
significant (e.g., Lusseau and Bejder, 2007; Weilgart, 2007; NRC, 
2005). However, there are broad categories of potential response, which 
we describe in greater detail here, that include alteration of dive 
behavior, alteration of foraging behavior, effects to breathing, 
interference with or alteration of vocalization, avoidance, and flight.
    Changes in dive behavior can vary widely and may consist of 
increased or decreased dive times and surface intervals as well as 
changes in the rates of ascent and descent during a dive (e.g., Frankel 
and Clark, 2000; Costa et al., 2003; Ng and Leung, 2003; Nowacek et 
al.; 2004; Goldbogen et al., 2013a,b). Variations in dive behavior may 
reflect interruptions in biologically significant activities (e.g., 
foraging) or they may be of little biological significance. The impact 
of an alteration to dive behavior resulting from an acoustic exposure 
depends on what the animal is doing at the time of the exposure and the 
type and magnitude of the response.
    Disruption of feeding behavior can be difficult to correlate with 
anthropogenic sound exposure, so it is usually inferred by observed 
displacement from known foraging areas, the appearance of secondary 
indicators (e.g., bubble nets or sediment plumes), or changes in dive 
behavior. As for other types of behavioral response, the frequency, 
duration, and temporal pattern of signal presentation, as well as 
differences in species sensitivity, are likely contributing factors to 
differences in response in any given circumstance

[[Page 44287]]

(e.g., Croll et al., 2001; Nowacek et al.; 2004; Madsen et al., 2006; 
Yazvenko et al., 2007). A determination of whether foraging disruptions 
incur fitness consequences would require information on or estimates of 
the energetic requirements of the affected individuals and the 
relationship between prey availability, foraging effort and success, 
and the life history stage of the animal.
    Variations in respiration naturally vary with different behaviors 
and alterations to breathing rate as a function of acoustic exposure 
can be expected to co-occur with other behavioral reactions, such as a 
flight response or an alteration in diving. However, respiration rates 
in and of themselves may be representative of annoyance or an acute 
stress response. Various studies have shown that respiration rates may 
either be unaffected or could increase, depending on the species and 
signal characteristics, again highlighting the importance in 
understanding species differences in the tolerance of underwater noise 
when determining the potential for impacts resulting from anthropogenic 
sound exposure (e.g., Kastelein et al., 2001, 2005b, 2006; Gailey et 
al., 2007).
    Marine mammals vocalize for different purposes and across multiple 
modes, such as whistling, echolocation click production, calling, and 
singing. Changes in vocalization behavior in response to anthropogenic 
noise can occur for any of these modes and may result from a need to 
compete with an increase in background noise or may reflect increased 
vigilance or a startle response. For example, in the presence of 
potentially masking signals, humpback whales and killer whales have 
been observed to increase the length of their songs (Miller et al., 
2000; Fristrup et al., 2003; Foote et al., 2004), while right whales 
have been observed to shift the frequency content of their calls upward 
while reducing the rate of calling in areas of increased anthropogenic 
noise (Parks et al., 2007b). In some cases, animals may cease sound 
production during production of aversive signals (Bowles et al., 1994).
    Avoidance is the displacement of an individual from an area or 
migration path as a result of the presence of a sound or other 
stressors, and is one of the most obvious manifestations of disturbance 
in marine mammals (Richardson et al., 1995). For example, gray whales 
are known to change direction--deflecting from customary migratory 
paths--in order to avoid noise from seismic surveys (Malme et al., 
1984). Avoidance may be short-term, with animals returning to the area 
once the noise has ceased (e.g., Bowles et al., 1994; Goold, 1996; 
Stone et al., 2000; Morton and Symonds, 2002; Gailey et al., 2007). 
Longer-term displacement is possible, however, which may lead to 
changes in abundance or distribution patterns of the affected species 
in the affected region if habituation to the presence of the sound does 
not occur (e.g., Blackwell et al., 2004; Bejder et al., 2006; Teilmann 
et al., 2006).
    A flight response is a dramatic change in normal movement to a 
directed and rapid movement away from the perceived location of a sound 
source. The flight response differs from other avoidance responses in 
the intensity of the response (e.g., directed movement, rate of 
travel). Relatively little information on flight responses of marine 
mammals to anthropogenic signals exist, although observations of flight 
responses to the presence of predators have occurred (Connor and 
Heithaus, 1996). The result of a flight response could range from 
brief, temporary exertion and displacement from the area where the 
signal provokes flight to, in extreme cases, marine mammal strandings 
(Evans and England, 2001). However, it should be noted that response to 
a perceived predator does not necessarily invoke flight (Ford and 
Reeves, 2008), and whether individuals are solitary or in groups may 
influence the response.
    Behavioral disturbance can also impact marine mammals in more 
subtle ways. Increased vigilance may result in costs related to 
diversion of focus and attention (i.e., when a response consists of 
increased vigilance, it may come at the cost of decreased attention to 
other critical behaviors such as foraging or resting). These effects 
have generally not been demonstrated for marine mammals, but studies 
involving fish and terrestrial animals have shown that increased 
vigilance may substantially reduce feeding rates (e.g., Beauchamp and 
Livoreil, 1997; Fritz et al., 2002; Purser and Radford, 2011). In 
addition, chronic disturbance can cause population declines through 
reduction of fitness (e.g., decline in body condition) and subsequent 
reduction in reproductive success, survival, or both (e.g., Harrington 
and Veitch, 1992; Daan et al., 1996; Bradshaw et al., 1998). However, 
Ridgway et al. (2006) reported that increased vigilance in bottlenose 
dolphins exposed to sound over a five-day period did not cause any 
sleep deprivation or stress effects.
    Many animals perform vital functions, such as feeding, resting, 
traveling, and socializing, on a diel cycle (24-hour cycle). Disruption 
of such functions resulting from reactions to stressors such as sound 
exposure are more likely to be significant if they last more than one 
diel cycle or recur on subsequent days (Southall et al., 2007). 
Consequently, a behavioral response lasting less than one day and not 
recurring on subsequent days is not considered particularly severe 
unless it could directly affect reproduction or survival (Southall et 
al., 2007). Note that there is a difference between multi-day 
substantive behavioral reactions and multi-day anthropogenic 
activities. For example, just because an activity lasts for multiple 
days does not necessarily mean that individual animals are either 
exposed to activity-related stressors for multiple days or, further, 
exposed in a manner resulting in sustained multi-day substantive 
behavioral responses.
    3. Stress responses--An animal's perception of a threat may be 
sufficient to trigger stress responses consisting of some combination 
of behavioral responses, autonomic nervous system responses, 
neuroendocrine responses, or immune responses (e.g., Seyle, 1950; 
Moberg, 2000). In many cases, an animal's first and sometimes most 
economical (in terms of energetic costs) response is behavioral 
avoidance of the potential stressor. Autonomic nervous system responses 
to stress typically involve changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and 
gastrointestinal activity. These responses have a relatively short 
duration and may or may not have a significant long-term effect on an 
animal's fitness.
    Neuroendocrine stress responses often involve the hypothalamus-
pituitary-adrenal system. Virtually all neuroendocrine functions that 
are affected by stress--including immune competence, reproduction, 
metabolism, and behavior--are regulated by pituitary hormones. Stress-
induced changes in the secretion of pituitary hormones have been 
implicated in failed reproduction, altered metabolism, reduced immune 
competence, and behavioral disturbance (e.g., Moberg, 1987; Blecha, 
2000). Increases in the circulation of glucocorticoids are also equated 
with stress (Romano et al., 2004).
    The primary distinction between stress (which is adaptive and does 
not normally place an animal at risk) and ``distress'' is the cost of 
the response. During a stress response, an animal uses glycogen stores 
that can be quickly replenished once the stress is alleviated. In such 
circumstances, the cost of the stress response would not pose serious 
fitness consequences. However, when an animal does not have sufficient 
energy reserves to satisfy the energetic costs of a stress response, 
energy

