Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Marine Geophysical Survey in the Southeast Pacific Ocean, 2016-2017, 53443-53463 [2016-19145]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 156 / Friday, August 12, 2016 / Notices review (except, if the rate is zero or de minimis, no cash deposit will be required); (2) for previously reviewed or investigated companies not listed above, the cash deposit rate will continue to be the company-specific rate published for the most recent period; (3) if the exporter is not a firm covered in this review, a prior review, or the less-thanfair-value investigation, but the manufacturer is, the cash deposit rate will be the rate established for the most recent period for the manufacturer of the merchandise; and (4) the cash deposit rate for all other manufacturers or exporters is 2.40 percent.12 These cash deposit requirements, when imposed, shall remain in effect until further notice. Notification to Interested Parties This notice also serves as a preliminary reminder to importers of their responsibility under 19 CFR 351.402(f)(2) to file a certificate regarding the reimbursement of antidumping duties prior to liquidation of the relevant entries during this review period. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in the Secretary’s presumption that reimbursement of antidumping duties occurred and the subsequent assessment of double antidumping duties. We are issuing and publishing these results in accordance with sections 751(a)(1) and 777(i)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.213(h)(1). Dated: August 5, 2016. Ronald K. Lorentzen, Acting Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES 1. Summary 2. Background 3. Scope of the Order 4. Preliminary Finding of No Shipments for SMTC 5. Comparisons to Normal Value 6. Product Comparisons 7. Date of Sale 8. Export Price 9. Normal Value 10. Currency Conversion 11. Recommendation BILLING CODE 3510–DS–P 12 See PET Film from Taiwan Amended Final Determination. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Aug 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XE451 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Marine Geophysical Survey in the Southeast Pacific Ocean, 2016–2017 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce. ACTION: Notice; issuance of an incidental harassment authorization. AGENCY: In accordance with the regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) as amended, notification is hereby given that NMFS has issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (Lamont-Doherty) in collaboration with the National Science Foundation (NSF), to incidentally take, by level B harassment, 44 species of marine mammals, and to incidentally take, by Level A harassment, 26 species of marine mammals, during three marine geophysical (seismic) surveys in the southeast Pacific Ocean. DATES: This Authorization is effective from August 1, 2016, through July 31, 2017. SUMMARY: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jordan Carduner, NMFS, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS (301) 427– 8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Appendix—List of Topics Discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum [FR Doc. 2016–19136 Filed 8–11–16; 8:45 am] DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) directs the Secretary of Commerce to 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, after NMFS provides a notice of a proposed authorization to the public for review and comment: (1) NMFS makes certain findings; and (2) the taking is limited to harassment. An Authorization shall be granted for the incidental taking of small numbers of marine mammals if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant). PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 53443 The Authorization must also set forth the permissible methods of taking; other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the species or stock and its habitat (i.e., mitigation); and requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking. NMFS has defined ‘‘negligible impact’’ in 50 CFR 216.103 as ‘‘an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.’’ Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the MMPA defines ‘‘harassment’’ as: Any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A harassment]; or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering [Level B harassment]. Summary of Request On January 19, 2016, NMFS received an application from Lamont-Doherty requesting that NMFS issue an Authorization for the take of marine mammals, incidental to Oregon State University (OSU) and University of Texas (UT) conducting seismic surveys in the southeast Pacific Ocean, in the latter half of 2016 and/or the first half of 2017. NMFS considered the application and supporting materials adequate and complete on March 21, 2016. Lamont-Doherty plans to conduct three two-dimensional (2-D) surveys on the R/V Marcus G. Langseth (Langseth), a vessel owned by NSF and operated on its behalf by Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory primarily in international waters of the southeast Pacific Ocean, with a small portion of the surveys occurring within the territorial waters of Chile, which extend to nautical 12 miles (mi) (19.3 kilometers (km)) from the coast. NMFS cannot authorize the incidental take of marine mammals in the territorial seas of foreign nations, as the MMPA does not apply in those waters. However, as part of the analysis supporting our determination under the MMPA that the activity would have a negligible impact on the affected species, we must consider the level of incidental take as a result of the activity in the entire activity area (including both territorial seas and high seas). Increased underwater sound generated during the operation of the E:\FR\FM\12AUN1.SGM 12AUN1 53444 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 156 / Friday, August 12, 2016 / Notices seismic airgun array is the only aspect of the activity that is likely to result in the take of marine mammals. We anticipate that take, by Level B harassment, of 44 species of marine mammals could result from the specified activity. Although unlikely, NMFS also anticipates that a small amount of take by Level A harassment of 26 species of marine mammals could occur during the planned surveys. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES Description of the Specified Activity Lamont-Doherty plans to use one source vessel, the Langseth, with an array of 36 airguns as the energy source with a total volume of approximately 6,600 cubic inches (in3). The receiving system would consist of up to 64 ocean bottom seismometers and a single hydrophone streamer between 8 and 15 km (4.9 and 9.3 mi) in length. In addition to the operations of the airgun array, a multibeam echosounder (MBES) and a sub-bottom profiler (SBP) would also be operated continuously throughout the proposed surveys. A total of approximately 9,633 km (5,986 mi) of transect lines would be surveyed in the southeast Pacific Ocean. A detailed description of LamontDoherty’s planned seismic surveys is provided in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (81 FR 23117; April 19, 2016). Since that time, no changes have been made to the planned activities. Therefore, a detailed description is not provided here. Please refer to that Federal Register notice for the description of the specific activity. Comments and Responses NMFS published a notice of receipt of Lamont-Doherty’s application and proposed Authorization in the Federal Register on April 19, 2016 (81 FR 23117). During the 30-day public comment period, NMFS received comment letters from the Marine Mammal Commission (Commission) and from the Marcus Langseth Science Oversight Committee, as well as one comment from a member of the general public. NMFS has posted the comments online at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/ permits/incidental. NMFS addresses any comments specific to Lamont-Doherty’s application related to the statutory and regulatory requirements or findings that NMFS must make under the MMPA in order to issue an Authorization. The following is a summary of the public comments and NMFS’s responses. Modeling Exclusion and Buffer Zones Comment 1: The Commission expressed concerns regarding LamontDoherty’s method to estimate exclusion VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Aug 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 and buffer zones. The Commission stated that the model is not the best available science because it assumes the following: Spherical spreading, constant sound speed, and no bottom interactions for surveys in deep water. In light of their concerns, the Commission recommended that NMFS require Lamont-Doherty to re-estimate the exclusion and buffer zones incorporating site-specific environmental (including sound speed profiles, bathymetry, and sediment characteristics) and operational (including number/type/spacing of airguns, tow depth, source level/ operating pressure, and operational volume) parameters into their model. Response: NMFS acknowledges the Commission’s concerns about LamontDoherty’s current modeling approach for estimating exclusion and buffer zones and also acknowledges that Lamont-Doherty did not incorporate site-specific sound speed profiles, bathymetry, and sediment characteristics of the research area in the current approach to estimate those zones for this planned seismic survey. Lamont-Doherty’s application (LGL, 2016) and the NSF’s draft environmental analysis (NSF, 2016) describe the approach to establishing mitigation exclusion and buffer zones. In summary, Lamont-Doherty acquired field measurements for several array configurations at shallow, intermediate, and deep-water depths during acoustic verification studies conducted in the northern Gulf of Mexico in 2007 and 2008 (Tolstoy et al., 2009). Based on the empirical data from those studies, Lamont-Doherty developed a sound propagation modeling approach that predicts received sound levels as a function of distance from a particular airgun array configuration in deep water. For this survey, Lamont-Doherty developed the exclusion and buffer zones for the airgun array based on the empirically-derived measurements from the Gulf of Mexico calibration survey (Appendix H of NSF’s 2011 PEIS). For deep water (≤1000 m), Lamont-Doherty used the deep-water radii obtained from model results down to a maximum water depth of 2000 m (Figure 2 and 3 in Appendix H of NSF’s 2011 PEIS; the radii for intermediate water depths (100–1000 m) were derived from the deep-water ones by applying a correction factor (multiplication) of 1.5, such that observed levels at very near offsets fall below the corrected mitigation curve (Fig. 16 in Appendix H of the NSF’s 2011 PEIS); the shallowwater radii were obtained by scaling the empirically derived measurements from the Gulf of Mexico calibration survey to PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 account for the differences in tow depth between the calibration survey (6 m) and the proposed surveys (9 and 12 m). In 2015, Lamont-Doherty explored the question of whether the Gulf of Mexico calibration data adequately informs the model to predict exclusion isopleths in other areas by conducting a retrospective sound power analysis of one of the lines acquired during Lamont-Doherty’s seismic survey offshore New Jersey in 2014 (Crone, 2015). NMFS presented a comparison of the predicted radii (i.e., modeled exclusion zones) with radii based on in situ measurements (i.e., the upper bound [95th percentile] of the cross-line prediction) in a previous notice of issued Authorization for LamontDoherty (see Table 1, 80 FR 27635, May 14, 2015). Briefly, Crone’s (2015) analysis, specific to the survey site offshore New Jersey, confirmed that in-situ, site specific measurements and estimates of the 160- and 180-dB isopleths collected by the Langseth’s hydrophone streamer in shallow water were smaller than the modeled (i.e., predicted) exclusion and buffer zones proposed for use in two seismic surveys conducted offshore New Jersey in shallow water in 2014 and 2015. In that particular case, Crone’s (2015) results showed that Lamont-Doherty’s modeled exclusion (180-dB) and buffer (160-dB) zones were approximately 28 and 33 percent smaller, respectively, than the in situ, site-specific measurements, thus confirming that Lamont-Doherty’s model was conservative in that case, as emphasized by Lamont-Doherty in its application and in supporting environmental documentation. The following is a summary of two additional analyses of in-situ data that support Lamont-Doherty’s use of the modeled exclusion and buffer zones in this particular case. In 2010, Lamont-Doherty assessed the accuracy of their modeling approach by comparing the sound levels of the field measurements acquired in the Gulf of Mexico study to their model predictions (Diebold et al., 2010). They reported that the observed sound levels from the field measurements fell almost entirely below the predicted mitigation radii curve for deep water (greater than 1,000 m; 3280.8 ft) (Diebold et al., 2010). In 2012, Lamont-Doherty used a similar process to model exclusion and buffer zones for a shallow-water seismic survey in the northeast Pacific Ocean offshore Washington State in 2012. Lamont-Doherty conducted the shallowwater survey using the same airgun configuration planned for this seismic survey (i.e., 6,600 in3) and recorded the E:\FR\FM\12AUN1.SGM 12AUN1 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 156 / Friday, August 12, 2016 / Notices received sound levels on both the shelf and slope off Washington State using the Langseth’s 8 km hydrophone streamer. Crone et al. (2014) analyzed those received sound levels from the 2012 survey and confirmed that in-situ, site specific measurements and estimates of the 160-dB and 180-dB isopleths collected by the Langseth’s hydrophone streamer in shallow water were two to three times smaller than Lamont-Doherty’s modeling approach had predicted. While the results confirmed bathymetry’s role in sound propagation, Crone et al. (2014) were able to confirm that the empirical measurements from the Gulf of Mexico calibration survey (the same measurements used to inform LamontDoherty’s modeling approach for the planned seismic survey in the southeast Pacific Ocean) overestimated the size of the exclusion and buffer zones for the shallow-water 2012 survey off Washington State and were thus precautionary, in that particular case. The model Lamont-Doherty currently uses does not allow for the consideration of environmental and sitespecific parameters as requested by the Commission. NMFS continues to work with Lamont-Doherty and the NSF to address the issue of incorporating sitespecific information to further inform the analysis and development of mitigation measures in oceanic and coastal areas for future seismic surveys with Lamont-Doherty. However, Lamont-Doherty’s current modeling approach (supported by the three data points discussed previously) represents the best available information for NMFS to reach determinations for the Authorization. As described earlier, the comparisons of Lamont-Doherty’s model results and the field data collected in the Gulf of Mexico, offshore Washington State, and offshore New Jersey illustrate a degree of conservativeness built into Lamont-Doherty’s model for deep water, which NMFS expects to offset some of the limitations of the model to capture the variability resulting from sitespecific factors. Based upon the best available information (i.e., the three data points, two of which are peer-reviewed, discussed in this response), NMFS finds that the exclusion and buffer zone calculations are appropriate for use in this particular survey. Lamont-Doherty has conveyed to NMFS that additional modeling efforts to refine the process and conduct comparative analysis may be possible with the availability of research funds and other resources. Obtaining research funds is typically accomplished through a competitive process, including those submitted to U.S. Federal agencies. The VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Aug 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 use of models for calculating buffer and exclusion zone radii and for developing take estimates is not a requirement of the MMPA incidental take authorization process. Furthermore, NMFS does not provide specific guidance on model parameters nor prescribe a specific model for applicants as part of the MMPA incidental take authorization process at this time. There is a level of variability not only with parameters in the models, but also the uncertainty associated with data used in models, and therefore, the quality of the model results submitted by applicants. NMFS considers this variability when evaluating applications and the take estimates and mitigation measures that the model informs. NMFS takes into consideration the model used, and its results, in determining the potential impacts to marine mammals; however, it is just one component of the analysis during the MMPA authorization process as NMFS also takes into consideration other factors associated with the activity (e.g., geographic location, duration of activities, context, sound source intensity, etc.). Uncertainty in Density Estimates Comment 2: The Commission expressed concern regarding uncertainty in the representativeness of the marine mammal density data and the assumptions used to calculate estimated takes. The Commission recommended that NMFS adjust density estimates using some measure of uncertainty when available density data originate from different geographic areas, temporal scales, and seasons, especially for actions which will occur outside the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) where site- and species-specific density estimates tend to be scant, such as Lamont-Doherty’s planned survey. Response: NMFS believes that, in the absence of site-specific marine mammal density data in the region of LamontDoherty’s planned survey, the best available information was used to estimate marine mammal density data for the project area and to calculate estimated takes. However, NMFS acknowledges that the lack of site- and species-specific density data for certain geographic areas presents inherent challenges in estimating takes, and agrees with the Commission’s recommendation that a systematic approach to incorporating uncertainty in density estimates when available density data originate from different geographic areas, temporal scales, and seasons is warranted. NMFS is actively working to develop a systematic process for the use of density estimates in authorizations when uncertainties in PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 53445 density data exist as a result of geographic differences, temporal differences, or accuracy of data, and to encourage applicants for incidental take authorization to utilize this process when it is complete. NMFS looks forward to developing this process in collaboration with the Commission. Monitoring and Reporting Comment 3: The Commission indicated that monitoring and reporting requirements should provide a reasonably accurate assessment of the types of taking and the numbers of animals taken by the proposed activity. They recommend that NMFS and Lamont-Doherty incorporate an accounting for animals at the surface but not detected [i.e., g(0) values] and for animals present but underwater and not available for sighting [i.e., f(0) values] into monitoring efforts. In light of the Commission’s previous comments, they recommend that NMFS consult with the funding agency (i.e., the NSF) and individual applicants (e.g., LamontDoherty and other related entities) to develop, validate, and implement a monitoring program that provides a scientifically sound, reasonably accurate assessment of the types of marine mammal takes and the actual numbers of marine mammals taken, accounting for applicable g(0) and f(0) values, based in part on monitoring data collected during geophysical surveys. Response: NMFS agrees with the Commission’s recommendation to improve the post-survey reporting requirements for NSF and LamontDoherty by accounting for takes using applicable g(0) and f(0) values. In December 2015, NMFS met with Commission representatives to discuss ways to develop and validate a monitoring program that provides a scientifically sound, reasonably accurate assessment of the types of marine mammal takes and the actual numbers of marine mammals taken. In July 2016, NMFS solicited input from the Commission regarding methodology for determining applicable g(0) and f(0) values. Based on this input, NMFS has included a requirement in the issued IHA that Lamont-Doherty must provide an estimate of the number (by species) of marine mammals that may have been exposed (based on modeling results and accounting for animals at the surface but not detected [i.e., g(0) values] and for animals present but underwater and not available for sighting [i.e., f(0) values]) to the seismic activity at received levels greater than or equal to 160 dB re: 1 mPa and/or 180 dB re 1 mPa for cetaceans and 190-dB re 1 mPa for pinnipeds. NMFS will provide the methodology for E:\FR\FM\12AUN1.SGM 12AUN1 53446 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 156 / Friday, August 12, 2016 / Notices determining the applicable f(0) and g(0) values to Lamont-Doherty. The comment letter from the Marcus Langseth Science Oversight Committee affirmed that there is significant support from the Committee for the IHA to be issued for the proposed activity and for the survey to be conducted. NMFS received one additional comment from a private citizen that expressed concern that the project would result in the deaths of marine mammals and that the application should be denied on the grounds that it would cost taxpayers too much money; NMFS considered this comment, however, no deaths of marine mammals are anticipated as a result of the project as described below, and NMFS does not have the ability to deny applications for authorization to incidentally take marine mammals based on an applicant’s funding sources. Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity Table 1 in this notice provides the following: All marine mammal species with possible or confirmed occurrence in the planned activity area; information on those species’ regulatory status under the MMPA and the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.); abundance; local occurrence and range; and seasonality in the planned activity area. Based on the best available information, NMFS expects that there may be a potential for certain cetacean and pinniped species to occur within the survey area (i.e., potentially be taken) and have included additional information for these species in Table 1 of this notice. NMFS will carry forward analyses on the species listed in Table 1 later in this document. TABLE 1—GENERAL INFORMATION ON MARINE MAMMALS THAT COULD POTENTIALLY OCCUR IN THE THREE PLANNED SURVEY AREAS WITHIN THE SOUTHEAST PACIFIC OCEAN Regulatory status 1 2 Antarctic minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis). Blue whale (B. musculus) .................................... MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 515,000 MMPA—D; ESA—EN .. 4 10,000 Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni) ................... MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 5 43,633 Common minke whale (B. acutorostrata) ............ MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 515,000 Fin whale (B. physalus) ....................................... MMPA—D; ESA—EN .. 22,000 Humpback whale (Megaptera novaengliae) ........ MMPA—D; ESA—EN .. 42,000 Pygmy right whale (Caperea marginata) ............. MMPA—NC; ESA—NL Sei whale (B. borealis) ........................................ MMPA—D; ESA—EN .. 10,000 Southern right whale (Eubalaena australis) ........ MMPA—D; ESA—EN .. 12,000 Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) ............ MMPA—D; ESA—EN .. 6 355,000 Dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima) ........................ MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 7 170,309 Pygmy sperm whale (K. breviceps) ..................... MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 7 170,309 Andrew’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon bowdoini) MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 8 25,300 Blainville’s beaked whale (M. densirostris) ......... MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 8 25,300 Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) ........ MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 8 20,000 Gray’s beaked whale (M. grayi) .......................... MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 8 25,300 Hector’s beaked whale (M. hectori) ..................... MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 8 25,300 Pygmy beaked whale (Mesoplodon peruvianus) MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 8 25,300 Shepherd’s beaked whale (Tasmacetus shepherdi). Spade-toothed whale (Mesoplodon traversii) ...... mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES Species MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 8 25,300 MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 8 25,300 Strap-toothed beaked whale (M. layardii) ........... MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 8 25,300 Southern bottlenose planifrons). (Hyperoodon MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 9 72,000 Chilean dolphin (Cephalorhynchus eutropia) ...... MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 10,000 VerDate Sep<11>2014 whale 18:42 Aug 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4703 Species abundance 3 Unknown Sfmt 4703 Local occurrence North—Rare; Central/ South—Uncommon. North—Common; Central/South—Common. North—Common; Central/South—Common. North—Rare; Central/ South—Uncommon. North—Rare; Central/ South—Common. North—Common; Central/South—Common. North—Unknown; Central/South—Rare. North—Uncommon; Central/South—Uncommon. North—Rare; Central/ South—Rare. North—Common; Central/South—Common. North—Rare; Central/ South—Rare. North—Rare; Central/ South—Rare. North—Unknown; Central/South—Rare. North—Uncommon; Central/South—Uncommon. North—Uncommon; Central/South—Uncommon. North—Rare; Central/ South—Rare. North—Unknown; Central/South—Rare. North—Rare; Central/ South—Rare. North—Unknown; Central/South—Rare. North—Unknown; Central/South—Rare. North—Unknown; Central/South—Rare. North—Unknown; Central/South—Uncommon. North—Unknown; Central/South—Uncommon. E:\FR\FM\12AUN1.SGM 12AUN1 Habitat Coastal, pelagic. Coastal, shelf, pelagic. Coastal, pelagic. Coastal, pelagic. Shelf, slope, pelagic. Coastal, shelf, pelagic. Coastal, oceanic. Pelagic. Coastal, oceanic. Pelagic, deep seas. Shelf, pelagic. Shelf, pelagic. Pelagic. Pelagic. Slope, pelagic. Pelagic. Pelagic. Pelagic. Pelagic. Pelagic. Pelagic. Pelagic. Coastal. 53447 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 156 / Friday, August 12, 2016 / Notices TABLE 1—GENERAL INFORMATION ON MARINE MAMMALS THAT COULD POTENTIALLY OCCUR IN THE THREE PLANNED SURVEY AREAS WITHIN THE SOUTHEAST PACIFIC OCEAN—Continued Species abundance 3 Species Regulatory status 1 2 Rough-toothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis) ....... MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 10 107,633 Common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 10 335,834 Striped dolphin (S. coeruleoalba) ........................ MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 10 964,362 Short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis). Long-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus capensis). MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 11 1,766,551 MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 12 144,000 Dusky dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) ........ MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 13 25,880 Peale’s dolphin (Lagenorhynchus australis) ........ MMPA—NC; ESA—NL Unknown Hourglass dolphin (Lagenorhynchus cruciger) .... MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 14 144,300 Southern right peronii). (Lissodelphis MMPA—NC; ESA—NL Unknown Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus) ..................... MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 10 110,457 Pygmy killer whale (Feresa attenuate) ................ MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 8 38,900 False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) .......... MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 8 39,800 Killer whale (Orcinus orca) .................................. MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 50,000 Long-finned pilot whale (Globicephala melas) .... MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 15 200,000 Short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus). Burmeister’s porpoise (Phocoena spinipinnis) .... MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 16 589,315 MMPA—NC; ESA—NL Unknown Juan Fernandez fur seal (Arctocephalus philippii). South American fur seal (Arctocephalus australis). South American sea lion (Otaria byronia) ........... MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 17 32,278 MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 250,000 MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 18 397,771 Southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) ........ MMPA—NC; ESA—NL 19 640,000 whale dolphin Local occurrence North—Rare; Central/ South—Unknown. North—Abundant; Central/South—Common. North—Abundant; Central/South—Common. North—Abundant; Central/South—Abundant. North—Uncommon; Central/South—Unknown. North—Abundant; Central/South—Abundant. North—Unknown; Central/South—Uncommon. North—Unknown; Central/South—Rare. North—Uncommon; Central/South—Common. North—Common; Central/South—Uncommon. North—Rare; Central/ South—Uncommon. North—Uncommon; Central/South—Rare. North—Rare; Central/ South—Rare. North—Rare; Central/ South—Rare. North—Rare; Central/ South—Rare. North—Coastal; Central/South—Coastal. North—Rare; Central/ South—Rare. North—Rare; Central/ South—Rare. North—Abundant; Central/South—Abundant. North—Abundant; Central/South—Abundant. 1 MMPA: Oceanic. Coastal, pelagic, shelf. Shelf edge, pelagic. Coastal, shelf. Coastal, shelf. Shelf, slope. Coastal. Pelagic. Pelagic. Shelf, slope. Oceanic, pantropical. Pelagic. Coastal, shelf, pelagic. Coastal, pelagic. Coastal, pelagic. Coastal. Coastal, pelagic. Coastal, shelf, slope. Coastal, shelf. Coastal, pelagic. NC. = Not classified; D= Depleted. EN = Endangered, T = Threatened, DL = Delisted, NL = Not listed. where noted best estimate abundance information obtained from the International Whaling Commission’s whale population estimates (IWC, 2016) or from the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List of Threatened Species Web site (IUCN, 2016). Unknown = Abundance information does not exist for this species. 4 IUCN’s best estimate of the global population is 10,000 to 25,000. 5 Estimate from IUCN’s Web page for Bryde’s whales. Southern Hemisphere: southern Indian Ocean (13,854); western South Pacific (16,585); and eastern South Pacific (13,194) (IWC, 1981). 6 Whitehead (2002). 7 Estimate from IUCN’s Web page for Kogia spp. Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP) (150,000); Hawaii (19,172); Gulf of Mexico (742); and western Atlantic (395). 8 Wade and Gerrodette (1993). 9 South of 60°S from the 1885/1986–1990/1991 IWC/IDCR and SOWER surveys (Branch and Butterworth, 2001). 10 ETP, line-transect survey, August-December 2006 (Gerrodette et al., 2008). 11 ETP, southern stock, 2000 survey (Gerrodette and Forcada 2002). 12 Gerrodette and Palacios (1996) estimated 55,000 within Pacific coast waters of Mexico, 69,000 in the Gulf of California, and 20,000 off South Africa. IUCN, 2016. 13 IUCN, 2016 and Markowitz, 2004. 14 Kasamatsu and Joyce, 1995. 15 Abundance estimates for beaked, southern bottlenose, and pilot whales south of the Antarctic Convergence in January (Kasamatsu and Joyce, 1995). 16 Gerrodette and Forcada (2002). 17 2005/2006 minimum population estimate (Osman, 2008). 18 Crespo et al. (2012). Current status of the South American sea lion along the distribution range. 19 Hindell and Perrin (2009). 