Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to a Pier Construction and Support Facilities Project, Port Angeles, WA, 67985-67997 [2016-23726]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for OMB approval of this information collection; they also will become a matter of public record. II. Method of Collection Respondents have a choice of submitting either electronic or paper forms. Methods of submittal include email, mail, overnight delivery service, and/or facsimile transmissions. Dated: September 27, 2016. Sarah Brabson, NOAA PRA Clearance Officer. III. Data OMB Control Number: 0648–0151. Form Number: None. Type of Review: Regular submission (extension of a currently approved information collection). Affected Public: Not-for-profit institutions; state, local, or tribal governments; businesses or other forprofit organizations. Estimated Number of Respondents: 95. Estimated Time per Response: 255 hours for an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) application; 11 hours for an IHA interim report (if applicable); 115 hours for an IHA draft annual report; 14 hours for an IHA final annual report (if applicable); 1,100 hours for the initial preparation of an application for new regulations; 70 hours for an annual Letter of Authorization (LOA) application; 220 hours for an LOA draft annual report; 65 hours for a LOA final annual report (if applicable); 625 hours for a LOA draft comprehensive report; and 300 hours for an LOA final comprehensive report. Response times will vary for the public based upon the complexity of the requested action. Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 14,109. Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $360 in recordkeeping/reporting costs and $0 in capital costs. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES complex modeling capabilities would simply modify their modeling efforts using the new criteria, and action proponents without the ability to do more complex modeling may opt to use the alternative methodology spreadsheet. Therefore, the estimated time per response is not affected by the guidance. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE IV. Request for Comments Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden (including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 [FR Doc. 2016–23743 Filed 9–30–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XE297 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to a Pier Construction and Support Facilities Project, Port Angeles, WA 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) as amended, notification is hereby given that we have issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to the U.S. Navy (Navy) to incidentally harass marine mammals during construction activities associated with the Pier Construction and Support Facilities Project at Port Angeles, WA. DATES: This authorization is effective from November 1, 2016 to October 31, 2017. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Laura McCue, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: Availability An electronic copy of the Navy’s application and supporting documents, as well as a list of the references cited in this document, may be obtained by visiting the Internet at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental.htm. A memorandum describing our adoption of the Navy’s Environmental Assessment (2016) and our associated Finding of No Significant Impact, prepared pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, are also available at the same site. In case PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 67985 of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed above (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). 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 by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified area, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals, providing that certain findings are made and the necessary prescriptions are established. The incidental taking of small numbers of marine mammals may be allowed only if NMFS (through authority delegated by the Secretary) finds that the total taking by the specified activity during the specified time period will (i) have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s) and (ii) not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant). Further, the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such taking must be set forth, either in specific regulations or in an authorization. The allowance of such incidental taking under section 101(a)(5)(A), by harassment, serious injury, death, or a combination thereof, requires that regulations be established. Subsequently, a Letter of Authorization may be issued pursuant to the prescriptions established in such regulations, providing that the level of taking will be consistent with the findings made for the total taking allowable under the specific regulations. Under section 101(a)(5)(D), NMFS may authorize such incidental taking by harassment only, for periods of not more than one year, pursuant to requirements and conditions contained within an IHA. The establishment of prescriptions through either specific regulations or an authorization requires notice and opportunity for public comment. NMFS has defined ‘‘negligible impact’’ in 50 CFR 216.103 as ‘‘. . . an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.’’ Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, section 3(18) of the MMPA defines ‘‘harassment’’ as: ‘‘. . . any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild; or (ii) has the potential to disturb E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 03OCN1 67986 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering.’’ The former is termed Level A harassment and the latter is termed Level B harassment. Summary of Request On September 11, 2015, we received a request from the Navy for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to pile driving associated with the construction of a pier and support facilities at the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles (AIRSTA/SFO Port Angeles), located in Port Angeles Harbor on the Ediz Hook peninsula, Port Angeles. The Navy submitted a revised version of the request on February 19, 2016, which we deemed adequate and complete on February 22, 2016. The Navy will initiate this multi-year project, lasting up to 18 months, involving impact and vibratory pile driving conducted within the approved in-water work windows. In water work is expected to begin on November 1, 2016 in order to minimize impacts to an Atlantic Salmon net pen farm located in close proximity to the project area. In water work will conclude on February 15, 2017, and begin again from July 16 to October 31, 2017. If in-water work will extend beyond the effective dates of the IHA, a second IHA application will be submitted by the Navy. The use of both vibratory and impact pile driving is expected to produce underwater sound at levels that have the potential to result in behavioral harassment of marine mammals. Take, by Level B Harassment, may impact individuals of five species of marine mammals (harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), harbor seal (Phoca vitulina), Northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris), Steller sea lion (Eumatopias jubatus), and California sea lion (Zalophus californianus)). As the next paragraph explains, we have also determined based on the best available information that there also may be a small number of take by Level A Harassment of harbor seals. On August 4, 2016, NMFS released its Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing (Guidance). This new guidance established new thresholds for predicting auditory injury, which equates to Level A harassment under the MMPA. In the August 4, 2016, Federal Register Notice (81 FR 51694), NMFS explained the approach it would take during a transition period, wherein we balance VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 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 analyses based on our previous thresholds and have constraints that preclude the recalculation of take estimates, as well as consideration of where the action is in the agency’s 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: the scope of effects; how far in the process the applicant has progressed; 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 Navy initially submitted a request for authorization on September 11, 2015, followed by an adequate and complete request determination on February 22, 2016. The Navy requires issuance of the authorization in order to ensure that this critical national security infrastructure project is able to meet its necessary start date. The Guidance indicates that there is a greater likelihood of auditory injury for Phocid pinnipeds (i.e., harbor seals) and for high-frequency cetaceans (i.e., harbor porpoise) than was considered in our notice of proposed authorization. In order to address this increased likelihood, we increased the shutdown zones required for harbor seals to 100 m and for harbor porpoise to 150 m. With these changes, and in addition to other required mitigation measures, the Navy has a robust monitoring and mitigation program that we believe is effective in minimizing impacts to the affected species or stocks. In addition, to account for the potential that not all harbor seals may be observed, we authorize the taking by Level A harassment of one harbor seal per day of projected construction activity. In this analysis, we considered the potential for small numbers of harbor seals to incur auditory injury and found that it would not impact our preliminary determinations. In summary, we have considered the new Guidance and believe that the likelihood of injury is adequately addressed in the analysis contained herein and appropriate protective measures are in place in the IHA. Description of the Specified Activity Overview The Navy has increased security for in-transit Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines (SSBNs) in inland marine PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 waters of northern Washington by establishing a Transit Protection System (TPS) that relies on the use of multiple escort vessels. The purpose of the Pier and Support Facilities for TPS project is to provide a staging location for TPS vessels and crews that escort incoming and outgoing SSBNs between dive/ surface points in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Naval Base (NAVBASE) Kitsap Bangor. Specific activities that can be expected to result in the incidental taking of marine mammals are limited to the driving of steel piles used for installation of the trestle/fixed pier/ floating docks, and the removal of temporary indicator piles. Vibratory pile driving is the preferred method for production piles and would be the initial starting point for each installation; however, impact pile driving methods may be necessary based on substrate conditions. Once a pile hits ‘‘refusal,’’ which is where hard solid or dense substrate (e.g., gravel, boulders) prevents further pile movement by vibratory methods, impact pile driving is used to drive the pile to depth. All piles will be driven with a vibratory hammer for their initial embedment depths, while select piles may be finished with an impact hammer for proofing, as necessary. There will be no concurrent pile driving or multiple hammers operating simultaneously. Proofing involves striking a driven pile with an impact hammer to verify that it provides the required load-bearing capacity, as indicated by the number of hammer blows per foot of pile advancement. Sound attenuation measures (i.e., bubble curtain) would be used during all impact hammer operations. Dates and Duration Under the action, in-water construction is anticipated to begin in 2016 and require two in-water work window seasons. The allowable season for in-water work, including pile driving, at AIRSTA/SFO Port Angeles is November 1, 2016 through February 15, 2017, and July 16, 2017 through October 31, 2017, a window established by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in coordination with NMFS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to protect juvenile salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) and bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus). Overall, a maximum of 75 days of pile driving are anticipated within these in-water work windows. All in-water construction activities will occur during daylight hours (sunrise to sunset) except from July 16 to September 23 when impact E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 03OCN1 67987 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices pile driving/removal will only occur starting 2 hours after sunrise and ending 2 hours before sunset, to protect foraging marbled murrelets (an Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed bird under the jurisdiction of USFWS) during nesting season (April1September 23). Other construction (not in-water) may occur between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., year-round. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Specific Geographic Region AIRSTA/SFO Port Angeles is located in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, approximately 62 miles (100 km) east of Cape Flattery, and 63 miles (102 km) northwest of Seattle, Washington on the Olympic Peninsula (see Figure 1–1 in the Navy’s application). The Strait of Juan de Fuca is a wide waterway stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Salish Sea. The strait is 95 miles (153 km) long, 15.5 miles (25 km) wide, and has depths ranging from 180 m to 250 m on the pacific coast and 55 m at the sill. Please see Section 2 of the Navy’s application for detailed information about the specific geographic region, including physical and oceanographic characteristics. Detailed Description of Activities The purpose of the Pier and Support Facilities for TPS project (the project) is to provide a staging location for TPS vessels and crews that escort incoming and outgoing SSBNs between dive/ surface points in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Naval Base (NAVBASE) Kitsap Bangor. The Navy has increased security for in-transit Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines (SSBNs) in inland marine waters of northern Washington by establishing a Transit Protection System (TPS) that relies on the use of multiple escort vessels. Construction of the pier and support facilities is grouped into three broad categories: (1) Site Work Activities (2) Construction of Upland Facilities (Alert Forces Facility (AFF) and Ready Service Armory (RSA)), and (3) Construction of Trestle/Fixed Pier/ Floating Docks. The trestle, fixed pier, and floating docks will result in a permanent increase in overwater coverage of 25,465 square feet (ft2) (2,366 square meters (m2)). An estimated 745 ft2 (69 m2) of benthic seafloor will be displaced from the installation of the 144 permanent steel piles. The fixed pier will lie approximately 354 ft (108 m) offshore at water depths between ¥40 ft (¥12 m) and ¥63 ft (19 m) mean lower low water (MLLW). It will be constructed of precast concrete and be approximately 160 feet long and 42 feet wide (49 m by 13 m). The fixed pier will have two mooring dolphins that connect to the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 fixed pier via a catwalk, and will be supported by 87 steel piles and result in 10,025 ft2 (931 m2) of permanent overwater coverage. The floating docks including brows will be supported by 21 steel piles and result in 5,380 ft2 (500 m2) of permanent overwater coverage. The trestle will provide vehicle and pedestrian access to the pier and convey utilities to the pier. It will be installed between +7 ft (2 m) MLLW and ¥45 ft (¥14 m) MLLW. The trestle will be approximately 355 feet long (108 m) long and 24 feet (7 m) wide and constructed of precast concrete. The trestle will be designed to support a 50 pound per square foot (psf) (244 kilograms (kg) per square m) live load or a utility trailer with a total load of 3,000 pounds (1,360 kg), and will be supported by 36 steel piles and result in 10,060 ft2 (935 m2) of permanent overwater coverage. For the entire project, pile installation will include the installation and removal of 80 temporary indicator piles, installation of 60 permanent sheet piles, and installation of 144 permanent steel piles (Table 1). The indicator piles are required to determine if required bearing capacities will be achieved with the production piles, and to assess whether the correct vibratory and impact hammers are being used. The process will be to vibrate the piles to within 5 ft (1.5 m) of the target embedment depth required for the project, let the piles rest in place for a day, and then impact drive the piles the final 5 ft (1.5 m). If the indicator piles cannot be successfully vibrated in, then a larger hammer will be used for the production piles. The impact driving will also provide an indication of bearing capacity via proofing. Each indicator pile would then be vibratory extracted (removed) using a vibratory hammer. A maximum of 75 days of pile driving may occur. Table 1 summarizes the number and nature of piles required for the entire project. TABLE 1—SUMMARY OF PILES REQUIRED FOR PIER CONSTRUCTION [in total] Feature Quantity and size Total number of inwater piles. Indicator temporary ... Sheet pile wall ........... Trestle ....................... Fixed pier piles .......... PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4703 Up to 284.* 24-in: 80. PZC13 Steel sheet piles: 60. 18-in: 16. 24-in: 12. 36-in: 8. 24-in: 28. 30-in: 49. 36-in: 10. Sfmt 4703 TABLE 1—SUMMARY OF PILES REQUIRED FOR PIER CONSTRUCTION— Continued [in total] Feature Floating docks ........... Maximum pile driving duration. Quantity and size 24-in: 3. 30-in: 6. 36-in: 12. 75 days (under oneyear IHA). * Pile installation would include the installation and removal of 80 temporary indicator piles, installation of 60 permanent sheet piles, and installation of 144 permanent steel piles. Pile installation will utilize vibratory pile drivers to the greatest extent possible, and the Navy anticipates that most piles will be able to be vibratory driven to within several feet of the required depth. Pile drivability is, to a large degree, a function of soil conditions and the type of pile hammer. Most piles should be able to be driven with a vibratory hammer to proper embedment depth. However, difficulties during pile driving may be encountered as a result of obstructions, such as rocks or boulders, which may exist throughout the project area. If difficult driving conditions occur, increased usage of an impact hammer will occur. Pile production rates are dependent upon required embedment depths, the potential for encountering difficult driving conditions, and the ability to drive multiple piles without a need to relocate the driving rig. If difficult subsurface driving conditions (e.g., cobble/boulder zones) are encountered that cause refusal with the vibratory equipment, it may be necessary to use an impact hammer to drive some piles for the remaining portion of their required depth. The worst-case scenario is that a pile would be driven for its entire length using an impact hammer. Given the uncertainty regarding the types and quantities of boulders or cobbles that may be encountered, and the depth at which they may be encountered, the number of strikes necessary to drive a pile its entire length would vary. All piles driven or struck with an impact hammer would be surrounded by a bubble curtain over the full water column to minimize in-water sound. Pile production rate (number of piles driven per day) is affected by many factors: Size, type (vertical versus angled), and location of piles; weather; number of driver rigs operating; equipment reliability; geotechnical (subsurface) conditions; and work stoppages for security or environmental reasons (such as presence of marine mammals). E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 03OCN1 67988 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices Comments and Responses We published a notice of receipt of the Navy’s application and proposed IHA in the Federal Register on April 4, 2016 (81 FR 19326). We received one comment, a letter from the Marine Mammal Commission concurring with NMFS’s preliminary findings. Comment: The Commission recommends the issuance of the IHA, subject to the inclusion of the proposed mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures. Response: We appreciate the Commission’s concurrence with our findings and appreciate their input and support. We look forward to working with them on similar issues in the future. Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity There are eleven marine mammal species with recorded occurrence in the Strait of Juan de Fuca (Table 2), including seven cetaceans and four pinnipeds. Of these eleven species, only five are expected to have a reasonable potential to be in the vicinity of the project site. These species are harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), harbor seal (Phoca vitulina), Northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris), Steller sea lion (Eumatopias jubatus), and California sea lion (Zalophus californianus). Harbor seals occur year round throughout the nearshore inland waters of Washington. Harbor seals are expected to occur year round in Port Angeles Harbor, with a nearby haul-out site on a log boom located approximately 1.7 miles (2.7 km) west of the project site and another haul-out site 1.3 miles (2.1 km) south of the project. Steller sea lions and California sea lions may occur in the area, but there are no site-specific surveys on these species. Harbor porpoises and Northern elephant seal are rare through the project area. The Dall’s porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli dalli), humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus), Pacific white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens), and killer whales (Orcinus orca) are extremely rare in Port Angeles Harbor, and we do not believe there is a reasonable likelihood of their occurrence in the project area during the period of validity for this IHA. We have reviewed the Navy’s detailed species descriptions, including life history information, for accuracy and completeness and refer the reader to Sections 3 and 4 of the Navy’s application instead of reprinting the information here. Please also refer to NMFS’ Web site (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ pr/species/mammals) for generalized species accounts and to the Navy’s Marine Resource Assessment for the Pacific Northwest, which documents and describes the marine resources that occur in Navy operating areas of the Pacific Northwest, including Strait of Juan de Fuca (DoN, 2006). The document is publicly available at www.navfac.navy.mil/products_and_ services/ev/products_and_services/ marine_resources/marine_resource_ assessments.html (accessed February 1, 2016). We provided additional information for marine mammals with potential for occurrence in the area of the specified activity in our Federal Register notice of proposed authorization (April 4, 2016; 81 FR 19326). TABLE 2—MARINE MAMMALS POTENTIALLY PRESENT IN THE VICINITY OF AIRSTA/SFO PORT ANGELES Species ESA/MMPA status; strategic (Y/N) 1 Stock Stock abundance (CV, Nmin, most recent abundance survey) 2 PBR 3 Relative occurrence in Strait of Juan de Fuca; season of occurrence Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family Phocoenidae (porpoises) Harbor porpoise .................. Washington inland waters 5 -; N 10,682 (0.38; 7,841; 2003) Dall’s porpoise .................... CA/OR/WA ......................... -; N 42,000 (0.33; 32,106; 2008). 63 257 Possible regular presence in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but unlikely near PAH; year-round. Rare. Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family Delphinidae (dolphins) Pacific white-sided dolphin CA/OR/WA ......................... -; N Killer whale ......................... West coast transient .......... Southern resident .............. -; N E; S 26,930 (0.28; 21,406; 2008). 243 (n/a; 243; 2009) .......... 78 (n/a; 78; 2014) .............. 171 Rare. 2.4 0.14 Unlikely. Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Family Balaenopteridae Humpback whale ................ Minke whale ........................ CA/OR/WA ......................... CA/OR/WA ......................... E; S -; N 1,918 (0.03; 1,855; 2011) .. 478 (1.36; 202; 2008) ........ 11 2 Unlikely. Unlikely. Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family Eschrichtiidae Gray whale ......................... VerDate Sep<11>2014 Eastern N. Pacific .............. 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 -; N Frm 00033 20,990 (0.05; 20,125; 2011). Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 624 03OCN1 Unlikely. Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices 67989 TABLE 2—MARINE MAMMALS POTENTIALLY PRESENT IN THE VICINITY OF AIRSTA/SFO PORT ANGELES—Continued Species ESA/MMPA status; strategic (Y/N) 1 Stock Stock abundance (CV, Nmin, most recent abundance survey) 2 PBR 3 Relative occurrence in Strait of Juan de Fuca; season of occurrence Order Carnivora—Superfamily Pinnipedia Family Otariidae (eared seals and sea lions) California sea lion ............... U.S. .................................... -; N Steller sea lion .................... Eastern U.S. ...................... 296,750 (n/a; 153,337; 2011). 60,131- 74,448 (n/a; 36,551; 2013) 6. -; S 9,200 1,645 7 Seasonal/common; Fall to late spring (Aug to Jun). Seasonal/occasional; Fall to late spring (Sep to May). Family Phocidae (earless seals) ....................... Washington inland waters 5 -; N 11,036 (0.15; n/a; 1999) .... Northern elephant seal ....... California breeding stock ... -; N 179,000 (n/a; 81,368; 2010). Harbor seal 8 n/a 4,882 Common; Year-round resident. Seasonal/rare: Spring to late fall (Apr to Nov). 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 of pinnipeds, abundance estimates are based upon observations of animals (often pups) ashore multiplied by some correction factor derived from knowledge of the specie’s (or similar species’) life history to arrive at a best abundance estimate; therefore, there is no associated CV. In these cases, the minimum abundance may represent actual counts of all animals ashore. 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 These values, found in NMFS’s SARs, represent annual levels of human-caused mortality plus serious injury from all sources combined (e.g., commercial fisheries, subsistence hunting, ship strike). Annual M/SI often cannot be determined precisely and is in some cases presented as a minimum value. All values presented here are from the draft 2015 SARs (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/draft.htm) except harbor seals. See comment 8. 5 Abundance estimates for these stocks are greater than eight years old and are therefore not considered current. PBR is considered undetermined for these stocks, as there is no current minimum abundance estimate for use in calculation. We nevertheless present the most recent abundance estimates and PBR values, as these represent the best available information for use in this document. 6 Best abundance is calculated as the product of pup counts and a factor based on the birth rate, sex and age structure, and growth rate of the population. A range is presented because the extrapolation factor varies depending on the vital rate parameter resulting in the growth rate (i.e., high fecundity or low juvenile mortality). 7 PBR is calculated for the U.S. portion of the stock only (excluding animals in British Columbia) and assumes that the stock is not within its OSP. If we assume that the stock is within its OSP, PBR for the U.S. portion increases to 2,069. 8 Values for harbor seal presented here are from the 2013 SAR. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat Our Federal Register notice of proposed authorization (April 4, 2016; 81 FR 19326) provides a general background on sound relevant to the specified activity as well as a detailed description of marine mammal hearing and of the potential effects of these construction activities on marine mammals and their habitat. Mitigation In order to issue an IHA 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 impact on such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the availability of such species or stock for taking for certain subsistence uses. Measurements from similar pile driving events were coupled with VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 practical spreading loss to estimate zones of influence (ZOI; see Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment); these values were used to develop mitigation measures for pile driving activities at Port Angeles harbor. The ZOIs effectively represent the mitigation zone that will be established around each pile to prevent Level A harassment to marine mammals, while providing estimates of the areas within which Level B harassment might occur. In addition to the specific measures described later in this section, the Navy will conduct briefings between construction supervisors and crews, marine mammal monitoring team, and Navy staff prior to the start of all pile driving activity, and when new personnel join the work, in order to explain responsibilities, communication procedures, marine mammal monitoring protocol, and operational procedures. PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Mitigation Monitoring and Shutdown for Pile Driving The following measures will apply to the Navy’s mitigation through shutdown and disturbance zones: Shutdown Zone—For all pile driving activities, the Navy will establish a shutdown zone intended to contain the area in which injury may occur. The purpose of a shutdown zone is to define an area within which shutdown of activity will occur upon sighting of a marine mammal (or in anticipation of an animal entering the defined area), thus preventing injury of marine mammals. During impact pile driving, the Navy will implement a minimum shutdown zone of 10 m radius for all marine mammals around all pile driving activity. Additionally, the Navy will implement a 100 m shutdown for harbor seals and a 150 m shutdown for harbor porpoises. These additional shutdown zones were added to prevent injury based off of NMFS’s new acoustic guidance. During vibratory driving, the E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 03OCN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 67990 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices shutdown zone will be 10 m distance from the source for all animals. These precautionary measures are intended to further reduce any possibility of acoustic injury, as well as to account for any undue reduction in the modeled zones stemming from the assumption of 8 dB attenuation from use of a bubble curtain (see discussion later in this section). Disturbance Zone—Disturbance zones are the areas in which SPLs equal or exceed 160 and 120 dB rms (for pulsed and non-pulsed continuous sound, respectively). Disturbance zones provide utility for monitoring conducted for mitigation purposes (i.e., shutdown zone monitoring) by establishing monitoring protocols for areas adjacent to the shutdown zones. Monitoring of disturbance zones enables observers to be aware of and communicate the presence of marine mammals in the project area but outside the shutdown zone and thus prepare for potential shutdowns of activity. However, the primary purpose of disturbance zone monitoring is for documenting incidents of Level B harassment; disturbance zone monitoring is discussed in greater detail later (see Monitoring and Reporting). Nominal radial distances for disturbance zones are shown in Table 3. Given the size of the disturbance zone for vibratory pile driving, it is impossible to guarantee that all animals will be observed or to make comprehensive observations of finescale behavioral reactions to sound, and only a portion of the zone will be monitored. In order to document observed incidents of harassment, monitors record all marine mammal observations, regardless of location. The observer’s location, as well as the location of the pile being driven, is known from a GPS. The location of the animal is estimated as a distance from the observer, which is then compared to the location from the pile. The received level may be estimated on the basis of past or subsequent acoustic monitoring. It may then be determined whether the animal was exposed to sound levels constituting incidental harassment in post-processing of observational data, and a precise accounting of observed incidents of harassment created. Therefore, although the predicted distances to behavioral harassment thresholds are useful for estimating harassment for purposes of authorizing levels of incidental take, actual take may be determined in part through the use of empirical data. That information may then be used to extrapolate observed takes to reach an approximate understanding of actual total takes. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 Monitoring Protocols—Monitoring will be conducted before, during, and after pile driving activities. In addition, observers shall record all incidents of marine mammal occurrence, regardless of distance from activity, and shall document any behavioral reactions in concert with distance from piles being driven. Observations made outside the shutdown zone will not result in shutdown; that pile segment would be completed without cessation, unless the animal approaches or enters the shutdown zone, at which point all pile driving activities will be halted. Monitoring will take place from fifteen minutes prior to initiation through thirty minutes post-completion of pile driving activities. Pile driving activities include the time to remove a single pile or series of piles, as long as the time elapsed between uses of the pile driving equipment is no more than thirty minutes. Please see the Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan (available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental.htm), developed by the Navy with our approval, for full details of the monitoring protocols. The following additional measures apply to visual monitoring: (1) Monitoring will be conducted by qualified observers, who will be placed at the best vantage point(s) practicable to monitor for marine mammals and implement shutdown/delay procedures when applicable by calling for the shutdown to the hammer operator. Qualified observers are trained biologists, with the following minimum qualifications: • Visual acuity in both eyes (correction is permissible) sufficient for discernment of moving targets at the water’s surface with ability to estimate target size and distance; use of binoculars may be necessary to correctly identify the target; • Experience and ability to conduct field observations and collect data according to assigned protocols (this may include academic experience); • Experience or training in the field identification of marine mammals, including the identification of behaviors; • Sufficient training, orientation, or experience with the construction operation to provide for personal safety during observations; • Writing skills sufficient to prepare a report of observations including but not limited to the number and species of marine mammals observed; dates and times when in-water construction activities were conducted; dates and times when in-water construction activities were suspended to avoid potential incidental injury from PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 construction sound of marine mammals observed within a defined shutdown zone; and marine mammal behavior; and • Ability to communicate orally, by radio or in person, with project personnel to provide real-time information on marine mammals observed in the area as necessary. (2) Prior to the start of pile driving activity, the shutdown zone will be monitored for fifteen minutes to ensure that it is clear of marine mammals. Pile driving will only commence once observers have declared the shutdown zone clear of marine mammals; animals will be allowed to remain in the shutdown zone (i.e., must leave of their own volition) and their behavior will be monitored and documented. The shutdown zone may only be declared clear, and pile driving started, when the entire shutdown zone is visible (i.e., when not obscured by dark, rain, fog, etc.). In addition, if such conditions should arise during impact pile driving that is already underway, the activity will be halted. (3) If a marine mammal approaches or enters the shutdown zone during the course of pile driving operations, activity will be halted and delayed until either the animal has voluntarily left and been visually confirmed beyond the shutdown zone or fifteen minutes have passed without re-detection of the animal. Monitoring will be conducted throughout the time required to drive a pile. Sound Attenuation Devices Sound levels can be greatly reduced during impact pile driving using sound attenuation devices. There are several types of sound attenuation devices including bubble curtains, cofferdams, and isolation casings (also called temporary noise attenuation piles (TNAP)), and cushion blocks. The Navy proposes to use bubble curtains, which create a column of air bubbles rising around a pile from the substrate to the water surface. The air bubbles absorb and scatter sound waves emanating from the pile, thereby reducing the sound energy. Bubble curtains may be confined or unconfined. The use of a confined or unconfined bubble curtain will be determined by the Navy’s contractor based on the activity location’s conditions; however, an unconfined bubble curtain is the likely the design that will be used. Our Federal Register notice of proposed authorization (April 4, 2016; 81 FR 19326) provides a general background on bubble curtains. To avoid loss of attenuation from design and implementation errors, the E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 03OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices Navy has required specific bubble curtain design specifications, including testing requirements for air pressure and flow prior to initial impact hammer use, and a requirement for placement on the substrate. Bubble curtains shall be used during all impact pile driving. The device will distribute air bubbles around 100 percent of the piling perimeter for the full depth of the water column, and the lowest bubble ring shall be in contact with the mudline for the full circumference of the ring. We considered eight dB as potentially the best estimate of average SPL (rms) reduction, assuming appropriate deployment and no problems with the equipment. Therefore, an eight dB reduction was used in the Navy’s analysis of pile driving noise in the environmental analyses. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Timing Restrictions In Port Angeles Harbor, designated timing restrictions exist for pile driving activities to avoid in-water work when salmonids and other spawning forage fish are likely to be present. In-water work will be conducted between November 1, 2016–February 15, 2017, and July 16–October 31, 2017. All inwater construction activities will occur during daylight hours (sunrise to sunset) except from July 16 to September 23 when impact pile driving/removal will only occur starting 2 hours after sunrise and ending 2 hours before sunset, to protect foraging marbled murrelets during nesting season (April 1– September 23). Other construction (not in-water) may occur between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., year-round. Soft Start The use of a soft-start procedure is believed to provide additional protection to marine mammals by warning or providing a chance to leave the area prior to the hammer operating at full capacity. For impact driving, soft start will be required, and contractors will provide an initial set of strikes from the impact hammer at reduced energy, followed by a thirty-second waiting period, then two subsequent reduced energy strike sets. The reduced energy of an individual hammer cannot be quantified because of variation in individual drivers. The actual number of strikes at reduced energy will vary because operating the hammer at less than full power results in ‘‘bouncing’’ of the hammer as it strikes the pile, resulting in multiple ‘‘strikes.’’ Soft start for impact driving will be required at the beginning of each day’s pile driving work and at any time following a cessation of impact pile driving of thirty minutes or longer. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 We have carefully evaluated the Navy’s proposed mitigation measures and considered their effectiveness in past implementation to determine whether they are likely to effect 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: (1) The manner in which, and the degree to which, the successful implementation of the measure is expected to minimize adverse impacts to marine mammals, (2) the proven or likely efficacy of the specific measure to minimize adverse impacts as planned; and (3) the practicability of the measure for applicant implementation. Any mitigation measure(s) we prescribe 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 below: (1) Avoidance or minimization of serious injury or death of marine mammals wherever possible (goals 2, 3, and 4 may contribute to this goal). (2) A reduction in the number (total number or number at biologically important time or location) of individual marine mammals 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 (total number or number at biologically important time or location) of times any individual marine mammal would be exposed to stimuli expected to result in incidental take (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing takes by behavioral harassment only). (4) A reduction in the intensity of exposure to stimuli expected to result in incidental take (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing the severity of behavioral harassment only). (5) Avoidance or minimization of adverse effects to marine mammal habitat, paying particular attention to the prey base, blockage or limitation of passage to or from biologically important areas, permanent destruction of habitat, or temporary 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 the Navy’s proposed measures, we have determined that the mitigation measures PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 67991 provide the means of effecting the least practicable impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance. Monitoring and Reporting In order to issue an IHA for an activity, section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth ‘‘requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking’’. The MMPA implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104 (a)(13) indicate that requests for incidental take authorizations must include the suggested means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the species and of the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals that are expected to be present in the action area. Any monitoring requirement we prescribe should accomplish one or more of the following general goals: 1. An increase in the probability of detecting marine mammals, both within defined zones of effect (thus allowing for more effective implementation of the mitigation) and in general to generate more data to contribute to the analyses mentioned below; 2. An increase in our understanding of how many marine mammals are likely to be exposed to stimuli that we associate with specific adverse effects, such as behavioral harassment or hearing threshold shifts; 3. An increase in our understanding of how marine mammals respond to stimuli expected to result in incidental take and how anticipated adverse effects on individuals may impact the population, stock, or species (specifically through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival) through any of the following methods: • Behavioral observations in the presence of stimuli compared to observations in the absence of stimuli (need to be able to accurately predict pertinent information, e.g., received level, distance from source); • Physiological measurements in the presence of stimuli compared to observations in the absence of stimuli (need to be able to accurately predict pertinent information, e.g., received level, distance from source); • Distribution and/or abundance comparisons in times or areas with concentrated stimuli versus times or areas without stimuli; 4. An increased knowledge of the affected species; or E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 03OCN1 67992 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 5. An increase in our understanding of the effectiveness of certain mitigation and monitoring measures. The Navy submitted a marine mammal monitoring plan as part of the IHA application for this project. It can be found on the Internet at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental.htm. Visual Marine Mammal Observations The Navy will collect sighting data and behavioral responses to construction for marine mammal species observed in the region of activity during the period of activity. All observers will be trained in marine mammal identification and behaviors and are required to have no other construction-related tasks while conducting monitoring. The Navy will monitor the shutdown zone and disturbance zone before, during, and after pile driving, with observers located at the best practicable vantage points. Based on our requirements, the Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan will implement the following procedures for pile driving: • A minimum of three Marine Mammal Observers (protected species observers (PSOs)) will be present during both impact and vibratory pile driving/ removal and would be located at the best vantage point(s) in order to properly see the entire shutdown zone and as much of the disturbance zone as possible. • During all observation periods, observers will use binoculars and the naked eye to search continuously for marine mammals. • If the shutdown zones are obscured by fog or poor lighting conditions, pile driving at that location will not be initiated until that zone is visible. Should such conditions arise while impact driving is underway, the activity will be halted. • The shutdown and disturbance zones around the pile will be monitored for the presence of marine mammals before, during, and after any pile driving or removal activity. Individuals implementing the monitoring protocol will assess its effectiveness using an adaptive approach. Monitoring biologists will use their best professional judgment throughout implementation and seek improvements to these methods when deemed appropriate. Any modifications to protocol will be coordinated between NMFS and the Navy. Data Collection We require that observers use approved data forms. Among other pieces of information, the Navy will VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 record detailed information about any implementation of shutdowns, including the distance of animals to the pile and description of specific actions that ensued and resulting behavior of the animal, if any. In addition, the Navy will attempt to distinguish between the number of individual animals taken and the number of incidents of take. We require that, at a minimum, the following information be collected on the sighting forms: • Date and time that monitored activity begins or ends; • Construction activities occurring during each observation period; • Weather parameters (e.g., percent cover, visibility); • Water conditions (e.g., sea state, tide state); • Species, numbers, and, if possible, sex and age class of marine mammals; • Description of any observable marine mammal behavior patterns, including bearing and direction of travel and distance from pile driving activity; • Distance from pile driving activities to marine mammals and distance from the marine mammals to the observation point; • Locations of all marine mammal observations; and • Other human activity in the area. Reporting A draft report will be submitted within ninety calendar days of the completion of the in-water work window or sixty days prior to the requested date of issuance of any future IHA for projects at the same location, whichever comes first.. The report will include marine mammal observations pre-activity, during-activity, and postactivity during pile driving days, and will also provide descriptions of any problems encountered in deploying sound attenuating devices, any behavioral responses to construction activities by marine mammals and a complete description of all mitigation shutdowns and the results of those actions and an extrapolated total take estimate based on the number of marine mammals observed during the course of construction. A final report must be submitted within thirty days following resolution of comments on the draft report. Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, section 3(18) of the MMPA defines ‘‘harassment’’ as: ‘‘. . . any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 wild (Level A harassment); or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering (Level B harassment).’’ All anticipated takes would be by Level A and Level B harassment resulting from vibratory and impact pile driving and involving temporary changes in behavior (Level B) and permanent threshold shift (PTS) (Level A). Low level responses to sound (e.g., short-term avoidance of an area, shortterm changes in locomotion or vocalization) are less likely to result in fitness effects on individuals that would ultimately affect the stock or the species as a whole. However, if a sound source displaces marine mammals from an important feeding or breeding area for a prolonged period, impacts on individual animals could potentially be significant and could potentially translate to effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (e.g., Lusseau and Bejder, 2007; Weilgart, 2007). Specific understanding of the activity and the effected species are necessary to predict the severity of impacts and the likelihood of fitness impacts, however, we start with the estimated number of takes, understanding that additional analysis is needed to understand what those takes mean. Given the many uncertainties in predicting the quantity and types of impacts of sound on marine mammals, it is common practice to estimate how many animals are likely to be present within a particular distance of a given activity, or exposed to a particular level of sound, taking the duration of the activity into consideration. This practice provides a good sense of the number of instances of take, but potentially overestimates the numbers of individual marine mammals taken. In particular, for stationary activities, it is more likely that some smaller number of individuals may accrue a number of incidences of harassment per individual than for each incidence to accrue to a new individual, especially if those individuals display some degree of residency or site fidelity and the impetus to use the site (e.g., because of foraging opportunities) is stronger than the deterrence presented by the harassing activity. The project area is not believed to be particularly important habitat for marine mammals, nor is it considered an area frequented by marine mammals. Therefore, behavioral disturbances and PTS that could result from anthropogenic sound associated with E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 03OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices these activities are expected to affect only a relatively small number of individual marine mammals, although those effects could be recurring over the life of the project if the same individuals remain in the project vicinity. The Navy has requested authorization for the incidental taking of small numbers of Steller sea lions, California sea lions, harbor seals, Northern elephant seals, and harbor porpoises in Port Angeles Harbor that may result from pile driving during construction activities associated with the pier construction and support facilities project. We described applicable sound thresholds for determining effects to marine mammals before describing the information used in estimating the sound fields, the available marine mammal density or abundance information, and the method of estimating potential incidents of take in detail in our Federal Register notice of 67993 Although radial distance and area associated with the zone ensonified to 160 dB (the behavioral harassment threshold for pulsed sounds, such as those produced by impact driving) are presented in Table 3, this zone would be subsumed by the 120-dB zone produced by vibratory driving. Thus, behavioral harassment of marine mammals associated with impact driving is not considered further here. Since the 160dB threshold and the 120-dB threshold both indicate behavioral harassment, pile driving effects in the two zones are equivalent. Although not considered as a likely construction scenario, if only the impact driver was operated on a given day incidental take on that day would likely be lower because the area ensonified to levels producing Level B harassment would be smaller (although actual take would be determined by the numbers of marine mammals in the area on that day). proposed authorization (April 4, 2016; 81 FR 19326). All calculated distances to and the total area encompassed by the marine mammal sound thresholds are provided in Table 3. NMFS’s new acoustic guidance established new thresholds for predicting auditory injury (Level A Harassment). The Guidance indicates that there is a greater likelihood of auditory injury for Phocid pinnipeds (i.e., harbor seals) and for high-frequency cetaceans (i.e., harbor porpoise) than was considered in our notice of proposed authorization. In order to address this increased likelihood, we increased the shutdown zones required for harbor seals to 100 m and for harbor porpoise to 150 m. In addition, to account for the potential that not all harbor seals may be observed, we authorize the taking by Level A harassment of one harbor seal per day of projected construction activity. TABLE 3—CALCULATED DISTANCE(S) TO AND AREA ENCOMPASSED BY UNDERWATER MARINE MAMMAL SOUND THRESHOLDS DURING PILE INSTALLATION Steel pile size (inch) Threshold Impact driving, disturbance (160 dB) ........................................................................ Vibratory driving, disturbance (120 dB) ..................................................................... Port Angeles Harbor does not represent open water, or free field, conditions. Therefore, sounds would attenuate as they encounter land masses or bends in the canal. As a result, the calculated distance and areas of impact for the 120-dB threshold cannot actually be attained at the project area. See Figure 6–1 of the Navy’s application for a depiction of the size of areas in which each underwater sound threshold is predicted to occur at the project area due to pile driving. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Marine Mammal Densities The Navy has developed, with input from regional marine mammal experts, estimates of marine mammal densities in Washington inland waters for the Navy Marine Species Density Database (NMSDD). A technical report (Hanser et al., 2015) describes methodologies and available information used to derive these densities, which are generally considered the best available information for Washington inland waters, except where specific local abundance information is available. Here, we rely on NMSDD density information for the Steller sea lions and VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 24 30 36 24 30-inch 36 California see lions, and use local abundance data for harbor seals. For species without a predictable occurrence, like the harbor porpoise and Northern elephant seal, estimates are based on historical likelihood of encounter. Please see Appendix A of the Navy’s application for more information on the NMSDD information. For all species, the most appropriate information available was used to estimate the number of potential incidences of take. For harbor porpoise and Northern elephant seals, this involved reviewing historical occurrence and numbers, as well as group size to develop a realistic estimate of potential exposure. For Steller sea lion and California sea lions, this involved NMSDD data. For harbor seals, this involved site-specific data from published literature describing harbor seal research conducted in Washington and Oregon, including counts from haul-outs near Port Angeles Harbor (WDFW, 2015). Therefore, density was calculated as the maximum number of individuals expected to be present at a given time (Houghton et al., 2015) PO 00000 Frm 00038 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Distance (m) Area (km 2) 464 631 398 6,310 13,594 13,594 0.43 0.75 0.33 20.4 29.9 29.9 divided by the area of Port Angeles Harbor. Description of Take Calculation The take calculations presented here rely on the best data currently available for marine mammal populations in the Port Angeles Harbor. The formula was developed for calculating take due to pile driving activity and applied to each group-specific sound impact threshold. The formula is founded on the following assumptions: • All marine mammal individuals potentially available are assumed to be present within the relevant area, and thus incidentally taken; • An individual can only be taken once during a 24-h period; • There were will be 75 total days of in-water activity and the largest ZOI equals 29.9 km2; • Exposures to sound levels above the relevant thresholds equate to take, as defined by the MMPA. The calculation for marine mammal takes is estimated by: Exposure estimate = (n * ZOI) * days of total activity Where: E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 03OCN1 67994 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES n = density estimate used for each species/ season ZOI = sound threshold ZOI area; the area encompassed by all locations where the SPLs equal or exceed the threshold being evaluated n * ZOI produces an estimate of the abundance of animals that could be present in the area for exposure, and is rounded to the nearest whole number before multiplying by days of total activity. The ZOI impact area is the estimated range of impact to the sound criteria. The relevant distances specified in Table 3 were used to calculate ZOIs around each pile. The ZOI impact area took into consideration the possible affected area of Port Angeles harbor from the pile driving site furthest from shore with attenuation due to land shadowing from bends in the shoreline. Because of the close proximity of some of the piles to the shore, the narrowness of the harbor at the project area, and the maximum fetch, the ZOIs for each threshold are not necessarily spherical and may be truncated. While pile driving can occur any day throughout the in-water work window, and the analysis is conducted on a per day basis, only a fraction of that time (typically a matter of hours on any given day) is actually spent pile driving. Acoustic monitoring has demonstrated that Level B harassment zones for vibratory pile driving are likely to be smaller than the zones estimated through modeling based on measured source levels and practical spreading loss. Also of note is the fact that the effectiveness of mitigation measures in reducing takes is typically not quantified in the take estimation process. See Table 4 for total estimated incidents of take. Harbor Porpoise—In Washington inland waters, harbor porpoises are most abundant in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, San Juan Island area, and Admiralty Inlet. Although harbor porpoise occur year round in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, harbor porpoises are a rare occurrence in Port Angeles Harbor, and density-based analysis does not adequately account for their unique temporal and spatial distributions. Estimates are based on historical likelihood of encounter. Based on the assumption that 3 harbor porpoise may be present intermittently in the ZOI (Hall, 2004), a total of 225 harbor porpoise exposures were estimated over 75 days of construction. These exposures would be a temporary behavioral harassment and would not impact the long-term health of individuals; the viability of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 population, species, or stocks would remain stable. California Sea Lion—The California sea lion is most common in the Strait of Juan de Fuca from fall to late spring. California sea lion haul-outs are greater than 30 miles (48 km) away. Animals could be exposed when traveling, resting, or foraging. Primarily only male California sea lions migrate through the Strait of Juan de Fuca (Jeffries et al., 2000). Based on the NMSDD data showing that 0.676 California sea lions per km2 may be present intermittently in the ZOI, 1,500 exposures were estimated for this species. These exposures would be a temporary behavioral harassment. It is assumed that this number would include multiple behavioral harassments of the same individual(s). Steller Sea Lion—Steller sea lions occur seasonally in the Strait of Juan de Fuca from September through May. Steller sea lion haul-outs are 13 miles (21 km) away. Based on the NMSDD data showing that 0.935 Steller sea lion per km2 may be present intermittently in the ZOI, 2,100 exposures were estimated for this species. These exposures would be a temporary behavioral harassment. It is assumed that this number would include multiple behavioral harassments of the same individual(s). Harbor Seal—Harbor seals are present year round with haul-outs in Port Angeles Harbor. Prior Navy IHAs have successfully used density-based estimates; however, in this case, density estimates were not appropriate because there is a haul-out nearby on a log boom approximately 1.7 miles (2.7 km) west of the project site that was last surveyed in March 2013 and had a total count of 73 harbor seals (WDFW 2015). Another haul-out site is 1.3 miles (2.1 km) south of the project but is across the harbor that was last surveyed in July 2010 and had a total count of 87 harbor seals (WDFW 2015). Density was calculated as the maximum number of individuals expected to be present at a given time (160 animals), times the number of days of pile activity. Based on the assumption that there could be 160 harbors seals hauled out in proximity to the ZOI, 12,000 exposures were estimated for this stock over 75 days of construction. Additionally, to account for the potential that all harbor seals may not be observed in an area that may incur PTS, we authorize the taking by Level A harassment of one harbor seal per day of projected construction activity for a total of 75 Level A takes. We recognize that over the course of the day, while the proportion of animals in the water may not vary significantly, PO 00000 Frm 00039 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 different individuals may enter and exit the water. Therefore, an instantaneous estimate of animals in the water at a given time may not produce an accurate assessment of the number of individuals that enter the water over the daily duration of the activity. However, no data exist regarding fine-scale harbor seal movements within the project area on time durations of less than a day, thus precluding an assessment of ingress or egress of different animals through the action area. As such, it is impossible, given available data, to determine exactly what number of individuals may potentially be exposed to underwater sound. A typical pile driving day (in terms of the actual time spent driving) is somewhat shorter than may be assumed (i.e., 8–15 hours) as a representative pile driving day based on daylight hours. Construction scheduling and notional production rates in concert with typical delays mean that hammers are active for only some fraction of time on pile driving ‘‘days.’’ Harbor seals are not likely to have a uniform distribution as is assumed through use of a density estimate, but are likely to be relatively concentrated near areas of interest such as the haulouts or foraging areas. The estimated 160 harbor seals is the maximum number of animals at haul-outs outside of the airborne Level B behavioral harassment zone; the number of exposures to individual harbor seals foraging in the underwater behavioral harassment zone would likely be much lower. This tells us that (1) there are likely to be significantly fewer harbor seals in the majority of the action area than the take estimate suggests; and (2) pile driving actually occurs over a limited timeframe on any given day (i.e., less total time per day than would be assumed based on daylight hours and non-continuously), reducing the amount of time over which new individuals might enter the action area within a given day. These factors lead us to believe that the approximate number of seals that may be found in the action area (160) is more representative of the number of animals exposed than the number of Level B Harassment takes requested for this species, and only represents 1.5 percent of the most recent estimate of this stock of harbor seals. Moreover, because the Navy is typically unable to determine from field observations whether the same or different individuals are being exposed, each observation is recorded as a new take, although an individual theoretically would only be considered as taken once in a given day. E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 03OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices Northern elephant seal—Northern elephant seals are rare visitors to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. However, individuals, primarily juveniles, have been known to sporadically haul out to molt on Dungeness Spit about 12 miles (19 km) from Port Angeles. One elephant seal was observed hauled-out at Dungeness Spit in each of the following years: 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006 (WDFW 2015). Elephant seals are primarily present during spring and summer months. If a northern elephant seal was in the ZOI, it would likely be a solitary juvenile. Northern elephant seals are a rare occurrence in Port Angeles Harbor, and density-based analysis does not adequately account for 67995 their unique temporal and spatial distributions; therefore, estimates are based on historical likelihood of encounter. Based on the assumption that one elephant seal may be present intermittently in the ZOI, 75 exposures were calculated for this species. These exposures would be a temporary behavioral harassment. TABLE 4—NUMBER OF POTENTIAL INCIDENTAL INSTANCES OF TAKE OF MARINE MAMMALS WITHIN VARIOUS ACOUSTIC THRESHOLD ZONES Underwater Species Density Level B (120 dB) 1 Level A California sea lion ........................................... Steller sea lion ................................................ Harbor seal ..................................................... Northern elephant seal ................................... Harbor porpoise .............................................. 0.676 animal/sq. km * ..................................... 0.935 animals/sq. km* .................................... 160 2 ............................................................... 1 3 ................................................................... 3 3 ................................................................... 0 0 75 0 0 1,500 2,100 4 12,000/160 75 225 % of stock 0.5 4 100/1.5 0.04 2 * For species with associated density, density was multiplied by largest ZOI (i.e., 29.9 km2). The resulting value was rounded to the nearest whole number and multiplied by the 75 days of activity. For species with abundance only, that value was multiplied directly by the 75 days of activity. We assume for reasons described earlier that no takes would result from airborne noise. 1 The 160-dB acoustic harassment zone associated with impact pile driving would always be subsumed by the 120-dB harassment zone produced by vibratory driving. Therefore, takes are not calculated separately for the two zones. 2 For this species, site-specific data was used from published literature describing research conducted in Washington and Oregon, including counts from haul-outs near Port Angeles Harbor. Therefore, density was calculated as the maximum number of individuals expected to be present at a given time. 3 Figures presented are abundance numbers, not density, and are calculated as the average of average daily maximum numbers per month (see Section 6.6 in application). Abundance numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number for take estimation. 4 The maximum number of harbor seal anticipated to be in the vicinity to be exposed to the sound levels is 160 animals based on counts from the two nearby haul out sites. This small number of individuals is expected to be the same animals exposed repeatedly, instead of new individuals being exposed each day. These animals, to which any incidental take would accrue, represent 1.5 percent of the most recent estimate of the stock abundance from the 2013 SAR. Analyses and Preliminary Determinations sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Negligible Impact Analysis 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 A and 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 of our analyses applies to all the species listed VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 in Table 4, given that the anticipated effects of this activity on these different marine mammal stocks are expected to be similar. There is no information about the nature or severity of the impacts, or the size, status, or structure of any of these species or stocks that would lead to a different analysis for this activity. Pile driving activities associated with the pier construction project, as outlined previously, have the potential to disturb or displace marine mammals. Specifically, the specified activities may result in take, in the form of Level A (PTS) and Level B harassment (behavioral disturbance), from underwater sounds generated from pile driving. Potential takes could occur if individuals of these species are present in the ensonified zone when pile driving is happening, which is likely to occur because (1) harbor seals are frequently observed in Port Angeles harbor in two known haul-out locations; or (2) cetaceans or pinnipeds transit the outer edges of the larger Level B harassment zone outside of the harbor. No serious injury or mortality is anticipated given the methods of installation and measures designed to minimize the possibility of serious injury to marine mammals. The PO 00000 Frm 00040 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 potential for these outcomes is minimized through the construction method and the implementation of the planned mitigation measures. Specifically, vibratory hammers will be the primary method of installation, and this activity does not have significant potential to cause serious injury to marine mammals due to the relatively low source levels produced and the lack of potentially injurious source characteristics. Impact pile driving produces short, sharp pulses with higher peak levels and much sharper rise time to reach those peaks. When impact driving is necessary, required measures (use of a sound attenuation system, which reduces overall source levels as well as dampening the sharp, potentially injurious peaks, and implementation of shutdown zones) significantly reduce any possibility of serious injury. Given sufficient ‘‘notice’’ through use of soft start, marine mammals are expected to move away from a sound source that is annoying prior to it becoming potentially injurious. The likelihood that marine mammal detection ability by trained observers is high under the environmental conditions described for Port Angeles harbor further enables the E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 03OCN1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 67996 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices implementation of shutdowns to avoid serious injury or mortality. Effects on individuals that are taken by Level B harassment, on the basis of reports in the literature, will likely be limited to reactions such as increased swimming speeds, increased surfacing time, or decreased foraging (if such activity were occurring). Most likely, individuals will simply move away from the sound source and be temporarily displaced from the areas of pile driving, although even this reaction has been observed primarily only in association with impact pile driving. Repeated exposures of individuals to levels of sound that may cause Level B harassment are unlikely to result in disruption of foraging behavior. Thus, even repeated Level B harassment of some small subset of the overall stock is unlikely to result in any significant realized decrease in fitness to those individuals, and thus would not result in any adverse impact to the stock as a whole. Level B harassment will be reduced to the level of least practicable impact through use of mitigation measures described herein and, if sound produced by project activities is sufficiently disturbing, animals are likely to simply avoid the project area while the activity is occurring. Effects on individuals that are taken by Level A harassment would be in the form of PTS. In this analysis, we considered the potential for small numbers of harbor seals to incur auditory injury and found that it would not impact our determinations. For pinnipeds, no rookeries are present in the project area, but there are two haul-outs within 2.5 mi (4 km) of the project site. However, the project area is not known to provide foraging habitat of any special importance (other than is afforded by the known migration of salmonids). No cetaceans are expected within the harbor. In summary, this negligible impact analysis is founded on the following factors: (1) The possibility of serious injury or mortality may reasonably be considered discountable; (2) the anticipated incidences of Level B harassment consist of, at worst, temporary modifications in behavior and the anticipated incidences of Level A harassment would be in the form of PTS to a small number of only one species; (3) the absence of any major rookeries and only a few haul-out areas near or adjacent to the project site; (4) the absence of cetaceans within the harbor and generally sporadic occurrence outside of the ensonified area; (5) the absence of any other known areas or features of special significance for foraging or reproduction within the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:56 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 project area; and (6) the presumed efficacy of the planned mitigation measures in reducing the effects of the specified activity to the level of least practicable impact. In addition, none of these stocks are listed under the ESA or designated as depleted under the MMPA. In combination, we believe that these factors, as well as the available body of evidence from other similar activities, including those conducted in nearby locations, demonstrate that the potential effects of the specified activity will have only short-term effects on individuals. The specified activity is not expected to impact rates of recruitment or survival and will therefore not result in population-level impacts. 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 planned monitoring and mitigation measures, we find that the total marine mammal take from Navy’s pier construction activities will have a negligible impact on the affected marine mammal species or stocks. Small Numbers Analysis The numbers of animals authorized to be taken for harbor porpoise, Northern elephant seal, and Steller and California sea lions would be considered small relative to the relevant stocks or populations (less than one percent for Northern elephant seal and California sea lion, less than four percent for Steller sea lion, and less than two percent for harbor porpoise) even if each estimated taking occurred to a new individual—an extremely unlikely scenario. For pinnipeds occurring in the nearshore areas, there will almost certainly be some overlap in individuals present day-to-day. Further, for the pinniped species, these takes could potentially occur only within some small portion of the overall regional stock. For example, of the estimated 296,750 California sea lions, only certain adult and subadult males— believed to number approximately 3,000–5,000 by Jeffries et al. (2000)— travel north during the non-breeding season. That number has almost certainly increased with the population of California sea lions—the 2000 SAR for California sea lions reported an estimated population size of 204,000– 214,000 animals—but likely remains a relatively small portion of the overall population. For harbor seals, takes are likely to occur only within some portion of the population, rather than to animals from the Washington inland waters stock as a whole. It is estimated that, based on PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 counts from the two nearby haul out sites, 160 harbor seals could potentially be in the vicinity to be exposed to the sound levels. This small number of individuals is expected to be the same animals exposed repeatedly, instead of new individuals being exposed each day. These animals, to which any incidental take would accrue, represent 1.5 percent of the most recent estimate of the stock abundance from the 2013 SAR. It is estimated that one individual harbor seal per day may be exposed to sound levels that may incur PTS. This represents only 0.68% of the stock abundance. As summarized here, the estimated numbers of potential incidents of harassment for these species are likely much higher than will realistically occur. This is because (1) we use the maximum possible number of days (75) in estimating take, despite the fact that multiple delays and work stoppages are likely to result in a lower number of actual pile driving days; and (2) sea lion estimates rely on the averaged maximum daily abundances per month, rather than simply an overall average which would provide a much lower abundance figure. In addition, potential efficacy of mitigation measures in terms of reduction in numbers and/or intensity of incidents of take has not been quantified. Therefore, these estimated take numbers are likely to be overestimates of individuals. 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, we find that small numbers of marine mammals will be taken relative to the populations of the affected species or stocks. Impact on Availability of Affected Species for Taking for Subsistence Uses There are no relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals implicated by this action. Therefore, we have 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 No marine mammal species listed under the ESA are expected to be affected by these activities. Therefore, we have determined that a section 7 consultation under the ESA is not required. National Environmental Policy Act In compliance with the NEPA of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), as implemented E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 03OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 191 / Monday, October 3, 2016 / Notices by the regulations published by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ; 40 CFR parts 1500–1508), the Navy prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) for this project. NMFS made the Navy’s EA available to the public for review and comment, in relation to its suitability for adoption by NMFS in order to assess the impacts to the human environment of issuance of an IHA to the Navy. Also in compliance with NEPA and the CEQ regulations, as well as NOAA Administrative Order 216–6, NMFS has reviewed the Navy’s EA, determined it to be sufficient, and adopted that EA and signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) in September 2016. Authorization As a result of these determinations, we have issued an IHA to the Navy for conducting the described pier and support facilities for the transit protection system U.S. Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles, Washington from November 1, 2016 through February 15, 2017, and July 16 through October 31, 2017 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. 2016–23726 Filed 9–30–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XC599 Marine Mammals; File No. 17845 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; receipt of application for permit amendment. AGENCY: Notice is hereby given that Rachel Cartwright, Ph.D., Keiki Kohola Project, 4945 Coral Way, Oxnard, CA 93035, has applied for an amendment to Scientific Research Permit No. 17845. DATES: Written, telefaxed, or email comments must be received on or before November 9, 2016. ADDRESSES: The application and related documents are available for review by selecting ‘‘Records Open for Public Comment’’ from the ‘‘Features’’ box on the Applications and Permits for sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:23 Sep 30, 2016 Jkt 241001 Protected Species home page, https:// apps.nmfs.noaa.gov, and then selecting File No. 17845 from the list of available applications. These documents are also available upon written request or by appointment in the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13705, Silver Spring, MD 20910; phone (301) 427–8401; fax (301) 713–0376. Written comments on this application should be submitted to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, at the address listed above. Comments may also be submitted by facsimile to (301) 713–0376, or by email to NMFS.Pr1Comments@noaa.gov. Please include the File No. in the subject line of the email comment. Those individuals requesting a public hearing should submit a written request to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division at the address listed above. The request should set forth the specific reasons why a hearing on this application would be appropriate. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shasta McClenahan or Carrie Hubard, (301) 427–8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The subject amendment to Permit No. 17845 is requested under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.), the regulations governing the taking and importing of marine mammals (50 CFR part 216), the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), and the regulations governing the taking, importing, and exporting of endangered and threatened species (50 CFR 222–226). Permit No. 17845, issued on January 25, 2014 (79 FR 5382), authorizes the permit holder to conduct Level A and B harassment of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) during photoidentification, behavioral follows, and surface and underwater observations in Hawaii, Alaska, and California. Nine other cetacean species may be studied opportunistically and two species of pinnipeds may be incidentally harassed. The permit expires on January 31, 2019. The permit holder is requesting the permit be amended to authorize Level B playbacks for humpback whales to estimate their hearing range using behavioral observation audiometry. The sounds will be presented to a maximum of 300 humpback whales and their behavioral responses will be measured through visual and acoustic recordings including an unmanned aerial system. The research will take place from January through April, annually, in Hawaii. Only humpback whales will be PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 67997 targeted for active playback, but incidental harassment to additional species may occur including bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris), false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens), melon headed whales (Peponocephala electra), and short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus). In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), an initial determination has been made that the activity proposed is categorically excluded from the requirement to prepare an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement. Concurrent with the publication of this notice in the Federal Register, NMFS is forwarding copies of this application to the Marine Mammal Commission and its Committee of Scientific Advisors. Dated: September 27, 2016. Julia Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–23724 Filed 9–30–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P CORPORATION FOR NATIONAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICE Sunshine Act Meeting The National Civilian Community Corps Advisory Board gives notice of the following meeting: Date and Time: Tuesday, October 18, 2016, 2:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m. (CT). Place: Main Conference Room, AmeriCorps NCCC Southern Region Campus, 2715 Confederate Avenue, Vicksburg, MS 39180. Call-In Information: This meeting is available to the public through the following toll-free call-in number: 888– 324–9650 conference call access code number 2943297. Pete McRoberts will be the lead on the call. Any interested member of the public may call this number and listen to the meeting. Callers can expect to incur charges for calls they initiate over wireless lines, and the Corporation will not refund any incurred charges. Callers will incur no charge for calls they initiate over landline connections to the toll-free telephone number. Replays are generally available one hour after a call ends. The toll-free phone number for the replay is 888–566–0571. The end replay date: November 17, 2016, 10:59 p.m. (CT). Status: Open. Matters To Be Considered E:\FR\FM\03OCN1.SGM 03OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 191 (Monday, October 3, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 67985-67997]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-23726]