[[Page 44288]]

resources must be diverted from other functions. This state of distress 
will last until the animal replenishes its energetic reserves 
sufficient to restore normal function.
    Relationships between these physiological mechanisms, animal 
behavior, and the costs of stress responses are well-studied through 
controlled experiments and for both laboratory and free-ranging animals 
(e.g., Holberton et al., 1996; Hood et al., 1998; Jessop et al., 2003; 
Krausman et al., 2004; Lankford et al., 2005). Stress responses due to 
exposure to anthropogenic sounds or other stressors and their effects 
on marine mammals have also been reviewed (Fair and Becker, 2000; 
Romano et al., 2002b) and, more rarely, studied in wild populations 
(e.g., Romano et al., 2002a). For example, Rolland et al. (2012) found 
that noise reduction from reduced ship traffic in the Bay of Fundy was 
associated with decreased stress in North Atlantic right whales. These 
and other studies lead to a reasonable expectation that some marine 
mammals will experience physiological stress responses upon exposure to 
acoustic stressors and that it is possible that some of these would be 
classified as ``distress.'' In addition, any animal experiencing TTS 
would likely also experience stress responses (NRC, 2003).
    4. Auditory masking--Sound can disrupt behavior through masking, or 
interfering with, an animal's ability to detect, recognize, or 
discriminate between acoustic signals of interest (e.g., those used for 
intraspecific communication and social interactions, prey detection, 
predator avoidance, navigation) (Richardson et al., 1995). Masking 
occurs when the receipt of a sound is interfered with by another 
coincident sound at similar frequencies and at similar or higher 
intensity, and may occur whether the sound is natural (e.g., snapping 
shrimp, wind, waves, precipitation) or anthropogenic (e.g., shipping, 
sonar, seismic exploration) in origin. The ability of a noise source to 
mask biologically important sounds depends on the characteristics of 
both the noise source and the signal of interest (e.g., signal-to-noise 
ratio, temporal variability, direction), in relation to each other and 
to an animal's hearing abilities (e.g., sensitivity, frequency range, 
critical ratios, frequency discrimination, directional discrimination, 
age or TTS hearing loss), and existing ambient noise and propagation 
conditions.
    Under certain circumstances, marine mammals experiencing 
significant masking could also be impaired from maximizing their 
performance fitness in survival and reproduction. Therefore, when the 
coincident (masking) sound is man-made, it may be considered harassment 
when disrupting or altering critical behaviors. It is important to 
distinguish TTS and PTS, which persist after the sound exposure, from 
masking, which occurs during the sound exposure. Because masking 
(without resulting in TS) is not associated with abnormal physiological 
function, it is not considered a physiological effect, but rather a 
potential behavioral effect.
    The frequency range of the potentially masking sound is important 
in determining any potential behavioral impacts. For example, low-
frequency signals may have less effect on high-frequency echolocation 
sounds produced by odontocetes but are more likely to affect detection 
of mysticete communication calls and other potentially important 
natural sounds such as those produced by surf and some prey species. 
The masking of communication signals by anthropogenic noise may be 
considered as a reduction in the communication space of animals (e.g., 
Clark et al., 2009) and may result in energetic or other costs as 
animals change their vocalization behavior (e.g., Miller et al., 2000; 
Foote et al., 2004; Parks et al., 2007b; Di Iorio and Clark, 2009; Holt 
et al., 2009). Masking can be reduced in situations where the signal 
and noise come from different directions (Richardson et al., 1995), 
through amplitude modulation of the signal, or through other 
compensatory behaviors (Houser and Moore, 2014). Masking can be tested 
directly in captive species (e.g., Erbe, 2008), but in wild populations 
it must be either modeled or inferred from evidence of masking 
compensation. There are few studies addressing real-world masking 
sounds likely to be experienced by marine mammals in the wild (e.g., 
Branstetter et al., 2013).
    Masking affects both senders and receivers of acoustic signals and 
can potentially have long-term chronic effects on marine mammals at the 
population level as well as at the individual level. Low-frequency 
ambient sound levels have increased by as much as 20 dB (more than 
three times in terms of SPL) in the world's ocean from pre-industrial 
periods, with most of the increase from distant commercial shipping 
(Hildebrand, 2009). All anthropogenic sound sources, but especially 
chronic and lower-frequency signals (e.g., from vessel traffic), 
contribute to elevated ambient sound levels, thus intensifying masking.
    The LRS WSEP training exercises proposed for the incidental take of 
marine mammals have the potential to take marine mammals by exposing 
them to impulsive noise and pressure waves generated by live ordnance 
detonation at the surface of the water. Exposure to energy, pressure, 
or direct strike by ordnance has the potential to result in non-lethal 
injury (Level A harassment), disturbance (Level B harassment), serious 
injury, and/or mortality. In addition, NMFS also considered the 
potential for harassment from vessel and aircraft operations.

Acoustic Effects, Underwater

    Explosive detonations at the water surface send a shock wave and 
sound energy through the water and can release gaseous by-products, 
create an oscillating bubble, or cause a plume of water to shoot up 
from the water surface. The shock wave and accompanying noise are of 
most concern to marine animals. Depending on the intensity of the shock 
wave and size, location, and depth of the animal, an animal can be 
injured, killed, suffer non-lethal physical effects, experience hearing 
related effects with or without behavioral responses, or exhibit 
temporary behavioral responses or tolerance from hearing the blast 
sound. Generally, exposures to higher levels of impulse and pressure 
levels would result in greater impacts to an individual animal.
    The effects of underwater detonations on marine mammals are 
dependent on several factors, including the size, type, and depth of 
the animal; the depth, intensity, and duration of the sound; the depth 
of the water column; the substrate of the habitat; the standoff 
distance between activities and the animal; and the sound propagation 
properties of the environment. Thus, we expect impacts to marine 
mammals from LRS WSEP activities to result primarily from acoustic 
pathways. As such, the degree of the effect relates to the received 
level and duration of the sound exposure, as influenced by the distance 
between the animal and the source. The further away from the source, 
the less intense the exposure should be.
    The potential effects of underwater detonations from the proposed 
LRS WSEP training activities may include one or more of the following: 
temporary or permanent hearing impairment, non-auditory physical or 
physiological effects, behavioral disturbance, and masking (Richardson 
et al., 1995; Gordon et al., 2004; Nowacek et al., 2007; Southall et 
al., 2007). However, the effects of noise on marine mammals are highly 
variable, often depending on

[[Page 44289]]

species and contextual factors (based on Richardson et al., 1995).
    In the absence of mitigation, impacts to marine species could 
result from physiological and behavioral responses to both the type and 
strength of the acoustic signature (Viada et al., 2008). The type and 
severity of behavioral impacts are more difficult to define due to 
limited studies addressing the behavioral effects of impulsive sounds 
on marine mammals.
    Hearing Impairment and Other Physical Effects--Marine mammals 
exposed to high intensity sound repeatedly or for prolonged periods can 
experience hearing threshold shift. Given the available data, the 
received level of a single pulse (with no frequency weighting) might 
need to be approximately 186 dB re 1 [mu]Pa2-s (i.e., 186 dB sound 
exposure level (SEL) or approximately 221-226 dB p-p (peak)) in order 
to produce brief, mild TTS. Exposure to several strong pulses that each 
have received levels near 190 dB rms (175-180 dB SEL) might result in 
cumulative exposure of approximately 186 dB SEL and thus slight TTS in 
a small odontocete, assuming the TTS threshold is (to a first 
approximation) a function of the total received pulse energy.
    Non-auditory Physiological Effects--Non-auditory physiological 
effects or injuries that theoretically might occur in marine mammals 
exposed to strong underwater sound include stress and other types of 
organ or tissue damage (Cox et al., 2006; Southall et al., 2007).
    Serious Injury/Mortality: 86 FWS proposes to use surface 
detonations in its training exercises. The explosions from these 
weapons would send a shock wave and blast noise through the water, 
release gaseous by-products, create an oscillating bubble, and cause a 
plume of water to shoot up from the water surface. The shock wave and 
blast noise are of most concern to marine animals. In general, 
potential impacts from explosive detonations can range from brief 
effects (such as short term behavioral disturbance), tactile 
perception, physical discomfort, slight injury of the internal organs, 
and death of the animal (Yelverton et al., 1973; O'Keeffe and Young, 
1984; DoN, 2001). The effects of an underwater explosion on a marine 
mammal depend on many factors, including: the size, type, and depth of 
both the animal and the explosive charge; the depth of the water 
column; the standoff distance between the charge and the animal, and 
the sound propagation properties of the environment. Physical damage of 
tissues resulting from a shock wave (from an explosive detonation) 
constitutes an injury. Blast effects are greatest at the gas-liquid 
interface (Landsberg, 2000) and gas containing organs, particularly the 
lungs and gastrointestinal tract, are especially susceptible to damage 
(Goertner, 1982; Yelverton et al., 1973). Nasal sacs, larynx, pharynx, 
trachea, and lungs may be damaged by compression/expansion caused by 
the oscillations of the blast gas bubble (Reidenberg and Laitman, 
2003). Severe damage (from the shock wave) to the ears can include 
tympanic membrane rupture, fracture of the ossicles, cochlear damage, 
hemorrhage, and cerebrospinal fluid leakage into the middle ear.
    Non-lethal injury includes slight injury to internal organs and the 
auditory system; however, delayed lethality can be a result of 
individual or cumulative sublethal injuries (DoN, 2001). Immediate 
lethal injury would be a result of massive combined trauma to internal 
organs as a direct result of proximity to the point of detonation (DoN, 
2001).