2 ESA: 3 Except mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES Habitat VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Aug 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\12AUN1.SGM 12AUN1 53448 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 156 / Friday, August 12, 2016 / Notices mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES NMFS refers the public to LamontDoherty’s application and NSF’s environmental analysis (available online at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/ species.htm) for further information on the biology and local distribution of these species. Please also refer to NMFS’s Web site (http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental/) for generalized species accounts. Potential Effects of the Specified Activities on Marine Mammals Operating active acoustic sources, such as airgun arrays, has the potential for adverse effects on marine mammals. The Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (81 FR 23117; April 19, 2016) provided a discussion of the effects of anthropogenic noise on marine mammals as well as a detailed description of the potential effects of Lamont-Doherty’s activities on marine mammals. Therefore that information is not repeated here; please refer to the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (81 FR 23117; April 19, 2016) for that information. During 10 nm of transit that may occur between surveys (described in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (81 FR 23117; April 19, 2016)) the operation of the MBES and SBP may occur independent of airgun operation. The operation of the MBES and SBP in the absence of airgun use was not explicitly described in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (81 FR 23117; April 19, 2016); though it comprises a very small portion of the total anticipated effects of this action, it has now been included for consideration in the analyses. The ‘‘Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment’’ section later in this document will include a quantitative analysis of the number of individuals that NMFS expects to be taken by 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, the ‘‘Mitigation Measures’’ section, and the ‘‘Anticipated Effects on Marine Mammal Habitat’’ section to draw conclusions regarding the likely impacts of this activity on the reproductive success or survivorship of individuals and from that on the affected marine mammal populations or stocks. Anticipated Effects on Marine Mammal Habitat The primary potential impacts to marine mammal habitat and other marine species from Lamont-Doherty’s VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Aug 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 planned activities are associated with elevated sound levels produced by airguns. The impacts of LamontDoherty’s planned activities on fish and other marine life specifically related to acoustic activities are expected to be temporary in nature, negligible, and would not result in substantial impact to these species or to their role in the ecosystem. NMFS does not anticipate that the planned activity would have any habitat-related effects that could cause significant or long-term consequences for individual marine mammals or their populations. The potential effects of Lamont-Doherty’s planned activities on marine mammal habitat and other marine species are discussed in detail in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (81 FR 23117; April 19, 2016), therefore that information is not repeated here; please refer to that Federal Register notice for that information. Mitigation Measures In order to issue an Incidental Harassment 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 on the availability of such species or stock for taking for certain subsistence uses (where relevant). Lamont-Doherty has reviewed the following source documents and has incorporated a suite of mitigation measures into their project description: (1) Protocols used during previous Lamont-Doherty and NSF-funded seismic research cruises as approved by us and detailed in the NSF’s 2011 PEIS and 2016 draft environmental analysis; (2) Previous IHA applications and authorizations that NMFS has approved and authorized; and (3) Recommended best practices in Richardson et al. (1995), Pierson et al. (1998), and Weir and Dolman (2007). To reduce the potential for disturbance from acoustic stimuli associated with the activities, LamontDoherty, and/or its designees plan to implement the following mitigation measures for marine mammals: (1) Vessel-based visual mitigation monitoring; (2) Exclusion zones; (3) Power down procedures; (4) Shutdown procedures; (5) Ramp-up procedures; and (6) Speed and course alterations. PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 NMFS reviewed Lamont-Doherty’s mitigation measures and developed the following additional mitigation measures to effect the least practicable adverse impact on marine mammals: (1) Expanded power down procedures for concentrations of six or more whales that do not appear to be traveling (e.g., feeding, socializing, etc.). Vessel-Based Visual Mitigation Monitoring Lamont-Doherty would position observers aboard the seismic source vessel to watch for marine mammals near the vessel during daytime airgun operations and during any start-ups at night. Observers would also watch for marine mammals near the seismic vessel for at least 30 minutes prior to the start of airgun operations after an extended shutdown (i.e., greater than approximately eight minutes for this planned cruise). When feasible, the observers would conduct observations during daytime periods when the seismic system is not operating for comparison of sighting rates and behavior with and without airgun operations and between acquisition periods. Based on the observations, the Langseth would power down or shutdown the airguns when marine mammals are observed within or about to enter a designated exclusion zone for cetaceans or pinnipeds. During seismic operations, at least four protected species observers would be aboard the Langseth. Lamont-Doherty would appoint the observers with NMFS’s concurrence, and they would conduct observations during ongoing daytime operations and nighttime rampups of the airgun array. During the majority of seismic operations, two observers would be on duty from the observation tower to monitor marine mammals near the seismic vessel. Using two observers would increase the effectiveness of detecting animals near the source vessel. However, during mealtimes and bathroom breaks, it is sometimes difficult to have two observers on effort, but at least one observer would be on watch during bathroom breaks and mealtimes. Observers would be on duty in shifts of no longer than four hours in duration. Two observers on the Langseth would also be on visual watch during all nighttime ramp-ups of the seismic airguns. A third observer would monitor the passive acoustic monitoring equipment 24 hours a day to detect vocalizing marine mammals present in the action area. In summary, a typical daytime cruise would have scheduled two observers (visual) on duty from the observation tower, and an observer E:\FR\FM\12AUN1.SGM 12AUN1 53449 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 156 / Friday, August 12, 2016 / Notices (acoustic) on the passive acoustic monitoring system. Before the start of the seismic survey, Lamont-Doherty would instruct the vessel’s crew to assist in detecting marine mammals and implementing mitigation requirements. The Langseth is a suitable platform for marine mammal observations. When stationed on the observation platform, the eye level would be approximately 21.5 m (70.5 ft) above sea level, and the observer would have a good view around the entire vessel. During daytime, the observers would scan the area around the vessel systematically with reticle binoculars (e.g., 7 x 50 Fujinon), Big-eye binoculars (25 x 150), and with the naked eye. During darkness, night vision devices would be available (ITT F500 Series Generation 3 binocular-image intensifier or equivalent), when required. Laser range- finding binoculars (Leica LRF 1200 laser rangefinder or equivalent) would be available to assist with distance estimation. They are useful in training observers to estimate distances visually, but are generally not useful in measuring distances to animals directly. The user measures distances to animals with the reticles in the binoculars. Lamont-Doherty would immediately power down or shutdown the airguns when observers see marine mammals within or about to enter the designated exclusion zone. The observer(s) would continue to maintain watch to determine when the animal(s) are outside the exclusion zone by visual confirmation. Airgun operations would not resume until the observer has confirmed that the animal has left the zone, or if not observed after 15 minutes for species with shorter dive durations (small odontocetes and pinnipeds) or 30 minutes for species with longer dive durations (mysticetes and large odontocetes, including sperm, pygmy sperm, dwarf sperm, killer, and beaked whales). Mitigation Exclusion Zones Lamont-Doherty would use safety radii to designate exclusion zones and to estimate take for marine mammals. Table 2 shows the distances at which one would expect to receive sound levels (160-, 180-, and 190-dB,) from the airgun array and a single airgun. If the protected species visual observer detects marine mammal(s) within or about to enter the appropriate exclusion zone, the Langseth crew would immediately power down the airgun array, or perform a shutdown if necessary (see Shutdown Procedures). TABLE 2—PREDICTED DISTANCES TO WHICH SOUND LEVELS GREATER THAN OR EQUAL TO 160 re: 1 μPa COULD BE RECEIVED DURING THE PLANNED SURVEY AREAS WITHIN THE SOUTHEAST PACIFIC OCEAN Source and volume (in3) Tow depth (m) Predicted RMS distances 1 (m) Water depth (m) 190 dB Single Bolt airgun (40 in3) ................................................... 9 or 12 36-Airgun Array (6,600 in3) .................................................. 9 36-Airgun Array (6,600 in3) .................................................. 12 180 dB 2 100 2 100 100 100 591 429 286 710 522 348 <100 100 to 1,000 >1,000 <100 100 to 1,000 >1,000 <100 100 to 1,000 >1,000 100 100 2,060 1,391 927 2,480 1,674 1,116 160 dB 1,041 647 431 22,580 8,670 5,780 27,130 10,362 6,908 1 Predicted mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES 2 NMFS distances based on information presented in Lamont-Doherty’s application. required Lamont-Doherty to expand the exclusion zone for the mitigation airgun to 100 m (328 ft) in shallow water. The 180- or 190-dB level shutdown criteria are applicable to cetaceans and pinnipeds, respectively, as specified by NMFS (2000). Lamont-Doherty used these levels to establish the exclusion zones as presented in their application. Lamont-Doherty used a process to develop and confirm the conservativeness of the mitigation radii for a shallow-water seismic survey in the northeast Pacific Ocean offshore Washington in 2012. Crone et al. (2014) analyzed the received sound levels from the 2012 survey and reported that the actual distances to received levels that would constitute the exclusion and buffer zones were two to three times smaller than what Lamont-Doherty’s modeling approach had predicted. While these results confirm the role that bathymetry plays in propagation, they also confirm that empirical measurements from the Gulf of Mexico survey likely over-estimated the size of the exclusion zones for the 2012 shallow-water seismic surveys in VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Aug 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 Washington. NMFS reviewed this information in consideration of how these data reflect on the accuracy of Lamont-Doherty’s current modeling approach and we have concluded that the modeling of RMS distances likely results in predicted distances to acoustic thresholds (Table 2) that are conservative, i.e., if actual distances to received sound levels deviate from distances predicted via modeling, actual distances are expected to be lesser, not greater, than predicted distances. Power-Down Procedures A power down involves decreasing the number of airguns in use such that the radius of the 180-dB or 190-dB exclusion zone is smaller to the extent that marine mammals are no longer within or about to enter the exclusion zone. A power down of the airgun array can also occur when the vessel is moving from one seismic line to another. During a power down for mitigation, the Langseth would operate PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 one airgun (40 in3). The continued operation of one airgun would alert marine mammals to the presence of the seismic vessel in the area. A shutdown occurs when the Langseth suspends all airgun activity. If the observer detects a marine mammal outside the exclusion zone and the animal is likely to enter the zone, the crew would power down the airguns to reduce the size of the 180-dB or 190dB exclusion zone before the animal enters that zone. Likewise, if a marine mammal is already within the zone after detection, the crew would power down the airguns immediately. During a power down of the airgun array, the crew would operate a single 40-in3 airgun which has a smaller exclusion zone. If the observer detects a marine mammal within or near the smaller exclusion zone around the airgun (Table 2), the crew would shut down the single airgun (see next section). E:\FR\FM\12AUN1.SGM 12AUN1 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES 53450 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 156 / Friday, August 12, 2016 / Notices Resuming Airgun Operations After a Power Down Following a power-down, the Langseth crew would not resume full airgun activity until the marine mammal has cleared the 180-dB or 190-dB exclusion zone. The observers would consider the animal to have cleared the exclusion zone if: • The observer has visually observed the animal leave the exclusion zone; or • An observer has not sighted the animal within the exclusion zone for 15 minutes for species with shorter dive durations (i.e., small odontocetes or pinnipeds), or 30 minutes for species with longer dive durations (i.e., mysticetes and large odontocetes, including sperm, pygmy sperm, dwarf sperm, and beaked whales); or The Langseth crew would resume operating the airguns at full power after 15 minutes of sighting any species with short dive durations (i.e., small odontocetes or pinnipeds). Likewise, the crew would resume airgun operations at full power after 30 minutes of sighting any species with longer dive durations (i.e., mysticetes and large odontocetes, including sperm, pygmy sperm, dwarf sperm, and beaked whales). NMFS estimates that the Langseth would transit outside the original 180dB or 190-dB exclusion zone after an eight-minute wait period. This period is based on the average speed of the Langseth while operating the airguns (8.5 km/h; 5.3 mph). Because the vessel has transited away from the vicinity of the original sighting during the eightminute period, implementing ramp-up procedures for the full array after an extended power down (i.e., transiting for an additional 35 minutes from the location of initial sighting) would not meaningfully increase the effectiveness of observing marine mammals approaching or entering the exclusion zone for the full source level and would not further minimize the potential for take. The Langseth’s observers are continually monitoring the exclusion zone for the full source level while the mitigation airgun is firing. On average, observers can observe to the horizon (10 km; 6.2 mi) from the height of the Langseth’s observation deck and should be able to say with a reasonable degree of confidence whether a marine mammal would be encountered within this distance before resuming airgun operations at full power. Shutdown Procedures The Langseth crew would shut down the operating airgun(s) if they see a marine mammal within or approaching the exclusion zone for the single airgun. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Aug 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 The crew would implement a shutdown: (1) If an animal enters the exclusion zone of the single airgun after the crew has initiated a power down; or (2) If an observer sees the animal is initially within the exclusion zone of the single airgun when more than one airgun (typically the full airgun array) is operating. Resuming Airgun Operations After a Shutdown Following a shutdown in excess of eight minutes, the Langseth crew would initiate a ramp-up with the smallest airgun in the array (40-in3). The crew would turn on additional airguns in a sequence such that the source level of the array would increase in steps not exceeding 6 dB per five-minute period over a total duration of approximately 30 minutes. During ramp-up, the observers would monitor the exclusion zone, and if a marine mammal were observed, the Langseth crew would implement a power down or shutdown as though the full airgun array were operational. During periods of active seismic operations, there are occasions when the Langseth crew would need to temporarily shut down the airguns due to equipment failure or for maintenance. In this case, if the airguns are inactive longer than eight minutes, the crew would follow ramp-up procedures for a shutdown described earlier and the observers would monitor the full exclusion zone and would implement a power down or shutdown if necessary. If the full exclusion zone is not visible to the observer for at least 30 minutes prior to the start of operations in either daylight or nighttime, the Langseth crew would not commence ramp-up unless at least one airgun (40-in3 or similar) has been operating during the interruption of seismic survey operations. Given these provisions, it is likely that the vessel’s crew would not ramp up the airgun array from a complete shutdown at night or in thick fog, because the outer part of the zone for that array would not be visible during those conditions. If one airgun has operated during a power down period, ramp-up to full power would be permissible at night or in poor visibility, on the assumption that marine mammals would be alerted to the approaching seismic vessel by the sounds from the single airgun and could move away. The vessel’s crew would not initiate a ramp-up of the airguns if an observer sees the marine mammal within or near the applicable exclusion zones during the day or close to the vessel at night. PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Ramp-Up Procedures Ramp-up of an airgun array provides a gradual increase in sound levels, and involves a step-wise increase in the number and total volume of airguns firing until the full volume of the airgun array is achieved. The purpose of a ramp-up is to ‘‘warn’’ marine mammals in the vicinity of the airguns, and to provide the time for them to leave the area and thus avoid any potential injury or impairment of their hearing abilities. Lamont-Doherty would follow a rampup procedure when the airgun array begins operating after an 8 minute period without airgun operations or when shut down has exceeded that period. Lamont-Doherty has used similar waiting periods (approximately eight to 10 minutes) during previous seismic surveys. Ramp-up would begin with the smallest airgun in the array (40 in3). The crew would add airguns in a sequence such that the source level of the array would increase in steps not exceeding six dB per five minute period over a total duration of approximately 30 to 35 minutes. During ramp-up, the observers would monitor the exclusion zone, and if marine mammals are sighted, LamontDoherty would implement a powerdown or shutdown as though the full airgun array were operational. If the complete exclusion zone has not been visible for at least 30 minutes prior to the start of operations in either daylight or nighttime, Lamont-Doherty would not commence the ramp-up unless at least one airgun (40 in3 or similar) has been operating during the interruption of seismic survey operations. Given these provisions, it is likely that the crew would not ramp up the airgun array from a complete shutdown at night or in thick fog, because the outer part of the exclusion zone for that array would not be visible during those conditions. If one airgun has operated during a power-down period, ramp-up to full power would be permissible at night or in poor visibility, on the assumption that marine mammals would be alerted to the approaching seismic vessel by the sounds from the single airgun and could move away. Lamont-Doherty would not initiate a ramp-up of the airguns if an observer sights a marine mammal within or near the applicable exclusion zones. NMFS refers the reader to Figure 1, which presents a flowchart representing the ramp-up, power down, and shutdown protocols described in this notice. E:\FR\FM\12AUN1.SGM 12AUN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 156 / Friday, August 12, 2016 / Notices 53451 Figure 1. Ramp-up, power down, and shut-down procedures for the Langseth. Current Power-Down and Shut-Down Procedures for the R/V Lt~ngseth If If PSO observes a marinemamrna! near or EZ forthe single mitigation airgun? OR If If Decision Point {Yes/No} Visual confim1ation that MM has left the EZ Decisio!l'l .Pomt (Yes/No) Vi.sualconfirmationthat MM has left the EZ for the the in less than B mimltes1 . No No 1 Date: No11ember 2015 Special Procedures for Concentrations of Large Whales The Langseth would avoid exposing concentrations of large whales to sounds VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Aug 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 greater than 160 dB re: 1 mPa within the 160-dB zone and would power down the array, if necessary. For purposes of this survey, a concentration or group of PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 whales would consist of six or more individuals visually sighted that do not appear to be traveling (e.g., feeding, socializing, etc.). E:\FR\FM\12AUN1.SGM 12AUN1 EN12AU16.044</GPH> mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES Ra!!llil- Up Pnx:ed<tres For a givensu"''ey, LamO!lt-Dohertywouldcakulateaspedfied period based on the lS.G-dB adus!O!lzoneradius !n re!ationtotheEI'\Ii!ragep!annedspeedofthel.angsetllwhilesurveying. Lamont-Dohe!'t:'/•hasusedsimil<r periods{S-10 minutes)for previoussurve;s. Ramp upwillnot occur marine mammal or seaturtie hasnotclearedtheexciusion wne for the 53452 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 156 / Friday, August 12, 2016 / Notices Speed and Course Alterations If, during seismic data collection, Lamont-Doherty detects a marine mammal outside the exclusion zone that appears likely to enter the exclusion zone based on the animal’s position and direction of travel, the Langseth would change speed and/or direction if this does not compromise operational safety. Due to the limited maneuverability of the primary survey vessel, altering speed, and/or course can result in an extended period of time to realign the Langseth to the transect line. However, if the animal(s) appear likely to enter the exclusion zone, the Langseth would undertake further mitigation actions, including a power down or shutdown of the airguns. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES Mitigation Conclusions NMFS has carefully evaluated Lamont-Doherty’s 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 airgun operations that we expect to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing harassment takes only). 3. A reduction in the number of times (total number or number at biologically important time or location) individuals would be exposed to airgun operations that we expect to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing harassment takes only). VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Aug 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 4. A reduction in the intensity of exposures (either total number or number at biologically important time or location) to airgun operations that we expect to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to a, 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 the evaluation of LamontDoherty’s planned measures, as well as other measures developed by NMFS (i.e., special procedures for concentrations of large whales), NMFS has determined that the planned mitigation measures 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. Monitoring Measures In order to issue an Incidental Harassment Authorization for an activity, section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth ‘‘requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking.’’ The MMPA implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104 (a)(13) indicate that requests for Authorizations must include the suggested means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the species and of the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals that we expect to be present in the action area. Monitoring measures prescribed by NMFS should accomplish one or more of the following general goals: 1. An increase in the probability of detecting marine mammals, both within the mitigation zone (thus allowing for more effective implementation of the mitigation) and during other times and locations, in order to generate more data to contribute to the analyses mentioned later; 2. An increase in our understanding of how many marine mammals would be affected by seismic airguns and other active acoustic sources and the likelihood of associating those PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 exposures with specific adverse effects, such as behavioral harassment, temporary or permanent threshold shift; 3. An increase in our understanding of how marine mammals respond to stimuli that we expect to result in take and how those anticipated adverse effects on individuals (in different ways and to varying degrees) may impact the population, species, or stock (specifically through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival) through any of the following methods: a. Behavioral observations in the presence of stimuli compared to observations in the absence of stimuli (i.e., to be able to accurately predict received level, distance from source, and other pertinent information); b. Physiological measurements in the presence of stimuli compared to observations in the absence of stimuli (i.e., to be able to accurately predict received level, distance from source, and other pertinent information); c. Distribution and/or abundance comparisons in times or areas with concentrated stimuli versus times or areas without stimuli; 4. An increased knowledge of the affected species; and 5. An increase in our understanding of the effectiveness of certain mitigation and monitoring measures. Lamont-Doherty plans to conduct marine mammal monitoring during the planned project to supplement the mitigation measures that include realtime monitoring (see ‘‘Vessel-based Visual Mitigation Monitoring’’ above), and to satisfy the monitoring requirements of the Authorization. Vessel-Based Passive Acoustic Monitoring Passive acoustic monitoring would complement the visual mitigation monitoring program, when practicable. Visual monitoring typically is not effective during periods of poor visibility or at night, and even with good visibility, is unable to detect marine mammals when they are below the surface or beyond visual range. Passive acoustic monitoring can improve detection, identification, and localization of cetaceans when used in conjunction with visual observations. The passive acoustic monitoring would serve to alert visual observers (if on duty) when vocalizing cetaceans are detected. It is only useful when marine mammals call, but it can be effective either by day or by night, and does not depend on good visibility. The acoustic observer would monitor the system in real time so that he/she can advise the visual observers if they acoustically detect cetaceans. E:\FR\FM\12AUN1.SGM 12AUN1 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 156 / Friday, August 12, 2016 / Notices The passive acoustic monitoring system consists of hardware (i.e., hydrophones) and software. The ‘‘wet end’’ of the system consists of a towed hydrophone array connected to the vessel by a tow cable. The tow cable is 250 m (820.2 ft) long and the hydrophones are fitted in the last 10 m (32.8 ft) of cable. A depth gauge, attached to the free end of the cable, typically towed at depths less than 20 m (65.6 ft). The Langseth crew would deploy the array from a winch located on the back deck. A deck cable would connect the tow cable to the electronics unit in the main computer lab where the acoustic station, signal conditioning, and processing system would be located. The Pamguard software amplifies, digitizes, and then processes the acoustic signals received by the hydrophones. The system can detect marine mammal vocalizations at frequencies up to 250 kHz. One acoustic observer, an expert bioacoustician with primary responsibility for the passive acoustic monitoring system would be aboard the Langseth in addition to the other visual observers who would rotate monitoring duties. The acoustic observer would monitor the towed hydrophones 24 hours per day during airgun operations and during most periods when the Langseth is underway while the airguns are not operating. However, passive acoustic monitoring may not be possible if damage occurs to both the primary and back-up hydrophone arrays during operations. The primary passive acoustic monitoring streamer on the Langseth is a digital hydrophone streamer. Should the digital streamer fail, back-up systems should include an analog spare streamer and a hullmounted hydrophone. One acoustic observer would monitor the acoustic detection system by listening to the signals from two channels via headphones and/or speakers and watching the real-time spectrographic display for frequency ranges produced by cetaceans. The observer monitoring the acoustical data would be on shift for one to six hours at a time. The other observers would rotate as an acoustic observer, although the expert acoustician would be on passive acoustic monitoring duty more frequently. When the acoustic observer detects a vocalization while visual observations are in progress, the acoustic observer on duty would contact the visual observer immediately, to alert him/her to the presence of cetaceans (if they have not already been seen), so that the vessel’s crew can initiate a power down or shutdown, if required. The observer VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Aug 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 would enter the information regarding the call into a database. Data entry would include an acoustic encounter identification number, whether it was linked with a visual sighting, date, time when first and last heard and whenever any additional information was recorded, position and water depth when first detected, bearing if determinable, species or species group (e.g., unidentified dolphin, sperm whale), types and nature of sounds heard (e.g., clicks, continuous, sporadic, whistles, creaks, burst pulses, strength of signal, etc.), and any other notable information. Acousticians record the acoustic detection for further analysis. Observer Data and Documentation Observers would record data to estimate the numbers of marine mammals exposed to various received sound levels and to document apparent disturbance reactions or lack thereof. They would use the data to help better understand the impacts of the activity on marine mammals and to estimate numbers of animals potentially ‘taken’ by harassment (as defined in the MMPA). They will also provide information needed to order a power down or shut down of the airguns when a marine mammal is within or near the exclusion zone. When an observer makes a sighting, they will record the following information: 1. Species, group size, age/size/sex categories (if determinable), behavior when first sighted and after initial sighting, heading (if consistent), bearing and distance from seismic vessel, sighting cue, apparent reaction to the airguns or vessel (e.g., none, avoidance, approach, paralleling, etc.), and behavioral pace. 2. Time, location, heading, speed, activity of the vessel, sea state, visibility, and sun glare. 3. The observer will record the data listed under (2) at the start and end of each observation watch, and during a watch whenever there is a change in one or more of the variables. 4. Observers will record all observations and power downs or shutdowns in a standardized format and will enter data into an electronic database. The observers will verify the accuracy of the data entry by computerized data validity checks during data entry and by subsequent manual checking of the database. These procedures will allow the preparation of initial summaries of data during and shortly after the field program, and will facilitate transfer of the data to statistical, graphical, and other PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 53453 programs for further processing and archiving. Results from the vessel-based observations will provide: 1. The basis for real-time mitigation (airgun power down or shutdown). 2. Information needed to estimate the number of marine mammals potentially taken by harassment, which LamontDoherty must report to the Office of Protected Resources. 3. Data on the occurrence, distribution, and activities of marine mammals and turtles in the area where Lamont-Doherty would conduct the seismic study. 4. Information to compare the distance and distribution of marine mammals and turtles relative to the source vessel at times with and without seismic activity. 5. Data on the behavior and movement patterns of marine mammals detected during non-active and active seismic operations. Reporting Measures Lamont-Doherty will submit a report to NMFS and to NSF within 90 days after the end of the cruise. The report will describe the operations conducted and sightings of marine mammals near the operations. The report will provide full documentation of methods, results, and interpretation pertaining to all monitoring. The 90-day report will summarize the dates and locations of seismic operations, and all marine mammal sightings (dates, times, locations, activities, associated seismic survey activities). The report will also include estimates of the number and nature of exposures that occurred above the harassment threshold based on the observations and in consideration of the detectability of the marine mammal species observed (e.g., in consideration of factors such as g(0) or f(0)). Lamont-Doherty must provide an estimate of the number (by species) of marine mammals that may have been exposed (based on modeling results and accounting for animals at the surface but not detected [i.e., g(0) values] and for animals present but underwater and not available for sighting [i.e., f(0) values]) to the seismic activity at received levels greater than or equal to 160 dB re: 1 mPa and/or 180 dB re 1 mPa for cetaceans and 190-dB re 1 mPa for pinnipeds. NMFS includes this requirement for post-survey exposure estimates in acknowledgement of the uncertainty inherent in the pre-survey take estimates, and these post-survey corrections are intended to provide a relative qualitative sense of the accuracy of the pre-survey take estimates based on the marine mammals actually E:\FR\FM\12AUN1.SGM 12AUN1 53454 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 156 / Friday, August 12, 2016 / Notices observed during the survey and the factors described above. However, it is important to note that these corrections, while helpful in utilizing the most appropriate surrogate numbers, will utilize values determined by species behavior in other areas (f(0)) and detection probabilities calculated for different observers in different environmental conditions (g(0)). Additionally, correction factors of this nature are likely more effective over more extensive targeted marine mammal survey efforts, whereas for a shorter survey such as the one considered here, the patchiness of marine mammal occurrence makes quantitative accuracy less likely. Therefore, while the corrected post-survey exposure estimates certainly improve upon exposure assumptions based solely on observation, and may appropriately be used to qualitatively inform future take estimates, they should not be construed as an indicator that the corrected number of marine mammals equates to the number of marine mammals definitively taken during the survey. In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner not permitted by the authorization (if issued), such as an injury, serious injury, or mortality (e.g., ship-strike, gear interaction, and/or entanglement), Lamont-Doherty shall immediately cease the specified activities and immediately report the take to the Chief Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS. The report must include the following information: • Time, date, and location (latitude/ longitude) of the incident; • Name and type of vessel involved; • Vessel’s speed during and leading up to the incident; • Description of the incident; • Status of all sound source use in the 24 hours preceding the incident; • Water depth; • Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility); • Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 hours preceding the incident; • Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved; • Fate of the animal(s); and • Photographs or video footage of the animal(s) (if equipment is available). Lamont-Doherty shall not resume its activities until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS would work with LamontDoherty to determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. Lamont-Doherty may not resume their activities until notified by NMFS via letter, email, or telephone. In the event that Lamont-Doherty discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead visual observer determines that the cause of the injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (i.e., in less than a moderate state of decomposition as we describe in the next paragraph), LamontDoherty will immediately report the incident to the Chief Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS. The report must include the same information identified in the paragraph above this section. Activities may continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS would work with Lamont-Doherty to determine whether modifications in the activities are appropriate. In the event that Lamont-Doherty discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead visual observer determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the authorized activities (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), Lamont-Doherty would report the incident to the Chief Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, within 24 hours of the discovery. Lamont-Doherty would provide photographs or video footage (if available) or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS. Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, section 3(18) of the MMPA defines ‘‘harassment’’ as: any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A harassment]; or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering [Level B harassment]. Acoustic stimuli (i.e., increased underwater sound) generated during the operation of the airgun array may have the potential to result in the behavioral disturbance of some marine mammals and may have an even smaller potential to result in permanent threshold shift (non-lethal injury) of some marine mammals. NMFS expects that the mitigation and monitoring measures would minimize the possibility of injurious or lethal takes. However, NMFS cannot discount the possibility (albeit small) that exposure to sound from the planned survey could result in non-lethal injury (Level A harassment). Thus, NMFS authorizes take by Level B harassment and Level A harassment resulting from the operation of the sound sources for the planned seismic survey based upon the current acoustic exposure criteria shown in Table 3, subject to the limitations in take described in Tables 4–7 later in this notice. TABLE 3—NMFS’S CURRENT ACOUSTIC EXPOSURE CRITERIA Criterion Criterion definition Threshold Level A Harassment (Injury) Permanent Threshold Shift (PTS) (Any level above that which is known to cause TTS). Behavioral Disruption (for impulse noises) ..................... 180 dB re 1 microPa-m (cetaceans)/190 dB re 1 microPa-m (pinnipeds) root mean square (rms). 160 dB re 1 microPa-m (rms). mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES Level B Harassment ............ NMFS’s practice is to apply the 160 dB re: 1 mPa received level threshold for underwater impulse sound levels to predict whether behavioral disturbance that rises to the level of Level B harassment is likely to occur. NMFS’s practice is to apply the 180 dB or 190 dB re: 1 mPa (for cetaceans and VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Aug 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 pinnipeds, respectively) received level threshold for underwater impulse sound levels to predict whether permanent threshold shift (auditory injury), which we consider as harassment (Level A), is likely to occur. PO 00000 Frm 00060 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Acknowledging Uncertainties in Estimating Take Given the many uncertainties in predicting the quantity and types of impacts of sound on marine mammals, it is common practice for us to estimate how many animals are likely to be present within a particular distance of a E:\FR\FM\12AUN1.SGM 12AUN1 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 156 / Friday, August 12, 2016 / Notices given activity, or exposed to a particular level of sound. We use this information to predict how many animals potentially could be taken. In practice, depending on the amount of information available to characterize daily and seasonal movement and distribution of affected marine mammals, distinguishing between the numbers of individuals harassed and the instances of harassment can be difficult to parse. Moreover, when one considers the duration of the activity, in the absence of information to predict the degree to which individual animals are likely exposed repeatedly on subsequent days, one assumption is that entirely new animals could be exposed every day, which results in a take estimate that in some circumstances overestimates the number of individuals harassed. The following sections describe Lamont-Doherty’s and NMFS’s methods to estimate take by incidental harassment. We base these estimates on the number of marine mammals that are estimated to be exposed to seismic airgun sound levels above the Level B harassment threshold of 160 dB during a total of approximately 9,633 km (5,986 mi) of transect lines in the southeast Pacific Ocean. Density Estimates: Lamont-Doherty was unable to identify any systematic aircraft- or ship-based surveys conducted for marine mammals in waters of the southeast Pacific Ocean offshore Chile. Lamont-Doherty used densities from NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) cruises (Ferguson and Barlow, 2001, 2003; Barlow 2003, 2010; Forney, 2007) in the California Current, which is similar to the Humboldt Current Coastal area in which the planned surveys are located. Both are eastern boundary currents that feature narrow continental shelves, upwelling, high productivity, and fluctuating fishery resources (sardines and anchovies). The densities used were survey effort-weighted means for the locations (blocks or states). In cases where multiple density estimates existed for an area, Lamont-Doherty used the highest density range (summer/ fall) for each species within the survey area. We refer the reader to LamontDoherty’s application for detailed information on how Lamont-Doherty calculated densities for marine mammals from the SWFSC cruises. For blue whales in the southern survey area, NMFS used the density (9.56/km2) reported by Galletti Vernazzani et al. (2012) for approximately four days of the planned southern survey to account for potential survey operations occurring near a VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Aug 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 known foraging area between 39° S and 44° S. For the remaining 31 days of the planned survey, NMFS used the density estimate presented in Lamont-Doherty’s application (2.07/km2). NMFS considers Lamont-Doherty’s approach to calculating densities for the remaining marine mammal species in the survey areas as the best available information. We present the estimated densities (when available) in Tables 4, 5, and 6 in this notice. Modeled Number of Instances of Exposures: Lamont-Doherty will conduct the planned seismic surveys offshore Chile in the southeast Pacific Ocean and presented NMFS with estimates of the anticipated numbers of instances that marine mammals could be exposed to sound levels greater than or equal to 160, 180, and 190 dB re: 1 mPa during the planned seismic survey (outside the Chilean territorial sea) in Tables 3, 4, and 5 in their application. NMFS independently reviewed these estimates and presents revised estimates of the anticipated numbers of instances that marine mammals could be exposed to sound levels greater than or equal to 160, 180, and 190 dB re: 1 mPa during the planned seismic survey (outside the Chilean territorial sea) in Tables 4, 5, and 6 in this notice. Table 7 presents the total numbers of instances of take that NMFS authorizes. As described above, NMFS cannot authorize the incidental take of marine mammals in the territorial seas of foreign nations, as the MMPA does not apply in those waters; therefore the total numbers of instances of take that NMFS authorizes represents only the takes predicted to occur outside of the Chilean territorial sea (Table 7). Take Estimate Method for Species with Density Information: Briefly, we take the estimated density of marine mammals within an area (animals/km2) and multiply that number by the daily ensonified area (km2). The product (rounded) is the number of instance of take within one day. We then multiply the number of instances of take within one day by the number of survey days (plus 25 percent contingency). The result is an estimate of the potential number of instances that marine mammals could be exposed to airgun sounds above the Level B harassment threshold (i.e., the 160 dB ensonified area minus the 180/190-dB ensonified area) and the Level A harassment threshold (i.e., the 180/190-dB ensonified area only) over the duration of each planned survey. There is some uncertainty about the representativeness of the estimated density data and the assumptions used in their calculations. Oceanographic PO 00000 Frm 00061 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 53455 conditions, including occasional El ˜ ˜ Nino and La Nina events, influence the distribution and numbers of marine mammals present in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, resulting in considerable year-to-year variation in the distribution and abundance of many marine mammal species. Thus, for some species, the densities derived from past surveys may not be representative of the densities that would be encountered during the planned seismic surveys. However, the approach used is based on the best available data. In many cases, this estimate of instances of exposures is likely an overestimate of the number of individuals that are taken, because it assumes 100 percent turnover in the area every day, (i.e., that each new day results in takes of entirely new individuals with no repeat takes of the same individuals over the three periods (northern: 35 days; central: 6 days; and southern: 34 days) including contingency. It is difficult to quantify to what degree this method overestimates the number of individuals potentially taken. Except as described later for a few specific species, NMFS uses this number of instances as the estimate of individuals (and authorized take). Take Estimates for Species with Less than One Instance of Exposure: Using the approach described earlier, the model generated instances of take for some species that were less than one over the 75 total survey days. Those species include: Bryde’s, dwarf sperm, killer, and sei whale. NMFS used data based on dedicated survey sighting information from the Atlantic Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species (AMAPPS) surveys in 2010, 2011, and 2013 (AMAPPS, 2010, 2011, 2013) to estimate take and assumed that Lamont-Doherty could potentially encounter one group of each species during the planned seismic survey. NMFS believes it is reasonable to use the average (mean) group size (weighted by effort and rounded up) from the AMMAPS surveys for Bryde’s whale (2), dwarf sperm whale (2), killer whale (4), and sei whale (3) to derive a reasonable estimate of take for eruptive occurrences of each these species only once for each survey. Take Estimates for Species with No Density Information: Density information for the southern right whale, pygmy right whale, Antarctic minke whale, sei whale, dwarf sperm whale, Shephard’s beaked whale, pygmy beaked whale, southern bottlenose whale, hourglass dolphin, pygmy killer whale, false killer whale; short-finned pilot whale, Juan Fernandez fur seal, and southern E:\FR\FM\12AUN1.SGM 12AUN1 53456 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 156 / Friday, August 12, 2016 / Notices elephant seal in the southeast Pacific Ocean is data poor or non-existent. When density estimates were not available for a particular survey leg, NMFS used data based on dedicated survey sighting information from the Atlantic Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species (AMAPPS) surveys in 2010, 2011, and 2013 (AMAPPS, 2010, 2011, 2013) and from Santora (2012) to estimate mean group size and take for these species. NMFS assumed that Lamont-Doherty could potentially encounter one group of each species each day during the seismic survey. NMFS believes it is reasonable to use the average (mean) group size (weighted by effort and rounded up) for each species multiplied by the number of survey days to derive an estimate of take from potential encounters. TABLE 4—DENSITIES OF MARINE MAMMALS AND ESTIMATES OF INCIDENTS OF EXPOSURE TO ≥160 AND 180 OR 190 dB re 1 μPa rms PREDICTED DURING THE NORTHERN SEISMIC SURVEY IN THE SOUTHEAST PACIFIC OCEAN IN 2016/ 2017 (OUTSIDE CHILEAN TERRITORIAL SEA) Modeled number of instances of exposures to sound levels ≥160, 180, and 190 dB 2 Density estimate 1 Species Southern right whale ............................................................................... Humpback whale ..................................................................................... Common (dwarf) minke whale ................................................................ Antarctic minke whale ............................................................................. Bryde’s whale .......................................................................................... Sei whale ................................................................................................. Fin whale ................................................................................................. Blue whale ............................................................................................... Sperm whale ........................................................................................... Dwarf sperm whale .................................................................................. Pygmy sperm whale ................................................................................ Cuvier’s beaked whale ............................................................................ Pygmy beaked whale .............................................................................. Gray’s beaked whale ............................................................................... Blainville’s beaked whale ........................................................................ Rough-toothed dolphin ............................................................................ Common bottlenose dolphin .................................................................... Striped dolphin ........................................................................................ Short-beaked common dolphin ............................................................... Long-beaked common dolphin ................................................................ Dusky dolphin .......................................................................................... Southern right whale dolphin ................................................................... Risso’s dolphin ........................................................................................ Pygmy killer whale ................................................................................... False killer whale ..................................................................................... Killer whale .............................................................................................. Short-finned pilot whale ........................................................................... Long-finned pilot whale ........................................................................... Burmeister’s porpoise .............................................................................. Juan Fernandez fur seal ......................................................................... South American fur seal .......................................................................... South American sea lion ......................................................................... 0 0.32 0.34 0 0.47 0 1.4 0.54 1.19 8.92 2.73 2.36 0.7 1.95 1.95 7.05 18.4 61.4 356.3 50.3 13.7 3.34 29.8 1.31 0.63 0.23 0 1.09 5.15 0 37.9 393 105, 0, - ................. 35, 0, - ................... 35, 0, - ................... 70, 0, - ................... 35, 0, 0 .................. 105, 0, - ................. 105, 35, - ............... 35, 0, - ................... 70, 0, - ................... 630, 105, - ............. 210, 35, - ............... 175, 35, - ............... 35, 0, - ................... 140, 35, - ............... 140, 35, - ............... 490, 105, - ............. 1,330, 245, - .......... 4,410, 805, - .......... 25,515, 4,725, - ..... 3,605, 665, - .......... 980, 175, - ............. 245, 35, - ............... 2,135, 385, - .......... 105, 0, - ................. 35, 0, - ................... 4, 0, - ..................... 700, 0, - ................. 70, 0, - ................... 385, 70, - ............... 70, -, 0 ................... 2,730, -, 490 .......... 28,140, -, 5,215 ..... Level B take Level A take 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 35 0 0 105 35 35 0 35 35 105 245 805 4,725 665 175 35 385 0 0 0 0 0 70 0 490 5,215 105 35 35 70 35 105 105 35 70 630 210 175 35 140 140 490 1,330 4,410 25,515 3,605 980 245 2,135 105 35 4 700 70 385 70 2,730 28,140 1 Densities shown (when available) are 1,000 animals per km2. See Lamont-Doherty’s application and text in this notice for a summary of how Lamont-Doherty derived density estimates for certain species. For species without density estimates, see text in this notice for an explanation of NMFS’s methodology to derive take estimates. 2 Take modeled using a daily method for calculating ensonified area: Estimated density multiplied by the daily ensonified area to derive instances of take in one day (rounded) multiplied by the number of survey days with 25 percent contingency (35) Level B take = modeled instances of exposure within the 160-dB ensonified area minus the 180-dB or 190-dB ensonified area. Level A take = modeled instances of exposures within the 180-dB or 190-dB ensonified area only. Modeled instances of exposures include adjustments for species with no density information or with species having less than one instance of exposure (see text for sources). 3 The Level A estimates are overestimates of predicted impacts to marine mammals as the estimates do not take into consideration the required mitigation measures for shutdowns or power downs if a marine mammal is likely to enter the 180 or 190 dB exclusion zone while the airguns are active. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES TABLE 5—DENSITIES OF MARINE MAMMALS AND ESTIMATES OF INCIDENTS OF EXPOSURE TO ≥160 AND 180 OR 190 dB re 1 μPa rms PREDICTED DURING THE CENTRAL SEISMIC SURVEY IN THE SOUTHEAST PACIFIC OCEAN IN 2016/2017 (OUTSIDE CHILEAN TERRITORIAL SEA) Density estimate 1 Species Southern right whale ............................................................................... Pygmy right whale ................................................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:09 Aug 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 Modeled number of instances of exposures to sound levels ≥160, 180, and 190 dB 2 PO 00000 Frm 00062 Fmt 4703 0 0 Sfmt 4703 18, 0, - ................... 18, 0, - ................... E:\FR\FM\12AUN1.SGM 12AUN1 Level A take 3 Level B take 0 0 18 18 53457 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 156 / Friday, August 12, 2016 / Notices TABLE 5—DENSITIES OF MARINE MAMMALS AND ESTIMATES OF INCIDENTS OF EXPOSURE TO ≥160 AND 180 OR 190 dB re 1 μPa rms PREDICTED DURING THE CENTRAL SEISMIC SURVEY IN THE SOUTHEAST PACIFIC OCEAN IN 2016/2017 (OUTSIDE CHILEAN TERRITORIAL SEA)—Continued Density estimate 1 Species Humpback whale ..................................................................................... Common (dwarf) minke whale ................................................................ Antarctic minke whale ............................................................................. Bryde’s whale .......................................................................................... Sei whale ................................................................................................. Fin whale ................................................................................................. Blue whale ............................................................................................... Sperm whale ........................................................................................... Dwarf sperm whale .................................................................................. Pygmy sperm whale ................................................................................ Cuvier’s beaked whale ............................................................................ Shepard’s beaked whale ......................................................................... Hector’s beaked whale ............................................................................ Pygmy beaked whale .............................................................................. Gray’s beaked whale ............................................................................... Blainville’s beaked whale ........................................................................ Andrew’s beaked whale .......................................................................... Strap-toothed beaked whale ................................................................... Spade-toothed beaked whale .................................................................. Chilean dolphin ........................................................................................ Common bottlenose dolphin .................................................................... Striped dolphin ........................................................................................ Short-beaked common dolphin ............................................................... Dusky dolphin .......................................................................................... Peale’s dolphin ........................................................................................ Hourglass dolphin .................................................................................... Southern right whale dolphin ................................................................... Risso’s dolphin ........................................................................................ Pygmy killer whale ................................................................................... False killer whale ..................................................................................... Killer whale .............................................................................................. Short-finned pilot whale ........................................................................... Long-finned pilot whale ........................................................................... Burmeister’s porpoise .............................................................................. Juan Fernandez fur seal ......................................................................... South American fur seal .......................................................................... South American sea lion ......................................................................... Southern elephant seal ........................................................................... 0.43 0.34 0 0.41 0 1.96 2.1 1.22 7.98 2.98 3.02 0 1.54 0.55 1.54 1.54 1.54 1.54 1.54 21.2 12.3 46.7 503.5 14.8 21.2 0 6.07 21.2 0 0.54 0.28 0 0.94 4.92 0 37.9 393 0 Modeled number of instances of exposures to sound levels ≥160, 180, and 190 dB 2 Level A take 3 6, 0, - ..................... 6, 0, - ..................... 12, 0, - ................... 6, 0, - ..................... 18, 0, - ................... 18, 6, - ................... 18, 6, - ................... 12, 0, - ................... 78, 12, - ................. 30, 6, - ................... 30, 6, - ................... 18, 0, - ................... 18, 0, - ................... 6, 0, - ..................... 18, 0, - ................... 18, 0, - ................... 18, 0, - ................... 18, 0, - ................... 18, 0, - ................... 210, 36, - ............... 120, 24, - ............... 462, 84, - ............... 4,998, 908, - .......... 144, 24, - ............... 210, 36, - ............... 30, 0, - ................... 60, 12, - ................. 210, 36, - ............... 12, 0, - ................... 6, 0, - ..................... 4, 0, - ..................... 120, 0, - ................. 12, 0, - ................... 48, 6, - ................... 12, -, 0 ................... 378, -, 66 ............... 3,900, -, 708 .......... 24, -, 0 ................... Level B take 0 0 0 0 0 6 6 0 12 6 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 36 24 84 906 24 36 0 12 36 0 0 0 0 0 6 0 66 708 0 6 6 12 6 18 18 18 12 78 30 30 18 18 6 18 18 18 18 18 210 120 462 4,998 144 210 30 60 210 12 6 4 120 12 48 12 378 3,900 24 1 Densities shown (when available) are 1,000 animals per km2. See Lamont-Doherty’s application and text in this notice for a summary of how Lamont-Doherty derived density estimates for certain species. For species without density estimates, see text in this notice for an explanation of NMFS’s methodology to derive take estimates. 2 Take modeled using a daily method for calculating ensonified area: Estimated density multiplied by the daily ensonified area to derive instances of take in one day (rounded) multiplied by the number of survey days with 25 percent contingency (35) Level B take = modeled instances of exposure within the 160-dB ensonified area minus the 180-dB or 190-dB ensonified area. Level A take = modeled instances of exposures within the 180-dB or 190-dB ensonified area only. Modeled instances of exposures include adjustments for species with no density information or with species having less than one instance of exposure (see text for sources). 3 The Level A estimates are overestimates of predicted impacts to marine mammals as the estimates do not take into consideration the required mitigation measures for shutdowns or power downs if a marine mammal is likely to enter the 180 or 190 dB exclusion zone while the airguns are active. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES TABLE 6—DENSITIES OF MARINE MAMMALS AND ESTIMATES OF INCIDENTS OF EXPOSURE TO ≥160 AND 180 OR 190 dB re 1 μPa rms PREDICTED DURING THE SOUTHERN SEISMIC SURVEY IN THE SOUTHEAST PACIFIC OCEAN IN 2016/ 2017 (OUTSIDE CHILEAN TERRITORIAL SEA) Density estimate 1 Species Southern right whale .................................................................................. Pygmy right whale ..................................................................................... Humpback whale ....................................................................................... Common (dwarf) minke whale ................................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Aug 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00063 Fmt 4703 0 0 1.22 0.61 Sfmt 4703 Modeled number of instances of exposures to sound levels ≥160, 180, and 190 dB 2 102, 102, 102, 34, E:\FR\FM\12AUN1.SGM 0, 0, 0, 0, Level A take 3 - 12AUN1 Level B take 0 0 0 0 102 102 102 34 53458 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 156 / Friday, August 12, 2016 / Notices TABLE 6—DENSITIES OF MARINE MAMMALS AND ESTIMATES OF INCIDENTS OF EXPOSURE TO ≥160 AND 180 OR 190 dB re 1 μPa rms PREDICTED DURING THE SOUTHERN SEISMIC SURVEY IN THE SOUTHEAST PACIFIC OCEAN IN 2016/ 2017 (OUTSIDE CHILEAN TERRITORIAL SEA)—Continued Density estimate 1 Species Antarctic minke whale ................................................................................ Bryde’s whale ............................................................................................ Sei whale ................................................................................................... Fin whale ................................................................................................... Blue whale (Feb-Apr) ................................................................................. Blue whale (May–Jan) ............................................................................... Sperm whale .............................................................................................. Dwarf sperm whale .................................................................................... Pygmy sperm whale .................................................................................. Cuvier’s beaked whale .............................................................................. Shepard’s beaked whale ........................................................................... Hector’s beaked whale .............................................................................. Pygmy beaked whale ................................................................................ Gray’s beaked whale ................................................................................. Blainville’s beaked whale ........................................................................... Andrew’s beaked whale ............................................................................. Strap-toothed beaked whale ...................................................................... Spade-toothed beaked whale .................................................................... Southern bottlenose whale ........................................................................ Chilean dolphin .......................................................................................... Common bottlenose dolphin ...................................................................... Striped dolphin ........................................................................................... Short-beaked common dolphin .................................................................. Dusky dolphin ............................................................................................ Peale’s dolphin .......................................................................................... Hourglass dolphin ...................................................................................... Southern right whale dolphin ..................................................................... Risso’s dolphin ........................................................................................... Pygmy killer whale ..................................................................................... False killer whale ....................................................................................... Killer whale ................................................................................................ Short-finned pilot whale ............................................................................. Long-finned pilot whale .............................................................................. Burmeister’s porpoise ................................................................................ Juan Fernandez fur seal ............................................................................ South American fur seal ............................................................................ South American sea lion ........................................................................... Southern elephant seal .............................................................................. Modeled number of instances of exposures to sound levels ≥160, 180, and 190 dB 2 0 0.03 0.02 2.43 9.56 2.07 1.32 0 4.14 4.02 0 0.31 0 1.95 0.31 0.31 0.31 0.31 0 10.9 2.72 17.7 516.9 29.9 10.9 0 9.79 10.9 0 0 0.73 0 0.53 55.4 0 37.9 393 0 68, 0, 2, 0, 3, 0, 170, 34, 80, 12, 124, 31, 102, 0, 68, 0, 306, 34, 272, 34, 102, 0, 34, 0, 102, 0, 136, 34, 34, 0, 34, 0, 34, 0, 34, 0, 102, 0, 748, 136, 0 204, 34, 1,224, 204, 36,210, 5,950, 2,108, 340, 748, 136, 170, 0, 680, 102, 748, 136, 68, 0, 238, 0, 68, 0, 680, 0, 34, 0, 3,876, 646, 68, -, 0 2,652, -, 442 27,540, -, 4,522 136, -, 0 Level A take 3 Level B take 0 0 0 34 12 31 0 0 34 34 0 0 0 34 0 0 0 0 0 136 34 204 5,950 340 136 0 102 136 0 0 0 0 0 646 0 442 4,522 0 68 2 3 170 80 124 102 68 306 272 102 34 102 136 34 34 34 34 102 748 204 1,224 36,210 2,108 748 170 680 748 68 238 68 680 34 3,876 68 2,652 27,540 136 1 Densities shown (when available) are 1,000 animals per km2. See Lamont-Doherty’s application and text in this notice for a summary of how Lamont-Doherty derived density estimates for certain species. For species without density estimates, see text in this notice for an explanation of NMFS’s methodology to derive take estimates. 2 Take modeled using a daily method for calculating ensonified area: Estimated density multiplied by the daily ensonified area to derive instances of take in one day (rounded) multiplied by the number of survey days with 25 percent contingency (35) Level B take = modeled instances of exposure within the 160–dB ensonified area minus the 180–dB or 190–dB ensonified area. Level A take = modeled instances of exposures within the 180–dB or 190–dB ensonified area only. Modeled instances of exposures include adjustments for species with no density information or with species having less than one instance of exposure (see text for sources). 3 The Level A estimates are overestimates of predicted impacts to marine mammals as the estimates do not take into consideration the required mitigation measures for shutdowns or power downs if a marine mammal is likely to enter the 180 or 190 dB exclusion zone while the airguns are active. TABLE 7—TAKE AUTHORIZED DURING THE NORTHERN, CENTRAL, AND SOUTHERN SEISMIC SURVEY OFF CHILE IN THE SOUTHEAST PACIFIC OCEAN IN 2016/2017 BASED ON TOTAL PREDICTED INCIDENTS OF EXPOSURE TO ≥160 AND 180 OR 190 dB re 1 μPa rms (OUTSIDE CHILEAN TERRITORIAL SEA) Level A take 1 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES Species Southern right whale ........................................................................................ Pygmy right whale ........................................................................................... Humpback whale ............................................................................................. Common (dwarf) minke whale ......................................................................... Antarctic minke whale ...................................................................................... Bryde’s whale .................................................................................................. Sei whale ......................................................................................................... Fin whale ......................................................................................................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Aug 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Level B take 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 75 E:\FR\FM\12AUN1.SGM Total take 225 120 143 75 150 43 126 293 12AUN1 Percent of population 2 225 120 143 75 150 43 126 368 1.9% Unknown 0.3 0.02 0.03 0.1 1.3 1.7 53459 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 156 / Friday, August 12, 2016 / Notices TABLE 7—TAKE AUTHORIZED DURING THE NORTHERN, CENTRAL, AND SOUTHERN SEISMIC SURVEY OFF CHILE IN THE SOUTHEAST PACIFIC OCEAN IN 2016/2017 BASED ON TOTAL PREDICTED INCIDENTS OF EXPOSURE TO ≥160 AND 180 OR 190 dB re 1 μPa rms (OUTSIDE CHILEAN TERRITORIAL SEA)—Continued Level A take 1 Species Blue whale ....................................................................................................... Sperm whale .................................................................................................... Dwarf sperm whale .......................................................................................... Pygmy sperm whale ........................................................................................ Cuvier’s beaked whale .................................................................................... Shepard’s beaked whale ................................................................................. Pygmy beaked whale ...................................................................................... Gray’s beaked whale ....................................................................................... Blainville’s beaked whale ................................................................................. Hector’s beaked whale .................................................................................... Gray’s beaked whale ....................................................................................... Andrew’s beaked whale ................................................................................... Strap-toothed beaked whale ............................................................................ Spade-toothed beaked whale .......................................................................... Southern bottlenose whale .............................................................................. Chilean dolphin ................................................................................................ Rough-toothed dolphin .................................................................................... Common bottlenose dolphin ............................................................................ Striped dolphin ................................................................................................. Short-beaked common dolphin ........................................................................ Long-beaked common dolphin ........................................................................ Dusky dolphin .................................................................................................. Peale’s dolphin ................................................................................................ Hourglass dolphin ............................................................................................ Southern right whale dolphin ........................................................................... Risso’s dolphin ................................................................................................. Pygmy killer whale ........................................................................................... False killer whale ............................................................................................. Killer whale ...................................................................................................... Short-finned pilot whale ................................................................................... Long-finned pilot whale .................................................................................... Burmeister’s porpoise ...................................................................................... Juan Fernandez fur seal .................................................................................. South American fur seal .................................................................................. South American sea lion ................................................................................. Southern elephant seal .................................................................................... 49 0 117 75 75 0 0 69 35 0 69 0 0 0 0 172 105 303 1,093 11,581 665 539 172 0 149 557 0 0 0 0 0 722 0 998 10,445 0 Level B take 257 184 776 546 477 120 143 294 192 52 294 52 52 52 102 958 490 1,654 6,096 66,723 3,605 3,232 958 200 985 3,093 185 279 76 1,500 116 4,309 150 5,760 59,580 160 Total take 306 184 893 621 552 120 143 363 227 52 363 52 52 52 102 1,130 595 1,957 7,189 78,304 4,270 3,771 1,130 200 1,134 3,650 185 279 76 1,500 116 5,031 150 6,758 70,025 160 Percent of population 2 3.1 0.1 0.5 0.4 2.8 0.5 0.6 1.4 0.9 0.2 1.4 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.1 11.3 0.1 0.1 0.1 4.4 2.9 14.6 Unknown 0.1 Unknown 3.3 0.5 0.7 0.2 0.3 0.1 Unknown 0.5 2.7 17.6 0.04 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES 1 The Level A estimates are overestimates of predicted impacts to marine mammals as the estimates do not take into consideration the required mitigation measures for shutdowns or power downs if a marine mammal is likely to enter the 180 or 190 dB exclusion zone while the airguns are active. 2 Authorized Level A and B takes (used by NMFS as proxy for number of individuals exposed) expressed as the percent of the population listed in Table 1 in this notice. Unknown = Abundance size not available. Lamont-Doherty did not estimate any additional take from sound sources other than airguns. NMFS does not expect the sound levels produced by the echosounder and sub-bottom profiler to exceed the sound levels produced by the airguns. During the estimated 10 nm of transit that is expected to occur between the three planned survey locations, the use of the MBES and SBP may occur independent of seismic airgun operation. This use of the MBES and SBP in the absence of airgun use was not explicitly described in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (81 FR 23117; April 19, 2016). While sound from MBES and SBP has the potential to result in harassment of marine mammals, any potential for takes that could occur as a result of the MBES and SBP within those 10 nm of transit, which would equate to a total of VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Aug 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 approximately two hours of transit time based on a vessel speed of approximately 4.5 kt (5.1 mph), would be de minimis, based on the fact that the use of these sources may occur for only a portion of the 10 nm of transit, resulting in a relatively brief amount of time that these sources would potentially be operating in the absence of airgun operation. Additionally, as the take estimate methodology (see Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment) includes a 25 percent contingency for equipment failures, resurveys, or other operational needs, any takes that could potentially occur as a result of the MBES and SBP use in the absence of airgun operations would be accounted for in this 25 percent contingency. As described above, NMFS considers the probability for entanglement of PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 marine mammals to be so low as to be discountable, because of the vessel speed and the monitoring efforts onboard the survey vessel. Therefore, NMFS does not authorize additional takes for entanglement. As described above, the Langseth will operate at a relatively slow speed (typically 4.6 knots [8.5 km/h; 5.3 mph]) when conducting the survey. Protected species observers would monitor for marine mammals, which would trigger mitigation measures, including vessel avoidance where safe. Therefore, NMFS does not anticipate nor do we authorize takes of marine mammals as a result of vessel strike. There is no evidence that the planned survey activities could result in serious injury or mortality within the specified geographic area for the requested Authorization. The required mitigation E:\FR\FM\12AUN1.SGM 12AUN1 53460 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 156 / Friday, August 12, 2016 / Notices and monitoring measures would minimize any potential risk for serious injury or mortality. Analysis and Determinations mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES Negligible Impact Negligible impact is ‘‘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’’ (50 CFR 216.103). The lack of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., population level effects) forms the basis of a negligible impact finding. Thus, an estimate of the number of 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, NMFS must consider other factors, such as the likely nature of any responses (their intensity, duration, etc.), the context of any responses (critical reproductive time or location, migration, etc.), as well as the number and nature of estimated Level A harassment takes, the number of estimated mortalities, effects on habitat, and the status of the species. In making a negligible impact determination, NMFS considers: • The number of anticipated injuries, serious injuries, or mortalities; • The number, nature, and intensity, and duration of harassment; and • The context in which the takes occur (e.g., impacts to times or areas of significance); • 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 takes. To avoid repetition, our analysis applies to all the species listed in Table 7, given that NMFS expects the anticipated effects of the seismic airguns to be similar in nature. Where there are meaningful differences between species or stocks, or groups of species, in anticipated individual responses to activities, impact of expected take on the population due to differences in population status, or impacts on habitat, NMFS has identified species-specific factors to inform the analysis. Given the required mitigation and related monitoring, NMFS does not anticipate that serious injury or VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Aug 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 mortality would occur as a result of Lamont-Doherty’s seismic survey in the southeast Pacific Ocean. Thus NMFS does not authorize any mortality. NMFS’s predicted estimates for Level A harassment take for some species are likely overestimates of the injury that will occur, as NMFS expects that successful implementation of the mitigation measures would avoid Level A take in some instances. Also, NMFS expects that some individuals would avoid the source at levels expected to result in injury, given sufficient notice of the Langseth’s approach due to the vessel’s relatively low speed when conducting seismic surveys. Though NMFS expects that Level A harassment is unlikely to occur at the numbers authorized, is difficult to quantify the degree to which the mitigation and avoidance will reduce the number of animals that might incur PTS, therefore we authorize, include in our analyses, the modeled number of Level A takes, which does not take the mitigation or avoidance into consideration. However, because of the constant movement of the Langseth and of the animals, as well as the fact that the vessel is not expected to remain in any one area in which individuals would be expected to concentrate for any extended amount of time (i.e., since the duration of exposure to loud sounds will be relatively short), we anticipate that any PTS that may be incurred in marine mammals would be in the form of only a small degree of permanent threshold shift, and not total deafness, that would not be likely to affect the fitness of any individuals. Of the marine mammal species under our jurisdiction that are known to occur or likely to occur in the study area, the following species are listed as endangered under the ESA: Blue, fin, humpback, sei, Southern right, and sperm whales. The other marine mammal species that may be taken by harassment during Lamont-Doherty’s seismic survey program are not listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA. Cetaceans. Odontocete reactions to seismic energy pulses are usually thought to be limited to shorter distances from the airgun(s) than are those of mysticetes, in part because odontocete low-frequency hearing is assumed to be less sensitive to the low frequency signals of these airguns than that of mysticetes. NMFS generally expects cetaceans to move away from a noise source that is annoying prior to its becoming potentially injurious, and this expectation is expected to hold true in the case of the planned activities, especially given the relatively slow travel speed of the Langseth while PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 seismic surveys are being conducted (4.5 kt; 5.1 mph). The relatively slow ship speed is expected to provide cetaceans with sufficient notice of the oncoming vessel and thus sufficient opportunity to avoid the seismic sound source before it reaches a level that would be potentially injurious to the animal. However, as described above, Level A takes for a small group of cetacean species are authorized. Potential impacts to marine mammal habitat were discussed previously in this document (see the ‘‘Anticipated Effects on Habitat’’ section). Although some disturbance is possible to food sources of marine mammals, the impacts are anticipated to be minor enough as to not affect the feeding success of any individuals long-term. Regarding direct effects on cetacean feeding, based on the fact that the action footprint does not include any areas recognized specifically for higher value feeding habitat, the mobile and ephemeral nature of most prey sources, and the size of the southeast Pacific Ocean where feeding by marine mammals occurs versus the localized area of the marine survey activities, any missed feeding opportunities in the direct project area are expected to be minor based on the fact that other equally valuable feeding opportunities likely exist nearby. Taking into account the planned mitigation measures, effects on cetaceans are generally expected to be restricted to avoidance of a limited area around the survey operation and shortterm changes in behavior, falling within the MMPA definition of ‘‘Level B harassment.’’ Animals are not expected to permanently abandon any area that is surveyed, and based on the best available information, any behaviors that are interrupted during the activity are expected to resume once the activity ceases. For example, as described above, gray whales have continued to migrate annually along the west coast of North America with substantial increases in the population over recent years, despite intermittent seismic exploration in that area for decades (Appendix A in Malme et al., 1984; Richardson et al., 1995; Allen and Angliss, 2014). Similarly, bowhead whales have continued to travel to the eastern Beaufort Sea each summer, and their numbers have increased notably, despite seismic exploration in their summer and autumn range for many years (Richardson et al., 1987; Allen and Angliss, 2014). The history of coexistence between seismic surveys and baleen whales suggests that brief exposures to sound pulses from any single seismic survey are unlikely to E:\FR\FM\12AUN1.SGM 12AUN1 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 156 / Friday, August 12, 2016 / Notices result in prolonged effects. Only a small portion of marine mammal habitat will be affected at any time, and other areas within the southeast Pacific Ocean would be available for necessary biological functions. Overall, the consequences of behavioral modification are not expected to affect cetacean growth, survival, and/or reproduction, and therefore are not expected to be biologically significant. Pinnipeds. Generally speaking, pinnipeds may react to a sound source in a number of ways depending on their experience with the sound source and what activity they are engaged in at the time of the exposure, with behavioral responses to sound ranging from a mild orienting response, or a shifting of attention, to flight and panic. However, research and monitoring observations from activities similar to those planned have shown that pinnipeds in the water are generally tolerant of anthropogenic noise and activity. Visual monitoring from seismic vessels has shown only slight (if any) avoidance of airguns by pinnipeds and only slight (if any) changes in behavior (Harris et al., 2001; Moulton and Lawson, 2002). During foraging trips, extralimital pinnipeds may not react at all to the sound from the survey or may alert, ignore the stimulus, change their behavior, or avoid the immediate area by swimming away or diving. Behavioral effects to sound are generally more likely to occur at higher received levels (i.e., within a few kilometers of a sound source). However, the slow speed of the Langseth while conducting seismic surveys (approximately 4.5 kt; 5.1 mph) is expected to provide ample opportunity for pinnipeds to avoid and keep some distance between themselves and the loudest sources of sound associated with the planned activities. Additionally, underwater sound from the planned survey would not be audible at pinniped haulouts or rookeries, therefore the consequences of behavioral responses in these areas are expected to be minimal. Overall, the consequences of behavioral modification are not expected to affect pinniped growth, survival, and/or reproduction, and therefore are not expected to be biologically significant. Many animals perform vital functions, such as feeding, resting, traveling, and socializing, on a diel cycle (i.e., 24 hour cycle). Behavioral reactions to noise exposure (such as disruption of critical life functions, displacement, or avoidance of important habitat) are more likely to be significant if they last more than one diel cycle or recur on subsequent days (Southall et al., 2007). While NMFS anticipates that the VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Aug 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 seismic operations would occur on consecutive days, the estimated duration of the survey would last no more than 75 days but would increase sound levels in the marine environment in a relatively small area surrounding the vessel (compared to the range of most of the marine mammals within the survey area), which is constantly travelling over distances, and some animals may only be exposed to and harassed by sound for less than a day. For reasons stated previously in this document and based on the following factors, Lamont-Doherty’s planned activities are not likely to cause longterm behavioral disturbance, serious injury, or death, or other effects that would be expected to adversely affect reproduction or survival of any individuals. They include: • The anticipated impacts of LamontDoherty’s survey activities on marine mammals are temporary behavioral changes due, primarily, to avoidance of the area around the seismic vessel; • The likelihood that, given the constant movement of boat and animals and the nature of the survey design (not concentrated in areas of high marine mammal concentration), any PTS that is incurred would be of a low level; • The availability of alternate areas of similar habitat value for marine mammals to temporarily vacate the survey area during the operation of the airgun(s) to avoid acoustic harassment; • The expectation that the seismic survey would have no more than a temporary and minimal adverse effect on any fish or invertebrate species that serve as prey species for marine mammals, and therefore consider the potential impacts to marine mammal habitat minimal. Tables 4–7 in this document describe the number of Level A and Level B harassment takes that we anticipate as a result of the planned survey activities outside Chile’s territorial sea (12 nm). Lamont-Doherty would conduct the planned seismic survey within the EEZ and territorial waters of Chile. The planned survey would occur primarily on the high seas, with a small portion occurring within Chile’s territorial sea. As described above, NMFS does not have authority to authorize the incidental take of marine mammals in the territorial seas of foreign nations, because the MMPA does not apply in those waters. However, as part of the analysis supporting our determination under the MMPA that the activity would have a negligible impact on the affected species, we must consider the incidental take expected to occur as a result of the activity in the entire PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 53461 activity area, including both territorial seas and high seas. Based on NMFS’s analysis, the area within the planned northern survey predicted to be ensonified to the Level B harassment threshold (160 dB re: 1 mPa) within Chilean territorial seas accounts for approximately 19 percent of the total area (including high seas and Chilean territorial seas combined) predicted to be ensonified to the Level B harassment threshold; for the planned central survey, the area predicted to be ensonified to the Level B harassment threshold within territorial seas accounts for approximately three percent of the total area predicted to be ensonified to the Level B harassment threshold in that entire survey area; and for the planned southern survey, the area predicted to be ensonified to the Level B harassment threshold within territorial seas accounts for approximately 24 percent of the total area predicted to be ensonified to the Level B harassment threshold in that entire survey area (Table 8). We expect the impacts of LamontDoherty’s survey activities, including the impacts of takes that are expected to occur within the territorial sea, to include temporary behavioral changes due, primarily, to avoidance of the area around the seismic vessel, with the potential for a small degree of PTS in a limited number of animals. Effects on marine mammals are generally expected to be restricted to avoidance of a limited area around the survey operation and short-term changes in behavior, falling within the MMPA definition of ‘‘Level B harassment.’’ The slow speed of the Langseth while conducting seismic surveys (approximately 4.5 kt; 5.1 mph) is expected to provide ample opportunity for pinnipeds and cetaceans to avoid and keep some distance between themselves and the loudest sources of sound associated with the planned activities, both within and outside the territorial sea. Additionally, underwater sound from the planned survey, including the portions of the survey planned within the territorial sea, would not be audible at pinniped haulouts or rookeries, therefore the consequences of behavioral responses in these areas are expected to be minimal. Overall, taking into account the takes expected to occur within the territorial sea as well as those expected to occur outside the territorial sea that NMFS authorizes, the consequences of behavioral modification are not expected to affect growth, survival, and/ or reproduction of cetaceans or pinnipeds, and therefore are not expected to be biologically significant. E:\FR\FM\12AUN1.SGM 12AUN1 53462 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 156 / Friday, August 12, 2016 / Notices Marine mammals are not expected to permanently abandon any area that is surveyed, including areas within territorial seas, and based on the best available information, any behaviors that are interrupted during the activity are expected to resume once the activity ceases. Although some disturbance is possible to food sources of marine mammals within territorial seas, the impacts to those marine mammals are anticipated to be minor enough as to not affect the feeding success of any individuals long-term. Any missed feeding opportunities in the project area within territorial seas are expected to be minor based on the fact that other equally valuable feeding opportunities likely exist nearby. The portions of the seismic surveys that will occur within territorial seas would have no more than a temporary and minimal adverse effect on any fish or invertebrate species that serve as prey species for marine mammals, and therefore we believe the potential impacts to marine mammal habitat will be minimal. As is the case for surveys outside territorial seas as described above, due to constant movement of the Langseth and of the animals, as well as the fact that the vessel is not expected to remain in any one area in which individuals would be expected to concentrate for any extended amount of time (i.e., since the duration of exposure to loud sounds will be relatively short), we anticipate that any PTS that may be incurred in marine mammals within the territorial sea would be in the form of only a small degree of permanent threshold shift, and not total deafness, that would not be likely to affect the fitness of any individuals. There is no evidence that the planned survey activities, either outside or within the territorial sea, could result in serious injury or mortality of marine mammals, and as described above NMFS expects that individuals would avoid the source at levels expected to result in injury, given sufficient notice of the Langseth’s approach due to the vessel’s relatively low speed when conducting seismic surveys. For the reasons described above, the takes that would occur within the territorial sea, while not authorized by NMFS,do not alter our determinations above with respect to the relative likelihood of the activity to cause longterm behavioral disturbance, serious injury, or death, or other effects that would be expected to adversely affect reproduction or survival of any individual marine mammals. TABLE 8—AREAS PREDICTED TO BE ENSONIFIED TO LEVEL B HARASSMENT THRESHOLD INSIDE AND OUTSIDE CHILEAN TERRITORIAL SEAS, AND PERCENT INCREASE IN ENSONIFIED AREA PREDICTED IN TERRITORIAL SEAS VERSUS ENSONIFIED AREA PREDICTED OUTSIDE TERRITORIAL SEAS Planned survey location Total area ensonified to Level B harassment threshold (160 dB re: 1 μPa) Area ensonified to Level B harassment threshold (160 dB re: 1 μPa) outside territorial seas (percentage of total ensonified area in survey location) Northern ................................. Central .................................... Southern ................................. 61,295 km2 ............................. 10,593 km2 ............................. 76,449 km2 ............................. 49,645 km2 (81%) .................. 10,315 km2 (97.4%) ............... 58,117 km2 (76%) .................. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES Required mitigation measures, such as special shutdowns for large whales, vessel speed, course alteration, and visual monitoring would be implemented to help reduce impacts to marine mammals. Based on the analysis herein of the likely effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into consideration the implementation of the monitoring and mitigation measures, NMFS finds that Lamont-Doherty’s planned seismic survey would have a negligible impact on the affected marine mammal species or stocks. Small Numbers As described previously, NMFS estimates that Lamont-Doherty’s activities could potentially affect, by Level B harassment, 44 species of marine mammals under our jurisdiction. NMFS estimates that Lamont-Doherty’s activities could potentially affect, by Level A harassment, up to 26 species of marine mammals under our jurisdiction. For each species, the numbers of take authorized are small relative to the population sizes: Less than 18 percent for South American sea lion, less than VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Aug 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 15 percent for the dusky dolphin, less than 11.5 percent for Chilean dolphin, and less than 5 percent for all other species (Table 7). As described above, NMFS cannot authorize the incidental take of marine mammals in the territorial seas of foreign nations, but must consider the level of incidental take as a result of the activity in the entire activity area (including both territorial seas and high seas) as part of the analysis supporting our determination under the MMPA that the activity would have a negligible impact on the affected species. We assume for the purposes of our analysis that the take predicted to occur within the Chilean territorial sea will account for approximately a 23 percent increase in the northern survey area; a 3 percent increase in the central survey area; and a 32 percent increase in the southern survey area, compared to the total number of incidental takes predicted to occur outside of the Chilean territorial sea (Table 7 and Table 8). Accounting for these additional takes, the total takes predicted to result from the planned survey (including both the takes PO 00000 Frm 00068 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Area ensonified to Level B harassment threshold (160 dB re: 1 μPa) inside territorial seas (percentage of total ensonified area in survey location) Percent increase in ensonified area when territorial sea is included in survey area 11,650 km2 (19%) .................. 278 km2 (2.6%) ...................... 18,332 km2 (24%) .................. 23% 3 32 authorized by NMFS and the takes not authorized by NMFS but predicted to occur within the Chilean territorial sea) are still small relative to the population sizes, with no more than 22 percent taken for any marine mammal species. NMFS is not aware of reliable abundance estimates for four species of marine mammals (Burmeister’s porpoise, Peale’s dolphin, pygmy right whale, and southern right whale dolphin) for which incidental take is authorized. Therefore we rely on the best available information on these species to make determinations as to whether the authorized take numbers represent small numbers of the total populations of these species. The Burmeister’s porpoise is distributed from the Atlantic Ocean in southern Brazil to the Pacific Ocean in northern Peru (Reyes 2009). While there are no quantitative data on abundance, the best available information suggest the species is assumed to be numerous throughout South American coastal waters (Brownell Jr. and Clapham 1999), with groups estimated at approximately 150 individuals observed off of Peru (Van Waerebeek et al. 2002). In addition E:\FR\FM\12AUN1.SGM 12AUN1 mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 156 / Friday, August 12, 2016 / Notices the species is typically found shoreward of the 60 m isobath (Hammond et al. 2012), suggesting that the number of authorized takes is likely conservative as the species is unlikely to be encountered throughout the full survey area. The species’ wide distribution and apparent abundance suggest the number of authorized takes represents a small number of individuals relative to the species’ total abundance. Peale’s dolphin is a coastal species that is known to inhabit waters very near to shore, commonly within or shoreward of kelp beds, while in the waters of southern Chile and Tierra del Fuego they appear to prefer channels, fjords and deep bays (Goodall 2009). Their apparent habitat preference for waters very near to shore suggests that the number of authorized takes is likely very conservative as the species is unlikely to be encountered throughout much of the survey area. While no abundance estimate exists for the species, Peale’s dolphin is reportedly the most common cetacean found around the coast of the Falkland Islands and Chile (Brownell Jr. et al. 1999). The combination of the species’ apparent abundance and the species’ apparent preference for habitats that would not be surveyed by Lamont-Doherty suggests the number of authorized takes represents a small number of individuals relative to the species’ total abundance. The full distribution of the southern right whale dolphin is not known, but the species appears to be circumpolar and fairly common throughout its range. Survey data and stranding and fishery interaction data in northern Chile suggest that the species may be one of the most common cetaceans in the region (Van Waerebeek et al. 1991). The species’ apparent abundance and its broad distribution suggest the number of authorized takes represents a small number of individuals relative to the species’ total abundance. The pygmy right whale has a circumpolar distribution, between about 30° and 55°S, with records from southern South America as well as Africa, Australia and New Zealand (Kemper 2009). There are no estimates of abundance for the species, but judging by the number of strandings in Australia and New Zealand, it is likely to be reasonably common in that region (Kemper 2009), with aggregations of up to approximately 80 individuals reported (Matsuoka 1996). The species’ apparent abundance and its broad distribution suggest the number of authorized takes would represent a small number of individuals relative to the species’ total abundance. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:42 Aug 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 NMFS finds that the incidental take associated with Lamont-Doherty’s planned seismic survey would be limited to small numbers relative to 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. Endangered Species Act (ESA) There are six marine mammal species listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act that may occur in the survey area. Under section 7 of the ESA, NSF initiated formal consultation with the NMFS Office of Protected Resources (OPR) Endangered Species Act Interagency Cooperation Division on the planned seismic survey. We (the NMFS Office of Protected Resources, Permits and Conservation Division) also consulted internally under section 7 of the ESA with the NMFS OPR Endangered Species Act Interagency Cooperation Division on the issuance of an Authorization under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA. In July, 2016, the NMFS OPR Endangered Species Act Interagency Cooperation Division issued a Biological Opinion with an Incidental Take Statement to us and to the NSF, which concluded that the issuance of the Authorization and the conduct of the seismic survey were not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of blue, fin, humpback, sei, Southern right and sperm whales. The Biological Opinion also concluded that the issuance of the Authorization and the conduct of the seismic survey would not affect designated critical habitat for these species. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) NSF prepared an environmental analysis titled, ‘‘Environmental Analysis of a Marine Geophysical Survey by the R/V Marcus G. Langseth in the Southeast Pacific Ocean, 2016/2017’’. NMFS independently evaluated the environmental analysis and prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) titled, ‘‘Proposed Issuance of an Incidental Harassment Authorization to LamontDoherty Earth Observatory to Take Marine Mammals by Harassment Incidental to a Marine Geophysical Survey in the Southeast Pacific Ocean, 2016/2017’’. NMFS and NSF provided relevant environmental information to the public through the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (81 FR 23117; April 19, 2016) and considered PO 00000 Frm 00069 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 53463 public comments received prior to finalizing our EA and deciding whether or not to issue a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). NMFS concluded that issuance of an IHA to Lamont-Doherty would not significantly affect the quality of the human environment and prepared and issued a FONSI in accordance with NEPA and NOAA Administrative Order 216–6. NMFS’s EA and FONSI for this activity are available on our Web site at: http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental. Authorization NMFS has issued an Authorization to Lamont-Doherty for the potential harassment of small numbers of 44 marine mammal species incidental to conducting a seismic survey in the Southeast Pacific Ocean, between August 1, 2016 and July 31, 2017, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring and reporting measures. Dated: August 8, 2016. Donna Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–19145 Filed 8–11–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XE799 New England Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; public meeting. AGENCY: The New England Fishery Management Council (Council) is scheduling a joint public meeting of its Monkfish Committee on Thursday, September 1, 2016 to consider actions affecting New England fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Recommendations from this group will be brought to the full Council for formal consideration and action, if appropriate. DATES: This meeting will be held on Thursday, September 1, 2016 at 9:30 a.m. SUMMARY: ADDRESSES: Meeting address: The meeting will be held at the Radisson Airport Hotel, 2081 Post Road, Warwick, RI 02886; telephone: (401) 739–3000; fax: (401) 732–9309. E:\FR\FM\12AUN1.SGM 12AUN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 156 (Friday, August 12, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 53443-53463]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-19145]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XE451


Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; 
Marine Geophysical Survey in the Southeast Pacific Ocean, 2016-2017

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

ACTION: Notice; issuance of an incidental harassment authorization.

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SUMMARY: In accordance with the regulations implementing the Marine 
Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) as amended, notification is hereby given 
that NMFS has issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to 
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (Lamont-Doherty) in collaboration with 
the National Science Foundation (NSF), to incidentally take, by level B 
harassment, 44 species of marine mammals, and to incidentally take, by 
Level A harassment, 26 species of marine mammals, during three marine 
geophysical (seismic) surveys in the southeast Pacific Ocean.

DATES: This Authorization is effective from August 1, 2016, through 
July 31, 2017.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, 
as amended (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) directs the Secretary of 
Commerce to 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, after 
NMFS provides a notice of a proposed authorization to the public for 
review and comment: (1) NMFS makes certain findings; and (2) the taking 
is limited to harassment.
    An Authorization shall be granted for the incidental taking of 
small numbers of marine mammals if NMFS finds that the taking will have 
a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), and will not have an 
unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or 
stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant). The Authorization must 
also set forth the permissible methods of taking; other means of 
effecting the least practicable adverse impact on the species or stock 
and its habitat (i.e., mitigation); and requirements pertaining to the 
monitoring and reporting of such taking. NMFS has defined ``negligible 
impact'' in 50 CFR 216.103 as ``an impact resulting from the specified 
activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably 
likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on 
annual rates of recruitment or survival.''
    Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the 
MMPA defines ``harassment'' as: Any act of pursuit, torment, or 
annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or 
marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A harassment]; or (ii) has the 
potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild 
by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not 
limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or 
sheltering [Level B harassment].

Summary of Request

    On January 19, 2016, NMFS received an application from Lamont-
Doherty requesting that NMFS issue an Authorization for the take of 
marine mammals, incidental to Oregon State University (OSU) and 
University of Texas (UT) conducting seismic surveys in the southeast 
Pacific Ocean, in the latter half of 2016 and/or the first half of 
2017. NMFS considered the application and supporting materials adequate 
and complete on March 21, 2016.
    Lamont-Doherty plans to conduct three two-dimensional (2-D) surveys 
on the R/V Marcus G. Langseth (Langseth), a vessel owned by NSF and 
operated on its behalf by Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth 
Observatory primarily in international waters of the southeast Pacific 
Ocean, with a small portion of the surveys occurring within the 
territorial waters of Chile, which extend to nautical 12 miles (mi) 
(19.3 kilometers (km)) from the coast. NMFS cannot authorize the 
incidental take of marine mammals in the territorial seas of foreign 
nations, as the MMPA does not apply in those waters. However, as part 
of the analysis supporting our determination under the MMPA that the 
activity would have a negligible impact on the affected species, we 
must consider the level of incidental take as a result of the activity 
in the entire activity area (including both territorial seas and high 
seas).
    Increased underwater sound generated during the operation of the

[[Page 53444]]

seismic airgun array is the only aspect of the activity that is likely 
to result in the take of marine mammals. We anticipate that take, by 
Level B harassment, of 44 species of marine mammals could result from 
the specified activity. Although unlikely, NMFS also anticipates that a 
small amount of take by Level A harassment of 26 species of marine 
mammals could occur during the planned surveys.

Description of the Specified Activity

    Lamont-Doherty plans to use one source vessel, the Langseth, with 
an array of 36 airguns as the energy source with a total volume of 
approximately 6,600 cubic inches (in\3\). The receiving system would 
consist of up to 64 ocean bottom seismometers and a single hydrophone 
streamer between 8 and 15 km (4.9 and 9.3 mi) in length. In addition to 
the operations of the airgun array, a multibeam echosounder (MBES) and 
a sub-bottom profiler (SBP) would also be operated continuously 
throughout the proposed surveys. A total of approximately 9,633 km 
(5,986 mi) of transect lines would be surveyed in the southeast Pacific 
Ocean.
    A detailed description of Lamont-Doherty's planned seismic surveys 
is provided in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (81 FR 
23117; April 19, 2016). Since that time, no changes have been made to 
the planned activities. Therefore, a detailed description is not 
provided here. Please refer to that Federal Register notice for the 
description of the specific activity.

Comments and Responses

    NMFS published a notice of receipt of Lamont-Doherty's application 
and proposed Authorization in the Federal Register on April 19, 2016 
(81 FR 23117). During the 30-day public comment period, NMFS received 
comment letters from the Marine Mammal Commission (Commission) and from 
the Marcus Langseth Science Oversight Committee, as well as one comment 
from a member of the general public. NMFS has posted the comments 
online at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.
    NMFS addresses any comments specific to Lamont-Doherty's 
application related to the statutory and regulatory requirements or 
findings that NMFS must make under the MMPA in order to issue an 
Authorization. The following is a summary of the public comments and 
NMFS's responses.

Modeling Exclusion and Buffer Zones

    Comment 1: The Commission expressed concerns regarding Lamont-
Doherty's method to estimate exclusion and buffer zones. The Commission 
stated that the model is not the best available science because it 
assumes the following: Spherical spreading, constant sound speed, and 
no bottom interactions for surveys in deep water. In light of their 
concerns, the Commission recommended that NMFS require Lamont-Doherty 
to re-estimate the exclusion and buffer zones incorporating site-
specific environmental (including sound speed profiles, bathymetry, and 
sediment characteristics) and operational (including number/type/
spacing of airguns, tow depth, source level/operating pressure, and 
operational volume) parameters into their model.
    Response: NMFS acknowledges the Commission's concerns about Lamont-
Doherty's current modeling approach for estimating exclusion and buffer 
zones and also acknowledges that Lamont-Doherty did not incorporate 
site-specific sound speed profiles, bathymetry, and sediment 
characteristics of the research area in the current approach to 
estimate those zones for this planned seismic survey.
    Lamont-Doherty's application (LGL, 2016) and the NSF's draft 
environmental analysis (NSF, 2016) describe the approach to 
establishing mitigation exclusion and buffer zones. In summary, Lamont-
Doherty acquired field measurements for several array configurations at 
shallow, intermediate, and deep-water depths during acoustic 
verification studies conducted in the northern Gulf of Mexico in 2007 
and 2008 (Tolstoy et al., 2009). Based on the empirical data from those 
studies, Lamont-Doherty developed a sound propagation modeling approach 
that predicts received sound levels as a function of distance from a 
particular airgun array configuration in deep water. For this survey, 
Lamont-Doherty developed the exclusion and buffer zones for the airgun 
array based on the empirically-derived measurements from the Gulf of 
Mexico calibration survey (Appendix H of NSF's 2011 PEIS). For deep 
water (>1000 m), Lamont-Doherty used the deep-water radii obtained from 
model results down to a maximum water depth of 2000 m (Figure 2 and 3 
in Appendix H of NSF's 2011 PEIS; the radii for intermediate water 
depths (100-1000 m) were derived from the deep-water ones by applying a 
correction factor (multiplication) of 1.5, such that observed levels at 
very near offsets fall below the corrected mitigation curve (Fig. 16 in 
Appendix H of the NSF's 2011 PEIS); the shallow-water radii were 
obtained by scaling the empirically derived measurements from the Gulf 
of Mexico calibration survey to account for the differences in tow 
depth between the calibration survey (6 m) and the proposed surveys (9 
and 12 m).
    In 2015, Lamont-Doherty explored the question of whether the Gulf 
of Mexico calibration data adequately informs the model to predict 
exclusion isopleths in other areas by conducting a retrospective sound 
power analysis of one of the lines acquired during Lamont-Doherty's 
seismic survey offshore New Jersey in 2014 (Crone, 2015). NMFS 
presented a comparison of the predicted radii (i.e., modeled exclusion 
zones) with radii based on in situ measurements (i.e., the upper bound 
[95th percentile] of the cross-line prediction) in a previous notice of 
issued Authorization for Lamont-Doherty (see Table 1, 80 FR 27635, May 
14, 2015).
    Briefly, Crone's (2015) analysis, specific to the survey site 
offshore New Jersey, confirmed that in-situ, site specific measurements 
and estimates of the 160- and 180-dB isopleths collected by the 
Langseth's hydrophone streamer in shallow water were smaller than the 
modeled (i.e., predicted) exclusion and buffer zones proposed for use 
in two seismic surveys conducted offshore New Jersey in shallow water 
in 2014 and 2015. In that particular case, Crone's (2015) results 
showed that Lamont-Doherty's modeled exclusion (180-dB) and buffer 
(160-dB) zones were approximately 28 and 33 percent smaller, 
respectively, than the in situ, site-specific measurements, thus 
confirming that Lamont-Doherty's model was conservative in that case, 
as emphasized by Lamont-Doherty in its application and in supporting 
environmental documentation. The following is a summary of two 
additional analyses of in-situ data that support Lamont-Doherty's use 
of the modeled exclusion and buffer zones in this particular case.
    In 2010, Lamont-Doherty assessed the accuracy of their modeling 
approach by comparing the sound levels of the field measurements 
acquired in the Gulf of Mexico study to their model predictions 
(Diebold et al., 2010). They reported that the observed sound levels 
from the field measurements fell almost entirely below the predicted 
mitigation radii curve for deep water (greater than 1,000 m; 3280.8 ft) 
(Diebold et al., 2010).
    In 2012, Lamont-Doherty used a similar process to model exclusion 
and buffer zones for a shallow-water seismic survey in the northeast 
Pacific Ocean offshore Washington State in 2012. Lamont-Doherty 
conducted the shallow-water survey using the same airgun configuration 
planned for this seismic survey (i.e., 6,600 in\3\) and recorded the

[[Page 53445]]

received sound levels on both the shelf and slope off Washington State 
using the Langseth's 8 km hydrophone streamer. Crone et al. (2014) 
analyzed those received sound levels from the 2012 survey and confirmed 
that in-situ, site specific measurements and estimates of the 160-dB 
and 180-dB isopleths collected by the Langseth's hydrophone streamer in 
shallow water were two to three times smaller than Lamont-Doherty's 
modeling approach had predicted. While the results confirmed 
bathymetry's role in sound propagation, Crone et al. (2014) were able 
to confirm that the empirical measurements from the Gulf of Mexico 
calibration survey (the same measurements used to inform Lamont-
Doherty's modeling approach for the planned seismic survey in the 
southeast Pacific Ocean) overestimated the size of the exclusion and 
buffer zones for the shallow-water 2012 survey off Washington State and 
were thus precautionary, in that particular case.
    The model Lamont-Doherty currently uses does not allow for the 
consideration of environmental and site-specific parameters as 
requested by the Commission. NMFS continues to work with Lamont-Doherty 
and the NSF to address the issue of incorporating site-specific 
information to further inform the analysis and development of 
mitigation measures in oceanic and coastal areas for future seismic 
surveys with Lamont-Doherty. However, Lamont-Doherty's current modeling 
approach (supported by the three data points discussed previously) 
represents the best available information for NMFS to reach 
determinations for the Authorization. As described earlier, the 
comparisons of Lamont-Doherty's model results and the field data 
collected in the Gulf of Mexico, offshore Washington State, and 
offshore New Jersey illustrate a degree of conservativeness built into 
Lamont-Doherty's model for deep water, which NMFS expects to offset 
some of the limitations of the model to capture the variability 
resulting from site-specific factors. Based upon the best available 
information (i.e., the three data points, two of which are peer-
reviewed, discussed in this response), NMFS finds that the exclusion 
and buffer zone calculations are appropriate for use in this particular 
survey.
    Lamont-Doherty has conveyed to NMFS that additional modeling 
efforts to refine the process and conduct comparative analysis may be 
possible with the availability of research funds and other resources. 
Obtaining research funds is typically accomplished through a 
competitive process, including those submitted to U.S. Federal 
agencies. The use of models for calculating buffer and exclusion zone 
radii and for developing take estimates is not a requirement of the 
MMPA incidental take authorization process. Furthermore, NMFS does not 
provide specific guidance on model parameters nor prescribe a specific 
model for applicants as part of the MMPA incidental take authorization 
process at this time. There is a level of variability not only with 
parameters in the models, but also the uncertainty associated with data 
used in models, and therefore, the quality of the model results 
submitted by applicants. NMFS considers this variability when 
evaluating applications and the take estimates and mitigation measures 
that the model informs. NMFS takes into consideration the model used, 
and its results, in determining the potential impacts to marine 
mammals; however, it is just one component of the analysis during the 
MMPA authorization process as NMFS also takes into consideration other 
factors associated with the activity (e.g., geographic location, 
duration of activities, context, sound source intensity, etc.).

Uncertainty in Density Estimates

    Comment 2: The Commission expressed concern regarding uncertainty 
in the representativeness of the marine mammal density data and the 
assumptions used to calculate estimated takes. The Commission 
recommended that NMFS adjust density estimates using some measure of 
uncertainty when available density data originate from different 
geographic areas, temporal scales, and seasons, especially for actions 
which will occur outside the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) where 
site- and species-specific density estimates tend to be scant, such as 
Lamont-Doherty's planned survey.
    Response: NMFS believes that, in the absence of site-specific 
marine mammal density data in the region of Lamont-Doherty's planned 
survey, the best available information was used to estimate marine 
mammal density data for the project area and to calculate estimated 
takes. However, NMFS acknowledges that the lack of site- and species-
specific density data for certain geographic areas presents inherent 
challenges in estimating takes, and agrees with the Commission's 
recommendation that a systematic approach to incorporating uncertainty 
in density estimates when available density data originate from 
different geographic areas, temporal scales, and seasons is warranted. 
NMFS is actively working to develop a systematic process for the use of 
density estimates in authorizations when uncertainties in density data 
exist as a result of geographic differences, temporal differences, or 
accuracy of data, and to encourage applicants for incidental take 
authorization to utilize this process when it is complete. NMFS looks 
forward to developing this process in collaboration with the 
Commission.

Monitoring and Reporting

    Comment 3: The Commission indicated that monitoring and reporting 
requirements should provide a reasonably accurate assessment of the 
types of taking and the numbers of animals taken by the proposed 
activity. They recommend that NMFS and Lamont-Doherty incorporate an 
accounting for animals at the surface but not detected [i.e., g(0) 
values] and for animals present but underwater and not available for 
sighting [i.e., f(0) values] into monitoring efforts. In light of the 
Commission's previous comments, they recommend that NMFS consult with 
the funding agency (i.e., the NSF) and individual applicants (e.g., 
Lamont-Doherty and other related entities) to develop, validate, and 
implement a monitoring program that provides a scientifically sound, 
reasonably accurate assessment of the types of marine mammal takes and 
the actual numbers of marine mammals taken, accounting for applicable 
g(0) and f(0) values, based in part on monitoring data collected during 
geophysical surveys.
    Response: NMFS agrees with the Commission's recommendation to 
improve the post-survey reporting requirements for NSF and Lamont-
Doherty by accounting for takes using applicable g(0) and f(0) values. 
In December 2015, NMFS met with Commission representatives to discuss 
ways to develop and validate a monitoring program that provides a 
scientifically sound, reasonably accurate assessment of the types of 
marine mammal takes and the actual numbers of marine mammals taken. In 
July 2016, NMFS solicited input from the Commission regarding 
methodology for determining applicable g(0) and f(0) values. Based on 
this input, NMFS has included a requirement in the issued IHA that 
Lamont-Doherty must provide an estimate of the number (by species) of 
marine mammals that may have been exposed (based on modeling results 
and accounting for animals at the surface but not detected [i.e., g(0) 
values] and for animals present but underwater and not available for 
sighting [i.e., f(0) values]) to the seismic activity at received 
levels greater than or equal to 160 dB re: 1 [mu]Pa and/or 180 dB re 1 
[mu]Pa for cetaceans and 190-dB re 1 [mu]Pa for pinnipeds. NMFS will 
provide the methodology for

[[Page 53446]]

determining the applicable f(0) and g(0) values to Lamont-Doherty.
    The comment letter from the Marcus Langseth Science Oversight 
Committee affirmed that there is significant support from the Committee 
for the IHA to be issued for the proposed activity and for the survey 
to be conducted. NMFS received one additional comment from a private 
citizen that expressed concern that the project would result in the 
deaths of marine mammals and that the application should be denied on 
the grounds that it would cost taxpayers too much money; NMFS 
considered this comment, however, no deaths of marine mammals are 
anticipated as a result of the project as described below, and NMFS 
does not have the ability to deny applications for authorization to 
incidentally take marine mammals based on an applicant's funding 
sources.

Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity

    Table 1 in this notice provides the following: All marine mammal 
species with possible or confirmed occurrence in the planned activity 
area; information on those species' regulatory status under the MMPA 
and the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.); 
abundance; local occurrence and range; and seasonality in the planned 
activity area. Based on the best available information, NMFS expects 
that there may be a potential for certain cetacean and pinniped species 
to occur within the survey area (i.e., potentially be taken) and have 
included additional information for these species in Table 1 of this 
notice. NMFS will carry forward analyses on the species listed in Table 
1 later in this document.

  Table 1--General Information on Marine Mammals That Could Potentially Occur in the Three Planned Survey Areas
                                       Within the Southeast Pacific Ocean
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                    Regulatory  status      Species
             Species                       1 2            abundance 3     Local occurrence         Habitat
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Antarctic minke whale              MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..         515,000  North--Rare;         Coastal, pelagic.
 (Balaenoptera bonaerensis).                                             Central/South--
                                                                         Uncommon.
Blue whale (B. musculus).........  MMPA--D; ESA--EN...      \4\ 10,000  North--Common;       Coastal, shelf,
                                                                         Central/South--      pelagic.
                                                                         Common.
Bryde's whale (Balaenoptera        MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..      \5\ 43,633  North--Common;       Coastal, pelagic.
 edeni).                                                                 Central/South--
                                                                         Common.
Common minke whale (B.             MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..         515,000  North--Rare;         Coastal, pelagic.
 acutorostrata).                                                         Central/South--
                                                                         Uncommon.
Fin whale (B. physalus)..........  MMPA--D; ESA--EN...          22,000  North--Rare;         Shelf, slope,
                                                                         Central/South--      pelagic.
                                                                         Common.
Humpback whale (Megaptera          MMPA--D; ESA--EN...          42,000  North--Common;       Coastal, shelf,
 novaengliae).                                                           Central/South--      pelagic.
                                                                         Common.
Pygmy right whale (Caperea         MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..         Unknown  North--Unknown;      Coastal, oceanic.
 marginata).                                                             Central/South--
                                                                         Rare.
Sei whale (B. borealis)..........  MMPA--D; ESA--EN...          10,000  North--Uncommon;     Pelagic.
                                                                         Central/South--
                                                                         Uncommon.
Southern right whale (Eubalaena    MMPA--D; ESA--EN...          12,000  North--Rare;         Coastal, oceanic.
 australis).                                                             Central/South--
                                                                         Rare.
Sperm whale (Physeter              MMPA--D; ESA--EN...     \6\ 355,000  North--Common;       Pelagic, deep seas.
 macrocephalus).                                                         Central/South--
                                                                         Common.
Dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima)...  MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..     \7\ 170,309  North--Rare;         Shelf, pelagic.
                                                                         Central/South--
                                                                         Rare.
Pygmy sperm whale (K. breviceps).  MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..     \7\ 170,309  North--Rare;         Shelf, pelagic.
                                                                         Central/South--
                                                                         Rare.
Andrew's beaked whale (Mesoplodon  MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..      \8\ 25,300  North--Unknown;      Pelagic.
 bowdoini).                                                              Central/South--
                                                                         Rare.
Blainville's beaked whale (M.      MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..      \8\ 25,300  North--Uncommon;     Pelagic.
 densirostris).                                                          Central/South--
                                                                         Uncommon.
Cuvier's beaked whale (Ziphius     MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..      \8\ 20,000  North--Uncommon;     Slope, pelagic.
 cavirostris).                                                           Central/South--
                                                                         Uncommon.
Gray's beaked whale (M. grayi)...  MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..      \8\ 25,300  North--Rare;         Pelagic.
                                                                         Central/South--
                                                                         Rare.
Hector's beaked whale (M.          MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..      \8\ 25,300  North--Unknown;      Pelagic.
 hectori).                                                               Central/South--
                                                                         Rare.
Pygmy beaked whale (Mesoplodon     MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..      \8\ 25,300  North--Rare;         Pelagic.
 peruvianus).                                                            Central/South--
                                                                         Rare.
Shepherd's beaked whale            MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..      \8\ 25,300  North--Unknown;      Pelagic.
 (Tasmacetus shepherdi).                                                 Central/South--
                                                                         Rare.
Spade-toothed whale (Mesoplodon    MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..      \8\ 25,300  North--Unknown;      Pelagic.
 traversii).                                                             Central/South--
                                                                         Rare.
Strap-toothed beaked whale (M.     MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..      \8\ 25,300  North--Unknown;      Pelagic.
 layardii).                                                              Central/South--
                                                                         Rare.
Southern bottlenose whale          MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..      \9\ 72,000  North--Unknown;      Pelagic.
 (Hyperoodon planifrons).                                                Central/South--
                                                                         Uncommon.
Chilean dolphin (Cephalorhynchus   MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..          10,000  North--Unknown;      Coastal.
 eutropia).                                                              Central/South--
                                                                         Uncommon.

[[Page 53447]]

 
Rough-toothed dolphin (Steno       MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..    \10\ 107,633  North--Rare;         Oceanic.
 bredanensis).                                                           Central/South--
                                                                         Unknown.
Common bottlenose dolphin          MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..    \10\ 335,834  North--Abundant;     Coastal, pelagic,
 (Tursiops truncatus).                                                   Central/South--      shelf.
                                                                         Common.
Striped dolphin (S. coeruleoalba)  MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..    \10\ 964,362  North--Abundant;     Shelf edge,
                                                                         Central/South--      pelagic.
                                                                         Common.
Short-beaked common dolphin        MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..  \11\ 1,766,551  North--Abundant;     Coastal, shelf.
 (Delphinus delphis).                                                    Central/South--
                                                                         Abundant.
Long-beaked common dolphin         MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..    \12\ 144,000  North--Uncommon;     Coastal, shelf.
 (Delphinus capensis).                                                   Central/South--
                                                                         Unknown.
Dusky dolphin (Lagenorhynchus      MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..     \13\ 25,880  North--Abundant;     Shelf, slope.
 obscurus).                                                              Central/South--
                                                                         Abundant.
Peale's dolphin (Lagenorhynchus    MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..         Unknown  North--Unknown;      Coastal.
 australis).                                                             Central/South--
                                                                         Uncommon.
Hourglass dolphin (Lagenorhynchus  MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..    \14\ 144,300  North--Unknown;      Pelagic.
 cruciger).                                                              Central/South--
                                                                         Rare.
Southern right whale dolphin       MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..         Unknown  North--Uncommon;     Pelagic.
 (Lissodelphis peronii).                                                 Central/South--
                                                                         Common.
Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus)  MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..    \10\ 110,457  North--Common;       Shelf, slope.
                                                                         Central/South--
                                                                         Uncommon.
Pygmy killer whale (Feresa         MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..      \8\ 38,900  North--Rare;         Oceanic,
 attenuate).                                                             Central/South--      pantropical.
                                                                         Uncommon.
False killer whale (Pseudorca      MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..      \8\ 39,800  North--Uncommon;     Pelagic.
 crassidens).                                                            Central/South--
                                                                         Rare.
Killer whale (Orcinus orca)......  MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..          50,000  North--Rare;         Coastal, shelf,
                                                                         Central/South--      pelagic.
                                                                         Rare.
Long-finned pilot whale            MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..    \15\ 200,000  North--Rare;         Coastal, pelagic.
 (Globicephala melas).                                                   Central/South--
                                                                         Rare.
Short-finned pilot whale           MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..    \16\ 589,315  North--Rare;         Coastal, pelagic.
 (Globicephala macrorhynchus).                                           Central/South--
                                                                         Rare.
Burmeister's porpoise (Phocoena    MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..         Unknown  North--Coastal;      Coastal.
 spinipinnis).                                                           Central/South--
                                                                         Coastal.
Juan Fernandez fur seal            MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..     \17\ 32,278  North--Rare;         Coastal, pelagic.
 (Arctocephalus philippii).                                              Central/South--
                                                                         Rare.
South American fur seal            MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..         250,000  North--Rare;         Coastal, shelf,
 (Arctocephalus australis).                                              Central/South--      slope.
                                                                         Rare.
South American sea lion (Otaria    MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..    \18\ 397,771  North--Abundant;     Coastal, shelf.
 byronia).                                                               Central/South--
                                                                         Abundant.
Southern elephant seal (Mirounga   MMPA--NC; ESA--NL..    \19\ 640,000  North--Abundant;     Coastal, pelagic.
 leonina).                                                               Central/South--
                                                                         Abundant.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ MMPA: NC. = Not classified; D= Depleted.
\2\ ESA: EN = Endangered, T = Threatened, DL = Delisted, NL = Not listed.
\3\ Except where noted best estimate abundance information obtained from the International Whaling Commission's
  whale population estimates (IWC, 2016) or from the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural
  Resources Red List of Threatened Species Web site (IUCN, 2016). Unknown = Abundance information does not exist
  for this species.
\4\ IUCN's best estimate of the global population is 10,000 to 25,000.
\5\ Estimate from IUCN's Web page for Bryde's whales. Southern Hemisphere: southern Indian Ocean (13,854);
  western South Pacific (16,585); and eastern South Pacific (13,194) (IWC, 1981).
\6\ Whitehead (2002).
\7\ Estimate from IUCN's Web page for Kogia spp. Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP) (150,000); Hawaii (19,172); Gulf
  of Mexico (742); and western Atlantic (395).
\8\ Wade and Gerrodette (1993).
\9\ South of 60[deg]S from the 1885/1986-1990/1991 IWC/IDCR and SOWER surveys (Branch and Butterworth, 2001).
\10\ ETP, line-transect survey, August-December 2006 (Gerrodette et al., 2008).
\11\ ETP, southern stock, 2000 survey (Gerrodette and Forcada 2002).
\12\ Gerrodette and Palacios (1996) estimated 55,000 within Pacific coast waters of Mexico, 69,000 in the Gulf
  of California, and 20,000 off South Africa. IUCN, 2016.
\13\ IUCN, 2016 and Markowitz, 2004.
\14\ Kasamatsu and Joyce, 1995.
\15\ Abundance estimates for beaked, southern bottlenose, and pilot whales south of the Antarctic Convergence in
  January (Kasamatsu and Joyce, 1995).
\16\ Gerrodette and Forcada (2002).
\17\ 2005/2006 minimum population estimate (Osman, 2008).
\18\ Crespo et al. (2012). Current status of the South American sea lion along the distribution range.
\19\ Hindell and Perrin (2009).


