Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the U.S. Air Force 86 Fighter Weapons Squadron Conducting Long Range Strike Weapon Systems Evaluation Program at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii, 67971-67982 [2016-23725]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices Background Other business will be discussed. The Committee will also have a closed session to review Advisory Panel applications for 2018–20 and make recommendations for approval to the Council’s Executive committee. Special Accommodations This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, at (978) 465–0492, at least 5 days prior to the meeting date. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: September 28, 2016. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–23814 Filed 9–30–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XE675 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the U.S. Air Force 86 Fighter Weapons Squadron Conducting Long Range Strike Weapon Systems Evaluation Program at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; issuance of an incidental harassment authorization. AGENCY: In accordance with the regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), notification is hereby given that we have issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to the U.S. Air Force 86 Fighter Weapons Squadron (86 FWS) to incidentally harass marine mammals during Long Range Strike Weapons System Evaluation Program (LRS WSEP) activities in the Barking Sands Underwater Range Extension (BSURE) area of the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) at Kauai, Hawaii. DATES: This authorization is effective from October 1, 2016, through November 30, 2016. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Laura McCue, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals of a species or population stock, by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, a notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the public for review. An authorization for incidental takings for marine mammals shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring, and reporting of such taking are set forth. NMFS has defined ‘‘negligible impact’’ in 50 CFR 216.103 as ‘‘an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.’’ The NDAA of 2004 (Public Law 108– 136) removed the ‘‘small numbers’’ and ‘‘specified geographical region’’ limitations indicated earlier and amended the definition of harassment as it applies to a ‘‘military readiness activity’’ to read as follows (Section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA): (i) any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A Harassment); or (ii) any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered (Level B Harassment). Summary of Request On May 12, 2016, NMFS received an application from 86 FWS for the taking of marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to the LRS WSEP within the PMRF in Kauai, Hawaii from September 1, 2016 through August 31, 2017. 86 FWS submitted a revised version of the renewal request on June 9, 2016 and June 20, 2016, which we considered adequate and complete. After PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 67971 completion of the application, the planned LRS WSEP training activities were pushed back to October 2016. 86 FWS proposes actions that include LRS WSEP test missions of the Joint AirTo-Surface Stand-off Missile (JASSM) and the Small Diameter Bomb-I/II (SDB– I/II) including detonations at the water surface. These activities qualify as military readiness activities under the MMPA. The following aspects of the planned LRS WSEP training activities have the potential to take marine mammals: Munition strikes and detonation effects (overpressure and acoustic components). Take, by Level B harassment of individuals of dwarf sperm whale, pygmy sperm whale, Fraser’s dolphin, and minke whale could potentially result from the specified activity. Additionally, 86 FWS has requested authorization for Level A Harassment of one individual dwarf sperm whale. 86 FWS’s LRS WSEP training activities may potentially impact marine mammals at or near the water surface. In the absence of mitigation, marine mammals could potentially be injured or killed by exploding and non-exploding projectiles, falling debris, or ingestion of military expended materials. However, based on analyses provided in 86 FWS’s 2016 application, 2016 Environmental Assessment (EA), and for reasons discussed later in this document, we do not anticipate that 86 FWS’s LRS WSEP activities would result in any serious injury or mortality to marine mammals. Description of the Specified Activity Overview 86 FWS plans to conduct an air-tosurface mission in the BSURE area of the PMRF. The LRS WSEP test objective is to conduct operational evaluations of long range strike weapons and other munitions as part of LRS WSEP operations to properly train units to execute requirements within Designed Operational Capability Statements, which describe units’ real-world operational expectations in a time of war. Due to threats to national security, increased missions involving air-tosurface activities have been directed by the Department of Defense (DoD). Accordingly, the U.S. Air Force needs to conduct operational evaluations of all phases of long range strike weapons within the U.S. Navy’s Hawaii Range Complex (HRC). The actions will fulfill the Air Force’s requirement to evaluate full-scale maneuvers for such weapons, including scoring capabilities under operationally realistic scenarios. LRS WSEP objectives are to evaluate air-to- E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 03OCN1 67972 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices surface and maritime weapon employment data, evaluate tactics, techniques, and procedures in an operationally realistic environment, and to determine the impact of tactics, techniques, and procedures on combat Air Force training. The munitions associated with the planned activities are not part of a typical unit’s training allocations, and prior to attending a WSEP evaluation, most pilots and weapon systems officers have only dropped weapons in simulators or used the aircraft’s simulation mode. Without WSEP operations, pilots would be using these weapons for the first time in combat. On average, half of the participants in each unit drop an actual weapon for the first time during a WSEP evaluation. Consequently, WSEP is a military readiness activity and is the last opportunity for squadrons to receive operational training and evaluations before they deploy. Dates and Duration 86 FWS plans to schedule the LRS WSEP training missions over one day in October 2016. The planned missions would occur on a weekday during daytime hours only, with all missions occurring in one day. This IHA is valid from October 1, 2016 through November 30, 2016. Specified Geographic Region The specific planned impact area is approximately 44 nautical miles (nm) (81 kilometers (km)) offshore of Kauai, Hawaii, in a water depth of about 15,240 feet (ft) (4,645 meters (m)) (see Figure 2– 2 of 86 FWS’s application). All activities will take place within the PMRF, which is located in Hawaii off the western shores of the island of Kauai and includes broad ocean areas to the north, south, and west (see Figure 2–1 of 86 FWS’s application). Within the PMRF, activities would occur in the BSURE area, which lies in Warning Area 188 (W–188). NMFS provided detailed descriptions of the activity area in a previous notice for the proposed authorization (81 FR 44277) (July 7, 2016). The information has not changed between the notice of proposed authorization and this final notice announcing the issuance of the authorization. Detailed Description of Activities The LRS WSEP training missions, classified as military readiness activities, refer to the deployment of live (containing explosive charges) missiles from aircraft toward the water surface. The actions include air-to-surface test missions of the JASSM and the SDB–I/ II including detonations at the water surface. Aircraft used for munition releases would include bombers and fighter aircraft. Additional airborne assets, such as the P–3 Orion or the P–8 Poseidon, would be used to relay telemetry (TM) and flight termination system (FTS) streams between the weapon and ground stations. Other support aircraft would be associated with range clearance activities before and during the mission and with air-to-air refueling operations. All weapon delivery aircraft would originate from an out base and fly into military-controlled airspace prior to employment. Due to long transit times between the out base and mission location, air-to-air refueling may be conducted in either W–188 or W–189. Bombers, such as the B–1, would deliver the weapons, conduct air-to-air refueling, and return to their originating base as part of one sortie. However, when fighter aircraft are used, the distance and corresponding transit time to the various potential originating bases would make return flights after each mission day impractical. In these cases, the aircraft would temporarily (less than one week) park overnight at Hickam Air Force Base (HAFB) and would return to their home base at the conclusion of each mission set. The LRS WSEP missions scheduled for 2016 are planned to occur in one day. Approximately 10 Air Force personnel would be on temporary duty to support the mission. Aircraft flight maneuver operations and weapon release would be conducted in W–188A boundaries of PMRF. Chase aircraft may be used to evaluate weapon release and to track weapons. Flight operations and weapons delivery would be in accordance with published Air Force directives and weapon operational release parameters, as well as all applicable Navy safety regulations and criteria established specifically for PMRF. Aircraft supporting LSR WSEP missions would primarily operate at high altitudes—only flying below 3,000 feet (914.1 m) for a limited time as needed for escorting non-military vessels outside the hazard area or for monitoring the area for protected marine species (e.g., marine mammals, sea turtles). Protected marine species aerial surveys would be temporary and would focus on an area surrounding the weapon impact point on the water. Postmission surveys would focus on the area down current of the weapon impact location. Range clearance procedures for each mission would cover a much larger area for human safety. Weapon release parameters would be conducted as approved by PMRF Range Safety. Daily mission briefs would specify planned release conditions for each mission. Aircraft and weapons would be tracked for time, space, and position information. The 86 FWS test director would coordinate with the PMRF Range Safety Officer, Operations Conductor, Range Facility Control Officer, and other applicable mission control personnel for aircraft control, range clearance, and mission safety. NMFS provided detailed descriptions of the components of the planned mission activities in a previous notice for the proposed authorization (81 FR 44277) (July 7, 2016). The information has not changed between the notice of proposed authorization and this final notice announcing the issuance of the authorization. Initial phases of the LRS WSEP operational evaluations are planned for October 2016 and would consist of releasing only one live JASSM/JASSM– ER and up to eight SDB-Is in military controlled airspace (Table 1). TABLE 1—SUMMARY OF PROPOSED TESTING AT PMRF IN 2016 Net explosive weight (lb) sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Munition Fusing option JASSM/JASSM–ER ................................ SDB–I ..................................................... Live/Instantaneous ................................. Live/Instantaneous ................................. 300 37 Detonation scenario Annual total number of munitions Surface ........................... Surface ........................... ER = Extended Range; JASSM = Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missile; lb = pounds; SDB = Small Diameter Bomb. A typical mission day would consist of pre-mission checks, safety review, VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 crew briefings, weather checks, clearing airspace, range clearance, mitigations/ PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 monitoring efforts, and other military protocols prior to launch of weapons. E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 03OCN1 1 8 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices Potential delays could be the result of multiple factors including, but not limited to: Adverse weather conditions leading to unsafe take-off, landing, and aircraft operations, inability to clear the range of non-mission vessels or aircraft, mechanical issues with mission aircraft or munitions, or presence of protected species in the impact area. If the mission is cancelled due to any of these, one back-up day has also been scheduled as a contingency. These standard operating procedures are usually done in the morning, and live range time may begin in late morning once all checks are complete and approval is granted from range control. The range would be closed to the public for a maximum of four hours per mission day. Comments and Responses A notice of NMFS’ proposal to issue an Authorization to 86 FWS published in the Federal Register on July 7, 2016 (81 FR 44277). During the 30-day public comment period, NMFS received comments from the Marine Mammal Commission (Commission) and one relevant comment from a private citizen. Following is the comment from the Commission and NMFS’ response and the comment received from a private citizen and NMFS’ response. Comment 1: The Commission recommends that NMFS and the Air Force assess practicable ways to supplement the Air Force’s mitigation and monitoring measures with PAM (passive acoustic monitoring), including obtaining access to the Navy’s hydrophone array data at PMRF. Response: NMFS agrees that the use of PAM would be beneficial for monitoring and mitigation for mission activities. For this one-day mission, NMFS considered the use of PAM for mitigation and monitoring but, due to timing and logistical constraints, the use of PAM will not be required. For any future actions by the applicant in this area, the use of PAM for mitigation or monitoring purposes will be considered. Comment 2: One private citizen requested notice of this military training exercise to be posted in the Kauai newspaper to help generate adequate public awareness and facilitate a healthy amount of discussion on this IHA prior to commencing activities. 67973 Response: NMFS made the information available to the public during our 30-day public comment period by publishing the proposed IHA in the Federal Register on July 7, 2016 (81 FR 44277) and by posting all of the documents to our Web site. In addition, the USAF posted their draft EA in The Garden Island and Honolulu Star Advertiser newspapers, as well as other places, describing the action and the potential impacts of the action on the environment. A 30-day public comment period was available for public input. Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity There are 25 marine mammal species with potential or confirmed occurrence in the activity area; however, not all of these species occur in this region during the project timeframe. Table 2 lists and summarizes key information regarding stock status and abundance of these species. Please see NMFS’ 2015 Stock Assessment Reports (SAR), available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars for more detailed accounts of these stocks’ status and abundance. TABLE 2—MARINE MAMMALS THAT COULD OCCUR IN THE BSURE AREA Species ESA/MMPA status; strategic (Y/ N) 1 Stock Stock abundance (CV, Nmin, most recent abundance survey) 2 PBR 3 Occurrence in BSURE area Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Mysticeti (baleen whales) Family: Balaenopteridae Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) 4. Central North Pacific .......... E/D; Y 10,103 (0.300; 7,890; 2006). 83 Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus). Central North Pacific .......... E/D; Y 81 (1.14; 38; 2010) ............ 0.1 Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus). Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis). Hawaii ................................ E/D; Y 58 (1.12; 27; 2010) ............ 0.1 Hawaii ................................ E/D; Y 178 (0.90; 93; 2010) .......... 0.2 Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera brydei/ edeni). Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata). Hawaii ................................ -; N 798 (0.28; 633; 2010) ........ 6.3 Hawaii ................................ -; N n/a (n/a; n/a; 2010) ............ Undet. Seasonal; throughout known breeding grounds during winter and spring (most common November through April). Seasonal; infrequent winter migrant; few sightings, mainly fall and winter; considered rare. Seasonal, mainly fall and winter; considered rare. Rare; limited sightings of seasonal migrants that feed at higher latitudes. Uncommon; distributed throughout the Hawaiian EEZ. Regular but seasonal (October–April). sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family: Physeteridae Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus). VerDate Sep<11>2014 Hawaii ................................ 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 E/D; Y Frm 00018 Fmt 4703 3,354 (0.34; 2,539; 2010) .. Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 10.2 03OCN1 Widely distributed year round; more likely in waters > 1,000 m depth, most often > 2,000 m. 67974 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices TABLE 2—MARINE MAMMALS THAT COULD OCCUR IN THE BSURE AREA—Continued Species ESA/MMPA status; strategic (Y/ N) 1 Stock Stock abundance (CV, Nmin, most recent abundance survey) 2 PBR 3 Occurrence in BSURE area Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family: Kogiidae Pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps). Hawaii ................................ -; N n/a (n/a; n/a; 2010) ............ Undet. Dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima). Hawaii ................................ -; N n/a (n/a; n/a; 2010) ............ Undet. Widely distributed year round; more likely in waters > 1,000 m depth. Widely distributed year round; more likely in waters > 500 m depth. Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family delphinidae Killer whale (Orcinus orca) Hawaii ................................ -; N 101 (1.00; 50; 2010) .......... 1 False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens). Hawaii Pelagic ................... -; N 1,540 (0.66; 928; 2010) ..... 9.3 Uncommon; infrequent sightings. Regular. NWHI Stock ....................... Hawaii ................................ -; N -; N 617 (1.11; 290; 2010) ........ 3,433 (0.52; 2,274; 2010) .. 2.3 23 Regular. Year-round resident. Hawaii ................................ -; N 12,422 (0.43; 8,872; 2010) 70 Melon headed whale (Peponocephala electra). Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). Pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata). Hawaii Islands stock .......... -; N 5,794 (0.20; 4,904; 2010) .. 4 Commonly observed around Main Hawaiian Islands and Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Regular. Hawaii pelagic .................... -; N 5,950 (0.59; 3,755; 2010) .. 38 Hawaii pelagic .................... -; N 15,917 (0.40; 11,508; 2010). 115 Striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoala). Hawaii ................................ -; N 20,650 (0.36; 15,391; 2010). 154 Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris). Rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis). Hawaii pelagic .................... -; N n/a (n/a; n/a; 2010) ............ Undet. Hawaii stock ....................... -; N 6,288 (0.39; 4,581; 2010) .. 46 Fraser’s dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei). Hawaii ................................ -; N 16,992 (0.66; 10,241; 2010). Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus). Hawaii ................................ -; N 7,256 (0.41; 5,207; 2010) .. Pygmy killer whale (Feresa attenuata). Short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus). 102 42 Common in deep offshore waters. Common; primary occurrence between 100 and 4,000 m depth. Occurs regularly year round but infrequent sighting during survey. Common year-round in offshore waters. Common throughout the Main Hawaiian Islands and Hawaiian Islands EEZ. Tropical species only recently documented within Hawaiian Islands EEZ (2002 survey). Previously considered rare but multiple sightings in Hawaiian Islands EEZ during various surveys conducted from 2002– 2012. Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Family: Ziphiidae Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris). Hawaii ................................ -; N 1,941 (n/a; 1,142; 2010) .... 11.4 Blainville’s beaked whale Hawaii ................................ (Mesoplodon densirostris). -; N 2,338 (1.13; 1,088; 2010) .. 11 Longman’s beaked whale (Indopacetus pacificus). -; N 4,571 (0.65; 2,773; 2010) .. 28 VerDate Sep<11>2014 Hawaii ................................ 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 03OCN1 Year-round occurrence but difficult to detect due to diving behavior. Year-round occurrence but difficult to detect due to diving behavior. Considered rare; however, multiple sightings during 2010 survey. Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices 67975 TABLE 2—MARINE MAMMALS THAT COULD OCCUR IN THE BSURE AREA—Continued Species ESA/MMPA status; strategic (Y/ N) 1 Stock Stock abundance (CV, Nmin, most recent abundance survey) 2 PBR 3 Occurrence in BSURE area Order—Carnivora—Superfamily Pinnipedia (seals, sea lions) Family: Phocidae Hawaiian monk seal (Neomonachus schauinslandi). Hawaii ................................ E/D; Y 1,112 (n/a; 1,088; 2013) .... Undet. Predominantly occur at Northwestern Hawaiian Islands; approximately 138 individuals in Main Hawaiian Islands. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 1 ESA status: Endangered (E), Threatened (T)/MMPA status: Depleted (D). A dash (-) indicates that the species is not listed under the ESA or designated as depleted under the MMPA. Under the MMPA, a strategic stock is one for which the level of direct human-caused mortality exceeds PBR (see footnote 3) or which is determined to be declining and likely to be listed under the ESA within the foreseeable future. Any species or stock listed under the ESA is automatically designated under the MMPA as depleted and as a strategic stock. 2 CV is coefficient of variation; N min is the minimum estimate of stock abundance. In some cases, CV is not applicable. For certain stocks, abundance estimates are actual counts of animals and there is no associated CV. The most recent abundance survey that is reflected in the abundance estimate is presented; there may be more recent surveys that have not yet been incorporated into the estimate. All values presented here are from the 2015 Pacific SARs, except humpback whales—see comment 4. 3 Potential biological removal, defined by the MMPA as the maximum number of animals, not including natural mortalities, that may be removed from a marine mammal stock while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable population size (OSP). 4 Values for humpback whales are from the 2015 Alaska SAR. Of these 25 species, five are listed as endangered under the ESA and as depleted throughout its range under the MMPA. These are: Blue whale, fin whale, sei whale, sperm whale, and the Hawaiian monk seal. Humpback whales were listed as endangered under the ESA in 1973. NMFS evaluated the status of this population, and on September 8, 2016, NMFS divided the globally listed humpback whale into 14 distinct population segment (DPS), removed the current species-level listing, and in its place listed four DPSs as endangered and one DPS as threatened (81 FR 62259). The remaining nine DPSs were not listed because it was determined that they are not threatened or endangered under the ESA. The Hawaiian DPS of humpback whales, which would be present in the action area, were not listed under the ESA in NMFS final rule. Of the 25 species that may occur in Hawaiian waters, only certain stocks occur in the impact area, while others are island-associated or do not occur at the depths of the impact area (e.g. false killer whale insular stock, islandassociated stocks of bottlenose, spinner, and spotted dolphins). Only five species are considered likely to be in the impact area during the one day of project activities. This number has increased from the proposed IHA based on changes to the project dates. Dates have moved back to October (from September), and the use of fall densities are now used. The species now modeled to have take exposures include dwarf sperm whale, pygmy sperm whale, Fraser’s dolphin, minke whale, and humpback whale. Other species are VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 seasonal and only occur in these waters later in the winter (blue whale, fin whale, sei whale, killer whale); some are rare in the area or unlikely to be impacted due to small density estimates (Longman’s beaked whale, Bryde’s whale, false killer whale, pygmy killer whale, short-finned pilot whale, melonheaded whale, bottlenose dolphin, pantropical spotted dolphin, striped dolphin, spinner dolphin, roughtoothed dolphin, Risso’s dolphin, Cuvier’s beaked whale, Blainville’s beaked whale, and Hawaiian monk seal). Because these 19 species are unlikely to occur within the BSURE area based on modeling predictions, 86 FWS has not requested, and NMFS will not issue take authorizations for them. Thus, NMFS does not consider these species further in this notice. We have reviewed 86 FWS’s species descriptions, including life history information, distribution, regional distribution, diving behavior, and acoustics and hearing, for accuracy and completeness. We refer the reader to Sections Three and Four of 86 FWS’s application rather than reprinting the information here. Please also refer to NMFS’ Web site (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ pr/species/mammals) for generalized species accounts. We provided additional information for two of the marine mammals (dwarf and pygmy sperm whales) with potential for occurrence in the area of the specified activity in our Federal Register notice of proposed authorization (81 FR 44277) (July 7, 2016). Since that publication, the dates for the LRS WSEP activities changed to later in the year; therefore, different densities were used to PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 calculate take. Because of this, two additional species were included in take exposures. Species descriptions for these three species are provided below. Fraser’s dolphin Fraser’s dolphin are distributed worldwide in tropical waters (Caretta et al., 2011). Very little is known about this species, which was first documented within Hawaiian waters in 2002. There is a single stock in Hawaii with a current population estimate of 16,992 animals and PBR at 102 animals (Caretta et al., 2016). Current population trends are not available for this species. This species is not listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and is not considered strategic or designated as depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) (Caretta et al., 2016). The biggest threat to the species is fishery-related injuries (Caretta et al., 2011). Minke whale Minke whales are found worldwide in deep waters. There are three stocks in the Pacific: The Hawaiian stock, the California/Oregon/Washington stock, and the Alaskan stock. Only the Hawaiian stock is affected by the project activities. Minke whales occur seasonally in Hawaiian waters (October–April). Current abundance estimates, PBR, and population trends for this stock are unknown. This stock is not listed under the ESA, nor are they considered strategic, or designated as depleted under the MMPA. One of the suggested habitat concerns for this stock is the increasing levels of anthropogenic E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 03OCN1 67976 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices noise in the world’s oceans (Caretta et al., 2014). sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Humpback whale Humpback whales are found worldwide in all ocean basins. In winter, most humpback whales occur in the subtropical and tropical waters of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. These wintering grounds are used for mating, giving birth, and nursing new calves. Humpback whales migrate nearly 3,000 mi (4,830 km) from their summer foraging grounds to these wintering grounds in Hawaii away. The average date of the first sighting of humpback whales in Hawaii is approximately the first week in October, with whales seen earlier and earlier in the past five years (E. Lyman, personal communication, August 2016). Humpback whales were listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Conservation Act (ESCA) in June 1970. In 1973, the ESA replaced the ESCA, and continued to list humpbacks as endangered. Because the recent rule by NMFS did not consider the Hawaii DPS of humpbacks to be threatened or endangered under the ESA, this DPS is not listed under the ESA. The current abundance estimate for this DPS is 11,398 individuals and its population trend estimate is 5.5–6 percent (81 FR 62259). Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat This section of the notice of the proposed Authorization (81 FR 44277) (July 7, 2016) included a summary and discussion of the ways that components (e.g., munition strikes and detonation effects) of the specified activity, including mitigation, may impact marine mammals and their habitat. The Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment section later in this document will include a quantitative analysis of the number of individuals that we expect 86 FWS to take during this activity. The Negligible Impact Analysis section will include the analysis of how this specific activity would impact marine mammals, and will consider the content of this section, the Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment section and the Mitigation section to draw conclusions regarding the likely impacts of these activities on the reproductive success or survivorship of individuals and from that on the affected marine mammal populations or stocks. In summary, the LRS WSEP training exercises proposed for taking of marine mammals under an Authorization have the potential to take marine mammals VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 by exposing them to overpressure and acoustic components generated by live ordnance detonation at or near the surface of the water. Exposure to energy or pressure resulting from these detonations could result in Level A harassment (physical injury and permanent threshold shift, or PTS) and Level B harassment (temporary threshold shift, or TTS and behavioral disturbances). Based on modeled predictions, LRS WSEP activities are not expected to result in serious injury or mortality. NMFS provided detailed information on these potential effects in the notice of the proposed Authorization (81 FR 44277) (July 7, 2016). The information presented in that notice has not changed. Anticipated Effects on Habitat Detonations of live ordnance would result in temporary changes to the water environment. An explosion on the surface of the water from these weapons could send a shock wave and blast noise through the water, release gaseous byproducts, create an oscillating bubble, and cause a plume of water to shoot up from the water surface. However, these effects would be temporary and not expected to last more than a few seconds. Similarly, 86 FWS does not expect any long-term impacts with regard to hazardous constituents to occur. 86 FWS considered the introduction of fuel, debris, ordnance, and chemical materials into the water column within its EA and determined the potential effects of each to be insignificant. NMFS provided a summary of the analyses in the notice for the proposed Authorization (81 FR 44277) (July 7, 2016). The information presented in that notice has not changed. Mitigation In order to issue an incidental take authorization under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, NMFS must set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to such activity, and other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and the availability of such species or stock for taking for certain subsistence uses (where relevant). The NDAA of 2004 amended the MMPA as it relates to military-readiness activities and the incidental take authorization process such that ‘‘least practicable adverse impact’’ shall include consideration of personnel safety, practicality of implementation, PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 and impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity. NMFS and 86 FWS have worked to identify potential practicable and effective mitigation measures, which include a careful balancing of the likely benefit of any particular measure to the marine mammals with the likely effect of that measure on personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the ‘‘military-readiness activity.’’ We refer the reader to Section 11 of 86 FWS’s application for more detailed information on the planned mitigation measures which are also described below. Visual Aerial Surveys: For the LRS WSEP activities, mitigation procedures consist of visual aerial surveys of the impact area for the presence of protected marine species (including marine mammals). During aerial observation, Navy test range personnel may survey the area from an S–61N helicopter or C–62 aircraft that is based at the PMRF land facility (typically when missions are located relatively close to shore). Alternatively, when missions are located farther offshore, surveys may be conducted from mission aircraft (typically jet aircraft such as F– 15E, F–16, or F–22) or a U.S. Coast Guard C–130 aircraft. Protected species surveys will begin within one hour of weapon release and as close to the impact time as feasible, given human safety requirements. Survey personnel must depart the human hazard zone before weapon release, in accordance with Navy safety standards. Personnel conduct aerial surveys within an area defined by an approximately 2-nm (3,704 m) radius around the impact point, with surveys typically flown in a star pattern. This survey distance is consistent with requirements already in place for similar actions at PMRF. Observers would consist of aircrew operating the C–26, S–61N, and C–130 aircraft from PMRF and the Coast Guard. These aircrew are trained and have had prior experience conducting aerial marine mammal surveys and have provided similar support for other missions at PMRF. Aerial surveys are typically conducted at an altitude of about 200 feet (61 m), but altitude may vary somewhat depending on sea state and atmospheric conditions. The C–26 and other aircraft would generally be operated at a slightly higher altitude than the S–61N helicopter. If adverse weather conditions preclude the ability for aircraft to safely operate, missions would either be delayed until the weather clears or cancelled for the day. For 2016 LRS WSEP missions, one day has been designated as a weather back- E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 03OCN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices up day. The observers will be provided with the GPS location of the impact area. Once the aircraft reaches the impact area, pre-mission surveys typically last for 30 minutes, depending on the survey pattern. The fixed-wing aircraft are faster than the helicopter; and, therefore, protected species may be more difficult to spot. However, to compensate for the difference in speed, the aircraft may fly the survey pattern multiple times. If a protected species is observed in the impact area, weapon release would be delayed until one of the following conditions is met: (1) The animal is observed exiting the impact area; (2) the animal is thought to have exited the impact area based on its course and speed; or (3) the impact area has been clear of any additional sightings for a period of 30 minutes. All weapons will be tracked and their water entry points will be documented. Post-mission surveys would begin immediately after the mission is complete and the Range Safety Officer declares the human safety area is reopened. Approximate transit time from the perimeter of the human safety area to the weapon impact area would depend on the size of the human safety area and vary between aircraft but is expected to be less than 30 minutes. Post-mission surveys would be conducted by the same aircraft and aircrew that conducted the pre-mission surveys and would follow the same patterns as pre-mission surveys but would focus on the area down current of the weapon impact area to determine if protected species were affected by the mission (observation of dead or injured animals). If physical injury or mortality occurs to a protected species due to LRS WSEP missions, NMFS would be notified immediately. Based on the ranges presented in Table 5 and factoring operational limitations (e.g. fuel constraints) associated with the mission, 86 FWS estimates that during pre-mission surveys, the planned monitoring area would be approximately 2 nm (3,704 m) from the target area radius around the impact point, with surveys typically flown in a star pattern, which is consistent with requirements already in place for similar actions at PMRF and encompasses the entire TTS threshold ranges (sound exposure level, or SEL) for mid-frequency cetaceans, half of the PTS SEL range for high-frequency cetaceans, the entire PTS ranges for lowfrequency cetaceans, and half of the TTS range for LF cetaceans. Given operational constraints, surveying these larger areas would not be feasible. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 We have carefully evaluated 86 FWS’s proposed mitigation measures in the context of ensuring that we prescribe the means of effecting the least practicable impact on the affected marine mammal species and stocks and their habitat. Our evaluation of potential measures included consideration of the following factors in relation to one another: • The manner in which, and the degree to which, the successful implementation of the measure is expected to minimize adverse impacts to marine mammals; • The proven or likely efficacy of the specific measure to minimize adverse impacts as planned; and • The practicability of the measure for applicant implementation. Any mitigation measure(s) prescribed by NMFS should be able to accomplish, have a reasonable likelihood of accomplishing (based on current science), or contribute to the accomplishment of one or more of the general goals listed here: 1. Avoidance or minimization of injury or death of marine mammals wherever possible (goals 2, 3, and 4 may contribute to this goal). 2. A reduction in the numbers of marine mammals (total number or number at biologically important time or location) exposed to stimuli expected to result in incidental take (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing takes by behavioral harassment only). 3. A reduction in the number of times (total number or number at biologically important time or location) individuals would be exposed to stimuli that we expect to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing harassment takes only). 4. A reduction in the intensity of exposures (either total number or number at biologically important time or location) to training exercises that we expect to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing the severity of harassment takes only). 5. Avoidance or minimization of adverse effects to marine mammal habitat, paying special attention to the food base, activities that block or limit passage to or from biologically important areas, permanent destruction of habitat, or temporary destruction/ disturbance of habitat during a biologically important time. 6. For monitoring directly related to mitigation—an increase in the probability of detecting marine mammals, thus allowing for more PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 67977 effective implementation of the mitigation. Based on our evaluation of 86 FWS’s proposed measures, as well as other measures that may be relevant to the specified activity, we have determined that the mitigation measures, including visual aerial surveys and mission delays if protected species are observed in the impact area, provide the means of effecting the least practicable impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance (while also considering personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and the impact of effectiveness of the military readiness activity). Monitoring and Reporting In order to issue an Authorization for an activity, section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA states that we must set forth ‘‘requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking.’’ The MMPA implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104(a)(13) indicate that requests for an authorization must include the suggested means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the species and our expectations of the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals present in the action area. 86 FWS submitted measures for marine mammal monitoring and reporting in their IHA application. Any monitoring requirement we prescribe should improve our understanding of one or more of the following: • Occurrence of marine mammal species in action area (e.g., presence, abundance, distribution, density). • Nature, scope, or context of likely marine mammal exposure to potential stressors/impacts (individual or cumulative, acute or chronic), through better understanding of: (1) Action or environment (e.g., source characterization, propagation, ambient noise); (2) Affected species (e.g., life history, dive patterns); (3) Cooccurrence of marine mammal species with the action; or (4) Biological or behavioral context of exposure (e.g., age, calving or feeding areas). • Individual responses to acute stressors, or impacts of chronic exposures (behavioral or physiological). • How anticipated responses to stressors impact either: (1) Long-term fitness and survival of an individual; or (2) Population, species, or stock. • Effects on marine mammal habitat and resultant impacts to marine mammals. E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 03OCN1 67978 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES • Mitigation and monitoring effectiveness. NMFS will include the following measures in the LRS WSEP Authorization. They are: (1) 86 FWS will track the use of the PMRF for mission activities and protected species observations, through the use of mission reporting forms. (2) 86 FWS will submit a summary report of marine mammal observations and LRS WSEP activities to the NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO) and the Office of Protected Resources 90 days after expiration of the current Authorization. This report must include the following information: (i) Date and time of each LRS WSEP exercise; (ii) a complete description of the pre-exercise and post-exercise activities related to mitigating and monitoring the effects of LRS WSEP exercises on marine mammal populations; (iii) an accounting of the munitions use; and (iv) results of the LRS WSEP exercise monitoring, including number of marine mammals (by species) that may have been harassed due to presence within the activity zone. (3) 86 FWS will monitor for marine mammals in the proposed action area. If 86 FWS personnel observe or detect any dead or injured marine mammals prior to testing, or detects any injured or dead marine mammal during live fire exercises, 86 FWS must cease operations and submit a report to NMFS within 24 hours. (4) 86 FWS must immediately report any unauthorized takes of marine mammals (i.e., serious injury or mortality) to NMFS and to the respective Pacific Islands Region stranding network representative. 86 FWS must cease operations and submit a report to NMFS within 24 hours. Estimated Numbers of Marine Mammals Taken by Harassment The NDAA amended the definition of harassment as it applies to a ‘‘military readiness activity’’ to read as follows (Section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA): (i) Any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A Harassment); or (ii) any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered (Level B Harassment). NMFS previously described the physiological responses, and behavioral responses that could potentially result VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 from exposure to explosive detonations. In this section, we will relate the potential effects to marine mammals from detonation of explosives to the MMPA regulatory definitions of Level A and Level B harassment. This section will also quantify the effects that might occur from the planned military readiness activities in PMRF BSURE area. 86 FWS thresholds used for onset of temporary threshold shift (TTS; Level B Harassment) and onset of permanent threshold shift (PTS; Level A Harassment) are consistent with the thresholds outlined in the Navy’s report titled, ‘‘Criteria and Thresholds for U.S. Navy Acoustic and Explosive Effects Analysis Technical Report,’’ which the Navy coordinated with NMFS. The report is available on the internet at: http://nwtteis.com/Portals/NWTT/ DraftEIS2014/SupportingDocs/NWTT_ NMSDD_Technical_Report_23_ January%202014_reduced.pdf In August 2016, NMFS released its Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing, which established new thresholds for predicting auditory injury, which equates to Level A harassment under the MMPA. In the August 4, 2016, Federal Register Notice announcing the Guidance (81 FR 51694), NMFS explained the approach it would take during a transition period, wherein we balance the need to consider this new best available science with the fact that some applicants have already committed time and resources to the development of acoustic analyses based on our previous thresholds and have constraints that preclude the recalculation of take estimates, as well consideration of where the agency is in the decision-making pipeline. In that Notice, we included a non-exhaustive list of factors that would inform the most appropriate approach for considering the new guidance, including: How far in the MMPA process the applicant has progressed; the scope of the effects; when the authorization is needed; the cost and complexity of the analysis; and the degree to which the Guidance is expected to affect our analysis. In this case, the Air Force has requested an authorization for a one-day activity that would include one explosive release and two explosive bursts of four munitions timed a few seconds apart and occur in October. Our analysis in the proposed IHA for this action (81 FR 44277) (July 7, 2016) includes the consideration of, and we proposed to authorize, takes of small numbers of marine mammals by both PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Level A and Level B harassment. The extremely short duration of the activity (essentially three instantaneous events within a day) and the robust monitoring and mitigation measures we proposed minimize the likelihood that Level A harassment will occur. In short, although the new thresholds were not used in the calculation of take, we believe that the existing analysis, mitigation, and authorization adequately address the likely effects and protective measures. Level B Harassment Of the potential effects described earlier in this document, the following are the types of effects that fall into the Level B harassment category: Behavioral Harassment—Behavioral disturbance that rises to the level described in the above definition, when resulting from exposures to nonimpulsive or impulsive sound, is Level B harassment. Some of the lower level physiological stress responses discussed earlier would also likely co-occur with the predicted harassments, although these responses are more difficult to detect and fewer data exist relating these responses to specific received levels of sound. When predicting Level B harassment based on estimated behavioral responses, those takes may have a stress-related physiological component. Temporary Threshold Shift—As discussed in the proposed Federal Register notice (81 FR 44277) (July 7, 2016), TTS can affect how an animal behaves in response to the environment, including conspecifics, predators, and prey. NMFS classifies TTS (when resulting from exposure to explosives and other impulsive sources) as Level B harassment, not Level A harassment (injury). Level A Harassment Of the potential effects that were described earlier, the following are the types of effects that fall into the Level A Harassment category: Permanent Threshold Shift—PTS (resulting from exposure to explosive detonations) is irreversible and NMFS considers this to be an injury. Gastrointestinal (GI) Tract Injury—GI tract injury includes contusions and lacerations from blast exposures, particularly in air-containing regions of the tract. Slight Lung Injury—These injuries may include slight blast injuries to the lungs but would be survivable. Mortality Mortality may include injuries that lead to mortality including primary E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 03OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices 67979 mortality to one percent of exposed animals (Finneran and Jenkins, 2012). Table 4 outlines the explosive thresholds used by NMFS for this Authorization when addressing noise impacts from explosives. 86 FWS completed acoustic modeling to determine the distances to NMFS’s explosive thresholds from their explosive ordnance, which was then used with each species’ density to determine number of exposure estimates. Below is a summary of those modeling efforts. The zone of influence is defined as the area or volume of ocean in which marine mammals could be exposed to various pressure or acoustic energy levels caused by exploding ordnance. Refer to Appendix A of 86 FWS’s application for a description of the method used to calculate impact areas for explosives. The pressure and energy levels considered to be of concern are defined in terms of metrics, criteria, and thresholds. A metric is a technical standard of measurement that describes the acoustic environment (e.g., frequency, duration, temporal pattern, and amplitude) and pressure at a given location. Criteria are the resulting types of possible impact and include mortality, injury, and harassment. A threshold is the level of pressure or noise above which the impact criteria are reached. Standard impulsive and acoustic metrics were used for the analysis of underwater energy and pressure waves in this document. Several different metrics are important for understanding risk assessment analysis of impacts to marine mammals: SPL is the ratio of the absolute sound pressure to a reference level, SEL is measure of sound intensity and duration, and positive impulse is the time integral of the pressure over the initial positive phase of an arrival. The criteria and thresholds used to estimate potential pressure and acoustic impacts to marine mammals resulting from detonations were obtained from Finneran and Jenkins (2012) and include mortality, injurious harassment (Level A), and non-injurious harassment (Level B). In some cases, separate thresholds have been developed for different species groups or functional hearing groups. Functional hearing groups included in the analysis are lowfrequency cetaceans, mid-frequency cetaceans, high-frequency cetaceans, and Phocid pinnipeds. The maximum estimated range, or radius, from the detonation point to which the various thresholds extend for all munitions planned to be released in a 24-hour time period was calculated for each species based on explosive acoustic characteristics, sound propagation, and sound transmission loss in the Study Area, which incorporates water depth, sediment VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 03OCN1 EN03OC16.000</GPH> sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES (moderate to severe) blast injuries and barotrauma. Thresholds are based on the level of impact that would cause extensive lung injury resulting in 67980 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices type, wind speed, bathymetry, and temperature/salinity profiles (Table 5). The ranges were used to calculate the total area (circle) of the zones of influence for each criterion/threshold. To eliminate ‘‘double-counting’’ of animals, impact areas from higher impact categories (e.g., mortality) were subtracted from areas associated with lower impact categories (e.g., Level A harassment). The estimated number of marine mammals potentially exposed to the various impact thresholds was then calculated as the product of the adjusted impact area, animal density, and number of events. Since the model accumulates the energy from all detonations within a 24-hour timeframe, it is assumed that the same population of animals is being impacted within that eliminate this, the acoustic model results were rounded to the nearest whole animal to obtain the exposure estimates from 2016 missions. Furthermore, to eliminate ‘‘doublecounting’’ of animals, exposure results from higher impact categories (e.g., mortality) were subtracted from lower impact categories (e.g., Level A harassment). For impact categories with multiple criteria and/or thresholds (e.g., three criteria and four thresholds associated with Level A harassment), numbers in the table are based on the threshold resulting in the greatest number of exposures. These exposure estimates do not take into account the required mitigation and monitoring measures, which may decrease the potential for impacts. time period. The population would refresh after 24 hours. In this case, only one mission day is planned for 2016, and therefore, only one event is modeled that would impact the same population of animals. Details of the acoustic modeling method are provided in Appendix A of the application. The resulting total number of marine mammals potentially exposed to the various levels of thresholds is shown in Table 7. An animal is considered ‘‘exposed’’ to a sound if the received sound level at the animal’s location is above the background ambient acoustic level within a similar frequency band. The exposure calculations from the model output resulted in decimal values, suggesting in most cases that a fraction of an animal was exposed. To TABLE 5—DISTANCES (M) TO EXPLOSIVE THRESHOLDS FROM 86 FWS’S EXPLOSIVE ORDNANCE Level A harassment 2 Species Mortality 1 Slight lung injury GI tract injury 237 dB SPL Humpback Whale ............. Blue Whale ....................... Fin Whale ......................... Sei Whale ......................... Bryde’s Whale .................. Minke Whale .................... Sperm Whale ................... Pygmy Sperm Whale ....... Dwarf Sperm Whale ......... Killer Whale ...................... False Killer Whale ............ Pygmy Killer Whale .......... Short-finned Pilot Whale .. Melon-headed Whale ....... Bottlenose Dolphin ........... Pantropical Spotted Dolphin ............................... Striped Dolphin ................ Spinner Dolphin ............... Rough-toothed Dolphin .... Fraser’s Dolphin ............... Risso’s Dolphin ................ Cuvier’s Beaked Whale ... Blainville’s Beaked Whale Longman’s Beaked Whale Hawaiian Monk Seal ........ Level B harassment PTS Applicable SEL* TTS Applicable SPL* Applicable SEL* Behavioral Applicable SPL* Applicable SEL* 38 28 28 38 38 55 33 105 121 59 72 147 91 121 121 81 59 62 83 81 118 72 206 232 126 153 277 186 228 232 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 2,161 2,161 2,161 2,161 2,161 2,161 753 6,565 6,565 753 753 753 753 753 753 330 330 330 330 330 330 330 3,450 3,450 330 330 330 330 330 330 6,565 6,565 6,565 6,565 6,565 6,565 3,198 20,570 20,570 3,198 3,198 3,198 3,198 3,198 3,198 597 597 597 597 597 597 597 6,565 6,565 597 597 597 597 597 597 13,163 13,163 13,163 13,163 13,163 13,163 4,206 57,109 57,109 4,206 4,206 4,206 4,206 4,206 4,206 147 147 147 121 110 85 51 79 52 135 277 277 277 232 216 175 110 166 113 256 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 165 753 753 753 753 753 753 753 753 753 1,452 330 330 330 330 330 330 330 330 330 1,107 3,198 3,198 3,198 3,198 3,198 3,198 3,198 3,198 3,198 3,871 597 597 597 597 597 597 597 597 597 1,881 4,206 4,206 4,206 4,206 4,206 4,206 4,206 4,206 4,206 6,565 1 Based on Goertner (1982) on Richmond et al. (1973) * Based on the applicable Functional Hearing Group 2 Based sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Density Estimation Density estimates for marine mammals were derived from the Navy’s draft 2016 Technical Report of Marine Species Density Database (NMSDD). NMFS refers the reader to Section 3 of 86 FWS’s application for detailed information on all equations used to calculate densities; also presented in Table 6. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 TABLE 6—MARINE MAMMAL FALL DENSITY ESTIMATES WITHIN 86 FWS’S PMRF Density (animals/km 2) Species Humpback Whale ................. Blue Whale ........................... Fin Whale ............................. Sei Whale ............................. Bryde’s Whale ...................... PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4703 TABLE 6—MARINE MAMMAL FALL DENSITY ESTIMATES WITHIN 86 FWS’S PMRF—Continued Sfmt 4703 0.0211 0.00005 0.00006 0.00016 0.00010 Species Minke Whale ......................... Sperm Whale ........................ Pygmy sperm whale ............. Dwarf sperm whale ............... Killer Whale .......................... E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 03OCN1 Density (animals/km 2) 0.00423 0.00156 0.00291 0.00714 0.00006 67981 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices TABLE 6—MARINE MAMMAL FALL DENSITY ESTIMATES WITHIN 86 FWS’S PMRF—Continued Species TABLE 6—MARINE MAMMAL FALL DEN- Take Estimation SITY ESTIMATES WITHIN 86 FWS’S Table 7 indicates the modeled PMRF—Continued potential for lethality, injury, and non- Density (animals/km 2) False Killer Whale (insular) .. False Killer Whale (NWHI, pelagic) .............................. Pygmy Killer Whale .............. Short-finned Pilot Whale ....... Melon-headed Whale ........... Bottlenose Dolphin ............... Pantropical Spotted Dolphin Striped Dolphin ..................... Spinner Dolphin .................... 0.00050 0.00071 0.00440 0.00919 0.00200 0.00316 0.00623 0.00335 0.00204 injurious harassment (including behavioral harassment) to marine mammals in the absence of mitigation measures. All other species had zero 0.00470 0.02100 takes modeled for each category. 86 0.00470 FWS and NMFS estimate that one 0.00030 marine mammal species could be 0.00086 exposed to injurious Level A 0.00310 harassment noise levels (187 dB SEL) 0.00003 and five species could be exposed to Level B harassment (TTS and Behavioral) noise levels in the absence of mitigation measures. Density (animals/km 2) Species Rough-toothed Dolphin ......... Fraser’s Dolphin ................... Risso’s Dolphin ..................... Cuvier’s Beaked Whale ........ Blainville’s Beaked Whale .... Longman’s Beaked Whale ... Hawaiian Monk Seal ............. TABLE 7—MODELED NUMBER OF MARINE MAMMALS POTENTIALLY AFFECTED BY LRS WSEP OPERATIONS Species Dwarf sperm whale .......................................................................................... Pygmy sperm whale ........................................................................................ Fraser’s dolphin ............................................................................................... Minke whale ..................................................................................................... Humpback whale ............................................................................................. TOTAL ............................................................................................................. Based on the mortality exposure estimates calculated by the acoustic model, zero marine mammals are expected to be affected by pressure levels associated with mortality or serious injury. Zero marine mammals are expected to be exposed to pressure levels associated with slight lung injury or gastrointestinal tract injury. NMFS considers PTS to fall under the injury category (Level A Harassment). There are different degrees of PTS ranging from slight/mild to moderate and from severe to profound. Profound PTS or the complete loss of the ability to hear in one or both ears is commonly referred to as deafness. In the case of authorizing Level A harassment, NMFS has estimated that one dwarf sperm whale could experience permanent threshold shifts of hearing sensitivity (PTS). sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Negligible Impact Analysis and Determinations NMFS has defined ‘‘negligible impact’’ in 50 CFR 216.103 as ‘‘. . . an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.’’ A negligible impact finding is based on the lack of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., populationlevel effects). An estimate of the number of Level B harassment takes alone is not VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 Level A harassment (PTS only) Mortality 0 0 0 0 0 0 enough information on which to base an impact determination. In addition to considering estimates of the number of marine mammals that might be ‘‘taken’’ through behavioral harassment, we consider other factors, such as the likely nature of any responses (e.g., intensity, duration), the context of any responses (e.g., critical reproductive time or location, migration), as well as the number and nature of estimated Level A harassment takes, the number of estimated mortalities, and effects on habitat. To avoid repetition, the discussion below applies to all the species listed in Table 7 for which we propose to authorize incidental take for 86 FWS’s activities. In making a negligible impact determination, we consider: • The number of anticipated injuries, serious injuries, or mortalities; • The number, nature, and intensity, and duration of Level B harassment; • The context in which the takes occur (e.g., impacts to areas of significance, impacts to local populations, and cumulative impacts when taking into account successive/ contemporaneous actions when added to baseline data); • The status of stock or species of marine mammals (i.e., depleted, not depleted, decreasing, increasing, stable, impact relative to the size of the population); PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Level B harassment (TTS) 1 0 0 0 0 1 9 3 1 1 3 17 Level B harassment (Behavioral) 64 26 0 2 9 101 • Impacts on habitat affecting rates of recruitment/survival; and • The effectiveness of monitoring and mitigation measures to reduce the number or severity of incidental take. For reasons stated previously in this document, including modeling predictions that estimated no serious injury or death for any species, the use of mitigation measures, and the short duration of the activities, 86 FWS’s specified activities are not likely to cause long-term behavioral disturbance, serious injury, or death. The takes from Level B harassment would be due to behavioral disturbance and TTS. The takes from Level A harassment would be due to PTS. We anticipate that any PTS incurred would be in the form of only a small degree of PTS and not total deafness. While animals may be impacted in the immediate vicinity of the activity, because of the short duration of the actual individual explosions themselves (versus continual sound source operation) combined with the short duration of the LRS WSEP operations, NMFS has determined that there will not be a substantial impact on marine mammals or on the normal functioning of the nearshore or offshore waters off Kauai and its ecosystems. We do not expect that the planned activity would impact rates of recruitment or survival of marine mammals since we do not expect mortality (which would remove individuals from the population) or E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 03OCN1 67982 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices serious injury to occur. In addition, the planned activity would not occur in areas (and/or times) of significance for the marine mammal populations potentially affected by the exercises (e.g., feeding or resting areas, reproductive areas), and the activities would only occur in a small part of their overall range, so the impact of any potential temporary displacement would be negligible and animals would be expected to return to the area after the cessations of activities. Although the planned activity could result in Level A (PTS only) and Level B (behavioral disturbance and TTS) harassment of marine mammals, the level of harassment is not anticipated to impact rates of recruitment or survival of marine mammals because the number of exposed animals is expected to be low due to the short-term (i.e., four hours a day or less on one day) and site-specific nature of the activity. We do not anticipate that the effects would be detrimental to rates of recruitment and survival because we do not expect serious or extended behavioral responses that would result in energetic effects at the level to impact fitness. Based on the analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into consideration the implementation of the mitigation and monitoring measures, and the short duration of the activities, NMFS finds that 86 FWS’s LRS WSEP operations will result in the incidental take of marine mammals, by Level A and Level B harassment, and that the taking from the LRS WSEP exercises will have a negligible impact on the affected species or stocks. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Impact on Availability of Affected Species or Stock for Taking for Subsistence Uses There are no relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals implicated by this action. Therefore, NMFS has determined that the total taking of affected species or stocks would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of such species or stocks for taking for subsistence purposes. Endangered Species Act (ESA) No marine mammal species listed under the ESA are expected to be affected by these activities. Therefore, NMFS has determined that a section 7 consultation under the ESA is not required. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) NMFS prepared an EA in accordance with the NEPA. NMFS determined that VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 these activities will not have a significant effect on the human environment and signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) in September 2016. Authorization As a result of these determinations, NMFS has issued an IHA to 86 FWS for conducting LRS WSEP activities, for a period of one year from the date of issuance, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements are incorporated. Dated: September 27, 2016. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–23725 Filed 9–30–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XE923 Fisheries of the South Atlantic; South Atlantic Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of a public meeting. AGENCY: The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold a meeting of its Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC). DATES: The SSC will meet 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, October 18, 2016; 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, October 19, 2016; and 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday, October 20, 2016. ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held at the Charleston Marriott Hotel, 170 Lockwood Blvd., Charleston, SC 29403; phone: (843) 723–3000 or (800) 968– 3569. Council address: South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201, N. Charleston, SC 29405. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kim Iverson, Public Information Officer, 4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201, North Charleston, SC 29405; phone: (843) 571– 4366 or toll free (866) SAFMC–10; fax: (843) 769–4520; email: kim.iverson@ safmc.net. SUMMARY: The following agenda items will be addressed by the SSC during this meeting: SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 1. NMFS Stock Assessment Prioritization tool application to selected South Atlantic stocks. 2. Receive an update on Southeast Data, Assessment and Review (SEDAR) activities. 3. Receive an update on 2015 Landings, Annual Catch Limits (ACLs), Acceptable Biological Catches (ABCs) and Accountability Measures (AMs). 4. Discuss modifications to the ABC Control Rule. 5. Further consider the SEDAR stock assessment update and fishing level recommendations for Golden Tilefish. 6. Review Snapper Grouper Amendment 43, including Red Snapper reference points, consider fishing level recommendations, and reliability of NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Recreational Information Program estimates. 7. Review a study on Black Sea Bass commercial pot mesh size. 8. Review the draft Council management analysis review process. 9. Consider fishing level recommendations for Spiny Lobster. 10. Review Snapper Grouper Amendment 41 for Mutton Snapper. 11. Discuss proposed topics for the next National SSC meeting. 12. Receive an update on the Council’s work plan and current amendments. 13. Discuss revisions to the SSC Public Comment Policy. Although non-emergency issues not contained in this agenda may come before this group for discussion, those issues may not be the subject of formal action during this meeting. Action will be restricted to those issues specifically identified in this notice and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, provided the public has been notified of the intent to take final action to address the emergency. Written comment on SSC agenda topics is to be distributed to the Committee through the Council office. Written comment to be considered by the SSC shall be provided to the Council office no later than one week prior to an SSC meeting. The deadline for submission of written comment is 12 p.m. Tuesday, October 11, 2016. Two opportunities for comment on agenda items will be provided during the SSC meeting and noted on the agenda. The first will be at the beginning of the meeting, and the second near the conclusion, when the SSC reviews its recommendations. Special Accommodations This meeting is accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for auxiliary E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 03OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 191 (Monday, October 3, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 67971-67982]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-23725]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XE675