Disturbance Reactions

    Disturbance includes a variety of effects, including subtle changes 
in behavior, more conspicuous changes in activities, and displacement. 
Numerous studies have shown that underwater sounds are often readily 
detectable by marine mammals in the water at distances of many 
kilometers. However, other studies have shown that marine mammals at 
distances more than a few kilometers away often show no apparent 
response to activities of various types (Miller et al., 2005). This is 
often true even in cases when the sounds must be readily audible to the 
animals based on measured received levels and the hearing sensitivity 
of that mammal group. Although various baleen whales, toothed whales, 
and (less frequently) pinnipeds have been shown to react behaviorally 
to underwater sound from impulsive sources such as airguns, at other 
times, mammals of all three types have shown no overt reactions (e.g., 
Malme et al., 1986; Richardson et al., 1995; Madsen and Mohl, 2000; 
Croll et al., 2001; Jacobs and Terhune, 2002; Madsen et al., 2002; 
MacLean and Koski, 2005; Miller et al., 2005; Bain and Williams, 2006).
    Controlled experiments with captive marine mammals showed 
pronounced behavioral reactions, including avoidance of loud sound 
sources (Ridgway et al., 1997; Finneran et al., 2003). Observed 
responses of wild marine mammals to loud pulsed sound sources 
(typically seismic guns or acoustic harassment devices) have been 
varied but often consist of avoidance behavior or other behavioral 
changes suggesting discomfort (Morton and Symonds, 2002; Thorson and 
Reyff, 2006; see also Gordon et al., 2004; Wartzok et al., 2003; 
Nowacek et al., 2007).
    Because the few available studies show wide variation in response 
to underwater sound, it is difficult to quantify exactly how sound from 
the LRS WSEP operational testing would affect marine mammals. It is 
likely that the onset of surface detonations could result in temporary, 
short term changes in an animal's typical behavior and/or avoidance of 
the affected area. These behavioral changes may include (Richardson et 
al., 1995): changing durations of surfacing and dives, number of blows 
per surfacing, or moving direction and/or speed; reduced/increased 
vocal activities; changing/cessation of certain behavioral activities 
(such as socializing or feeding); visible startle response or 
aggressive behavior (such as tail/fluke slapping or jaw clapping); or 
avoidance of areas where sound sources are located.
    The biological significance of any of these behavioral disturbances 
is difficult to predict, especially if the detected disturbances appear 
minor. However generally, one could expect the consequences of 
behavioral modification to be biologically significant if the change 
affects growth, survival, or reproduction. Significant behavioral 
modifications that could potentially lead to effects on growth, 
survival, or reproduction include:
     Drastic changes in diving/surfacing patterns (such as 
those thought to cause beaked whale stranding due to exposure to 
military mid-frequency tactical sonar);
     Habitat abandonment due to loss of desirable acoustic 
environment; and
     Cessation of feeding or social interaction.
    The onset of behavioral disturbance from anthropogenic sound 
depends on both external factors (characteristics of sound sources and 
their paths) and the specific characteristics of the receiving animals 
(hearing, motivation, experience, demography) and is difficult to 
predict (Southall et al., 2007).

Auditory Masking

    Natural and artificial sounds can disrupt behavior by masking, or 
interfering with, a marine mammal's ability to hear other sounds. 
Masking occurs when the receipt of a sound interferes with by another 
coincident sound at similar frequencies and at similar or higher levels 
(Clark et al., 2009). While it may occur temporarily,

[[Page 44290]]

we do not expect auditory masking to result in detrimental impacts to 
an individual's or population's survival, fitness, or reproductive 
success. Dolphin movement is not restricted within the BSURE area, 
allowing for movement out of the area to avoid masking impacts and the 
sound resulting from the detonations is short in duration. Also, 
masking is typically of greater concern for those marine mammals that 
utilize low frequency communications, such as baleen whales and, as 
such, is not likely to occur for marine mammals in the BSURE area.

Vessel and Aircraft Presence

    The marine mammals most vulnerable to vessel strikes are slow-
moving and/or spend extended periods of time at the surface in order to 
restore oxygen levels within their tissues after deep dives (e.g., 
North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis), fin whales, and 
sperm whales). Smaller marine mammals are agile and move more quickly 
through the water, making them less susceptible to ship strikes. NMFS 
and 86 FWS are not aware of any vessel strikes of dwarf and pygmy sperm 
whales within in BSURE area during training operations, and both 
parties do not anticipate that potential 86 FWS vessels engaged in the 
specified activity would strike any marine mammals.
    Dolphins within Hawaiian waters are exposed to recreational, 
commercial, and military vessels. Behaviorally, marine mammals may or 
may not respond to the operation of vessels and associated noise. 
Responses to vessels vary widely among marine mammals in general, but 
also among different species of small cetaceans. Responses may include 
attraction to the vessel (Richardson et al., 1995); altering travel 
patterns to avoid vessels (Constantine, 2001; Nowacek et al., 2001; 
Lusseau, 2003, 2006); relocating to other areas (Allen and Read, 2000); 
cessation of feeding, resting, and social interaction (Baker et al., 
1983; Bauer and Herman, 1986; Hall, 1982; Krieger and Wing, 1984; 
Lusseau, 2003; Constantine et al., 2004); abandoning feeding, resting, 
and nursing areas (Jurasz and Jurasz 1979; Dean et al., 1985; Glockner-
Ferrari and Ferrari, 1985, 1990; Lusseau, 2005; Norris et al., 1985; 
Salden, 1988; Forest, 2001; Morton and Symonds, 2002; Courbis, 2004; 
Bejder, 2006); stress (Romano et al., 2004); and changes in acoustic 
behavior (Van Parijs and Corkeron, 2001). However, in some studies 
marine mammals display no reaction to vessels (Watkins, 1986; Nowacek 
et al., 2003) and many odontocetes show considerable tolerance to 
vessel traffic (Richardson et al., 1995). Dolphins may actually reduce 
the energetic cost of traveling by riding the bow or stern waves of 
vessels (Williams et al., 1992; Richardson et al., 1995).
    Aircraft produce noise at frequencies that are well within the 
frequency range of cetacean hearing and also produce visual signals 
such as the aircraft itself and its shadow (Richardson et al., 1995, 
Richardson and Wursig, 1997). A major difference between aircraft noise 
and noise caused by other anthropogenic sources is that the sound is 
generated in the air, transmitted through the water surface and then 
propagates underwater to the receiver, diminishing the received levels 
significantly below what is heard above the water's surface. Sound 
transmission from air to water is greatest in a sound cone 26 degrees 
directly under the aircraft.
    There are fewer reports of reactions of odontocetes to aircraft 
than those of pinnipeds. Responses to aircraft by pinnipeds include 
diving, slapping the water with pectoral fins or tail fluke, or 
swimming away from the track of the aircraft (Richardson et al., 1995). 
The nature and degree of the response, or the lack thereof, are 
dependent upon the nature of the flight (e.g., type of aircraft, 
altitude, straight vs. circular flight pattern). Wursig et al. (1998) 
assessed the responses of cetaceans to aerial surveys in the north 
central and western Gulf of Mexico using a DeHavilland Twin Otter 
fixed-wing airplane. The plane flew at an altitude of 229 m (751.3 ft) 
at 204 km/hr (126.7 mph) and maintained a minimum of 305 m (1,000 ft) 
straight line distance from the cetaceans. Water depth was 100 to 1,000 
m (328 to 3,281 ft). Bottlenose dolphins most commonly responded by 
diving (48 percent), while 14 percent responded by moving away. Other 
species (e.g., beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) and sperm whales) show 
considerable variation in reactions to aircraft but diving or swimming 
away from the aircraft are the most common reactions to low flights 
(less than 500 m; 1,640 ft).

Direct Strike by Ordnance

    Another potential risk to marine mammals is direct strike by 
ordnance, in which the ordnance physically hits an animal. While strike 
from an item at the surface of the water while the animals is at the 
surface is possible, the potential risk of a direct hit to an animal 
within the target area would be so low because marine mammals spend the 
majority of their time below the surface of the water, and the 
potential for one bomb or missile to hit that animal at that specific 
time is highly unlikely since there are only a total of eight bombs on 
one day.