[[Page 53448]]

    NMFS refers the public to Lamont-Doherty's application and NSF's 
environmental analysis (available online at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/species.htm) for further information on the biology and local 
distribution of these species. Please also refer to NMFS's Web site 
(http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/) for generalized 
species accounts.

Potential Effects of the Specified Activities on Marine Mammals

    Operating active acoustic sources, such as airgun arrays, has the 
potential for adverse effects on marine mammals. The Federal Register 
notice for the proposed IHA (81 FR 23117; April 19, 2016) provided a 
discussion of the effects of anthropogenic noise on marine mammals as 
well as a detailed description of the potential effects of Lamont-
Doherty's activities on marine mammals. Therefore that information is 
not repeated here; please refer to the Federal Register notice for the 
proposed IHA (81 FR 23117; April 19, 2016) for that information. During 
10 nm of transit that may occur between surveys (described in the 
Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (81 FR 23117; April 19, 
2016)) the operation of the MBES and SBP may occur independent of 
airgun operation. The operation of the MBES and SBP in the absence of 
airgun use was not explicitly described in the Federal Register notice 
for the proposed IHA (81 FR 23117; April 19, 2016); though it comprises 
a very small portion of the total anticipated effects of this action, 
it has now been included for consideration in the analyses. The 
``Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment'' section later in this 
document will include a quantitative analysis of the number of 
individuals that NMFS expects to be taken by 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, the ``Mitigation Measures'' section, and the 
``Anticipated Effects on Marine Mammal Habitat'' section to draw 
conclusions regarding the likely impacts of this activity on the 
reproductive success or survivorship of individuals and from that on 
the affected marine mammal populations or stocks.

Anticipated Effects on Marine Mammal Habitat

    The primary potential impacts to marine mammal habitat and other 
marine species from Lamont-Doherty's planned activities are associated 
with elevated sound levels produced by airguns. The impacts of Lamont-
Doherty's planned activities on fish and other marine life specifically 
related to acoustic activities are expected to be temporary in nature, 
negligible, and would not result in substantial impact to these species 
or to their role in the ecosystem. NMFS does not anticipate that the 
planned activity would have any habitat-related effects that could 
cause significant or long-term consequences for individual marine 
mammals or their populations. The potential effects of Lamont-Doherty's 
planned activities on marine mammal habitat and other marine species 
are discussed in detail in the Federal Register notice for the proposed 
IHA (81 FR 23117; April 19, 2016), therefore that information is not 
repeated here; please refer to that Federal Register notice for that 
information.

Mitigation Measures

    In order to issue an Incidental Harassment 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 on the availability of 
such species or stock for taking for certain subsistence uses (where 
relevant).
    Lamont-Doherty has reviewed the following source documents and has 
incorporated a suite of mitigation measures into their project 
description:
    (1) Protocols used during previous Lamont-Doherty and NSF-funded 
seismic research cruises as approved by us and detailed in the NSF's 
2011 PEIS and 2016 draft environmental analysis;
    (2) Previous IHA applications and authorizations that NMFS has 
approved and authorized; and
    (3) Recommended best practices in Richardson et al. (1995), Pierson 
et al. (1998), and Weir and Dolman (2007).
    To reduce the potential for disturbance from acoustic stimuli 
associated with the activities, Lamont-Doherty, and/or its designees 
plan to implement the following mitigation measures for marine mammals:
    (1) Vessel-based visual mitigation monitoring;
    (2) Exclusion zones;
    (3) Power down procedures;
    (4) Shutdown procedures;
    (5) Ramp-up procedures; and
    (6) Speed and course alterations.
    NMFS reviewed Lamont-Doherty's mitigation measures and developed 
the following additional mitigation measures to effect the least 
practicable adverse impact on marine mammals:
    (1) Expanded power down procedures for concentrations of six or 
more whales that do not appear to be traveling (e.g., feeding, 
socializing, etc.).

Vessel-Based Visual Mitigation Monitoring

    Lamont-Doherty would position observers aboard the seismic source 
vessel to watch for marine mammals near the vessel during daytime 
airgun operations and during any start-ups at night. Observers would 
also watch for marine mammals near the seismic vessel for at least 30 
minutes prior to the start of airgun operations after an extended 
shutdown (i.e., greater than approximately eight minutes for this 
planned cruise). When feasible, the observers would conduct 
observations during daytime periods when the seismic system is not 
operating for comparison of sighting rates and behavior with and 
without airgun operations and between acquisition periods. Based on the 
observations, the Langseth would power down or shutdown the airguns 
when marine mammals are observed within or about to enter a designated 
exclusion zone for cetaceans or pinnipeds.
    During seismic operations, at least four protected species 
observers would be aboard the Langseth. Lamont-Doherty would appoint 
the observers with NMFS's concurrence, and they would conduct 
observations during ongoing daytime operations and nighttime ramp-ups 
of the airgun array. During the majority of seismic operations, two 
observers would be on duty from the observation tower to monitor marine 
mammals near the seismic vessel. Using two observers would increase the 
effectiveness of detecting animals near the source vessel. However, 
during mealtimes and bathroom breaks, it is sometimes difficult to have 
two observers on effort, but at least one observer would be on watch 
during bathroom breaks and mealtimes. Observers would be on duty in 
shifts of no longer than four hours in duration.
    Two observers on the Langseth would also be on visual watch during 
all nighttime ramp-ups of the seismic airguns. A third observer would 
monitor the passive acoustic monitoring equipment 24 hours a day to 
detect vocalizing marine mammals present in the action area. In 
summary, a typical daytime cruise would have scheduled two observers 
(visual) on duty from the observation tower, and an observer

[[Page 53449]]

(acoustic) on the passive acoustic monitoring system. Before the start 
of the seismic survey, Lamont-Doherty would instruct the vessel's crew 
to assist in detecting marine mammals and implementing mitigation 
requirements.
    The Langseth is a suitable platform for marine mammal observations. 
When stationed on the observation platform, the eye level would be 
approximately 21.5 m (70.5 ft) above sea level, and the observer would 
have a good view around the entire vessel. During daytime, the 
observers would scan the area around the vessel systematically with 
reticle binoculars (e.g., 7 x 50 Fujinon), Big-eye binoculars (25 x 
150), and with the naked eye. During darkness, night vision devices 
would be available (ITT F500 Series Generation 3 binocular-image 
intensifier or equivalent), when required. Laser range-finding 
binoculars (Leica LRF 1200 laser rangefinder or equivalent) would be 
available to assist with distance estimation. They are useful in 
training observers to estimate distances visually, but are generally 
not useful in measuring distances to animals directly. The user 
measures distances to animals with the reticles in the binoculars.
    Lamont-Doherty would immediately power down or shutdown the airguns 
when observers see marine mammals within or about to enter the 
designated exclusion zone. The observer(s) would continue to maintain 
watch to determine when the animal(s) are outside the exclusion zone by 
visual confirmation. Airgun operations would not resume until the 
observer has confirmed that the animal has left the zone, or if not 
observed after 15 minutes for species with shorter dive durations 
(small odontocetes and pinnipeds) or 30 minutes for species with longer 
dive durations (mysticetes and large odontocetes, including sperm, 
pygmy sperm, dwarf sperm, killer, and beaked whales).

Mitigation Exclusion Zones

    Lamont-Doherty would use safety radii to designate exclusion zones 
and to estimate take for marine mammals. Table 2 shows the distances at 
which one would expect to receive sound levels (160-, 180-, and 190-
dB,) from the airgun array and a single airgun. If the protected 
species visual observer detects marine mammal(s) within or about to 
enter the appropriate exclusion zone, the Langseth crew would 
immediately power down the airgun array, or perform a shutdown if 
necessary (see Shutdown Procedures).

    Table 2--Predicted Distances to Which Sound Levels Greater Than or Equal to 160 re: 1 [micro]Pa Could Be
                   Received During the Planned Survey Areas Within the Southeast Pacific Ocean
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                          Predicted RMS distances \1\ (m)
    Source and volume (in\3\)      Tow depth (m)    Water depth  -----------------------------------------------
                                                        (m)           190 dB          180 dB          160 dB
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Single Bolt airgun (40 in\3\)...         9 or 12            <100         \2\ 100         \2\ 100           1,041
                                                    100 to 1,000             100             100             647
                                                          >1,000             100             100             431
36-Airgun Array (6,600 in\3\)...               9            <100             591           2,060          22,580
                                                    100 to 1,000             429           1,391           8,670
                                                          >1,000             286             927           5,780
36-Airgun Array (6,600 in\3\)...              12            <100             710           2,480          27,130
                                                    100 to 1,000             522           1,674          10,362
                                                          >1,000             348           1,116           6,908
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Predicted distances based on information presented in Lamont-Doherty's application.
\2\ NMFS required Lamont-Doherty to expand the exclusion zone for the mitigation airgun to 100 m (328 ft) in
  shallow water.

    The 180- or 190-dB level shutdown criteria are applicable to 
cetaceans and pinnipeds, respectively, as specified by NMFS (2000). 
Lamont-Doherty used these levels to establish the exclusion zones as 
presented in their application.
    Lamont-Doherty used a process to develop and confirm the 
conservativeness of the mitigation radii for a shallow-water seismic 
survey in the northeast Pacific Ocean offshore Washington in 2012. 
Crone et al. (2014) analyzed the received sound levels from the 2012 
survey and reported that the actual distances to received levels that 
would constitute the exclusion and buffer zones were two to three times 
smaller than what Lamont-Doherty's modeling approach had predicted. 
While these results confirm the role that bathymetry plays in 
propagation, they also confirm that empirical measurements from the 
Gulf of Mexico survey likely over-estimated the size of the exclusion 
zones for the 2012 shallow-water seismic surveys in Washington. NMFS 
reviewed this information in consideration of how these data reflect on 
the accuracy of Lamont-Doherty's current modeling approach and we have 
concluded that the modeling of RMS distances likely results in 
predicted distances to acoustic thresholds (Table 2) that are 
conservative, i.e., if actual distances to received sound levels 
deviate from distances predicted via modeling, actual distances are 
expected to be lesser, not greater, than predicted distances.

Power-Down Procedures

    A power down involves decreasing the number of airguns in use such 
that the radius of the 180-dB or 190-dB exclusion zone is smaller to 
the extent that marine mammals are no longer within or about to enter 
the exclusion zone. A power down of the airgun array can also occur 
when the vessel is moving from one seismic line to another. During a 
power down for mitigation, the Langseth would operate one airgun (40 
in\3\). The continued operation of one airgun would alert marine 
mammals to the presence of the seismic vessel in the area. A shutdown 
occurs when the Langseth suspends all airgun activity.
    If the observer detects a marine mammal outside the exclusion zone 
and the animal is likely to enter the zone, the crew would power down 
the airguns to reduce the size of the 180-dB or 190-dB exclusion zone 
before the animal enters that zone. Likewise, if a marine mammal is 
already within the zone after detection, the crew would power down the 
airguns immediately. During a power down of the airgun array, the crew 
would operate a single 40-in\3\ airgun which has a smaller exclusion 
zone. If the observer detects a marine mammal within or near the 
smaller exclusion zone around the airgun (Table 2), the crew would shut 
down the single airgun (see next section).

[[Page 53450]]

Resuming Airgun Operations After a Power Down

    Following a power-down, the Langseth crew would not resume full 
airgun activity until the marine mammal has cleared the 180-dB or 190-
dB exclusion zone. The observers would consider the animal to have 
cleared the exclusion zone if:
     The observer has visually observed the animal leave the 
exclusion zone; or
     An observer has not sighted the animal within the 
exclusion zone for 15 minutes for species with shorter dive durations 
(i.e., small odontocetes or pinnipeds), or 30 minutes for species with 
longer dive durations (i.e., mysticetes and large odontocetes, 
including sperm, pygmy sperm, dwarf sperm, and beaked whales); or
    The Langseth crew would resume operating the airguns at full power 
after 15 minutes of sighting any species with short dive durations 
(i.e., small odontocetes or pinnipeds). Likewise, the crew would resume 
airgun operations at full power after 30 minutes of sighting any 
species with longer dive durations (i.e., mysticetes and large 
odontocetes, including sperm, pygmy sperm, dwarf sperm, and beaked 
whales).
    NMFS estimates that the Langseth would transit outside the original 
180-dB or 190-dB exclusion zone after an eight-minute wait period. This 
period is based on the average speed of the Langseth while operating 
the airguns (8.5 km/h; 5.3 mph). Because the vessel has transited away 
from the vicinity of the original sighting during the eight-minute 
period, implementing ramp-up procedures for the full array after an 
extended power down (i.e., transiting for an additional 35 minutes from 
the location of initial sighting) would not meaningfully increase the 
effectiveness of observing marine mammals approaching or entering the 
exclusion zone for the full source level and would not further minimize 
the potential for take. The Langseth's observers are continually 
monitoring the exclusion zone for the full source level while the 
mitigation airgun is firing. On average, observers can observe to the 
horizon (10 km; 6.2 mi) from the height of the Langseth's observation 
deck and should be able to say with a reasonable degree of confidence 
whether a marine mammal would be encountered within this distance 
before resuming airgun operations at full power.

Shutdown Procedures

    The Langseth crew would shut down the operating airgun(s) if they 
see a marine mammal within or approaching the exclusion zone for the 
single airgun. The crew would implement a shutdown:
    (1) If an animal enters the exclusion zone of the single airgun 
after the crew has initiated a power down; or
    (2) If an observer sees the animal is initially within the 
exclusion zone of the single airgun when more than one airgun 
(typically the full airgun array) is operating.

Resuming Airgun Operations After a Shutdown

    Following a shutdown in excess of eight minutes, the Langseth crew 
would initiate a ramp-up with the smallest airgun in the array (40-
in\3\). The crew would turn on additional airguns in a sequence such 
that the source level of the array would increase in steps not 
exceeding 6 dB per five-minute period over a total duration of 
approximately 30 minutes. During ramp-up, the observers would monitor 
the exclusion zone, and if a marine mammal were observed, the Langseth 
crew would implement a power down or shutdown as though the full airgun 
array were operational.
    During periods of active seismic operations, there are occasions 
when the Langseth crew would need to temporarily shut down the airguns 
due to equipment failure or for maintenance. In this case, if the 
airguns are inactive longer than eight minutes, the crew would follow 
ramp-up procedures for a shutdown described earlier and the observers 
would monitor the full exclusion zone and would implement a power down 
or shutdown if necessary.
    If the full exclusion zone is not visible to the observer for at 
least 30 minutes prior to the start of operations in either daylight or 
nighttime, the Langseth crew would not commence ramp-up unless at least 
one airgun (40-in\3\ or similar) has been operating during the 
interruption of seismic survey operations. Given these provisions, it 
is likely that the vessel's crew would not ramp up the airgun array 
from a complete shutdown at night or in thick fog, because the outer 
part of the zone for that array would not be visible during those 
conditions.
    If one airgun has operated during a power down period, ramp-up to 
full power would be permissible at night or in poor visibility, on the 
assumption that marine mammals would be alerted to the approaching 
seismic vessel by the sounds from the single airgun and could move 
away. The vessel's crew would not initiate a ramp-up of the airguns if 
an observer sees the marine mammal within or near the applicable 
exclusion zones during the day or close to the vessel at night.

Ramp-Up Procedures

    Ramp-up of an airgun array provides a gradual increase in sound 
levels, and involves a step-wise increase in the number and total 
volume of airguns firing until the full volume of the airgun array is 
achieved. The purpose of a ramp-up is to ``warn'' marine mammals in the 
vicinity of the airguns, and to provide the time for them to leave the 
area and thus avoid any potential injury or impairment of their hearing 
abilities. Lamont-Doherty would follow a ramp-up procedure when the 
airgun array begins operating after an 8 minute period without airgun 
operations or when shut down has exceeded that period. Lamont-Doherty 
has used similar waiting periods (approximately eight to 10 minutes) 
during previous seismic surveys.
    Ramp-up would begin with the smallest airgun in the array (40 
in\3\). The crew would add airguns in a sequence such that the source 
level of the array would increase in steps not exceeding six dB per 
five minute period over a total duration of approximately 30 to 35 
minutes. During ramp-up, the observers would monitor the exclusion 
zone, and if marine mammals are sighted, Lamont-Doherty would implement 
a power-down or shutdown as though the full airgun array were 
operational.
    If the complete exclusion zone has not been visible for at least 30 
minutes prior to the start of operations in either daylight or 
nighttime, Lamont-Doherty would not commence the ramp-up unless at 
least one airgun (40 in\3\ or similar) has been operating during the 
interruption of seismic survey operations. Given these provisions, it 
is likely that the crew would not ramp up the airgun array from a 
complete shutdown at night or in thick fog, because the outer part of 
the exclusion zone for that array would not be visible during those 
conditions. If one airgun has operated during a power-down period, 
ramp-up to full power would be permissible at night or in poor 
visibility, on the assumption that marine mammals would be alerted to 
the approaching seismic vessel by the sounds from the single airgun and 
could move away. Lamont-Doherty would not initiate a ramp-up of the 
airguns if an observer sights a marine mammal within or near the 
applicable exclusion zones. NMFS refers the reader to Figure 1, which 
presents a flowchart representing the ramp-up, power down, and shutdown 
protocols described in this notice.

[[Page 53451]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TN12AU16.044

Special Procedures for Concentrations of Large Whales

    The Langseth would avoid exposing concentrations of large whales to 
sounds greater than 160 dB re: 1 [mu]Pa within the 160-dB zone and 
would power down the array, if necessary. For purposes of this survey, 
a concentration or group of whales would consist of six or more 
individuals visually sighted that do not appear to be traveling (e.g., 
feeding, socializing, etc.).

[[Page 53452]]

Speed and Course Alterations

    If, during seismic data collection, Lamont-Doherty detects a marine 
mammal outside the exclusion zone that appears likely to enter the 
exclusion zone based on the animal's position and direction of travel, 
the Langseth would change speed and/or direction if this does not 
compromise operational safety. Due to the limited maneuverability of 
the primary survey vessel, altering speed, and/or course can result in 
an extended period of time to realign the Langseth to the transect 
line. However, if the animal(s) appear likely to enter the exclusion 
zone, the Langseth would undertake further mitigation actions, 
including a power down or shutdown of the airguns.

Mitigation Conclusions

    NMFS has carefully evaluated Lamont-Doherty's 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 airgun 
operations that we expect to result in the take of marine mammals (this 
goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing harassment takes only).
    3. A reduction in the number of times (total number or number at 
biologically important time or location) individuals would be exposed 
to airgun operations 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 airgun 
operations that we expect to result in the take of marine mammals (this 
goal may contribute to a, 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 the evaluation of Lamont-Doherty's planned measures, as 
well as other measures developed by NMFS (i.e., special procedures for 
concentrations of large whales), NMFS has determined that the planned 
mitigation measures 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.

Monitoring Measures

    In order to issue an Incidental Harassment Authorization for an 
activity, section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA states that NMFS must set 
forth ``requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such 
taking.'' The MMPA implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104 (a)(13) 
indicate that requests for Authorizations must include the suggested 
means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will 
result in increased knowledge of the species and of the level of taking 
or impacts on populations of marine mammals that we expect to be 
present in the action area.
    Monitoring measures prescribed by NMFS should accomplish one or 
more of the following general goals:
    1. An increase in the probability of detecting marine mammals, both 
within the mitigation zone (thus allowing for more effective 
implementation of the mitigation) and during other times and locations, 
in order to generate more data to contribute to the analyses mentioned 
later;
    2. An increase in our understanding of how many marine mammals 
would be affected by seismic airguns and other active acoustic sources 
and the likelihood of associating those exposures with specific adverse 
effects, such as behavioral harassment, temporary or permanent 
threshold shift;
    3. An increase in our understanding of how marine mammals respond 
to stimuli that we expect to result in take and how those anticipated 
adverse effects on individuals (in different ways and to varying 
degrees) may impact the population, species, or stock (specifically 
through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival) through any 
of the following methods:
    a. Behavioral observations in the presence of stimuli compared to 
observations in the absence of stimuli (i.e., to be able to accurately 
predict received level, distance from source, and other pertinent 
information);
    b. Physiological measurements in the presence of stimuli compared 
to observations in the absence of stimuli (i.e., to be able to 
accurately predict received level, distance from source, and other 
pertinent information);
    c. Distribution and/or abundance comparisons in times or areas with 
concentrated stimuli versus times or areas without stimuli;
    4. An increased knowledge of the affected species; and
    5. An increase in our understanding of the effectiveness of certain 
mitigation and monitoring measures.
    Lamont-Doherty plans to conduct marine mammal monitoring during the 
planned project to supplement the mitigation measures that include 
real-time monitoring (see ``Vessel-based Visual Mitigation Monitoring'' 
above), and to satisfy the monitoring requirements of the 
Authorization.

Vessel-Based Passive Acoustic Monitoring

    Passive acoustic monitoring would complement the visual mitigation 
monitoring program, when practicable. Visual monitoring typically is 
not effective during periods of poor visibility or at night, and even 
with good visibility, is unable to detect marine mammals when they are 
below the surface or beyond visual range. Passive acoustic monitoring 
can improve detection, identification, and localization of cetaceans 
when used in conjunction with visual observations. The passive acoustic 
monitoring would serve to alert visual observers (if on duty) when 
vocalizing cetaceans are detected. It is only useful when marine 
mammals call, but it can be effective either by day or by night, and 
does not depend on good visibility. The acoustic observer would monitor 
the system in real time so that he/she can advise the visual observers 
if they acoustically detect cetaceans.

[[Page 53453]]

    The passive acoustic monitoring system consists of hardware (i.e., 
hydrophones) and software. The ``wet end'' of the system consists of a 
towed hydrophone array connected to the vessel by a tow cable. The tow 
cable is 250 m (820.2 ft) long and the hydrophones are fitted in the 
last 10 m (32.8 ft) of cable. A depth gauge, attached to the free end 
of the cable, typically towed at depths less than 20 m (65.6 ft). The 
Langseth crew would deploy the array from a winch located on the back 
deck. A deck cable would connect the tow cable to the electronics unit 
in the main computer lab where the acoustic station, signal 
conditioning, and processing system would be located. The Pamguard 
software amplifies, digitizes, and then processes the acoustic signals 
received by the hydrophones. The system can detect marine mammal 
vocalizations at frequencies up to 250 kHz.
    One acoustic observer, an expert bioacoustician with primary 
responsibility for the passive acoustic monitoring system would be 
aboard the Langseth in addition to the other visual observers who would 
rotate monitoring duties. The acoustic observer would monitor the towed 
hydrophones 24 hours per day during airgun operations and during most 
periods when the Langseth is underway while the airguns are not 
operating. However, passive acoustic monitoring may not be possible if 
damage occurs to both the primary and back-up hydrophone arrays during 
operations. The primary passive acoustic monitoring streamer on the 
Langseth is a digital hydrophone streamer. Should the digital streamer 
fail, back-up systems should include an analog spare streamer and a 
hull-mounted hydrophone.
    One acoustic observer would monitor the acoustic detection system 
by listening to the signals from two channels via headphones and/or 
speakers and watching the real-time spectrographic display for 
frequency ranges produced by cetaceans. The observer monitoring the 
acoustical data would be on shift for one to six hours at a time. The 
other observers would rotate as an acoustic observer, although the 
expert acoustician would be on passive acoustic monitoring duty more 
frequently.
    When the acoustic observer detects a vocalization while visual 
observations are in progress, the acoustic observer on duty would 
contact the visual observer immediately, to alert him/her to the 
presence of cetaceans (if they have not already been seen), so that the 
vessel's crew can initiate a power down or shutdown, if required. The 
observer would enter the information regarding the call into a 
database. Data entry would include an acoustic encounter identification 
number, whether it was linked with a visual sighting, date, time when 
first and last heard and whenever any additional information was 
recorded, position and water depth when first detected, bearing if 
determinable, species or species group (e.g., unidentified dolphin, 
sperm whale), types and nature of sounds heard (e.g., clicks, 
continuous, sporadic, whistles, creaks, burst pulses, strength of 
signal, etc.), and any other notable information. Acousticians record 
the acoustic detection for further analysis.

Observer Data and Documentation

    Observers would record data to estimate the numbers of marine 
mammals exposed to various received sound levels and to document 
apparent disturbance reactions or lack thereof. They would use the data 
to help better understand the impacts of the activity on marine mammals 
and to estimate numbers of animals potentially `taken' by harassment 
(as defined in the MMPA). They will also provide information needed to 
order a power down or shut down of the airguns when a marine mammal is 
within or near the exclusion zone.
    When an observer makes a sighting, they will record the following 
information:
    1. Species, group size, age/size/sex categories (if determinable), 
behavior when first sighted and after initial sighting, heading (if 
consistent), bearing and distance from seismic vessel, sighting cue, 
apparent reaction to the airguns or vessel (e.g., none, avoidance, 
approach, paralleling, etc.), and behavioral pace.
    2. Time, location, heading, speed, activity of the vessel, sea 
state, visibility, and sun glare.
    3. The observer will record the data listed under (2) at the start 
and end of each observation watch, and during a watch whenever there is 
a change in one or more of the variables.
    4. Observers will record all observations and power downs or 
shutdowns in a standardized format and will enter data into an 
electronic database. The observers will verify the accuracy of the data 
entry by computerized data validity checks during data entry and by 
subsequent manual checking of the database. These procedures will allow 
the preparation of initial summaries of data during and shortly after 
the field program, and will facilitate transfer of the data to 
statistical, graphical, and other programs for further processing and 
archiving.
    Results from the vessel-based observations will provide:
    1. The basis for real-time mitigation (airgun power down or 
shutdown).
    2. Information needed to estimate the number of marine mammals 
potentially taken by harassment, which Lamont-Doherty must report to 
the Office of Protected Resources.
    3. Data on the occurrence, distribution, and activities of marine 
mammals and turtles in the area where Lamont-Doherty would conduct the 
seismic study.
    4. Information to compare the distance and distribution of marine 
mammals and turtles relative to the source vessel at times with and 
without seismic activity.
    5. Data on the behavior and movement patterns of marine mammals 
detected during non-active and active seismic operations.