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

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XE297


Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; 
Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to a Pier Construction and Support 
Facilities Project, Port Angeles, WA

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) as amended, notification is hereby given 
that we have issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to the 
U.S. Navy (Navy) to incidentally harass marine mammals during 
construction activities associated with the Pier Construction and 
Support Facilities Project at Port Angeles, WA.

DATES: This authorization is effective from November 1, 2016 to October 
31, 2017.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Availability

    An electronic copy of the Navy's application and supporting 
documents, as well as a list of the references cited in this document, 
may be obtained by visiting the Internet at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm. A memorandum describing our adoption of the 
Navy's Environmental Assessment (2016) and our associated Finding of No 
Significant Impact, prepared pursuant to the National Environmental 
Policy Act, are also available at the same site. In case of problems 
accessing these documents, please call the contact listed above (see 
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

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 by U.S. 
citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial 
fishing) within a specified area, the incidental, but not intentional, 
taking of small numbers of marine mammals, providing that certain 
findings are made and the necessary prescriptions are established.
    The incidental taking of small numbers of marine mammals may be 
allowed only if NMFS (through authority delegated by the Secretary) 
finds that the total taking by the specified activity during the 
specified time period will (i) have a negligible impact on the species 
or stock(s) and (ii) not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the 
availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where 
relevant). Further, the permissible methods of taking and requirements 
pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such taking 
must be set forth, either in specific regulations or in an 
authorization.
    The allowance of such incidental taking under section 101(a)(5)(A), 
by harassment, serious injury, death, or a combination thereof, 
requires that regulations be established. Subsequently, a Letter of 
Authorization may be issued pursuant to the prescriptions established 
in such regulations, providing that the level of taking will be 
consistent with the findings made for the total taking allowable under 
the specific regulations. Under section 101(a)(5)(D), NMFS may 
authorize such incidental taking by harassment only, for periods of not 
more than one year, pursuant to requirements and conditions contained 
within an IHA. The establishment of prescriptions through either 
specific regulations or an authorization requires notice and 
opportunity for public comment.
    NMFS has defined ``negligible impact'' in 50 CFR 216.103 as ``. . . 
an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be 
reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely 
affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of 
recruitment or survival.'' Except with respect to certain activities 
not pertinent here, section 3(18) of the MMPA defines ``harassment'' 
as: ``. . . any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the 
potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild; 
or (ii) has the potential to disturb

[[Page 67986]]

a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing 
disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, 
migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering.'' The 
former is termed Level A harassment and the latter is termed Level B 
harassment.

Summary of Request

    On September 11, 2015, we received a request from the Navy for 
authorization to take marine mammals incidental to pile driving 
associated with the construction of a pier and support facilities at 
the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Air Station/Sector Field Office Port 
Angeles (AIRSTA/SFO Port Angeles), located in Port Angeles Harbor on 
the Ediz Hook peninsula, Port Angeles. The Navy submitted a revised 
version of the request on February 19, 2016, which we deemed adequate 
and complete on February 22, 2016.
    The Navy will initiate this multi-year project, lasting up to 18 
months, involving impact and vibratory pile driving conducted within 
the approved in-water work windows. In water work is expected to begin 
on November 1, 2016 in order to minimize impacts to an Atlantic Salmon 
net pen farm located in close proximity to the project area. In water 
work will conclude on February 15, 2017, and begin again from July 16 
to October 31, 2017. If in-water work will extend beyond the effective 
dates of the IHA, a second IHA application will be submitted by the 
Navy.
    The use of both vibratory and impact pile driving is expected to 
produce underwater sound at levels that have the potential to result in 
behavioral harassment of marine mammals. Take, by Level B Harassment, 
may impact individuals of five species of marine mammals (harbor 
porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), harbor seal (Phoca vitulina), Northern 
elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris), Steller sea lion (Eumatopias 
jubatus), and California sea lion (Zalophus californianus)). As the 
next paragraph explains, we have also determined based on the best 
available information that there also may be a small number of take by 
Level A Harassment of harbor seals.
    On August 4, 2016, NMFS released its Technical Guidance for 
Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing 
(Guidance). This new guidance established new thresholds for predicting 
auditory injury, which equates to Level A harassment under the MMPA. In 
the August 4, 2016, Federal Register Notice (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 analyses based on our previous 
thresholds and have constraints that preclude the recalculation of take 
estimates, as well as consideration of where the action is in the 
agency's 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: the scope of 
effects; how far in the process the applicant has progressed; 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 Navy initially submitted a request for 
authorization on September 11, 2015, followed by an adequate and 
complete request determination on February 22, 2016. The Navy requires 
issuance of the authorization in order to ensure that this critical 
national security infrastructure project is able to meet its necessary 
start date. The Guidance indicates that there is a greater likelihood 
of auditory injury for Phocid pinnipeds (i.e., harbor seals) and for 
high-frequency cetaceans (i.e., harbor porpoise) than was considered in 
our notice of proposed authorization. In order to address this 
increased likelihood, we increased the shutdown zones required for 
harbor seals to 100 m and for harbor porpoise to 150 m. With these 
changes, and in addition to other required mitigation measures, the 
Navy has a robust monitoring and mitigation program that we believe is 
effective in minimizing impacts to the affected species or stocks.
    In addition, to account for the potential that not all harbor seals 
may be observed, we authorize the taking by Level A harassment of one 
harbor seal per day of projected construction activity. In this 
analysis, we considered the potential for small numbers of harbor seals 
to incur auditory injury and found that it would not impact our 
preliminary determinations. In summary, we have considered the new 
Guidance and believe that the likelihood of injury is adequately 
addressed in the analysis contained herein and appropriate protective 
measures are in place in the IHA.

Description of the Specified Activity

Overview

    The Navy has increased security for in-transit Fleet Ballistic 
Missile Submarines (SSBNs) in inland marine waters of northern 
Washington by establishing a Transit Protection System (TPS) that 
relies on the use of multiple escort vessels. The purpose of the Pier 
and Support Facilities for TPS project is to provide a staging location 
for TPS vessels and crews that escort incoming and outgoing SSBNs 
between dive/surface points in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Naval 
Base (NAVBASE) Kitsap Bangor.
    Specific activities that can be expected to result in the 
incidental taking of marine mammals are limited to the driving of steel 
piles used for installation of the trestle/fixed pier/floating docks, 
and the removal of temporary indicator piles.
    Vibratory pile driving is the preferred method for production piles 
and would be the initial starting point for each installation; however, 
impact pile driving methods may be necessary based on substrate 
conditions. Once a pile hits ``refusal,'' which is where hard solid or 
dense substrate (e.g., gravel, boulders) prevents further pile movement 
by vibratory methods, impact pile driving is used to drive the pile to 
depth.
    All piles will be driven with a vibratory hammer for their initial 
embedment depths, while select piles may be finished with an impact 
hammer for proofing, as necessary. There will be no concurrent pile 
driving or multiple hammers operating simultaneously. Proofing involves 
striking a driven pile with an impact hammer to verify that it provides 
the required load-bearing capacity, as indicated by the number of 
hammer blows per foot of pile advancement. Sound attenuation measures 
(i.e., bubble curtain) would be used during all impact hammer 
operations.

Dates and Duration

    Under the action, in-water construction is anticipated to begin in 
2016 and require two in-water work window seasons. The allowable season 
for in-water work, including pile driving, at AIRSTA/SFO Port Angeles 
is November 1, 2016 through February 15, 2017, and July 16, 2017 
through October 31, 2017, a window established by the Washington 
Department of Fish and Wildlife in coordination with NMFS and the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to protect juvenile salmon 
(Oncorhynchus spp.) and bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus). Overall, a 
maximum of 75 days of pile driving are anticipated within these in-
water work windows. All in-water construction activities will occur 
during daylight hours (sunrise to sunset) except from July 16 to 
September 23 when impact

[[Page 67987]]

pile driving/removal will only occur starting 2 hours after sunrise and 
ending 2 hours before sunset, to protect foraging marbled murrelets (an 
Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed bird under the jurisdiction of 
USFWS) during nesting season (April1- September 23). Other construction 
(not in-water) may occur between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., year-round.

Specific Geographic Region

    AIRSTA/SFO Port Angeles is located in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, 
approximately 62 miles (100 km) east of Cape Flattery, and 63 miles 
(102 km) northwest of Seattle, Washington on the Olympic Peninsula (see 
Figure 1-1 in the Navy's application). The Strait of Juan de Fuca is a 
wide waterway stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Salish Sea. The 
strait is 95 miles (153 km) long, 15.5 miles (25 km) wide, and has 
depths ranging from 180 m to 250 m on the pacific coast and 55 m at the 
sill. Please see Section 2 of the Navy's application for detailed 
information about the specific geographic region, including physical 
and oceanographic characteristics.

Detailed Description of Activities

    The purpose of the Pier and Support Facilities for TPS project (the 
project) is to provide a staging location for TPS vessels and crews 
that escort incoming and outgoing SSBNs between dive/surface points in 
the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Naval Base (NAVBASE) Kitsap Bangor. The 
Navy has increased security for in-transit Fleet Ballistic Missile 
Submarines (SSBNs) in inland marine waters of northern Washington by 
establishing a Transit Protection System (TPS) that relies on the use 
of multiple escort vessels. Construction of the pier and support 
facilities is grouped into three broad categories: (1) Site Work 
Activities (2) Construction of Upland Facilities (Alert Forces Facility 
(AFF) and Ready Service Armory (RSA)), and (3) Construction of Trestle/
Fixed Pier/Floating Docks.
    The trestle, fixed pier, and floating docks will result in a 
permanent increase in overwater coverage of 25,465 square feet (ft\2\) 
(2,366 square meters (m\2\)). An estimated 745 ft\2\ (69 m\2\) of 
benthic seafloor will be displaced from the installation of the 144 
permanent steel piles. The fixed pier will lie approximately 354 ft 
(108 m) offshore at water depths between -40 ft (-12 m) and -63 ft (19 
m) mean lower low water (MLLW). It will be constructed of precast 
concrete and be approximately 160 feet long and 42 feet wide (49 m by 
13 m). The fixed pier will have two mooring dolphins that connect to 
the fixed pier via a catwalk, and will be supported by 87 steel piles 
and result in 10,025 ft\2\ (931 m\2\) of permanent overwater coverage. 
The floating docks including brows will be supported by 21 steel piles 
and result in 5,380 ft\2\ (500 m\2\) of permanent overwater coverage. 
The trestle will provide vehicle and pedestrian access to the pier and 
convey utilities to the pier. It will be installed between +7 ft (2 m) 
MLLW and -45 ft (-14 m) MLLW. The trestle will be approximately 355 
feet long (108 m) long and 24 feet (7 m) wide and constructed of 
precast concrete. The trestle will be designed to support a 50 pound 
per square foot (psf) (244 kilograms (kg) per square m) live load or a 
utility trailer with a total load of 3,000 pounds (1,360 kg), and will 
be supported by 36 steel piles and result in 10,060 ft\2\ (935 m\2\) of 
permanent overwater coverage.
    For the entire project, pile installation will include the 
installation and removal of 80 temporary indicator piles, installation 
of 60 permanent sheet piles, and installation of 144 permanent steel 
piles (Table 1). The indicator piles are required to determine if 
required bearing capacities will be achieved with the production piles, 
and to assess whether the correct vibratory and impact hammers are 
being used. The process will be to vibrate the piles to within 5 ft 
(1.5 m) of the target embedment depth required for the project, let the 
piles rest in place for a day, and then impact drive the piles the 
final 5 ft (1.5 m). If the indicator piles cannot be successfully 
vibrated in, then a larger hammer will be used for the production 
piles. The impact driving will also provide an indication of bearing 
capacity via proofing. Each indicator pile would then be vibratory 
extracted (removed) using a vibratory hammer.
    A maximum of 75 days of pile driving may occur. Table 1 summarizes 
the number and nature of piles required for the entire project.

        Table 1--Summary of Piles Required for Pier Construction
                               [in total]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  Feature                         Quantity and size
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total number of in-water piles............  Up to 284.*
Indicator temporary.......................  24-in: 80.
Sheet pile wall...........................  PZC13 Steel sheet piles: 60.
Trestle...................................  18-in: 16.
                                            24-in: 12.
                                            36-in: 8.
Fixed pier piles..........................  24-in: 28.
                                            30-in: 49.
                                            36-in: 10.
Floating docks............................  24-in: 3.
                                            30-in: 6.
                                            36-in: 12.
Maximum pile driving duration.............  75 days (under one-year
                                             IHA).
------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Pile installation would include the installation and removal of 80
  temporary indicator piles, installation of 60 permanent sheet piles,
  and installation of 144 permanent steel piles.

    Pile installation will utilize vibratory pile drivers to the 
greatest extent possible, and the Navy anticipates that most piles will 
be able to be vibratory driven to within several feet of the required 
depth. Pile drivability is, to a large degree, a function of soil 
conditions and the type of pile hammer. Most piles should be able to be 
driven with a vibratory hammer to proper embedment depth. However, 
difficulties during pile driving may be encountered as a result of 
obstructions, such as rocks or boulders, which may exist throughout the 
project area. If difficult driving conditions occur, increased usage of 
an impact hammer will occur.
    Pile production rates are dependent upon required embedment depths, 
the potential for encountering difficult driving conditions, and the 
ability to drive multiple piles without a need to relocate the driving 
rig. If difficult subsurface driving conditions (e.g., cobble/boulder 
zones) are encountered that cause refusal with the vibratory equipment, 
it may be necessary to use an impact hammer to drive some piles for the 
remaining portion of their required depth. The worst-case scenario is 
that a pile would be driven for its entire length using an impact 
hammer. Given the uncertainty regarding the types and quantities of 
boulders or cobbles that may be encountered, and the depth at which 
they may be encountered, the number of strikes necessary to drive a 
pile its entire length would vary. All piles driven or struck with an 
impact hammer would be surrounded by a bubble curtain over the full 
water column to minimize in-water sound. Pile production rate (number 
of piles driven per day) is affected by many factors: Size, type 
(vertical versus angled), and location of piles; weather; number of 
driver rigs operating; equipment reliability; geotechnical (subsurface) 
conditions; and work stoppages for security or environmental reasons 
(such as presence of marine mammals).

[[Page 67988]]

Comments and Responses

    We published a notice of receipt of the Navy's application and 
proposed IHA in the Federal Register on April 4, 2016 (81 FR 19326). We 
received one comment, a letter from the Marine Mammal Commission 
concurring with NMFS's preliminary findings.
    Comment: The Commission recommends the issuance of the IHA, subject 
to the inclusion of the proposed mitigation, monitoring, and reporting 
measures.
    Response: We appreciate the Commission's concurrence with our 
findings and appreciate their input and support. We look forward to 
working with them on similar issues in the future.

Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity

    There are eleven marine mammal species with recorded occurrence in 
the Strait of Juan de Fuca (Table 2), including seven cetaceans and 
four pinnipeds. Of these eleven species, only five are expected to have 
a reasonable potential to be in the vicinity of the project site. These 
species are harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), harbor seal (Phoca 
vitulina), Northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris), Steller 
sea lion (Eumatopias jubatus), and California sea lion (Zalophus 
californianus). Harbor seals occur year round throughout the nearshore 
inland waters of Washington. Harbor seals are expected to occur year 
round in Port Angeles Harbor, with a nearby haul-out site on a log boom 
located approximately 1.7 miles (2.7 km) west of the project site and 
another haul-out site 1.3 miles (2.1 km) south of the project. Steller 
sea lions and California sea lions may occur in the area, but there are 
no site-specific surveys on these species. Harbor porpoises and 
Northern elephant seal are rare through the project area. The Dall's 
porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli dalli), humpback whale (Megaptera 
novaeangliae), minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), gray whale 
(Eschrichtius robustus), Pacific white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus 
obliquidens), and killer whales (Orcinus orca) are extremely rare in 
Port Angeles Harbor, and we do not believe there is a reasonable 
likelihood of their occurrence in the project area during the period of 
validity for this IHA.
    We have reviewed the Navy's detailed species descriptions, 
including life history information, for accuracy and completeness and 
refer the reader to Sections 3 and 4 of the Navy's application instead 
of reprinting the information here. Please also refer to NMFS' Web site 
(www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals) for generalized species accounts 
and to the Navy's Marine Resource Assessment for the Pacific Northwest, 
which documents and describes the marine resources that occur in Navy 
operating areas of the Pacific Northwest, including Strait of Juan de 
Fuca (DoN, 2006). The document is publicly available at 
www.navfac.navy.mil/products_and_services/ev/products_and_services/marine_resources/marine_resource_assessments.html (accessed February 1, 
2016). We provided additional information for marine mammals with 
potential for occurrence in the area of the specified activity in our 
Federal Register notice of proposed authorization (April 4, 2016; 81 FR 
19326).

             Table 2--Marine Mammals Potentially Present in the Vicinity of AIRSTA/SFO Port Angeles
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                    Stock abundance                 Relative
                                                      ESA/MMPA      (CV, Nmin, most               occurrence in
            Species                   Stock           status;      recent abundance   PBR \3\    Strait of Juan
                                                   strategic  (Y/     survey) \2\                de Fuca; season
                                                       N) \1\                                     of occurrence
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Order Cetartiodactyla--Cetacea--Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                         Family Phocoenidae (porpoises)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Harbor porpoise...............  Washington        -; N             10,682 (0.38;            63  Possible regular
                                 inland waters                      7,841; 2003).                presence in the
                                 \5\.                                                            Strait of Juan
                                                                                                 de Fuca, but
                                                                                                 unlikely near
                                                                                                 PAH; year-
                                                                                                 round.
Dall's porpoise...............  CA/OR/WA........  -; N             42,000 (0.33;           257  Rare.
                                                                    32,106; 2008).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Order Cetartiodactyla--Cetacea--Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          Family Delphinidae (dolphins)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific white-sided dolphin...  CA/OR/WA........  -; N             26,930 (0.28;           171  Rare.
                                                                    21,406; 2008).
Killer whale..................  West coast        -; N             243 (n/a; 243;          2.4  Unlikely.
                                 transient.                         2009).
                                Southern          E; S             78 (n/a; 78;           0.14
                                 resident.                          2014).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Order Cetartiodactyla--Cetacea--Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             Family Balaenopteridae
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Humpback whale................  CA/OR/WA........  E; S             1,918 (0.03;             11  Unlikely.
                                                                    1,855; 2011).
Minke whale...................  CA/OR/WA........  -; N             478 (1.36; 202;           2  Unlikely.
                                                                    2008).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Order Cetartiodactyla--Cetacea--Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              Family Eschrichtiidae
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gray whale....................  Eastern N.        -; N             20,990 (0.05;           624  Unlikely.
                                 Pacific.                           20,125; 2011).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 67989]]

 
                                     Order Carnivora--Superfamily Pinnipedia
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  Family Otariidae (eared seals and sea lions)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
California sea lion...........  U.S.............  -; N             296,750 (n/a;         9,200  Seasonal/common;
                                                                    153,337; 2011).              Fall to late
                                                                                                 spring (Aug to
                                                                                                 Jun).
Steller sea lion..............  Eastern U.S.....  -; S             60,131- 74,448    1,645 \7\  Seasonal/
                                                                    (n/a; 36,551;                occasional;
                                                                    2013) \6\.                   Fall to late
                                                                                                 spring (Sep to
                                                                                                 May).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                         Family Phocidae (earless seals)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Harbor seal \8\...............  Washington        -; N             11,036 (0.15; n/        n/a  Common; Year-
                                 inland waters                      a; 1999).                    round resident.
                                 \5\.
Northern elephant seal........  California        -; N             179,000 (n/a;         4,882  Seasonal/rare:
                                 breeding stock.                    81,368; 2010).               Spring to late
                                                                                                 fall (Apr to
                                                                                                 Nov).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\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 of pinnipeds, abundance estimates are based upon observations of animals (often
  pups) ashore multiplied by some correction factor derived from knowledge of the specie's (or similar species')
  life history to arrive at a best abundance estimate; therefore, there is no associated CV. In these cases, the
  minimum abundance may represent actual counts of all animals ashore.
\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\ These values, found in NMFS's SARs, represent annual levels of human-caused mortality plus serious injury
  from all sources combined (e.g., commercial fisheries, subsistence hunting, ship strike). Annual M/SI often
  cannot be determined precisely and is in some cases presented as a minimum value. All values presented here
  are from the draft 2015 SARs (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/draft.htm) except harbor seals. See comment 8.
\5\ Abundance estimates for these stocks are greater than eight years old and are therefore not considered
  current. PBR is considered undetermined for these stocks, as there is no current minimum abundance estimate
  for use in calculation. We nevertheless present the most recent abundance estimates and PBR values, as these
  represent the best available information for use in this document.
\6\ Best abundance is calculated as the product of pup counts and a factor based on the birth rate, sex and age
  structure, and growth rate of the population. A range is presented because the extrapolation factor varies
  depending on the vital rate parameter resulting in the growth rate (i.e., high fecundity or low juvenile
  mortality).
\7\ PBR is calculated for the U.S. portion of the stock only (excluding animals in British Columbia) and assumes
  that the stock is not within its OSP. If we assume that the stock is within its OSP, PBR for the U.S. portion
  increases to 2,069.
\8\ Values for harbor seal presented here are from the 2013 SAR.

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

    Our Federal Register notice of proposed authorization (April 4, 
2016; 81 FR 19326) provides a general background on sound relevant to 
the specified activity as well as a detailed description of marine 
mammal hearing and of the potential effects of these construction 
activities on marine mammals and their habitat.

Mitigation

    In order to issue an IHA 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 impact on 
such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to 
rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on 
the availability of such species or stock for taking for certain 
subsistence uses.
    Measurements from similar pile driving events were coupled with 
practical spreading loss to estimate zones of influence (ZOI; see 
Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment); these values were used to 
develop mitigation measures for pile driving activities at Port Angeles 
harbor. The ZOIs effectively represent the mitigation zone that will be 
established around each pile to prevent Level A harassment to marine 
mammals, while providing estimates of the areas within which Level B 
harassment might occur. In addition to the specific measures described 
later in this section, the Navy will conduct briefings between 
construction supervisors and crews, marine mammal monitoring team, and 
Navy staff prior to the start of all pile driving activity, and when 
new personnel join the work, in order to explain responsibilities, 
communication procedures, marine mammal monitoring protocol, and 
operational procedures.

Mitigation Monitoring and Shutdown for Pile Driving

    The following measures will apply to the Navy's mitigation through 
shutdown and disturbance zones:
    Shutdown Zone--For all pile driving activities, the Navy will 
establish a shutdown zone intended to contain the area in which injury 
may occur. The purpose of a shutdown zone is to define an area within 
which shutdown of activity will occur upon sighting of a marine mammal 
(or in anticipation of an animal entering the defined area), thus 
preventing injury of marine mammals. During impact pile driving, the 
Navy will implement a minimum shutdown zone of 10 m radius for all 
marine mammals around all pile driving activity. Additionally, the Navy 
will implement a 100 m shutdown for harbor seals and a 150 m shutdown 
for harbor porpoises. These additional shutdown zones were added to 
prevent injury based off of NMFS's new acoustic guidance. During 
vibratory driving, the

[[Page 67990]]

shutdown zone will be 10 m distance from the source for all animals. 
These precautionary measures are intended to further reduce any 
possibility of acoustic injury, as well as to account for any undue 
reduction in the modeled zones stemming from the assumption of 8 dB 
attenuation from use of a bubble curtain (see discussion later in this 
section).
    Disturbance Zone--Disturbance zones are the areas in which SPLs 
equal or exceed 160 and 120 dB rms (for pulsed and non-pulsed 
continuous sound, respectively). Disturbance zones provide utility for 
monitoring conducted for mitigation purposes (i.e., shutdown zone 
monitoring) by establishing monitoring protocols for areas adjacent to 
the shutdown zones. Monitoring of disturbance zones enables observers 
to be aware of and communicate the presence of marine mammals in the 
project area but outside the shutdown zone and thus prepare for 
potential shutdowns of activity. However, the primary purpose of 
disturbance zone monitoring is for documenting incidents of Level B 
harassment; disturbance zone monitoring is discussed in greater detail 
later (see Monitoring and Reporting). Nominal radial distances for 
disturbance zones are shown in Table 3. Given the size of the 
disturbance zone for vibratory pile driving, it is impossible to 
guarantee that all animals will be observed or to make comprehensive 
observations of fine-scale behavioral reactions to sound, and only a 
portion of the zone will be monitored.
    In order to document observed incidents of harassment, monitors 
record all marine mammal observations, regardless of location. The 
observer's location, as well as the location of the pile being driven, 
is known from a GPS. The location of the animal is estimated as a 
distance from the observer, which is then compared to the location from 
the pile. The received level may be estimated on the basis of past or 
subsequent acoustic monitoring. It may then be determined whether the 
animal was exposed to sound levels constituting incidental harassment 
in post-processing of observational data, and a precise accounting of 
observed incidents of harassment created. Therefore, although the 
predicted distances to behavioral harassment thresholds are useful for 
estimating harassment for purposes of authorizing levels of incidental 
take, actual take may be determined in part through the use of 
empirical data. That information may then be used to extrapolate 
observed takes to reach an approximate understanding of actual total 
takes.
    Monitoring Protocols--Monitoring will be conducted before, during, 
and after pile driving activities. In addition, observers shall record 
all incidents of marine mammal occurrence, regardless of distance from 
activity, and shall document any behavioral reactions in concert with 
distance from piles being driven. Observations made outside the 
shutdown zone will not result in shutdown; that pile segment would be 
completed without cessation, unless the animal approaches or enters the 
shutdown zone, at which point all pile driving activities will be 
halted. Monitoring will take place from fifteen minutes prior to 
initiation through thirty minutes post-completion of pile driving 
activities. Pile driving activities include the time to remove a single 
pile or series of piles, as long as the time elapsed between uses of 
the pile driving equipment is no more than thirty minutes. Please see 
the Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan (available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm), developed by the Navy with our approval, for 
full details of the monitoring protocols.
    The following additional measures apply to visual monitoring:
    (1) Monitoring will be conducted by qualified observers, who will 
be placed at the best vantage point(s) practicable to monitor for 
marine mammals and implement shutdown/delay procedures when applicable 
by calling for the shutdown to the hammer operator. Qualified observers 
are trained biologists, with the following minimum qualifications:
     Visual acuity in both eyes (correction is permissible) 
sufficient for discernment of moving targets at the water's surface 
with ability to estimate target size and distance; use of binoculars 
may be necessary to correctly identify the target;
     Experience and ability to conduct field observations and 
collect data according to assigned protocols (this may include academic 
experience);
     Experience or training in the field identification of 
marine mammals, including the identification of behaviors;
     Sufficient training, orientation, or experience with the 
construction operation to provide for personal safety during 
observations;
     Writing skills sufficient to prepare a report of 
observations including but not limited to the number and species of 
marine mammals observed; dates and times when in-water construction 
activities were conducted; dates and times when in-water construction 
activities were suspended to avoid potential incidental injury from 
construction sound of marine mammals observed within a defined shutdown 
zone; and marine mammal behavior; and
     Ability to communicate orally, by radio or in person, with 
project personnel to provide real-time information on marine mammals 
observed in the area as necessary.
    (2) Prior to the start of pile driving activity, the shutdown zone 
will be monitored for fifteen minutes to ensure that it is clear of 
marine mammals. Pile driving will only commence once observers have 
declared the shutdown zone clear of marine mammals; animals will be 
allowed to remain in the shutdown zone (i.e., must leave of their own 
volition) and their behavior will be monitored and documented. The 
shutdown zone may only be declared clear, and pile driving started, 
when the entire shutdown zone is visible (i.e., when not obscured by 
dark, rain, fog, etc.). In addition, if such conditions should arise 
during impact pile driving that is already underway, the activity will 
be halted.
    (3) If a marine mammal approaches or enters the shutdown zone 
during the course of pile driving operations, activity will be halted 
and delayed until either the animal has voluntarily left and been 
visually confirmed beyond the shutdown zone or fifteen minutes have 
passed without re-detection of the animal. Monitoring will be conducted 
throughout the time required to drive a pile.

Sound Attenuation Devices

    Sound levels can be greatly reduced during impact pile driving 
using sound attenuation devices. There are several types of sound 
attenuation devices including bubble curtains, cofferdams, and 
isolation casings (also called temporary noise attenuation piles 
(TNAP)), and cushion blocks. The Navy proposes to use bubble curtains, 
which create a column of air bubbles rising around a pile from the 
substrate to the water surface. The air bubbles absorb and scatter 
sound waves emanating from the pile, thereby reducing the sound energy. 
Bubble curtains may be confined or unconfined. The use of a confined or 
unconfined bubble curtain will be determined by the Navy's contractor 
based on the activity location's conditions; however, an unconfined 
bubble curtain is the likely the design that will be used. Our Federal 
Register notice of proposed authorization (April 4, 2016; 81 FR 19326) 
provides a general background on bubble curtains.
    To avoid loss of attenuation from design and implementation errors, 
the

[[Page 67991]]

Navy has required specific bubble curtain design specifications, 
including testing requirements for air pressure and flow prior to 
initial impact hammer use, and a requirement for placement on the 
substrate. Bubble curtains shall be used during all impact pile 
driving. The device will distribute air bubbles around 100 percent of 
the piling perimeter for the full depth of the water column, and the 
lowest bubble ring shall be in contact with the mudline for the full 
circumference of the ring. We considered eight dB as potentially the 
best estimate of average SPL (rms) reduction, assuming appropriate 
deployment and no problems with the equipment. Therefore, an eight dB 
reduction was used in the Navy's analysis of pile driving noise in the 
environmental analyses.

Timing Restrictions

    In Port Angeles Harbor, designated timing restrictions exist for 
pile driving activities to avoid in-water work when salmonids and other 
spawning forage fish are likely to be present. In-water work will be 
conducted between November 1, 2016-February 15, 2017, and July 16-
October 31, 2017. All in-water construction activities will occur 
during daylight hours (sunrise to sunset) except from July 16 to 
September 23 when impact pile driving/removal will only occur starting 
2 hours after sunrise and ending 2 hours before sunset, to protect 
foraging marbled murrelets during nesting season (April 1-September 
23). Other construction (not in-water) may occur between 7 a.m. and 10 
p.m., year-round.