Anticipated Effects on Habitat

    Detonations of live ordnance would result in temporary changes to 
the water environment. An explosion on the surface of the water from 
these weapons could send a shock wave and blast noise through the 
water, release gaseous by-products, create an oscillating bubble, and 
cause a plume of water to shoot up from the water surface. However, 
these effects would be temporary and not expected to last more than a 
few seconds. Similarly, 86 FWS does not expect any long-term impacts 
with regard to hazardous constituents to occur. 86 FWS considered the 
introduction of fuel, debris, ordnance, and chemical materials into the 
water column within its EA and determined the potential effects of each 
to be insignificant. We summarize 86 FWS's analyses in the following 
paragraphs (for a complete discussion of potential effects, please 
refer to section 3.0 in 86 FWS's EA).
    Metals typically used to construct bombs and missiles include 
aluminum, steel, and lead, among others. Aluminum is also present in 
some explosive materials. These materials would settle to the seafloor 
after munitions detonate. Metal ions would slowly leach into the 
substrate and the water column, causing elevated concentrations in a 
small area around the munitions fragments. Some of the metals, such as 
aluminum, occur naturally in the ocean at varying concentrations and 
would not necessarily impact the substrate or water column. Other 
metals, such as lead, could cause toxicity in microbial communities in 
the substrate. However, such effects would be localized to a very small 
distance around munitions fragments and would not significantly affect 
the overall habitat quality of sediments in the BSURE area. In 
addition, metal fragments would corrode, degrade, and become encrusted 
over time.
    Chemical materials include explosive byproducts and also fuel, oil, 
and other fluids associated with remotely controlled target boats. 
Explosive byproducts would be introduced into the water column through 
detonation of live munitions. Explosive materials would include 2,4,6-
trinitrotoluene (TNT) and research department explosive (RDX), among 
others. Various byproducts are produced during and immediately after 
detonation of TNT and RDX. During the very brief time that a detonation 
is in progress, intermediate products may include carbon ions,

[[Page 44291]]

nitrogen ions, oxygen ions, water, hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, 
nitrogen gas, nitrous oxide, cyanic acid, and carbon dioxide (Becker, 
1995). However, reactions quickly occur between the intermediates, and 
the final products consist mainly of water, carbon monoxide, carbon 
dioxide, and nitrogen gas, although small amounts of other compounds 
are typically produced as well.
    Chemicals introduced into the water column would be quickly 
dispersed by waves, currents, and tidal action, and eventually become 
uniformly distributed. A portion of the carbon compounds such as carbon 
monoxide and carbon dioxide would likely become integrated into the 
carbonate system (alkalinity and pH buffering capacity of seawater). 
Some of the nitrogen and carbon compounds, including petroleum 
products, would be metabolized or assimilated by phytoplankton and 
bacteria. Most of the gas products that do not react with the water or 
become assimilated by organisms would be released into the atmosphere. 
Due to dilution, mixing, and transformation, none of these chemicals 
are expected to have significant impacts on the marine environment.
    Explosive material that is not consumed in a detonation could sink 
to the substrate and bind to sediments. However, the quantity of such 
materials is expected to be inconsequential. Research has shown that if 
munitions function properly, nearly full combustion of the explosive 
materials will occur, and only extremely small amounts of raw material 
will remain. In addition, any remaining materials would be naturally 
degraded. TNT decomposes when exposed to sunlight (ultraviolet 
radiation), and is also degraded by microbial activity (Becker, 1995). 
Several types of microorganisms have been shown to metabolize TNT. 
Similarly, RDX decomposes by hydrolysis, ultraviolet radiation 
exposure, and biodegradation.
    While we anticipate that the specified activity may result in 
marine mammals avoiding certain areas due to temporary ensonification, 
this impact to habitat and prey resources would be temporary and 
reversible. The main impact associated with the proposed activity would 
be temporarily elevated noise levels and the associated direct effects 
on marine mammals, previously discussed in this notice. Marine mammals 
are anticipated to temporarily vacate the area of live detonations. 
However, these events are usually of short duration, and animals are 
anticipated to return to the activity area during periods of non-
activity. Thus, based on the preceding discussion, we do not anticipate 
that the proposed activity would have any habitat-related effects that 
could cause significant or long-term consequences for individual marine 
mammals or their populations.

Proposed Mitigation

    In order to issue an incidental take authorization under section 
101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, NMFS must set forth the permissible methods 
of taking pursuant to such activity, and other means of effecting the 
least practicable adverse impact on such species or stock and its 
habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and 
areas of similar significance, and the availability of such species or 
stock for taking for certain subsistence uses (where relevant).
    The NDAA of 2004 amended the MMPA as it relates to military-
readiness activities and the incidental take authorization process such 
that ``least practicable adverse impact'' shall include consideration 
of personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the 
effectiveness of the military readiness activity.
    NMFS and 86 FWS have worked to identify potential practicable and 
effective mitigation measures, which include a careful balancing of the 
likely benefit of any particular measure to the marine mammals with the 
likely effect of that measure on personnel safety, practicality of 
implementation, and impact on the ``military-readiness activity.'' We 
refer the reader to Section 11 of 86 FWS's application for more 
detailed information on the proposed mitigation measures which include 
the following:
    Visual Aerial Surveys: For the LRS WSEP activities, mitigation 
procedures consist of visual aerial surveys of the impact area for the 
presence of protected marine species (including marine mammals). During 
aerial observation, Navy test range personnel may survey the area from 
an S-61N helicopter or C-62 aircraft that is based at the PMRF land 
facility (typically when missions are located relatively close to 
shore). Alternatively, when missions are located farther offshore, 
surveys may be conducted from mission aircraft (typically jet aircraft 
such as F-15E, F-16, or F-22) or a U.S. Coast Guard C-130 aircraft.
    Protected species surveys typically begin within one hour of weapon 
release and as close to the impact time as feasible, given human safety 
requirements. Survey personnel must depart the human hazard zone before 
weapon release, in accordance with Navy safety standards. Personnel 
conduct aerial surveys within an area defined by an approximately 2-NM 
(3,704 m) radius around the impact point, with surveys typically flown 
in a star pattern. This survey distance is consistent with requirements 
already in place for similar actions at PMRF and encompasses the entire 
TTS threshold ranges (SEL) for mid-frequency cetaceans (Table 5). For 
species in which potential exposures have been calculated (dwarf sperm 
whale and pygmy sperm whale), the survey distance would cover over half 
of the PTS SEL range. Given operational constraints, surveying these 
larger areas would not be feasible.
    Observers would consist of aircrew operating the C-26, S-61N, and 
C-130 aircraft from PMRF and the Coast Guard. These aircrew are trained 
and experienced at conducting aerial marine mammal surveys and have 
provided similar support for other missions at PMRF. Aerial surveys are 
typically conducted at an altitude of about 200 feet, but altitude may 
vary somewhat depending on sea state and atmospheric conditions. If 
adverse weather conditions preclude the ability for aircraft to safely 
operate, missions would either be delayed until the weather clears or 
cancelled for the day. For 2016 Long Range Strike WSEP missions, one 
day has been designated as a weather back-up day. The C-26 and other 
aircraft would generally be operated at a slightly higher altitude than 
the helicopter. The observers will be provided with the GPS location of 
the impact area. Once the aircraft reaches the impact area, pre-mission 
surveys typically last for 30 minutes, depending on the survey pattern. 
The fixed-wing aircraft are faster than the helicopter; and, therefore, 
protected species may be more difficult to spot. However, to compensate 
for the difference in speed, the aircraft may fly the survey pattern 
multiple times.
    If a protected species is observed in the impact area, weapon 
release would be delayed until one of the following conditions is met: 
(1) The animal is observed exiting the impact area; (2) the animal is 
thought to have exited the impact area based on its course and speed; 
or (3) the impact area has been clear of any additional sightings for a 
period of 30 minutes. All weapons will be tracked and their water entry 
points will be documented.
    Post-mission surveys would begin immediately after the mission is 
complete and the Range Safety Officer declares the human safety area is 
reopened. Approximate transit time from the perimeter of the human 
safety