Reporting Measures

    Lamont-Doherty will submit a report to NMFS and to NSF within 90 
days after the end of the cruise. The report will describe the 
operations conducted and sightings of marine mammals near the 
operations. The report will provide full documentation of methods, 
results, and interpretation pertaining to all monitoring. The 90-day 
report will summarize the dates and locations of seismic operations, 
and all marine mammal sightings (dates, times, locations, activities, 
associated seismic survey activities).
    The report will also include estimates of the number and nature of 
exposures that occurred above the harassment threshold based on the 
observations and in consideration of the detectability of the marine 
mammal species observed (e.g., in consideration of factors such as g(0) 
or f(0)). Lamont-Doherty must provide an estimate of the number (by 
species) of marine mammals that may have been exposed (based on 
modeling results and accounting for animals at the surface but not 
detected [i.e., g(0) values] and for animals present but underwater and 
not available for sighting [i.e., f(0) values]) to the seismic activity 
at received levels greater than or equal to 160 dB re: 1 [mu]Pa and/or 
180 dB re 1 [mu]Pa for cetaceans and 190-dB re 1 [mu]Pa for pinnipeds. 
NMFS includes this requirement for post-survey exposure estimates in 
acknowledgement of the uncertainty inherent in the pre-survey take 
estimates, and these post-survey corrections are intended to provide a 
relative qualitative sense of the accuracy of the pre-survey take 
estimates based on the marine mammals actually

[[Page 53454]]

observed during the survey and the factors described above. However, it 
is important to note that these corrections, while helpful in utilizing 
the most appropriate surrogate numbers, will utilize values determined 
by species behavior in other areas (f(0)) and detection probabilities 
calculated for different observers in different environmental 
conditions (g(0)). Additionally, correction factors of this nature are 
likely more effective over more extensive targeted marine mammal survey 
efforts, whereas for a shorter survey such as the one considered here, 
the patchiness of marine mammal occurrence makes quantitative accuracy 
less likely. Therefore, while the corrected post-survey exposure 
estimates certainly improve upon exposure assumptions based solely on 
observation, and may appropriately be used to qualitatively inform 
future take estimates, they should not be construed as an indicator 
that the corrected number of marine mammals equates to the number of 
marine mammals definitively taken during the survey.
    In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly 
causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner not permitted by the 
authorization (if issued), such as an injury, serious injury, or 
mortality (e.g., ship-strike, gear interaction, and/or entanglement), 
Lamont-Doherty shall immediately cease the specified activities and 
immediately report the take to the Chief Permits and Conservation 
Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS. The report must include 
the following information:
     Time, date, and location (latitude/longitude) of the 
incident;
     Name and type of vessel involved;
     Vessel's speed during and leading up to the incident;
     Description of the incident;
     Status of all sound source use in the 24 hours preceding 
the incident;
     Water depth;
     Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, 
Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility);
     Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 
hours preceding the incident;
     Species identification or description of the animal(s) 
involved;
     Fate of the animal(s); and
     Photographs or video footage of the animal(s) (if 
equipment is available).
    Lamont-Doherty shall not resume its activities until NMFS is able 
to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS would work 
with Lamont-Doherty to determine what is necessary to minimize the 
likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. 
Lamont-Doherty may not resume their activities until notified by NMFS 
via letter, email, or telephone.
    In the event that Lamont-Doherty discovers an injured or dead 
marine mammal, and the lead visual observer determines that the cause 
of the injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent 
(i.e., in less than a moderate state of decomposition as we describe in 
the next paragraph), Lamont-Doherty will immediately report the 
incident to the Chief Permits and Conservation Division, Office of 
Protected Resources, NMFS. The report must include the same information 
identified in the paragraph above this section. Activities may continue 
while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS would work 
with Lamont-Doherty to determine whether modifications in the 
activities are appropriate.
    In the event that Lamont-Doherty discovers an injured or dead 
marine mammal, and the lead visual observer determines that the injury 
or death is not associated with or related to the authorized activities 
(e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced 
decomposition, or scavenger damage), Lamont-Doherty would report the 
incident to the Chief Permits and Conservation Division, Office of 
Protected Resources, NMFS, within 24 hours of the discovery. Lamont-
Doherty would provide photographs or video footage (if available) or 
other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS.

Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment

    Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, 
section 3(18) of the MMPA defines ``harassment'' as: any act of 
pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a 
marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A harassment]; 
or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal 
stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, 
including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, 
feeding, or sheltering [Level B harassment].
    Acoustic stimuli (i.e., increased underwater sound) generated 
during the operation of the airgun array may have the potential to 
result in the behavioral disturbance of some marine mammals and may 
have an even smaller potential to result in permanent threshold shift 
(non-lethal injury) of some marine mammals. NMFS expects that the 
mitigation and monitoring measures would minimize the possibility of 
injurious or lethal takes. However, NMFS cannot discount the 
possibility (albeit small) that exposure to sound from the planned 
survey could result in non-lethal injury (Level A harassment). Thus, 
NMFS authorizes take by Level B harassment and Level A harassment 
resulting from the operation of the sound sources for the planned 
seismic survey based upon the current acoustic exposure criteria shown 
in Table 3, subject to the limitations in take described in Tables 4-7 
later in this notice.

           Table 3--NMFS's Current Acoustic Exposure Criteria
------------------------------------------------------------------------
          Criterion           Criterion definition        Threshold
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Level A Harassment (Injury).  Permanent Threshold   180 dB re 1 microPa-
                               Shift (PTS) (Any      m (cetaceans)/190
                               level above that      dB re 1 microPa-m
                               which is known to     (pinnipeds) root
                               cause TTS).           mean square (rms).
Level B Harassment..........  Behavioral            160 dB re 1 microPa-
                               Disruption (for       m (rms).
                               impulse noises).
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    NMFS's practice is to apply the 160 dB re: 1 [micro]Pa received 
level threshold for underwater impulse sound levels to predict whether 
behavioral disturbance that rises to the level of Level B harassment is 
likely to occur. NMFS's practice is to apply the 180 dB or 190 dB re: 1 
[micro]Pa (for cetaceans and pinnipeds, respectively) received level 
threshold for underwater impulse sound levels to predict whether 
permanent threshold shift (auditory injury), which we consider as 
harassment (Level A), is likely to occur.

Acknowledging Uncertainties in Estimating Take

    Given the many uncertainties in predicting the quantity and types 
of impacts of sound on marine mammals, it is common practice for us to 
estimate how many animals are likely to be present within a particular 
distance of a

[[Page 53455]]

given activity, or exposed to a particular level of sound. We use this 
information to predict how many animals potentially could be taken. In 
practice, depending on the amount of information available to 
characterize daily and seasonal movement and distribution of affected 
marine mammals, distinguishing between the numbers of individuals 
harassed and the instances of harassment can be difficult to parse. 
Moreover, when one considers the duration of the activity, in the 
absence of information to predict the degree to which individual 
animals are likely exposed repeatedly on subsequent days, one 
assumption is that entirely new animals could be exposed every day, 
which results in a take estimate that in some circumstances 
overestimates the number of individuals harassed.
    The following sections describe Lamont-Doherty's and NMFS's methods 
to estimate take by incidental harassment. We base these estimates on 
the number of marine mammals that are estimated to be exposed to 
seismic airgun sound levels above the Level B harassment threshold of 
160 dB during a total of approximately 9,633 km (5,986 mi) of transect 
lines in the southeast Pacific Ocean.
    Density Estimates: Lamont-Doherty was unable to identify any 
systematic aircraft- or ship-based surveys conducted for marine mammals 
in waters of the southeast Pacific Ocean offshore Chile. Lamont-Doherty 
used densities from NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) 
cruises (Ferguson and Barlow, 2001, 2003; Barlow 2003, 2010; Forney, 
2007) in the California Current, which is similar to the Humboldt 
Current Coastal area in which the planned surveys are located. Both are 
eastern boundary currents that feature narrow continental shelves, 
upwelling, high productivity, and fluctuating fishery resources 
(sardines and anchovies). The densities used were survey effort-
weighted means for the locations (blocks or states). In cases where 
multiple density estimates existed for an area, Lamont-Doherty used the 
highest density range (summer/fall) for each species within the survey 
area. We refer the reader to Lamont-Doherty's application for detailed 
information on how Lamont-Doherty calculated densities for marine 
mammals from the SWFSC cruises.
    For blue whales in the southern survey area, NMFS used the density 
(9.56/km\2\) reported by Galletti Vernazzani et al. (2012) for 
approximately four days of the planned southern survey to account for 
potential survey operations occurring near a known foraging area 
between 39[deg] S and 44[deg] S. For the remaining 31 days of the 
planned survey, NMFS used the density estimate presented in Lamont-
Doherty's application (2.07/km\2\). NMFS considers Lamont-Doherty's 
approach to calculating densities for the remaining marine mammal 
species in the survey areas as the best available information. We 
present the estimated densities (when available) in Tables 4, 5, and 6 
in this notice.
    Modeled Number of Instances of Exposures: Lamont-Doherty will 
conduct the planned seismic surveys offshore Chile in the southeast 
Pacific Ocean and presented NMFS with estimates of the anticipated 
numbers of instances that marine mammals could be exposed to sound 
levels greater than or equal to 160, 180, and 190 dB re: 1 [mu]Pa 
during the planned seismic survey (outside the Chilean territorial sea) 
in Tables 3, 4, and 5 in their application. NMFS independently reviewed 
these estimates and presents revised estimates of the anticipated 
numbers of instances that marine mammals could be exposed to sound 
levels greater than or equal to 160, 180, and 190 dB re: 1 [mu]Pa 
during the planned seismic survey (outside the Chilean territorial sea) 
in Tables 4, 5, and 6 in this notice. Table 7 presents the total 
numbers of instances of take that NMFS authorizes. As described above, 
NMFS cannot authorize the incidental take of marine mammals in the 
territorial seas of foreign nations, as the MMPA does not apply in 
those waters; therefore the total numbers of instances of take that 
NMFS authorizes represents only the takes predicted to occur outside of 
the Chilean territorial sea (Table 7).
    Take Estimate Method for Species with Density Information: Briefly, 
we take the estimated density of marine mammals within an area 
(animals/km\2\) and multiply that number by the daily ensonified area 
(km\2\). The product (rounded) is the number of instance of take within 
one day. We then multiply the number of instances of take within one 
day by the number of survey days (plus 25 percent contingency). The 
result is an estimate of the potential number of instances that marine 
mammals could be exposed to airgun sounds above the Level B harassment 
threshold (i.e., the 160 dB ensonified area minus the 180/190-dB 
ensonified area) and the Level A harassment threshold (i.e., the 180/
190-dB ensonified area only) over the duration of each planned survey.
    There is some uncertainty about the representativeness of the 
estimated density data and the assumptions used in their calculations. 
Oceanographic conditions, including occasional El Ni[ntilde]o and La 
Ni[ntilde]a events, influence the distribution and numbers of marine 
mammals present in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, resulting in 
considerable year-to-year variation in the distribution and abundance 
of many marine mammal species. Thus, for some species, the densities 
derived from past surveys may not be representative of the densities 
that would be encountered during the planned seismic surveys. However, 
the approach used is based on the best available data.
    In many cases, this estimate of instances of exposures is likely an 
overestimate of the number of individuals that are taken, because it 
assumes 100 percent turnover in the area every day, (i.e., that each 
new day results in takes of entirely new individuals with no repeat 
takes of the same individuals over the three periods (northern: 35 
days; central: 6 days; and southern: 34 days) including contingency. It 
is difficult to quantify to what degree this method overestimates the 
number of individuals potentially taken. Except as described later for 
a few specific species, NMFS uses this number of instances as the 
estimate of individuals (and authorized take).
    Take Estimates for Species with Less than One Instance of Exposure: 
Using the approach described earlier, the model generated instances of 
take for some species that were less than one over the 75 total survey 
days. Those species include: Bryde's, dwarf sperm, killer, and sei 
whale. NMFS used data based on dedicated survey sighting information 
from the Atlantic Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species 
(AMAPPS) surveys in 2010, 2011, and 2013 (AMAPPS, 2010, 2011, 2013) to 
estimate take and assumed that Lamont-Doherty could potentially 
encounter one group of each species during the planned seismic survey. 
NMFS believes it is reasonable to use the average (mean) group size 
(weighted by effort and rounded up) from the AMMAPS surveys for Bryde's 
whale (2), dwarf sperm whale (2), killer whale (4), and sei whale (3) 
to derive a reasonable estimate of take for eruptive occurrences of 
each these species only once for each survey.
    Take Estimates for Species with No Density Information: Density 
information for the southern right whale, pygmy right whale, Antarctic 
minke whale, sei whale, dwarf sperm whale, Shephard's beaked whale, 
pygmy beaked whale, southern bottlenose whale, hourglass dolphin, pygmy 
killer whale, false killer whale; short-finned pilot whale, Juan 
Fernandez fur seal, and southern

[[Page 53456]]

elephant seal in the southeast Pacific Ocean is data poor or non-
existent. When density estimates were not available for a particular 
survey leg, NMFS used data based on dedicated survey sighting 
information from the Atlantic Marine Assessment Program for Protected 
Species (AMAPPS) surveys in 2010, 2011, and 2013 (AMAPPS, 2010, 2011, 
2013) and from Santora (2012) to estimate mean group size and take for 
these species. NMFS assumed that Lamont-Doherty could potentially 
encounter one group of each species each day during the seismic survey. 
NMFS believes it is reasonable to use the average (mean) group size 
(weighted by effort and rounded up) for each species multiplied by the 
number of survey days to derive an estimate of take from potential 
encounters.

   Table 4--Densities of Marine Mammals and Estimates of Incidents of Exposure to >=160 and 180 or 190 dB re 1
  [mu]Pa rms Predicted During the Northern Seismic Survey in the Southeast Pacific Ocean in 2016/2017 (Outside
                                            Chilean Territorial Sea)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Modeled number of instances
             Species                   Density      of exposures to sound levels   Level A take    Level B take
                                    estimate \1\     >=160, 180, and 190 dB \2\         \3\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Southern right whale.............               0  105, 0, -....................               0             105
Humpback whale...................            0.32  35, 0, -.....................               0              35
Common (dwarf) minke whale.......            0.34  35, 0, -.....................               0              35
Antarctic minke whale............               0  70, 0, -.....................               0              70
Bryde's whale....................            0.47  35, 0, 0.....................               0              35
Sei whale........................               0  105, 0, -....................               0             105
Fin whale........................             1.4  105, 35, -...................              35             105
Blue whale.......................            0.54  35, 0, -.....................               0              35
Sperm whale......................            1.19  70, 0, -.....................               0              70
Dwarf sperm whale................            8.92  630, 105, -..................             105             630
Pygmy sperm whale................            2.73  210, 35, -...................              35             210
Cuvier's beaked whale............            2.36  175, 35, -...................              35             175
Pygmy beaked whale...............             0.7  35, 0, -.....................               0              35
Gray's beaked whale..............            1.95  140, 35, -...................              35             140
Blainville's beaked whale........            1.95  140, 35, -...................              35             140
Rough-toothed dolphin............            7.05  490, 105, -..................             105             490
Common bottlenose dolphin........            18.4  1,330, 245, -................             245           1,330
Striped dolphin..................            61.4  4,410, 805, -................             805           4,410
Short-beaked common dolphin......           356.3  25,515, 4,725, -.............           4,725          25,515
Long-beaked common dolphin.......            50.3  3,605, 665, -................             665           3,605
Dusky dolphin....................            13.7  980, 175, -..................             175             980
Southern right whale dolphin.....            3.34  245, 35, -...................              35             245
Risso's dolphin..................            29.8  2,135, 385, -................             385           2,135
Pygmy killer whale...............            1.31  105, 0, -....................               0             105
False killer whale...............            0.63  35, 0, -.....................               0              35
Killer whale.....................            0.23  4, 0, -......................               0               4
Short-finned pilot whale.........               0  700, 0, -....................               0             700
Long-finned pilot whale..........            1.09  70, 0, -.....................               0              70
Burmeister's porpoise............            5.15  385, 70, -...................              70             385
Juan Fernandez fur seal..........               0  70, -, 0.....................               0              70
South American fur seal..........            37.9  2,730, -, 490................             490           2,730
South American sea lion..........             393  28,140, -, 5,215.............           5,215          28,140
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Densities shown (when available) are 1,000 animals per km\2\. See Lamont-Doherty's application and text in
  this notice for a summary of how Lamont-Doherty derived density estimates for certain species. For species
  without density estimates, see text in this notice for an explanation of NMFS's methodology to derive take
  estimates.
\2\ Take modeled using a daily method for calculating ensonified area: Estimated density multiplied by the daily
  ensonified area to derive instances of take in one day (rounded) multiplied by the number of survey days with
  25 percent contingency (35) Level B take = modeled instances of exposure within the 160-dB ensonified area
  minus the 180-dB or 190-dB ensonified area. Level A take = modeled instances of exposures within the 180-dB or
  190-dB ensonified area only. Modeled instances of exposures include adjustments for species with no density
  information or with species having less than one instance of exposure (see text for sources).
\3\ The Level A estimates are overestimates of predicted impacts to marine mammals as the estimates do not take
  into consideration the required mitigation measures for shutdowns or power downs if a marine mammal is likely
  to enter the 180 or 190 dB exclusion zone while the airguns are active.


   Table 5--Densities of Marine Mammals and Estimates of Incidents of Exposure to >=160 and 180 or 190 dB re 1
   [mu]Pa rms Predicted During the Central Seismic Survey in the Southeast Pacific Ocean in 2016/2017 (Outside
                                            Chilean Territorial Sea)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Modeled number of instances
             Species                   Density      of exposures to sound levels   Level A take    Level B take
                                    estimate \1\     >=160, 180, and 190 dB \2\         \3\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Southern right whale.............               0  18, 0, -.....................               0              18
Pygmy right whale................               0  18, 0, -.....................               0              18

[[Page 53457]]

 
Humpback whale...................            0.43  6, 0, -......................               0               6
Common (dwarf) minke whale.......            0.34  6, 0, -......................               0               6
Antarctic minke whale............               0  12, 0, -.....................               0              12
Bryde's whale....................            0.41  6, 0, -......................               0               6
Sei whale........................               0  18, 0, -.....................               0              18
Fin whale........................            1.96  18, 6, -.....................               6              18
Blue whale.......................             2.1  18, 6, -.....................               6              18
Sperm whale......................            1.22  12, 0, -.....................               0              12
Dwarf sperm whale................            7.98  78, 12, -....................              12              78
Pygmy sperm whale................            2.98  30, 6, -.....................               6              30
Cuvier's beaked whale............            3.02  30, 6, -.....................               6              30
Shepard's beaked whale...........               0  18, 0, -.....................               0              18
Hector's beaked whale............            1.54  18, 0, -.....................               0              18
Pygmy beaked whale...............            0.55  6, 0, -......................               0               6
Gray's beaked whale..............            1.54  18, 0, -.....................               0              18
Blainville's beaked whale........            1.54  18, 0, -.....................               0              18
Andrew's beaked whale............            1.54  18, 0, -.....................               0              18
Strap-toothed beaked whale.......            1.54  18, 0, -.....................               0              18
Spade-toothed beaked whale.......            1.54  18, 0, -.....................               0              18
Chilean dolphin..................            21.2  210, 36, -...................              36             210
Common bottlenose dolphin........            12.3  120, 24, -...................              24             120
Striped dolphin..................            46.7  462, 84, -...................              84             462
Short-beaked common dolphin......           503.5  4,998, 908, -................             906           4,998
Dusky dolphin....................            14.8  144, 24, -...................              24             144
Peale's dolphin..................            21.2  210, 36, -...................              36             210
Hourglass dolphin................               0  30, 0, -.....................               0              30
Southern right whale dolphin.....            6.07  60, 12, -....................              12              60
Risso's dolphin..................            21.2  210, 36, -...................              36             210
Pygmy killer whale...............               0  12, 0, -.....................               0              12
False killer whale...............            0.54  6, 0, -......................               0               6
Killer whale.....................            0.28  4, 0, -......................               0               4
Short-finned pilot whale.........               0  120, 0, -....................               0             120
Long-finned pilot whale..........            0.94  12, 0, -.....................               0              12
Burmeister's porpoise............            4.92  48, 6, -.....................               6              48
Juan Fernandez fur seal..........               0  12, -, 0.....................               0              12
South American fur seal..........            37.9  378, -, 66...................              66             378
South American sea lion..........             393  3,900, -, 708................             708           3,900
Southern elephant seal...........               0  24, -, 0.....................               0              24
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Densities shown (when available) are 1,000 animals per km\2\. See Lamont-Doherty's application and text in
  this notice for a summary of how Lamont-Doherty derived density estimates for certain species. For species
  without density estimates, see text in this notice for an explanation of NMFS's methodology to derive take
  estimates.
\2\ Take modeled using a daily method for calculating ensonified area: Estimated density multiplied by the daily
  ensonified area to derive instances of take in one day (rounded) multiplied by the number of survey days with
  25 percent contingency (35) Level B take = modeled instances of exposure within the 160-dB ensonified area
  minus the 180-dB or 190-dB ensonified area. Level A take = modeled instances of exposures within the 180-dB or
  190-dB ensonified area only. Modeled instances of exposures include adjustments for species with no density
  information or with species having less than one instance of exposure (see text for sources).
\3\ The Level A estimates are overestimates of predicted impacts to marine mammals as the estimates do not take
  into consideration the required mitigation measures for shutdowns or power downs if a marine mammal is likely
  to enter the 180 or 190 dB exclusion zone while the airguns are active.


   Table 6--Densities of Marine Mammals and Estimates of Incidents of Exposure to >=160 and 180 or 190 dB re 1
  [mu]Pa rms Predicted During the Southern Seismic Survey in the Southeast Pacific Ocean in 2016/2017 (Outside
                                            Chilean Territorial Sea)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               Modeled number of
                                                                  instances of
                                                   Density        exposures to     Level A take
                   Species                      estimate \1\      sound levels          \3\        Level B take
                                                                >=160, 180, and
                                                                   190 dB \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Southern right whale.........................               0          102, 0, -               0             102
Pygmy right whale............................               0          102, 0, -               0             102
Humpback whale...............................            1.22          102, 0, -               0             102
Common (dwarf) minke whale...................            0.61           34, 0, -               0              34

[[Page 53458]]

 
Antarctic minke whale........................               0           68, 0, -               0              68
Bryde's whale................................            0.03            2, 0, -               0               2
Sei whale....................................            0.02            3, 0, -               0               3
Fin whale....................................            2.43         170, 34, -              34             170
Blue whale (Feb-Apr).........................            9.56          80, 12, -              12              80
Blue whale (May-Jan).........................            2.07         124, 31, -              31             124
Sperm whale..................................            1.32          102, 0, -               0             102
Dwarf sperm whale............................               0           68, 0, -               0              68
Pygmy sperm whale............................            4.14         306, 34, -              34             306
Cuvier's beaked whale........................            4.02         272, 34, -              34             272
Shepard's beaked whale.......................               0          102, 0, -               0             102
Hector's beaked whale........................            0.31           34, 0, -               0              34
Pygmy beaked whale...........................               0          102, 0, -               0             102
Gray's beaked whale..........................            1.95         136, 34, -              34             136
Blainville's beaked whale....................            0.31           34, 0, -               0              34
Andrew's beaked whale........................            0.31           34, 0, -               0              34
Strap-toothed beaked whale...................            0.31           34, 0, -               0              34
Spade-toothed beaked whale...................            0.31           34, 0, -               0              34
Southern bottlenose whale....................               0          102, 0, -               0             102
Chilean dolphin..............................            10.9        748, 136, 0             136             748
Common bottlenose dolphin....................            2.72         204, 34, -              34             204
Striped dolphin..............................            17.7      1,224, 204, -             204           1,224
Short-beaked common dolphin..................           516.9   36,210, 5,950, -           5,950          36,210
Dusky dolphin................................            29.9      2,108, 340, -             340           2,108
Peale's dolphin..............................            10.9        748, 136, -             136             748
Hourglass dolphin............................               0          170, 0, -               0             170
Southern right whale dolphin.................            9.79        680, 102, -             102             680
Risso's dolphin..............................            10.9        748, 136, -             136             748
Pygmy killer whale...........................               0           68, 0, -               0              68
False killer whale...........................               0          238, 0, -               0             238
Killer whale.................................            0.73           68, 0, -               0              68
Short-finned pilot whale.....................               0          680, 0, -               0             680
Long-finned pilot whale......................            0.53           34, 0, -               0              34
Burmeister's porpoise........................            55.4      3,876, 646, -             646           3,876
Juan Fernandez fur seal......................               0           68, -, 0               0              68
South American fur seal......................            37.9      2,652, -, 442             442           2,652
South American sea lion......................             393   27,540, -, 4,522           4,522          27,540
Southern elephant seal.......................               0          136, -, 0               0             136
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Densities shown (when available) are 1,000 animals per km\2\. See Lamont-Doherty's application and text in
  this notice for a summary of how Lamont-Doherty derived density estimates for certain species. For species
  without density estimates, see text in this notice for an explanation of NMFS's methodology to derive take
  estimates.
\2\ Take modeled using a daily method for calculating ensonified area: Estimated density multiplied by the daily
  ensonified area to derive instances of take in one day (rounded) multiplied by the number of survey days with
  25 percent contingency (35) Level B take = modeled instances of exposure within the 160-dB ensonified area
  minus the 180-dB or 190-dB ensonified area. Level A take = modeled instances of exposures within the 180-dB or
  190-dB ensonified area only. Modeled instances of exposures include adjustments for species with no density
  information or with species having less than one instance of exposure (see text for sources).
\3\ The Level A estimates are overestimates of predicted impacts to marine mammals as the estimates do not take
  into consideration the required mitigation measures for shutdowns or power downs if a marine mammal is likely
  to enter the 180 or 190 dB exclusion zone while the airguns are active.