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

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

ACTION: Notice; issuance of an incidental harassment authorization.

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

SUMMARY: In accordance with the regulations implementing the Marine 
Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), notification is hereby given that we have 
issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to the U.S. Air 
Force 86 Fighter Weapons Squadron (86 FWS) to incidentally harass 
marine mammals during Long Range Strike Weapons System Evaluation 
Program (LRS WSEP) activities in the Barking Sands Underwater Range 
Extension (BSURE) area of the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) at 
Kauai, Hawaii.

DATES: This authorization is effective from October 1, 2016, through 
November 30, 2016.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) 
direct the Secretary of Commerce to allow, upon request, the 
incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine 
mammals of a species or population stock, by U.S. citizens who engage 
in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a 
specified geographical region if certain findings are made and either 
regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, a 
notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the public for 
review.
    An authorization for incidental takings for marine mammals shall be 
granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on 
the species or stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on 
the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where 
relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements 
pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring, and reporting of such taking 
are set forth. NMFS has defined ``negligible impact'' in 50 CFR 216.103 
as ``an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be 
reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely 
affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of 
recruitment or survival.''
    The NDAA of 2004 (Public Law 108-136) removed the ``small numbers'' 
and ``specified geographical region'' limitations indicated earlier and 
amended the definition of harassment as it applies to a ``military 
readiness activity'' to read as follows (Section 3(18)(B) of the MMPA): 
(i) any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a 
marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A Harassment); 
or (ii) any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal 
or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural 
behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, 
surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where 
such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered (Level 
B Harassment).

Summary of Request

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

Description of the Specified Activity

Overview

    86 FWS plans to conduct an air-to-surface mission in the BSURE area 
of the PMRF. The LRS WSEP test objective is to conduct operational 
evaluations of long range strike weapons and other munitions as part of 
LRS WSEP operations to properly train units to execute requirements 
within Designed Operational Capability Statements, which describe 
units' real-world operational expectations in a time of war. Due to 
threats to national security, increased missions involving air-to-
surface activities have been directed by the Department of Defense 
(DoD). Accordingly, the U.S. Air Force needs to conduct operational 
evaluations of all phases of long range strike weapons within the U.S. 
Navy's Hawaii Range Complex (HRC). The actions will fulfill the Air 
Force's requirement to evaluate full-scale maneuvers for such weapons, 
including scoring capabilities under operationally realistic scenarios. 
LRS WSEP objectives are to evaluate air-to-

[[Page 67972]]

surface and maritime weapon employment data, evaluate tactics, 
techniques, and procedures in an operationally realistic environment, 
and to determine the impact of tactics, techniques, and procedures on 
combat Air Force training. The munitions associated with the planned 
activities are not part of a typical unit's training allocations, and 
prior to attending a WSEP evaluation, most pilots and weapon systems 
officers have only dropped weapons in simulators or used the aircraft's 
simulation mode. Without WSEP operations, pilots would be using these 
weapons for the first time in combat. On average, half of the 
participants in each unit drop an actual weapon for the first time 
during a WSEP evaluation. Consequently, WSEP is a military readiness 
activity and is the last opportunity for squadrons to receive 
operational training and evaluations before they deploy.

Dates and Duration

    86 FWS plans to schedule the LRS WSEP training missions over one 
day in October 2016. The planned missions would occur on a weekday 
during daytime hours only, with all missions occurring in one day. This 
IHA is valid from October 1, 2016 through November 30, 2016.

Specified Geographic Region

    The specific planned impact area is approximately 44 nautical miles 
(nm) (81 kilometers (km)) offshore of Kauai, Hawaii, in a water depth 
of about 15,240 feet (ft) (4,645 meters (m)) (see Figure 2-2 of 86 
FWS's application). All activities will take place within the PMRF, 
which is located in Hawaii off the western shores of the island of 
Kauai and includes broad ocean areas to the north, south, and west (see 
Figure 2-1 of 86 FWS's application). Within the PMRF, activities would 
occur in the BSURE area, which lies in Warning Area 188 (W-188).
    NMFS provided detailed descriptions of the activity area in a 
previous notice for the proposed authorization (81 FR 44277) (July 7, 
2016). The information has not changed between the notice of proposed 
authorization and this final notice announcing the issuance of the 
authorization.

Detailed Description of Activities

    The LRS WSEP training missions, classified as military readiness 
activities, refer to the deployment of live (containing explosive 
charges) missiles from aircraft toward the water surface. The actions 
include air-to-surface test missions of the JASSM and the SDB-I/II 
including detonations at the water surface.
    Aircraft used for munition releases would include bombers and 
fighter aircraft. Additional airborne assets, such as the P-3 Orion or 
the P-8 Poseidon, would be used to relay telemetry (TM) and flight 
termination system (FTS) streams between the weapon and ground 
stations. Other support aircraft would be associated with range 
clearance activities before and during the mission and with air-to-air 
refueling operations. All weapon delivery aircraft would originate from 
an out base and fly into military-controlled airspace prior to 
employment. Due to long transit times between the out base and mission 
location, air-to-air refueling may be conducted in either W-188 or W-
189. Bombers, such as the B-1, would deliver the weapons, conduct air-
to-air refueling, and return to their originating base as part of one 
sortie. However, when fighter aircraft are used, the distance and 
corresponding transit time to the various potential originating bases 
would make return flights after each mission day impractical. In these 
cases, the aircraft would temporarily (less than one week) park 
overnight at Hickam Air Force Base (HAFB) and would return to their 
home base at the conclusion of each mission set. The LRS WSEP missions 
scheduled for 2016 are planned to occur in one day. Approximately 10 
Air Force personnel would be on temporary duty to support the mission.
    Aircraft flight maneuver operations and weapon release would be 
conducted in W-188A boundaries of PMRF. Chase aircraft may be used to 
evaluate weapon release and to track weapons. Flight operations and 
weapons delivery would be in accordance with published Air Force 
directives and weapon operational release parameters, as well as all 
applicable Navy safety regulations and criteria established 
specifically for PMRF. Aircraft supporting LSR WSEP missions would 
primarily operate at high altitudes--only flying below 3,000 feet 
(914.1 m) for a limited time as needed for escorting non-military 
vessels outside the hazard area or for monitoring the area for 
protected marine species (e.g., marine mammals, sea turtles). Protected 
marine species aerial surveys would be temporary and would focus on an 
area surrounding the weapon impact point on the water. Post-mission 
surveys would focus on the area down current of the weapon impact 
location. Range clearance procedures for each mission would cover a 
much larger area for human safety. Weapon release parameters would be 
conducted as approved by PMRF Range Safety. Daily mission briefs would 
specify planned release conditions for each mission. Aircraft and 
weapons would be tracked for time, space, and position information. The 
86 FWS test director would coordinate with the PMRF Range Safety 
Officer, Operations Conductor, Range Facility Control Officer, and 
other applicable mission control personnel for aircraft control, range 
clearance, and mission safety.
    NMFS provided detailed descriptions of the components of the 
planned mission activities in a previous notice for the proposed 
authorization (81 FR 44277) (July 7, 2016). The information has not 
changed between the notice of proposed authorization and this final 
notice announcing the issuance of the authorization.
    Initial phases of the LRS WSEP operational evaluations are planned 
for October 2016 and would consist of releasing only one live JASSM/
JASSM-ER and up to eight SDB-Is in military controlled airspace (Table 
1).

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

    A typical mission day would consist of pre-mission checks, safety 
review, crew briefings, weather checks, clearing airspace, range 
clearance, mitigations/monitoring efforts, and other military protocols 
prior to launch of weapons.

[[Page 67973]]

Potential delays could be the result of multiple factors including, but 
not limited to: Adverse weather conditions leading to unsafe take-off, 
landing, and aircraft operations, inability to clear the range of non-
mission vessels or aircraft, mechanical issues with mission aircraft or 
munitions, or presence of protected species in the impact area. If the 
mission is cancelled due to any of these, one back-up day has also been 
scheduled as a contingency. These standard operating procedures are 
usually done in the morning, and live range time may begin in late 
morning once all checks are complete and approval is granted from range 
control. The range would be closed to the public for a maximum of four 
hours per mission day.

Comments and Responses

    A notice of NMFS' proposal to issue an Authorization to 86 FWS 
published in the Federal Register on July 7, 2016 (81 FR 44277). During 
the 30-day public comment period, NMFS received comments from the 
Marine Mammal Commission (Commission) and one relevant comment from a 
private citizen. Following is the comment from the Commission and NMFS' 
response and the comment received from a private citizen and NMFS' 
response.
    Comment 1: The Commission recommends that NMFS and the Air Force 
assess practicable ways to supplement the Air Force's mitigation and 
monitoring measures with PAM (passive acoustic monitoring), including 
obtaining access to the Navy's hydrophone array data at PMRF.
    Response: NMFS agrees that the use of PAM would be beneficial for 
monitoring and mitigation for mission activities. For this one-day 
mission, NMFS considered the use of PAM for mitigation and monitoring 
but, due to timing and logistical constraints, the use of PAM will not 
be required. For any future actions by the applicant in this area, the 
use of PAM for mitigation or monitoring purposes will be considered.
    Comment 2: One private citizen requested notice of this military 
training exercise to be posted in the Kauai newspaper to help generate 
adequate public awareness and facilitate a healthy amount of discussion 
on this IHA prior to commencing activities.
    Response: NMFS made the information available to the public during 
our 30-day public comment period by publishing the proposed IHA in the 
Federal Register on July 7, 2016 (81 FR 44277) and by posting all of 
the documents to our Web site. In addition, the USAF posted their draft 
EA in The Garden Island and Honolulu Star Advertiser newspapers, as 
well as other places, describing the action and the potential impacts 
of the action on the environment. A 30-day public comment period was 
available for public input.

Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity

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

                           Table 2--Marine Mammals That Could Occur in the BSURE Area
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                      ESA/MMPA      Stock abundance
                                                      status;       (CV, Nmin, most               Occurrence in
            Species                   Stock       strategic (Y/N)  recent abundance   PBR \3\      BSURE area
                                                        \1\           survey) \2\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                      Order Cetartiodactyla--Cetacea--Superfamily Mysticeti (baleen whales)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             Family: Balaenopteridae
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Humpback whale (Megaptera       Central North     E/D; Y           10,103 (0.300;           83  Seasonal;
 novaeangliae) \4\.              Pacific.                           7,890; 2006).                throughout
                                                                                                 known breeding
                                                                                                 grounds during
                                                                                                 winter and
                                                                                                 spring (most
                                                                                                 common November
                                                                                                 through April).
Blue Whale (Balaenoptera        Central North     E/D; Y           81 (1.14; 38;           0.1  Seasonal;
 musculus).                      Pacific.                           2010).                       infrequent
                                                                                                 winter migrant;
                                                                                                 few sightings,
                                                                                                 mainly fall and
                                                                                                 winter;
                                                                                                 considered
                                                                                                 rare.
Fin whale (Balaenoptera         Hawaii..........  E/D; Y           58 (1.12; 27;           0.1  Seasonal, mainly
 physalus).                                                         2010).                       fall and
                                                                                                 winter;
                                                                                                 considered
                                                                                                 rare.
Sei whale (Balaenoptera         Hawaii..........  E/D; Y           178 (0.90; 93;          0.2  Rare; limited
 borealis).                                                         2010).                       sightings of
                                                                                                 seasonal
                                                                                                 migrants that
                                                                                                 feed at higher
                                                                                                 latitudes.
Bryde's whale (Balaenoptera     Hawaii..........  -; N             798 (0.28; 633;         6.3  Uncommon;
 brydei/edeni).                                                     2010).                       distributed
                                                                                                 throughout the
                                                                                                 Hawaiian EEZ.
Minke whale (Balaenoptera       Hawaii..........  -; N             n/a (n/a; n/a;       Undet.  Regular but
 acutorostrata).                                                    2010).                       seasonal
                                                                                                 (October-April)
                                                                                                 .
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Order Cetartiodactyla--Cetacea--Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              Family: Physeteridae
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sperm whale (Physeter           Hawaii..........  E/D; Y           3,354 (0.34;           10.2  Widely
 macrocephalus).                                                    2,539; 2010).                distributed
                                                                                                 year round;
                                                                                                 more likely in
                                                                                                 waters > 1,000
                                                                                                 m depth, most
                                                                                                 often > 2,000
                                                                                                 m.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 67974]]

 
        Order Cetartiodactyla--Cetacea--Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                Family: Kogiidae
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pygmy sperm whale (Kogia        Hawaii..........  -; N             n/a (n/a; n/a;       Undet.  Widely
 breviceps).                                                        2010).                       distributed
                                                                                                 year round;
                                                                                                 more likely in
                                                                                                 waters > 1,000
                                                                                                 m depth.
Dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima)  Hawaii..........  -; N             n/a (n/a; n/a;       Undet.  Widely
                                                                    2010).                       distributed
                                                                                                 year round;
                                                                                                 more likely in
                                                                                                 waters > 500 m
                                                                                                 depth.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Order Cetartiodactyla--Cetacea--Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                               Family delphinidae
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Killer whale (Orcinus orca)...  Hawaii..........  -; N             101 (1.00; 50;            1  Uncommon;
                                                                    2010).                       infrequent
                                                                                                 sightings.
False killer whale (Pseudorca   Hawaii Pelagic..  -; N             1,540 (0.66;            9.3  Regular.
 crassidens).                                                       928; 2010).
                                NWHI Stock......  -; N             617 (1.11; 290;         2.3  Regular.
                                                                    2010).
Pygmy killer whale (Feresa      Hawaii..........  -; N             3,433 (0.52;             23  Year-round
 attenuata).                                                        2,274; 2010).                resident.
Short-finned pilot whale        Hawaii..........  -; N             12,422 (0.43;            70  Commonly
 (Globicephala macrorhynchus).                                      8,872; 2010).                observed around
                                                                                                 Main Hawaiian
                                                                                                 Islands and
                                                                                                 Northwestern
                                                                                                 Hawaiian
                                                                                                 Islands.
Melon headed whale              Hawaii Islands    -; N             5,794 (0.20;              4  Regular.
 (Peponocephala electra).        stock.                             4,904; 2010).
Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops    Hawaii pelagic..  -; N             5,950 (0.59;             38  Common in deep
 truncatus).                                                        3,755; 2010).                offshore
                                                                                                 waters.
Pantropical spotted dolphin     Hawaii pelagic..  -; N             15,917 (0.40;           115  Common; primary
 (Stenella attenuata).                                              11,508; 2010).               occurrence
                                                                                                 between 100 and
                                                                                                 4,000 m depth.
Striped dolphin (Stenella       Hawaii..........  -; N             20,650 (0.36;           154  Occurs regularly
 coeruleoala).                                                      15,391; 2010).               year round but
                                                                                                 infrequent
                                                                                                 sighting during
                                                                                                 survey.
Spinner dolphin (Stenella       Hawaii pelagic..  -; N             n/a (n/a; n/a;       Undet.  Common year-
 longirostris).                                                     2010).                       round in
                                                                                                 offshore
                                                                                                 waters.
Rough-toothed dolphins (Steno   Hawaii stock....  -; N             6,288 (0.39;             46  Common
 bredanensis).                                                      4,581; 2010).                throughout the
                                                                                                 Main Hawaiian
                                                                                                 Islands and
                                                                                                 Hawaiian
                                                                                                 Islands EEZ.
Fraser's dolphin                Hawaii..........  -; N             16,992 (0.66;           102  Tropical species
 (Lagenodelphis hosei).                                             10,241; 2010).               only recently
                                                                                                 documented
                                                                                                 within Hawaiian
                                                                                                 Islands EEZ
                                                                                                 (2002 survey).
Risso's dolphin (Grampus        Hawaii..........  -; N             7,256 (0.41;             42  Previously
 griseus).                                                          5,207; 2010).                considered rare
                                                                                                 but multiple
                                                                                                 sightings in
                                                                                                 Hawaiian
                                                                                                 Islands EEZ
                                                                                                 during various
                                                                                                 surveys
                                                                                                 conducted from
                                                                                                 2002-2012.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Order Cetartiodactyla--Cetacea--Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                Family: Ziphiidae
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cuvier's beaked whale (Ziphius  Hawaii..........  -; N             1,941 (n/a;            11.4  Year-round
 cavirostris).                                                      1,142; 2010).                occurrence but
                                                                                                 difficult to
                                                                                                 detect due to
                                                                                                 diving
                                                                                                 behavior.
Blainville's beaked whale       Hawaii..........  -; N             2,338 (1.13;             11  Year-round
 (Mesoplodon densirostris).                                         1,088; 2010).                occurrence but
                                                                                                 difficult to
                                                                                                 detect due to
                                                                                                 diving
                                                                                                 behavior.
Longman's beaked whale          Hawaii..........  -; N             4,571 (0.65;             28  Considered rare;
 (Indopacetus pacificus).                                           2,773; 2010).                however,
                                                                                                 multiple
                                                                                                 sightings
                                                                                                 during 2010
                                                                                                 survey.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 67975]]

 
                           Order--Carnivora--Superfamily Pinnipedia (seals, sea lions)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                Family: Phocidae
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hawaiian monk seal              Hawaii..........  E/D; Y           1,112 (n/a;          Undet.  Predominantly
 (Neomonachus schauinslandi).                                       1,088; 2013).                occur at
                                                                                                 Northwestern
                                                                                                 Hawaiian
                                                                                                 Islands;
                                                                                                 approximately
                                                                                                 138 individuals
                                                                                                 in Main
                                                                                                 Hawaiian
                                                                                                 Islands.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ ESA status: Endangered (E), Threatened (T)/MMPA status: Depleted (D). A dash (-) indicates that the species
  is not listed under the ESA or designated as depleted under the MMPA. Under the MMPA, a strategic stock is one
  for which the level of direct human-caused mortality exceeds PBR (see footnote 3) or which is determined to be
  declining and likely to be listed under the ESA within the foreseeable future. Any species or stock listed
  under the ESA is automatically designated under the MMPA as depleted and as a strategic stock.
\2\ CV is coefficient of variation; Nmin is the minimum estimate of stock abundance. In some cases, CV is not
  applicable. For certain stocks, abundance estimates are actual counts of animals and there is no associated
  CV. The most recent abundance survey that is reflected in the abundance estimate is presented; there may be
  more recent surveys that have not yet been incorporated into the estimate. All values presented here are from
  the 2015 Pacific SARs, except humpback whales--see comment 4.
\3\ Potential biological removal, defined by the MMPA as the maximum number of animals, not including natural
  mortalities, that may be removed from a marine mammal stock while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its
  optimum sustainable population size (OSP).
\4\ Values for humpback whales are from the 2015 Alaska SAR.

    Of these 25 species, five are listed as endangered under the ESA 
and as depleted throughout its range under the MMPA. These are: Blue 
whale, fin whale, sei whale, sperm whale, and the Hawaiian monk seal. 
Humpback whales were listed as endangered under the ESA in 1973. NMFS 
evaluated the status of this population, and on September 8, 2016, NMFS 
divided the globally listed humpback whale into 14 distinct population 
segment (DPS), removed the current species-level listing, and in its 
place listed four DPSs as endangered and one DPS as threatened (81 FR 
62259). The remaining nine DPSs were not listed because it was 
determined that they are not threatened or endangered under the ESA. 
The Hawaiian DPS of humpback whales, which would be present in the 
action area, were not listed under the ESA in NMFS final rule.
    Of the 25 species that may occur in Hawaiian waters, only certain 
stocks occur in the impact area, while others are island-associated or 
do not occur at the depths of the impact area (e.g. false killer whale 
insular stock, island-associated stocks of bottlenose, spinner, and 
spotted dolphins). Only five species are considered likely to be in the 
impact area during the one day of project activities. This number has 
increased from the proposed IHA based on changes to the project dates. 
Dates have moved back to October (from September), and the use of fall 
densities are now used. The species now modeled to have take exposures 
include dwarf sperm whale, pygmy sperm whale, Fraser's dolphin, minke 
whale, and humpback whale. Other species are seasonal and only occur in 
these waters later in the winter (blue whale, fin whale, sei whale, 
killer whale); some are rare in the area or unlikely to be impacted due 
to small density estimates (Longman's beaked whale, Bryde's whale, 
false killer whale, pygmy killer whale, short-finned pilot whale, 
melon-headed whale, bottlenose dolphin, pantropical spotted dolphin, 
striped dolphin, spinner dolphin, rough-toothed dolphin, Risso's 
dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, Blainville's beaked whale, and Hawaiian 
monk seal). Because these 19 species are unlikely to occur within the 
BSURE area based on modeling predictions, 86 FWS has not requested, and 
NMFS will not issue take authorizations for them. Thus, NMFS does not 
consider these species further in this notice.
    We have reviewed 86 FWS's species descriptions, including life 
history information, distribution, regional distribution, diving 
behavior, and acoustics and hearing, for accuracy and completeness. We 
refer the reader to Sections Three and Four of 86 FWS's application 
rather than reprinting the information here. Please also refer to NMFS' 
Web site (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals) for generalized species 
accounts. We provided additional information for two of the marine 
mammals (dwarf and pygmy sperm whales) with potential for occurrence in 
the area of the specified activity in our Federal Register notice of 
proposed authorization (81 FR 44277) (July 7, 2016). Since that 
publication, the dates for the LRS WSEP activities changed to later in 
the year; therefore, different densities were used to calculate take. 
Because of this, two additional species were included in take 
exposures. Species descriptions for these three species are provided 
below.

Fraser's dolphin

    Fraser's dolphin are distributed worldwide in tropical waters 
(Caretta et al., 2011). Very little is known about this species, which 
was first documented within Hawaiian waters in 2002. There is a single 
stock in Hawaii with a current population estimate of 16,992 animals 
and PBR at 102 animals (Caretta et al., 2016). Current population 
trends are not available for this species. This species is not listed 
under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and is not considered strategic 
or designated as depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) 
(Caretta et al., 2016). The biggest threat to the species is fishery-
related injuries (Caretta et al., 2011).

Minke whale

    Minke whales are found worldwide in deep waters. There are three 
stocks in the Pacific: The Hawaiian stock, the California/Oregon/
Washington stock, and the Alaskan stock. Only the Hawaiian stock is 
affected by the project activities. Minke whales occur seasonally in 
Hawaiian waters (October-April). Current abundance estimates, PBR, and 
population trends for this stock are unknown. This stock is not listed 
under the ESA, nor are they considered strategic, or designated as 
depleted under the MMPA. One of the suggested habitat concerns for this 
stock is the increasing levels of anthropogenic

[[Page 67976]]

noise in the world's oceans (Caretta et al., 2014).

Humpback whale

    Humpback whales are found worldwide in all ocean basins. In winter, 
most humpback whales occur in the subtropical and tropical waters of 
the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. These wintering grounds are used 
for mating, giving birth, and nursing new calves. Humpback whales 
migrate nearly 3,000 mi (4,830 km) from their summer foraging grounds 
to these wintering grounds in Hawaii away. The average date of the 
first sighting of humpback whales in Hawaii is approximately the first 
week in October, with whales seen earlier and earlier in the past five 
years (E. Lyman, personal communication, August 2016).
    Humpback whales were listed as endangered under the Endangered 
Species Conservation Act (ESCA) in June 1970. In 1973, the ESA replaced 
the ESCA, and continued to list humpbacks as endangered. Because the 
recent rule by NMFS did not consider the Hawaii DPS of humpbacks to be 
threatened or endangered under the ESA, this DPS is not listed under 
the ESA. The current abundance estimate for this DPS is 11,398 
individuals and its population trend estimate is 5.5-6 percent (81 FR 
62259).