Soft Start

    The use of a soft-start procedure is believed to provide additional 
protection to marine mammals by warning or providing a chance to leave 
the area prior to the hammer operating at full capacity.
    For impact driving, soft start will be required, and contractors 
will provide an initial set of strikes from the impact hammer at 
reduced energy, followed by a thirty-second waiting period, then two 
subsequent reduced energy strike sets. The reduced energy of an 
individual hammer cannot be quantified because of variation in 
individual drivers. The actual number of strikes at reduced energy will 
vary because operating the hammer at less than full power results in 
``bouncing'' of the hammer as it strikes the pile, resulting in 
multiple ``strikes.'' Soft start for impact driving will be required at 
the beginning of each day's pile driving work and at any time following 
a cessation of impact pile driving of thirty minutes or longer.
    We have carefully evaluated the Navy's proposed mitigation measures 
and considered their effectiveness in past implementation to determine 
whether they are likely to effect 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: (1) The manner in which, 
and the degree to which, the successful implementation of the measure 
is expected to minimize adverse impacts to marine mammals, (2) the 
proven or likely efficacy of the specific measure to minimize adverse 
impacts as planned; and (3) the practicability of the measure for 
applicant implementation.
    Any mitigation measure(s) we prescribe 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 below:
    (1) Avoidance or minimization of serious injury or death of marine 
mammals wherever possible (goals 2, 3, and 4 may contribute to this 
goal).
    (2) A reduction in the number (total number or number at 
biologically important time or location) of individual marine mammals 
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 (total number or number at 
biologically important time or location) of times any individual marine 
mammal would be exposed to stimuli expected to result in incidental 
take (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing takes by 
behavioral harassment only).
    (4) A reduction in the intensity of exposure to stimuli expected to 
result in incidental take (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to 
reducing the severity of behavioral harassment only).
    (5) Avoidance or minimization of adverse effects to marine mammal 
habitat, paying particular attention to the prey base, blockage or 
limitation of passage to or from biologically important areas, 
permanent destruction of habitat, or temporary 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 the Navy's proposed measures, we have 
determined that the mitigation measures provide the means of effecting 
the least practicable impact on marine mammal species or stocks and 
their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating 
grounds, and areas of similar significance.

Monitoring and Reporting

    In order to issue an IHA for an activity, section 101(a)(5)(D) of 
the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth ``requirements pertaining to 
the monitoring and reporting of such taking''. The MMPA implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR 216.104 (a)(13) indicate that requests for 
incidental take authorizations must include the suggested means of 
accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result 
in increased knowledge of the species and of the level of taking or 
impacts on populations of marine mammals that are expected to be 
present in the action area.
    Any monitoring requirement we prescribe should accomplish one or 
more of the following general goals:
    1. An increase in the probability of detecting marine mammals, both 
within defined zones of effect (thus allowing for more effective 
implementation of the mitigation) and in general to generate more data 
to contribute to the analyses mentioned below;
    2. An increase in our understanding of how many marine mammals are 
likely to be exposed to stimuli that we associate with specific adverse 
effects, such as behavioral harassment or hearing threshold shifts;
    3. An increase in our understanding of how marine mammals respond 
to stimuli expected to result in incidental take and how anticipated 
adverse effects on individuals may impact the population, stock, or 
species (specifically through effects on annual rates of recruitment or 
survival) through any of the following methods:
     Behavioral observations in the presence of stimuli 
compared to observations in the absence of stimuli (need to be able to 
accurately predict pertinent information, e.g., received level, 
distance from source);
     Physiological measurements in the presence of stimuli 
compared to observations in the absence of stimuli (need to be able to 
accurately predict pertinent information, e.g., received level, 
distance from source);
     Distribution and/or abundance comparisons in times or 
areas with concentrated stimuli versus times or areas without stimuli;
    4. An increased knowledge of the affected species; or

[[Page 67992]]

    5. An increase in our understanding of the effectiveness of certain 
mitigation and monitoring measures.
    The Navy submitted a marine mammal monitoring plan as part of the 
IHA application for this project. It can be found on the Internet at 
www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm.

Visual Marine Mammal Observations

    The Navy will collect sighting data and behavioral responses to 
construction for marine mammal species observed in the region of 
activity during the period of activity. All observers will be trained 
in marine mammal identification and behaviors and are required to have 
no other construction-related tasks while conducting monitoring. The 
Navy will monitor the shutdown zone and disturbance zone before, 
during, and after pile driving, with observers located at the best 
practicable vantage points. Based on our requirements, the Marine 
Mammal Monitoring Plan will implement the following procedures for pile 
driving:
     A minimum of three Marine Mammal Observers (protected 
species observers (PSOs)) will be present during both impact and 
vibratory pile driving/removal and would be located at the best vantage 
point(s) in order to properly see the entire shutdown zone and as much 
of the disturbance zone as possible.
     During all observation periods, observers will use 
binoculars and the naked eye to search continuously for marine mammals.
     If the shutdown zones are obscured by fog or poor lighting 
conditions, pile driving at that location will not be initiated until 
that zone is visible. Should such conditions arise while impact driving 
is underway, the activity will be halted.
     The shutdown and disturbance zones around the pile will be 
monitored for the presence of marine mammals before, during, and after 
any pile driving or removal activity.
    Individuals implementing the monitoring protocol will assess its 
effectiveness using an adaptive approach. Monitoring biologists will 
use their best professional judgment throughout implementation and seek 
improvements to these methods when deemed appropriate. Any 
modifications to protocol will be coordinated between NMFS and the 
Navy.

Data Collection

    We require that observers use approved data forms. Among other 
pieces of information, the Navy will record detailed information about 
any implementation of shutdowns, including the distance of animals to 
the pile and description of specific actions that ensued and resulting 
behavior of the animal, if any. In addition, the Navy will attempt to 
distinguish between the number of individual animals taken and the 
number of incidents of take. We require that, at a minimum, the 
following information be collected on the sighting forms:
     Date and time that monitored activity begins or ends;
     Construction activities occurring during each observation 
period;
     Weather parameters (e.g., percent cover, visibility);
     Water conditions (e.g., sea state, tide state);
     Species, numbers, and, if possible, sex and age class of 
marine mammals;
     Description of any observable marine mammal behavior 
patterns, including bearing and direction of travel and distance from 
pile driving activity;
     Distance from pile driving activities to marine mammals 
and distance from the marine mammals to the observation point;
     Locations of all marine mammal observations; and
     Other human activity in the area.

Reporting

    A draft report will be submitted within ninety calendar days of the 
completion of the in-water work window or sixty days prior to the 
requested date of issuance of any future IHA for projects at the same 
location, whichever comes first.. The report will include marine mammal 
observations pre-activity, during-activity, and post-activity during 
pile driving days, and will also provide descriptions of any problems 
encountered in deploying sound attenuating devices, any behavioral 
responses to construction activities by marine mammals and a complete 
description of all mitigation shutdowns and the results of those 
actions and an extrapolated total take estimate based on the number of 
marine mammals observed during the course of construction. A final 
report must be submitted within thirty days following resolution of 
comments on the draft report.

Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment

    Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, 
section 3(18) of the MMPA defines ``harassment'' as: ``. . . any act of 
pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a 
marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); 
or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal 
stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, 
including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, 
feeding, or sheltering (Level B harassment).''
    All anticipated takes would be by Level A and Level B harassment 
resulting from vibratory and impact pile driving and involving 
temporary changes in behavior (Level B) and permanent threshold shift 
(PTS) (Level A).
    Low level responses to sound (e.g., short-term avoidance of an 
area, short-term changes in locomotion or vocalization) are less likely 
to result in fitness effects on individuals that would ultimately 
affect the stock or the species as a whole. However, if a sound source 
displaces marine mammals from an important feeding or breeding area for 
a prolonged period, impacts on individual animals could potentially be 
significant and could potentially translate to effects on annual rates 
of recruitment or survival (e.g., Lusseau and Bejder, 2007; Weilgart, 
2007). Specific understanding of the activity and the effected species 
are necessary to predict the severity of impacts and the likelihood of 
fitness impacts, however, we start with the estimated number of takes, 
understanding that additional analysis is needed to understand what 
those takes mean. Given the many uncertainties in predicting the 
quantity and types of impacts of sound on marine mammals, it is common 
practice to estimate how many animals are likely to be present within a 
particular distance of a given activity, or exposed to a particular 
level of sound, taking the duration of the activity into consideration. 
This practice provides a good sense of the number of instances of take, 
but potentially overestimates the numbers of individual marine mammals 
taken. In particular, for stationary activities, it is more likely that 
some smaller number of individuals may accrue a number of incidences of 
harassment per individual than for each incidence to accrue to a new 
individual, especially if those individuals display some degree of 
residency or site fidelity and the impetus to use the site (e.g., 
because of foraging opportunities) is stronger than the deterrence 
presented by the harassing activity.
    The project area is not believed to be particularly important 
habitat for marine mammals, nor is it considered an area frequented by 
marine mammals. Therefore, behavioral disturbances and PTS that could 
result from anthropogenic sound associated with

[[Page 67993]]

these activities are expected to affect only a relatively small number 
of individual marine mammals, although those effects could be recurring 
over the life of the project if the same individuals remain in the 
project vicinity.
    The Navy has requested authorization for the incidental taking of 
small numbers of Steller sea lions, California sea lions, harbor seals, 
Northern elephant seals, and harbor porpoises in Port Angeles Harbor 
that may result from pile driving during construction activities 
associated with the pier construction and support facilities project. 
We described applicable sound thresholds for determining effects to 
marine mammals before describing the information used in estimating the 
sound fields, the available marine mammal density or abundance 
information, and the method of estimating potential incidents of take 
in detail in our Federal Register notice of proposed authorization 
(April 4, 2016; 81 FR 19326). All calculated distances to and the total 
area encompassed by the marine mammal sound thresholds are provided in 
Table 3. NMFS's new acoustic guidance established new thresholds for 
predicting auditory injury (Level A Harassment). The Guidance indicates 
that there is a greater likelihood of auditory injury for Phocid 
pinnipeds (i.e., harbor seals) and for high-frequency cetaceans (i.e., 
harbor porpoise) than was considered in our notice of proposed 
authorization. In order to address this increased likelihood, we 
increased the shutdown zones required for harbor seals to 100 m and for 
harbor porpoise to 150 m. In addition, to account for the potential 
that not all harbor seals may be observed, we authorize the taking by 
Level A harassment of one harbor seal per day of projected construction 
activity.
    Although radial distance and area associated with the zone 
ensonified to 160 dB (the behavioral harassment threshold for pulsed 
sounds, such as those produced by impact driving) are presented in 
Table 3, this zone would be subsumed by the 120-dB zone produced by 
vibratory driving. Thus, behavioral harassment of marine mammals 
associated with impact driving is not considered further here. Since 
the 160-dB threshold and the 120-dB threshold both indicate behavioral 
harassment, pile driving effects in the two zones are equivalent. 
Although not considered as a likely construction scenario, if only the 
impact driver was operated on a given day incidental take on that day 
would likely be lower because the area ensonified to levels producing 
Level B harassment would be smaller (although actual take would be 
determined by the numbers of marine mammals in the area on that day).

Table 3--Calculated Distance(s) to and Area Encompassed by Underwater Marine Mammal Sound Thresholds During Pile
                                                  Installation
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Steel pile size
                       Threshold                               (inch)          Distance (m)      Area (km \2\)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Impact driving, disturbance (160 dB)...................                 24                464               0.43
                                                                        30                631               0.75
                                                                        36                398               0.33
Vibratory driving, disturbance (120 dB)................                 24              6,310               20.4
                                                                   30-inch             13,594               29.9
                                                                        36             13,594               29.9
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Port Angeles Harbor does not represent open water, or free field, 
conditions. Therefore, sounds would attenuate as they encounter land 
masses or bends in the canal. As a result, the calculated distance and 
areas of impact for the 120-dB threshold cannot actually be attained at 
the project area. See Figure 6-1 of the Navy's application for a 
depiction of the size of areas in which each underwater sound threshold 
is predicted to occur at the project area due to pile driving.

Marine Mammal Densities

    The Navy has developed, with input from regional marine mammal 
experts, estimates of marine mammal densities in Washington inland 
waters for the Navy Marine Species Density Database (NMSDD). A 
technical report (Hanser et al., 2015) describes methodologies and 
available information used to derive these densities, which are 
generally considered the best available information for Washington 
inland waters, except where specific local abundance information is 
available. Here, we rely on NMSDD density information for the Steller 
sea lions and California see lions, and use local abundance data for 
harbor seals. For species without a predictable occurrence, like the 
harbor porpoise and Northern elephant seal, estimates are based on 
historical likelihood of encounter. Please see Appendix A of the Navy's 
application for more information on the NMSDD information.
    For all species, the most appropriate information available was 
used to estimate the number of potential incidences of take. For harbor 
porpoise and Northern elephant seals, this involved reviewing 
historical occurrence and numbers, as well as group size to develop a 
realistic estimate of potential exposure. For Steller sea lion and 
California sea lions, this involved NMSDD data. For harbor seals, this 
involved site-specific data from published literature describing harbor 
seal research conducted in Washington and Oregon, including counts from 
haul-outs near Port Angeles Harbor (WDFW, 2015). Therefore, density was 
calculated as the maximum number of individuals expected to be present 
at a given time (Houghton et al., 2015) divided by the area of Port 
Angeles Harbor.

Description of Take Calculation

    The take calculations presented here rely on the best data 
currently available for marine mammal populations in the Port Angeles 
Harbor. The formula was developed for calculating take due to pile 
driving activity and applied to each group-specific sound impact 
threshold. The formula is founded on the following assumptions:
     All marine mammal individuals potentially available are 
assumed to be present within the relevant area, and thus incidentally 
taken;
     An individual can only be taken once during a 24-h period;
     There were will be 75 total days of in-water activity and 
the largest ZOI equals 29.9 km\2\;
     Exposures to sound levels above the relevant thresholds 
equate to take, as defined by the MMPA.
    The calculation for marine mammal takes is estimated by:

Exposure estimate = (n * ZOI) * days of total activity

Where:


[[Page 67994]]


n = density estimate used for each species/season
ZOI = sound threshold ZOI area; the area encompassed by all 
locations where the SPLs equal or exceed the threshold being 
evaluated

    n * ZOI produces an estimate of the abundance of animals that could 
be present in the area for exposure, and is rounded to the nearest 
whole number before multiplying by days of total activity.
    The ZOI impact area is the estimated range of impact to the sound 
criteria. The relevant distances specified in Table 3 were used to 
calculate ZOIs around each pile. The ZOI impact area took into 
consideration the possible affected area of Port Angeles harbor from 
the pile driving site furthest from shore with attenuation due to land 
shadowing from bends in the shoreline. Because of the close proximity 
of some of the piles to the shore, the narrowness of the harbor at the 
project area, and the maximum fetch, the ZOIs for each threshold are 
not necessarily spherical and may be truncated.
    While pile driving can occur any day throughout the in-water work 
window, and the analysis is conducted on a per day basis, only a 
fraction of that time (typically a matter of hours on any given day) is 
actually spent pile driving. Acoustic monitoring has demonstrated that 
Level B harassment zones for vibratory pile driving are likely to be 
smaller than the zones estimated through modeling based on measured 
source levels and practical spreading loss. Also of note is the fact 
that the effectiveness of mitigation measures in reducing takes is 
typically not quantified in the take estimation process. See Table 4 
for total estimated incidents of take.
    Harbor Porpoise--In Washington inland waters, harbor porpoises are 
most abundant in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, San Juan Island area, and 
Admiralty Inlet. Although harbor porpoise occur year round in the 
Strait of Juan de Fuca, harbor porpoises are a rare occurrence in Port 
Angeles Harbor, and density-based analysis does not adequately account 
for their unique temporal and spatial distributions. Estimates are 
based on historical likelihood of encounter. Based on the assumption 
that 3 harbor porpoise may be present intermittently in the ZOI (Hall, 
2004), a total of 225 harbor porpoise exposures were estimated over 75 
days of construction. These exposures would be a temporary behavioral 
harassment and would not impact the long-term health of individuals; 
the viability of the population, species, or stocks would remain 
stable.
    California Sea Lion--The California sea lion is most common in the 
Strait of Juan de Fuca from fall to late spring. California sea lion 
haul-outs are greater than 30 miles (48 km) away. Animals could be 
exposed when traveling, resting, or foraging. Primarily only male 
California sea lions migrate through the Strait of Juan de Fuca 
(Jeffries et al., 2000). Based on the NMSDD data showing that 0.676 
California sea lions per km\2\ may be present intermittently in the 
ZOI, 1,500 exposures were estimated for this species. These exposures 
would be a temporary behavioral harassment. It is assumed that this 
number would include multiple behavioral harassments of the same 
individual(s).
    Steller Sea Lion--Steller sea lions occur seasonally in the Strait 
of Juan de Fuca from September through May. Steller sea lion haul-outs 
are 13 miles (21 km) away. Based on the NMSDD data showing that 0.935 
Steller sea lion per km\2\ may be present intermittently in the ZOI, 
2,100 exposures were estimated for this species. These exposures would 
be a temporary behavioral harassment. It is assumed that this number 
would include multiple behavioral harassments of the same 
individual(s).
    Harbor Seal--Harbor seals are present year round with haul-outs in 
Port Angeles Harbor. Prior Navy IHAs have successfully used density-
based estimates; however, in this case, density estimates were not 
appropriate because there is a haul-out nearby on a log boom 
approximately 1.7 miles (2.7 km) west of the project site that was last 
surveyed in March 2013 and had a total count of 73 harbor seals (WDFW 
2015). Another haul-out site is 1.3 miles (2.1 km) south of the project 
but is across the harbor that was last surveyed in July 2010 and had a 
total count of 87 harbor seals (WDFW 2015). Density was calculated as 
the maximum number of individuals expected to be present at a given 
time (160 animals), times the number of days of pile activity. Based on 
the assumption that there could be 160 harbors seals hauled out in 
proximity to the ZOI, 12,000 exposures were estimated for this stock 
over 75 days of construction. Additionally, to account for the 
potential that all harbor seals may not be observed in an area that may 
incur PTS, we authorize the taking by Level A harassment of one harbor 
seal per day of projected construction activity for a total of 75 Level 
A takes.
    We recognize that over the course of the day, while the proportion 
of animals in the water may not vary significantly, different 
individuals may enter and exit the water. Therefore, an instantaneous 
estimate of animals in the water at a given time may not produce an 
accurate assessment of the number of individuals that enter the water 
over the daily duration of the activity. However, no data exist 
regarding fine-scale harbor seal movements within the project area on 
time durations of less than a day, thus precluding an assessment of 
ingress or egress of different animals through the action area. As 
such, it is impossible, given available data, to determine exactly what 
number of individuals may potentially be exposed to underwater sound.
    A typical pile driving day (in terms of the actual time spent 
driving) is somewhat shorter than may be assumed (i.e., 8-15 hours) as 
a representative pile driving day based on daylight hours. Construction 
scheduling and notional production rates in concert with typical delays 
mean that hammers are active for only some fraction of time on pile 
driving ``days.''
    Harbor seals are not likely to have a uniform distribution as is 
assumed through use of a density estimate, but are likely to be 
relatively concentrated near areas of interest such as the haul-outs or 
foraging areas. The estimated 160 harbor seals is the maximum number of 
animals at haul-outs outside of the airborne Level B behavioral 
harassment zone; the number of exposures to individual harbor seals 
foraging in the underwater behavioral harassment zone would likely be 
much lower.
    This tells us that (1) there are likely to be significantly fewer 
harbor seals in the majority of the action area than the take estimate 
suggests; and (2) pile driving actually occurs over a limited timeframe 
on any given day (i.e., less total time per day than would be assumed 
based on daylight hours and non-continuously), reducing the amount of 
time over which new individuals might enter the action area within a 
given day. These factors lead us to believe that the approximate number 
of seals that may be found in the action area (160) is more 
representative of the number of animals exposed than the number of 
Level B Harassment takes requested for this species, and only 
represents 1.5 percent of the most recent estimate of this stock of 
harbor seals. Moreover, because the Navy is typically unable to 
determine from field observations whether the same or different 
individuals are being exposed, each observation is recorded as a new 
take, although an individual theoretically would only be considered as 
taken once in a given day.

[[Page 67995]]

    Northern elephant seal--Northern elephant seals are rare visitors 
to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. However, individuals, primarily 
juveniles, have been known to sporadically haul out to molt on 
Dungeness Spit about 12 miles (19 km) from Port Angeles. One elephant 
seal was observed hauled-out at Dungeness Spit in each of the following 
years: 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006 (WDFW 2015). Elephant seals are 
primarily present during spring and summer months. If a northern 
elephant seal was in the ZOI, it would likely be a solitary juvenile. 
Northern elephant seals are a rare occurrence in Port Angeles Harbor, 
and density-based analysis does not adequately account for their unique 
temporal and spatial distributions; therefore, estimates are based on 
historical likelihood of encounter. Based on the assumption that one 
elephant seal may be present intermittently in the ZOI, 75 exposures 
were calculated for this species. These exposures would be a temporary 
behavioral harassment.

  Table 4--Number of Potential Incidental Instances of Take of Marine Mammals Within Various Acoustic Threshold
                                                      Zones
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                            Underwater
                                                                 --------------------------------
                Species                          Density                           Level B (120     % of stock
                                                                      Level A         dB) \1\
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
California sea lion...................  0.676 animal/sq. km *...               0           1,500             0.5
Steller sea lion......................  0.935 animals/sq. km*...               0           2,100               4
Harbor seal...........................  160 \2\.................              75  \4\ 12,000/160         100/1.5
Northern elephant seal................  1 \3\...................               0              75            0.04
Harbor porpoise.......................  3 \3\...................               0             225               2
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* For species with associated density, density was multiplied by largest ZOI (i.e., 29.9 km\2\). The resulting
  value was rounded to the nearest whole number and multiplied by the 75 days of activity. For species with
  abundance only, that value was multiplied directly by the 75 days of activity. We assume for reasons described
  earlier that no takes would result from airborne noise.
\1\ The 160-dB acoustic harassment zone associated with impact pile driving would always be subsumed by the 120-
  dB harassment zone produced by vibratory driving. Therefore, takes are not calculated separately for the two
  zones.
\2\ For this species, site-specific data was used from published literature describing research conducted in
  Washington and Oregon, including counts from haul-outs near Port Angeles Harbor. Therefore, density was
  calculated as the maximum number of individuals expected to be present at a given time.
\3\ Figures presented are abundance numbers, not density, and are calculated as the average of average daily
  maximum numbers per month (see Section 6.6 in application). Abundance numbers are rounded to the nearest whole
  number for take estimation.
\4\ The maximum number of harbor seal anticipated to be in the vicinity to be exposed to the sound levels is 160
  animals based on counts from the two nearby haul out sites. This small number of individuals is expected to be
  the same animals exposed repeatedly, instead of new individuals being exposed each day. These animals, to
  which any incidental take would accrue, represent 1.5 percent of the most recent estimate of the stock
  abundance from the 2013 SAR.

Analyses and Preliminary Determinations

Negligible Impact Analysis

    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 A and 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 of our analyses applies to 
all the species listed in Table 4, given that the anticipated effects 
of this activity on these different marine mammal stocks are expected 
to be similar. There is no information about the nature or severity of 
the impacts, or the size, status, or structure of any of these species 
or stocks that would lead to a different analysis for this activity.
    Pile driving activities associated with the pier construction 
project, as outlined previously, have the potential to disturb or 
displace marine mammals. Specifically, the specified activities may 
result in take, in the form of Level A (PTS) and Level B harassment 
(behavioral disturbance), from underwater sounds generated from pile 
driving. Potential takes could occur if individuals of these species 
are present in the ensonified zone when pile driving is happening, 
which is likely to occur because (1) harbor seals are frequently 
observed in Port Angeles harbor in two known haul-out locations; or (2) 
cetaceans or pinnipeds transit the outer edges of the larger Level B 
harassment zone outside of the harbor.
    No serious injury or mortality is anticipated given the methods of 
installation and measures designed to minimize the possibility of 
serious injury to marine mammals. The potential for these outcomes is 
minimized through the construction method and the implementation of the 
planned mitigation measures. Specifically, vibratory hammers will be 
the primary method of installation, and this activity does not have 
significant potential to cause serious injury to marine mammals due to 
the relatively low source levels produced and the lack of potentially 
injurious source characteristics. Impact pile driving produces short, 
sharp pulses with higher peak levels and much sharper rise time to 
reach those peaks. When impact driving is necessary, required measures 
(use of a sound attenuation system, which reduces overall source levels 
as well as dampening the sharp, potentially injurious peaks, and 
implementation of shutdown zones) significantly reduce any possibility 
of serious injury. Given sufficient ``notice'' through use of soft 
start, marine mammals are expected to move away from a sound source 
that is annoying prior to it becoming potentially injurious. The 
likelihood that marine mammal detection ability by trained observers is 
high under the environmental conditions described for Port Angeles 
harbor further enables the

[[Page 67996]]

implementation of shutdowns to avoid serious injury or mortality.
    Effects on individuals that are taken by Level B harassment, on the 
basis of reports in the literature, will likely be limited to reactions 
such as increased swimming speeds, increased surfacing time, or 
decreased foraging (if such activity were occurring). Most likely, 
individuals will simply move away from the sound source and be 
temporarily displaced from the areas of pile driving, although even 
this reaction has been observed primarily only in association with 
impact pile driving. Repeated exposures of individuals to levels of 
sound that may cause Level B harassment are unlikely to result in 
disruption of foraging behavior. Thus, even repeated Level B harassment 
of some small subset of the overall stock is unlikely to result in any 
significant realized decrease in fitness to those individuals, and thus 
would not result in any adverse impact to the stock as a whole. Level B 
harassment will be reduced to the level of least practicable impact 
through use of mitigation measures described herein and, if sound 
produced by project activities is sufficiently disturbing, animals are 
likely to simply avoid the project area while the activity is 
occurring.
    Effects on individuals that are taken by Level A harassment would 
be in the form of PTS. In this analysis, we considered the potential 
for small numbers of harbor seals to incur auditory injury and found 
that it would not impact our determinations.
    For pinnipeds, no rookeries are present in the project area, but 
there are two haul-outs within 2.5 mi (4 km) of the project site. 
However, the project area is not known to provide foraging habitat of 
any special importance (other than is afforded by the known migration 
of salmonids). No cetaceans are expected within the harbor.
    In summary, this negligible impact analysis is founded on the 
following factors: (1) The possibility of serious injury or mortality 
may reasonably be considered discountable; (2) the anticipated 
incidences of Level B harassment consist of, at worst, temporary 
modifications in behavior and the anticipated incidences of Level A 
harassment would be in the form of PTS to a small number of only one 
species; (3) the absence of any major rookeries and only a few haul-out 
areas near or adjacent to the project site; (4) the absence of 
cetaceans within the harbor and generally sporadic occurrence outside 
of the ensonified area; (5) the absence of any other known areas or 
features of special significance for foraging or reproduction within 
the project area; and (6) the presumed efficacy of the planned 
mitigation measures in reducing the effects of the specified activity 
to the level of least practicable impact. In addition, none of these 
stocks are listed under the ESA or designated as depleted under the 
MMPA. In combination, we believe that these factors, as well as the 
available body of evidence from other similar activities, including 
those conducted in nearby locations, demonstrate that the potential 
effects of the specified activity will have only short-term effects on 
individuals. The specified activity is not expected to impact rates of 
recruitment or survival and will therefore not result in population-
level impacts. 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 planned 
monitoring and mitigation measures, we find that the total marine 
mammal take from Navy's pier construction activities will have a 
negligible impact on the affected marine mammal species or stocks.

Small Numbers Analysis

    The numbers of animals authorized to be taken for harbor porpoise, 
Northern elephant seal, and Steller and California sea lions would be 
considered small relative to the relevant stocks or populations (less 
than one percent for Northern elephant seal and California sea lion, 
less than four percent for Steller sea lion, and less than two percent 
for harbor porpoise) even if each estimated taking occurred to a new 
individual--an extremely unlikely scenario. For pinnipeds occurring in 
the nearshore areas, there will almost certainly be some overlap in 
individuals present day-to-day. Further, for the pinniped species, 
these takes could potentially occur only within some small portion of 
the overall regional stock. For example, of the estimated 296,750 
California sea lions, only certain adult and subadult males--believed 
to number approximately 3,000-5,000 by Jeffries et al. (2000)--travel 
north during the non-breeding season. That number has almost certainly 
increased with the population of California sea lions--the 2000 SAR for 
California sea lions reported an estimated population size of 204,000-
214,000 animals--but likely remains a relatively small portion of the 
overall population.
    For harbor seals, takes are likely to occur only within some 
portion of the population, rather than to animals from the Washington 
inland waters stock as a whole. It is estimated that, based on counts 
from the two nearby haul out sites, 160 harbor seals could potentially 
be in the vicinity to be exposed to the sound levels. This small number 
of individuals is expected to be the same animals exposed repeatedly, 
instead of new individuals being exposed each day. These animals, to 
which any incidental take would accrue, represent 1.5 percent of the 
most recent estimate of the stock abundance from the 2013 SAR. It is 
estimated that one individual harbor seal per day may be exposed to 
sound levels that may incur PTS. This represents only 0.68% of the 
stock abundance.
    As summarized here, the estimated numbers of potential incidents of 
harassment for these species are likely much higher than will 
realistically occur. This is because (1) we use the maximum possible 
number of days (75) in estimating take, despite the fact that multiple 
delays and work stoppages are likely to result in a lower number of 
actual pile driving days; and (2) sea lion estimates rely on the 
averaged maximum daily abundances per month, rather than simply an 
overall average which would provide a much lower abundance figure. In 
addition, potential efficacy of mitigation measures in terms of 
reduction in numbers and/or intensity of incidents of take has not been 
quantified. Therefore, these estimated take numbers are likely to be 
overestimates of individuals. 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, we find that small numbers of 
marine mammals will be taken relative to the populations of the 
affected species or stocks.

Impact on Availability of Affected Species for Taking for Subsistence 
Uses

    There are no relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals implicated 
by this action. Therefore, we have 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

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

National Environmental Policy Act

    In compliance with the NEPA of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), as 
implemented

[[Page 67997]]

by the regulations published by the Council on Environmental Quality 
(CEQ; 40 CFR parts 1500-1508), the Navy prepared an Environmental 
Assessment (EA) for this project. NMFS made the Navy's EA available to 
the public for review and comment, in relation to its suitability for 
adoption by NMFS in order to assess the impacts to the human 
environment of issuance of an IHA to the Navy. Also in compliance with 
NEPA and the CEQ regulations, as well as NOAA Administrative Order 216-
6, NMFS has reviewed the Navy's EA, determined it to be sufficient, and 
adopted that EA and signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) 
in September 2016.

Authorization

    As a result of these determinations, we have issued an IHA to the 
Navy for conducting the described pier and support facilities for the 
transit protection system U.S. Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field 
Office Port Angeles, Washington from November 1, 2016 through February 
15, 2017, and July 16 through October 31, 2017 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. 2016-23726 Filed 9-30-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P