  Table 7--Take Authorized During the Northern, Central, and Southern Seismic Survey Off Chile in the Southeast
Pacific Ocean in 2016/2017 Based on Total Predicted Incidents of Exposure to >=160 and 180 or 190 dB re 1 [mu]Pa
                                      rms (Outside Chilean Territorial Sea)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                   Level A take                                     Percent of
                     Species                            \1\        Level B take     Total take    population \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Southern right whale............................               0             225             225            1.9%
Pygmy right whale...............................               0             120             120         Unknown
Humpback whale..................................               0             143             143             0.3
Common (dwarf) minke whale......................               0              75              75            0.02
Antarctic minke whale...........................               0             150             150            0.03
Bryde's whale...................................               0              43              43             0.1
Sei whale.......................................               0             126             126             1.3
Fin whale.......................................              75             293             368             1.7

[[Page 53459]]

 
Blue whale......................................              49             257             306             3.1
Sperm whale.....................................               0             184             184             0.1
Dwarf sperm whale...............................             117             776             893             0.5
Pygmy sperm whale...............................              75             546             621             0.4
Cuvier's beaked whale...........................              75             477             552             2.8
Shepard's beaked whale..........................               0             120             120             0.5
Pygmy beaked whale..............................               0             143             143             0.6
Gray's beaked whale.............................              69             294             363             1.4
Blainville's beaked whale.......................              35             192             227             0.9
Hector's beaked whale...........................               0              52              52             0.2
Gray's beaked whale.............................              69             294             363             1.4
Andrew's beaked whale...........................               0              52              52             0.2
Strap-toothed beaked whale......................               0              52              52             0.2
Spade-toothed beaked whale......................               0              52              52             0.2
Southern bottlenose whale.......................               0             102             102             0.1
Chilean dolphin.................................             172             958           1,130            11.3
Rough-toothed dolphin...........................             105             490             595             0.1
Common bottlenose dolphin.......................             303           1,654           1,957             0.1
Striped dolphin.................................           1,093           6,096           7,189             0.1
Short-beaked common dolphin.....................          11,581          66,723          78,304             4.4
Long-beaked common dolphin......................             665           3,605           4,270             2.9
Dusky dolphin...................................             539           3,232           3,771            14.6
Peale's dolphin.................................             172             958           1,130         Unknown
Hourglass dolphin...............................               0             200             200             0.1
Southern right whale dolphin....................             149             985           1,134         Unknown
Risso's dolphin.................................             557           3,093           3,650             3.3
Pygmy killer whale..............................               0             185             185             0.5
False killer whale..............................               0             279             279             0.7
Killer whale....................................               0              76              76             0.2
Short-finned pilot whale........................               0           1,500           1,500             0.3
Long-finned pilot whale.........................               0             116             116             0.1
Burmeister's porpoise...........................             722           4,309           5,031         Unknown
Juan Fernandez fur seal.........................               0             150             150             0.5
South American fur seal.........................             998           5,760           6,758             2.7
South American sea lion.........................          10,445          59,580          70,025            17.6
Southern elephant seal..........................               0             160             160            0.04
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ The Level A estimates are overestimates of predicted impacts to marine mammals as the estimates do not take
  into consideration the required mitigation measures for shutdowns or power downs if a marine mammal is likely
  to enter the 180 or 190 dB exclusion zone while the airguns are active.
\2\ Authorized Level A and B takes (used by NMFS as proxy for number of individuals exposed) expressed as the
  percent of the population listed in Table 1 in this notice. Unknown = Abundance size not available.

    Lamont-Doherty did not estimate any additional take from sound 
sources other than airguns. NMFS does not expect the sound levels 
produced by the echosounder and sub-bottom profiler to exceed the sound 
levels produced by the airguns. During the estimated 10 nm of transit 
that is expected to occur between the three planned survey locations, 
the use of the MBES and SBP may occur independent of seismic airgun 
operation. This use of the MBES and SBP in the absence of airgun use 
was not explicitly described in the Federal Register notice for the 
proposed IHA (81 FR 23117; April 19, 2016). While sound from MBES and 
SBP has the potential to result in harassment of marine mammals, any 
potential for takes that could occur as a result of the MBES and SBP 
within those 10 nm of transit, which would equate to a total of 
approximately two hours of transit time based on a vessel speed of 
approximately 4.5 kt (5.1 mph), would be de minimis, based on the fact 
that the use of these sources may occur for only a portion of the 10 nm 
of transit, resulting in a relatively brief amount of time that these 
sources would potentially be operating in the absence of airgun 
operation. Additionally, as the take estimate methodology (see 
Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment) includes a 25 percent 
contingency for equipment failures, resurveys, or other operational 
needs, any takes that could potentially occur as a result of the MBES 
and SBP use in the absence of airgun operations would be accounted for 
in this 25 percent contingency.
    As described above, NMFS considers the probability for entanglement 
of marine mammals to be so low as to be discountable, because of the 
vessel speed and the monitoring efforts onboard the survey vessel. 
Therefore, NMFS does not authorize additional takes for entanglement.
    As described above, the Langseth will operate at a relatively slow 
speed (typically 4.6 knots [8.5 km/h; 5.3 mph]) when conducting the 
survey. Protected species observers would monitor for marine mammals, 
which would trigger mitigation measures, including vessel avoidance 
where safe. Therefore, NMFS does not anticipate nor do we authorize 
takes of marine mammals as a result of vessel strike.
    There is no evidence that the planned survey activities could 
result in serious injury or mortality within the specified geographic 
area for the requested Authorization. The required mitigation

[[Page 53460]]

and monitoring measures would minimize any potential risk for serious 
injury or mortality.

Analysis and Determinations

Negligible Impact

    Negligible impact is ``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'' (50 CFR 216.103). The lack of 
likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival 
(i.e., population level effects) forms the basis of a negligible impact 
finding. Thus, an estimate of the number of 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, NMFS must consider other 
factors, such as the likely nature of any responses (their intensity, 
duration, etc.), the context of any responses (critical reproductive 
time or location, migration, etc.), as well as the number and nature of 
estimated Level A harassment takes, the number of estimated 
mortalities, effects on habitat, and the status of the species.
    In making a negligible impact determination, NMFS considers:
     The number of anticipated injuries, serious injuries, or 
mortalities;
     The number, nature, and intensity, and duration of 
harassment; and
     The context in which the takes occur (e.g., impacts to 
times or areas of significance);
     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 takes.
    To avoid repetition, our analysis applies to all the species listed 
in Table 7, given that NMFS expects the anticipated effects of the 
seismic airguns to be similar in nature. Where there are meaningful 
differences between species or stocks, or groups of species, in 
anticipated individual responses to activities, impact of expected take 
on the population due to differences in population status, or impacts 
on habitat, NMFS has identified species-specific factors to inform the 
analysis.
    Given the required mitigation and related monitoring, NMFS does not 
anticipate that serious injury or mortality would occur as a result of 
Lamont-Doherty's seismic survey in the southeast Pacific Ocean. Thus 
NMFS does not authorize any mortality. NMFS's predicted estimates for 
Level A harassment take for some species are likely overestimates of 
the injury that will occur, as NMFS expects that successful 
implementation of the mitigation measures would avoid Level A take in 
some instances. Also, NMFS expects that some individuals would avoid 
the source at levels expected to result in injury, given sufficient 
notice of the Langseth's approach due to the vessel's relatively low 
speed when conducting seismic surveys. Though NMFS expects that Level A 
harassment is unlikely to occur at the numbers authorized, is difficult 
to quantify the degree to which the mitigation and avoidance will 
reduce the number of animals that might incur PTS, therefore we 
authorize, include in our analyses, the modeled number of Level A 
takes, which does not take the mitigation or avoidance into 
consideration. However, because of the constant movement of the 
Langseth and of the animals, as well as the fact that the vessel is not 
expected to remain in any one area in which individuals would be 
expected to concentrate for any extended amount of time (i.e., since 
the duration of exposure to loud sounds will be relatively short), we 
anticipate that any PTS that may be incurred in marine mammals would be 
in the form of only a small degree of permanent threshold shift, and 
not total deafness, that would not be likely to affect the fitness of 
any individuals.
    Of the marine mammal species under our jurisdiction that are known 
to occur or likely to occur in the study area, the following species 
are listed as endangered under the ESA: Blue, fin, humpback, sei, 
Southern right, and sperm whales. The other marine mammal species that 
may be taken by harassment during Lamont-Doherty's seismic survey 
program are not listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA.
    Cetaceans. Odontocete reactions to seismic energy pulses are 
usually thought to be limited to shorter distances from the airgun(s) 
than are those of mysticetes, in part because odontocete low-frequency 
hearing is assumed to be less sensitive to the low frequency signals of 
these airguns than that of mysticetes. NMFS generally expects cetaceans 
to move away from a noise source that is annoying prior to its becoming 
potentially injurious, and this expectation is expected to hold true in 
the case of the planned activities, especially given the relatively 
slow travel speed of the Langseth while seismic surveys are being 
conducted (4.5 kt; 5.1 mph). The relatively slow ship speed is expected 
to provide cetaceans with sufficient notice of the oncoming vessel and 
thus sufficient opportunity to avoid the seismic sound source before it 
reaches a level that would be potentially injurious to the animal. 
However, as described above, Level A takes for a small group of 
cetacean species are authorized.
    Potential impacts to marine mammal habitat were discussed 
previously in this document (see the ``Anticipated Effects on Habitat'' 
section). Although some disturbance is possible to food sources of 
marine mammals, the impacts are anticipated to be minor enough as to 
not affect the feeding success of any individuals long-term. Regarding 
direct effects on cetacean feeding, based on the fact that the action 
footprint does not include any areas recognized specifically for higher 
value feeding habitat, the mobile and ephemeral nature of most prey 
sources, and the size of the southeast Pacific Ocean where feeding by 
marine mammals occurs versus the localized area of the marine survey 
activities, any missed feeding opportunities in the direct project area 
are expected to be minor based on the fact that other equally valuable 
feeding opportunities likely exist nearby.
    Taking into account the planned mitigation measures, effects on 
cetaceans are generally expected to be restricted to avoidance of a 
limited area around the survey operation and short-term changes in 
behavior, falling within the MMPA definition of ``Level B harassment.'' 
Animals are not expected to permanently abandon any area that is 
surveyed, and based on the best available information, any behaviors 
that are interrupted during the activity are expected to resume once 
the activity ceases. For example, as described above, gray whales have 
continued to migrate annually along the west coast of North America 
with substantial increases in the population over recent years, despite 
intermittent seismic exploration in that area for decades (Appendix A 
in Malme et al., 1984; Richardson et al., 1995; Allen and Angliss, 
2014). Similarly, bowhead whales have continued to travel to the 
eastern Beaufort Sea each summer, and their numbers have increased 
notably, despite seismic exploration in their summer and autumn range 
for many years (Richardson et al., 1987; Allen and Angliss, 2014). The 
history of coexistence between seismic surveys and baleen whales 
suggests that brief exposures to sound pulses from any single seismic 
survey are unlikely to

[[Page 53461]]

result in prolonged effects. Only a small portion of marine mammal 
habitat will be affected at any time, and other areas within the 
southeast Pacific Ocean would be available for necessary biological 
functions. Overall, the consequences of behavioral modification are not 
expected to affect cetacean growth, survival, and/or reproduction, and 
therefore are not expected to be biologically significant.
    Pinnipeds. Generally speaking, pinnipeds may react to a sound 
source in a number of ways depending on their experience with the sound 
source and what activity they are engaged in at the time of the 
exposure, with behavioral responses to sound ranging from a mild 
orienting response, or a shifting of attention, to flight and panic. 
However, research and monitoring observations from activities similar 
to those planned have shown that pinnipeds in the water are generally 
tolerant of anthropogenic noise and activity. Visual monitoring from 
seismic vessels has shown only slight (if any) avoidance of airguns by 
pinnipeds and only slight (if any) changes in behavior (Harris et al., 
2001; Moulton and Lawson, 2002). During foraging trips, extralimital 
pinnipeds may not react at all to the sound from the survey or may 
alert, ignore the stimulus, change their behavior, or avoid the 
immediate area by swimming away or diving. Behavioral effects to sound 
are generally more likely to occur at higher received levels (i.e., 
within a few kilometers of a sound source). However, the slow speed of 
the Langseth while conducting seismic surveys (approximately 4.5 kt; 
5.1 mph) is expected to provide ample opportunity for pinnipeds to 
avoid and keep some distance between themselves and the loudest sources 
of sound associated with the planned activities. Additionally, 
underwater sound from the planned survey would not be audible at 
pinniped haulouts or rookeries, therefore the consequences of 
behavioral responses in these areas are expected to be minimal. 
Overall, the consequences of behavioral modification are not expected 
to affect pinniped growth, survival, and/or reproduction, and therefore 
are not expected to be biologically significant.
    Many animals perform vital functions, such as feeding, resting, 
traveling, and socializing, on a diel cycle (i.e., 24 hour cycle). 
Behavioral reactions to noise exposure (such as disruption of critical 
life functions, displacement, or avoidance of important habitat) are 
more likely to be significant if they last more than one diel cycle or 
recur on subsequent days (Southall et al., 2007). While NMFS 
anticipates that the seismic operations would occur on consecutive 
days, the estimated duration of the survey would last no more than 75 
days but would increase sound levels in the marine environment in a 
relatively small area surrounding the vessel (compared to the range of 
most of the marine mammals within the survey area), which is constantly 
travelling over distances, and some animals may only be exposed to and 
harassed by sound for less than a day.
    For reasons stated previously in this document and based on the 
following factors, Lamont-Doherty's planned activities are not likely 
to cause long-term behavioral disturbance, serious injury, or death, or 
other effects that would be expected to adversely affect reproduction 
or survival of any individuals. They include:
     The anticipated impacts of Lamont-Doherty's survey 
activities on marine mammals are temporary behavioral changes due, 
primarily, to avoidance of the area around the seismic vessel;
     The likelihood that, given the constant movement of boat 
and animals and the nature of the survey design (not concentrated in 
areas of high marine mammal concentration), any PTS that is incurred 
would be of a low level;
     The availability of alternate areas of similar habitat 
value for marine mammals to temporarily vacate the survey area during 
the operation of the airgun(s) to avoid acoustic harassment;
     The expectation that the seismic survey would have no more 
than a temporary and minimal adverse effect on any fish or invertebrate 
species that serve as prey species for marine mammals, and therefore 
consider the potential impacts to marine mammal habitat minimal.
    Tables 4-7 in this document describe the number of Level A and 
Level B harassment takes that we anticipate as a result of the planned 
survey activities outside Chile's territorial sea (12 nm). Lamont-
Doherty would conduct the planned seismic survey within the EEZ and 
territorial waters of Chile. The planned survey would occur primarily 
on the high seas, with a small portion occurring within Chile's 
territorial sea. As described above, NMFS does not have authority to 
authorize the incidental take of marine mammals in the territorial seas 
of foreign nations, because the MMPA does not apply in those waters. 
However, as part of the analysis supporting our determination under the 
MMPA that the activity would have a negligible impact on the affected 
species, we must consider the incidental take expected to occur as a 
result of the activity in the entire activity area, including both 
territorial seas and high seas.
    Based on NMFS's analysis, the area within the planned northern 
survey predicted to be ensonified to the Level B harassment threshold 
(160 dB re: 1 [mu]Pa) within Chilean territorial seas accounts for 
approximately 19 percent of the total area (including high seas and 
Chilean territorial seas combined) predicted to be ensonified to the 
Level B harassment threshold; for the planned central survey, the area 
predicted to be ensonified to the Level B harassment threshold within 
territorial seas accounts for approximately three percent of the total 
area predicted to be ensonified to the Level B harassment threshold in 
that entire survey area; and for the planned southern survey, the area 
predicted to be ensonified to the Level B harassment threshold within 
territorial seas accounts for approximately 24 percent of the total 
area predicted to be ensonified to the Level B harassment threshold in 
that entire survey area (Table 8).
    We expect the impacts of Lamont-Doherty's survey activities, 
including the impacts of takes that are expected to occur within the 
territorial sea, to include temporary behavioral changes due, 
primarily, to avoidance of the area around the seismic vessel, with the 
potential for a small degree of PTS in a limited number of animals. 
Effects on marine mammals are generally expected to be restricted to 
avoidance of a limited area around the survey operation and short-term 
changes in behavior, falling within the MMPA definition of ``Level B 
harassment.'' The slow speed of the Langseth while conducting seismic 
surveys (approximately 4.5 kt; 5.1 mph) is expected to provide ample 
opportunity for pinnipeds and cetaceans to avoid and keep some distance 
between themselves and the loudest sources of sound associated with the 
planned activities, both within and outside the territorial sea. 
Additionally, underwater sound from the planned survey, including the 
portions of the survey planned within the territorial sea, would not be 
audible at pinniped haulouts or rookeries, therefore the consequences 
of behavioral responses in these areas are expected to be minimal. 
Overall, taking into account the takes expected to occur within the 
territorial sea as well as those expected to occur outside the 
territorial sea that NMFS authorizes, the consequences of behavioral 
modification are not expected to affect growth, survival, and/or 
reproduction of cetaceans or pinnipeds, and therefore are not expected 
to be biologically significant.

[[Page 53462]]

    Marine mammals are not expected to permanently abandon any area 
that is surveyed, including areas within territorial seas, and based on 
the best available information, any behaviors that are interrupted 
during the activity are expected to resume once the activity ceases. 
Although some disturbance is possible to food sources of marine mammals 
within territorial seas, the impacts to those marine mammals are 
anticipated to be minor enough as to not affect the feeding success of 
any individuals long-term. Any missed feeding opportunities in the 
project area within territorial seas are expected to be minor based on 
the fact that other equally valuable feeding opportunities likely exist 
nearby. The portions of the seismic surveys that will occur within 
territorial seas would have no more than a temporary and minimal 
adverse effect on any fish or invertebrate species that serve as prey 
species for marine mammals, and therefore we believe the potential 
impacts to marine mammal habitat will be minimal.
    As is the case for surveys outside territorial seas as described 
above, due to constant movement of the Langseth and of the animals, as 
well as the fact that the vessel is not expected to remain in any one 
area in which individuals would be expected to concentrate for any 
extended amount of time (i.e., since the duration of exposure to loud 
sounds will be relatively short), we anticipate that any PTS that may 
be incurred in marine mammals within the territorial sea would be in 
the form of only a small degree of permanent threshold shift, and not 
total deafness, that would not be likely to affect the fitness of any 
individuals. There is no evidence that the planned survey activities, 
either outside or within the territorial sea, could result in serious 
injury or mortality of marine mammals, and as described above NMFS 
expects that individuals would avoid the source at levels expected to 
result in injury, given sufficient notice of the Langseth's approach 
due to the vessel's relatively low speed when conducting seismic 
surveys.
    For the reasons described above, the takes that would occur within 
the territorial sea, while not authorized by NMFS,do not alter our 
determinations above with respect to the relative likelihood of the 
activity to cause long-term behavioral disturbance, serious injury, or 
death, or other effects that would be expected to adversely affect 
reproduction or survival of any individual marine mammals.

Table 8--Areas Predicted To Be Ensonified to Level B Harassment Threshold Inside and Outside Chilean Territorial
  Seas, and Percent Increase in Ensonified Area Predicted in Territorial Seas Versus Ensonified Area Predicted
                                            Outside Territorial Seas
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                         Area ensonified to   Area ensonified to
                                                         Level B harassment   Level B harassment      Percent
                                        Total area       threshold (160 dB    threshold (160 dB     increase in
                                   ensonified to Level     re: 1 [mu]Pa)        re: 1 [mu]Pa)       ensonified
     Planned survey location           B harassment     outside territorial   inside territorial     area when
                                    threshold (160 dB   seas (percentage of  seas (percentage of    territorial
                                      re: 1 [mu]Pa)       total ensonified     total ensonified       sea is
                                                           area in survey       area in survey      included in
                                                             location)            location)         survey area
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Northern.........................  61,295 km\2\.......  49,645 km\2\ (81%).  11,650 km\2\ (19%).             23%
Central..........................  10,593 km\2\.......  10,315 km\2\         278 km\2\ (2.6%)...               3
                                                         (97.4%).
Southern.........................  76,449 km\2\.......  58,117 km\2\ (76%).  18,332 km\2\ (24%).              32
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Required mitigation measures, such as special shutdowns for large 
whales, vessel speed, course alteration, and visual monitoring would be 
implemented to help reduce impacts to marine mammals. Based on the 
analysis herein of the likely effects of the specified activity on 
marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into consideration the 
implementation of the monitoring and mitigation measures, NMFS finds 
that Lamont-Doherty's planned seismic survey would have a negligible 
impact on the affected marine mammal species or stocks.

Small Numbers

    As described previously, NMFS estimates that Lamont-Doherty's 
activities could potentially affect, by Level B harassment, 44 species 
of marine mammals under our jurisdiction. NMFS estimates that Lamont-
Doherty's activities could potentially affect, by Level A harassment, 
up to 26 species of marine mammals under our jurisdiction.
    For each species, the numbers of take authorized are small relative 
to the population sizes: Less than 18 percent for South American sea 
lion, less than 15 percent for the dusky dolphin, less than 11.5 
percent for Chilean dolphin, and less than 5 percent for all other 
species (Table 7). As described above, NMFS cannot authorize the 
incidental take of marine mammals in the territorial seas of foreign 
nations, but must consider the level of incidental take as a result of 
the activity in the entire activity area (including both territorial 
seas and high seas) as part of the analysis supporting our 
determination under the MMPA that the activity would have a negligible 
impact on the affected species. We assume for the purposes of our 
analysis that the take predicted to occur within the Chilean 
territorial sea will account for approximately a 23 percent increase in 
the northern survey area; a 3 percent increase in the central survey 
area; and a 32 percent increase in the southern survey area, compared 
to the total number of incidental takes predicted to occur outside of 
the Chilean territorial sea (Table 7 and Table 8). Accounting for these 
additional takes, the total takes predicted to result from the planned 
survey (including both the takes authorized by NMFS and the takes not 
authorized by NMFS but predicted to occur within the Chilean 
territorial sea) are still small relative to the population sizes, with 
no more than 22 percent taken for any marine mammal species.
    NMFS is not aware of reliable abundance estimates for four species 
of marine mammals (Burmeister's porpoise, Peale's dolphin, pygmy right 
whale, and southern right whale dolphin) for which incidental take is 
authorized. Therefore we rely on the best available information on 
these species to make determinations as to whether the authorized take 
numbers represent small numbers of the total populations of these 
species.
    The Burmeister's porpoise is distributed from the Atlantic Ocean in 
southern Brazil to the Pacific Ocean in northern Peru (Reyes 2009). 
While there are no quantitative data on abundance, the best available 
information suggest the species is assumed to be numerous throughout 
South American coastal waters (Brownell Jr. and Clapham 1999), with 
groups estimated at approximately 150 individuals observed off of Peru 
(Van Waerebeek et al. 2002). In addition

[[Page 53463]]

the species is typically found shoreward of the 60 m isobath (Hammond 
et al. 2012), suggesting that the number of authorized takes is likely 
conservative as the species is unlikely to be encountered throughout 
the full survey area. The species' wide distribution and apparent 
abundance suggest the number of authorized takes represents a small 
number of individuals relative to the species' total abundance.
    Peale's dolphin is a coastal species that is known to inhabit 
waters very near to shore, commonly within or shoreward of kelp beds, 
while in the waters of southern Chile and Tierra del Fuego they appear 
to prefer channels, fjords and deep bays (Goodall 2009). Their apparent 
habitat preference for waters very near to shore suggests that the 
number of authorized takes is likely very conservative as the species 
is unlikely to be encountered throughout much of the survey area. While 
no abundance estimate exists for the species, Peale's dolphin is 
reportedly the most common cetacean found around the coast of the 
Falkland Islands and Chile (Brownell Jr. et al. 1999). The combination 
of the species' apparent abundance and the species' apparent preference 
for habitats that would not be surveyed by Lamont-Doherty suggests the 
number of authorized takes represents a small number of individuals 
relative to the species' total abundance.
    The full distribution of the southern right whale dolphin is not 
known, but the species appears to be circumpolar and fairly common 
throughout its range. Survey data and stranding and fishery interaction 
data in northern Chile suggest that the species may be one of the most 
common cetaceans in the region (Van Waerebeek et al. 1991). The 
species' apparent abundance and its broad distribution suggest the 
number of authorized takes represents a small number of individuals 
relative to the species' total abundance.
    The pygmy right whale has a circumpolar distribution, between about 
30[deg] and 55[deg]S, with records from southern South America as well 
as Africa, Australia and New Zealand (Kemper 2009). There are no 
estimates of abundance for the species, but judging by the number of 
strandings in Australia and New Zealand, it is likely to be reasonably 
common in that region (Kemper 2009), with aggregations of up to 
approximately 80 individuals reported (Matsuoka 1996). The species' 
apparent abundance and its broad distribution suggest the number of 
authorized takes would represent a small number of individuals relative 
to the species' total abundance.
    NMFS finds that the incidental take associated with Lamont-
Doherty's planned seismic survey would be limited to small numbers 
relative to 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.

Endangered Species Act (ESA)

    There are six marine mammal species listed as endangered under the 
Endangered Species Act that may occur in the survey area. Under section 
7 of the ESA, NSF initiated formal consultation with the NMFS Office of 
Protected Resources (OPR) Endangered Species Act Interagency 
Cooperation Division on the planned seismic survey. We (the NMFS Office 
of Protected Resources, Permits and Conservation Division) also 
consulted internally under section 7 of the ESA with the NMFS OPR 
Endangered Species Act Interagency Cooperation Division on the issuance 
of an Authorization under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA.
    In July, 2016, the NMFS OPR Endangered Species Act Interagency 
Cooperation Division issued a Biological Opinion with an Incidental 
Take Statement to us and to the NSF, which concluded that the issuance 
of the Authorization and the conduct of the seismic survey were not 
likely to jeopardize the continued existence of blue, fin, humpback, 
sei, Southern right and sperm whales. The Biological Opinion also 
concluded that the issuance of the Authorization and the conduct of the 
seismic survey would not affect designated critical habitat for these 
species.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    NSF prepared an environmental analysis titled, ``Environmental 
Analysis of a Marine Geophysical Survey by the R/V Marcus G. Langseth 
in the Southeast Pacific Ocean, 2016/2017''. NMFS independently 
evaluated the environmental analysis and prepared an Environmental 
Assessment (EA) titled, ``Proposed Issuance of an Incidental Harassment 
Authorization to Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory to Take Marine 
Mammals by Harassment Incidental to a Marine Geophysical Survey in the 
Southeast Pacific Ocean, 2016/2017''. NMFS and NSF provided relevant 
environmental information to the public through the Federal Register 
notice for the proposed IHA (81 FR 23117; April 19, 2016) and 
considered public comments received prior to finalizing our EA and 
deciding whether or not to issue a Finding of No Significant Impact 
(FONSI). NMFS concluded that issuance of an IHA to Lamont-Doherty would 
not significantly affect the quality of the human environment and 
prepared and issued a FONSI in accordance with NEPA and NOAA 
Administrative Order 216-6. NMFS's EA and FONSI for this activity are 
available on our Web site at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.

Authorization

    NMFS has issued an Authorization to Lamont-Doherty for the 
potential harassment of small numbers of 44 marine mammal species 
incidental to conducting a seismic survey in the Southeast Pacific 
Ocean, between August 1, 2016 and July 31, 2017, provided the 
previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring and reporting measures.

    Dated: August 8, 2016.
Donna Wieting,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-19145 Filed 8-11-16; 8:45 am]
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