[[Page 44292]]

area to the weapon impact area would depend on the size of the human 
safety area and vary between aircraft but is expected to be less than 
30 minutes. Post-mission surveys would be conducted by the same 
aircraft and aircrew that conducted the pre-mission surveys and would 
follow the same patterns as pre-mission surveys but would focus on the 
area down current of the weapon impact area to determine if protected 
species were affected by the mission (observation of dead or injured 
animals). If an injury or mortality occurs to a protected species due 
to LRS WSEP missions, NMFS would be notified immediately.
    A typical mission day would consist of pre-mission checks, safety 
review, crew briefings, weather checks, clearing airspace, range 
clearance, mitigations/monitoring efforts, and other military protocols 
prior to launch of weapons. Potential delays could be the result of 
multiple factors including, but not limited to, adverse weather 
conditions leading to unsafe take-off, landing, and aircraft 
operations, inability to clear the range of non-mission vessels or 
aircraft, mechanical issues with mission aircraft or munitions, or 
presence of protected species in the impact area. If the mission is 
cancelled due to any of these, one back-up day has also been scheduled 
as a contingency. These standard operating procedures are usually done 
in the morning, and live range time may begin in late morning once all 
checks are complete and approval is granted from range control. The 
range would be closed to the public for a maximum of four hours per 
mission day.
    Determination of the Zone of Influence: The zone of influence is 
defined as the area or volume of ocean in which marine mammals could be 
exposed to various pressure or acoustic energy levels caused by 
exploding ordnance. Refer to Appendix A of the application for a 
description of the method used to calculate impact areas for 
explosives. The pressure and energy levels considered to be of concern 
are defined in terms of metrics, criteria, and thresholds. A metric is 
a technical standard of measurement that describes the acoustic 
environment (e.g., frequency duration, temporal pattern, and amplitude) 
and pressure at a given location. Criteria are the resulting types of 
possible impact and include mortality, injury, and harassment. A 
threshold is the level of pressure or noise above which the impact 
criteria are reached.
    Standard impulsive and acoustic metrics were used for the analysis 
of underwater energy and pressure waves in this document. Several 
different metrics are important for understanding risk assessment 
analysis of impacts to marine mammals: SPL is the ratio of the absolute 
sound pressure to a reference level, SEL is measure of sound intensity 
and duration, and positive impulse is the time integral of the pressure 
over the initial positive phase of an arrival.
    The criteria and thresholds used to estimate potential pressure and 
acoustic impacts to marine mammals resulting from detonations were 
obtained from Finneran and Jenkins (2012) and include mortality, 
injurious harassment (Level A), and non-injurious harassment (Level B). 
In some cases, separate thresholds have been developed for different 
species groups or functional hearing groups. Functional hearing groups 
included in the analysis are low-frequency cetaceans, mid-frequency 
cetaceans, high-frequency cetaceans, and phocids.
    Based on the ranges presented in Table 5 and factoring operational 
limitations associated with the mission, 86 FWS estimates that during 
pre-mission surveys, the proposed monitoring area would be 
approximately 2 km (3.7 miles) from the target area radius around the 
impact point, with surveys typically flown in a star pattern, which is 
consistent with requirements already in place for similar actions at 
PMRF and encompasses the entire TTS threshold ranges (SEL) for mid-
frequency cetaceans. For species in which potential exposures have been 
calculated (dwarf sperm whale and pygmy sperm whale), the survey 
distance would cover over half of the PTS SEL range. Given operational 
constraints, surveying these larger areas would not be feasible.

Post-Mission Monitoring

    Post-mission monitoring determines the effectiveness of pre-mission 
mitigation by reporting sightings of any marine mammals. Post-mission 
monitoring surveys will commence once the mission has ended or, if 
required, as soon as personnel declare the mission area safe. Post-
mission monitoring will be identical to pre-mission surveys and will 
occur approximately 30 minutes after the munitions have been detonated, 
concentrating on the area down-current of the test site. Observers will 
document and report any marine mammal species, number, location, and 
behavior of any animals observed.
    We have carefully evaluated 86 FWS's proposed mitigation measures 
in the context of ensuring that we prescribe the means of effecting the 
least practicable impact on the affected marine mammal species and 
stocks and their habitat. Our evaluation of potential measures included 
consideration of the following factors in relation to one another:
     The manner in which, and the degree to which, the 
successful implementation of the measure is expected to minimize 
adverse impacts to marine mammals;
     The proven or likely efficacy of the specific measure to 
minimize adverse impacts as planned; and
     The practicability of the measure for applicant 
implementation.
    Any mitigation measure(s) prescribed by NMFS should be able to 
accomplish, have a reasonable likelihood of accomplishing (based on 
current science), or contribute to the accomplishment of one or more of 
the general goals listed here:
    1. Avoidance or minimization of injury or death of marine mammals 
wherever possible (goals 2, 3, and 4 may contribute to this goal).
    2. A reduction in the numbers of marine mammals (total number or 
number at biologically important time or location) exposed to stimuli 
expected to result in incidental take (this goal may contribute to 1, 
above, or to reducing takes by behavioral harassment only).
    3. A reduction in the number of times (total number or number at 
biologically important time or location) individuals would be exposed 
to stimuli that we expect to result in the take of marine mammals (this 
goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing harassment takes only).
    4. A reduction in the intensity of exposures (either total number 
or number at biologically important time or location) to training 
exercises that we expect to result in the take of marine mammals (this 
goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing the severity of 
harassment takes only).
    5. Avoidance or minimization of adverse effects to marine mammal 
habitat, paying special attention to the food base, activities that 
block or limit passage to or from biologically important areas, 
permanent destruction of habitat, or temporary destruction/disturbance 
of habitat during a biologically important time.
    6. For monitoring directly related to mitigation--an increase in 
the probability of detecting marine mammals, thus allowing for more 
effective implementation of the mitigation.
    Based on our evaluation of 86 FWS's proposed measures, as well as 
other measures that may be relevant to the specified activity, we have 
preliminarily

[[Page 44293]]

determined that the proposed mitigation measures, including visual 
aerial surveys and mission delays if protected species are observed in 
the impact area, provide the means of effecting the least practicable 
impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat, paying 
particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar 
significance (while also considering personnel safety, practicality of 
implementation, and the impact of effectiveness of the military 
readiness activity).

Proposed Monitoring and Reporting

    In order to issue an Authorization for an activity, section 
101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA states that we must set forth ``requirements 
pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking.'' The MMPA 
implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104(a)(13) indicate that 
requests for an authorization must include the suggested means of 
accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result 
in increased knowledge of the species and our expectations of the level 
of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals present in the 
proposed action area.
    86 FWS submitted marine mammal monitoring and reporting measures in 
their IHA application. We may modify or supplement these measures based 
on comments or new information received from the public during the 
public comment period. Any monitoring requirement we prescribe should 
improve our understanding of one or more of the following:
     Occurrence of marine mammal species in action area (e.g., 
presence, abundance, distribution, density).
     Nature, scope, or context of likely marine mammal exposure 
to potential stressors/impacts (individual or cumulative, acute or 
chronic), through better understanding of: (1) Action or environment 
(e.g., source characterization, propagation, ambient noise); (2) 
Affected species (e.g., life history, dive patterns); (3) Co-occurrence 
of marine mammal species with the action; or (4) Biological or 
behavioral context of exposure (e.g., age, calving or feeding areas).
     Individual responses to acute stressors, or impacts of 
chronic exposures (behavioral or physiological).
     How anticipated responses to stressors impact either: (1) 
Long-term fitness and survival of an individual; or (2) Population, 
species, or stock.
     Effects on marine mammal habitat and resultant impacts to 
marine mammals.
     Mitigation and monitoring effectiveness.
    NMFS proposes to include the following measures in the LRS WSEP 
Authorization (if issued). They are:
    (1) 86 FWS will track the use of the PMRF for missions and 
protected species observations, through the use of mission reporting 
forms.
    (2) 86 FWS will submit a summary report of marine mammal 
observations and LRS WSEP activities to the NMFS Pacific Islands 
Regional Office (PIRO) and the Office of Protected Resources 90 days 
after expiration of the current Authorization. This report must include 
the following information: (i) Date and time of each LRS WSEP exercise; 
(ii) a complete description of the pre-exercise and post-exercise 
activities related to mitigating and monitoring the effects of LRS WSEP 
exercises on marine mammal populations; and (iii) results of the LRS 
WSEP exercise monitoring, including number of marine mammals (by 
species) that may have been harassed due to presence within the 
activity zone.
    (3) 86 FWS will monitor for marine mammals in the proposed action 
area. If 86 FWS personnel observe or detect any dead or injured marine 
mammals prior to testing, or detects any injured or dead marine mammal 
during live fire exercises, 86 FWS must cease operations and submit a 
report to NMFS within 24 hours.
    (4) 86 FWS must immediately report any unauthorized takes of marine 
mammals (i.e., serious injury or mortality) to NMFS and to the 
respective Pacific Islands Region stranding network representative. 86 
FWS must cease operations and submit a report to NMFS within 24 hours.