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

    This section of the notice of the proposed Authorization (81 FR 
44277) (July 7, 2016) included a summary and discussion of the ways 
that components (e.g., munition strikes and detonation effects) of the 
specified activity, including mitigation, may impact marine mammals and 
their habitat. The Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment section 
later in this document will include a quantitative analysis of the 
number of individuals that we expect 86 FWS to take during this 
activity. The Negligible Impact Analysis section will include the 
analysis of how this specific activity would impact marine mammals, and 
will consider the content of this section, the Estimated Take by 
Incidental Harassment section and the Mitigation section to draw 
conclusions regarding the likely impacts of these activities on the 
reproductive success or survivorship of individuals and from that on 
the affected marine mammal populations or stocks.
    In summary, the LRS WSEP training exercises proposed for taking of 
marine mammals under an Authorization have the potential to take marine 
mammals by exposing them to overpressure and acoustic components 
generated by live ordnance detonation at or near the surface of the 
water. Exposure to energy or pressure resulting from these detonations 
could result in Level A harassment (physical injury and permanent 
threshold shift, or PTS) and Level B harassment (temporary threshold 
shift, or TTS and behavioral disturbances). Based on modeled 
predictions, LRS WSEP activities are not expected to result in serious 
injury or mortality.
    NMFS provided detailed information on these potential effects in 
the notice of the proposed Authorization (81 FR 44277) (July 7, 2016). 
The information presented in that notice has not changed.

Anticipated Effects on Habitat

    Detonations of live ordnance would result in temporary changes to 
the water environment. An explosion on the surface of the water from 
these weapons could send a shock wave and blast noise through the 
water, release gaseous by-products, create an oscillating bubble, and 
cause a plume of water to shoot up from the water surface. However, 
these effects would be temporary and not expected to last more than a 
few seconds. Similarly, 86 FWS does not expect any long-term impacts 
with regard to hazardous constituents to occur. 86 FWS considered the 
introduction of fuel, debris, ordnance, and chemical materials into the 
water column within its EA and determined the potential effects of each 
to be insignificant. NMFS provided a summary of the analyses in the 
notice for the proposed Authorization (81 FR 44277) (July 7, 2016). The 
information presented in that notice has not changed.

Mitigation

    In order to issue an incidental take authorization under section 
101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, NMFS must set forth the permissible methods 
of taking pursuant to such activity, and other means of effecting the 
least practicable adverse impact on such species or stock and its 
habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and 
areas of similar significance, and the availability of such species or 
stock for taking for certain subsistence uses (where relevant).
    The NDAA of 2004 amended the MMPA as it relates to military-
readiness activities and the incidental take authorization process such 
that ``least practicable adverse impact'' shall include consideration 
of personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the 
effectiveness of the military readiness activity.
    NMFS and 86 FWS have worked to identify potential practicable and 
effective mitigation measures, which include a careful balancing of the 
likely benefit of any particular measure to the marine mammals with the 
likely effect of that measure on personnel safety, practicality of 
implementation, and impact on the ``military-readiness activity.'' We 
refer the reader to Section 11 of 86 FWS's application for more 
detailed information on the planned mitigation measures which are also 
described below.
    Visual Aerial Surveys: For the LRS WSEP activities, mitigation 
procedures consist of visual aerial surveys of the impact area for the 
presence of protected marine species (including marine mammals). During 
aerial observation, Navy test range personnel may survey the area from 
an S-61N helicopter or C-62 aircraft that is based at the PMRF land 
facility (typically when missions are located relatively close to 
shore). Alternatively, when missions are located farther offshore, 
surveys may be conducted from mission aircraft (typically jet aircraft 
such as F-15E, F-16, or F-22) or a U.S. Coast Guard C-130 aircraft.
    Protected species surveys will begin within one hour of weapon 
release and as close to the impact time as feasible, given human safety 
requirements. Survey personnel must depart the human hazard zone before 
weapon release, in accordance with Navy safety standards. Personnel 
conduct aerial surveys within an area defined by an approximately 2-nm 
(3,704 m) radius around the impact point, with surveys typically flown 
in a star pattern. This survey distance is consistent with requirements 
already in place for similar actions at PMRF. Observers would consist 
of aircrew operating the C-26, S-61N, and C-130 aircraft from PMRF and 
the Coast Guard. These aircrew are trained and have had prior 
experience conducting aerial marine mammal surveys and have provided 
similar support for other missions at PMRF. Aerial surveys are 
typically conducted at an altitude of about 200 feet (61 m), but 
altitude may vary somewhat depending on sea state and atmospheric 
conditions. The C-26 and other aircraft would generally be operated at 
a slightly higher altitude than the S-61N helicopter. If adverse 
weather conditions preclude the ability for aircraft to safely operate, 
missions would either be delayed until the weather clears or cancelled 
for the day. For 2016 LRS WSEP missions, one day has been designated as 
a weather back-

[[Page 67977]]

up day. The observers will be provided with the GPS location of the 
impact area. Once the aircraft reaches the impact area, pre-mission 
surveys typically last for 30 minutes, depending on the survey pattern. 
The fixed-wing aircraft are faster than the helicopter; and, therefore, 
protected species may be more difficult to spot. However, to compensate 
for the difference in speed, the aircraft may fly the survey pattern 
multiple times.
    If a protected species is observed in the impact area, weapon 
release would be delayed until one of the following conditions is met: 
(1) The animal is observed exiting the impact area; (2) the animal is 
thought to have exited the impact area based on its course and speed; 
or (3) the impact area has been clear of any additional sightings for a 
period of 30 minutes. All weapons will be tracked and their water entry 
points will be documented.
    Post-mission surveys would begin immediately after the mission is 
complete and the Range Safety Officer declares the human safety area is 
reopened. Approximate transit time from the perimeter of the human 
safety area to the weapon impact area would depend on the size of the 
human safety area and vary between aircraft but is expected to be less 
than 30 minutes. Post-mission surveys would be conducted by the same 
aircraft and aircrew that conducted the pre-mission surveys and would 
follow the same patterns as pre-mission surveys but would focus on the 
area down current of the weapon impact area to determine if protected 
species were affected by the mission (observation of dead or injured 
animals). If physical injury or mortality occurs to a protected species 
due to LRS WSEP missions, NMFS would be notified immediately.
    Based on the ranges presented in Table 5 and factoring operational 
limitations (e.g. fuel constraints) associated with the mission, 86 FWS 
estimates that during pre-mission surveys, the planned monitoring area 
would be approximately 2 nm (3,704 m) from the target area radius 
around the impact point, with surveys typically flown in a star 
pattern, which is consistent with requirements already in place for 
similar actions at PMRF and encompasses the entire TTS threshold ranges 
(sound exposure level, or SEL) for mid-frequency cetaceans, half of the 
PTS SEL range for high-frequency cetaceans, the entire PTS ranges for 
low-frequency cetaceans, and half of the TTS range for LF cetaceans. 
Given operational constraints, surveying these larger areas would not 
be feasible.
    We have carefully evaluated 86 FWS's proposed mitigation measures 
in the context of ensuring that we prescribe the means of effecting the 
least practicable impact on the affected marine mammal species and 
stocks and their habitat. Our evaluation of potential measures included 
consideration of the following factors in relation to one another:
     The manner in which, and the degree to which, the 
successful implementation of the measure is expected to minimize 
adverse impacts to marine mammals;
     The proven or likely efficacy of the specific measure to 
minimize adverse impacts as planned; and
     The practicability of the measure for applicant 
implementation.
    Any mitigation measure(s) prescribed by NMFS should be able to 
accomplish, have a reasonable likelihood of accomplishing (based on 
current science), or contribute to the accomplishment of one or more of 
the general goals listed here:
    1. Avoidance or minimization of injury or death of marine mammals 
wherever possible (goals 2, 3, and 4 may contribute to this goal).
    2. A reduction in the numbers of marine mammals (total number or 
number at biologically important time or location) exposed to stimuli 
expected to result in incidental take (this goal may contribute to 1, 
above, or to reducing takes by behavioral harassment only).
    3. A reduction in the number of times (total number or number at 
biologically important time or location) individuals would be exposed 
to stimuli that we expect to result in the take of marine mammals (this 
goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing harassment takes only).
    4. A reduction in the intensity of exposures (either total number 
or number at biologically important time or location) to training 
exercises that we expect to result in the take of marine mammals (this 
goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing the severity of 
harassment takes only).
    5. Avoidance or minimization of adverse effects to marine mammal 
habitat, paying special attention to the food base, activities that 
block or limit passage to or from biologically important areas, 
permanent destruction of habitat, or temporary destruction/disturbance 
of habitat during a biologically important time.
    6. For monitoring directly related to mitigation--an increase in 
the probability of detecting marine mammals, thus allowing for more 
effective implementation of the mitigation.
    Based on our evaluation of 86 FWS's proposed measures, as well as 
other measures that may be relevant to the specified activity, we have 
determined that the mitigation measures, including visual aerial 
surveys and mission delays if protected species are observed in the 
impact area, provide the means of effecting the least practicable 
impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat, paying 
particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar 
significance (while also considering personnel safety, practicality of 
implementation, and the impact of effectiveness of the military 
readiness activity).

Monitoring and Reporting

    In order to issue an Authorization for an activity, section 
101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA states that we must set forth ``requirements 
pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking.'' The MMPA 
implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104(a)(13) indicate that 
requests for an authorization must include the suggested means of 
accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result 
in increased knowledge of the species and our expectations of the level 
of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals present in the 
action area.
    86 FWS submitted measures for marine mammal monitoring and 
reporting in their IHA application. Any monitoring requirement we 
prescribe should improve our understanding of one or more of the 
following:
     Occurrence of marine mammal species in action area (e.g., 
presence, abundance, distribution, density).
     Nature, scope, or context of likely marine mammal exposure 
to potential stressors/impacts (individual or cumulative, acute or 
chronic), through better understanding of: (1) Action or environment 
(e.g., source characterization, propagation, ambient noise); (2) 
Affected species (e.g., life history, dive patterns); (3) Co-occurrence 
of marine mammal species with the action; or (4) Biological or 
behavioral context of exposure (e.g., age, calving or feeding areas).
     Individual responses to acute stressors, or impacts of 
chronic exposures (behavioral or physiological).
     How anticipated responses to stressors impact either: (1) 
Long-term fitness and survival of an individual; or (2) Population, 
species, or stock.
     Effects on marine mammal habitat and resultant impacts to 
marine mammals.

[[Page 67978]]

     Mitigation and monitoring effectiveness.
    NMFS will include the following measures in the LRS WSEP 
Authorization. They are:
    (1) 86 FWS will track the use of the PMRF for mission activities 
and protected species observations, through the use of mission 
reporting forms.
    (2) 86 FWS will submit a summary report of marine mammal 
observations and LRS WSEP activities to the NMFS Pacific Islands 
Regional Office (PIRO) and the Office of Protected Resources 90 days 
after expiration of the current Authorization. This report must include 
the following information: (i) Date and time of each LRS WSEP exercise; 
(ii) a complete description of the pre-exercise and post-exercise 
activities related to mitigating and monitoring the effects of LRS WSEP 
exercises on marine mammal populations; (iii) an accounting of the 
munitions use; and (iv) results of the LRS WSEP exercise monitoring, 
including number of marine mammals (by species) that may have been 
harassed due to presence within the activity zone.
    (3) 86 FWS will monitor for marine mammals in the proposed action 
area. If 86 FWS personnel observe or detect any dead or injured marine 
mammals prior to testing, or detects any injured or dead marine mammal 
during live fire exercises, 86 FWS must cease operations and submit a 
report to NMFS within 24 hours.
    (4) 86 FWS must immediately report any unauthorized takes of marine 
mammals (i.e., serious injury or mortality) to NMFS and to the 
respective Pacific Islands Region stranding network representative. 86 
FWS must cease operations and submit a report to NMFS within 24 hours.