Estimated Numbers of Marine Mammals Taken by Harassment

    The NDAA amended the definition of harassment as it applies to a 
``military readiness activity'' to read as follows (Section 3(18)(B) of 
the MMPA): (i) Any act that injures or has the significant potential to 
injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A 
Harassment]; or (ii) any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a 
marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption 
of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, 
migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a 
point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly 
altered [Level B Harassment].
    NMFS' analysis identified the physiological responses, and 
behavioral responses that could potentially result from exposure to 
explosive detonations. In this section, we will relate the potential 
effects to marine mammals from detonation of explosives to the MMPA 
regulatory definitions of Level A and Level B harassment. This section 
will also quantify the effects that might occur from the proposed 
military readiness activities in PMRF BSURE area.
    86 FWS thresholds used for onset of temporary threshold shift (TTS; 
Level B Harassment) and onset of permanent threshold shift (PTS; Level 
A Harassment) are consistent with the thresholds outlined in the Navy's 
report titled, ``Criteria and Thresholds for U.S. Navy Acoustic and 
Explosive Effects Analysis Technical Report,'' which the Navy 
coordinated with NMFS. NMFS believes that the thresholds outlined in 
the Navy's report represent the best available science. The report is 
available on the internet at: http://nwtteis.com/Portals/NWTT/DraftEIS2014/SupportingDocs/NWTT_NMSDD_Technical_Report_23_January%202014_reduced.pdf.

Level B Harassment

    Of the potential effects described earlier in this document, the 
following are the types of effects that fall into the Level B 
harassment category:
    Behavioral Harassment--Behavioral disturbance that rises to the 
level described in the above definition, when resulting from exposures 
to non-impulsive or impulsive sound, is Level B harassment. Some of the 
lower level physiological stress responses discussed earlier would also 
likely co-occur with the predicted harassments, although these 
responses are more difficult to detect and fewer data exist relating 
these responses to specific received levels of sound. When predicting 
Level B harassment based on estimated behavioral responses, those takes 
may have a stress-related physiological component.
    Temporary Threshold Shift--As discussed previously, TTS can affect 
how an animal behaves in response to the environment, including 
conspecifics, predators, and prey. NMFS classifies TTS (when resulting 
from exposure to explosives and other impulsive sources) as Level B 
harassment, not Level A harassment (injury).

Level A Harassment

    Of the potential effects that were described earlier, the following 
are the types of effects that fall into the Level A Harassment 
category:
    Permanent Threshold Shift--PTS (resulting from exposure to 
explosive detonations) is irreversible and NMFS considers this to be an 
injury.

[[Page 44294]]

    Table 4 outlines the explosive thresholds used by NMFS for this 
Authorization when addressing noise impacts from explosives.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TN07JY16.000

    86 FWS completed acoustic modeling to determine the distances to 
NMFS's explosive thresholds from their explosive ordnance, which was 
then used with each species' density to determine number of exposure 
estimates. Below is a summary of those modeling efforts.
    The maximum estimated range, or radius, from the detonation point 
to which the various thresholds extend for all munitions proposed to be 
released in a 24-hour time period was calculated based on explosive 
acoustic characteristics, sound propagation, and sound transmission 
loss in the Study Area, which incorporates water depth, sediment type, 
wind speed, bathymetry, and temperature/salinity profiles (Table 5). 
The ranges were used to calculate the total area (circle) of the zones 
of influence for each criterion/threshold. To eliminate ``double-
counting'' of animals, impact areas from higher impact categories 
(e.g., mortality) were subtracted from areas associated with lower 
impact categories (e.g., Level A harassment). The estimated number of 
marine mammals potentially exposed to the various impact thresholds was 
then calculated as the product of the adjusted impact area, scaled 
animal density, and number of events. Since the model accumulates the 
energy from all detonations within a 24-hour timeframe, it is assumed 
that the same population of animals is being impacted within that time 
period. The population would refresh after 24 hours. In this case, only 
one mission day is planned for 2016, and therefore, only one event is 
modeled that would impact the same population of animals. Details of 
the acoustic modeling method are provided in Appendix A of the 
application.
    The resulting total number of marine mammals potentially exposed to 
the various levels of thresholds is shown in Table 7. An animal is 
considered ``exposed'' to a sound if the received sound level at the 
animal's location is above the background ambient acoustic level within 
a similar frequency band. The exposure calculations from the model 
output resulted in decimal values, suggesting in most cases that a 
fraction of an animal was exposed. To eliminate this, the acoustic 
model results were rounded to the nearest whole animal to obtain the 
exposure estimates from 2016 missions. Furthermore, to eliminate 
``double-counting'' of animals, exposure results from higher impact 
categories (e.g., mortality) were subtracted from lower impact 
categories (e.g., Level A harassment). For impact categories with 
multiple criteria and/or thresholds (e.g., three criteria and four 
thresholds associated with Level A harassment), numbers in the table 
are based on the threshold resulting in the greatest number of 
exposures. These exposure estimates do not take into account the 
required mitigation and monitoring measures, which may decrease the 
potential for impacts.

[[Page 44295]]



                                     Table 5--Distances (m) to Explosive Thresholds From 86 FWS's Explosive Ordnance
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                             Level A Harassment \2\                          Level B Harassment
                                                              ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                   Mortality                  GI tract              PTS                TTS             Behavioral
                     Species                          \1\      Slight lung     injury   ----------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  injury   -------------  Applicable   Applicable   Applicable   Applicable   Applicable
                                                                             237 dB SPL      SEL*         SPL*         SEL*         SPL*         SEL*
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Humpback Whale..................................           38           81          165        2,161          330        6,565          597       13,163
Blue Whale......................................           28           59          165        2,161          330        6,565          597       13,163
Fin Whale.......................................           28           62          165        2,161          330        6,565          597       13,163
Sei Whale.......................................           38           83          165        2,161          330        6,565          597       13,163
Bryde's Whale...................................           38           81          165        2,161          330        6,565          597       13,163
Minke Whale.....................................           55          118          165        2,161          330        6,565          597       13,163
Sperm Whale.....................................           33           72          165          753          330        3,198          597        4,206
Pygmy Sperm Whale...............................          105          206          165        6,565        3,450       20,570        6,565       57,109
Dwarf Sperm Whale...............................          121          232          165        6,565        3,450       20,570        6,565       57,109
Killer Whale....................................           59          126          165          753          330        3,198          597        4,206
False Killer Whale..............................           72          153          165          753          330        3,198          597        4,206
Pygmy Killer Whale..............................          147          277          165          753          330        3,198          597        4,206
Short-finned Pilot Whale........................           91          186          165          753          330        3,198          597        4,206
Melon-headed Whale..............................          121          228          165          753          330        3,198          597        4,206
Bottlenose Dolphin..............................          121          232          165          753          330        3,198          597        4,206
Pantropical Spotted Dolphin.....................          147          277          165          753          330        3,198          597        4,206
Striped Dolphin.................................          147          277          165          753          330        3,198          597        4,206
Spinner Dolphin.................................          147          277          165          753          330        3,198          597        4,206
Rough-toothed Dolphin...........................          121          232          165          753          330        3,198          597        4,206
Fraser's Dolphin................................          110          216          165          753          330        3,198          597        4,206
Risso's Dolphin.................................           85          175          165          753          330        3,198          597        4,206
Cuvier's Beaked Whale...........................           51          110          165          753          330        3,198          597        4,206
Blainville's Beaked Whale.......................           79          166          165          753          330        3,198          597        4,206
Longman's Beaked Whale..........................           52          113          165          753          330        3,198          597        4,206
Hawaiian Monk Seal..............................          135          256          165        1,452        1,107        3,871        1,881        6,565
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Based on Goertner (1982).
\2\ Based on Richmond et al. (1973).
*Based on the applicable Functional Hearing Group.

Density Estimation

    Density estimates for marine mammals were derived from the Navy's 
2014 Marine Species Density Database (NMSDD). NMFS refers the reader to 
Section 3 of 86 FWS's application for detailed information on all 
equations used to calculate densities presented in Table 6.

      Table 6--Marine Mammal Density Estimates Within 86 FWS's PMRF
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Density
                         Species                             (animals/
                                                              km\2\)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dwarf sperm whale.......................................         0.00714
Pygmy sperm whale.......................................         0.00291
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Take Estimation

    Table 7 indicates the modeled potential for lethality, injury, and 
non-injurious harassment (including behavioral harassment) to marine 
mammals in the absence of mitigation measures. 86 FWS and NMFS estimate 
that one marine mammal species could be exposed to injurious Level A 
harassment noise levels (187 dB SEL) and two species could be exposed 
to Level B harassment (TTS and Behavioral) noise levels in the absence 
of mitigation measures.

              Table 7--Modeled Number of Marine Mammals Potentially Affected by LRS WSEP Operations
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                      Level A         Level B         Level B
                     Species                         Mortality      harassment      harassment      harassment
                                                                    (PTS only)         (TTS)       (behavioral)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dwarf sperm whale...............................               0               1               9              64
Pygmy sperm whale...............................               0               0               3              26
TOTAL...........................................               0               1              12              90
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Based on the mortality exposure estimates calculated by the 
acoustic model, zero marine mammals are expected to be affected by 
pressure levels associated with mortality or serious injury. Zero 
marine mammals are expected to be exposed to pressure levels associated 
with slight lung injury or gastrointestinal tract injury.
    NMFS generally considers PTS to fall under the injury category 
(Level A Harassment). An animal would need to stay very close to the 
sound source for an extended amount of time to incur a serious degree 
of PTS, which could increase the probability of mortality. In this 
case, it would be highly unlikely for this scenario to unfold given the 
nature of any anticipated acoustic exposures that could potentially 
result from a mobile marine mammal that NMFS generally expects to 
exhibit avoidance behavior to loud sounds within the BSURE area.
    NMFS has relied on the best available scientific information to 
support the issuance of 86 FWS's authorization. In

[[Page 44296]]

the case of authorizing Level A harassment, NMFS has estimated that one 
dwarf sperm whale could, although unlikely, experience minor permanent 
threshold shifts of hearing sensitivity (PTS). The available data and 
analyses, as described more fully in this notice include extrapolation 
results of many studies on marine mammal noise-induced temporary 
threshold shifts of hearing sensitivities. An extensive review of TTS 
studies and experiments prompted NMFS to conclude that possibility of 
minor PTS in the form of slight upward shift of hearing threshold at 
certain frequency bands by one individual marine mammal is extremely 
low, but not unlikely.

Negligible Impact Analysis and Preliminary Determinations

    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.'' A negligible impact finding is based on the 
lack of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or 
survival (i.e., population-level effects). An estimate of the number of 
Level B harassment takes alone is not enough information on which to 
base an impact determination. In addition to considering estimates of 
the number of marine mammals that might be ``taken'' through behavioral 
harassment, we consider other factors, such as the likely nature of any 
responses (e.g., intensity, duration), the context of any responses 
(e.g., critical reproductive time or location, migration), as well as 
the number and nature of estimated Level A harassment takes, the number 
of estimated mortalities, and effects on habitat.
    To avoid repetition, the discussion below applies to all the 
species listed in Table 7 for which we propose to authorize incidental 
take for 86 FWS's activities.
    In making a negligible impact determination, we consider:
     The number of anticipated injuries, serious injuries, or 
mortalities;
     The number, nature, and intensity, and duration of Level B 
harassment;
     The context in which the takes occur (e.g., impacts to 
areas of significance, impacts to local populations, and cumulative 
impacts when taking into account successive/contemporaneous actions 
when added to baseline data);
     The status of stock or species of marine mammals (i.e., 
depleted, not depleted, decreasing, increasing, stable, impact relative 
to the size of the population);
     Impacts on habitat affecting rates of recruitment/
survival; and
     The effectiveness of monitoring and mitigation measures to 
reduce the number or severity of incidental take.
    For reasons stated previously in this document and based on the 
following factors, 86 FWS's specified activities are not likely to 
cause long-term behavioral disturbance, serious injury, or death.
    The takes from Level B harassment would be due to potential 
behavioral disturbance and TTS. The takes from Level A harassment would 
be due to potential PTS. Activities would only occur over a timeframe 
of one day in September, 2016.
    Noise-induced threshold shifts (TS, which includes PTS) are defined 
as increases in the threshold of audibility (i.e., the sound has to be 
louder to be detected) of the ear at a certain frequency or range of 
frequencies (ANSI 1995; Yost 2007). Several important factors relate to 
the magnitude of TS, such as level, duration, spectral content 
(frequency range), and temporal pattern (continuous, intermittent) of 
exposure (Yost 2007; Henderson et al., 2008). TS occurs in terms of 
frequency range (Hz or kHz), hearing threshold level (dB), or both 
frequency and hearing threshold level.
    In addition, there are different degrees of PTS: Ranging from 
slight/mild to moderate and from severe to profound. Profound PTS or 
the complete loss of the ability to hear in one or both ears is 
commonly referred to as deafness. High-frequency PTS, presumably as a 
normal process of aging that occurs in humans and other terrestrial 
mammals, has also been demonstrated in captive cetaceans (Ridgway and 
Carder, 1997; Yuen et al. 2005; Finneran et al., 2005; Houser and 
Finneran, 2006; Finneran et al., 2007; Schlundt et al., 2011) and in 
stranded individuals (Mann et al., 2010).
    In terms of what is analyzed for the potential PTS (Level A 
harassment) in one marine mammal as a result of 86 FWS's LRS WSEP 
operations, if it occurs, NMFS has determined that the levels would be 
slight/mild because research shows that most cetaceans show relatively 
high levels of avoidance. Further, it is uncommon to sight marine 
mammals within the target area, especially for prolonged durations. 
Avoidance varies among individuals and depends on their activities or 
reasons for being in the area.
    NMFS' predicted estimates for Level A harassment take (Table 7) are 
likely overestimates of the likely injury that will occur. NMFS expects 
that successful implementation of the required aerial-based mitigation 
measures could avoid Level A take. Also, NMFS expects that some 
individuals would avoid the source at levels expected to result in 
injury. Nonetheless, although NMFS expects that Level A harassment is 
unlikely to occur at the numbers proposed to be authorized, because it 
is difficult to quantify the degree to which the mitigation and 
avoidance will reduce the number of animals that might incur PTS, we 
are proposing to authorize (and analyze) the modeled number of Level A 
takes (one), which does not take the mitigation or avoidance into 
consideration. However, we anticipate that any PTS incurred because of 
mitigation and the likely short duration of exposures, would be in the 
form of only a small degree of permanent threshold shift and not total 
deafness.
    While animals may be impacted in the immediate vicinity of the 
activity, because of the short duration of the actual individual 
explosions themselves (versus continual sound source operation) 
combined with the short duration of the LRS WSEP operations, NMFS has 
preliminarily determined that there will not be a substantial impact on 
marine mammals or on the normal functioning of the nearshore or 
offshore waters off Kauai and its ecosystems. We do not expect that the 
proposed activity would impact rates of recruitment or survival of 
marine mammals since we do not expect mortality (which would remove 
individuals from the population) or serious injury to occur. In 
addition, the proposed activity would not occur in areas (and/or times) 
of significance for the marine mammal populations potentially affected 
by the exercises (e.g., feeding or resting areas, reproductive areas), 
and the activities would only occur in a small part of their overall 
range, so the impact of any potential temporary displacement would be 
negligible and animals would be expected to return to the area after 
the cessations of activities. Although the proposed activity could 
result in Level A (PTS only, not slight lung injury or gastrointestinal 
tract injury) and Level B (behavioral disturbance and TTS) harassment 
of marine mammals, the level of harassment is not anticipated to impact 
rates of recruitment or survival of marine mammals because the number 
of exposed animals is expected to be low due to the short-term (i.e., 
four hours a day or less on one day) and site-specific nature of the 
activity. We do not anticipate that the effects would be detrimental to 
rates of recruitment and survival because we do not expect

[[Page 44297]]

serious of extended behavioral responses that would result in energetic 
effects at the level to impact fitness.
    Moreover, the mitigation and monitoring measures proposed for the 
IHA (described earlier in this document) are expected to further 
minimize the potential for harassment. The protected species surveys 
would require 86 FWS to search the area for marine mammals, and if any 
are found in the impact zone, then the exercise would be suspended 
until the animal(s) has left the area or relocated outside of the zone. 
Furthermore, LRS WSEP missions may be delayed or rescheduled for 
adverse weather conditions.
    Based on the preliminary analysis contained herein of the likely 
effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, 
and taking into consideration the implementation of the mitigation and 
monitoring measures, NMFS finds that 86 FWS's LRS WSEP operations will 
result in the incidental take of marine mammals, by Level A and Level B 
harassment only, and that the taking from the LRS WSEP exercises will 
have a negligible impact on the affected species or stocks.