Estimated Numbers of Marine Mammals Taken by Harassment

    The NDAA amended the definition of harassment as it applies to a 
``military readiness activity'' to read as follows (Section 3(18)(B) of 
the MMPA): (i) Any act that injures or has the significant potential to 
injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A 
Harassment); or (ii) any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a 
marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption 
of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, 
migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a 
point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly 
altered (Level B Harassment).
    NMFS previously described the physiological responses, and 
behavioral responses that could potentially result from exposure to 
explosive detonations. In this section, we will relate the potential 
effects to marine mammals from detonation of explosives to the MMPA 
regulatory definitions of Level A and Level B harassment. This section 
will also quantify the effects that might occur from the planned 
military readiness activities in PMRF BSURE area.
    86 FWS thresholds used for onset of temporary threshold shift (TTS; 
Level B Harassment) and onset of permanent threshold shift (PTS; Level 
A Harassment) are consistent with the thresholds outlined in the Navy's 
report titled, ``Criteria and Thresholds for U.S. Navy Acoustic and 
Explosive Effects Analysis Technical Report,'' which the Navy 
coordinated with NMFS. The report is available on the internet at: 
http://nwtteis.com/Portals/NWTT/DraftEIS2014/SupportingDocs/NWTT_NMSDD_Technical_Report_23_January%202014_reduced.pdf
    In August 2016, NMFS released its Technical Guidance for Assessing 
the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing, which 
established new thresholds for predicting auditory injury, which 
equates to Level A harassment under the MMPA. In the August 4, 2016, 
Federal Register Notice announcing the Guidance (81 FR 51694), NMFS 
explained the approach it would take during a transition period, 
wherein we balance the need to consider this new best available science 
with the fact that some applicants have already committed time and 
resources to the development of acoustic analyses based on our previous 
thresholds and have constraints that preclude the recalculation of take 
estimates, as well consideration of where the agency is in the 
decision-making pipeline. In that Notice, we included a non-exhaustive 
list of factors that would inform the most appropriate approach for 
considering the new guidance, including: How far in the MMPA process 
the applicant has progressed; the scope of the effects; when the 
authorization is needed; the cost and complexity of the analysis; and 
the degree to which the Guidance is expected to affect our analysis.
    In this case, the Air Force has requested an authorization for a 
one-day activity that would include one explosive release and two 
explosive bursts of four munitions timed a few seconds apart and occur 
in October. Our analysis in the proposed IHA for this action (81 FR 
44277) (July 7, 2016) includes the consideration of, and we proposed to 
authorize, takes of small numbers of marine mammals by both Level A and 
Level B harassment. The extremely short duration of the activity 
(essentially three instantaneous events within a day) and the robust 
monitoring and mitigation measures we proposed minimize the likelihood 
that Level A harassment will occur. In short, although the new 
thresholds were not used in the calculation of take, we believe that 
the existing analysis, mitigation, and authorization adequately address 
the likely effects and protective measures.

Level B Harassment

    Of the potential effects described earlier in this document, the 
following are the types of effects that fall into the Level B 
harassment category:
    Behavioral Harassment--Behavioral disturbance that rises to the 
level described in the above definition, when resulting from exposures 
to non-impulsive or impulsive sound, is Level B harassment. Some of the 
lower level physiological stress responses discussed earlier would also 
likely co-occur with the predicted harassments, although these 
responses are more difficult to detect and fewer data exist relating 
these responses to specific received levels of sound. When predicting 
Level B harassment based on estimated behavioral responses, those takes 
may have a stress-related physiological component.
    Temporary Threshold Shift--As discussed in the proposed Federal 
Register notice (81 FR 44277) (July 7, 2016), TTS can affect how an 
animal behaves in response to the environment, including conspecifics, 
predators, and prey. NMFS classifies TTS (when resulting from exposure 
to explosives and other impulsive sources) as Level B harassment, not 
Level A harassment (injury).

Level A Harassment

    Of the potential effects that were described earlier, the following 
are the types of effects that fall into the Level A Harassment 
category:
    Permanent Threshold Shift--PTS (resulting from exposure to 
explosive detonations) is irreversible and NMFS considers this to be an 
injury.
    Gastrointestinal (GI) Tract Injury--GI tract injury includes 
contusions and lacerations from blast exposures, particularly in air-
containing regions of the tract.
    Slight Lung Injury--These injuries may include slight blast 
injuries to the lungs but would be survivable.

Mortality

    Mortality may include injuries that lead to mortality including 
primary

[[Page 67979]]

(moderate to severe) blast injuries and barotrauma. Thresholds are 
based on the level of impact that would cause extensive lung injury 
resulting in mortality to one percent of exposed animals (Finneran and 
Jenkins, 2012).
    Table 4 outlines the explosive thresholds used by NMFS for this 
Authorization when addressing noise impacts from explosives.
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TN03OC16.000

    86 FWS completed acoustic modeling to determine the distances to 
NMFS's explosive thresholds from their explosive ordnance, which was 
then used with each species' density to determine number of exposure 
estimates. Below is a summary of those modeling efforts.
    The zone of influence is defined as the area or volume of ocean in 
which marine mammals could be exposed to various pressure or acoustic 
energy levels caused by exploding ordnance. Refer to Appendix A of 86 
FWS's application for a description of the method used to calculate 
impact areas for explosives. The pressure and energy levels considered 
to be of concern are defined in terms of metrics, criteria, and 
thresholds. A metric is a technical standard of measurement that 
describes the acoustic environment (e.g., frequency, duration, temporal 
pattern, and amplitude) and pressure at a given location. Criteria are 
the resulting types of possible impact and include mortality, injury, 
and harassment. A threshold is the level of pressure or noise above 
which the impact criteria are reached.
    Standard impulsive and acoustic metrics were used for the analysis 
of underwater energy and pressure waves in this document. Several 
different metrics are important for understanding risk assessment 
analysis of impacts to marine mammals: SPL is the ratio of the absolute 
sound pressure to a reference level, SEL is measure of sound intensity 
and duration, and positive impulse is the time integral of the pressure 
over the initial positive phase of an arrival.
    The criteria and thresholds used to estimate potential pressure and 
acoustic impacts to marine mammals resulting from detonations were 
obtained from Finneran and Jenkins (2012) and include mortality, 
injurious harassment (Level A), and non-injurious harassment (Level B). 
In some cases, separate thresholds have been developed for different 
species groups or functional hearing groups. Functional hearing groups 
included in the analysis are low-frequency cetaceans, mid-frequency 
cetaceans, high-frequency cetaceans, and Phocid pinnipeds.
    The maximum estimated range, or radius, from the detonation point 
to which the various thresholds extend for all munitions planned to be 
released in a 24-hour time period was calculated for each species based 
on explosive acoustic characteristics, sound propagation, and sound 
transmission loss in the Study Area, which incorporates water depth, 
sediment

[[Page 67980]]

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

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

Density Estimation

    Density estimates for marine mammals were derived from the Navy's 
draft 2016 Technical Report of Marine Species Density Database (NMSDD). 
NMFS refers the reader to Section 3 of 86 FWS's application for 
detailed information on all equations used to calculate densities; also 
presented in Table 6.

   Table 6--Marine Mammal Fall Density Estimates Within 86 FWS's PMRF
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                              Density
                         Species                            (animals/km
                                                               \2\)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Humpback Whale..........................................          0.0211
Blue Whale..............................................         0.00005
Fin Whale...............................................         0.00006
Sei Whale...............................................         0.00016
Bryde's Whale...........................................         0.00010
Minke Whale.............................................         0.00423
Sperm Whale.............................................         0.00156
Pygmy sperm whale.......................................         0.00291
Dwarf sperm whale.......................................         0.00714
Killer Whale............................................         0.00006

[[Page 67981]]

 
False Killer Whale (insular)............................         0.00050
False Killer Whale (NWHI, pelagic)......................         0.00071
Pygmy Killer Whale......................................         0.00440
Short-finned Pilot Whale................................         0.00919
Melon-headed Whale......................................         0.00200
Bottlenose Dolphin......................................         0.00316
Pantropical Spotted Dolphin.............................         0.00623
Striped Dolphin.........................................         0.00335
Spinner Dolphin.........................................         0.00204
Rough-toothed Dolphin...................................         0.00470
Fraser's Dolphin........................................         0.02100
Risso's Dolphin.........................................         0.00470
Cuvier's Beaked Whale...................................         0.00030
Blainville's Beaked Whale...............................         0.00086
Longman's Beaked Whale..................................         0.00310
Hawaiian Monk Seal......................................         0.00003
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Take Estimation

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

              Table 7--Modeled number of marine mammals potentially affected by LRS WSEP operations
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                      Level A         Level B         Level B
                     Species                         Mortality      harassment      harassment      harassment
                                                                    (PTS only)         (TTS)       (Behavioral)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dwarf sperm whale...............................               0               1               9              64
Pygmy sperm whale...............................               0               0               3              26
Fraser's dolphin................................               0               0               1               0
Minke whale.....................................               0               0               1               2
Humpback whale..................................               0               0               3               9
TOTAL...........................................               0               1              17             101
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Based on the mortality exposure estimates calculated by the 
acoustic model, zero marine mammals are expected to be affected by 
pressure levels associated with mortality or serious injury. Zero 
marine mammals are expected to be exposed to pressure levels associated 
with slight lung injury or gastrointestinal tract injury.
    NMFS considers PTS to fall under the injury category (Level A 
Harassment). There are different degrees of PTS ranging from slight/
mild to moderate and from severe to profound. Profound PTS or the 
complete loss of the ability to hear in one or both ears is commonly 
referred to as deafness. In the case of authorizing Level A harassment, 
NMFS has estimated that one dwarf sperm whale could experience 
permanent threshold shifts of hearing sensitivity (PTS).

Negligible Impact Analysis and Determinations

    NMFS has defined ``negligible impact'' in 50 CFR 216.103 as ``. . . 
an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be 
reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely 
affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of 
recruitment or survival.'' A negligible impact finding is based on the 
lack of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or 
survival (i.e., population-level effects). An estimate of the number of 
Level B harassment takes alone is not enough information on which to 
base an impact determination. In addition to considering estimates of 
the number of marine mammals that might be ``taken'' through behavioral 
harassment, we consider other factors, such as the likely nature of any 
responses (e.g., intensity, duration), the context of any responses 
(e.g., critical reproductive time or location, migration), as well as 
the number and nature of estimated Level A harassment takes, the number 
of estimated mortalities, and effects on habitat.
    To avoid repetition, the discussion below applies to all the 
species listed in Table 7 for which we propose to authorize incidental 
take for 86 FWS's activities.
    In making a negligible impact determination, we consider:
     The number of anticipated injuries, serious injuries, or 
mortalities;
     The number, nature, and intensity, and duration of Level B 
harassment;
     The context in which the takes occur (e.g., impacts to 
areas of significance, impacts to local populations, and cumulative 
impacts when taking into account successive/contemporaneous actions 
when added to baseline data);
     The status of stock or species of marine mammals (i.e., 
depleted, not depleted, decreasing, increasing, stable, impact relative 
to the size of the population);
     Impacts on habitat affecting rates of recruitment/
survival; and
     The effectiveness of monitoring and mitigation measures to 
reduce the number or severity of incidental take.
    For reasons stated previously in this document, including modeling 
predictions that estimated no serious injury or death for any species, 
the use of mitigation measures, and the short duration of the 
activities, 86 FWS's specified activities are not likely to cause long-
term behavioral disturbance, serious injury, or death. The takes from 
Level B harassment would be due to behavioral disturbance and TTS. The 
takes from Level A harassment would be due to PTS. We anticipate that 
any PTS incurred would be in the form of only a small degree of PTS and 
not total deafness.
    While animals may be impacted in the immediate vicinity of the 
activity, because of the short duration of the actual individual 
explosions themselves (versus continual sound source operation) 
combined with the short duration of the LRS WSEP operations, NMFS has 
determined that there will not be a substantial impact on marine 
mammals or on the normal functioning of the nearshore or offshore 
waters off Kauai and its ecosystems. We do not expect that the planned 
activity would impact rates of recruitment or survival of marine 
mammals since we do not expect mortality (which would remove 
individuals from the population) or

[[Page 67982]]

serious injury to occur. In addition, the planned activity would not 
occur in areas (and/or times) of significance for the marine mammal 
populations potentially affected by the exercises (e.g., feeding or 
resting areas, reproductive areas), and the activities would only occur 
in a small part of their overall range, so the impact of any potential 
temporary displacement would be negligible and animals would be 
expected to return to the area after the cessations of activities. 
Although the planned activity could result in Level A (PTS only) and 
Level B (behavioral disturbance and TTS) harassment of marine mammals, 
the level of harassment is not anticipated to impact rates of 
recruitment or survival of marine mammals because the number of exposed 
animals is expected to be low due to the short-term (i.e., four hours a 
day or less on one day) and site-specific nature of the activity. We do 
not anticipate that the effects would be detrimental to rates of 
recruitment and survival because we do not expect serious or extended 
behavioral responses that would result in energetic effects at the 
level to impact fitness.
    Based on the analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the 
specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into 
consideration the implementation of the mitigation and monitoring 
measures, and the short duration of the activities, NMFS finds that 86 
FWS's LRS WSEP operations will result in the incidental take of marine 
mammals, by Level A and Level B harassment, and that the taking from 
the LRS WSEP exercises will have a negligible impact on the affected 
species or stocks.

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

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

Endangered Species Act (ESA)

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

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    NMFS prepared an EA in accordance with the NEPA. NMFS determined 
that these activities will not have a significant effect on the human 
environment and signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) in 
September 2016.

Authorization

    As a result of these determinations, NMFS has issued an IHA to 86 
FWS for conducting LRS WSEP activities, for a period of one year from 
the date of issuance, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, 
monitoring, and reporting requirements are incorporated.

    Dated: September 27, 2016.
Donna S. Wieting,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-23725 Filed 9-30-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P