Impact on Availability of Affected Species or Stock for Taking for 
Subsistence Uses

    There are no relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals implicated 
by this action. Therefore, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the 
total taking of affected species or stocks would not have an 
unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of such species or 
stocks for taking for subsistence purposes.

Endangered Species Act (ESA)

    No marine mammal species listed under the ESA are expected to be 
affected by these activities. Therefore, NMFS has determined that a 
section 7 consultation under the ESA is not required.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    In 2015, 86 FWS provided NMFS with an EA titled, Environmental 
Assessment/Overseas Environmental Assessment for the Long Range Strick 
Weapon Systems Evaluation Program Operational Evaluations. The EA 
analyzed the direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental impacts of 
the specified activities on marine mammals. NMFS will review and 
evaluate the 86 FWS EA for consistency with the regulations published 
by the Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) and NOAA Administrative 
Order 216-6, Environmental Review Procedures for Implementing the 
National Environmental Policy Act, and determine whether or not to 
adopt it. Information in 86 FWS's application, EA, and this notice 
collectively provide the environmental information related to proposed 
issuance of the IHA for public review and comment. We will review all 
comments submitted in response to this notice as we complete the NEPA 
process, including decision of whether to sign a Finding of No 
Significant Impact (FONSI), prior to a final decision on the IHA 
request. The 2016 NEPA documents are available for review at 
www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/military.html.

Proposed Authorization

    As a result of these preliminary determinations, we propose to 
issue an IHA to 86 FWS for conducting LRS WSEP activities, for a period 
of one year from the date of issuance, provided the previously 
mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements are 
incorporated. The proposed Authorization language is provided in the 
next section. The wording contained in this section is proposed for 
inclusion in the Authorization (if issued).
    1. This Authorization is valid for a period of one year from the 
date of issuance.
    2. This Authorization is valid only for activities associated with 
the LRS WSEP operations utilizing munitions identified in the 
Attachment.
    3. The incidental taking, by Level A and Level B harassment, is 
limited to: Dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima) and Pygmy sperm whale (Kogia 
breviceps) as specified in Table 1 of this notice.

                    Table 1--Authorized Take Numbers.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           Level   Level
                         Species                             A       B
                                                           takes   takes
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dwarf sperm whale.......................................       1      73
Pygmy sperm whale.......................................       0      29
                                                         ---------------
    Total...............................................       1     102
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The taking by serious injury or death of these species, the taking 
of these species in violation of the conditions of this Incidental 
Harassment Authorization, or the taking by harassment, serious injury 
or death of any other species of marine mammal is prohibited and may 
result in the modification, suspension or revocation of this 
Authorization.

4. Mitigation

    When conducting this activity, the following mitigation measures 
must be undertaken:
     If daytime weather and/or sea conditions preclude adequate 
monitoring for detecting marine mammals and other marine life, LRS WSEP 
strike operations must be delayed until adequate sea conditions exist 
for monitoring to be undertaken.
     On the morning of the LRS WSEP strike mission, the test 
director and safety officer will confirm that there are no issues that 
would preclude mission execution and that the weather is adequate to 
support monitoring and mitigation measures.
     If post-mission surveys determine that an injury or lethal 
take of a marine mammal has occurred, the next mission will be 
suspended until the test procedure and the monitoring methods have been 
reviewed with NMFS and appropriate changes made.

5. Monitoring

    The holder of this Authorization is required to cooperate with the 
National Marine Fisheries Service and any other Federal, state or local 
agency monitoring the impacts of the activity on marine mammals.
    The holder of this Authorization will track their use of the PMRF 
BSURE area for the LRS WSEP missions and marine mammal observations, 
through the use of mission reporting forms.
    Aerial surveys: Pre- and post- mission will be conducted. Pre-
mission surveys would begin approximately one hour prior to detonation. 
Post-detonation monitoring surveys will commence once the mission has 
ended or, if required, as soon as personnel declare the mission area 
safe.
    Proposed monitoring area would be approximately 2 km (3.7 miles) 
from the target area radius around the impact point, with surveys 
typically flown in a star pattern. Aerial surveys would be conducted at 
an altitude of about 200 feet, but altitude may vary somewhat depending 
on sea state and atmospheric conditions. If adverse weather conditions 
preclude the ability for aircraft to safely operate, missions would 
either be delayed until the weather clears or cancelled for the day. 
The observers will be provided with the GPS location of the impact 
area. Once the aircraft reaches the impact area, pre-mission surveys 
typically last for 30 minutes, depending on the survey pattern. The 
aircraft may fly the survey pattern multiple times.

6. Reporting

    The holder of this Authorization is required to:
    (a) Submit a draft report on all monitoring conducted under the IHA 
within 90 days of the completion of

[[Page 44298]]

marine mammal monitoring, or 60 days prior to the issuance of any 
subsequent IHA for projects at PMRF, whichever comes first. A final 
report shall be prepared and submitted within 30 days following 
resolution of comments on the draft report from NMFS. This report must 
contain the informational elements described in the Monitoring Plan, at 
minimum (see www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm), 
and shall also include:
    1. Date and time of each LRS WSEP mission;
    2. A complete description of the pre-exercise and post-exercise 
activities related to mitigating and monitoring the effects of LRS WSEP 
missions on marine mammal populations; and
    3. Results of the monitoring program, including numbers by species/
stock of any marine mammals noted injured or killed as a result of the 
LRS WSEP mission and number of marine mammals (by species if possible) 
that may have been harassed due to presence within the zone of 
influence.
    The draft report will be subject to review and comment by the 
National Marine Fisheries Service. Any recommendations made by the 
National Marine Fisheries Service must be addressed in the final report 
prior to acceptance by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The draft 
report will be considered the final report for this activity under this 
Authorization if the National Marine Fisheries Service has not provided 
comments and recommendations within 90 days of receipt of the draft 
report.
    (b) Reporting injured or dead marine mammals:
    i. In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly 
causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by this IHA, 
such as an injury for species not authorized (Level A harassment), 
serious injury, or mortality, 86 FWS shall immediately cease the 
specified activities and report the incident to the Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS, and the Pacific Islands Regional Stranding 
Coordinator, NMFS. The report must include the following information:
    A. Time and date of the incident;
    B. Description of the incident;
    C. Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, 
Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility);
    D. Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 hours 
preceding the incident;
    E. Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved;
    F. Fate of the animal(s); and
    G. Photographs or video footage of the animal(s).

Activities shall not resume until NMFS is able to review the 
circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS will work with 86 FWS to 
determine what measures are necessary to minimize the likelihood of 
further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. 86 FWS may not 
resume their activities until notified by NMFS.
    ii. In the event that 86 FWS discovers an injured or dead marine 
mammal, and the lead observer determines that the cause of the injury 
or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (e.g., in less 
than a moderate state of decomposition), 86 FWS shall immediately 
report the incident to the Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the 
Pacific Islands Regional Stranding Coordinator, NMFS.
    The report must include the same information identified in 6(b)(i) 
of this IHA. Activities may continue while NMFS reviews the 
circumstances of the incident. NMFS will work with 86 FWS to determine 
whether additional mitigation measures or modifications to the 
activities are appropriate.
    iii. In the event that 86 FWS discovers an injured or dead marine 
mammal, and the lead observer determines that the injury or death is 
not associated with or related to the activities authorized in the IHA 
(e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced 
decomposition, scavenger damage), 86 FWS shall report the incident to 
the Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the Pacific Islands 
Regional Stranding Coordinator, NMFS, within 24 hours of the discovery. 
86 FWS shall provide photographs or video footage or other 
documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS.

7. Additional Conditions

     The holder of this Authorization must inform the Director, 
Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, (301-
427-8400) or designee (301-427-8401) prior to the initiation of any 
changes to the monitoring plan for a specified mission activity.
     A copy of this Authorization must be in the possession of 
the safety officer on duty each day that long range strike missions are 
conducted.
     This Authorization may be modified, suspended or withdrawn 
if the holder fails to abide by the conditions prescribed herein, or if 
NMFS determines the authorized taking is having more than a negligible 
impact on the species or stock of affected marine mammals.

Request for Public Comments

    We request comment on our analysis, the draft authorization, and 
any other aspect of this Federal Register notice of proposed 
Authorization. Please include with your comments any supporting data or 
literature citations to help inform our final decision on 86 FWS's 
renewal request for an MMPA authorization.

    Dated: July 1, 2016.
Donna S. Wieting,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-16114 Filed 7-6-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P